DEBATES IN THE House of Commons, From the Year 1667 to the Year 1694.
Saturday, March 15, 1678.
THE House met, according to the Prorogation, when
his Majesty, in the Lords House, spoke to this effect:
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"Though this hath been a very short recess, yet there are
some doubts whether you can take notice of what I said at the
opening of this Parliament, in point of form; therefore it is necessary that I recommend to you what I and my Lord Chancellor
said to you the other day, as if we said it now. The rest I refer
to the Lord Chancellor."
The Lord Chancellor, [Earl of Nottingham,] then spoke as
"My Lords, and you the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses
of the House of Commons,
"Since it hath pleased the King to refer you all to what he
lately said at the opening of this Parliament, it will concern
us all to take it into our most serious thoughts, and to enter
upon the matter therein recommended to us, that so we may
proceed effectually in that great work for which we were called,
without being diverted from it by any consideration whatsoever. For if this Parliament succeed not well, if it do not
quiet and compose the minds of all the people; it will be
thought the most unaccountable thing in the world, considering
the great preparations the King hath made for it, and those excellent dispositions of mind he brings towards it. Wherefore,
that no time may be lost, his Majesty commands you, Gentlemen
of the House of Commons, to proceed immediately to your choice
of a Speaker, and his Majesty will expect that he be presented
to him on Monday morning, at ten of the clock."
The Commons then returned to their House to chuse their
Lord Russel.] Gentlemen, I hope the occasion of the
late unhappy difference about the choice of our Speaker
is removed by the Prorogation. And I hope now
that no ill persons, by tricks, can create a misunderstanding betwixt the King and his people, and hinder
the happy effects of this Session. And since the first step
we are to make is to chuse a Speaker, I shall humbly recommend Mr Serjeant Gregory as a fit person.
Mr Sacheverell.] I stand not up to oppose the Motion,
but for what every honest Gentleman ought to do. I
blame no man that differs from me, or goes according
to his judgment. I differ from those who think that this
point of right, of chusing our Speaker, &c. is now quiet,
and I stand up only to give my reason for it, why I differ, and then I will withdraw. I differ, because that in
honour we cannot leave Mr Seymour, since he may suffer
by being named Speaker by us. Next, if our right be
not maintained, we have a Precedent upon us. Next,
if there be no expedient, &c. then the Motion is warrantable; but I know not of any.
Lord Cavendish.] By the last Prorogation, the King seemed rather to yield to us, by admitting that the point in
difference could not be decided any other way. The King's
denial of the Speaker that we chose is not entered into the
Lords Book. Therefore, in respect to the affairs of the
Nation, let us chuse our Speaker, and I second the Motion for Serjeant Gregory.
Serjeant Gregory.] I humbly thank you for your good
opinion of me; but when I consider the weight of your
Debates, which require a person of the greatest experience
and parts, my time of sitting here has not been above a
year, and my experience so little that you may suffer in
your affairs; and I come with the greatest disadvantage
imaginable to succeed a person of so much experience.
Pray consider of it, and chuse a more experienced
Then Lord Russel and Lord Cavendish took him by the arms,
and led him to the Chair; which he did not in the least resist.
Serjeant Gregory.] Seeing that you will not admit my
excuse, I humbly beg leave, that I may crave his Majesty's
pardon and excuse at the Lords Bar.
The effect of the Speaker's Speech when he was presented to
"May it please your Majesty,
"In obedience to your command, the Commons have proceeded to the choice of a Speaker, and have chosen me; who,
conscious of my own inabilities, and weakness, for so great a
service, considering the great and weighty matters likely to be
at this time before them, have done all I could to prevail with
them to excuse me, which they have refused to do, and have
renewed their commands upon me to accept of it. In obedience to them I come hither, to offer myself freely to serve
your Majesty and the Government; and for your Majesty's
grace and favour I do in all humility lay myself at your Majesty's feet."
The effect of the Lord Chancellor's Speech, in answer, &c.
