The trial of Strafford: The first day

Pages 101-102

Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 8, 1640-41. Originally published by D Browne, London, 1721.

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The TRYAL of T. Earl of Strafford.

The First day. Monday, March 22. 1640.

The Prisoner at the Bar.

The Lords being set in a place prepared in Westminster-hall, purposely for the Arraignment of Thomas Earl of Strafford, upon a charge of High Treason laid upon him by the Commons House of Parliament, in the Name of themselves, and of all the Commons of England. And the House of Commons being there likewise, seated as a Committee; and those who were to manage the Evidence on behalf of the House of Commons, being Members of that House, standing at the Barr, The Prisoner was called for; And being brought by Sir William Balfour, Lieutenant of the Tower, after Obeisances given, he came to the Barr and kneeled; and after standing up, The Right Honourable Thomas Earl of Arundel and Surrey, Lord High Steward of England, spake to him as follows.

Lord High Steward.

Your Lordship is called here this day before the Lords in Parliament, to Answer to, and to be Tried upon, the Impeachment presented to them by the Commons House of Parliament, in the Name of themselves, and all the Commons of England: And that their Lordships are resolved to hear both the Accusation and Defence, with all Equity. And therefore think fit in the first place, That your Lordship should hear the Impeachment of High Treason read.

The Impeachment was accordingly read by the Clerk of the Parliament.

A little after the entrance into it, a Chair was brought to the Prisoner by the Gentleman Usher, and the Prisoner sate down thereon by their Lordships direction.

After the Charge was read, the Earl of Straffords Answer was likewise read. And no more of proceedings that day.

Lord High Steward.

Only the Lord Steward said further to the Prisoner, That his Lordship had heard the whole Impeachment of the House of Commons read; And his own Answer: on which he hath put himself for Trial. That which is now to follow, their Lordships have commanded him to say, is the managing of the Evidence by those the House of Commons shall please to appoint, for the proving of this Charge.

But likewise they have Commanded him to say, That the time being so far spent, it may not be so proper now to proceed further in the business; That this shall be sate upon only once a day, which will be fittest both for their Lordships, and for the House of Commons: And that they conceive it will agree with the sense of the House of Commons, not to fall into the particular management of the Evidence so late, but to defer it till the morrow, at the hour of nine of the Clock.

E. of Strafford.

My Lord of Strafford did then desire to know, whether he might with their Lordships good leave and favour, say any thing at that time or no.

Lord High Steward.

The Lord High Steward answered, that their Lordships Commandment is, to let his Lordship know, That if the House of Commons proceed not by their Members to manage the Evidence this day, then what his Lordship hath to say to this House, may be put off to another time.

And so their Lordships Adjourned to the House above, (by which is meant the House where the Lords use to sit in Parliament) and appointed the next morning to proceed in this business.