Monday, December 23.
Sir John Ernly brought the following Answer from his Majesty, to the Address about Mr Montagu's Papers, viz. "That
his Majesty has sent several Letters he had received, to give you
satisfaction in that matter, to be read in the House, and returned
him back again."
The Speaker.] If you deliver the Articles at a Conference with the Lords, the Managers are to open them,
Article by Article, as the nature of the Articles requires.
If they be delivered at the Lords Bar, your Messenger is
to tell the Lords, "That you have a charge of High
Treason, &c. against the Earl of Danby," and then read
the Articles. And then desire the Lords, "That he may
be sequestered from his attendance in Parliament, and that
the Lords would be pleased to put him into safe custody, &c."
The Letters the King sent were then read by the Speaker, and
were to this effect:
"Nimeguen, November 5, 1678." Without direction. "The
Swedish Ambassador Olivecrans began his visit with the discourse
of the Plot; and that the design was not only against the King,
but against all Protestant Princes, and no way to prevent it, but
by making Peace—He doubted Montagu; for that about a year
and a half ago, he held several Conferences with the Pope's Nuntio in France; that he had it from the Swedish Ambassador
there, and the Master of the house where he lay. That there
was a Marriage there depending between the Duke of Orleans's
daughter, the King's niece, and the King of Spain. If the King
did reflect upon former directions, he might know whether Montagu did negotiate it by his order, or not. The time this was, was
about a year and a half ago, May 1677—He knew nothing of
the matter, but in twelve or fifteen days he could know. I write
not to the Secretary of this—I have obligations to Mr Montagu
and my Lord Chief Baron, and it is a regret to me to mention
Mr Montagu. I am, with perfect respect, and under the greatest
The Speaker.] This Letter has no direction, and is
subscribed by nobody.
The Answer. "The King never entered into any such Treaty,
and Montagu had no instructions to treat of the said Match. It
will be an acceptable service, if Oldenplank can discover the matter."
Another Letter: "Nimeguen, December 3, 1678. I have received the list of the Officers in the Popish Plot. The Abbé
de Sures had a Conference three or four days with Montagu:
When his friend hath a cypher, he shall know, &c."
Mr Montagu.] If I was ever in the Abbé de Sures's
house in all my life, I will forfeit my head—He is a common news-monger. I protest, I was never alone in a
room with the Pope's Nuntio in my life. If it be proved, I will forfeit my head. I desire that my Boxes and
Cabinets may be opened, and my Papers viewed, and I
will submit to his Majesty's pleasure.
Colonel Birch.] I am not fond of Oaths and Protestations; but when Montagu tells you "his head shall go
for it, if ever he was in the Abbé's house," he has said
enough. Let the King enquire into it, if he pleases.
The whole thing went off without any farther Question.
[An Address was ordered to be made to his Majesty, to desire
him to have a greater regard and care to the safety and preservation of his person.]
[In the Afternoon Sir Henry Capel reported, That he had attended the Lords with the Articles of Impeachment against the
Lord Treasurer; and had delivered the same into the hands of
the Lord Chancellor.]
Thursday, December 26.
Sir John Trevor reported from Newgate the Examination of
Mr Prance, concerning the murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey
(fn. 1) ;
and added: There were some particulars in Prance's confession (fn. 2) , which the Committee thought not for the service of
the House to report, because they related to the Lords in the
The next business of the Committee was to take those five
men whom Prance accused. (See the Note.) Serjeant Stringer
and myself went to Mr Secretary Williamson for a Warrant to
take them, and he very readily gave us a general Warrant.
Then we desired the Captain of the Guard, Captain Tufton,
to let us have two files of musketeers, in assistance of the
Constable and Watch. Between one and two o'clock in the
morning we met some Constables in Durham-yard, and we
went to the Venetian Ambassador's house. The Ambassador looked
out of the window, and asked, "what was the matter?" He said,
"it was the Venetian Ambassador's house, and we ought to take
notice of it; it was a violation of an Ambassador's house."
When we showed him our authority, he was extremely respectful, and said, "He was an unhappy man, that he had had such
a person as Gerrard in his house, but he was gone from him
five or six weeks before."
Then we went to Somerset-House, where we doubled the
Guards. Serjeant Stringer and myself liked not to be there alone.
