Debates in 1679: March 15th-21st

Pages 1-19

Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 7. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.

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In this section

DEBATES IN THE House of Commons, From the Year 1667 to the Year 1694.

Saturday, March 15, 1678.

THE House met, according to the Prorogation, when his Majesty, in the Lords House, spoke to this effect:

"My Lords and Gentlemen,

"Though this hath been a very short recess, yet there are some doubts whether you can take notice of what I said at the opening of this Parliament, in point of form; therefore it is necessary that I recommend to you what I and my Lord Chancellor said to you the other day, as if we said it now. The rest I refer to the Lord Chancellor."

The Lord Chancellor, [Earl of Nottingham,] then spoke as follows:

"My Lords, and you the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of the House of Commons,

"Since it hath pleased the King to refer you all to what he lately said at the opening of this Parliament, it will concern us all to take it into our most serious thoughts, and to enter upon the matter therein recommended to us, that so we may proceed effectually in that great work for which we were called, without being diverted from it by any consideration whatsoever. For if this Parliament succeed not well, if it do not quiet and compose the minds of all the people; it will be thought the most unaccountable thing in the world, considering the great preparations the King hath made for it, and those excellent dispositions of mind he brings towards it. Wherefore, that no time may be lost, his Majesty commands you, Gentlemen of the House of Commons, to proceed immediately to your choice of a Speaker, and his Majesty will expect that he be presented to him on Monday morning, at ten of the clock."

The Commons then returned to their House to chuse their Speaker.

Lord Russel.] Gentlemen, I hope the occasion of the late unhappy difference about the choice of our Speaker is removed by the Prorogation. And I hope now that no ill persons, by tricks, can create a misunderstanding betwixt the King and his people, and hinder the happy effects of this Session. And since the first step we are to make is to chuse a Speaker, I shall humbly recommend Mr Serjeant Gregory as a fit person.

Mr Sacheverell.] I stand not up to oppose the Motion, but for what every honest Gentleman ought to do. I blame no man that differs from me, or goes according to his judgment. I differ from those who think that this point of right, of chusing our Speaker, &c. is now quiet, and I stand up only to give my reason for it, why I differ, and then I will withdraw. I differ, because that in honour we cannot leave Mr Seymour, since he may suffer by being named Speaker by us. Next, if our right be not maintained, we have a Precedent upon us. Next, if there be no expedient, &c. then the Motion is warrantable; but I know not of any.

Lord Cavendish.] By the last Prorogation, the King seemed rather to yield to us, by admitting that the point in difference could not be decided any other way. The King's denial of the Speaker that we chose is not entered into the Lords Book. Therefore, in respect to the affairs of the Nation, let us chuse our Speaker, and I second the Motion for Serjeant Gregory.

Serjeant Gregory.] I humbly thank you for your good opinion of me; but when I consider the weight of your Debates, which require a person of the greatest experience and parts, my time of sitting here has not been above a year, and my experience so little that you may suffer in your affairs; and I come with the greatest disadvantage imaginable to succeed a person of so much experience. Pray consider of it, and chuse a more experienced person.

Then Lord Russel and Lord Cavendish took him by the arms, and led him to the Chair; which he did not in the least resist.

Serjeant Gregory.] Seeing that you will not admit my excuse, I humbly beg leave, that I may crave his Majesty's pardon and excuse at the Lords Bar.

The effect of the Speaker's Speech when he was presented to his Majesty.

"May it please your Majesty,

"In obedience to your command, the Commons have proceeded to the choice of a Speaker, and have chosen me; who, conscious of my own inabilities, and weakness, for so great a service, considering the great and weighty matters likely to be at this time before them, have done all I could to prevail with them to excuse me, which they have refused to do, and have renewed their commands upon me to accept of it. In obedience to them I come hither, to offer myself freely to serve your Majesty and the Government; and for your Majesty's grace and favour I do in all humility lay myself at your Majesty's feet."

The effect of the Lord Chancellor's Speech, in answer, &c.

