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The Petition of Right, 1628 in United Kingdom

The difficulties of the administration were augmented not only by this arbitrary treatment of Parliament but also by the miserable failure of an English fleet sent against Cadiz, and by the humiliating result of an attempt to relieve the French Huguenots. Meanwhile, a second Parliament, more intractable even than its predecessor, had been dissolved for its insistence on the impeachment of Buckingham. Attempts to raise money by forced loans in place of taxes failed to remove the financial distress into which Charles had fallen, and consequently, in 1628, he consented to summon a third Parliament. In return for grants of subsidies, he signed the Petition of Right (1628), prepared by the two houses. By it he promised not to levy taxes without consent of Parliament, not to quarter soldiers in private houses, not to establish martial law in time of peace, not to order arbitrary imprisonment.

Even these concessions were not enough. Parliament again demanded the removal of Buckingham, and only the assassination of the unpopular minister obviated prolonged dispute on that matter. The Commoners next attempted to check the unauthorized collection of customs duties, which produced as much as one-fourth of the total royal revenue, and to prevent the introduction of “popish” innovations in religion, but for this trouble they were sent home.

Without the consent of Parliament, Charles was bound not to levy direct taxes. During the period of his personal rule, therefore, he was compelled to adopt all sorts of expedients to replenish his treasury. He revived old feudal laws and collected fines for their infraction. A sum of one hundred thousand pounds was gained by fines on suburban householders who had disobeyed a proclamation of James I forbidding the extension of London. The courts levied enormous fines merely for the sake of revenue. Monopolies of wine, salt, soap, and other articles were sold to companies for large sums of money; but the high prices charged by the companies caused much popular discontent.

English Law: Petition of Right in the Past

When the crown is in possession or any title is vested in it which is claimed by a subject, as no suit can be brought against the king, the subject is allowed to file in chancery a petition of right to the king.


This is in the, nature of an action against a subject, in which the petitioner sets out his right to tbat which is demanded by him and prays the king to do him right and justice; and, upon a due and lawful trial of the right, to make him restitution. It is called a petition of right, because the king is bound of right to answer it and let the matter there contained be decided in a legal way, in like way as causes between subject and subject. The petition is presented to the king, who subscribes it, with these words, soit droit fait al partie and thereupon it is delivered to the chancellor to be executed according to law. Coke’s Entr. 419, 422 b; Mitf. Eq. Pl. 30, 31; Coop. Eq. Pl. 22, 23. [1]


Notes and References

  1. Partialy, this information about petition of right is based on the Bouvier´s Law Dictionary, 1848 edition. There is a list of terms of the Bouvier´s Law Dictionary, including petition of right.

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  • Article Name: Petition of Right
  • Author: Harrison Davis
  • Description: The Petition of Right, 1628 The difficulties of the administration were augmented not only by this arbitrary treatment of [...]

This entry was last updated: July 5, 2020


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