Debates in 1679: March 26th-30th

Pages 55-67

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section

Wednesday, March 26.

Mr Oates at the Bar.] Since the last Parliament, Mr Henry Goring, in the Lobby of the Council-Chamber, whispered me in the ear, about bailing Sir John Gage. I answered him, "That I would never be concerned in bailing such a traytor and such a rascal as Sir John Gage." Goring replied, "It did not become him to say so," and swore, by God, "he did not believe he was a traytor." I answered, "I wondered he should say that to me, because I was the party that accused him;" and I leave the rest to Mr Goring to say. Goring was very lavish of his tongue in the Country, "that he had the King's ear and favour," and I appeal to Sir John Fagg to give you an account of Goring's expressions in the Country. I confess I gave Goring harsh words in reply, and I knew him to be Mr Henry Goring, but not that he was a Parliament man.

The Speaker.] What were the words?

Mr Oates.] I carry not a calendar in my head. I can say only, in general, that Goring has so vilified my honour and reputation, as the King's Evidence, and given me such harsh words, that I thought fit to complain, &c. As to Goring's expressions in the Country, I am confident that Sir John Fagg will do me justice. He withdrew.

Mr Goring.] I desire that Sir John Fagg, and the other Gentlemen, may say what they know as to my carriage in the Country, and of my saying I had the King's ear. If I had, I might have got something by it.

Sir John Fagg being not well, and absent, the thing for the present fell.

Sir Robert Southwell.] Having been vilified and bespattered without doors, I desire the thing may be examined. On Thursday the House rose about two of the clock; a Gentleman, a stranger to me, and I to him, came to me, and asked me, "What was done as to the evidence of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey's murder?" I said, "It was hard for me to say, till I turned to my papers." I remember Mr Dugdale brought me a short paper, as things occurred to him, and I was commanded by the Lords to put it into form, and better English, which, for want of Mr Dugdale's skill, was obscure in the expressions and penning; a copy whereof was given to Mr Dugdale, who set his hand to one for the Lords, and had another for himself and the Attorney General, and it was to be kept private. At the Council, Mr Dugdale was asked "what they said in the Country of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey's murder?" He told Ewers, "this will spoil our design." "No" says Ewers, "Godfrey was a severe man to punish such as go to lewd houses, and it will be thought done by some such persons."

Some Gentlemen said, this was a great and notorious omission, to leave this out of Dugdale's information.

Sir Robert Southwell.] This was a chance question, and not set down in Dugdale's papers. There was a letter from Harcourt to Ewers to this effect; "This night Godfrey is dispatched;" the letter bearing date the same day that Godfrey was murdered, but his body not found, nor the thing known till three days after. This fosters the matter, and shows from what quiver the arrow was shot. Says Mr Dugdale, " I informed not the Committee of Secrecy of this matter now, nor you, having more in my head than I could say." And so he did not tell the Committee of it, nor me. None of the nineteen Lords who were present at the Council heard it from Dugdale, and it was omitted. So I told Dugdale, "That he should declare this in the House of Lords." This Mr Chetwynd, who has made this noise about my obscuring this part of Dugdale's information, is of a worthy name, and I could wish that his qualities were so, for he declared to the Lords, "That there had been foul play by Sir Robert Southwell." Dugdale was interrogated by the Lords about it; where he said," he did not declare it to the Lords of the Council, for it was a chance question, and what he had said to the Lords was all taken by Sir Robert Southwell." Notwithstanding this, Mr Chetwynd proclaims me in coffee-houses, and the Court of Requests, not to be so innocent of the matter as I make myself, and acquaints several Members, "that there is one within these walls that has suppressed the evidence of Godfrey, &c." so that very happily I have the opportunity of justifying myself here. Mr Dugdale gave the clearest Evidence that ever I saw; but if ten questions were put to him at once, he must give ten half answers. I aver it, and will swear it, where it is proper, that the Minute-Books of the Council are free from any device or forgery, and that all is truly entered. I am sorry that any Gentleman's misfortunes should be a comfort to me, as your justice upon Mr Sackville, &c. I have, as much as in my capacity I could to the King, often at his elbow, said, "Pray, Sir, observe this, and that." And when it appeared by the evidence Dugdale gave against Ireland, that the evidence in Court was true, if Dugdale had had as much to say against Pickering, he had gone to pot with the rest. It is well known to many worthy Members, that I took pains in decyphering Coleman's Letters; and the Internuntio's Letters, by force of industry, I decyphered, and endeavoured with all the pains and views of my heart to prepare that metal which you stamped with a Vote. The two brothers of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey were with me night and day, and I have been a third brother to them, in my help to discover, &c. And I appeal to them, what endeavours I have used. At Mr Coleman's Tryal, I gave evidence of the Papers and Letters, &c. and have done all to acquit myself as a true man, and a Protestant, and I beg the justice of the House in my vindication, and I shall stand and fall by the truth of what I say.