"Mr Speaker, The excuse you have made cannot discredit you with his Majesty; especially coming with such credentials from the House of Commons. Moderate parts, accompanied with such modesty, which hath been called a form in others, is in you a settled habit; and is more becoming than when it wants that ornament. His Majesty doth ratify and confirm you Speaker."

The effect of the Speaker's second Speech.

"I am all obedience to your Majesty, and I think it no longer my duty to excuse myself, and I shall, with all diligence, to the best of my power, set myself to serve your Majesty and the Government in that station as well as I can, and so I shall likewise your Majesty on all other accounts; and in the name of the Commons of England, I request your Majstey for Access to your Royal Person, Freedom of Speech, and from Arrests; and that your Majesty will put a favourable construction upon all our Debates."

The effect of the Lord Chancellor's second Speech.

"His Majesty doth, with great chearfulness, confirm all your Privileges; and "Freedom of Speech," a jewel of unknown worth, he thinks safe when trusted with his House of Commons; and is satisfied that you will not see it abused. As for "securing your Persons from Arrests," it shall be preserved so inviolably to you, that his Majesty will think it the highest contempt of his Royal authority in any body that shall go about to disturb you, whilst you are serving him. And as for "Access to his Person," his Majesty denies it to no man, and to be sure you will find it favourably extended to you. For the creature he makes by his Power he will always support by his Goodness."

Then the House came down, and the Speaker took the Tests &c. and Oaths in his Chair. The rest of the Members [took them] this day and the next (fn. 1).

Then, according to Custom of Parliament, the Session was opened by reading a Bill.

Wednesday, March 19.

Mr Vaughan.] That Religion that absolves not the Subjects from their obedience to their Prince, and teaches Loyalty, and not Rebellion, is the Protestant Religion, which we profess. The great Plot was to subvert that Religion. I move "that a Committee may inspect the Journal," that we may know how we left affairs the last Parliament, and that we may the better know what we have to do.

Mr Powle.] I must take notice of the murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, that, when the last Parliament met, the lights of that horrid action were obscure; but by their diligence they laid open the great practices of the Popish party, and their great correspondences both abroad and at home, and to be put in the posture of a military force, but, by God's great providence, they were discovered. Besides that dark practice brought to light, of a great Minister of State, (Danby;) when we gave money to engage in an actual War against France, and at the same time he was merchandizing for Peace. And when all these things were brought to a crisis, and when the discovery of the Plot and other things were almost brought to perfection, just then there came a Prorogation of that Parliament, and soon after a Dissolution. What were the motives of other men to advise the King to do it, I will not examine, but it seems to me, that the King would not, in the great affairs now depending, trust the advice of others, but such as had the approbation of the Country by another choice. I hope this Parliament, now met, will do great things for the King and Kingdom. The King calls for your assistance, in the first place, for discovery of the Plot, and therefore if you lay on upon the scent of the Plot where you left off in the last Parliament, I fear the abrupt breaking off that Parliament hath so darkened things as never to be recovered. But whoever shall be detected to be guilty of conspiring against the life of the King, I hope he shall never be pardoned. I have opened something only in general, and I would have a Committee appointed to search the Journals, and report how you left things, for the sake of some Gentlemen who were not here the last Parliament.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I move to have your Books examined as to those things relating to the Treasurer which you have sent up to the Lords, and to other things not yet sent up relating to the five Lords accused of the Plot, of which Mr Oates and Mr Coleman's letters are concurrent testimony. I desire the matter may be reported; for Gentlemen that were not here then, and who live in the country, will scarcely believe what they will find.

Sir John Knight.] You see, by Coleman's letters that the King and Parliament have been betrayed for these seven years last past, and I would have them reviewed again, and that they were to raise a standing Army with French money, and to have no Parliament for three years.

