Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 20, 1714-1717. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1767-1830.
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DIE Jovis, 19 Januarii.
Habeas Corpus Act, to suspend, Bill.
Hodie 2a vice lecta est Billa, intituled, "An Act for continuing the Act of this present Session of Parliament, intituled, "An Act to empower His Majesty to secure and detain such Persons as His Majesty shall suspect are conspiring against His Person and Government."
Impeached Lords at the Bar.
The Order of the Day being read, for bringing James Earl of Derwentwater, William Lord Widdrington, William Earl of Nithisdale, George Earl of Winton, Robert Earl of Carnwath, William Viscount Kenmure, and William Lord Nairn, to this House, in order to their putting in their several Answers to the Articles of Impeachment of High Treason, exhibited against them by the House of Commons:
E. Derwentwater's Answer.
"The Answer of James Earl of Derwentwater, to the Articles of Impeachment of High Treason exhibited against him, by the Honourable the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses, of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled.
"To a Charge of so high and heinous a Nature, the said Earl cannot answer without the deepest Concern and Affliction; which becomes more weighty from the Share the Honourable House of Commons have been pleased to take in the Accusation. He assures himself, however, that Great Assembly doth not engage in the Prosecution of an Offence, so open to Conviction in the ordinary Course of Law, with Design to intercept that Mercy, which the Earl, from the Report of His Majesty's natural Goodness, had Reason to expect: It would be a Thought unworthy any Member of that August Body, to imagine he could have the least Desire of spilling the Blood of any of his Fellow Subjects, whom His Majesty's great Wisdom should think a fit Object of His Mercy. The said Earl therefore hopes that his Prosecution is taken out of the common Course of Justice, with Intentions, that if, in his particular Case, there shall appear any Circumstances inducing Favour or Compassion, both your Lordships and the Commons may be Intercessors with His Majesty for Grace towards him; whereby the Exercise of the Royal Mercy, upon which the Earl depended (which, amongst all the Virtues of the Crown, most endears a Monarch to the Love and Affection of His People), may be extended in such Manner, as may demonstrate that Clemency for which His Majesty is so greatly renowned, and not encourage any to offend upon the Presumption of it for the future. The said Earl acknowledges, with a real Sorrow, that, at the Time in the Articles mentioned, he was in Arms, and, with others, did march through and invade several Parts of this Kingdom; and confesses he is thereby guilty of the Offence wherewith he is charged in the said Articles. But, if any Offence of that Kind was ever attended with Circumstances which might move Compassion, the said Earl hopes he may be entitled to it. He begs Leave to inform your Lordships, that his Temper and Inclination disposed him to live peaceably under His Majesty's Government, and he never had the least Prejudice or Malice against His Person; nor was he ever heretofore concerned in, or privy to, any Design or Contrivance to subvert or disturb the established Government, the Laws or Religion of this Kingdom; and, if any Methods were taken by others to accomplish any of those Ends, he was absolutely a Stranger to them; nor did he now engage in this unhappy Undertaking upon any previous Concert or Contrivance for any such Purpose; but, being young and unexperienced, he rashly, and without any Deliberation, engaged himself to meet at Plainefeild, in Northumberland, on Assurance that many of his Relations and Acquaintance would appear there. That his Undertaking was sudden, appears in that he engaged in it without any previous Preparation of Men, Horses, Arms, or other Warlike Accoutrements. And as the said Earl cannot be justly reproached with any cruel, severe, or harsh Action, during the Continuance in Arms; so he took the First Opportunity that offered of submitting to the King's Mercy. After the sudden Skirmishes at Preston, the said Earl, with others, was solicitous to prevent any further Destruction of the Lives of His Majesty's Subjects, and instrumental to induce all in Arms to submit themselves to the King, provided they might be secured of their Lives: One of His Majesty's Officers, sent from the General, gave them Encouragement to believe, that the Surrender of themselves would be the ready Way to obtain the King's Mercy; in Confidence whereof, when a Cessation was agreed on, the said Earl offered himself to become One of the Hostages for them till the next Morning; in which Time he received further Assurances from the Officers, "That the King was a Prince of known Clemency; that this was a distinguishing Part of His Character; and that the free Surrender to Mercy would be the most proper Means to obtain it." The said Earl believes His Majesty's Officers were very sensible, and will be so just as to acknowledge, that it had not been impracticable for many of those at Preston to make their Way through His Majesty's Forces; but this Attempt must have occasioned the Loss of many Lives, and might been productive of ill Consequences to the Government, which the said Earl was desirous to prevent: And, when the Time agreed on for the Cessation was near expired, and General Wills seemed uneasy in not having received any Message from those in the Town, the said Earl writ a Letter, to exhort them to surrender to the King's Mercy; and, at the same Time, declared to the said General and other Officers, "That whatever happened, he was determined to continue with them, and rely entirely on His Majesty's Clemency and Goodness, which he had Encouragement to expect." And, in such Circumstances, the said Earl cannot distrust your Lordships or the Commons Readiness to use their Mediation for Mercy on his Behalf; which will lay him under the highest Obligations of Duty and Affection to His Majesty, and perpetual Gratitude to both Houses of Parliament.