"Mr Speaker, The excuse you have made cannot discredit
you with his Majesty; especially coming with such credentials
from the House of Commons. Moderate parts, accompanied
with such modesty, which hath been called a form in others, is
in you a settled habit; and is more becoming than when it
wants that ornament. His Majesty doth ratify and confirm you
The effect of the Speaker's second Speech.
"I am all obedience to your Majesty, and I think it no longer
my duty to excuse myself, and I shall, with all diligence, to the
best of my power, set myself to serve your Majesty and the Government in that station as well as I can, and so I shall likewise your Majesty on all other accounts; and in the name of
the Commons of England, I request your Majstey for Access to
your Royal Person, Freedom of Speech, and from Arrests; and
that your Majesty will put a favourable construction upon all
The effect of the Lord Chancellor's second Speech.
"His Majesty doth, with great chearfulness, confirm all your
Privileges; and "Freedom of Speech," a jewel of unknown
worth, he thinks safe when trusted with his House of Commons; and is satisfied that you will not see it abused. As for
"securing your Persons from Arrests," it shall be preserved so inviolably to you, that his Majesty will think it the highest contempt of his Royal authority in any body that shall go about to
disturb you, whilst you are serving him. And as for "Access to
his Person," his Majesty denies it to no man, and to be sure
you will find it favourably extended to you. For the creature he makes by his Power he will always support by his
Then the House came down, and the Speaker took the Tests
&c. and Oaths in his Chair. The rest of the Members [took
them] this day and the next (fn. 1) .
Then, according to Custom of Parliament, the Session was
opened by reading a Bill.
Wednesday, March 19.
Mr Vaughan.] That Religion that absolves not the
Subjects from their obedience to their Prince, and teaches
Loyalty, and not Rebellion, is the Protestant Religion,
which we profess. The great Plot was to subvert that
Religion. I move "that a Committee may inspect the
Journal," that we may know how we left affairs the
last Parliament, and that we may the better know what
we have to do.
Mr Powle.] I must take notice of the murder of Sir
Edmundbury Godfrey, that, when the last Parliament met,
the lights of that horrid action were obscure; but by
their diligence they laid open the great practices of the
Popish party, and their great correspondences both abroad
and at home, and to be put in the posture of a military
force, but, by God's great providence, they were discovered. Besides that dark practice brought to light,
of a great Minister of State, (Danby;) when we gave money to engage in an actual War against France, and at
the same time he was merchandizing for Peace. And
when all these things were brought to a crisis, and when
the discovery of the Plot and other things were almost
brought to perfection, just then there came a Prorogation of that Parliament, and soon after a Dissolution.
What were the motives of other men to advise the King
to do it, I will not examine, but it seems to me, that the
King would not, in the great affairs now depending, trust
the advice of others, but such as had the approbation of
the Country by another choice. I hope this Parliament,
now met, will do great things for the King and Kingdom. The King calls for your assistance, in the first
place, for discovery of the Plot, and therefore if you
lay on upon the scent of the Plot where you left off in
the last Parliament, I fear the abrupt breaking off that
Parliament hath so darkened things as never to be recovered. But whoever shall be detected to be guilty of
conspiring against the life of the King, I hope he shall
never be pardoned. I have opened something only in
general, and I would have a Committee appointed to
search the Journals, and report how you left things, for
the sake of some Gentlemen who were not here the last
Sir Thomas Lee.] I move to have your Books examined as to those things relating to the Treasurer which
you have sent up to the Lords, and to other things not
yet sent up relating to the five Lords accused of the Plot,
of which Mr Oates and Mr Coleman's letters are concurrent
testimony. I desire the matter may be reported; for Gentlemen that were not here then, and who live in the
country, will scarcely believe what they will find.
Sir John Knight.] You see, by Coleman's letters that
the King and Parliament have been betrayed for these seven years last past, and I would have them reviewed
again, and that they were to raise a standing Army with
French money, and to have no Parliament for three
Sir Francis Winnington.] Consider the most methodical
way to come to your end. First, consider that it is necessary to see your Journals, what you have done. To look
into the particulars of the Plot, and the discovery of it, is
one thing; and suppressing it is another; and it is a
great work. But if you inspect the Journal, there will
be occasion for Gentlemen to graft upon it as they please.
