The trial of Strafford: The twenty-fifth article

Pages 582-589

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

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In this section

The Five and Twentieth Article.

The Charge.


25. That not long after the Dissolution of the said last Parliament, (viz. in the Months of May and June) he the Earl of Strafford, did advise the king to go on vigorously in levying the Ship-Money, and did procure the Sheriffs of several Countries to be sent for, for not savaing the Ship-Money divers of which were threatened by him, to be used in the Star Chamber, and afterwards by his Advice, they were Sued in the Star Chamber, for not levying the same, and divers of His Majesty's loving Subjects were sent for and Imprisoned by his advice, for that and other illegal Payments.

And a great Loan of One hundred thousand pounds was demanded of the City of London, and the Lord Mayor, and Sheriffs, and Aldermen of the said City, were often sent for by his Advice to the Council Table, to give an Account of their proceedings in raising the Ship-Money, and furthering of that Loan, and were required to certify the Names of such Inhabitants of the City, as were fit to lend, which they with much humility refusing to do, he the said Earl of Strafford did use these, and the like Speeches, viz. That they deserved to be put to Find and Ransome, and that no good would be done with them, till an Example were made of them, and that they were laid by the Heels, and some of the Aldermen hanged up.

April 7. 1641.

Mr. Maynard.

Mr. Maynard proceeded to make good the Charge of the Commons of England, against the Earl of Strafford, touching High Treason, and said, They had already brought it so high, as they must needs acknowledge they cannot go higher; a Design being laid to introduce an Arbitrary Government, and Counsels given to maintain that, and to introduce it by force. They can go no higher, unless those Counsels had unhappily succeeded; but though those Counsels take not effect, yet the Principles whereby those Counsels were given, appears still to have remained.

And whereas my Lord of Strafford having these things proved against him by his Speeches, Opinions, and Counsels, pretends there was no such thing done, as if the goodness of others, would excuse the badness of his Counsels; they shall shew what he did do in the succeeding Articles: And in the 25th he proceeds, First, to advise His Majesty to go on vigorously with the Ship-Money, he procured the Sheriffs to be sent for, and Sued in the Star-Chamber; he sent for the Mayor and Aldermen, about the Loan of 100000l. and the furtherance of Ship-Money; and were told by him, That they deserved to be put to Fine and Ransom, &c.

To Prove the 25th Article.

L. Treasurer

The Lord Treasurer of England being Interrogated, What Advice my Lord of Strafford gave, touching the levying of Ship-Money?

His Lordship Answered, That he remembers my Lord of Strafford did advise, that they should go vigorously and effectually on with the getting of Ship-Money; he takes the time to be, when as the Ship-Money came in very slowly, and they were enforced to take out of these Monies that were provided, for the furnishing of the Army, divers great Sums to set out a Fleet, which else would have stay'd still; and my Lord of Strafford took notice, That if it were not repay'd, the Army would be destitute and unfurnished, and therefore advised as formerly, That the Ship-Money might go on vigorously, and the other Money be repaid again, for the use for which it was appointed, and it was after the breach of the last Parliament.

Tho. Wiseman Witness.

Tho. Wiseman Sworn and Interrogated, what he heard my Lord of Strafford say, when the Aldermen of London were called to the Council-Table about the Ship-Money, and the Loan, and when it was?

Tho. Wiseman, Witness.

He Answered, That for the Time he cannot very well remember, and touching the Loan, he is able to say little: But about the Ship, Money, he doth well remember, that my Lord should say, they would never do their Duties well, till they were put to Fine and Ransom, meaning the Aldermen, that were then called before their Lordships; and this is as much as he can say.

Being asked, Whether there were not Words of laying by the Heels, and what the Words were?

He Answered, He should not fear to do it; My Lord of Strafford did say, (Whether on the Loan or Ship-Money, he is not able to remember) You should do well to be laid by the Heels; you shall have no good of this Man till he be laid by the Heels, and he (the Examinant) supposes it was meant of my Lord Major, who was then present, (as he remembers) and my Lord was there, and to his best Remembrance, His Majesty was present.

Earl of Barkshire being Sworn, and Interrogated, What my Lord of Strafford counselled the King, touching the said Matter of Loan?

E. of Berkshire.

His Lordship Answered, That he remembers His Majesty desired to borrow a Sum of Money, and to give good Security for it, and Interest after 8 per Cent, on the Sum. That the Aldermen were sent for, and commanded to give in to the King the Names of those Men, that were most able within their several Wards, which they excusing themselves from doing: my Lord of Strafford said, Gentlemen, in my Opinion, you may be liable to Fine and Ransom, for refusing the King's Command on this Occasion, for not certifying the Names; and this is the Effect of what he spake.

Sir Henry Garaway being Sworn, and Interrogated, What my Lord of Strafford said to the Aldermen, about the Ship-Money, and Loan-Money?

Gerraway, Lord Mayor of London.

