John Lilburne (free born john) invoked the Magna Carta against the pretensions of the stuart
● He coined the term "freeborn rights", defining them as rights with which every human
being is born, as opposed to rights bestowed by government or human law.
● The late United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, who often cited the works of
John Lilburne in his opinions, wrote in an article forEncyclopædia Britannica that he
believed John Lilburne's constitutional work of 1649 was the basis for the basic rights
contained in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.
● In a revolution where others argued about the respective rights of King and Parliament,
he spoke always of the rights of the people. His dauntless courage and his powers of
speech made him the idol of the people. With Coke's "Institutes" in his hand he was
willing to tackle any tribunal. He was ready to assail any abuse at any cost to himself, but
his passionate egotism made him a dangerous champion, and he continually sacrificed
public causes to personal resentments. It would be unjust to deny that he had a real
sympathy with sufferers from oppression or misfortune; even when he was himself an
exile he could interest himself in the distresses of English prisoners of war, and exert the
remains of his influence to get them relieved. In his controversies he was credulous,
careless about the truth of his charges, and insatiably vindictive. He attacked in turn all
constituted authorities—lords, commons, council of state, and council of officers—and
quarrelsome though he was, it is fair to note that he never fell out with his closer
comrades, Walwyn and Overton ().Alife of Lilburne published in 1657 supplies this
Is John departed, and is Lilburne gone!
Farewell to Lilburne, and farewell to John...
But lay John here, lay Lilburne here about,
For if they ever meet they will fall out.
● Lilburne was arrested upon information by an informer acting for The Stationers'
Company for printing and circulating unlicensed books and brought before the Court of
Star Chamber. Instead of being charged with an offence he was asked how he pleaded. In
his examinations he refused to take the oath known as the 'ex-officio' oath (on the ground
that he was not bound to incriminate himself)As he persisted in his contumacy, he was
sentenced (13 February 1638) to be fined £500, whipped, pilloried, and imprisoned till he
obeyed. On 18 April 1638 Lilburne was flogged with a three-thonged whip on his
bare back, as he was dragged by his hands tied to the rear of an ox cart from Fleet Prison
to the pillory at Westminster. He was then forced to stoop in the pillory where he still
managed to campaign against his censors, while distributing more unlicensed literature to
the crowds. He was then gagged. Finally he was thrown in prison. He was taken back
to the court and again imprisoned. During his imprisonment in Fleet he was cruelly
treated. While in prison he however managed to write and to get printed in 1638 an
account of his own punishment styled The Work of the Beast (This shows that in england
they did not have the right to not incriminate themselves and shows the brutality of the
court in England... It is also cited within the 1966 majority opinion of Miranda v. Arizona by the U.S. Supreme Court. Ex. of the evolution of the fifth amendment from england to
● He could be called the first English Radical — a great-hearted Liberal — a militant
Christian — even if the spirit of his teaching were taken fully into account, the first
English democrat. But it is better to leave him without a label, enshrined in the words he
spoke for his party: "And posterity we doubt not shall reap the benefit of our endeavours,
what ever shall become of us."
● (1641) Triennial Act (which assured the summoning of parliament every three years) and
the Dissolution Act (which allowed only the Long Parliament to consent to its own
● Then came the Grand Remonstrance, a long list of grievances against King Ch