The material Words of which Answer appearing not to be sufficiently express and clear; the Lord Chancellor asked the said Earl, "If he meant, by the said Answer, to plead guilty to the said Articles of Impeachment?"
Lord Widdrington's Answer.
Then the Lord Widdrington was brought to the Bar; and, having there also kneeled, was acquainted by the Lord Chancellor with the aforementioned Order, and asked the same Question as the Earl of Derwentwater.
"The Answer of William Lord Widdrington, to the Articles of Impeachment of High Treason exhibited against him, by the Honourable the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses, of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled.
"It is with inexpressible Concern and Affliction the said Lord appears before this August Assembly, charged with Crimes of the most heinous Nature: And though it is natural to Mankind to endeavour to conceal their Guilt, and make Use of all Manner of Defence, especially in the Case of Life; yet, as he surrendered himself at Preston, entirely relying on his Majesty's Mercy; so he is now resolved not to take any Measures which may argue the least Diffidence of that Mercy, or of your Lordships Goodness; and therefore, the said Lord confesses, he is guilty of the Treason wherewith he is charged in the said Articles. And, after having thus freely acknowledged his Offence, he begs Leave to lay his Case before your Lordships; and humbly hopes, when the particular Circumstances are considered, it will not be thought to merit the most rigorous Punishment; but that both your Lordships and the Honourable House of Commons will look upon him as a proper Object of his Majesty's Clemency: And he humbly hopes, he may be thought the less unworthy of Favour, in that he never before offended, nor was at any Time privy to, or acquainted with, any Design, or Contrivance, to destroy, or disturb, the established Government, the Laws, or Religion, of this Kingdom; but came unawares into this sudden and unpremeditated Action: For, although he hath met with public Rumours and Reports of intended Invasions from Abroad, and Insurrections at Home; yet he never knew, or any other Way heard, of any formed Design against the Government, till he was told, the Night before, of a Meeting intended at Plainefeild, in Northumberland, on the Sixth of October last; and being soon after informed, that almost all his Neighbours and Acquaintance had met there in Arms, he took a hasty and inconsiderate Resolution of joining them: Nor was he in any sort prepared for such an Undertaking, having only some of his own Family with him, no Arms but his common Fowling-pieces and Wearing Swords, and fewer Horses than he had constantly kept for several Years before; and nothing but the Report of so many of his Friends being engaged could have hurried him on to an Enterprize, so unaccountably rash and unjustifiable. And he is willing to hope, your Lordships will esteem it some Alleviation of his Crime, that, in a Commotion of that Nature, there was so little Violation of the Rights and Properties of those who opposed them; for, he believes, few Instances can be found, where such a Multitude continued so long in Arms, without doing greater Acts of Violence and Injustice. The said Lord cannot charge himself with any injurious Acts to the Property of his Fellow Subjects, and endeavoured to prevent them in others; and hopes it was thence owing, in some Measure, that there was shown all along greater Marks of Moderation and Humanity than is common in such a warlike and hostile Proceeding. The Suddenness of the Attack at Preston, without any previous Summons, admitted no Time for meditating a Submission before the Loss of that Blood which was there unfortunately spilt; but, after the Heat and Surprize of the First Action was over, a Cessation of Arms was desired; and, upon the mutual Messages which then passed, the Officers sent from the General encouraged them to believe the surrendering themselves would be the ready Way to obtain the King's Mercy; and gave them repeated Assurances, "That they submitted to a Prince of the greatest Clemency in the World." Upon these Hopes and Assurances, they made a general Surrender of themselves to the King. And the said Lord may justly take Notice to your Lordships, that, as he was the last who took up Arms, so he was the First who procured a Meeting of the chief Persons among them in order to lay them down; and cannot doubt but your Lordships and the Honourable House of Commons will think it equitable to make some Distinction between an obstinate Resistance and an early and humble Submission, whereby the Peace and Tranquillity of this Part of His Majesty's Dominions was entirely restored. Nature must have started at yielding themselves up to a certain and ignominious Death; when it must be acknowledged, that it was not impracticable for many of them to have escaped; and it was possible so great a Number, grown desperate, might have obtained farther Success, and thereby prevented the so speedy suppressing that Insurrection: But the said Lord and the rest having, with the utmost Confidence, relied