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As I remember, the first thing that you was in doubt of, was, Whether the Crown of England be Hereditary, or no ; and to that I answer negatively, That it is not Hereditary. And in order to the clearing of this, I will, in the first place, give you a short historical account of Matter of Fact vill
I think it will not be denied, that from the first known Times in this Inand (after that they had Kings) till the Conqueft, but that the People Ele&ted him for their King whom they best liked, without regard bad to the Ilue of the deceased King: and also, that they deposed them very frequently, and set up others in their stead, when upon tryal they were found unfit for the purpose. He that says otherwise, confeffes himself, either not to have read our English Story, or that he underfood not what he read : and if your self doubts the truth of what I affirm, I will at any time give you a particular account of it, till the entrance of the Normans.
William the First, commonly called the Conqueror, we must begin with bim, who, it's most certain, had no Right or Title to the Crown, by Inheritance or Descent; and it is as true that he did not gain it by Conquest : for Edgar Etheling, who was alive and in England when William came in, had an unquestionable right by Descent, and therefore whiltt he was alive William could not pretend any Title by Inheritance, but must find out some other way to come to the Crown; and therefore he pretended one while a Compact berween him and Harold; and again, that it was left to him by Edward the Confesor, by his Will ; yet he found that all these were but empty sounds: for although he had a potent Army, by which he
might have done great things, yet that Army only brought him into England, bure it was the Ele&tior of the People that gave him the Crown, and he foon perceived, that there was no Reft for the Sole of his Foot, till he had taken the Coronation Oath, and had sworn to maintain their Laws and Properties. Some little Irregularities must be ad. mitted in a time when things are unsettled, but it will scarcely be found, that any man was disceased of his Freebold, but only such whose Demerits render'd them unworthy of them : and from his time the Norman Government proceeded upon the Saxon Principles; for King William, by the Advice of his Nobles, caused a select number of Men out of every County to be summoned, who were to set down their Laws, what they were in Edward the Confeßor's time ; for it was he who had collected the Laws, which at this day is called the Common Law.
Then, after him, William II. and Hen. I. succeeded each other, and their Title was by Election of the People ; for Robert their elder Brother was alive, and saw them both preferred to the Crown, and he never enjoydir, for he died a Prisoner at Cardiff Castle, in the time of Hen. İ.
The next was K. Stephen, who was second Son to Adela Daughter to William the Conqueror ; he was chosen by the People, for he had an elder Brother whose Name was I heobald, and there was Maud the Empress, Daughter to Henry I. and both these were nearer by descent than he.
After him came Hen. II. he came in by Compadt between K. Stepben himself, and the Nobles, and the good liking of the People ; for Maud his Mother was alive, and by descent it belonged to her.
Then Richard I. was elected in his Father's Life-time, and received Homage from the Peers.
King John was chosen by the People, or else Arthur his elder Brother's Son, who was then living, would have succeeded Richard I.
Henry HII. came in by Ele&tion, for Lewis the French Prince pretended to the Crown, several of the Nobilicy having called him into their aid against King John, and had sworn to him: but the Earl of Pembrook, who had married Henry's Aunt, fuck to him, and got him crowned by the consent of the Nobles and people, after that he had taken the Coronation Oath, and made other promises to the People
Edward I. being out of the Land when his Fa. ther died, was chosen by the consent of the Lords and Commons; and I find that the Nation was fworn to the Succeffion of Edward I. before hic went to the Holy Land.
Edward II. being mis-led by his Favourites, was deposed, and his Son
Edward JII. was declared King in his Lifetime.
Richard II. Son to Edward the Black Prince, was deposed for his Evil Government.
Henry IV. came in by Election of the People, and though upon occafion fometimes he might pretend to several other Titles, yet he found them unstable; and to make sure, he got the Crown entailed by A&t of Parliament; and so came in
Henry V. and then his Son
Henry VI. but he being found unmeet for Government, enclining too much to the Counsels of his Wife, (who was a Foreigner) and negleding the Advices of his Parliament, he was deposed, and
Edward IV. who was E. of March, whose Fa. ther the D. of York, by Act of Parliament, was declared Heir apparent to the Crown, and afterwards Nain in the Battel at Wakefield. He, I say, was Elected, and afterwards Henry was restored, and Edward set aside ; but at laft Edward was letled, and dies, and the Crown came to his Son.
Edward V. who lived no longer than to be put into the Catalogue of our
English Kings, and then Richard III. was confirmed King by Act of Parliament: for Elizabeth Daughter to Edw. IV. was living, who afterwards was married to Henmy VII. and by right of descent the Crown belonged to her, and he had no Title but what the Deople gave him.
Henry VII. came in by Election ; for his Wives Title preceded his : and there was also Edward Plantaginet, Son to George D. of Clarence, had an unquestionable Right before him, if Descent might tako place ; but to clear all doubts, he got the Crown setled by Act of Parliament upon him and the Heirs of his Body successively for ever; and upon that came in
Henry VIII, and in his time the Crown was li. mited three several times by Act of Parliament and there succeeded upon those limitations, first,
Edward VI. then his Sister
Queen Mary, by Katherine Widow to Prince Arthur, and then
Q. Elizabeth, by Ann Daughter to Sir Thomas Bullen ; and in the thirteenth year of her Reign a Law was made, whereby it is made penal, if any say that the Parliament cannot limit the Succeffion.
And now, Sir, I have given you a just account how the Crown has been dispofed ; and if I should say no more, I think that this of it self might convince any impartial man, that the Crown, till King James, was in the Peoples dispose.
But that I may leave no place for doubt, I will fay something to those things which are so frequently objected, and I will begin with that which tays, as follows i Although there be many Instances where the Crown bas leaped over the right Heir by descent, and has lit upon the Head of another, yet, fay they, there are several Instances, both. before the Conquest and since, where the Son has succeeded to the Farber, and that these are chiefly to be regarded, because most agreeable to the Word of God, which tells us, That by me Kings reign, &c. and that the prefidents that are otherwise, are no better than Usurparion, and not to be esteemed as legal, but to be forgotten as Errors in the Government.
I acknowledge, there is such a Text of Scripture, but I must deny, that it is to be taken in the literal sence, for otherwise the King muft be look'd upon to receive his Soveraign Power immediately from God, without any regard had to Our Laws and Constitutions, and then he is King Jure divino, and no Bounds or Limits of Humane Contrivance can be set to his Will, but we are wholly at his Mercy and Pleasure, and Magna Charta and the Petition of Right are walte Paper : nay, it not only destroys our Government, but it puts an end to all other Conftitutions in the World : But the true meaning of the Words are, That Kings are to be obeyed, and that they are to govern under God, according to the Laws of that Go