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19 March 2012

On this day in history: Abolition of the English House of Lords, 1649

In March 1649, the Rump Parliament passed two acts completely changing the government of England. On the 17th of that month they passed 'An Act for the abolishing the Kingly Office in England and Ireland, and the Dominions thereunto belonging', and two days later they also abolished the House of Lords, calling it 'useless and dangerous to the People of England.' The text of the act is as follows:

An Act for the Abolishing the House of Peers

The Commons of England assembled in Parliament, finding by too long experience, that the House of Lords is useless and dangerous to the People of England to be continued, have thought fit to Ordain and Enact, and be it Ordained and Enacted by this present Parliament, and by the Authority of the same, That from henceforth the House of Lords in Parliament, shall be and is hereby wholly abolished and taken away; And that the Lords shall not from henceforth meet or sit in the said House called The Lords House, or in any other House or Place whatsoever, as a House of Lords; nor shall Sit, Vote, Advise, Adjudge, or Determine of any matter or thing whatsoever, as a House of Lords in Parliament: Nevertheless it is hereby Declared, That neither such Lords as have demeaned themselves with Honor, Courage and Fidelity to the Commonwealth, nor their Posterities who shall continue so, shall be excluded from the Publique Councils of the Nation, but shall be admitted thereunto, and have their Free Vote in Parliament, if they shall be thereunto elected, as other persons of Interest elected and qualified thereunto, ought to have.

Otherwise to have no Priviledge.

And be it further Ordained and Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That no Peer of this Land, not being Elected, Qualified, and sitting in Parliament as aforesaid, shall claim, have or make use of any priviledge of Parliament, either in relation to his Person, Quality or Estate, Any Law, Usage or Custom to the contrary notwithstanding.

Source: British History Online

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