Sir Francis Winnington.] Consider the most methodical way to come to your end. First, consider that it is necessary to see your Journals, what you have done. To look into the particulars of the Plot, and the discovery of it, is one thing; and suppressing it is another; and it is a great work. But if you inspect the Journal, there will be occasion for Gentlemen to graft upon it as they please. Every man is full of suppressing the Plot, and the preservation of the King's person. And when you have inspected the Journal, you may the more orderly proceed in what you have to do.

Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to inspect the Journals of the last Session of the last Parliament, and to prepare and draw up a state of the matters then depending [and undetermined, and the progress that was made therein,] and report the same to-morrow morning.

Mr Swynfin.] When there are many ill things, and one that contains all the ill things, I would consider that. Our lives, estates, and the Government. Though this is but one single thing, yet all is in the belly of it. I would single out that. Do you know that Justice is delayed? I would have no man stand before you against the King and Kingdom. Go upon that first.

Colonel Birch.] I know no reason why we should alter the method of Parliament. Leave the Committee at large, without tying them to the Plot, or any thing else, and you may command what particulars you will go upon first. I would have the matters brought before you, the reasons and inducements, &c. and then the Letters, &c. and all things will be ready for you to proceed upon.

Thursday, March 20.

Sir Francis Winnington reports [from the Committee, the search of] the Journal, &c.

Sir Thomas Lee.] Though the Report be not brought up to the table, yet it ought to be entered into the Journal, and not omitted, as the Report about Mr Prance was. I would not have this so left out as that was, after Sir John Trevor had made you the Report.

Resolved, That the Report [be re-committed, and brought in, in writing, to the end the same may] be entered [in the Journal.]

Sir Thomas Clarges.] I would have the Chairman of the Committee assist and inform the Clerk how to make the entry, much of the Report being from his memory. When it is entered upon our books, we then have a good title to it, which, by a Dissolution of the Parliament, we have not else. I would have you order the Report to be fairly written, and read at the table, and then entered.

Mr Powle.] Consider what you will do with this Report. The Proceedings of the last Session of the last Parliament were so honourable, as not to be paralleled in any time. And yet, in the height of their Proceedings, they were prorogued. Let us go on, therefore, where they left off, and the first thing you do, pray let it be to look upon the examinations relating to the Plot. They are all ready, and several persons, since the Dissolution of the Parliament, have given in farther evidence. Those Witnesses may be sent for, in order to the preparing the charge for the Lords tryal in the Tower. I think some Witnesses may be brought to the Bar, to inform you here; but some will be proper to be concealed till the Lords tryal. Only I move now that you will nominate a Committee to draw up the Impeachment against the Lords.

Colonel Birch.] I would have every Gentleman here have the whole matter before him. When we were prorogued, it was in that nick of time when Witnesses were offering themselves to give evidence in the Plot. I would have them sent for, to have the body of the thing laid open before the whole Kingdom, that they may see what grounds you go upon; and I would have some of the evidence come to the Bar to-morrow morning.

Sir Harbottle Grimstone.] In the last Parliament, money was raised, and an Army was quickly up, and we know what Officers were for them. We saw that there was no War intended against the French. We then considered what was to be done next. We therefore went about disbanding the Army, for our fears and doubts were of a standing Army. You know, we then fell into the consideration of disbanding them, but the money we gave for that purpose was employed for keeping them up, so that in that matter the Report is shorter; that is, we were plainly cozened. But that's past, and rather than they should pay themselves, we resolved to give money, but never to have it paid into the Exchequer, but into the Chamber of London. And then in ten or twelve days you would have had no Army; but they who dissolved that Parliament hindered the passage of that Bill. I would have that matter reported out of the Journal.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] Half a dozen years ago the King was Arbitrator of the Triple League, and, for ought we know, he is now at the mercy of the King of France. He was let into the seventeen Provinces by our assistance, and men were sent over to him, contrary to the opinion of the Nation. Then, the last Parliament, we were invited to raise an Army, and make War with the French; and a Privy Counsellor here was so hasty in it, that "he would rather be guilty of twenty murders (Coventry) than that it should not be a War (fn. 2)." Another talked of "taking the King of France by the beard;" and an Army of thirty thousand men was raised, to prosecute this War, and then four days after the Act was passed, &c. the Lord Treasurer enters into a treaty with the French King for six millions of livres per annum, &c. to keep this Army up, and to take away our Laws and Liberties. His Letters show you that the French King should have Peace if he would pay so much for it. Were not then the King and we betrayed in this? And, by God's great mercy, this misery was published to you under the Treasurer's own hand, and, for ought I know, the King and Government might have been subverted by it. I desire that, as soon as you please, Doctor Tongue and Mr Oates may give you their information relating to the Plot.

