Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 3, 1620-1628. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1767-1830.
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DIE Martis, videlicet, 20 die Martii,
Lord Treasurer reported the Conference concerning the Lord Chancellor, &c.
At which Conference, was delivered the Desire of the Commons, to inform their Lordships of the great Abuses of the Courts of Justice; the Information whereof was divided into Three Parts: 1. Of the Persons accused. 2. Of the Matters objected against them. 3. Their Proof. The Persons are, the Lord Chancellor of England, and the now Lord Bishop of Landaph (being then no Bishop, but Doctor Feild). The incomparable good Parts of the Lord Chancellor were highly commended; his Place he holds, magnified; from whence Bounty, Justice, and Mercy were to be distributed to the Subjects, with which he was solely trusted; whither all great Causes were drawn, and from whence no Appeal lay for any Injustice, or Wrong done, save to the Parliament.
That the Lord Chancellor is accused of great Bribery and Corruption, committed by him in this eminent Place. Whereof Two Cases were alledged; the one concerning Christopher Awbrey, the other concerning Edward Egerton.
In the Cause depending in Chancery between this Awbrey and Sir William Brouncker, Awbrey, feeling some hard Measure, was advised to give the Lord Chancellor an Hundred Pounds; the which he delivered to his Counsel (Sir George Hastings), and he to the Lord Chancellor. This Business proceeding slowly notwithstanding, Awbrey did write divers Letters, and delivered them to the Lord Chancellor, but could never have any Answer from his Lordship; but at last, delivering another Letter, his Lordship answered, "If he importune him, he will lay him by the Heels."
1. Sir George Hastings related it long since unto Sir Charles Mountague. 2. The Lord Chancellor, fearing this would be complained of, desired Silence of Sir George Hastings. 3. Sir George Hastings's Testimony thereof, which was not voluntary, but urged. 4. The Lord Chancellor desired Sir George Hastings to bring the Party (Awbrey) unto him, and promised Bedress of the Wrongs done him. 5. That the Lord Chancellor said unto Sir George Hastings, if he would affirm the giving this Hundred Pounds, his Lordship would and must deny it upon his Honour.
The Case of Edward Egerton is this. There being Suits depending between Edward Egerton and Sir Rowland Egerton, in the Chancery, Edward Egerton presented his Lordship (a little after he was Lord Keeper) with a Bason and Ewre of Fifty Pounds, and above; and afterwards, he delivered unto Sir George Hastings and Sir Richard Younge Four Hundred Pounds in Gold, to be presented unto his Lordship. Sir Richard Yonge presented it; his Lordship took it, and poised it, and said it was too much, and returned Answer, that Mr. Egerton had not only inriched him, but had laid a Tie upon his Lordship to do him Favour in all his just Causes.
The Proofs are, the Testimony of Sir George Hastings, and the Testimony of Merefyll, a Scrivener, thus far, that he took up Seven Hundred Pounds for Mr. Egerton, Mr. Egerton then telling him, that a great Part of it was to be given to the Lord Chancellor; and that Mr. Egerton afterwards told him that the Four Hundred Pounds in Gold was given to the Lord Chancellor.
This Business (depending) being ordered against Edward Egerton, he procured a new Reference thereof from the King, to the Lord Chancellor. His Lordship demanded the Parties first to be bound in Six Thousand Marks, to stand to his Lordship's Award; they having entered into that Bond, his Lordship awarded the Matter against Edward Egerton, for Sir Rowland Egerton. And Edward Egerton refusing to stand to the said Award, a new Bill was exhibited in the Chancery; and thereupon his Lordship ordered that this Bond of Six Thousand Marks should be assigned unto Sir Rowland Egerton, and he to put the same in Suit, in his Lordship's Name. The Bishop of Landaph (as a Friend unto Edward Egerton) adviseth with Randolph Davenport and Butler (which Butler is now dead), that they would procure a Stay of the Decree upon that Award, and procure a new Hearing. It was agreed, that Six Thousand Pounds should be given for this by Edward Egerton, and shared amongst them and certain Honourable Persons. A Recognizance of Ten Thousand Pounds was required from Mr. Egerton to the Bishop, for Performance hereof; the Bishop's Share of this Six Thousand Pounds was to have been so great, as no Court of Justice would allow. They produced Letters of the Bishop's, naming the Sum, and setting down a Course how this Six Thousand Pounds might be raised; videlicet, the Land in Question to be decreed for Mr. Egerton, and out of that the Money to be levied. And, if this were not effected, then the Bishop promised, in verbo Sacerdotis, to deliver up the Recognizance to be cancelled. The Recognizance is sealed accordingly; and Randolph Davenport rides to the Court, and moved the Lord Admiral for his Lordship's Letter to the Lord Chancellor herein; but his Lordship denied to meddle in a Cause depending in Suit. Then the said Randolph Davenport essayed to get the King's Letter, but sailed therein also: So that the Good they intended to Mr. Egerton was not effected; and yet the Bishop, though required, refused to deliver up the said Recognizance, until Mr. Egerton threatened to complain thereof to the King.