on the Assurances of His Majesty's great Clemency, and the Hopes of Mercy which had been given them from the Officers who commanded the Royal Forces; he is encouraged, with great Earnestness, to implore the Intercession of your Lordships and the Honourable House of Commons with His Majesty, for that Mercy on which they wholly depended: And as he doth not know where Mercy was refused to those who so early and with so much Resignation submitted to it; so, he humbly hopes, your Lordships may be induced to think that the Exercise of this Divine Virtue, by His Majesty, towards those who cast themselves at His Royal Feet upon the sole Prospect and Expectation of it, will appear no less glorious to His Majesty, and prove no less advantageous to the future Quiet and Tranquillity of His Government, than any Examples of Justice, in such a Case, can be likely to do: And whatever Marks of Goodness and Favour His Majesty shall vouchsafe to the said Lord, will not fail to engage him, by the strongest Ties of Gratitude, to demonstrate, in the future Course of his Life, the most constant and inviolable Duty to His Majesty, and the most real Esteem and Veneration for your Lordships and the Honourable House of Commons.
He begged "to be excused all Imperfections in his said Answer;" says, "he has been indisposed with the Gout in his Stomach, and was not able to employ himself in preparing his Answer till last Night, and finished it but this Morning; and humbly implores their Lordships Intercession to His Majesty, for Favour and Mercy;" and his Answer and Plea is recorded accordingly.
E. of Nithisdale's Answer.
"The Answer of William Earl of Nithisdale, to the Articles of Impeachment of High Treason, exhibited against him by the Honourable the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses, of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled.
"It is with the utmost Confusion the said Earl appears at your Lordships Bar, under the Weight of an Inpeachment by the Commons of Great Britain, for High Treason. He humbly begs Leave, in Extenuation of his Crime, to assure your Lordships, that he was always a zealous Assertor of the Liberties of his Country, and never engaged in forming or carrying on any Design to subvert the ancient established Government, and the good Laws of this Kingdom; but, being summoned by those entrusted with the Administration of the Government in Scotland, to appear at Edinburgh; and being assured, if he went thither, he should be made close Prisoner; he did not obey the Summons; but, in all humble Manner, applied for their Indulgence, in dispensing with his being committed to Gaol; offering to give any Bail for his peaceable and quiet Behaviour: Which being refused; and being at that Time in so ill a State of Health, that a Consinement in Edinburgh Castle would have endangered his Life; he was forced to abscond and keep private, till several of the Persons mentioned in the said Impeachment, with many other of his Neighbours, appeared in Arms, very near the Place where the said Earl lay concealed; and then he inconsiderately and unfortunately (with Four of his Domestics and no other Person whatsoever) joined them, and proceeded in their Company to the Places in the said Articles of Impeachment mentioned; but he knew nothing of the intended Insurrection till they were actually in Arms. The said Earl is deeply sensible of his great Offence; and, not affecting Delay, nor being willing to give your Lordships or the Honourable House of Commons any unnecessary Trouble; he does, with a Sorrow equal to his Crime, consess that he is guilty of the Treason in the said Articles of Impeachment contained; and throws himself at His Majesty's Feet, imploring His Royal Mercy: And, to incline His Majesty thereto, and induce your Lordships to recommend him as an Object thereof, he begs Leave to inform your Lordships, that, when he and the rest that were with him at Preston had engaged in a Battle, a Cessation of Arms being agreed to, they had Intimations from His Majesty's Officers, "That, if they submitted, they might expect the King's Mercy;" and, History abounding with Instances of Conditions, stipulated by Generals, even with Rebels, and afterterwards agreed to and confirmed by their Sovereigns, they were prevailed on by such Encouragement, together with the Consideration of His Majesty's known Clemency, to surrender themselves Prisoners; whereby the Lives of great Numbers of His Majesty's good Subjects were saved, which, by an obstinate Resistance, would inevitably have been destroyed: And therefore, he most humbly begs your Lordships will be pleased to represent his Case to His Majesty in the most favourable Manner; not doubting but, by your Lordships powerful Intercession, he shall find, that, as he performed the Duty of a good Christian in concurring to prevent the Effusion of Blood, so he acted the Part of a wise Man in relying upon a Mercy so extensive as that of His Majesty. And he presumes, when the Honourable House of Commons are apprized of the Nature of his Case, they will not interpose, to prevent him from having a Share in the Benefit of that Mercy.