Every man is full of suppressing the Plot, and the preservation of the King's person. And when you have inspected the Journal, you may the more orderly proceed
in what you have to do.
Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to inspect the
Journals of the last Session of the last Parliament, and to prepare
and draw up a state of the matters then depending [and undetermined, and the progress that was made therein,] and report the same
Mr Swynfin.] When there are many ill things, and one
that contains all the ill things, I would consider that.
Our lives, estates, and the Government. Though this
is but one single thing, yet all is in the belly of it. I
would single out that. Do you know that Justice is
delayed? I would have no man stand before you against
the King and Kingdom. Go upon that first.
Colonel Birch.] I know no reason why we should alter
the method of Parliament. Leave the Committee at
large, without tying them to the Plot, or any thing
else, and you may command what particulars you will
go upon first. I would have the matters brought before you, the reasons and inducements, &c. and then
the Letters, &c. and all things will be ready for you to
Thursday, March 20.
Sir Francis Winnington reports [from the Committee, the search
of] the Journal, &c.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Though the Report be not brought
up to the table, yet it ought to be entered into the Journal, and not omitted, as the Report about Mr Prance
was. I would not have this so left out as that was, after Sir John Trevor had made you the Report.
Resolved, That the Report [be re-committed, and brought in,
in writing, to the end the same may] be entered [in the Journal.]
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I would have the Chairman of the
Committee assist and inform the Clerk how to make the
entry, much of the Report being from his memory. When
it is entered upon our books, we then have a good title
to it, which, by a Dissolution of the Parliament, we have
not else. I would have you order the Report to be
fairly written, and read at the table, and then entered.
Mr Powle.] Consider what you will do with this Report.
The Proceedings of the last Session of the last Parliament
were so honourable, as not to be paralleled in any time.
And yet, in the height of their Proceedings, they were
prorogued. Let us go on, therefore, where they left off,
and the first thing you do, pray let it be to look upon the
examinations relating to the Plot. They are all ready,
and several persons, since the Dissolution of the Parliament,
have given in farther evidence. Those Witnesses may be
sent for, in order to the preparing the charge for the
Lords tryal in the Tower. I think some Witnesses may
be brought to the Bar, to inform you here; but some
will be proper to be concealed till the Lords tryal. Only
I move now that you will nominate a Committee to draw
up the Impeachment against the Lords.
Colonel Birch.] I would have every Gentleman here
have the whole matter before him. When we were prorogued, it was in that nick of time when Witnesses were
offering themselves to give evidence in the Plot. I would
have them sent for, to have the body of the thing laid
open before the whole Kingdom, that they may see what
grounds you go upon; and I would have some of the evidence come to the Bar to-morrow morning.
Sir Harbottle Grimstone.] In the last Parliament, money
was raised, and an Army was quickly up, and we know
what Officers were for them. We saw that there was no
War intended against the French. We then considered what
was to be done next. We therefore went about disbanding the Army, for our fears and doubts were of a standing Army. You know, we then fell into the consideration
of disbanding them, but the money we gave for that purpose was employed for keeping them up, so that in that
matter the Report is shorter; that is, we were plainly cozened. But that's past, and rather than they should pay
themselves, we resolved to give money, but never to have
it paid into the Exchequer, but into the Chamber of London. And then in ten or twelve days you would have
had no Army; but they who dissolved that Parliament
hindered the passage of that Bill. I would have that matter reported out of the Journal.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] Half a dozen years ago the King
was Arbitrator of the Triple League, and, for ought we
know, he is now at the mercy of the King of France.
