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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Wednesday, October 27.
Mr Hyde.] I was unwilling to interrupt the Question yesterday, of Dangerfield giving in his Narrative in writing. Though some may think hardly of me, yet I will venture my estate and life as far as any man, to prevent Popery, and a Popish Successor, if it will not bring us into a War. As for the Narrative that Dangerfield has given in, I cannot believe that Narrative. I will not insist upon an extraordinary act of the Council-Table upon Oath, but this Narrative is not upon Oath, that he feared to be crushed there, and therefore he had declared it here. Those that know him, take him to be a man not of such credit, to speak as he does of any man, much less of such a person as the Duke. As to the Duke's oaths and imprecations that he speaks of, I never heard such a word out of the Duke's mouth. But this invalidates his Testimony to me, that when he was examined at the Council, "Did you see such a person?" "No," says he, "never in my life;" and all upon his Oath; and then, "Yes, I think once, and never but once." These are not great matters, but this goes a great way with me, when in little matters he will trifle thus; and this is a man I cannot believe. What weight his Narrative will have with others I know not. This I speak in discharge of my conscience. Let us be angry with the Duke, but not with one another. I freely and calmly speak this, because yesterday there were wonderful reflections made on the Court and Council. Who put them there? Them they serve. I was put in by the King; I serve him, and none else. There has been ill conduct. Yet in compassion to us as men, consider calmly of France and Popery; and yet great measures of late have been to take the King out of France and to ally with Spain. Whilst I serve the King with honesty, let me serve with reputation.
Sir Leoline Jenkins, Secretary.] I would not have stood up about Dangerfield, but by reason some Gentlemen have laid some weight upon it. The credit of the man depends upon the Judges that must pass Judgment upon his Evidence, considering the circumstances of his life. He must be left upon the conscience of the Judge and Jury. But especially I take notice as if the Duke of York found fault with him for want of courage to kill the King. In conscience I am persuaded that no subject has a greater abhorrence of this fact than the Duke, and I wonder the Duke should not be detected before now. By my profession (a Civilian) I am acquainted with the Law of Nations, and no Nation will give credit to persons of this man's life. Let us be calm in our Debates, and let this Narrative have no more influence here, than it will in all other Nations.
Sir Francis Winnington.] We cannot order a Justice to take it upon Oath, for we represent a Grand Jury, and we cannot order an Oath to be taken. Let us recommend it only to the Justices, as we did in the business of the Lords in the Tower.
Sir John Knight.] This time two years, you had several of Coleman's Letters, and of the Pope's Internuntio's, read here, and amongst other Letters, one did declare to take away the King's life, and that the Duke of York's affairs and the Catholics were all one; they were to act, and the Duke to stand still: But when the King should be taken off, then was the time for the Duke to act. This, the chief Letter, had miscarried, and the Committee of Secrecy never had it. In August last I was sent for by Mr Bedlow, who lay sick, and desired to speak with me (fn. 1). I went to him with a friend, and on the 16th of August last, his words were these: "That he was in a dying condition, and was troubled that persons go about to make the people believe that there was no Plot, but he desired to clear his conscience now dying." He did now declare, "That whatever he had given in upon Oath, or declared against any person to be in the Plot, was but what is truth: That the Papists do still design to take away the King's life, and will never give over: That the King had been often told of it, but no care was taken of his life. Some of the Privy Council would needs have had him give his full Evidence, but he would not, for fear of being taken off." He desired that the Parliament might see Lord Powis's and Lord Baltimore's Letters of Correspondence in Flanders about the Plot. He said something against the Duke in Lord Chief Justice North's examination. He desired he would come to him that he might discharge his conscience before he died.
Serjeant Maynard.] I cannot doubt of the Popish Plot, since Godfrey's blood cries aloud in the land. When Doctor Oates gave in his Narrative, it was sent for to St Omers, and then they took pains to falsify it. This Narrative of Dangerfield's is no Evidence. When he gave Evidence against Mrs Cellier at the King's-Bench, it was not taken because he was attainted, and not pardoned. I speak not how he reflects on the Duke and the Earl of Peterborough. Let not the Narrative be entered upon your Books, but lie on the Table, and you will have farther Evidence. And I would ground no present opinion upon it. You may make use of it when you will. If upon Debate, the Question be put for publishing it, you will have no more Evidence. If the Question go for it, you are too soon. Though there is ground for you to accuse upon single Evidence, yet keep this Narrative in your hands for the present.
Sir Gilbert Gerrard.] It is the Subjects Right to have liberty to petition the King. There are Precedents in Lord Hobart's Reports of the Right of petitioning; and one of the great crimes of the Spencers, in Edw. II's time, was "keeping Petitioners from the King." Hen. VIII. asked, "Why they entered into Rebellion, and did not petition him?" If that Right be denied, the people will have no recourse but to their swords. In 1640, the late King declared it to be the Subjects Right to petition, and invites them to it. I suppose you have heard of "Petitions," and "Abhorrences of Petitions (fn. 2)." I had the honour to present a Petition for the sitting of the Parliament, and presently followed the printed Precedents of Judgments against petitioning. Pray read that Petition, and the Precedents against it, and then you will see what we have done, and what the Long Robe have done, to betray our Liberties in the Right of petitioning. Whilst the Parliament is sitting, the King's life is safe, and those who advise the contrary would give him up. In the intervals of Parliament you have lost Mr Bedlow's Evidence—If there be men who advise to dissolve and prorogue Parliaments, I hope the legislative Power will bring those men to Justice. I would have you assert your Right of petitioning what way you please.