Mr Garrowcy.] I would, in this matter of the Plot, first name your Committee of Secrecy; and, that no Gentlemen may take exceptions, I would have no new Members excluded. They are of great integrity and abilities, and there is no reason why you should exclude them. The old Members will help them with their papers, and would be glad to have themselves assisted; the practices of some men may defeat you without great care, for the Plot is still on foot. Now, whether will you examine the Witnesses here, or at the Committee of Secrecy?

Mr Vaughan.] I had rather that this Parliament prosecuted the Plot than the last; for this brings their interest with them, the last came to make an interest here.

The Committee of Secrecy was named [to take information and prepare evidences, &c.] and three to be of the quorum.

[Doctor Tongue, Mr Oates, and Mr Bedlow were ordered to attend at the Bar the next day, and a Message was sent to the Lords, reminding them of the Impeachment of the Earl of Danby, and desiring that he might be committed to safe custody.]

Friday, March 21.

Doctor Tongue, at the Bar, gave a long account of his observations of the Papists before the discovery of the Plot, and, upon them, he was induced to print his book of the Jesuits' morals, which so enraged the Jesuits, that they employed Mr Oates to come over to kill him. He was ordered to give in a copy of his information, and it is mostly printed upon several occasions.

Mr Oates, at the Bar, gave a large narrative of the beginning and proceeding of the Plot; since penned by himself, and printed. Then he complained, "that he was under several discouragements; as for instance, from the Earl of Danby. Mr Oates being in the Privy Garden, the Earl of Danby, passing by, said, "There goes one of the Saviours of England, but I hope to see him hanged within a month." Then he informed the House, "that five years ago he had some knowlege of the Plot by one Everard, a prisorer in the Tower; where he was kept for four years and a half for endeavouring to discover the Plot. That Mr Edward Sackville, a Member of the House, did revile him, being the King's evidence, and swore, "God damn him, it was no Plot, and they were sons of whores who say that there is a Plot, and that Oates was a lying rogue."

"That Mr Henry Goring, the younger, met him in the Lobby, when he was newly elected, and desired him to use his interest to get Sir John Gage bailed." He replied, "that he would not use his interest to get Traytors bailed, and that he was no man to do it, because he had accused him." Who replied, "that Mr Oates was a rascal, and a lying rogue," and he swore "by God, he believed not Mr Oates, though the House did," and called him, "base, impudent fellow." Mr Oates returned Mr Goring ill language, but left that to Mr Goring to repeat. He spoke of it in the country, "that the King had justified him when he had abused Mr Oates," and leaves it to Mr Goring's honour to deny it (fn. 3)." He added, "I desire to be removed from Whitehall, and to make use of the liberty the Law allows me. I have been threatened with carrying to the water-side, and to be sent down the River, and can give good reason why they intend me for a sacrifice. I have been baffled, and abused, and hindered from serving my country. The King holds his Crown by the same Title I hold my Liberty"—These last words gave offence to many. He withdrew.


Mr Sackville (fn. 4).] As to what Mr Oates has informed you of what I should say, no man will think me guilty of so much folly, as to say "there was no Plot; "but I have said, "I believe not all Oates has said of it," when I consider his education. I have heard Doctor Lowther say, "that had he not been told how impudent Oates was, he could not have believed it." Oates said "he was a better man than myself, and that I was a rascal." I have always said "that I did believe the Plot, and that, if it were not a Plot, Mr Oates deserved to be hanged."

