Bibliography Of Royal Proclamations Of December

"Indian Magna Carta" redirects here. This term has also been applied to the United States Indian Reorganization Act.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued October 7, 1763, by King George III following Great Britain's acquisition of French territory in North America after the end of the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War, which forbade all settlement west of a line drawn along the Appalachian Mountains.[1] It rendered worthless land grants given by the British government to Americans who fought for the crown against France. This Proclamation angered American colonists, who wanted to continue their westward expansion into new lands for farming and keep local control over their settled area. The Royal Proclamation continues to be of legal importance to First Nations in Canada. The 1763 proclamation line is similar to the Eastern Continental Divide's path running northwards from Georgia to the Pennsylvania–New York border and north-eastwards past the drainage divide on the St. Lawrence Divide from there northwards through New England.


Main article: Great Britain in the Seven Years War

The Treaty of Paris was the official conclusion to the Seven Years' War, of which the French and Indian War was the North American theater. Under this treaty, France ceded ownership of all of continental North America east of the Mississippi River, including Quebec, and the rest of Canada to Britain. Spain received all French territory west of the Mississippi. Both Spain and Britain received some French islands in the Caribbean. France kept a few small islands used by fishermen,[2] modern-day Haiti and the rich sugar island of Guadeloupe.


New colonies[edit]

Besides regulating colonial expansion, the Proclamation of 1763 dealt with the management of inherited French colonies from the French and Indian War. It established government for four areas: Quebec, West Florida, East Florida, and Grenada.

Native lands[edit]

Some Native American peoples—primarily in the Great Lakes region—had a long and close relationship with France, and were dismayed to find that they were now under British sovereignty. They missed the amicable relationship with the French, along with the gifts they bestowed upon them, neither of which they had with the British. Pontiac's Rebellion (1763–66), a war launched by a group of natives around the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, was an unsuccessful effort by the western tribes to push the British back. However tribes were able to take over a large number of the forts which commanded the waterways involved in trade within the region and export to Great Britain. The Proclamation of 1763 had been in the works before Pontiac's Rebellion, but the outbreak of the conflict hastened the process.[3] British officials hoped the proclamation would reconcile American Indians to British rule and help to prevent future hostilities.

Proclamation line[edit]

At the outset, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 defined the jurisdictional limits of the occupied territories of North America. Explaining parts of the Frontier expansion in North America, in Colonial America and especially Canada colony of New France, a diminutive new colony, the Province of Quebec was carved. The territory northeast of the St. John River on the Labrador coast was placed under the Newfoundland Colony.[4] The lands west of Quebec and west of a line running along the crest of the Allegheny mountains became Indian territory, temporarily barred to settlement, to the great disappointment of the land speculators of Virginia and Pennsylvania, who had started the Seven Years' War to gain these territories.[5] The proclamation created a boundary line (often called the proclamation line) between the British colonies on the Atlantic coast and American Indian lands (called the Indian Reserve) west of the Appalachian Mountains. The proclamation line was not intended to be a permanent boundary between the colonists and Aboriginal lands, but rather a temporary boundary which could be extended further west in an orderly, lawful manner.[6][7] It was also not designed as an uncrossable boundary; people could cross the line, just not settle past it. Its contour was defined by the headwaters that formed the watershed along the Appalachians. All land with rivers that flowed into the Atlantic was designated for the colonial entities, while all the land with rivers that flowed into the Mississippi was reserved for the native Indian population. The proclamation outlawed the private purchase of Native American land, which had often created problems in the past. Instead, all future land purchases were to be made by Crown officials "at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians". Furthermore, British colonials were forbidden to settle on native lands, and colonial officials were forbidden to grant ground or lands without royal approval. The proclamation gave the Crown a monopoly on all future land purchases from American Indians.