Sir Robert Howard.] The King has sent out a Proclamation against petitioning (fn. 3). When things are ill done, many men have the confidence to put them upon the King; so we scarce know who is guilty of them. Here is a Proclamation, and you are going directly to make a Vote against the King. Some of no knowledge in the Law advised the King to this. I suppose this Precedent against Petitions is a point of Law taken out of Crooke's Reports, and made Law at the Council-Table; a Star Chamber-case, arisen not by argument before the Judges upon a cause started by the people of England: This is brought in for Law, and upon that the Proclamation is grounded. Saying prayers, and meeting together, at this rate, may be a riot towards Heaven. Plainly here is a thing given in for Law, therefore pray enquire who gave this advice.
Mr Sacheverell.] If any man makes a question whether petitioning be our Right or not, he makes a question whether we be freemen or not; a thing never doubted but by those Judges, who have declared it for Law (and I can prove it) that riots for the King's service are well done. This is Scotch Law, and every step we make tends that way; and so by Law we may be more under slavery than France itself. If the Judges shall have such power as to persuade the King to this, they are masters of the whole Government, and the King shall never know what is wrong, and consequently cannot do us right. Not to advise to call the Great Council together, when the Nation is in danger; and in the case of Lord Danby's Pardon, the Commons to be denied Justice when they desired it; when it cannot be denied to the meanest subject!—It is time to let the Judges know, that, if they will not do their duty, you will make them do their duty, and inform the King that they have not. I would therefore resolve, "That it is the undoubted Right of the Subject to petition the King to reform Grievances, and to address by Petition."
Resolved, Nemine contradicente, That it is, [and ever hath been,] the undoubted Right of the Subjects of England, to petition the King for the calling and sitting of Parliaments, and redressing of Grievances.
Mr Hampden.] A Vote of the House of Commons is no light thing, as in Alderman Chambers's Case of Tonnage and Poundege. The King, in his Letter to the Convention from Breda, said, "He looked upon the Parliament as the vital part of the Nation, and that it was not safe without it." We know the King's opinion already. I desire this may be added to your Vote, "That those who represent the respective Places who have petitioned, may give them the Thanks of the House for petitioning the King for the meeting of the Parliament."
Mr Thynne (fn. 4).] It was the Bishop's influence which caused several to set their hands to the Petition of Abhorrency in the County of Somerset, and to give the King Thanks for the return of the Duke; which, in plain English, is to thank him for Popery. I would have these Abhorrers declared Enemies to the King and Country.
Sir Francis Winnington.] You have asserted your Right: I would now enquire into offenders. Those who advised the King to issue out the Proclamation are Enemies to both King and Kingdom. A Gentleman of Quality today brought me a Paper of Exorbitances in the County of Berks, where the Petition was unanimously resolved on the Bench. And reads the Order, viz.
"Now this Court, considering that the way of petitioning the King for sitting of the Parliament is contrary to the King's Proclamation, and, as we humbly conceive, against his Prerogative, Ordered, That the Presentment aforesaid be obliterated and razed out of the Record of this Court."
Resolved, Nemine contradicente, That to traduce such Petitioning as a violation of duty, and to represent it to his Majesty as tumultuous and seditious, is to betray the Liberty of the Subject, and contributes to the design of subverting the ancient legal Constitution of this Kingdom, and introducing arbitrary Power.
Colonel Titus.] You are in the right in this Vote: Then those who have done against it are in the wrong. He that poisons me, or hinders me from an antidote, contributes to destroy me. Are we so great sinners that they will hinder us to pray? But for those that should assert your liberties, to betray you! If there be any amongst us that are loth we should fit, we may be loth too that they should sit amongst us. Let every such Member be heard in his Place, and then of right he may be heard at the Bar. If Sir Francis Wythens (fn. 5) be not in the House, pray send for him, that he may be heard in his Place.
Mr Pilkington delivered a Petition [of divers Citizens of London,] against Sir George Jeffreys (fn. 6), Recorder of London, for threatening Petitioners and Jurors, &c.
Mr Boscawen.] Whatever is said of this House by ill men, to divide the King and People, you have done well to declare your Opinion in it thus far; and you may imagine something may be attempted again, like the Serpent to our first Parents in Paradise: They have made their Prince believe what never was true. The King's Prerogative, and the Subjects Privilege, is the greatest security of the Nation; and when that is out of frame, the Government, like a clock, is useless. Some designs, I believe, will be on foot for separating us, as well as there were for preventing our meeting. What has else prevented the Tryal of the Lords in the Tower, but these Proceedings? Therefore I would obviate this. This House is not a necessitous Body, but of sincere hearts; not upon self-gain, and interest, as formerly; therefore I would humbly represent to the King, "That we will go as far to support the Government as ever any House of Commons did;" and so make him confident of us. The King's Person, we see, is in danger, and the Protestant Religion; and there is no better way to obviate designs against him and the Government.
