Convention Parliament (1689)

Convention Parliament (1689)

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The English Convention was an irregular assembly of the Parliament of England
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

 which transferred the Crowns of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 and Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

 from James II to William III. It differed from the English Convention (1660) in that it did not unconditionally restore the rightful and lawful monarch, but chose to justify the deposing of that monarch in favour of another, and also sought to introduce new laws and arrangements into the constitution.

Assemblies of 1688

With King James II of England
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

 in flight and William, Prince of Orange
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

 nearing London, the Earl of Rochester
Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester
Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester KG PC was an English statesman and writer. He was originally a supporter of James II but later supported the Glorious Revolution in 1688.-Early life:...

 summoned the Lords Temporal and Lords Spiritual
Lords Spiritual
The Lords Spiritual of the United Kingdom, also called Spiritual Peers, are the 26 bishops of the established Church of England who serve in the House of Lords along with the Lords Temporal. The Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian, is not represented by spiritual peers...

 to assemble, and they were joined by the privy councillors
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 on 12 December 1688 to form a provisional government for England. James II returned to London on 16 December; on 17 December he was effectively the prisoner of William who arrived in London on 18 December. William however allowed James to leave London.

William refused the crown as de facto king and instead called another assembly of peers on 21 December 1688. On 23 December James fled to France. On 26 December the peers were joined by the surving members of the Commons
House of Commons of England
The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the Parliament of England from its development in the 14th century to the union of England and Scotland in 1707, when it was replaced by the House of Commons of Great Britain...

 from the Oxford Parliament
Oxford Parliament (1681)
An English Parliament assembled in the city of Oxford for one week from 21 March 1681 until 28 March 1681 during the reign of Charles II of England.Succeeding the Exclusion Bill Parliament, this was the fifth and last parliament of the King's reign. Both Houses of Parliament met and the King...

, the last of Charles II's reign, ignoring those from James's Loyal Parliament
Loyal Parliament
The Loyal Parliament was the first and only Parliament of England of King James II, in theory continuing from May 1685 to July 1688, but in practice sitting during 1685 only. It gained its name because at the outset most of its members were loyal to the new king...

 of 1685. The Earl of Nottingham
Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham
Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham, 7th Earl of Winchilsea PC , was an English Tory statesman during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.-Early life:...

 proposed a conditional restoration of King James II, an idea supported by Archbishop Sancroft, but the proposal was rejected and instead the assembly asked William to summon a convention.

The Convention 1689

The Convention Parliament met on 22 January 1689 It was not a lawfully constituted assembly and its actions were in defiance of the English constitution.The Convention sought to justify the overthrow of James II. The Whigs held the ascendancy in the House of Commons
House of Commons of England
The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the Parliament of England from its development in the 14th century to the union of England and Scotland in 1707, when it was replaced by the House of Commons of Great Britain...

 and the Tories in the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

. The parliament spent much time arguing over whether James II was considered to have abdicated or to have abandoned the throne in some manner, and following that who then should take the crown.

The Whigs referred to theories of social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

 and argued that William alone should now be King . A few 'Radical' Whigs argued for a republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 but most Whigs argued for a limited monarchy.

The Tories favoured either the retention of James II, a regency, or Mary
Mary II of England
Mary II was joint Sovereign of England, Scotland, and Ireland with her husband and first cousin, William III and II, from 1689 until her death. William and Mary, both Protestants, became king and queen regnant, respectively, following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of...

 alone as Queen. Archbishop Sancroft and loyalist Bishops preferred that James II be conditionally restored.

On 29 January it was resolved that England was a Protestant Kingdom and only a Protestant could be King, thus disinheriting an Catholic claimant.

By the beginning of February the Commons agreed on the term abdicated and that the throne was vacant but the Lords rejected abdicated as the term was unknown in common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 and indicated that if the throne was vacant it should automatically pass to the next in line, which was implied to be Mary. However, on the 6 February the Lords capitulated. As a compromise the Lords proposed that William and Mary
William and Mary
The phrase William and Mary usually refers to the coregency over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, of King William III & II and Queen Mary II...

 should both take the throne which the Commons agreed with the proviso that William alone hold regal power.

The parliament drew up a Declaration of Right to address perceived abuses of government under James II and to secure the religion and liberties of protestants, which was finalised on 12 February. The justification for the transfer of the Crown was "quite literally, legal fiction".

On the 13 February William and Mary were proclaimed King and Queen of England, France and Ireland. The acceptance of the Crown was not conditional upon acceptance of the Declaration of Right but on the assumption that they rule according to law.

On 23 February 1689 King William III converted the Convention into a regular parliament.

Effect on Colonies in America

The Convention Parliament (1689) would be imitated in the Colonies in America
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 and the use of such conventions as an "instrument of transition" became more acceptable and more often used by the Colonies resulting most notably in the Grand Convention which drew up the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...


See also

  • Glorious Revolution
    Glorious Revolution
    The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

  • Crown and Parliament Recognition Act 1689
    Crown and Parliament Recognition Act 1689
    The Crown and Parliament Recognition Act 1689 was an Act of the Parliament of England, passed in 1689. It was designed to confirm the succession to the throne of King William III and Queen Mary II of England and to confirm the validity of the laws passed by the Convention Parliament which had been...

  • Revolutionary breach of legal continuity
    Revolutionary breach of legal continuity
    Revolutionary breach of legal continuity is a concept in English constitutional law, which rationalises the historic English behaviour when one King was deposed and a de facto ruler was recognised as the new de jure monarch...