He was let into the seventeen Provinces by our assistance,
and men were sent over to him, contrary to the opinion of
the Nation. Then, the last Parliament, we were invited
to raise an Army, and make War with the French; and
a Privy Counsellor here was so hasty in it, that "he
would rather be guilty of twenty murders (Coventry)
than that it should not be a War (fn. 2) ." Another talked of
"taking the King of France by the beard;" and an Army
of thirty thousand men was raised, to prosecute this War,
and then four days after the Act was passed, &c. the
Lord Treasurer enters into a treaty with the French King
for six millions of livres per annum, &c. to keep this Army
up, and to take away our Laws and Liberties. His Letters show you that the French King should have Peace if
he would pay so much for it. Were not then the King
and we betrayed in this? And, by God's great mercy, this
misery was published to you under the Treasurer's own
hand, and, for ought I know, the King and Government
might have been subverted by it. I desire that, as soon
as you please, Doctor Tongue and Mr Oates may give you
their information relating to the Plot.
Mr Garrowcy.] I would, in this matter of the Plot,
first name your Committee of Secrecy; and, that no
Gentlemen may take exceptions, I would have no new
Members excluded. They are of great integrity and abilities, and there is no reason why you should exclude them.
The old Members will help them with their papers, and
would be glad to have themselves assisted; the practices
of some men may defeat you without great care, for the
Plot is still on foot. Now, whether will you examine the
Witnesses here, or at the Committee of Secrecy?
Mr Vaughan.] I had rather that this Parliament prosecuted the Plot than the last; for this brings their interest
with them, the last came to make an interest here.
The Committee of Secrecy was named [to take information
and prepare evidences, &c.] and three to be of the quorum.
[Doctor Tongue, Mr Oates, and Mr Bedlow were ordered to
attend at the Bar the next day, and a Message was sent to the
Lords, reminding them of the Impeachment of the Earl of Danby,
and desiring that he might be committed to safe custody.]
Friday, March 21.
Doctor Tongue, at the Bar, gave a long account of his observations of the Papists before the discovery of the Plot, and, upon
them, he was induced to print his book of the Jesuits' morals,
which so enraged the Jesuits, that they employed Mr Oates to
come over to kill him. He was ordered to give in a copy of
his information, and it is mostly printed upon several occasions.
Mr Oates, at the Bar, gave a large narrative of the beginning
and proceeding of the Plot; since penned by himself, and printed.
Then he complained, "that he was under several discouragements; as for instance, from the Earl of Danby. Mr Oates being
in the Privy Garden, the Earl of Danby, passing by, said, "There
goes one of the Saviours of England, but I hope to see him hanged
within a month." Then he informed the House, "that five years
ago he had some knowlege of the Plot by one Everard, a prisorer in the Tower; where he was kept for four years and a
half for endeavouring to discover the Plot. That Mr Edward
Sackville, a Member of the House, did revile him, being the
King's evidence, and swore, "God damn him, it was no Plot,
and they were sons of whores who say that there is a Plot, and
that Oates was a lying rogue."
"That Mr Henry Goring, the younger, met him in the Lobby,
when he was newly elected, and desired him to use his interest to
get Sir John Gage bailed." He replied, "that he would not use his
interest to get Traytors bailed, and that he was no man to do it,
because he had accused him." Who replied, "that Mr Oates was
a rascal, and a lying rogue," and he swore "by God, he believed not Mr Oates, though the House did," and called him,
"base, impudent fellow." Mr Oates returned Mr Goring ill
language, but left that to Mr Goring to repeat. He spoke of
it in the country, "that the King had justified him when he
had abused Mr Oates," and leaves it to Mr Goring's honour
to deny it (fn. 3) ." He added, "I desire to be removed from Whitehall, and to make use of the liberty the Law allows me. I have
been threatened with carrying to the water-side, and to be sent
down the River, and can give good reason why they intend me
for a sacrifice. I have been baffled, and abused, and hindered
from serving my country. The King holds his Crown by the same
Title I hold my Liberty"—These last words gave offence to many.
(fn. 4) .] As to what Mr Oates has informed
you of what I should say, no man will think me guilty of
so much folly, as to say "there was no Plot; "but I
have said, "I believe not all Oates has said of it," when
I consider his education. I have heard Doctor Lowther
say, "that had he not been told how impudent Oates was,
he could not have believed it." Oates said "he was a
better man than myself, and that I was a rascal." I
have always said "that I did believe the Plot, and that,
if it were not a Plot, Mr Oates deserved to be hanged."
