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The parliamentary privilege of freedom from arrest, 1603-1629

Stapylton, KAT; (2016) The parliamentary privilege of freedom from arrest, 1603-1629. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis considers the English parliamentary privilege of freedom from arrest (and other legal processes), 1603-1629. Although it is under-represented in the historiography, the early Stuart Commons cherished this particular privilege as much as they valued freedom of speech. Previously one of the privileges requested from the monarch at the start of a parliament, by the seventeenth century freedom from arrest was increasingly claimed as an ‘ancient’, ‘undoubted’ right that secured the attendance of members, and safeguarded their honour, dignity, property, and ‘necessary’ servants. Uncertainty over the status and operation of the privilege was a major contemporary issue, and this prompted key questions for research. First, did ill definition of the constitutional relationship between the crown and its prerogatives, and parliament and its privileges, lead to tensions, increasingly polemical attitudes, and a questioning of the royal prerogative? Where did sovereignty now lie? Second, was it important to maximise the scope of the privilege, if parliament was to carry out its business properly? Did ad hoc management of individual privilege cases nevertheless have the cumulative effect of enhancing the authority and confidence of the Commons? Third, to what extent was the exploitation or abuse of privilege an unintended consequence of the strengthening of the Commons’ authority in matters of privilege? Such matters are not treated discretely, but are embedded within chapters that follow a thematic, broadly chronological approach. These include an outline of how the inter-relationship between privilege and the royal prerogative developed from the medieval period onwards, as well as analyses of significant cases. Drawing on key sources that include parliamentary and constitutional records, contemporary diaries, and edited collections from a wider period, the research supports a view that privilege matters imparted a striking distinctiveness, sophistication, and authority to the parliaments of the early Stuart period, especially the Commons.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The parliamentary privilege of freedom from arrest, 1603-1629
Event: UCL, London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Parliament
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1473537
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