Mr Pilkington.] The King and Kingdom are obliged to Mr Oates for his discovery; but if he be not upheld by encouragement, we may be lost. I would have every man, that is an Englishman, consider, that, if Mr Oates has been abused, they who have wronged him may be made examples to deter others.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] You are well moved, but several persons have been accused by Mr Oates, and but one of them in the House. I would therefore appoint a time for your Member present to justify himself, and for Mr Oates to prove his charge.

Colonel Birch.] I have often heard, in the country, that two or three have done such things as these, but could I have got the persons proved, I would have informed you. I desire that business may be examined, and that Mr Oates may produce his testimony; and for what Mr Sackville has to say, that he produce his; and so we may have a due examination of it. It may else go through the whole Kingdom, to the prejudice of the whole Parliament, and let it be examined at the secret Committee.

Ordered, That Mr Oates's information be heard at the Bar [on Monday next.]

Mr Bedlow at the Bar.] The only danger I am in is of my guards at Whitehall. I always understood that guards were not for my interruption, but safety. The discoveries I have made have not been little ones, since the last Parliament. But I am much hindered by my guards, who are so many spies upon me, and not for my safety, and if they like not any man that comes to me, they have orders to shoot him; and they would do it, and did present their guns. When I know myself in a safer condition, I shall say more. I have been urged to revoke what I have already said, with promises of reward. But if I will not, there are oars ready at Whitehall Stairs, and I shall be sent away without discovery. But before I make any farther discovery, I desire to be put in a place where I may be safe from danger; any where but Whitehall. If the King be not safe there, I am sure I cannot think myself so. In interval of Parliament I am confined and checked. Upon my own expence, I have got several Priests, and could get a hundred more, if I had encouragement to bear my charges. I will not wrong any body, but, since Mr Arthur's papers were seized, I have had discouragement; and for revealing the murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey. I shall be better prepared tomorrow to say more. But as for the Plot, I desire to cease farther discovery of circumstances, which I shall reserve for a more proper time. Then he read the former papers he delivered in the last Parliament, and undertakes the proof of all of it. And I could have done it much more; but I have been kept more like a prisoner than an evidence. I have been much discouraged since my discovery of the murder of Godfrey, for I have not received the encouragement in the Proclamation. Poor people, who helped me in it, have lost the relief of Catholics, that kept them. If I could have had the 500l. promised in the Proclamation, I would be ready to give it to the poor people. I have scarce enough allowed me to keep me alive, and that's all; but I have nothing to maintain my witnesses. When I come to confront the persons accused, I shall say a great deal more, not by hearsay, but from their own mouths to me, or writings; and particular circumstances. I was proffered money from my Lord Treasurer for a copy of what I had said against him and the Queen. A Gentleman from the Treasurer would have corrupted one of my servants. And other attempts [have been made] upon me, which I shall in time declare. There are too many of the King's enemies for me to be safe in Whitehall. Colonel Howard, Lord Newport, Prince Rupert, and the Duke of Monmouth are kind to me. When I am safe, and out of their reach, I will say more. I was told, by a great man, "that I might go to Sweden, Jamaica, Switzerland, or New England; if I would retire, I might be rewarded." Witnesses should converse together in matters of this great moment; but if I must not, I am ready to serve the Kingdom in thralldom, as well as in liberty. He withdrew.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] What concerns Mr Bedlow's accusation of the traytors must be a work of time; but what concerns the King I would take into consideration presently. Bedlow was to have had 500l. for his discovery of the murder of Godfrey, by the Proclamation, and it was a plain discovery. Therefore I move "that some Members may acquaint the King with it," that some course may be taken for it, that the Proclamation may not be a mockery, and the public credit of the nation vilified; and the 20l. for discovery of a Priest not to be a mockery, or a vision, and the Nation contemned.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] There are several Petitions for this 500l. Mr Bedlow gave the first information, and what overtures were made of it to him; but, as the Proclamation runs, he must make it out who murdered Godfrey. In the mean time, some of the neighbours of Mr Prance gave information, "that Prance had a halberd with him, &c. and a horse, which he used not to have;" and this gave suspicion. The Lords sent for Prence, and upon his first examination he was very likely to make it out. My Lord Treasurer doubted that Mr Bedlow's information proved it not. And, says another Gentleman, "I produced Prance;" so the thing could not be decided.