Mr Pilkington.] The King and Kingdom are obliged
to Mr Oates for his discovery; but if he be not upheld by
encouragement, we may be lost. I would have every man,
that is an Englishman, consider, that, if Mr Oates has been
abused, they who have wronged him may be made examples to deter others.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] You are well moved, but several
persons have been accused by Mr Oates, and but one of
them in the House. I would therefore appoint a time for
your Member present to justify himself, and for Mr Oates
to prove his charge.
Colonel Birch.] I have often heard, in the country,
that two or three have done such things as these, but
could I have got the persons proved, I would have informed you. I desire that business may be examined, and
that Mr Oates may produce his testimony; and for what Mr
Sackville has to say, that he produce his; and so we may
have a due examination of it. It may else go through the
whole Kingdom, to the prejudice of the whole Parliament,
and let it be examined at the secret Committee.
Ordered, That Mr Oates's information be heard at the Bar [on
Mr Bedlow at the Bar.] The only danger I am in is of my
guards at Whitehall. I always understood that guards were not
for my interruption, but safety. The discoveries I have made
have not been little ones, since the last Parliament. But I am
much hindered by my guards, who are so many spies upon me,
and not for my safety, and if they like not any man that comes to
me, they have orders to shoot him; and they would do it, and did
present their guns. When I know myself in a safer condition, I
shall say more. I have been urged to revoke what I have already
said, with promises of reward. But if I will not, there are oars
ready at Whitehall Stairs, and I shall be sent away without discovery. But before I make any farther discovery, I desire to be put
in a place where I may be safe from danger; any where but
Whitehall. If the King be not safe there, I am sure I cannot think
myself so. In interval of Parliament I am confined and checked.
Upon my own expence, I have got several Priests, and could get
a hundred more, if I had encouragement to bear my charges.
I will not wrong any body, but, since Mr Arthur's papers were
seized, I have had discouragement; and for revealing the murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey. I shall be better prepared tomorrow to say more. But as for the Plot, I desire to cease farther
discovery of circumstances, which I shall reserve for a more proper
time. Then he read the former papers he delivered in the last Parliament, and undertakes the proof of all of it. And I could have done
it much more; but I have been kept more like a prisoner than an
evidence. I have been much discouraged since my discovery of
the murder of Godfrey, for I have not received the encouragement
in the Proclamation. Poor people, who helped me in it, have
lost the relief of Catholics, that kept them. If I could have had
the 500l. promised in the Proclamation, I would be ready to give
it to the poor people. I have scarce enough allowed me to keep me
alive, and that's all; but I have nothing to maintain my witnesses. When I come to confront the persons accused, I shall say a
great deal more, not by hearsay, but from their own mouths to
me, or writings; and particular circumstances. I was proffered
money from my Lord Treasurer for a copy of what I had said
against him and the Queen. A Gentleman from the Treasurer
would have corrupted one of my servants. And other attempts
[have been made] upon me, which I shall in time declare.
There are too many of the King's enemies for me to be safe in
Whitehall. Colonel Howard, Lord Newport, Prince Rupert,
and the Duke of Monmouth are kind to me. When I am safe,
and out of their reach, I will say more. I was told, by a great
man, "that I might go to Sweden, Jamaica, Switzerland, or
New England; if I would retire, I might be rewarded." Witnesses should converse together in matters of this great moment;
but if I must not, I am ready to serve the Kingdom in thralldom,
as well as in liberty. He withdrew.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] What concerns Mr Bedlow's accusation of the traytors must be a work of time; but what
concerns the King I would take into consideration presently. Bedlow was to have had 500l. for his discovery of the
murder of Godfrey, by the Proclamation, and it was a
plain discovery. Therefore I move "that some Members
may acquaint the King with it," that some course may be
taken for it, that the Proclamation may not be a mockery,
and the public credit of the nation vilified; and the 20l.
for discovery of a Priest not to be a mockery, or a vision,
and the Nation contemned.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] There are several Petitions for
this 500l. Mr Bedlow gave the first information, and
what overtures were made of it to him; but, as the Proclamation runs, he must make it out who murdered
Godfrey. In the mean time, some of the neighbours of
Mr Prance gave information, "that Prance had a halberd with him, &c. and a horse, which he used not to
have;" and this gave suspicion. The Lords sent for
Prence, and upon his first examination he was very likely
to make it out. My Lord Treasurer doubted that Mr
Bedlow's information proved it not. And, says another
Gentleman, "I produced Prance;" so the thing could
not be decided.