Lord Cavendish.] When I look a year and a half backward, I think this a happy day. The King has taken the last and only remedy, which is, to call a Parliament. Therefore I look upon the late Prorogations as the acts of ill Counsels, and our sitting as the King's own act. If it be true, that the King is still beset by those who inform him that this Parliament strikes at the Government, and would remove him next to his Brother, we should do well to confirm the King in his good resolutions, by some Address, "That the interest of this House is his, and that the sitting of the Parliament will make him a great King."
Sir Richard Graham.] I think you have been well moved. The eyes of Europe are upon the happiness or misery of this Parliament. The Nation also expects to be secured from Popery and arbitrary Government, and without it we know not how to go home into our Country. I am informed that the King is now advised to send the Parliament home—It is an observation, that States fall and rise as natural bodies, and that States have times to prevent their ruin; by such even steps Providence proceeds. We are in misfortunes, and may be saved, else we shall fall unpitied. (The rest the Compiler could not hear.)
Mr Harbord.] I hope there is God's Blessing for this Nation, or at least for the Protestant part of it, by the wise steps we shall take. But there is a sort of people who lay all the blame upon the King. You have a Petition against Sir George Jeffreys, for his arbitrary Proceedings in his place of Recorder of London; and lately at the King's-Bench, persons have been convicted of Perjury. It fell out that this Gentleman there did openly, when he found himself charged there for taking these subornations, say, "That he sat up three or four nights at Lord Danby's lodgings, by the King's command." It has not been only the practice of this man, but of all the Benches where they have power. I speak it with horror, that they should father all these things upon the King. I doubt, when you come to pinch them, they will lay it upon the King. I have conversed with the King, and I doubt not of the least Injustice from him. Therefore I would add some Clause to the Vote, "That whoever shall lay any of these things upon the King, are enemies to the King and Kingdom."
Mr Love.] I was some years past in that Parliament (which, I thank God, we are rid of) where a man was still a Presbyterian, or this, or that, if he spoke plainly of Miscarriages. The Act, passed in that Parliament, for regulating Corporations, set us all together by the ears. These Petitioners in the City for the sitting of the Parliament were constrained, in some irregular way, to sign the Petition. Till a Common Hall was called, they could do nothing. Now, I thank God, we are in a Protestant Parliament, and both those of this or that persuasion will spend their blood for the Protestant Religion. The whole body of the City of London are of the same mind, and will join heart and hand with you, as these Gentlemen, that serve with me, will attest.
Sir William Temple (fn. 7).] The fate of all Christendom will be determined by the Session of this Parliament. And unless the affairs of the Protestants shall be especially supported by the King, ours at home will be in an ill condition. Nothing will support them so much, as that there is like to be union betwixt the King and his Parliament in what concerns us abroad as well as at home. (The rest the Compiler could not hear.)
Mr Sacheverell.] I cannot agree to the Motion of the Gentlemen who spoke last, though I cannot blame them for making the Motion. I have seen so much here, that I hope we shall go no more hoodwinked. We paid dear lately for an actual War with France, and that brought us a Peace. The King's Speech is to be well understood before we come to a Resolution. The King says, "He has made such Leagues with Spain, as he had made before with the Dutch." And that League, the late Long Parliament, as bad as it was, declared not satisfactory. Pray let us see this League, before that with an implicit faith we take it, whether it be for the interest of England. Will you leave it to the Ministers of State to judge, or yourselves? We have had enough of that already, and it may be, do the King more hurt than good with it. I remember Lord Arlington's Answer here in the House, why the Parliament was not called to advise about the Dutch War. He told you, "There was Money in the Exchequer to carry on that War without aid from the Parliament, and, it may be, the Parliament would not like the War." But why has this Parliament been prorogued? If they disliked the Parliament, why did they call them again? It seems, there was like to be disturbances abroad, and now they call this because they want Money. This will be represented in the Country, that we pass Money to support Alliances that we thought dangerous. It terrified them whom we ought to have supported by that Peace, and are you doing the same thing again? State the Question for redressing disorders at home, before you leap into any thing abroad.
Mr Powle.] I shall appear to be as cautious of giving Money as any man, till that necessary time comes. Till then, I shall be as reserved as any man, as well to support the King at home as abroad. (The rest the Compiler could not hear.)
Mr Hyde.] I desire to rectify a mistake in Sacheverell. He tells you, "The King has made such an Alliance with Spain as he made with the States of Holland." That was not the Treaty. That in order to a General Peace was that Treaty, but the defensive Treaty is that which the King speaks of; the other is at an end.
Mr Sacheverell.] I observe that, in all these general Questions, Money is still at the bottom. You will find in that Vote the League offensive and defensive. But what Judgment can you pass upon a thing you never saw, by an implicit faith? We have sufficient testimony that the Ministers of State have not mended. I wish they may.