Mr Seymour.] You have had a large narrative from this Gentleman, and if he has been tedious in it, the occasion may excuse him. Rewards and punishments are the support of Government. You have done justice to Mr Sackville, whom you have expelled the House, &c. and it will as well become your justice to vindicate this Gentleman. The Plot is, in some measure, a debtor to this Gentleman's discovery. The Lords have, in some measure, done him justice, and what becomes your justice, is to refer this matter to a Committee, to examine the truth of it.

Mr Powle.] It becomes your justice, that at least the reward of doing well may be of good report. By this Gentleman's carriage in other things, you may easily believe this to be a scandal; and if, upon examination, it appears to be so, you will punish the scandal—Do him right, and search into the matter.

Serjeant Maynard.] I must say, we should have been utterly in a mist, had it not been for this Gentleman's endeavours in decyphering the papers, &c.

Sir William Coventry.] I would not only have the innocence but the merits of the Gentleman appear; therefore I would have the matter heard in a full House. I would hear it, and make but one day's work of it, and Gentlemen need not spend their compliments farther upon him.

Ordered, That it be heard at the Bar [on Friday next.]

Colonel Titus, upon complaint of the irregularities of Leicestershire Election, said,] Corrupting the Parliament is poisoning the antidote, &c.

[The Bill of Attainder against the Earl of Danby was read the first time.]

Thursday, March 27.

Colonel Titus.] Philip De Comines says, " Always in England there is a pretence of War either with Scotland or France, to raise Money." And it is an easy matter to be pretended that so many men as 120,000 are to be landed in England, but their raising is not so easily obscured. When these things are spoken of, the next consideration is Money. The Merchants hear no preparations in France by their letters. Let this news go off till we have sure ground for it, but however let the Militia be in a good posture, &c.

Mr Law spoke much to the same purpose.

A Bill from the Lords, for the better discovery and more immediate conviction of Popish Recusants, [was read the first time.]

Mr Sacheverell.] This Bill seems rather an ease to the Papists than a punishment. The Bill, as it is opened, hath four or five great points in it, which this House ought well to weigh. By the Bill, it is in the power of a Papist, if he can find one Affidavit-man, to convict every Member of the House, and he shall have no remedy to redress himself. The Question is not stated upon evidence of information, but "if the Justice suspects a man, &c." and you have been fully shown, that Justices have been made by the Popish party. If this Affidavit comes back to the Sessions, the person may never hear of the Summons, and be convicted. Whosoever is thus certified, is to suffer all pains and penalties of a Popish Recusant; it gives him no power to clear himself by conformity, as by the former Acts; and he is not exempted only from the penalty of Recusancy by doing such acts, &c. but has a toleration not to come to Church.

Sir Thomas Lee.] Sackville has not spoken to throw out the Bill entirely, and therefore not orderly. I would retain the Bill, if it were but for the title's sake.

It was ordered to be read a second time.

A Petition of Richard Derham, Esq; complaining of Sir Edward Harley's undue return for Radnor, was read.

Mr Hampden.] This Motion seems in the nature of an action brought for a debt, when the party owes nothing; and when it is proved there is no cause of suit, there lies an action of the case against the party for unjust vexation. Refer the Petition of Derham to the Committee, and if it should prove so, I hope you will make some example of Derham. In the Petition is a bare general complaint, and no particular of the complaint. I never saw a Petition of the like nature before.