Sir William Pulleney
(fn. 5) .] I am much troubled that there
is so much discouragement without doors, and more,
that there is so little encouragement within doors. I
move, therefore, that the Proclamation, &c. may not be
turned into a mockery. Bedlow was willing, if he might
have had the 500l. to have distributed the money amongst
the rest of the pretenders to the discovery of Godfrey's
murder, &c. but because he has not a title to it in the
strict formality of Law, shall he have nothing? They
are Petitioners for the Laws, the benefit of every common subject. I never heard that witnesses have had guards
upon them. Mr Oates has proffered security to prosecute, &c. and I think truly that they lie under great discouragements, and long attendance. They have showed
themselves faithful; therefore I move now, for the King
and Kingdom, that, where you shall find an obstruction
to their liberty, you will direct an Address to the King
that it may be taken off, and that they and the Nation
may not be discouraged.
Sir Robert Howard.] In the last Parliament, thousands
of pounds were talked of in the House for rewards to the
discoverers of Godfrey's murder. Then 500l. was promised
in the Proclamation, and now it is fallen to nothing. I
have heard that it was agreed amongst the discoverers to
share the 500l. and yet it seems they shall not have it.
Colonel Birch.] I am amazed, that, when the former
Parliament talked of 5000l. now they at Whitehall hesitate
at 500l. Bedlow said, when he saw Prance in the Lords
Lobby, "This is the man that shewed me Godfrey's body
murdered; seize him." I hope the House will think 500l.
too little a reward, and that the House will, rather than
not, double it ten times. All the pretenders to the discovery, &c. meet with equal success, and that is, they
have not a penny!
Mr Secretary Coventry.] By the Proclamation, 500l.
was due to the discoverer, and then it is not in the power
of the King's Council to give away meum and tuum. It
was ordered that the Lord Treasurer should take the advice of the Judges of it, and the King is bound to it, as
the sense of the Proclamation shall be judged.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] The Honourable Person makes
a moot point in Law of it, and it may be put off from
Term to Term, and at last become an Exchequer-Chamber argument amongst the Judges. Such a Proclamation is always to be taken in the largest sense, as to the
reward. The Judges may give a flattering opinion on it.
I would address the King about it.
Sir Richard Cust.] Bedlow was the first discoverer of the
murder. Prance comes in only se defendendo.
An Address was voted accordingly, [desiring that his Majesty
would cause the 500l. reward to be paid to Mr Bedlow, &c.]
Ordered, That Mr Oates's Information against the Lord Treasurer be referred to the secret Committee.
Mr Bedlow at the Bar.
The Speaker.] The House has taken notice of what fell
from you, about a reward to go abroad, to absent yourself from giving any farther evidence against the Lords;
Mr Bedlow.] I shall make more discovery of it in the close
Committee. My full discovery of all things cannot be expected
till the Lords tryals. I am sorry I should accuse any worthy
man, who should say "there was no Plot," and "that we were
great rogues." I must accuse Mr Edward Sackville for saying so.
A Gentleman come out of France, Sir Robert Welsh, can give you
great light, if he may be heard at your Bar. I desire that another
Gentleman may be called in, who would have made discoveries
four or five years since about the Plot, and for a reward was put
into Prison; his name is Mr Everard, and he is now in the
Speaker's Chamber. He withdrew.
Lord Cavendish.] If there be so dangerous a person
near the King, as to stifle the evidence of the Plot, he
should be removed. I would graft something upon it.