Mr Garroway.] I know no Treaty on foot, but with the King of Spain, and that is no support of the Protestant Religion. So far as you will stand by the King in the Government, I shall go along with you, but not "supporting with lives and fortunes," which we have been taken upon formerly when War or actual War, and all was actual Peace. As soon as they have got your Money, you may go home again, as you have done formerly.
Mr Hampden.] He has not an English heart that would not see the King great amongst his neighbours. Some things have been said that may justly give us jealousy, that were done in the Long Parliament. As for those Leagues, one was a prejudicial League, and the other was a trifling one. I would not deceive the King by my word nor reasonable expectation; if there be occasion for Money, we have nobody here that is to have any share of it, as formerly, when we durst not trust one another. Let us assure the King "that we will maintain his person and greatness," and leave the wording of the Address to the Committee that is to draw it, not by confining them only to the Debate.
Sir Francis Winnington.] I cannot blame Gentlemen that fear being bitten; but we have no biters in this Parliament. I believe there are several who carry it to the King's ear, that we are for our own good, and not his. Formerly they did give and take. This proposed is an implicit Vote. Pray let the Question be general, neither to seem to give, nor not to give.
Colonel Birch.] I have reason to believe, that those about the King do tell him that they who will take his Brother from him, will take him away too, and that you are against the Government. If these men have their ends, you are like to have another kind of Parliament than this. The Protestant Religion is in danger abroad; and he that sticks not to it abroad, cannot at home. Therefore I intreat that your Question may be such, as that the World may take notice that the King and Commons of England are one. It must appear from Dan to Beersheba, that men are put in trust that will stand to the Protestant Religion, and I am for the word "abroad" in the Question.
Thursday, October 28.
[Lord Chief Justice North gave Information, "That the Papers relating to Mr Bedlow's Testimony, taken by his Lordship at Bristol, (See p. 367. Note) were by him delivered in to the Council, and by them transmitted to the House of Lords, and that one of the Clerks of that House was attending at the door with those Papers."
And his Lordship being withdrawn,] Mr Brown, Clerk of the House of Lords was, by Order, called in; and having delivered four Papers to the House, desired a Receipt for them, because he gave a Receipt for them to the Clerks of the Council.
Mr Garroway.] I would not read the Papers in my Lord Chief Justice's presence; but let them be showed him, and ask him whether these be the original Papers, and all taken when he last examined Mr Bedlow at Bristol?
Lord Chief Justice North.] I have viewed the Papers, and that first is a relation of the Business which I sent up to the Council, which I would not trust by the Post, because it was of consequence. I have recollected all the passages in the Paper. I cannot speak to a word, but to the best of my remembrance. These are all the passages I can recollect now; but, if any thing comes farther to my memory, I shall declare it. I believe the hand to be my Clerk's, who wrote it. When Bedlow had no more to say, I read it to him when the company was withdrawn. Every word that is written Bedlow did say, and it is all that he did say. There is not any thing with-held nor concealed. He withdrew.
The Order was read for Sir Francis Wythens to answer in his Place (fn. 8), &c. which he did thus:
Sir Francis Wythens.] I account it the greatest misfortune in the world that I am fallen into the displeasure of this illustrious Assembly. I am satisfied in my own conscience, that I intended no ill. I am a stranger to four parts in five of this House, and am fallen into the displeasure of those that know no good of me; and likewise it is the first time I ever appeared as a delinquent to excuse what I have done amiss. I do acknowlege it a great offence in delivering the Address to the King from the Grand Jury of Westminster, and I humbly confess I did not think fit to baffle here. I was Chairman at the Sessions, and the Justices made an Order, and agreed to it, and desired me to present it to the Jury. At the Justices request I did it, not as any voluntary act of mine, but as theirs. I never was of any other opinion, but that it was most lawful for Subjects to petition the King, and to every man of common sense, who considers Sovereign and Subject, if he be not informed by Law, natural reason does make it lawful and necessary. I was offered a good Fee to be of Counsel for them, and refused it, not because I was the King's Counsel, for it was before that—Where great Wisdom is, there is Clemency, and as this House does observe the failings of persons, so it pardons them when not out of wilfulness but frailty. I had no base design in me. I am for the legal Government, and have been a Justice of Peace these three years, and have, with great earnestness, prosecuted the persons who would have destroyed the King and the Protestant Religion. I never laid my hand upon a Protestant of any persuasion. But when I consider the subject of Addresses, to stand by the King in the maintenance of the Protestant Religion—I cannot pretend—I have many failings, and though by this Vote you have made me so unfortunate as to be an Offender against it, yet I am glad all mens eyes are now opened, though by my extraordinary disrepute. I am an enemy to infallibility, and I cannot pretend to it. I humbly submit myself to you. Where so great Prudence is, there will be Clemency.