British colonists and land speculators objected to the proclamation boundary since the British government had already assigned land grants to them. Many settlements already existed beyond the proclamation line,[3] some of which had been temporarily evacuated during Pontiac's War, and there were many already granted land claims yet to be settled. For example, George Washington and his Virginia soldiers had been granted lands past the boundary. Prominent American colonials joined with the land speculators in Britain to lobby the government to move the line further west. Their efforts were successful, and the boundary line was adjusted in a series of treaties with the Native Americans. In 1768 the Treaty of Fort Stanwix and the Treaty of Hard Labour, followed in 1770 by the Treaty of Lochaber, opened much of what is now Kentucky and West Virginia to British settlement.


Indigenous People of Treaty Six Territory[edit]

Further information on Canadian Aboriginal legacy: The Canadian Crown and Indigenous peoples

The Royal Proclamation continued to govern the cession of Indigenous land in British North America, especially Upper Canada and Rupert's Land. The proclamation forms the basis of land claims of Indigenous peoples in Canada – First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is thus mentioned in Section 25 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

According to historian Colin Calloway, "[settler] scholars disagree on whether the proclamation recognized or undermined tribal sovereignty".[8] The proclamation established the important precedent that the indigenous population had certain rights to the lands they occupied.

Some see the Royal Proclamation of 1763 as a "fundamental document" for First Nations land claims and self-government.[9] It is “the first legal recognition by the British Crown of Aboriginal rights"[10] and imposes a fiduciary duty of care on the Crown. The intent and promises made to the native in the Proclamation have been argued to be of a temporary nature, only meant to appease the Native peoples who were becoming increasingly resentful of “settler encroachments on their lands”[11] and were capable of becoming a serious threat to British colonial settlement.[12][13] Advice given by a merchant to the Board of Trade on August 30, 1764, expressed that

The Indians all know we cannot be a Match for them in the midst of an extensive woody Country...from whence I infer that if we are determined to possess Our Posts, Trade & ca securely, it cannot be done for a Century by any other means than that of purchasing the favour of the numerous Indian inhabitants.[14]

Some historians believe that “the British were trying to convince Native people that there was nothing to fear from the colonists, while at the same time trying to increase political and economic power relative to First Nations and other European powers.”[15] Others argue that the Royal Proclamation along with the subsequent Treaty of Niagara, provide for an argument that “discredits the claims of the Crown to exercise sovereignty over First Nations”[16] and affirms Aboriginal “powers of self-determination in, among other things, allocating lands.”[17]

United States[edit]

The influence of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 on the coming of the American Revolution has been variously interpreted. Many historians argue that the proclamation ceased to be a major source of tension after 1768, since the aforementioned treaties opened up extensive lands for settlement. Others have argued that colonial resentment of the proclamation contributed to the growing divide between the colonies and the mother country. Some historians argue that even though the boundary was pushed west in subsequent treaties, the British government refused to permit new colonial settlements for fear of instigating a war with Native Americans, which angered colonial land speculators.[18] Others argue that the Royal Proclamation imposed a fiduciary duty of care on the Crown.[19][citation needed]

George Washington was given 20,000 acres (81 km2) of wild land in the Ohio region for his services in the French and Indian War. In 1770, Washington took the lead in securing the rights of him and his old soldiers in the French War, advancing money to pay expenses in behalf of the common cause and using his influence in the proper quarters. In August 1770, it was decided that Washington should personally make a trip to the western region, where he located tracts for himself and military comrades and eventually was granted letters patent for tracts of land there. The lands involved were open to Virginians under terms of the Treaty of Lochaber of 1770, except for the lands located 2 miles south of Fort Pitt, now known as Pittsburgh.[20]

In the United States, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 ended with the American Revolutionary War because Great Britain ceded the land in question to the United States in the Treaty of Paris (1783). Afterward, the U.S. government also faced difficulties in preventing frontier violence and eventually adopted policies similar to those of the Royal Proclamation. The first in a series of Indian Intercourse Acts was passed in 1790, prohibiting unregulated trade and travel in Native American lands. In 1823, the U.S. Supreme Court case Johnson v. M'Intosh[21] established that only the U.S. government, and not private individuals, could purchase land from Native Americans.