Sir William Pulleney (fn. 5).] I am much troubled that there is so much discouragement without doors, and more, that there is so little encouragement within doors. I move, therefore, that the Proclamation, &c. may not be turned into a mockery. Bedlow was willing, if he might have had the 500l. to have distributed the money amongst the rest of the pretenders to the discovery of Godfrey's murder, &c. but because he has not a title to it in the strict formality of Law, shall he have nothing? They are Petitioners for the Laws, the benefit of every common subject. I never heard that witnesses have had guards upon them. Mr Oates has proffered security to prosecute, &c. and I think truly that they lie under great discouragements, and long attendance. They have showed themselves faithful; therefore I move now, for the King and Kingdom, that, where you shall find an obstruction to their liberty, you will direct an Address to the King that it may be taken off, and that they and the Nation may not be discouraged.

Sir Robert Howard.] In the last Parliament, thousands of pounds were talked of in the House for rewards to the discoverers of Godfrey's murder. Then 500l. was promised in the Proclamation, and now it is fallen to nothing. I have heard that it was agreed amongst the discoverers to share the 500l. and yet it seems they shall not have it.

Colonel Birch.] I am amazed, that, when the former Parliament talked of 5000l. now they at Whitehall hesitate at 500l. Bedlow said, when he saw Prance in the Lords Lobby, "This is the man that shewed me Godfrey's body murdered; seize him." I hope the House will think 500l. too little a reward, and that the House will, rather than not, double it ten times. All the pretenders to the discovery, &c. meet with equal success, and that is, they have not a penny!

Mr Secretary Coventry.] By the Proclamation, 500l. was due to the discoverer, and then it is not in the power of the King's Council to give away meum and tuum. It was ordered that the Lord Treasurer should take the advice of the Judges of it, and the King is bound to it, as the sense of the Proclamation shall be judged.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] The Honourable Person makes a moot point in Law of it, and it may be put off from Term to Term, and at last become an Exchequer-Chamber argument amongst the Judges. Such a Proclamation is always to be taken in the largest sense, as to the reward. The Judges may give a flattering opinion on it. I would address the King about it.

Sir Richard Cust.] Bedlow was the first discoverer of the murder. Prance comes in only se defendendo.

An Address was voted accordingly, [desiring that his Majesty would cause the 500l. reward to be paid to Mr Bedlow, &c.]

Ordered, That Mr Oates's Information against the Lord Treasurer be referred to the secret Committee.

Mr Bedlow at the Bar.

The Speaker.] The House has taken notice of what fell from you, about a reward to go abroad, to absent yourself from giving any farther evidence against the Lords; &c.

Mr Bedlow.] I shall make more discovery of it in the close Committee. My full discovery of all things cannot be expected till the Lords tryals. I am sorry I should accuse any worthy man, who should say "there was no Plot," and "that we were great rogues." I must accuse Mr Edward Sackville for saying so. A Gentleman come out of France, Sir Robert Welsh, can give you great light, if he may be heard at your Bar. I desire that another Gentleman may be called in, who would have made discoveries four or five years since about the Plot, and for a reward was put into Prison; his name is Mr Everard, and he is now in the Speaker's Chamber. He withdrew.

Lord Cavendish.] If there be so dangerous a person near the King, as to stifle the evidence of the Plot, he should be removed. I would graft something upon it.

Sir Francis Winnington.] I have the honour to be named of the close Committee, but I would have this tampering with Bedlow declared to you now. If there be such a person near the King, to bribe and corrupt Evidence against his life, &c. every good subject would have him removed from the King. I would ask Bedlow singly the names of the persons, that a hearsay-time and place may not bring all your Evidence to nothing, by such corruptions, &c. I move, as for your immediate service only, to have the persons named, and then do farther what you please.