Mr Whitaker.] I was employed in the prosecution for the Duke of Buckingham, in the subornation of perjury against him (fn. 9). I had information that a Jury was packed, being of persons of no consideration. I had a copy of the names of the Grand Jury. I found a great many suspicious men; but finding three or four honest men, I made no great matter. But for fear afterwards that the three good men should be put out, and new ones sworn who had never any summons, by the means of Wythens, by which means I should have great difficulty to get the Bill of Perjury passed, by witnesses set up by Lord Danby—It seems, the Jury were not to the purpose of Wythens.
Mr Harbord.] Ever since King James's time, Popery has been increased when the Parliament has been dissolved, and suppressed whilst they have been sitting. Formerly, since the Statutes against Popery, due Returns were made into the Exchequer of Convictions of Papists, and the Crown has been the better for it; but it is not so now. But it is fit that those who give terror to the Government should bear the more charge towards it. But that you may proceed with more reputation, I would not go by this way of Narrative at the Bar. Therefore I move (though there be a sort of men who would cut people's throats and ruin our Religion) that you will appoint a Committee to receive Informations. If you try the Lords in the Tower, you cannot take Evidence here. I move not for a Secret Committee; they are like machinations of Statesmen. I would appoint twelve Gentlemen, and command them to attend that service.
Mr Rowe, Sword-bearer of Bristol, gave Information upon oath, before Sir William Roberts, against Sir Robert Yeomans [of Bristol, and against Sir Robert Cann, a Member of the House, "That they did, in October 1679, publickly declare, that there was no Popish Plot, but a Presbyterian Plot." The same was likewise attested by Sir John Knight, a Member.]
Sir Francis Winnington.] I know not what credit Knight is of at Bristol, but I am sure no Member took more pains in the Committee for the Plot. Cann has made such vast imprecations of his innocence, as I have heard some bad men make when awed in Courts of Justice. That a man of so good credit in this House should be so reflected upon in Bristol, is strange!
Mr Hampden.] It is strange that the Corporation of Bristol should send Knight hither to serve in Parliament, and not believe his testimony! This is a downright recrimination. No man of the last Parliament but knows that Knight was as diligent and faithful, as equal and impartial, as any man, in the examination of the Plot. But at this time of day, when all the rage of the Papists is against you, a Member to be called all to naught, whose credit is so well known here! No coherence can explain what Cann has said of Knight. A fine piece of wit to make this a fit discourse for this Place!
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] Cann knows best what he has to say in explanation of himself. I move only to Method. Though this be an extraordinary case, yet you must preserve the Methods of the House, of Cann's explaining himself in his Place.
Mr Powle.] The Reputation of Knight is so well known, that little need be said to it. He has contributed so much pains and sincerity in the management of Coleman's Letters, and to be chosen in several Parliaments for Bristol, that he should be now of so little Reputation here! Cann compares his own credit with Knight's. The words are to be written down by the Clerk.
Sir Robert Cann.] I humbly beg the pardon of the House for the rash words fallen from me. I do not use to swear. I abhor Popery. I never said the words. What I said was in passion, sincerely. He withdrew.
Mr Boscawen.] Should you not do Knight right in this, you make the World believe something of this to be true. This is the greatest Reflection upon Knight that can be. Cann has imprecated extraordinarily, "That he did not say the words, That this was a Presbyterian Plot." Take this matter distinct from the former. Your Reprimand ought not only to be for his rash imprecations, but for the abuse of Knight, your Member; else what will be said at Bristol; that you have only called Cann upon his knees at the Bar, and given him a Reprimand. Therefore I would have your Sentence distinct.
Mr Love.] Knight is a Merchant of Bristol, and a trading man of unquestionable Reputation at Bristol. He was Chairman to the Committee about the Plot. He took that pains that never man did in that Chair. I must give that testimony of him. The Letter he told you of yesterday, that is lost; his Reputation, if you vindicate him not, will be nothing, when he produces the copy of that Letter.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] The imprecation is so ill that he made, I desire not to remember it. All the excuse he makes, is, "That it was a rash word." I desire that his punishment may be in his purse, and commit him to the Serjeant.
Sir John Hotham.] It is well known how much this Popish Plot has been decried. You turned out Mr Sackville, the last Parliament, for vilifying the King's Evidence, and speaking slightly of the Plot in Coffee-house talk. You have a Vote in your Books, "That this is a Popish Plot," and Cann was then a Member when that Vote was made, and when Mr Sackville had the Justice of the House; and now he to go about to traduce it, and lead about people with these idle stories! I would have many things printed, that spiritual men too may be informed of your Proceedings. If Sackville deserved to be turned out of the House, I desire that Cann, who has seen all the Evidence of this horrible Plot, and yet has traduced it, may not sit within these walls.
Sir Francis Winnington.] When Cann, at a public table at Bristol, shall be so frank as to declare this to be no Plot, I think him not sit to be here to suppress the Plot. Some men think, that if a man swears not, then he is presently a Fanatic. Therefore if Cann be of that opinion, and that this is no Popish Plot, but a Presbyterian, he is not fit to sit here; and pray send him home.
Colonel Titus.] If this should be represented to Juries and Judges, that you countenance a person here, who has represented this to the World to be a sham Plot, and that both Juries and Judges have done wrong to the persons executed for the Plot, with what face can you go on in the prosecution of it? It is great injustice, if this be suffered, to go on with farther examinations. For a far less crime you expelled Mr Sackville, and I move you to expell Cann.