250th anniversary celebrations[edit]

In October 2013 the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation was celebrated in Ottawa with a meeting of Indian leaders and Governor-General David Johnston.[22] The Aboriginal movement Idle No More held birthday parties for this monumental document at various locations across Canada.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^Royal Proclamation I
  2. ^Fred Anderson, Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 (2007)
  3. ^ abGordon S. Wood, The American Revolution, A History. New York, Modern Library, 2002 ISBN 0-8129-7041-1, p.22
  4. ^W. J. Eccles, France in America, Fitzhrenry & Whiteside Limited 1972, p220
  5. ^Jack M. Sosin, Whitehall and the Wilderness (University of Nebraska Pres. 1961 p. 146
  6. ^Harvey Markowitz, American Indians (1995) p. 633
  7. ^Louis De Vorsey, The Indian boundary in the southern colonies, 1763–1775 (1966) p. 39.
  8. ^Calloway, Scratch of a Pen, 93.
  9. ^Borrows, Wampum, 155.
  10. ^Douglas R. Francis, Richard Jones and Donald B. Smith, Origins: Canadian History to Confederation 6th ed. (Toronto: Nelson Education Ltd., 2009), 157.
  11. ^Francis et al., Origins, 156.
  12. ^Jack Stagg, Anglo-Indian Relations In North America to 1763 and An Analysis of the Royal Proclamation of 7 October 1763, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Research Branch, 1981, 356.
  13. ^Borrows, Wampum, 158–159.
  14. ^Quoted in Native Liberty, Crown Sovereignty: The Existing Aboriginal Right of Self-Government in Canada, Bruce Clark. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990), 81.
  15. ^Borrows, "Wampum," 160.
  16. ^Borrows, Wampum, 164.
  17. ^Borrows, Wampum, 165.
  18. ^Woody Holton (August 1994). "The Ohio Indians and the Coming of the American Revolution in Virginia". The Journal of Southern History. 60 (3): 453–78. doi:10.2307/2210989. 
  19. ^"Royal Proclamation of 1763: Relationships, Rights and Treaties – Poster". Government of Canada. 2013-11-27. 
  20. ^"Letter from George Washington to George Mercer dated November 7, 1771, at Williamsburg". The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources. p. 68. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. 
  21. ^21U.S. (8 Wheat.) 543 (1823)
  22. ^ "Royal Proclamation of 1763, Canada's 'Indian Magna Carta,' turns 250" 6 Oct 2013
  23. ^G+M "Royal Proclamation’s 250th anniversary has First Nations reflecting on their rights" 7 October 2013


  • Abernethy, Thomas Perkins (1959) [1937]. Western Lands and the American Revolution. New York: Russell & Russell. 
  • Borrows, John (1997). "Wampum at Niagara: The Royal Proclamation, Canadian Legal History, and Self-Government". In Asch, Michael. Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press. ISBN 0-7748-0580-3. 
  • Calloway, Colin (2006). The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-530071-8. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Marshall, Peter. "Sir William Johnson and the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, 1768." Journal of American Studies (1967) 1#2 pp 149–179. doi:10.1017/S0021875800007830
  • Sosin, Jack. Whitehall and the wilderness: The Middle West in British colonial policy, 1760-1775 (1961), the standard scholarly history of the proclamation and its effects.
  • Stuart, Paul. The Indian Office: Growth and Development of an American Institution, 1865-1900 (UMI Research Press, 1979)


  • Cashin, Edward J. "Governor Henry Ellis and the Transformation of British North America." Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994.
  • Fenge, Terry and Jim Aldridge (eds.), Keeping Promises: The Royal Proclamation of 1763, Aboriginal Rights, and Treaties in Canada, 2015, McGill-Queen's University Press
  • Lawson, Philip. The Imperial Challenge: Quebec and Britain in the Age of the American Revolution. Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989.
  • Roth, Christopher F. (2002) "Without Treaty, without Conquest: Indigenous Sovereignty in Post-Delgamuukw British Columbia." Wicazo Sa Review, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 143–165.
  • Stonechild, Blair A. "Indian-White Relations in Canada, 1763 to the Present." In Encyclopedia of North American Indians, ed. Frederick E. Hoxie, 277–81. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996.
  • Tousignant, Pierre. "The Integration of the Province of Quebec into the British Empire, 1763–91. Part 1: From the Royal Proclamation to the Quebec Act." In Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980.