Sir Francis Winnington.] I have the honour to be named of the close Committee, but I would have this tampering with Bedlow declared to you now. If there be such
a person near the King, to bribe and corrupt Evidence against his life, &c. every good subject would have him
removed from the King. I would ask Bedlow singly the
names of the persons, that a hearsay-time and place
may not bring all your Evidence to nothing, by such
corruptions, &c. I move, as for your immediate service only, to have the persons named, and then do farther what you please.
Mr Bedlow at the Bar.
The Speaker.] The House is tender of your safety,
and likewise of the King's Evidence, that it should not
be weakened, and therefore require you to declare who
would have corrupted you to have given copies, &c. to
the end that no persons may entrap you by counter-proofs.
First, the House would know whether any person has
threatened, persuaded, or offered you reward to go beyond sea? And next, by whom you was so persuaded or
Mr Bedlow.] For the first, I have been threatened, &c. and I
have been promised a good reward, &c. and "that I had better
make sure of myself beyond sea, if the Parliament be prorogued."
I was proposed Sweden, &c. and had two days time to consider
of it, &c. I was a great rogue at first, and should have been
a greater rogue now to be corrupted. I was resolved not to be
frighted nor corrupted. I was told "there should be a pair of oars
at Whitehall Stairs, and a yatch at Greenwich should send me
away, if I would not accept of what was proposed me, or I
should have my throat cut."
The Speaker.] If that person that threatened you were
known, we should then know whom to accuse.
Mr Bedlow.] I desire to have no converse, and to be assured I
shall not come to Whitehall, unless I am commanded by the
Council; and till I be secured of my safety I cannot name the
person. He withdrew.
Sir Francis Winnington.] This last business is of great
importance. It not only requires your consideration, but
that it be speedy. Bedlow will not name the person, till he
be secured of his safety; and it is very reasonable he
should. I propose, that he may have assurance in general, of his safety, if he name the person. But whether
he shall first name the person, and then you'll secure him;
either way is very easy.
Lord Cavendish.] I would have Bedlow called down,
and signify so much to him.
Mr Bedlow at the Bar.
The Speaker.] The House is sensible of your fears, and
the danger you are in, and assure you, that, if you'll be
free and open in your discoveries, the House will not rise till
they have taken care for your safety.
Mr Bedlow.] My danger is so great, that the Ycomen of the
Guard would not part with me, till the Serjeant of the House
would give them security to deliver me again to them. The
King is more courteous and kind to me than I could expect
from a King to a subject; but when I am gone from him, somebody has power to do me ill offices. I think myself safe in
the Members Houses, or in the City, but I am sure the King
is not safe in Whitehall, and then I am sure I cannot be so.
Sir Francis Winnington.] I moved even now, that, if it
were not Bedlow's inclination to name the person, till he
was assured of his safety by the House, he should not be
urged to it, because of his apprehension that he is in danger, if he should, being near the water, &c. and he proposes a remedy. No person, I believe, here, would willingly go away without hearing the person named that the
King stands in so great danger from. I propose, therefore,
that some of the Privy Council may go to the King, and
desire him, that, because of Bedlow's apprehensions of
himself, he may be in the custody of your Serjeant; and
that is, of the House.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Before that be, I move that you
may have some sort of security from Bedlow, that he will
prosecute the persons he accuses, &c.
Colonel Titus.] Here are some things that I understand not, in this matter. I see not how Bedlow can be
in greater danger than he is in already. To take him
from the King's guard into your protection—I like not
that. There is no protection but the King's, and no body mistrusts the Duke of Monmouth. I would therefore
address the King, "that Bedlow may be put into the
care of the Duke of Monmouth," without mentioning any
sort of guards. And a Gentleman says to me, "that
Bedlow will be well satisfied with this course."
Resolved, That an humble Address be made to his Majesty,
by some of the Members of the Privy Council, that the care of
Mr Bedlow's safety may be immediately recommended to his
Grace the Duke of Monmouth.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] Bedlow ought not to capitulate with you; but what we think to be his security,
he ought to think so too; therefore I think you fairly
moved "for the Duke of Monmouth," &c. And then
call him in, to declare who gave him these threats and
offered him bribes.
