BILL OF RIGHTS -- The declaration of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons Assembled at Westminster, Presented to the King and Queen, By the Right Honourable the Marquess of Hallifax, Speaker to the House of Lords. With His Majesties Most Gracious Answer thereunto. London: James Partridge, Matthew Gillyflower, and Samuel Heyrick, 1689.
2° (295 x 165mm). A-B2 (A1r blank, A1v order to print, A2r title, A2v blank, B1r text, B2v blank). Factotum initial opening text. (Amateur repairs at fore-edge, rehinged, some spotting, neat repaired tear along old fold in first and last leaf.) Unbound (evidence of early stab-stitching); modern portfolio.
FIRST EDITION OF THE DECLARATION OF RIGHTS, THE EARLIEST FORM OF THE ENGLISH BILL OF RIGHTS, "ONE OF THE GREAT CONSTITUTIONAL DOCUMENTS OF ENGLISH HISTORY" (Oxford Companion to the Law, p.132). On 13 February 1689 the Declaration of Rights, drawn up by a committee of the commons, was delivered by the lords and commmons to William and Mary of Orange. Two days later, they accepted the Declaration, clearing the way for them to succeed to the crown as William III and Mary. With little change the Declaration was enacted in December 1689 as the Bill of Rights. The text of the present edition is that of the Declaration and includes William's Answer of 15 February 1689. The Bill of Rights enshrined confirmed free elections of Members of Parliament; the right of subjects to petition the monarch; and that cruel and unusual punishment ought not to be inflicted, among other constitutional rights. It also confirmed the succession of the monarchy and provided a new oath of allegiance.
The English Bill of Rights embodied the fundamental principles of the constitution; it introduced no new law but asserted ancient rights and liberties. It is 'next to the Magna Carta the greatest landmark in the constitutional history of England' (Encyco. Brit.). Wing E-1489.