External links[edit]

A portion of eastern North America; the 1763 "proclamation line" is the border between the red and the pink areas.
The Eastern (orange line) in the southern areas, and St. Lawrence (magenta line) watershed boundaries in the northern areas of this map more-or-less defined almost all of the Royal Proclamation's western boundaries
New borders drawn by the Royal Proclamation of 1763.
USA Proclamation of 1763 Silver Medal. Franklin Mint Issue 1970.

The Bill of Rights, also known as the English Bill of Rights, is an Act of the Parliament of England that deals with constitutional matters and sets out certain basic civil rights. It received the Royal Assent on 16 December 1689 and is a restatement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William III and Mary II in February 1689, inviting them to become joint sovereigns of England. The Bill of Rights lays down limits on the powers of the monarch and sets out the rights of Parliament, including the requirement for regular parliaments, free elections, and freedom of speech in Parliament. It sets out certain rights of individuals including the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and reestablished the right of Protestants to have arms for their defence within the rule of law. Furthermore, the Bill of Rights described and condemned several misdeeds of James II of England.[1]

These ideas reflected those of the political thinker John Locke and they quickly became popular in England. It also sets out—or, in the view of its drafters, restates—certain constitutional requirements of the Crown to seek the consent of the people, as represented in Parliament.[3]

In the United Kingdom, the Bill of Rights is further accompanied by Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 as some of the basic documents of the uncodified British constitution. A separate but similar document, the Claim of Right Act 1689, applies in Scotland. The Bill of Rights 1689 was one of the inspirations for the United States Bill of Rights.

Along with the Act of Settlement 1701, the Bill of Rights is still in effect in all Commonwealth realms. Following the Perth Agreement in 2011, legislation amending both of them came into effect across the Commonwealth realms on 26 March 2015.


During the 17th century, there was renewed interest in Magna Carta.[4] The Parliament of England passed the Petition of Right in 1628 which established certain liberties for subjects. The English Civil War (1642–1651) was fought between the King and an oligarchic but elected Parliament,[5][6] during which the idea of a political party took form with groups debating rights to political representation during the Putney Debates of 1647.[7] Subsequently, the Protectorate (1653-59) and the English Restoration (1660) restored more autocratic rule although Parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act in 1679, which strengthened the convention that forbade detention lacking sufficient cause or evidence.

Glorious Revolution[edit]

Main article: Glorious Revolution

Objecting to the policies of KingJames II of England (James VII of Scotland and James II of Ireland), a group of English Parliamentarians invited the DutchstadtholderWilliam III of Orange-Nassau (William of Orange) to overthrow the King. William's successful invasion with a Dutch fleet and army led to James fleeing to France. In December 1688, William took over the provisional government by appointment of the peers of the realm, as was the legal right of the latter in circumstances when the King was incapacitated, and summoned an assembly of certain members of parliament. This assembly called for an English Convention Parliament to be elected, which convened on 22 January 1689.[9]

Declaration of Right[edit]

Main article: Declaration of Right, 1689

The proposal to draw up a statement of rights and liberties and James's violation of them was first made on 29 January 1689 in the House of Commons, with members arguing that the House "cannot answer it to the nation or Prince of Orange till we declare what are the rights invaded" and that William "cannot take it ill if we make conditions to secure ourselves for the future" in order to "do justice to those who sent us hither". On 2 February a committee specially convened reported to the Commons 23 Heads of Grievances, which the Commons approved and added some of their own. However, on 4 February the Commons decided to instruct the committee to differentiate between "such of the general heads, as are introductory of new laws, from those that are declaratory of ancient rights". On 7 February the Commons approved this revised Declaration of Right, and on 8 February instructed the committee to put into a single text the Declaration (with the heads which were "introductory of new laws" removed), the resolution of 28 January and the Lords' proposal for a revised oath of allegiance. It passed the Commons without division.