[It was ordered to lie upon the table.]

The Bill of Attainder against the Earl of Danby was read a second time.

Mr Booth.] I like this Bill very well. Danby deserves this punishment, and more too. I move for an addition to it, to make it more effectual to your end, "That all fraudulent settlements and trusts, whereby the King is defrauded of his right, he having struck tallies to a great value in a few days, which may be put in trust, may be voided." If you make no provision that persons concerned in these trusts be punished, all you do will be to little purpose; therefore I move " that such may suffer as felons, that do not in a certain time reveal such trusts."

[The Bill was ordered to be committed.]

Then an ingrossed Bill from the Lords, was read, for banishing the Earl of Danby, viz. " By perpetual banishment and exile, not to sit in the Lords House, nor enjoy any Office, &c. If he comes into England after the first day of May, 1679, Treason, or be found in any part of England, Treason, and no Pardon but by Act of Parliament. All correspondence with his wife and children forbidden, unless about his Estate. If they hold any other correspondence with him, they shall be punished as for corresponding with Traytors. Letters sent to him, or received from him, shall, within ten days, &c. be showed to one of the Secretaries of State. All trusts for him of Patents, Gifts, or Grants since December. And if he renders himself before the first of May next, the penalties of this Act to be void."

Sir Harbottle Grimstone.] To the intent I may speak orderly, I shall move to throw out the Bill. We have impeached Danby, and sent up our charge, and he has prayed a day to answer, and you have now agreed to a Bill of Attainder; but this Bill from the Lords is not an Attainder, but a compounding for Treason. Danby, by his flight, has confessed himself guilty of Treason, and this Bill is as much as to say, "Cut off his ears for Treason." And this is the way to countenance Traytors, rather than discountenance them. A Traytor is a Traytor. What mercy he may find upon tryal, I know not, but I move you to throw out the Bill.

Lord Annesley (fn. 1).] This Bill is contrived by some person to have Danby fall easily, that he may come into his employment, and do the same things he has done. I would lay aside this, and go on with your own Bill.

Sir John Knight.] This Bill is unjust to Lord Danby, for he may be innocent upon tryal; and unjust to the Commons of England. He is fled already from Justice, and you give him May-day to appear.

Serjeant Ellis.] This is such a Precedent to compound for Treason, as I never yet saw. But because the Lords have made some steps, I would not throw the Bill out, but go on with your own Bill; and, to maintain a good correspondence with the Lords, I would give this Bill another reading this day fortnight.

Sir Thomas Player.] I am for throwing out this Bill, and presently. You have had Precedents of Lord Clarendon, &c. The delay of that Bill did almost in terminis produce the effect desired, which was, composition for Treason— Delay it for a month, and then something may happen of composition. If this great person (Danby) had any thing in him of the greatness of the men of old, the Romans or the Grecians,—if he loved his country, it might be a punishment to be sent from it; but sending him away from a country he loves not, 'is no punishment. If we must endure the miseries likely to be upon us, by his means, let him endure the punishment the Law has provided for him.

Serjeant Maynard.] It is all one to your purpose, to put the Bill on presently, or to delay it; it will be all the same fate. The premises in the Bill are very far granted to your advantage. No man, I believe, will call for this Bill in haste; and you may lay it by.

Sir Thomas Lee.] If the Lords shall think fit to reject your Bill, because it is too much, had you not better have something than nothing? Possibly some of the Lords may be more afraid to see Danby in the Lords House again, than we, or at least, than I am. In matters of proof, things are not yet before us, but in the Tryal they will be; and this Bill of Banishment is too little a punishment for his crimes. The same arguments may be used upon the same Bill, and I fear there will be the same consequence, that neither of the Bills will take effect.

Sir Francis Winnington.] Flight from Justice implies confession of the fault, and he would have the same judgment if he stood his Tryal, and that is an argument for the reasonableness of your own Bill. If we agree to pass the Lords Bill, we falsify our own accusation. For first, here is less punishment in it, and it diminishes your Articles, and plainly says, you have done unjustly to impeach this Lord. By this means, the party impeached is in statu quo, &c. and it is a reflection upon the Impeachment of the Commons of England. I would have the Bill lie upon the table some time, but not throw it out, that there may be a good understanding betwixt us and the Lords; but not to order it a second reading.