He shewed also, that the Commons do purpose, that, if any more of this Kind happen to be complained of before them, they will present the same to your Lordships; wherein they shall follow the ancient Precedents, which shew that great Personages have been accused for the like in Parliament.
They humbly desire, that, forasmuch as this concerns a Person of so great Eminency, it may not depend long before your Lordships; that the Examination of the Proofs may be expedited; and, if he be found guilty, then to be punished; if not guilty, the Accusers to be punished.
This Report ended, the Lord Admiral declared, That he had been Twice with the Lord Chancellor, to visit him, being sent to him by the King. The first Time, he found his Lordship very sick and heavy; the second Time, he found him better, and much comforted, for that he heard that the Complaint of the Grievances of the Commons against him were come into this House; where he assured himself to find Honourable Justice; in Confidence whereof, his Lordship had written a Letter to the House. The which Letter the Lord Admiral presented to the House, to be read; the Tenor whereof followeth:
Lord Chancellor's Letter to the Lords.
"I humbly pray your Lordships all to make a favourable and true Construction of my Absence. It is no seigning, nor sainting, but Sickness both of my Heart and of my Back; though joined with that Comfort of Mind, that perswadeth me, that I am not far from Heaven, whereof I feel the First Fruits. And because, whether I live or dye, I would be glad to preserve my Honour and Fame, as far as I am worthy, hearing that some Complaints of base Bribery are come before your Lordships, my Requests unto your Lordships are: First, that you will maintain me in your good Opinion, without Prejudice, until my Cause be heard; Secondly, that, in regard I have sequestred my Mind at this Time, in great Part, from worldly Matters, thinking of my Account and Answer in a Higher Court, your Lordships would give me some convenient Time, according to the Course of other Courts, to advise with my Counsel, and to make my Answer, wherein nevertheless my Counsel's Part will be the least; for I shall not, by the Grace of God, trick up an Innocency with Cavillations; but plainly and ingenuously (as your Lordships know my Manner is) declare what I know or remember; Thirdly, that, according to the Course of Justice, I may be allowed to except to the Witnesses brought against me, and to move Questions to your Lordships for their cross Examination, and likewise to produce my own Witnesses for Discovery of the Truth: And lastly, if there come any more Petitions of like Nature, that your Lordships would be pleased not to take any Prejudice or Apprehension of any Number or Muster of them, especially against a Judge that makes Two Thousand Decrees and Orders in a Year (not to speak of the Courses that have been taken for hunting out Complaints against me); but that I may answer them, according to the Rules of Justice, severally and respectively. These Requests, I hope, appear to your Lordships no other than just. And so, thinking myself happy, to have so Noble Peers and Reverend Prelates to discern of my Cause, and desiring no Privilege of Greatness for Subterfuge of Guiltiness; but meaning (as I said) to deal fairly and plainly with your Lordships, and to out myself upon your Honours and Favours, I pray God to bless your Counsels and your Persons; and res:
Bishop of Landaph.
The Lord Bishop of Landaph admitted to speak for his Defence of the Accusation of Brocage, in a Bribe intended to the Lord Chancellor, in Mr. Egerton's Cause; shewed his Grief, that he remained accused, arraigned, condemned, and executed, in dicta causa; for although he should (as he doubted not to do) clear himself, yet the Scandal would not die. He shewed, that the Party that accused him was the Party grieved, a Man weak and mad with Affliction; as for the Action whereof he was accused, he was but used therein; he was requested first by Francis Jenour, but refused; then by Tristram Woodward, and then he also denied it; at last, the Party himself requested him, at whose Tears he yielded thus far, that the Party (videlicet, Edward Egerton) might acknowledge unto him a Recognizance of Six Thousand Pounds; it was only acknowledge, not inrolled, nor intended to be inrolled; he was only trusted with it for Mr. Egerton's Good; Davenport and others were to be the Actors. That he discharged his Trust accordingly, and delivered back the Recognizance, though Davenport and others importuned him to the contrary. His Aims in this Action were Two; the one, Charity, to do Mr. Egerton good; the other, to prefer a beneficial Suit to an Honourable Friend, to whom he owed his very Life. If he had an Eye to some private Gain to himself, having Wife and Children, he had therein sinned against God, in not relying only on Him for their Maintenance; but no Sum of the Share of this Six Thousand Pounds was ever purposed unto him. And, upon a strict Examination of his Conscience herein, he protested before God, in whose Council he stood, and before this Honourable Assembly, "qui estis Dii," inquit, That he was not to have had any one Denier of a Share therein.