Then the Constable's guards increased to thirty. Then the
Constable knocked at Berry's door; he was loth to come out,
but we seized him. Then we enquired for Green, who lay over
the Queen's stables, but we were told he was a prisoner in the
Gate-house; but yet we went up to find the Irishman, (all the
galleries over the stables were full of Papists;) Neale and Penruddock we seized, who were familiar with him; these we delivered
to the Captain of the Guard, who engaged they should be secure
till next morning. Then we went to Stanhope-street, and we
took Laurence Hill, and sent him to Newgate. Then the Serjeant sent his Warrant to secure Green in the Gate-house, lest
he should be delivered by any other Warrant. Prance said,
"He knew Neale, but not Penruddock." Berry was from Whitehall sent by Warrant to Newgate. Green is removed to Newgate; so that none are missed but Gerrard and Kelly. Berry, upon
his examination, said, "He was as innocent as the child unborn."
Hill said so too, and Green was in the same story. And Captain Richardson said, "That Prance, when he was committed,
had the same excuse."
(fn. 3) went with the Serjeant and myself over the
stables, where there was such a crew of odd strange fellows, that
any eight or ten men would be afraid to go into those dark en
tries: They were Irishmen. Lord Ossory sent to clear that place
of all that were not sworn servants to the Queen, and said, "He
would have done you the service of a Constable in Somerset-House.
And that he would also clear all the House of such as are not the
Queen's servants allowed by the late Act of Parliament."
Sir William Coventry.] If any man doubts where the
murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey was committed, he
has a hard faith. The Priest said, "That the thing was
lawful, for the good of the Church;" and if so mean a
man as Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, in comparison of the
King, "for the good of their Church," all this is a confirmation to me of the design to murder the King. I
wish it were as easy for us to preserve the King's Person,
as to believe that he is in danger. All the use we can make
of this, is, to be the more earnest and zealous to preserve
the King's Person, and to take a course with these sort
of persons. This is the great fruit of your secret Committee; and I would have those Gentlemen inform my
Lord Chief Justice of the matter, that these men may be
brought to speedy justice.
Serjeant Stringer.] It has been told you, "That these
men deny all things they are accused of." No time has
been lost—The persons have been examined this morning. The Committee know all the persons. They have
Evidence given them of four Irish ruffians, that should
have killed the King at Windsor; and I am sure four
Irish ruffians killed Sir Edmundbury Godfrey. One of the
four ruffians went to Windsor, though he says, "He
went for liberty only to lie in Somerset-House." Three
persons have been condemned for the Plot (fn. 4) ; but how
they come to be reprieved, I know not. I am sure,
against Ireland, Fenwick
(fn. 5) , and Grove, this person has
given great Evidence.
Sir Robert Sawyer.] I move to know, why the Re
corder of London does not issue out his Warrant for their
Sir Thomas Littleton.] I close with that Motion. It
was at first pretended, that Mr Oates and Mr Bedlow
were set on, but Prance is a Witness of another kind.
This Report made you is of two sorts; the one, examinations from Newgate; and the other, an account of
his own transactions. This is not by Order of the Committee—The military power was called in aid of the civil.
I am sorry they were so. I would not stand in need of
Guards. I do not condemn it, but am willing for this
time to excuse it. There were ways, before Guards were
known, to search the King's Houses without help of the
Guards. We that were so cautious of an Army and
Guards, in our Act! I would have nothing of this entered upon your Books, nor copies given out of the Report. I desire to forget it, and have it buried in oblivion. The most decent way, and, I hope, the most efsectual, will be to send to the Recorder, to know why
these persons are not executed, and he will give you an
account of it.
Sir John Trevor.] The account I gave you of the
Guards is no part of the Report. But it was the sense of
the Committee that I should tell you of it. I would
know, whether Littleton would have gone to Somerset-House with Constables only and club-men, and there was
a whole company of foot in arms. I would know whether you would not have blamed us, if those persons we
took had escaped. I would have it entered upon your
Books, "That the Guards were in assistance of the Constables." We were resolved, if the Trained Bands had
been up, to have called them to our assistance; but what
a hubbub would that have made in their passage by
Whitehall, they being then upon guard in St Margaret's
Serjeant Maynard.] As for searching the Ambassador's
house, you would hardly have found a Constable to do
that. Nothing was done in this, but what was necessary:
And if it had not been done, the men had never been
taken. There have been great providences of God in
these discoveries, beyond all the means (I know) that
have been used. It has not been our diligence, but God's
mercy, and let him be praised for it! There is full evidence against Grove, as to other matter. God has helped
us, and I hope he will do so still.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Trevor said, "In such a case,
amongst so many Irishmen, I durst not have gone without Guards"—I would have gone into Somerset-House with
the Queen's Chamberlain as freely as I would come in
here. But there was not only Somerset-House to search,
and the Ambassador's house, but Stanhope-street, that
blind place. I did not intend, by what I said of the
Guards, to interrupt the business; but I would not
have it entered upon your Books. What I said was in
as gentle a manner as I could.
