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The City of London is bound to Parliament by ties of rights and privileges which, of all the municipalities of the country, it alone enjoys. It is distinguished in the history of Parliament by reason of services it rendered to the development of Parliament as a representative institution.

Of these services the best known is the refuge it afforded to the five members of the House of Commons - Hampden, Pym, Holles, Strode, and Hesilrige - when Charles I. suddenly appeared in the House to arrest them on January 4, 1642, because they stood for freedom in the contest between Crown and Parliament.

This was the first time, and the last, that the Sovereign has been seen in the House of Commons, and so daring a breach of privilege greatly incensed the Commons of the day. "The birds are flown," as the King himself said. Apprised of his coming, they just had time to leave the House and be rowed down the river by boat to the security of the City.

But if this is the most dramatic of the episodes in which the City of London figures in Parliamentary records, it is not the most important historically...

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