E. of Winton's Petition, for other Counsel; and further Time allowed him to answer:
"That, on Thursday last, I having applied to your Lordships, representing how I had caused Application to be made to Two Lawyers, to act as Counsel for me, in the Impeachment exhibited before your Lordships against me by the Honourable House of Commons; and that they both declined to meddle, for Reasons then given; your Lordships were pleased to allow me some more Time for nominating of Counsel and Solicitors, and this Day for giving in my Answers; but, by reason of my close Consinement, and that your Lordships Order for allowing some Persons to have Access to me expired on Friday last, at Eleven Forenoon; I have had no Opportunity of naming other Counsel and Solicitors; nor can I have the Assistance of any, till they are appointed by your Lordships, and they allowed Access to me.
"That your Petitioner has several Specialities and Matters of great Moment, which he conceives necessary to be a Part of his Answers, and which cannot be drawn into Form without the Assistance of his Counsel and Solicitors.
"Forasmuch, therefore, as this Affair is to me of the greatest Importance; may it please your Lordships, to assign Sir Constantine Phipps and Mr. Peer Williams to be Counsel, and Charles Menzies and Mr. James Lesslie to be my Solicitors, and to order that they may have Access to me from Time to Time, during my Trial; as also that your Lordships would be pleased to allow Mr. George Hereot, a Minister of the Church of England, to have Access to me from Time to Time, seeing I am consined in a Room alone.
Orders upon it.
Ordered, That the Counsel mentioned in the said Petition be assigned him, and that either of the said Solicitors be likewise assigned; and that he have Time to put in his Answer to the said Articles till Monday next; and that the Clergyman mentioned in his Petition, being his Relation, may have Access to him, provided he will stay in Custody with him during his Consinement.
And the Lord Chancellor acquainted him, "That the House had considered his Petition; and assigned him the Counsel he desired, and would assign him either of the Two Solicitors he should choose; and that the Clergyman abovementioned might come to him, upon the Condition before expressed."
Then the said Earl of Winton naming Mr. Menzies the House accordingly assigned him for his Solicitor; and ordered that the said Counsel and Solicitor may have Access to him from Time to Time, at all seasonable Hours.
E. of Carnwath pleads guilty.
He says, "He has noAnswer in Writing; but desires to throw himself on the King's Mercy, and humbly implores their Lordships Intercession to His Majesty, on his Behalf; and assures the House, if the same were granted; he shall think himself obliged to live under the strictest Ties of Loyalty to His Majesty. And as to the said Articles; he says, he is guilty of the High Treason contained in the said Articles of Impeachment against him." And the said Plea is recorded accordingly.
Visc. Kenmure pleads guilty.
He says, "He has no Answer in Writing; but is guilty of the Charge of High Treason contained in the Articles of Impeachment against him; and begs the House will intercede with his Majesty for Mercy." And his Plea is recorded accordingly.
Lord Nairn pleads guilty.
He says, "He throws himself upon the King's Mercy; and begs the Intercession of this House to His Majesty. And as to the Articles of Impeachment exhibited against him; he says, he is guilty of the High Treason contained in the said Articles." And his Plea is recorded accordingly.
His Petition to the House, to intercede with the King in his Behalf.
