The Influence of the Commons on Early Legislation: A Study of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

By Howard L. Gray | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
PRIVATE BILLS AND GROUP BILLS IN THE COMMONS

WE have seen that in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II nearly all petitions presented in parliament were either private or group bills and that there were a great many of them. Not until the reign of Edward III did commons bills assume importance. We have seen, too, that in the second half of the fifteenth century a few private bills were likely to be enrolled on the parliament roll preceding the "communes petitions." At this time they were either addressed to king and lords and after acceptance sent to the commons, who inscribed upon them their assent, or they were addressed to the commons and, on dispatch by them to the lords with an inscription which was a mark of approval, were accepted by lords and king. In the fourteenth century the private bills of individuals were treated in none of these ways. Seldom and only for special reasons were they enrolled on the parliament roll. Almost never were those addressed to the king and lords submitted to the commons for approval. And not until the end of the century were any of them addressed to the commons.1

Frequently they were addressed to the king and his council, the latter word, as used in these petitions, meaning the council in parliament.2 But the council in parliament was the body

____________________
1
Of the 111 unenrolled private bills printed in the Rotuli for the reign of Richard II, 29 were addressed to the king alone, 3 to the lords alone, 30 to the king and lords, and 42 to the king and his council. Of the remainder, four were addressed to king, lords and commons, one to lords and commons and two to the commons alone. In earlier reigns no mention was made of the commons in the address.
2
In 1379, for instance, the archbishop of York addressed a bill "A . . . le Roi et son bon Conseil" but the appeal expanded this to "plese a notre Seigneur et son sage Conseil en cest present Parlement" (A. P. 914; R. P., III, 69).

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