Serjeant Maynard.] You have two things before you: One is the offence of Cann committed in the House, his recriminating on your Member, and his impious execrations; and the other, his offence out of the House, in traducing the Popish Plot, by calling it a Presbyterian Plot. You are to give sentence upon both distinctly.
Sir Robert Cann being upon his knees, at the Bar, the Speaker thus gave Sentence.] Sir Robert Cann, you are guilty of a complicated crime, aggravated with circumstances. You have been a Member of three Parliaments, and it is expected you should know the Orders of the House. You have offended against Order, and the common respect of Society. You are a man of passion much above your understanding. You have reviled and scandalized your Fellow-Member and Neighbour, a man of worth and reputation, and when you come upon your defence of your Charge, in traducing the Plot, you recriminate. Every man is sensible of the danger of Popery, and you to speak those words of a Member that has so well served the Nation in the discovery of the Plot, a man of that integrity! The reflection is upon your own head. To use that imprecation of "God damn me, &c." An Oath is so far from giving you credit in what you have said, that it justly renders it suspicious. Your punishment is made easy in only bringing you upon your knees for your offence in those vile words.
Sir Robert Cann.] I am as much against Popery as any man. Upon all the protestations I can make, I never said the words. I ever did, and ever shall believe this to be a Popish Plot, as sure as you are in the Chair. I humbly beg the pardon of the House, and am sorry I have given offence. He withdrew.
Mr Rowe, the Sword-bearer, at the Bar.] At a Sessionsdinner at Bristol, October 7, where were the Bishop and Sir Robert Cann, Sir Robert Yeomans was talking, "That the Dissenters in Bristol, at the Election, gave their Votes for Knight." Yeomans said, "There was no Popish Plot," (speaking against the Dissenters.) Says Cann, "I am of Yeomans's opinion, that there is no Popish Plot, but a Presbyterian Plot." I heard Cann say it at another time. Cann took his measures from the Marquess of Worcester (fn. 10), who made it his whole business to make the Mayor believe it. And this they gave out at the Election of this Parliament; and by this fort of discourse they worked off abundance of voices from Knight. They have their great measures from my Lord of Worcester; he governs the City in all things. By that Lord's means, it has cost me 50l. upon an accusation before the Lords of the Council, and for what, I know not to this day— (Here he was not suffered to go on, but was ordered to withdraw.)
Sir John Hotham.] You have heard all that Cann says, and it amounts to no more than a denial; so that you have nothing more to do, if you are satisfied with the Evidence, than to resolve how to proceed with Cann.
Colonel Titus.] Mr Sackville was a young Gentleman, and a Soldier; and it was a less offence in him that you expelled him for than in this man. Therefore that your Justice may be uniform, pray search the Journals how you proceeded in the case of Sackville.
Resolved, That it doth appear, by Evidence, That Sir Robert Cann is guilty of publickly declaring, in the City of Bristol, in October 1679, "That there was no Popish Plot, but a Presbyterian Plot," and that he shall be sent to the Prison of the Tower, and be expelled the House.
Then the Speaker gave Sentence, viz.] Sir Robert Cann; Since you have been a trumpet, to proclaim the Popish Plot, no Plot of the Papists; being a Member of Parliament, and at a public time, and a public house; therefore the Sentence of this House is, That you be committed to the Tower, and you are actually cut off from being a Member of this House, and you are no more to be a Member of Parliament.
Friday, October 29.
Justice Newman, and Justice Robinson, of Westminster, gave the House an account of Sir Francis Wythens's management of the Petition of Abhorring, &c. from the Grand Jury of Westminster. The Justices did generally decline it.
Mr Oates.] Some few days after the Petition was presented to the King, I met with Wythens in the Council-Lobby, that day he was knighted. I told him, "I hoped to see him, and all others that abhorred petitioning for the sitting of Parliament, hanged, for all their knighthood." He replied, "That the King's Proclamation must be obeyed, and those that durst petition for sitting of the Parliament, he would bind to their good Behaviour." I believe there were near forty in the Lobby when he said it.
Mr Papillon.] It seems, by the Evidence, that the Clerk of the Peace moved the Justices to sign the Petition; and that Mr Robinson, and the rest, declined it. Wythens was a promoter and a setter of it on, and he moved the Justices, after dinner, to sign it; and knowing it to be against Law, and the subjects birth-right, and he, a man of Law, not to inform them, but to move the Justices to sign it!—I know not what more can be said.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I would be careful, in what concerns a Member, not to proceed hastily nor arbitrarily. You have heard Wythens speak in his Place, and you are not yet ripe upon a general Information to give an opinion, which no Court can give Judgment upon. I would refer it to a Committee, that they may go upon it, to examine the matter, and have it reported, that we may have something on our Books to justify what we shall do.
Mr Bennet.] The thing is notorious upon Evidence; and you must not expect that Justices of the Peace, some of whom live upon the profit of Warrants, will speak plain. They will mince the matter. You have heard two Witnesses, Robinson and Oates; you need not call them again.