The Lord Chamberlain moved, That, for the better Consideration of this Business, and how to proceed to the Proofs; the Court may be adjourned ad placitum, and the whole House sit as a Committee. Whereupon the Lord Chief Justice removed to his Place, as an Assistant.
Message to the Commons, about Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Landaph.
To declare unto the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of the House of Commons, That the Lords have, according to the Conference Yesterday, taken Consideration of the Complaints by them made against the Lord Chancellor, and against the Lord Bishop of Landaf; that they find, they have Use of Three Letters written by the said Lord Bishop of Landaf, and of other Writings (mentioned by them in their said Complaint), and also of the Testimony of Two Gentlemen, Members of that House, videlicet, Sir George Hastings and Sir Richard Yonge. In taking of whose Testimonies, the Lords intend not to touch the Privileges of their House; but to have the same as of private Persons, and not as Members of that House. And that the Lords may also, with the like Respect, desire the Testimony of any other, though Members of that House, if Cause shall require, upon the Examination of the said Abuses complained of.
That the said Two Gentlemen, Sir George Hastings and Sir Richard Yonge, will voluntarily, and not by Commandment nor Direction of their House, attend their Lordships. That all Letters &c. required shall be sent accordingly. As for the general Request, that the Lords may send for any other Members of that House to be examined herein, they humbly pray that they may advise thereof.
Memorandum, That, during the Time that the whole House sat as a Committee as aforesaid, it was debated, and Agreed, That the Parties undernamed should also be sent for, to be sworn and examined in this Business: videlicet,
Parties to be sworn and examined.
It was now also moved, and much disputed, Whether Sir William Broncker and Sir Rowland Egerton (the two Adversaries of Christopher Aubrey and Edward Egerton) should be sent for also, to be examined whether they gave any Bribe on their Part.
Message to the Lord Chancellor from the Lords.
Moved by the Earl of South'ton, and Agreed, That an Answer should be sent to my Lord Chancellor's Letter; whereupon, Message is sent to the Lord Chancellor, by Sir James Woolridge, to this Effect: That the Lords received his Lordship's Letter, delivered unto them by the Lord Admiral; they intend to proceed in his Cause (now before their Lordships) according to the right Rule of Justice; and they shall be glad if his Lordship shall clear his Honour therein; to which End, they pray his Lordship to provide for his Defence.
Oxford and Cambridge.
Moved by the Earl of Suff. and much debated, touching the Precedency and Equality of Two Universities; wherein much was alledged for the Right of Precedency in each of them; but the Earl of Suff. desired only an Equality between them; which was Ordered to be put to the Question To-morrow, and the Subsidy be read first.
Absents from Prayers in the Afternoon to pay.
Answer from Lord Chancellor.
Answer from the Lord Chancellor, by Sir James Woolridge: That the Lord Chancellor returns the Lords humble Thanks, for their Lordships Assurance of Justice in his Cause, and well Wishes to him of the Success. The one secures, the other comforts him. That he intends to put their Lordships in Mind hereafter of some Points contained in his Lordship's Letter, for that the same were not spoken of in the Message delivered unto him.
Sir George Hastings, Knight,
Sir Richard Yonge, Knight,
Jurati À voir dire to all
Questions asked by theCourt, or Committees, or by any authorised by the Court, whether their Answer be by Word or set down in Writing.
Subsidies by the Temporalty.
Subsidies by the Clergy.
Petition of Edward Newton read; confessing his Fault, for arresting of a Servant of the Lord Stafford's; and humbly desiring to be freed of his Imprisonment. And thereupon it was Ordered by this High Court, That the said Edward Newton shall be brought to the Bar To-morrow Morning, to acknowledge his Fault.
Gold and Silver Thread.
"Humbly sheweth, That your Petitioner, being unmarried, and sickly, by Indenture of Uses and other Conveyances, intailed divers Manors and Lands, in the Counties of Chester and Stafford, to the Use of your Petitioner, and the Heirs Males of his Body; and, for Default of such Issue, to remain to Sir John Egerton and his Heirs; which said Conveyances were made voluntarily, without any Consideration paid for the same, with Power of Revocation.
"That Sir John Egerton having, by Deed executed in his Life-time, conveyed all his own Lands unto Sir Rowland Egerton, his Son and Heir, and having advanced in Marriage all his Daughters, did make his last Will and Testament in Writing, under his Hand and Seal, having first bound the said Sir Rowland in a Statute of Five Thousand Pounds, to perform his said Will.
"That the said Sir John, by his last Will, in general Words, devised all his Lordships, Manors, Lands, Tenements, and Hereditaments, to your Petitioner and his Heirs, and made your Petitioner sole Executor.
