Watercolour on Board
26" x 17" (660mm x 420mm)
This is the original Watercolour painting by Ron Embleton.
In March 1542 - during the reign of King Henry VIII - George Ferrers MP (1500-1579) was arrested as he had agreed to stand surety for a friends debts. His friend had defaulted on his debt and so Ferrers was arrested and taken to debtors prison. When Ferrers' fellow MPs heard of his arrest they ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons to go and release Ferrers.
The prison officials refused and, according to Raphael Holinshed's Chronicle, there "ensued a fray within the Counter gates between Ferrers and the officers, not without hurt of either part, so that the sergeant was driven to defend himself with his mace of arms, and had the Crown thereof broken off by bearing off a stroke, and his man struck down". Shortly after this, the two sheriffs of London appeared, but treated the Sergeant-at-Arms with great contempt.
When these events were communicated to the House of Commons the MPs informed the Lords of what had happened and both ruled that the offenders could be punished by Parliament. Subsequently Ferrers' was released, the prison officials and the Sheriffs of London were imprisoned in the Tower for a fortnight.
This case was instrumental in the formation of Parliamentary privilege of freedom from arrest. This beautiful and powerful piece of original artwork is from Look and Learn no. 393, 26th July 1969.
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