Narrative of the end of the reign of Charles II

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History of Parliament Trust

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Author

Anchitell Grey

Year published

1769

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'Narrative of the end of the reign of Charles II', Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: volume 8 (1769), pp. 341-343. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=40481 Date accessed: 01 September 2014.


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To preserve connection, we have added the following Summary of the remaining part of King Charles's Reign.

[This was the last Parliament called by Charles II; though in a Declaration which he published for satisfying his people, after reckoning up all the hard things that had been done in the three last Parliaments, and setting forth their undutiful behaviour to himself in many instances; in conclusion, he assured them, "That nothing should ever alter his affection to the Protestant Religion as established by Law, nor his love to Parliaments: For he would still have frequent Parliaments."

Sir Francis Pemberton having succeeded Scroggs as Chief Justice, Fitzharris's Tryal came on in Easter Term. His Impeachment in Parliament was over-ruled, the Lords having thrown it out, and the proof was so full, that he was condemned. Upon this, seeing there was no hope, he charged Lord Howard with being the Author of the Libel, who was immediately sent to the Tower, and lay there till Michaclmas Term, and then was discharged by the Habeas Corpus Act; Fitzharris's Wife and Maid, who were the two Witnesses against him, being so evidently forsworn, that the Attorney-General withdrew the Bill. Fitzharris was executed, and soon after College, a Joiner, was charged, Dugdale, Turberville, and others, with being concerned in a Protestant Plot to kill the King at Oxford. The Grand Jury at London refused to find the Bill. Upon which he was carried to Oxford, and there was tried, condemned, and executed, denying to the last all that was sworn against him. In like manner, the Earl of Shaftcsbury, upon the evidence of the Irish Witnesses, being sent to the Tower, the Grand Jury, to the great chagrin of the Court, rejected the Bill. A few days after, Turberville, being seized with the small-pox, persisted in his last moments in avowing the truth of all that he had sworn both against Lord Shaftesbury and Lord Stafford; so that the last words of dying men being opposed to the last words of those that suffered, must leave the impartial ever in the dark.

In Scotland, in 1682, the Earl of Argyle, for refusing to take the Tests there enacted, without his own explanation, which he did not scruple unguardedly to avow, was immediately committed to Edinburgh Castle, tried, and condemned, and had he not made his escape, would probably have suffered. The Duke of York was now permitted to return to Court, and seemed to have overcome all difficulties. And to remove all fears of future Parliaments, the Cities and Boroughs of England were prevailed on to surrender their Charters, and take new ones, modeled as the Court thought fit. The Earl of Sunderland, who had been disgraced after the Exclusion-Parliament, was restored, and Lord Conway was made the other Secretary. And on the Death of Lord Nottingham, the Seals were given to Lord Chief Justice North, who was created Lord Guilsord. The City of London refusing to surrender its Charter, Judgment was given against it in the King's Bench.

The year 1683 will long be remembered for the fatal Catastrophe of Lord Russel and Algernoon Sidney. That a Rising was intended; and that Lord Russel was present when it was discoursed of, cannot be denied; but that he was guilty of the Treason alleged, of conspiring the King's Death, or could have been condemned but by a packed Jury and corrupt Judges, is equally undeniable. In sact, the Bill of Exclusion was his Death-warrant. He was beheaded in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields in July. And the Earl of Essex, for the same Conspiracy being sent to the Tower, was found in his room with his throat cut the very morning of his friend's tryal (fn. 1) . Colonel Sidney was tried next, and upon the single evidence of Lord Howard, added to an unfinished manuscript of his own writing, found in his closet, he also, by an unheard of stretch of Law, was condemned and executed. Need it be added, that he was one of the first that had moved for the Exclusion? Soon after this, the Duke of Monmouth (who had made his escape) upon his confession was pardoned, but upon his recantation was again disgraced. Mr Hampden, on Lord Howard's evidence, was fined in the sum of 40,000l. (Feb. 6.) and Holloway, by the hopes of a pardon being induced to confess, and Sir Thomas Armstrong, being seized in Holland (though the time of his coming in was not elapsed) were both executed. The Earl of Danly and the Popish Lords were bailed, and Oates being prosecuted at the Duke's suit for Scandalum Magnatum was fined 100,000l. To conclude, on February 6, 1684-5, King Charles died, confirming on his death-bed that attachment to Popery of which he was suspected during his life.

Footnotes

1 Though it was industriously reported that Lord Essex was his own murderer, yet the following circumstance, little known, seems to disprove that supposition beyond doubt. Harry Guy was then Secretary to the Treasury, and a sure Agent to the King or Duke if any dirty work was to be done. He paid and dispersed the Secretservice Money, of which payments he kept a regular account in a Bock which is still extant and now is, (1762) or lately was, in the possession of a Gentleman at Chelsen, who made no scruple of showing it to particular Persons. In this Book of Accounts appears a Minute of 500l. paid to one Bomini, a Valet de Chambre of the Earl of Essex, during his Lord's confinement in the Tower, and previous to his death. This Bomini was never heard of after the Earl's death. In confirmation of the consequences that may be drawn from this fact, Repin, Vol. ii. p. 779, says, "I am very certain the last Earl of Essex (the Son of him who died in the Tower) was of opinion that he was murdered, and have heard him say so, and that a French Footman [Bomini, by the termination, should be Italian, but that is of no consequence] who then served his father, was strongly suspected, and disappeared immediately after the fact."