Mr Bedlow at the Bar.

The Speaker.] The House is tender of your safety, and likewise of the King's Evidence, that it should not be weakened, and therefore require you to declare who would have corrupted you to have given copies, &c. to the end that no persons may entrap you by counter-proofs. First, the House would know whether any person has threatened, persuaded, or offered you reward to go beyond sea? And next, by whom you was so persuaded or threatened?

Mr Bedlow.] For the first, I have been threatened, &c. and I have been promised a good reward, &c. and "that I had better make sure of myself beyond sea, if the Parliament be prorogued." I was proposed Sweden, &c. and had two days time to consider of it, &c. I was a great rogue at first, and should have been a greater rogue now to be corrupted. I was resolved not to be frighted nor corrupted. I was told "there should be a pair of oars at Whitehall Stairs, and a yatch at Greenwich should send me away, if I would not accept of what was proposed me, or I should have my throat cut."

The Speaker.] If that person that threatened you were known, we should then know whom to accuse.

Mr Bedlow.] I desire to have no converse, and to be assured I shall not come to Whitehall, unless I am commanded by the Council; and till I be secured of my safety I cannot name the person. He withdrew.

Sir Francis Winnington.] This last business is of great importance. It not only requires your consideration, but that it be speedy. Bedlow will not name the person, till he be secured of his safety; and it is very reasonable he should. I propose, that he may have assurance in general, of his safety, if he name the person. But whether he shall first name the person, and then you'll secure him; either way is very easy.

Lord Cavendish.] I would have Bedlow called down, and signify so much to him.

Mr Bedlow at the Bar.

The Speaker.] The House is sensible of your fears, and the danger you are in, and assure you, that, if you'll be free and open in your discoveries, the House will not rise till they have taken care for your safety.

Mr Bedlow.] My danger is so great, that the Ycomen of the Guard would not part with me, till the Serjeant of the House would give them security to deliver me again to them. The King is more courteous and kind to me than I could expect from a King to a subject; but when I am gone from him, somebody has power to do me ill offices. I think myself safe in the Members Houses, or in the City, but I am sure the King is not safe in Whitehall, and then I am sure I cannot be so. He withdrew.

Sir Francis Winnington.] I moved even now, that, if it were not Bedlow's inclination to name the person, till he was assured of his safety by the House, he should not be urged to it, because of his apprehension that he is in danger, if he should, being near the water, &c. and he proposes a remedy. No person, I believe, here, would willingly go away without hearing the person named that the King stands in so great danger from. I propose, therefore, that some of the Privy Council may go to the King, and desire him, that, because of Bedlow's apprehensions of himself, he may be in the custody of your Serjeant; and that is, of the House.

Sir Thomas Meres.] Before that be, I move that you may have some sort of security from Bedlow, that he will prosecute the persons he accuses, &c.

Colonel Titus.] Here are some things that I understand not, in this matter. I see not how Bedlow can be in greater danger than he is in already. To take him from the King's guard into your protection—I like not that. There is no protection but the King's, and no body mistrusts the Duke of Monmouth. I would therefore address the King, "that Bedlow may be put into the care of the Duke of Monmouth," without mentioning any sort of guards. And a Gentleman says to me, "that Bedlow will be well satisfied with this course."

Resolved, That an humble Address be made to his Majesty, by some of the Members of the Privy Council, that the care of Mr Bedlow's safety may be immediately recommended to his Grace the Duke of Monmouth.

Sir Christopher Musgrave.] Bedlow ought not to capitulate with you; but what we think to be his security, he ought to think so too; therefore I think you fairly moved "for the Duke of Monmouth," &c. And then call him in, to declare who gave him these threats and offered him bribes.