On 13 February the clerk of the House of Lords read the Declaration of Right, and the Marquess of Halifax, in the name of all the estates of the realm, asked William and Mary to accept the throne. William replied for his wife and himself: "We thankfully accept what you have offered us". They then went in procession to the great gate at Whitehall. The Garter King at Arms proclaimed them King and Queen of England, France and Ireland, whereupon they adjourned to the Chapel Royal, with the Bishop of London preaching the sermon. They were crowned on 11 April, swearing an oath to uphold the laws made by Parliament. The Coronation Oath Act 1688 had provided a new coronation oath, whereby the monarchs were to "solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this kingdom of England, and the dominions thereunto belonging, according to the statutes in parliament agreed on, and the laws and customs of the same". They were also to maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant Reformed faith established by law. This replaced an oath which had deferred more to the monarch. The previous oath required the monarch to rule based on "the laws and customs... granted by the Kings of England".[13]

Provisions of the Act[edit]

The Declaration of Right was enacted in an Act of Parliament, the Bill of Rights 1689, which received the Royal Assent in December 1689. The Act asserted "certain ancient rights and liberties" by declaring that:

  • the pretended power of suspending the laws and dispensing with[nb 2] laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal;
  • the commission for ecclesiastical causes is illegal;
  • levying taxes without grant of Parliament is illegal;
  • it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;
  • keeping a standing army in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law;[nb 3]
  • Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;
  • election of members of Parliament ought to be free;
  • the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament;
  • excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;
  • jurors in trials for high treason ought to be freeholders;
  • promises of fines and forfeitures before conviction are illegal and void;
  • for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the laws, Parliaments ought to be held frequently.

The Act declared James' flight from England following the Glorious Revolution to be an abdication of the throne. It listed twelve of James's policies by which James designed to "endeavour to subvert and extirpate the protestant religion, and the laws and liberties of this kingdom". These were:

  • by assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws and the execution of laws without consent of Parliament;
  • by prosecuting the Seven Bishops; by establishing of the court of commissioners for ecclesiastical causes;
  • by levying taxes for the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative as if the same was granted by Parliament;
  • by raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace without consent of Parliament;
  • by causing Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when papists were both armed and employed contrary to law;
  • by violating the freedom of election of members to serve in Parliament;
  • by prosecutions in the Court of King's Bench for matters and causes cognizable only in Parliament, and by divers other arbitrary and illegal courses;
  • by employing unqualified persons on juries in trials, and jurors in trials for high treason which were not freeholders;
  • by imposing excessive bail on persons committed in criminal cases against the laws made for the liberty of the subjects;
  • by imposing excessive fines and illegal and cruel punishments;
  • by making 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.

In a prelude to the Act of Settlement to come twelve years later, the Bill of Rights barred Roman Catholics from the throne of England as "it hath been found by experience that it is inconsistent with the safety and welfare of this Protestant kingdom to be governed by a papist prince"; thus William III and Mary II were named as the successors of James II and that the throne would pass from them first to Mary's heirs, then to her sister, Princess Anne of Denmark and her heirs (and, thereafter, to any heirs of William by a later marriage).

Date and title[edit]

The Bill of Rights is commonly dated in legal contexts to 1688. This convention arises from the legal fiction (prior to the passage of the Acts of Parliament (Commencement) Act 1793) that an Act of Parliament came into force on the first day of the session in which it was passed. The Bill was therefore deemed to be effective from 13 February 1689 (New Style), or, under the Old Style calendar in use at the time, 13 February 1688. Under the Short Titles Act 1896, the Bill was given the official short title of "The Bill of Rights", without a calendar year suffix.[18]

Augmentation and effect[edit]

See also: Glorious Revolution § Legacy

The Bill of Rights was later supplemented by the Act of Settlement 1701 (which was agreed to by the Parliament of Scotland as part of the Treaty of Union). The Act of Settlement altered the line of succession to the throne laid out in the Bill of Rights.[19] However, both the Bill of Rights and the Claim of Right contributed a great deal to the establishment of the concept of parliamentary sovereignty and the curtailment of the powers of the monarch.[20][21][22] Leading, ultimately, to the establishment of constitutional monarchy, while also (along with the penal laws) settling the political and religious turmoil that had convulsed Scotland, England and Ireland in the 17th century.