Sir Robert Howard.] If any man has threatened him,
that man is known to him, and that man knows it. A
great man said, "he would send Oates and him down the
river." Bedlow has named the man in the wrong place,
not in the right. Satisfy Bedlow that you have offered him
great security; that is, the Duke of Monmouth. He has
said, "that a great person has threatened him, &c." That
person knows it, and you do not; therefore he is unsafe
without naming him here.
Sir William Pulteney.] The crime that the Lords are
accused of is Treason, and the person is a Traytor, for
all are principals that aid and abet Traytors. As Bedlow
is a subject to the King, he is bound by his allegiance to
name him that has tampered with him, and his safety will
be much the greater, when he has named him. Therefore
I would send for Bedlow down, and charge him upon his
allegiance to name the person, and tell him, that you will
take care of his safety.
Mr Bedlow at the Bar.
The Speaker.] The House has considered the way and
method how you may be secured, and you are not to distrust them; they will find out the safest way for you, if
you will acquiesce in it. It is not safe for you to conceal this
matter, in point of Law, and therefore the House will have
you name the persons.
Mr Bedlow.] I scruple nothing but my own safety; but this is a
near point, to hazard my own safety. What I have said of threats
and rewards, &c. my Lord Treasurer, in his own closet, said
to me, from his own mouth, and gave me two days time to consider of it. This was done in the interval of the last Parliament,
before the call of the other. I have no more to say, but humbly
to desire the House to secure me from the power of so great an
enemy as my Lord Treasurer.
Sir Francis Russel.] Lord Dumblaine (the Treasurer's
son) is gone out of the House.
Colonel Titus.] If my own father was in the case that
Lord Dumblaine's is, I would do as he has done, to give my
father notice of what is informed against him. The Laws
of the House, and the Laws of the land, cannot contradict the Laws of nature.
There was another distinct Order for Mr Oates, the same with
that of Mr Bedlow.
Colonel Titus.] You may remember, that, at the first
discovery of the Plot, the last Parliament, those who
gave evidence in it were sworn before Justices of the Peace
of the House; you have Members that are so now, and
you may do so now.
Sir Francis Winnington.] The Lords in the Tower were
seized by my Lord Chief Justice's Warrant, although it
was in Parliament-time, and committed to the Tower,
where they are now. That having had that good effect
then, now, before we go, it may be done—And you may
question the evidence, though you cannot give an Oath.
Let so much be given upon Oath by Bedlow as he declared at the Bar.
Sir William Pulteney.] In the last Parliament the crimes
were the same; but now the crime is depending in an
Impeachment, already exhibited; yet, if you command me
to take the information, I'll obey.
Serjeant Stringer informed the House, that he had taken Mr
Bedlow's examination, to this effect: "The Lord Treasurer asked
him "Whether he would revoke his evidence against the Queen?"
He answered, "he could not revoke his evidence." The Treasurer told him how safely he might do it. "Let him ask a good
sum of money, and go beyond sea, and those in the Popish
countries would be his good friends on this occasion, &c. Or if he
were afraid of Papists, he might go into his own country, and
buy a ship, and go where he pleased, and those who permitted
him to go away, would secure his passage, and this was the way
for him to make his fortune." And as the Treasurer was talking with his son, Lord Latimer, about his election, he said to
him; "Mr Bedlow had been once a rogue, but would be so no
more." He said to him, "he cared not for his discovery of this,
which if he did, there was a yatch ready to send him far enough
off." And from that time he was kept with a straighter guard
Mr Bedlow at the Bar.
The Speaker.] The King has returned a gracious Answer to the request of the House in your behalf. He has
expressed his apprehension of the considerableness of your
evidence. Your service has been considerable; and the
King will take care for your good usage and safety, and
has passed his royal word for it, the greatest security that
can be given.
Mr Bedlow.] I desire to return my humble thanks to his Majesty for his gracious favour to me, and I hope his Majesty
may know so much, that I am humbly thankful.