(BILL OF RIGHTS). ~ A Collection of Votes and other Proceedings of the hon[oura]ble the House of Commons in the yeare 1688/. [London, end of the seventeenth century].
Manuscript on paper, folio (365 × 225 mm), pp. , 433,  (table), plus 2 final blank leaves. Date on title corrected from ‘1680’ to 1688 in an early hand. Contemporary panelled calf, spine with red morocco label lettered ‘Votes 1688’, edges simply decorated (brushed, in imitation of marbling). Quite worn, hinges cracked, but secure.
A contemporary or early manuscript copy of the ‘The Votes and other Proceeedings of the honourable House of Commons’ for the first year of the reign of William and Mary, 1688/9, recording the dramatic political background to the Glorious Revolution and with a complete copy of the Declaration of Rights (commonly called the ‘Bill of Rights’) and the more comprehensive ‘Heads of Grievances’ from which it was distilled. Along with Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights is one of the landmarks in the development of constitutional law of England (and by extension, America) setting out basic civil rights which would shape the structure of government into our own era. It set firm limits on the powers of the crown while confirming the place of parliament in legislation and the right to free speech within it. It also guaranteed the right to bear arms, but limiting it to Protestant subjects in defence against the perceived Catholic tyranny of the deposed James II. The Bill of Rights directly reflected the philosophy of John Locke and 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 including 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.
It is included here, with much other parliamentary business, in a yearly manuscript volume of ‘The Votes of the House of Commons’. A distinct class of the record, the ’Votes’ were kept by a clerk of the House and recorded business transacted on each day's sittings, including the bills read, orders and resolutions passed, divisions, licences, and the like. Like the better known manuscript ‘Journals’ of the House of Commons the ‘Votes’ are primarily concerned with deeds, not words, and do not typically record the text of speeches or the acts themselves, though certain important determinations such as the Declaration of Rights are given in full. Copies of the Clerk’s originals could be made for members of parliament and there was a limited circulation of the texts in folio volumes such as this one, but they were not published in print until much later.
The fine calligraphic title here originally read ‘1680’, and error corrected, with the final ‘0’ deleted and substituted with an ‘8’. The front free endpaper is inscribed with a note to the binder: ‘Titled Votes 1688 & Marbled on the Leaves’. Included is a note from 1948 from the Commons Librarian to a former owner. While it is impossible to be certain of the date of this manuscript version, both the hand and the binding would place it within a decade or so of 1688. Frankle, Robert J. ‘The Formulation of the Declaration of Rights’. The Historical Journal, vol. 17, no. 2, 1974, pp. 265–279. cf. D. Menhennet, The Journal of the House of Commons: A Bibliographical and Historical Guide, 1971; M.F. Bond, Guide to the Records of Parliament (1971).