The Bill of Rights (1689) reinforced the Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679) by codifying certain rights and liberties. Described by William Blackstone as Fundamental Laws of England, the rights expressed in these Acts became associated with the idea of the rights of Englishmen.. The Bill of Rights directly influenced the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights,[nb 4] which in turn influenced the Declaration of Independence.

Although not a comprehensive statement of civil and political liberties, the Bill of Rights stands as one of the landmark documents in the development of civil liberties in the United Kingdom and a model for later, more general, statements of rights;[13] these include the United States Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.[26][27] For example, as with the Bill of Rights 1689, the US Constitution prohibits excessive bail and "cruel and unusual punishment". Similarly, "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" is banned under Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Legal status[edit]

The Bill of Rights remains in statute and continues to be cited in legal proceedings in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, particularly Article 9 on parliamentary freedom of speech.[29] Following the Perth Agreement in 2011, legislation amending the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement 1701 came into effect across the Commonwealth realms on 26 March 2015 which changed the laws of succession to the British throne.[nb 5]

Part of the Bill of Rights remains in statute in the Republic of Ireland.

United Kingdom[edit]

The Bill of Rights applies in England and Wales; it was enacted in the Kingdom of England which at the time included Wales. Scotland has its own legislation, the Claim of Right Act 1689, passed before the Act of Union between England and Scotland. There are doubts as to whether, or to what extent, the Bill of Rights applies in Northern Ireland.[nb 6]

On 21 July 1995 a libel case brought by Neil Hamilton (then a member of parliament) against The Guardian was stopped after Justice May ruled that the Bill of Rights' prohibition on the courts' ability to question parliamentary proceedings would prevent The Guardian from obtaining a fair hearing. Section 13 of the Defamation Act 1996, was subsequently enacted to permit MPs to waive their parliamentary privilege and thus cite their own speeches if relevant to litigation.[32]

Following the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum in 2016, the Bill of Rights was quoted in a court ruling on a legal challenge seeking a judicial declaration that triggering EU exit must first be authorised by an act of Parliament.[33][34]


The ninth article, regarding parliamentary freedom of speech, is actively used in Australia.


The article on parliamentary freedom of speech is in active use in Canada.

New Zealand[edit]

The Bill of Rights was invoked in New Zealand in the 1976 case of Fitzgerald v Muldoon and Others,[35] which centred on the purporting of newly appointed Prime Minister Robert Muldoon that he would advise the Governor-General to abolish a superannuation scheme established by the New Zealand Superannuation Act, 1974, without new legislation. Muldoon felt that the dissolution would be immediate and he would later introduce a bill in parliament to retroactively make the abolition legal. This claim was challenged in court and the Chief Justice declared that Muldoon's actions were illegal as they had violated Article 1 of the Bill of Rights, which provides "that the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority ... is illegal."[36]

Republic of Ireland[edit]

The Act was retained in the Republic of Ireland although sections were repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 2007 section 2(2)(a),[37] and Part 2 of Schedule 1.[38] Section 2(3) of that Act repealed:

  • all of the Preamble down to "Upon which Letters Elections having been accordingly made"
  • the seventh paragraph "Subjects’ Arms. That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law."
  • all words from "And they doe Claime Demand and Insist" down to, but not including, section 2, bars Roman Catholics from Crown or Government, succession et cetera.