Lord Cavendish.] I would have nothing of this entered
upon your Books. And pray let an end be of this Debate.
Sir Harbottle Grimstone.] I think, enough has been said
to justify the Proceedings of your Committee, and they
have my hearty thanks for what they have done. Now
it is moved, "That we should send to the Recorder of
London to know why Warrants are not sent for executing
the condemned persons." If there be no Reprieve sent
to the Keeper of Newgate, I would not send to know
why they are not executed; but I would send for him
to attend the House.
Mr Williams.] I believe there is no fault in the Recorder, but in another place. Pray send for him and
[Ordered, That the Recorder of London do attend this House
to-morrow morning, and give an account why he does not issue
out Warrants for executing the three persons that were lately
condemned for High Treason.]
Information was given to the House, "That Lady Anne Cholmondeley
(fn. 6) was invited to the Duke of Norfolk's house to dinner
that day Sir Edmundbury Godfrey was murdered, and found the
family in some disorder; and, nobody coming to entertain her,
she went away."
Sir Francis Compton
(fn. 7) .] I believe there is a mistake in
my sister's being there that day. All know our family
to be Protestant, and I believe my sister would not conceal any thing she knew.
Sir William Coventry.] I would not discountenance
any enquiry into this matter. If this Lady, or any of
that honourable family, knew any thing worth revealing, they would not conceal it. Therefore if any thing
be, let the Committee enquire it, and digest it for you.
Ordered, That [the Queen's Vice-Chamberlain, and] such
Members of the House as are Officers of the Green-Cloth, do
give an account what Papists, or reputed Papists, shelter themselves in Whitehall, St James's, Somerset-House, or any other of
the King's Houses.
Friday, December 27.
The Recorder of London attending without, and being called
in to the Bar, the Speaker told him the cause he was sent for.
Mr Recorder.] I hope I am not so unfortunate in the
opinion of this House, as to be thought to neglect my duty in
giving Judgment upon the Traytors found guilty. I did signify to
the King, "That they were found guilty," and desired to know
his commands (fn. 8) . When I have the King's command by his
Warrant, I shall not be afraid to put that Warrant in execution,
and hang them all. He withdrew.
Mr Powle.] I am not well satisfied with what the Recorder has said. The King having sent no Message,
the Recorder might have waited on the King again, for
a Warrant, to have known his pleasure—The thing may
else hang to perpetuity.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] When there is a stop of execution of Judgment, it must be by the Great Seal. Upon
verbal conference, a stop of execution of Judgment is not
The Speaker.] Pray satisfy yourselves, whether the
Warrant for execution must be from the King, or is from
Sir Thomas Bludworth.] The custom of the Old Bailey
is, that the King's Order is always for execution.
Mr Sacheverell.] This is a strange point in question.
He that has power to condemn, has power to give Warrant for execution, all England over.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I would be fully informed whether
it is the custom of that Court. I believe no execution is
done by the King's Warrant.
The Speaker to the Recorder.] There arises some doubt
whether it is usual in that Court to respite execution, till
there be a Warrant from the King for execution.
Mr Recorder.] When the prisoners have received Judgment,
the persons who have had benefit of Clergy, and such as are
found guilty, are brought to the King in a paper. Then I wait
upon the King with it, and the King, by word of mouth only,
declares his pleasure, "That he will have such and such persons
executed, such transported, and such pardoned." Then the Recorder gives order accordingly. The King's word is his Warrant in this.
Sir Robert Sawyer.] I move that the Recorder may declare to you, whether he has waited on the King for directions. If he has done that, he has done his part. If
not, then give him directions to attend the King.
Sir Charles Harbord.] This is not a common case, but
the case of the Kingdom. I would have the Recorder
acquaint the King.
Mr Stanhope.] I am much troubled at this Debate.
