Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. J. R. Rilling


In 1628, members of the English Parliament confronted the problem of arbitrary rule by the king, Charles I. Wishing to prevent future royal violations of their fundamental liberties, both houses sought a remedy. Their efforts culminated in the Petition of Right, a statement of the rights of Englishmen under the common law. While many men could be named as contributors to the Petition's success, Sir Edward Coke and Sir Thomas Wentworth, members of the House ofCommons, stand out as two of its major architects. Without their contributions, the Petition would have succumbed to outside pressures early in the session. Biographers and contemporary correspondents comment on the tremendous influence both Coke and Wentworth exerted in the 1628 Parliament's writing of the Petition. Yet, in scholarly treatments, little mention is made of Wentworth's contributions while Coke is labeled the father of the Petition of Right. Although this omission may stem from the air of contradiction the facts lend to a discussion of Wentworth's later life, it indicates a failure to include all the information in the history of an important document. Diaries and records of the proceedings of the Commons indicate that, while he served on fewer committees, made fewer speeches, and spoke fewer words than Coke, his participation deserves attention. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the drafting of the Petition of Right with a balanced view of the roles of both Wentworth and Coke.

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