"That your Petitioner was educated, and hath always continued, a Protestant, according to the Discipline of the Church of England; and though, by reason of some mistaken Principles he unwarily imbibed in his tender Years, he did not in all respects conform to the late Revolution, lying under the less Necessity, for that he had married an Heiress, in whom all the Right of your Petitioner's Estate is invested; and though he never took the Oaths, yet he always peaceably submitted to, and lived quietly under, the Government as by Law established, until the breaking out of this Rebellion, in which your Petitioner was inadvertently involved; but not before the Lord Mar and his Adherents had, for a considerable Time, made themselves Masters of Perth and Dunkeld, and thereby surrounded your Petitioner's whole Estate, and came to your Petitioner's House lying in the Middle between those Places.
"Your Petitioner heartily repents of this rash Undertaking; and solemnly declares, he knew nothing of any previous Consultations, or Conspiracies, in Favour of the Pretender, before he actually appeared in Arms; nor knew any Thing about crossing The Forth, until the Morning he was sent over under M'intoch's Command; and then was so far from approving of that Expedition, that though, to avoid the Imputation of Cowardice, he would hazard his own Person therein; your Petitioner ordered back all his Dependants, and was only attended by his Son and Four Servants, who would not leave him in a Time of Danger, though often desired: Nor was your Petitioner privy to any Designs of marching into England; for, having been bred a Seaman, he had no Pretensions to Knowledge in the Land Service.
"Your Petitioner, being now sensible of his Errors, hath pleaded guilty to the Articles of Impeachment of High Treason, exhibited against him by the Honourable House of Commons, and thrown himself at his Majesty's Feet; humbly beseeching your Lordships, in Commiseration of the deplorable Circumstances of your Petitioner and his Twelve Children, to recommend him to his Majesty for that Mercy, which, at the Time of his Surrender, he was made to believe he might reasonably expect.
"This will lay your Petitioner and his Posterity under the greatest Obligations of Duty and Gratitude to His Majesty, and bind them for ever to bless your Lordships, as the merciful Instruments of procuring such a gracious Deliverance.
Lieutenant of The Tower examined about the impeached Lords stopping at a Taveru:
Then the House was informed, "That, on the Day the said several Lords were brought before to this House, notwithstanding their Lordships Order, That no Person should have Admittance to them without the special Leave of the House, it was reported, and believed, that, on their Return to The Tower, they were allowed to dine at a Tavern, and suffered to continue there for some Time."
Thereupon the Lieutenant of The Tower was called in, and examined touching the same; and acknowledged, "That the said Lords, complaining they were faint, at their Request, were permitted to go into The Fountain Tavern in The Strand, and stayed about Half an Hour, during which Time they were strictly guarded."
Order for them to be carried directly to The Tower.
Message to H. C. that they have all pleaded guilty, except the E. of Winton.
To acquaint them, that James Earl of Darwentwater, William Lord Widdrington, William Earl of Nithsdaill, Robert Earl of Carnwath, William Viscount Kenmure, and William Lord Nairne, have severally pleaded guilty, at the Bar of this House, to the Articles of Impeachment of High Treason exhibited against them by the Commons; which Pleas this House hath recorded: And, upon the Petition of George Earl of Winton, their Lordships have allowed him Time till Monday next, to put in his Answer to the said Articles.
E. of Carnwath to have Persons come to him.
A Petition of Robert Earl of Carnwath, was presented to the House, and read; praying, "That Colonel Dalziel, Colonel William Graham a Member of the House of Commons, Colonel Graham Adjutant General, Captain William Murray, Doctor Wellwood and Doctor Gray, the Petitioner's Relations and Friends which he hath in Town, may be permitted to visit him."
E. of Derwentwater, Leave for his Wife to come out of The Tower.
A Petition of James Earl of Darwentwater was presented to the House, and read; praying, "In regard his Wife is under a great Indisposition of Body, and very apprehensive of the Small Pox, a Lady being sick of that Distemper next Door but One to the Petitioner's Lodgings, that the Petitioner's said Wife may have Leave to come out of The Tower."
Impeached Lords sent back to The Tower.
Ordered, That the several Lords impeached be conveyed back to His Majesty's Tower of London, by the Lieutenant thereof, to be there kept in safe Custody: And that the said Lieutenant do bring George Earl of Winton to this House, on Monday next, at Twelve a Clock, in order to his putting in his Answer to the Articles of Impeachment, of High Treason, exhibited against him by the House of Commons.