Here are men condemned for conspiring to murder the
King, and execution is stopped and respited. It is said
about town, "That the prisoners have had foul play,
and that their Evidence was not heard." But if I am
not mistaken, eight Judges sat at their Tryal, and several Justices of the Peace, and they say, "They never
heard a more clear Evidence, than was given against the
prisoners." But it is said here by a Member (fn. 9) , "That
there is an instrument under the Seal of St Omer's College to certify their being there at that time, &c." I am
as little for shedding blood, as any man; but this is shedding blood, to defer this execution. I expect every minute that some mischief will befall the King, but I hope
every Englishman will die upon the spot to revenge that
Sir Thomas Lee.] I observe that, in all personal things,
every thing that is amiss comes home to the King—This
is an improper way of debating. The proper Question
is, "Whether the Recorder has done his duty?" The stop
is from him, and him only. This puts me in mind of
something that fell from Mr Oates. He told you, "Grove,
no doubt, should be pardoned by the Pope for killing
the King." I know not but Mr Recorder will pardon
him, if the Recorder can reprieve condemned men at
this rate. When I see a Reprieve under the King's hand,
I shall believe it, and not before. I am not for addressing the King in this matter, seeing that we had so ill
success in the last we made for his safety (fn. 10) , since we have
no appointment of access to him about it. The Question is, "Whether the Recorder has done his duty?"
Mr Prodgers.] It is an observed method, when the
Recorder waits on the King with an account of such
names of the prisoners as are condemned, and have had
Clergy, the King orders which he will have executed.
I do not believe that the Recorder is in any fault.
Mr Palmes.] It is pretty evident, that there has been
a delay of Justice somewhere; and a delay in the Recorder. If it be thus difficult to bring traytors to execution, I fear this is done by some great interest; it may be
to do what these men are condemned for. Twenty days
have now passed (fn. 11) since they were condemned, and no
duty done by the Recorder. The King has signified no
pleasure, and the Recorder has not done his duty. The
default is in the King's Officers; punish them for their
fault, and trouble not the King with Addresses. I think
the Recorder is in fault.
Sir William Coventry.] The Law has so provided, that
severities may be done without the King, but mercies not.
As I apprehend the Recorder, he expects a verbal command from the King, and the King has some little time
to consider. Usually the practice is, that the King is informed by the Judges, where the crime seems small, and
yet the Law has reached it; and where the parties are
penitent, or there is a discovery, and that is an inducement to the King to pardon or reprieve; but what I apprehended was an extrajudicial way. But if affidavits
should be received against the Court, after hearing and
Tryal over, that would be a strange thing; if so, that is
a preparation to save other delinquents, under the same
predicament; and should be locked upon with those eyes.
I would be unwilling to thrust myself into matters of
blood. I would stay a little longer to consider this—I
would adjourn this Debate to Monday.
* * * * * *] I do not so much value the Reprimand to the Recorder; but this delay of execution seems
to put a baffle upon the Evidence, as not sufficient.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] I think the Recorder has not
performed his duty, for it is in his power to cause execution to be done. And I would have that the Question.
Sir Richard Temple proffering to speak, Sir Thomas
Littleton said,] He has had the leave of the House
to go into the country (fn. 12) ; and it is an absurd thing to
have leave upon the Journal, and not to go.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] For Temple to tell you, "That
his mother is dying," and to ask your leave to go into
the country!—He ought not to sit here till that Order be
rescinded. All things ought to be moved here with the
gravity that becomes this place. I move that he may
withdraw till the Order be rescinded.
Sir Richard Temple.] I never heard that leave was a
command to go. I told you, "I sent my wife into the
country to my mother, but as she was well, she returned
again." The Motion from Littleton is a merry Motion,
a Christmas Motion.
Mr Swynfin.] Whether the Recorder has done his duty,
or is the occasion of the delay of execution,—if that
Question should be put and passed, "That he has done
his duty," it will confirm the delay of the execution.
The House is sufficiently possessed of the thing. If you
put the Question on his duty, and it be carried in the
affirmative, it is the greatest blow to it that you could
give. But this Debate may have good effect, the Question not.
Mr Powle.] I have respect for the Recorder; but by
no means can he justify this extraordinary jail-delivery.
These persons to be condemned by him, and he in nine
or ten days never go to the King to know his pleasure
about their execution!—This has already bred discontent
in the Nation. Those that are the King's Officers put it
from themselves, and lay it on the King—Other men
must not lay their faults on the King. I believe, some
great means have been used in this matter, and if you
adjourn this Debate till Monday, you may adjourn it
again to another time, and have the delays repeated.