Modern recognition[edit]

Two special designs of commemorative two pound coins were issued in the United Kingdom in 1989 to celebrate the tercentenary of the Glorious Revolution. One referred to the Bill of Rights and the other to the Claim of Right. Both depict the Royal Cypher of William and Mary and the mace of the House of Commons, one also shows a representation of the St Edward's Crown and the other the Crown of Scotland.[39]

In May 2011, the Bill of Rights was inscribed in UNESCO's UK Memory of the World Register recognizing that:[40]

All the main principles of the Bill of Rights are still in force today, and the Bill of Rights continues to be cited in legal cases in the UK and in Commonwealth countries. It has a primary place in a wider national historical narrative of documents which established the rights of Parliament and set out universal civil liberties, starting with Magna Carta in 1215. It also has international significance, as it was a model for the US Bill of Rights 1789, and its influence can be seen in other documents which establish rights of human beings, such as the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.[26]

As part of the Parliament in the Making programme, the Bill of Rights was on display at the Houses of Parliament in February 2015 and at the British Library from March through September 2015.[41][42]

See also[edit]




  • Anon. (2010). "The Glorious Revolution". Factsheet General Series. G4. House of Commons Information Office. 
  • Billias, George Athan (2011). American constitutionalism heard round the world, 1776-1989 : a global perspective. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 9780814725177. 
  • Blick, Andrew (2015). "Magna Carta and contemporary constitutional change". History and Policy. 
  • Carpenter, Edward (1956). The Protestant Bishop. Being the Life of Henry Compton, 1632–1713. Bishop of London. London: Longmans, Green and Co. OCLC 1919768. 
  • Horwitz, Henry (1977). Parliament, Policy and Politics in the Reign of William III. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-0661-6. 
  • Lock, Geoffrey (1989). "The 1689 Bill of Rights". Political Studies. 37 (4): 540–561. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9248.1989.tb00288.x. 
  • Maier, Pauline (1997). American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-679-45492-6. 
  • Schwoerer, Lois G. (1990). "Locke, Lockean Ideas, and the Glorious Revolution". Journal of the History of Ideas. University of Pennsylvania Press. 51 (4). JSTOR 2709645. 
  • Thatcher, Oliver Joseph (ed.) (1907). The library of original sources. University Research Extension. 
  • Walker, Aileen; Gay, Oonagh; Maer, Lucinda (2009). "Bill of Rights 1689". House of Commons Library. 
  • Williams, E. N. (1960). The Eighteenth-Century Constitution. 1688–1815. Cambridge University Press. OCLC 1146699. 

External links[edit]

  1. ^The Act is cited as "The Bill of Rights" in the United Kingdom, as authorised by section 1 of, and the First Schedule to, the Short Titles Act 1896. Owing to the repeal of those provisions, it is now authorised by section 19(2) of the Interpretation Act 1978. In the Republic of Ireland, it is cited as "The Bill of Rights 1688", as authorised by section 1 of, and the First Schedule to, the Short Titles Act 1896 (as amended by section 5(a) of the Statute Law Revision Act 2007). The short title of this Act was previously "The Bill of Rights".
  2. ^i.e. ignoring
  3. ^Arguably, this right is subject to continuing derogation in modern times; see, for example, Armed Forces Act and discussion of the same in Military Covenant.
  4. ^Section Seven of the Virginia Declaration of Rights reads,
    That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority, without consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights and ought not to be exercised.
    which strongly echoes the first two "ancient rights and liberties" asserted in the Bill of Rights 1689:
    That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal;
    That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal;
    And the Virginia Declaration's Section Nine,
    That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
    is borrowed word for word from the Bill of Rights 1689.
  5. ^In Quebec the validity of the Canadian parliament's legislation is under judicial review. Blanchfield, Mike (22 July 2013). "Quebec government to mount legal challenge to new royal succession law". National Post [1]
  6. ^The United Kingdom consists of four countries and three distinct legal systems: England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.[30][31] These jurisdictions have particular legal considerations of their own, arising from differences in English law, Scots law and Northern Ireland law.
  1. ^"Britain's unwritten constitution". British Library. Retrieved 27 November 2015.  
  2. ^Maurice Adams; Anne Meuwese; Ernst Hirsch Ballin (2017). Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law: Bridging Idealism and Realism. Cambridge UP. p. 97. 
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