Sir Robert Howard.] If any man has threatened him, that man is known to him, and that man knows it. A great man said, "he would send Oates and him down the river." Bedlow has named the man in the wrong place, not in the right. Satisfy Bedlow that you have offered him great security; that is, the Duke of Monmouth. He has said, "that a great person has threatened him, &c." That person knows it, and you do not; therefore he is unsafe without naming him here.

Sir William Pulteney.] The crime that the Lords are accused of is Treason, and the person is a Traytor, for all are principals that aid and abet Traytors. As Bedlow is a subject to the King, he is bound by his allegiance to name him that has tampered with him, and his safety will be much the greater, when he has named him. Therefore I would send for Bedlow down, and charge him upon his allegiance to name the person, and tell him, that you will take care of his safety.

Mr Bedlow at the Bar.

The Speaker.] The House has considered the way and method how you may be secured, and you are not to distrust them; they will find out the safest way for you, if you will acquiesce in it. It is not safe for you to conceal this matter, in point of Law, and therefore the House will have you name the persons.

Mr Bedlow.] I scruple nothing but my own safety; but this is a near point, to hazard my own safety. What I have said of threats and rewards, &c. my Lord Treasurer, in his own closet, said to me, from his own mouth, and gave me two days time to consider of it. This was done in the interval of the last Parliament, before the call of the other. I have no more to say, but humbly to desire the House to secure me from the power of so great an enemy as my Lord Treasurer.

Sir Francis Russel.] Lord Dumblaine (the Treasurer's son) is gone out of the House.

Colonel Titus.] If my own father was in the case that Lord Dumblaine's is, I would do as he has done, to give my father notice of what is informed against him. The Laws of the House, and the Laws of the land, cannot contradict the Laws of nature.

There was another distinct Order for Mr Oates, the same with that of Mr Bedlow.

Colonel Titus.] You may remember, that, at the first discovery of the Plot, the last Parliament, those who gave evidence in it were sworn before Justices of the Peace of the House; you have Members that are so now, and you may do so now.

Sir Francis Winnington.] The Lords in the Tower were seized by my Lord Chief Justice's Warrant, although it was in Parliament-time, and committed to the Tower, where they are now. That having had that good effect then, now, before we go, it may be done—And you may question the evidence, though you cannot give an Oath. Let so much be given upon Oath by Bedlow as he declared at the Bar.

Sir William Pulteney.] In the last Parliament the crimes were the same; but now the crime is depending in an Impeachment, already exhibited; yet, if you command me to take the information, I'll obey.

Serjeant Stringer informed the House, that he had taken Mr Bedlow's examination, to this effect: "The Lord Treasurer asked him "Whether he would revoke his evidence against the Queen?" He answered, "he could not revoke his evidence." The Treasurer told him how safely he might do it. "Let him ask a good sum of money, and go beyond sea, and those in the Popish countries would be his good friends on this occasion, &c. Or if he were afraid of Papists, he might go into his own country, and buy a ship, and go where he pleased, and those who permitted him to go away, would secure his passage, and this was the way for him to make his fortune." And as the Treasurer was talking with his son, Lord Latimer, about his election, he said to him; "Mr Bedlow had been once a rogue, but would be so no more." He said to him, "he cared not for his discovery of this, which if he did, there was a yatch ready to send him far enough off." And from that time he was kept with a straighter guard than before."

Mr Bedlow at the Bar.

The Speaker.] The King has returned a gracious Answer to the request of the House in your behalf. He has expressed his apprehension of the considerableness of your evidence. Your service has been considerable; and the King will take care for your good usage and safety, and has passed his royal word for it, the greatest security that can be given.

Mr Bedlow.] I desire to return my humble thanks to his Majesty for his gracious favour to me, and I hope his Majesty may know so much, that I am humbly thankful.


  • 1. All the foregoing occurrences are erased in the printed Journal.
  • 2. See Vol. V. p. 9.
  • 3. It appears by the Journal, that Mr Oates informed also against Sir John Robinson, another Member.
  • 4. Second son of the Earl of Dorset: He died soon after this Debate.
  • 5. Grandfather to the present Earl of Bath. He died in 1691.