Sir Thomas Lee.] I would be satisfied, whether it be a rejection of the Bill, without expressing, that it was rejected by Vote.

The Question for a second reading of the Bill was carried in the negative, and, upon a second Question, it was rejected.

Friday, March 28.

Sir Robert Southwell acquainted the House, That the Lords had entered a large narrative of the matter relating to Mr Dugdale, &c. in his vindication, and have since passed a Vote, to put him into the trust of sorting all their Papers in order.

Mr Garroway.] I would be satisfied in one point, whether, in the prosecution of this, Southwell did not discover some of Dugdale's Evidence, which as yet ought not to come upon the stage?

Sir Robert Southwell.] I do declare, that even to gratify the imagination of vindicating myself, I would not prejudice the Evidence. Vote me but an innocent man, and do what you please.

Serjeant Ellis.] The Gentleman has shown his ingenuity in this matter, and I would vote something in justifying his integrity, and give him the Thanks of the House.

Mr Harbord.] I was not here, when this matter was first complained of, but I have the narrative in writing, and I have thought of it, and I find that Mr Chetwynd has proceeded rather through zeal to the Public, than malice to Southwell. But this will fall upon Mr Dugdale, who has behaved himself very well. I would refer it to the close Committee. I have advised with the King's Counsel at Law, and they think it by no means for the service of the Nation that this thing be stirred now.

Sir Thomas Meres.] I would let the intrigue of the affair sleep for the present; but yet I would do right to Southwell, who has some mark of reflection upon your books. But if you make some Vote that Southwell has done his duty to the King and kingdom, &c. It will fully vindicate him.

Resolved, Nemine contradicente, That this House is fully satisfied in the integrity, diligence, and faithfulness of Sir Robert Southwell, a Member of this House, in the taking and entering the Informations of the Witnesses, touching the discovery of the Treasonable and Popish Plot, and of the Murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey by the Papists; and that he hath deserved very well of the King and Kingdom, by his pains and care taken therein.

Saturday, March 29.

Lord Gavendish moved to take into consideration the disbanding of the Army.

Mr Harbord.] Gentlemen that live in the parts of England where the Army has been quartered, are sensible of it, for it is, in effect, free quarter. They will have so much a day paid them to exempt houses from quarter, &c. If they take a penny, they may a shilling, and so to the end of the chapter. I desire that you will appoint a day to consider of discharging them, else you will have no security for your Laws to be executed, &c.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] I think it well moved, though it is a hard matter to pay for one thing twice over. The Army was raised for the Plot. I would enquire whether the Army has been upon free quarter, against the Petition of Right.

Mr Bennet.] This Army is a limb of Popery, set up by this great Minister, who is not yet quite out of the way.

Sir Harbottle Grimstone.] This Motion is very seasonable, to ease ourselves of the intolerable burden of quartering soldiers. I must say, that the Army was raised before the Plot was discovered. The Law to raise that Army, by what interest and means it was gotten, you know. The Army of Scotland may be raised to march hither, or wherever they shall be sent to. Consider, pray, that Army, and this too. Appoint a day for it, and then we shall come prepared to speak to it.

Mr Vernon[of Monmouth.] I am apt to believe that the Army has no free quarter. They have nothing to live upon, and, in compassion, people do relieve them. They are at a thousand pound a day charge. In their Orders from the Duke of Monmouth, they are only to quarter in Public Houses of reception, and had the complaints here been mentioned, they might have had relief, had they been known.

Sir Henry Capel.] Now we have no War, it is a wonderful thing that we should have an Army. It cannot be thought otherwise of an Army, but to snatch the Government out of the King's hand. By the Petition of Right, they ought to be quartered in no man's house. If we were in War, they might be fitly quartered, &c. but I would lay aside repeating the misfortunes we have been under. We have done great things already. A great man is fallen, Danby. (Some called out, "but falling.") This is the proper place to complain of these things; and appoint a day to debate this matter.

