Bill of Rights 1688

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Reprint as at 1 January 1989

Bill of Rights 1688

Imperial Act2
Date of assent16 December 1689
Commencement16 December 1689


Changes authorised by section 17C of the Acts and Regulations Publication Act 1989 have been made in this reprint.

A general outline of these changes is set out in the notes at the end of this reprint, together with other explanatory material about this reprint.

An Act declaring the rights and liberties of the subject, and settling the succession of the Crown

  • Preamble

    Whereas the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, assembled at Westminster, lawfully, fully, and freely representing all the estates of the people of this realm, did upon 13 February, in the year of our Lord 1688, present unto their Majesties, then called and known by the names and style of William and Mary, Prince and Princess of Orange, being present in their proper persons, a certain declaration in writing, made by the said Lords and Commons, in the words following, viz:

    The heads of abdication

    Whereas the late King James the Second, by the assistance of divers evil counsellors, Judges, and Ministers employed by him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant religion, and the laws and liberties of this kingdom:

    Dispensing power

    By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws, and the execution of laws, without consent of Parliament:

    Committing Prelates

    By committing and prosecuting divers worthy Prelates, for humbly petitioning to be excused from concurring to the said assumed power:

    Ecclesiastical Commission

    By issuing and causing to be executed a Commission under the Great Seal for erecting a court, called The Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes:

    Levying money

    By levying money for and to the use of the Crown, by pretence of prerogative, for other time, and in other manner, than the same was granted by Parliament:

    Standing army

    By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace, without consent of Parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to law:

    Disarming Protestants

    By causing several good subjects, being Protestants, to be disarmed, at the same time when Papists were both armed and employed, contrary to law:

    Violating elections

    By violating the freedom of election of members to serve in Parliament:

    Wrong prosecutions

    By prosecutions in the Court of King's Bench for matters and causes cognisable only in Parliament, and by divers other arbitrary and illegal courses:


    And whereas, of late years, partial, corrupt, and unqualified persons have been returned and served on juries in trials, and particularly divers jurors in trials for high treason, which were not freeholders:

    Excessive bail

    And excessive bail has been required of persons committed in criminal cases, to elude the benefit of the laws made for the liberty of the subjects:

    Fines and punishments

    And excessive fines have been imposed, and illegal and cruel punishments inflicted:

    Grants of fines, etc

    And several grants and promises made of fines and forfeitures, before any conviction or judgment against the persons upon whom the same were to be levied:

    All which are utterly and directly contrary to the known laws and statutes, and freedom of this realm:

    And whereas, the said late King James the Second having abdicated the government, and the throne being thereby vacant, His Highness the Prince of Orange (whom it has pleased Almighty God to make the glorious instrument of delivering this kingdom from Popery and arbitrary power) did (by the advice of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and divers principal persons of the Commons) cause letters to be written to the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, being Protestants, and other letters to the several counties, cities, universities, boroughs, and cinqueports, for the choosing of such persons to represent them as were of right to be sent to Parliament, to meet and sit at Westminster upon 22 January in this year 1688, in order to such an establishment as that their religion, laws, and liberties might not again be in danger of being subverted: upon which letters, elections having been accordingly made:

    The subjects' rights

    And thereupon the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, pursuant to their respective letters and elections, being now assembled, in a full and free representative of this nation, taking into their most serious consideration the best means for attaining the ends aforesaid, do in the first place (as their ancestors in like case have usually done), for the vindicating and asserting their ancient rights and liberties, declare—