Sir Francis Wythens.] It will be a hard thing for me to recollect the Evidence, especially in the confusion I am in. I humbly request the House, that I may have the Accusation in writing, for my memory will not serve me to give an Answer to it at the present.
Sir Philip Musgrave.] I desire that your Member may have liberty of Counsel, to be heard at the Bar in his Defence. When a Gentleman is to receive Judgment, he should have liberty, at the Bar, to make his Defence; which if he cannot do, I shall be as forward to give Judgment against him, as any man.
Mr Harbord.] Next to Popery, this matter of petitioning is the greatest point. How will you come to have Parliaments sit, when, it may be, those about the King, of bigger bulk than this Gentleman, behind the curtain persuade the King, that these Petitions are tumultuous and seditious? This Gentleman is Deputy Steward of Westminster, a standing Place in the Sessions, where he presides and gives Rules; so that here is nothing but appointing a number to petition (as we see.) What pity had the Judges on men, when a man was fined 50l. for but saying, "he might petition?" The whole Law is subverted by this. Judges may make, at this rate, throwing a stone over a wall, and by chance killing a man, murder. Reading was brought to our Bar; you may remember upon what occasion. He was sentenced, by the Judges, to the Pillory, and fined; he never paid his Fine, and yet he goes abroad. Mr Tasburrow and Mrs Price pardoned their Fines. Harris the Bookseller was set in the Pillory, and Mrs Cellier but upon the Pillory. We are come to that pass, that, in plain English, Protestants are punished, and Papists excused. When we consider what a Grand Jury it was that presented this Petition of abhorring, and that a company of beggarly Lawyers do these practices! Wythens was Judge of this Court, and has, in his Place, declared his opinion against petitioning for sitting of the Parliament. You did justice yesterday upon Sir Robert Cann; but what Wythens has done, was in the face of a Court, at Westminster Sessions. You will have no way to come by sitting of Parliaments, unless you make some examples; and I would have you make this man one, and turn him out of the House.
Mr Boscawen.] The Question is, Whether you are yet ripe for Judgment upon this person? For justice sake, I would not precipitate it, but give him time to make his Defence; not that I believe the House will alter their Judgment of the crime. Some Judgments of late, in the Courts of Westminster, have been almost like Star-Chamber Sentences, which I hope in time you will take notice of.
Mr Papillon.] What is this Gentleman's crime? It is betraying the Liberties of the Subjects of England, by petitioning to subvert the Rights of the Subjects. He has confessed it, and can bring no witnesses. The thing is plain before you for Judgment. The main crime he has confessed, of hindering these Petitions, &c. contrary to the Liberty of the Subject, and their common natural Right. Will you give him time to prove any thing against his own Confession?
Sir Francis Winnington.] I am sorry for the misfortune of this Gentleman of my own profession: But that our Debates may not dwindle away in circumstances, I cannot sit still. It seems to some Gentlemen a hard thing, not to allow one of your Members time to answer an Accusation, as you allow other men. This case is of two parts: One, of matter of fact, which he has confessed, and yesterday acknowleged himself guilty of your Vote, and was unfortunate: So that what relates to what he has confessed, cannot be heard again; that is ridiculous. Now whether that which he has confessed be sufficient for you to give Judgment upon, is the matter before you. Your time is precious, and danger great. There needs no farther Debate upon what he has confessed, and so much as to put a man under a great shock. He says, "He is not so composed in mind as to carry in memory what was said." But here is the case: If the House will not go upon his Confession, it is a strange thing not to give him to a day. It is said, "That the proofs are at the door." If you will go upon his Consession, it is one thing; but if you will hear farther proofs, and allow him to make his Defence, if there be more Witnesses at the door, you cannot deny hearing them.
Mr Aaron Smith.] What I heard Wythens say, was after the Abhorring Petition. At the Rainbow Coffee-house he did declare, "That petitioning for sitting of the Parliament was the seed and spawn of Rebellion, and the Principles of 1641: That none do presume to petition that are loyal Subjects: And that none durst, nor ought to petition, when the King had signified his pleasure against it, by his Proclamation."