Mr Vernon.] It is said "that the soldiers ought not to have free quarters." The Petition of Right is general, upon none of the King's subjects; but that which entitles them to be quartered in Inns and Alehouses is, because they have money in their purse, and they cannot deny to receive them; from thence they may come into our houses, when the Inns are full. I move, therefore, for a day to consider it, &c.

Colonel Birch.] I am glad and thankful for this Debate. I did believe the Army to be a cheat when it was raised; but it went by the telling of noses in that Parliament, and then it was dóne—The Nation need not now be afraid, when they have so many Gentlemen of good Estates at the head of them—I move, that on Tuesday next you will consider of disbanding this Army.

Mr Seymour.] I find the House is agreed on what it would have, but wants words to express itself by—(Upon the Speaker's unreadiness to frame the Question.) I shall offer words for a Question, viz. "That the House will take into consideration the disbanding the Forces raised since the 29th of September, 1677, that remain undisbanded; and that the Commissary of the Musters, and the Paymaster, bring in an account of all the regiments, troops, and companies raised since the said 29th of September, 1677, or brought over from beyond the seas, that remain undisbanded, and what is due to them."

[It was resolved accordingly.]

Mr Oates, at the Bar, accused Sir John Robinson, [Lieutenant of the Tower,] who was in the Lords Lobby when he was there, before the rising of the last Parliament—Robinson said, "These informing rogues trouble the world of late, but that he had spoiled one informing rogue already." In time I became acquainted with Everard, who accused Robinson of this, and have brought him to make it good.

Mr Everard, at the Bar, craved leave to read what he had to say in his memoirs.] There was a pretence raised by one Dallison, a servant of mine, that I should have killed the Duke of Monmouth; whereupon I was ordered to be committed to the Tower. Mr Secretary Coventry ordered the Messenger to carry me. Where being at dinner, with Sir John Robinson, he discoursed of his son, then in France, and enquired, by his Chaplain, whether I was a Papist, and in Orders. I sent to see the Warrant, and thought it but a formality; but finding myself locked up, day and night, I spent my time in reading, and expected the issue. Then he gave an account of the Lady Anne Gordon and Peter Talbot's acquainting him with a design of raising men, and surprizing a Port in Ireland, as is seen at large in his printed Relation, &c. Robinson took the heads thereof in his Table-book, and next day, when I would have particularized the Plot, Robinson broke me off, and said, "That he cared not what women said; but unless I would confess farther of the conspiracy against the Duke of Monmouth, he would rack me." Whereupon I desired the Keeper and his wife, that they would pray for me. I know not what the rack was, but the Keeper called it "the Duke's daughter." Soon after, I was sent to Whitehall, to be examined, where I was still urged to confess what evil design I came into England upon, &c. to in the printed Relation.

Mr Oates.] Robinson, in the Lobby, said, " Is it not a brave thing, that such a fellow should have a guard to attend him, like a General at a muster?"

One Richard Hawkins gave some farther information as to Everard.

Sir John Robinson.] I never was but in one Plot, and that was for Restoration of the King, and I know nothing of what Everard says, &c. I had a Warrant under the King's hand for his commitment. He confessed nothing of the Plot to me, but talked a great deal of gallimawfry stuff. I have fed him, and cloathed him, whilst he was in the Tower, and, I thank God, I am not yet paid for it.

Sir William Coventry.] I rise not to argue, or debate, but to tell the matter of fact. Mr Secretary Coventry, being ill for some days past, desired me to come to him, and acquaint you, "That, by the King's command, Everard was committed to the Tower by his Warrant; and he hath in his hand several papers, which may be useful to the House in this matter, but without the King's leave, he could not give a full and satisfactory answer as to Everard's commitment." There is one paper delivered in by Sir John Robinson, under Everard's hand, of his satisfaction in the matter before you. All I had in command from the Secretary was, to acquaint you, that as soon as he has the King's leave, which he doubts not of, he will acquaint you, &c. when his health will permit him to come to the House.

Sir John Robinson denied every thing of threatening Everard with the rack. The farther Debate thereof was adjourned to this day sevennight.

[Adjourned to Tuesday.]


  • 1. Son to the Earl of Anglesea, to which title he succeeded on his father's death in 1686. He died in 1690, and was great uncle to the last Earl,