Act rescinding two acts passed in the second session of this parliament, one for excepting from public trust and voting by billets

Our sovereign lord out of his innate goodness and love to this his ancient kingdom, being desirous that now, after so long troubles, a perfect peace is settled within the same, and that all his good subjects might enjoy the happiness and blessings of his government in a full and free act of indemnity, pardon and oblivion did, by his instructions to [John Middleton], earl of Middleton, his last commissioner, before the second session of this parliament, declare his royal pleasure concerning fines to be imposed both as to the crimes for which they were to be allowed, and as to the proportions and this moderate way of fining (which his majesty intended to employ for the relief of his good subjects who had been sufferers) being the only punishment his majesty gave warrant for. And his majesty, being careful to see his royal grace and favour to his people extended as large as he intended it, he commanded the act of pardon and indemnity to be transmitted to his own consideration before his royal consent was given to the same; in obedience whereunto the earl of Middleton, in Summer 1662, dispatched Sir George MacKenzie of Tarbat to his majesty with a letter of credit, he carried two drafts of an act of indemnity, the one excepted only as to fines, the other excepted also as to incapacity from public trust, the last he publicly owned to be the desire of the parliament, and earnestly pressed in name of the parliament the incapacitating of some few of the most guilty not exceeding twelve; to which his majesty at last consented, merely to gratify that which was represented to be the desire of so faithful and loyal a parliament. And having desired to know the truth hereof from his parliament, they, by their unanimous opinion and votes upon 22 July last, declared that they had given no warrant to desire of his majesty that the act of indemnity should carry an exception of incapacitating from public trust, nor any warrant at all to desire in their names his majesty's consent to the incapacitating a few and that, notwithstanding thereof, they had seen the duplicate of an instruction given to the contrary by the earl of Middleton to Sir George MacKenzie, signed and in the presence of the parliament owned by him to be a true copy, bearing that it was much desired by the parliament that some should be excepted from public trust; and it was also declared by the parliament that there was no other ground for incapacitating but that it was his majesty's pleasure to have it so, and that this was the rise of bringing in the act of billeting as the most expedient way of voting the act of incapacitating, by which it appears both his majesty and his parliament were abused as to that exception from public trust. And our sovereign lord, considering that this way of billeting had no colour of warrant from his majesty, and that his royal consent was given to it without his knowledge and very far from his intention, and that in the contrivance and carrying on of the same, sinistrous courses were taken and designs laid for incapacitating the earls [John Lindsay, earl of] Crawford and [John Maitland, earl of] Lauderdale and Sir Robert Moray, persons who, for their eminent loyalty to and great and long sufferings for his majesty, are deservedly in his high esteem, and who for the time had the special approbation of this present parliament for these great employments they had from his majesty as his officers of state and otherwise and that, therefore, he has with much reason declared himself most unsatisfied therewith. Yet he does not attribute the concurrence of his parliament in billeting to anything but to their unparalleled affection to his person and service, and their obsequious compliance to every thing was represented to them to be his majesty's intention, or which might be acceptable to his majesty. And considering the way of billeting to be most pernicious in itself and of a most dangerous consequence as tending to the dishonour of his majesty and his parliament, and to the subversion of all justice and government, it being a way never before that time practised in this kingdom, or in any other place under monarchical government, being so derogatory to his majesty's authority and royal dignity, and so contrary to the honour, freedom and gravity of parliaments, to all former practises and to the rules of common justice, every man, even those of greatest merit, being thereby rendered insecure of their honour, estates, liberties and lives, his majesty's officers of state and those of nearest in relation to him being exposed to infamy and ruin, to be by colour of his authority, without his knowledge, torn from him, and his royal prerogative in the choice of his councillors and servants asserted in this present parliament violated and made contemptible, and all his majesty's good subjects made liable to censures without being accused, heard or legally condemned. In regard of all which, our sovereign lord, with consent and by the special advice of his estates in parliament, does hereby rescind and annul two acts passed in the last session of this parliament on 9 September 1662, the one entitled, act appointing the manner of voting by billets and the other entitled, act concerning persons to be excepted from public trust, together with the clauses relating thereto in the act of indemnity and in the act of fines, and declares the said two acts, with the clauses aforesaid relating thereto, to have been from the beginning, to be now and in all time coming void and null, and ordains the same to be expunged and erased out of the records. Likewise accordingly, the said principal acts being called for and presented in parliament, were publicly erased and destroyed, and the act of indemnity and act for fines, with the records of the minutes of parliament being also called for, the clauses contained therein relating to the excepting of persons from public trust and the voting of it by billets were expunged out of the same, and the clerk register is hereby ordained to take care that, from thenceforth, the act of indemnity and act for fines are extracted and recorded according to these amendments, and that any extracts already given out are void and null as to these clauses thus amended. Likewise our sovereign lord, to evidence his just dislike of so pernicious a course, does, with advice and consent foresaid, discharge all voting by billets for the future. 2And forasmuch as the parliament, in obedience to his majesty's commands, did transmit to his majesty the original depositions of those who were examined concerning this whole business, to the end he might declare his further pleasure, his majesty declares that, having taken all that relates to the business of billeting into serious consideration, he will in convenient time make known his further pleasure therein.

  1. NAS. PA2/28, f.101v-102v.
  2. Note that in the original warrant of this act, as prepared by the lords of articles, the following clause was inserted: 'It is always hereby declared that, notwithstanding hereof, none are hereafter to be questioned any manner of way for their debating, voting or giving in of their own billets, in the meeting of the lords of the articles or in the parliament'. This clause was cancelled by the parliament, and the following note is attached to the warrant: '9 September 1663, This act brought in from the articles, twice read, voted and approved and touched with the sceptre, the four lines as above which are above scored being first expunged by consent and warrant of the whole parliament. [William Cunningham, earl of] Glencairn, chancellor, In the presence of the lords of parliament'.