Sir Francis Wythens's last Defence.] First, I give the House humble thanks for their fair hearing me. I must acknowlege, that I have been used with all candid proceeding. For what I am accused of here, there is but one single testimony. As for what is said by Mr Robinson; he was the man that did propose this Address to me first. It is a hard thing for me, in my own case only, to give testimony. I desire the House will consider another thing: Justice Newman testifies he heard no such proposal from me; and I hope that may be some confirmation of what I say. If there be any truth in me, I never proposed any such thing as this Address. I neither forwarded it any more, nor was more industrious in it, than in other things. I thanked the Grand Jury for the pains they had taken, as usually the course is, in relation to their Bills, and upon no other account; and I said, "I would faithfully deliver the Address to the King." I neither commended nor discommended it, but took it as it was. As for what Mr Oates says, that I should say in the Lobby, I have recollected myself. He comes up to me, and says, "You have a precious Grand Jury at Westminster: They are a company of rogues, and I hope one day to see them all hanged." I said, "They were an able Jury, and worth sixty thousand pounds amongst them." In my whole life I never promoted any thing of this nature; and if I had been so mighty violent a man, I should have done something to have promoted this. (This illustrious Assembly may confound a man in what he has to say.) I confess, I might have said to the Grand Jury, "That this is not a good way;" and I was to blame that I did not; and I am now much more convinced of my error in this place, where I have heard things debated with such calmness and moderation. I have no more to say, but humbly to submit to the determination of the House. I have to do with Persons of Honour and Judgment. I know not that I have given any disgust to any person of any profession whatsoever. I make my humble submission to this House, which I must ever honour, where I have had all the favourable hearing I could desire—I desire one word more: I am so far from knowing Smith (who testified against me) that I never saw him. No man goes so seldom to Coffee-houses as myself, and there I scarce speak one word. I do not remember any such discourse with Smith, or any man else. I would confess it, if true; and it is not worth my while to deny it. I never received any letter for putting in or out of Jurymen, I speak it in the presence of God; and so I leave myself to the mercy of this House; they are great and good. He withdrew.
Sir Gilbert Gerrard.] This Gentleman is that unfortunate man that led the dance in these Addresses for other parts of the Kingdom. I hope they are Protestants that made these Addresses, but they have kept too great a distance from them. As for this Gentleman, there is a necessity that you should do Justice upon him. I am forry this Gentleman should fall under these misfortunes, but if this thing be not punished, you will make people bold and confident. I shall conclude with this Motion, "That this Gentleman be excluded this House, for betraying the Rights and Liberties of this House."
Sir Thomas Player.] If this doctrine be preached, "That petitioning for sitting of the Parliament is like 1641," what will become of us that made the Vote the other day, "That it is the People's Right to petition for sitting of the Parliament, &c.?" And I second the Motion for expelling this Gentleman the House.
Resolved, That Sir Francis Wythens, by promoting and presenting to his Majesty an Address, expressing an Abhorrency to petition his Majesty for the calling and sitting of Parliaments, hath betrayed the undoubted Rights of the Subjects of England.
The Speaker thus gave Sentence of Expulsion.] This is a great Crime, committed by you, a Member of Parliament, against the Parliament; a Crime against known Law! And you being a Lawyer have offended against your own profession. You have offended against yourself, your own Liberty, your own Right as an Englishman. This is not only a Crime against the living, but a Crime against those unborn. I know your sense of honour, that you cannot but receive this Sentence with apprehension, which I am to pronounce against you; which is, that you are dismembered from this Body.
Saturday, October 30.
Signior Francisco de Faria (fn. 11), being called in, gave his Evidence at the Bar concerning the Popish Plot.
Lord Russel.] I think you have made a good Vote to proceed in the examination of the Plot. Now whether will you set a day to consider of suppression of Popery, and preventing a Popish Successor? Let us do it for the King's sake as well as our own. Neither the King's Person can be safe, the Government, nor the Protestant Religion, till the contrivers of the Plot be brought to condign punishment. I would declare, therefore, "That you will proceed against all that have had a hand in the Plot;" and I desire you would appoint a Committee to inspect the condition of the Plot, and the Evidence, how it was left in the last Parliament.
Sir Henry Capel.] The Motion is good, and I believe will take up no great Debate. We are all sensible how long the Prosecution of the Plot has been depending, now two Parliaments. We are not to forget our Vote of Popery, and a Popish Successor. I would therefore proceed to the full examination of the Plot, and appoint a Committee for it.
Sir Francis Winnington.] I need not stand up to give Reasons why you should proceed to this Question. But I stand up for Instructions to your Committee. Therefore, as you have done your duty to make those Votes, which comfort the hearts of Protestants, yet you had so much business on foot, and so many good Motions, were then made, that they were not denied, but you could not go through with them. Now the Plot still goes on, for if Gentlemen in the Country are not favourable to Papists, they are in danger of their lives. The last Parliament, the Master of the Rolls moved, as a parliamentary thing, "That the Journals should be viewed, to see what you had left undone the last Parliament." I conceive, by the proposal of this Question, that the House is fully convinced to proceed to prepare things to bring these persons to Judgment. There was an Order of the House to enter Mr Treby's Report into the Journal. In a few days he may make that Report, that the World may see that you do not only vote, but will do also.
Mr Hampden.] There is no doubt, besides the necessity of affairs, and the King's recommendation in his Speech, to prosecute the Plot, that you owe it to public Justice, not to let men lye two years in the Tower. Pray hold to this Resolve, "That the House will proceed to the full examination of the Plot, in order to bring the Offenders to public Justice."
Colonel Titus.] When any thing disgusts those who would not have Parliaments, I cannot blame them for "abhorring," &c. were I in their circumstances. But when the World shall see Parliaments go on where they left off, it will put them by that way of proceeding. Therefore I desire that the Journals of the two last Parliaments may be inspected.
Francisco de Faria was heard, upon his own desire, as to the Tryal of Sir George Wakeman, relating to Lord Chief Justice Scroggs's deportment, &c. (fn. 12)