"By which said Will, all the Estate of the said Sir John, in any Part of your Petitioner's Lands (if he had any Estate therein, as indeed he had not), was lawfully devised to your Petitioner and his Heirs.
"That the said Sir Rowland Egerton unduly obtained of Sir John Bennett, Knight, Letters of Administration, to be granted unto Two of his Sisters, after the said Will exhibited to be proved, whereby your Petitioner was put to Three Thousand Pounds Charges in Suits of Law.
"That Sir Rowland Egerton hath also, by indirect Means, gotten into his Hands the said Indenture of Uses, and all your Petitioner's other Writings and Evidences, and refuseth to let your Petitioner to see the said Indenture of Uses, or to deliver to your Petitioner a true Copy thereof; albeit the same doth in Law appertain to your Petitioner.
"That the Lord Ellesmere, late Lord Chancellor of England, before the Probate of the said Will, did decree, That the said Sir Rowland shall have and enjoy the Manor of Wrinebill and Heywood Barnes, being a great Part of your Petitioner's Inheritance, worth Six Hundred Pounds per Annum, without any Cause of Equity contained in the said Decree.
"That your Petitioner made humble Suit unto the Right Honourable Francis Viscount St. Alban, now Lord Chancellor of England, to have the Benefit of a Subject, to recover his ancient Inheritance, by the ordinary Course of the Laws.
"That the now Lord Chancellor took from your Petitioner Four Hundred Pounds of Money in Gold, and Fifty-two Pounds, Ten Shillings, in Silver Plate, which Money was accepted by the said Lord Chancellor; saying, That your Petitioner did not only inrich him, but also lay a Tie upon his Lordship to do your Petitioner Justice in his rightful Cause.
"That afterwards the said Lord Chancellor sent for your Petitioner, and did, by great Oaths and Protestations, draw your Petitioner to seal an Obligation to his Lordship of Ten Thousand Marks, to stand to his Lordship's Award, for all the Lands whereof Sir John Egerton died seized only, but not for any other of your Petitioner's Lands.
"That afterwards your Petitioner was divers Times sent for by Robert Sharpeigh, then Steward of his Lordship's House; and your Petitioner was several Times offered, that, if your Petitioner would then presently pay Eleven Hundred Pounds in ready Money; that is to say, a Thousand Pounds for his Lordship, and a Hundred Pounds for the said Sharpeigh, that then your Petitioner would have all his Lands decreed unto him; which your Petitioner could not then presently pay in ready Money.
"That afterwards the said Lord Chancellor did not only confirm unto the said Sir Rowland the Lands which he then held of your Petitioner's Inheritance, being worth Six Hundred Pounds per Annum; but the said Lord Chancellor did also take away from your Petitioner more Lands, worth Fifteen Thousand Pounds, and decreed the same also unto the said Sir Rowland Egerton, who did not make any Title thereunto before the said Bond taken, and before the said unlawful Decree made. And the said Lord Chancellor did also decree, That the said Bond of Ten Thousand Marks, made by your Petitioner to the said Lord Chancellor, in his Lordship's own Name, should be set over and delivered to the said Sir Rowland Egerton, who should sue the same in the Lord Chancellor's Name, and recover upon the same to his own Use.
"And the said Lord Chancellor did further decree, That your Petitioner shall not take Benefit of the Statute of Five Thousand Pounds, made by the said Sir Rowland to perform the said Will; and your Petitioner is restrained, by the said Decree, from the Benefit of a Subject, to recover his Right, by the ordinary Course of the common Law, without any Cause of Equity set forth in the said Decree.
"That your Petitioner having spent Six Thousand Pounds in Suit of Law, and being deprived of all his said Evidences, and being utterly impoverished by the evil Dealing of the said Lord Chancellor, and by the indirect Practices of the said Sir Rowland, is likely to be utterly defrauded of all his ancient Inheritance, contrary to the common Justice of the Land, except he may be relieved herein by this High Court of Parliament.
"Your Petitioner humbly prayeth, That the said Sir Rowland Egerton may be ordered to produce, and bring forth upon Oath, all such Indentures of Uses, Writings, and Evidences, as he hath, or any other hath to his Use, concerning your Petitioner's said Lands, and whereby he claimeth any Estate in your Petitioner's Lands, to the End your Honours may judge thereof, and to do therein further as to your grave Wisdoms shall seem to stand with Justice."
Committees to receive Letters, &c. from the House of Commons.
The Lord Chamberlain and the Earl of Essex appointed, by the House, as Committees to receive Letters, and other Writings, from the Commons, who presently returned, and brought them into the House, but did not deliver them to the Clerk.
Dominus Capitalis Justiciarius, Locum tenens Domini Cancellarii, declaravit præsens Parliamentum continuandum esse usque in diem crastinum, videlicet, vicesimum primum diem Martii, Dominis sic decernentibus.