Lord Cavendish.] If you adjourn this Debate a second
time, it may be of very ill consequence. I will not say
the design was to weaken the Witnesses, but I am sure
the consequence of it is so. If you do not adjourn the
Debate, at least direct the Recorder to apply to the King
for direction, to know his pleasure, when these men shall
Mr Boscawen.] To send the Recorder to the King, &c.
I never heard of that before. I would adjourn the Debate to Monday, and if execution be not done, at the Recorder's peril. The thing is a sad prospect; but to be
unanimous, I would adjourn to Monday.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] Any thing of slackness in this
matter will extremely animate the Papists. If there be
slackness in the execution of these persons, who should
have murdered the King, they will surely imagine it will
be to the rest of the prisoners. It will satisfy the Nation, that we give no encouragement to things of this
Sir Henry Capel.] I would not give this thing the assistance of this House, till the utmost extremity. Your
sense is sufficiently known, and I would adjourn the
Sir Thomas Lee.] If you adjourn to Monday, the World
will say that to this day you are satisfied with the Recorder—And then you will have new matter to examine.
If Gentlemen do desire it, let us take the blame of it abroad upon us.
The farther Debate was adjourned to Monday [on a division,
184 to 112: But the Prorogation prevented its being resumed.]
Saturday, December 28.
On the Lords refusing to sequester the Earl of Danby from
Lord Cavendish.] The late Duke of Buckingham was
impeached by the Commons of High Crimes and Misdemeanors, and not of Treason, yet the Commons desired him to be sequestered from Parliament. I believe
that Justice will not be done upon those Lords in the Plot,
if the Lords proceed not against this Lord who has concealed the Plot so long.
Mr Powle.] The Question is, Whether you will take
this matter, of not sequestering the Earl of Danby from
Parliament, into consideration, the Army being so near
the time of disbanding? I take not the Lords Reasons
to be so cogent, but that they may, with some short consideration, be answered. And then I shall concur with
Lord Cavendish's Motion.
Sir Thomas Lee.] This case is the whole method of
Impeachment for the future—You know what became
of the Earl of Clarendon's case. The Lords would not
commit him to custody, and he went away, and you were
forced to send an Act of Parliament after him.
Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] I propose to the consideration of the House, (with all correction and submission)
whether this is not a distinct method of proceeding from
other Courts. This is a Court of Record, and I have seen
the Lords Entry, which any man may take out. And
therefore it is a proper time to proceed in it now.
Sir John Mallet.] The Plea to a Capias must be, that
he is in custody, and in the eye of the Law he is a Traytor
till he has purged himself by Plea or Demurrer—and be
in custody. He is near the Person of the King, and the
not securing him will be a strange Precedent to other
Traytors. I believe the House will prove this Treason,
and, in the Judgment of the Law, he is a Traytor till he
has purged himself.
Mr Bennet.] The Treasurer, accused of Treason, non
solum vivit, sed in Senatum venit. This Conference with
the Lords will put off this Debate till next day.
[A free Conference with the Lords was desired, and agreed
Monday, December 30.
His Majesty, in the House of Lords, spoke as follows to
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"It is with great unwillingness that I come this day to tell
you, I intend to prorogue you. I think all of you are witnesses
that I have been ill used; the particulars of it I intend to acquaint you with at a more convenient time. In the mean time,
I do assure you, that I will immediately enter upon the disbanding of the Army, and let all the World see, that there is nothing that I intend but for the good of the Kingdom, and for
the safety of Religion. I will likewise prosecute this Plot, and
find out who are the instruments in it: And I shall take all the
care which lies in my power, for the security of Religion, and
the maintenance of it, as it is now established. I have no more
to say to you at this time, but leave the rest to my Lord Chancellor to prorogue you (fn. 13) ."
Then the Lord Chancellor said,
"His Majesty hath commanded this Parliament to be prorogued to the 4th of February next, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to the 4th of February next (fn. 14) ."
It was dissolved by Proclamation January 24 (fn. 15) . And in the
same Proclamation notice was given of his Majesty's intentions
of calling another Parliament to meet the 6th of March following.
So ended this Long Parliament, [which had continued almost
eighteen years, and was] the longest that ever had been before.