He Answered, That as he was Major of London in the last Year, he was oftentimes commanded to attend the Council-Table, with the Sheriffs of London; when they came about the Ship-Money, there came no body (as he conceives) but they and himself; but when they came concerning the Loan, the whole Court of Aldermen came together. Concerning the Ship-Money, he confesses he found a great Difficulty of it; he could not tell which Way to turn himself to levy the Money, to give the King Satisfaction; He acquainted His Majesty, That there were those Difficulties in it, that of two Years preceding, not one Half of the City of London had paid, and therefore the willing Men that had paid the Money, thought it unequal some should pay, and some go free. And Secondly, he said, It was the Opinion of the City of London, That a Writ for Ship-Money, and a Writ for a Parliament did not agree well together; and for these Reasons he found it very difficult: They were called up, and hasten'd both in the Assessment of Collection, and in respect: they found every man adverse to it; the Business had not that Progress, nor speedy Execution it might otherwise have had, and as it had in former Times. And when he had told His Majesty this, it was ill taken, that he should deal so plainly, because he did discover himself clearly and freely, what was the Fruit of the Business. And it pleased my Lord of Strafford, then in the Presence of the King, to speak, Sir, you will never do good on this Man, till you have made him an Example, he is too Diffident (or to this Purpose) unless you commit him, you shall do no Good upon him; This concerning the Ship-Money. Concerning the Loan-Money, when they came with the Aldermen together, he (the Examinant) desired he might be called in singly, because he was very loth (knowing the Humour of the Court of Aldermen, how they stood affected) that they should give the King a Negative Answer at the Board, and it pleased His Majesty to call him (the Examinant) in singly, and he told His Majesty in his Hearing at that time, That there was no good to be done, for amongst all the Aldermen, he could not get Consent to raise above 6 or 7000 Pound at the most. And then they were to bring it out of every of the several Wards, the Names of all the able Men of the City of London, that could lend Money; wherein it was required they should set it down, what every Man was fit to lend. This they altogether declined; for we thought it not fit we should rate Mens Purses, and he (the Examinant himself) presented the Size-Cinque, the Quater-tres Men, and the Deuxace Men, according to their Qualities; but set a Rate on Men we did not, and desired His Majesty we might be spared. Hereupon my Lord of Strafford at that time, burst out into these Words, Sir, You will never do good on these Citizens of London, till you have made Examples of some of the Aldermen: This to his best Remembrance he said, unless you hang up some of them, you will do no good upon them. This is the Substance of what he heard.

Being asked, Whether this was immediately after the Breach of the Parliament.

He Answered, That he cannot confine himself to Time, he desired to be spared in that, but he was several times at the Council-Table; but it was after the breaking of the Parliament.

E. of Strafford.

My Lord of Strafford observing, That Alderman Garaway spake it only to his best Remembrance, he was Interrogated, Whether he could speak it positively?


He Answered, That it is a great while ago, and he did hear the Words, that's certain.

Being asked by my Lord of Strafford, Whether he himself spake them?

He Answered, Yes, my Lord, your Lordship did speak them.

My Lord desiring leave to recollect himself a little, said, He will speak with as much Truth, albeit, not with so much Confidence as the Gentleman.

And after a little Respite, he began his Defense as followeth.

Defence of the E. of Strafford

The Defendant must still insist on this Ground, which hitherto he hath gone upon, under their Lordships good Leave.

That there is nothing in this Article, that can possibly convince him of High-Treason, admit it all proved, as it is laid down in the Charge; he hath very little to Answer, for there is little proved, the greatest Part is offered on a single Testimony, which as he hath hitherto mentioned, he humbly conceives, by the Laws of the Land, cannot be charged upon him in case of Treason; for nothing can be charged upon him in Case of Treason; without two lawful Witnesses.

For the Advice my Lord Treasurer says, he gave in Case of levying Ship-Money, surely he advised no other Ways, than as had been formerly used three or four Years before his coming into the Kingdom; so that if it be an Error, he was led into it by the Practice of former Times, and of wiser Men than himself.

Besides, there was then, as he conceives, a Judgment given in the Exchequer-Chamber, and he hath learnt always in his own Practice, by reason of his own Weakness of Judgment, never to be wiser than his, Teachers, or to pretend to know more in other Mens Professions, than they know themselves.

And therefore there being a Judgment given in Point of Law by the Judges, it was not for him to dispute what they had done, but with all Humility, to submit it to better Judgments than his own, so that to advise such a Thing (as it then stood) he hopes will be excusable and pardonable in him, albeit he doth not justify himself in it, in respect of something he hath heard and learnt, since that Time, and taught him likewise by wiser Men than himself. And as he then followed that which was delivered by the Judges, so he shall for the future, follow what he hath learnt by others, that ought to be believed, and by him credited before himself: But in the mean time, he conceives it a pardonable Fault, and shall never be drawn up, or put into the Scale against him as Treason.

To the other Words, testified to be spoken by him at the Council-Table, He answers, That he might hold the Aldermen liable or subject to Fine? and Ransom, in Case they did not submit to the King's Demands (for so on the Matter, my Lord of Berkshire repeats the Words) truly such hath been, and shall be his Ingenuity in all things concerning this Business, that these Words he hath already acknowledg'd and confess'd to be by him spoken; and he confess'd. now he did say, That in his Opinion, in a Case of that great Necessity, and imminent Danger, which he conceived the Kingdom to be in, their Refusal might perchance, make them liable to Fine and Ransom; but the Words, as he remembers them, were appliable not to that Particular, but to another.

For, he says, and he says truly, the Words were spoken to hasten and speed my Lord Major in the Services that were commanded him; not out of any Intention or Purpose to do him Hurt by further moving, or prosecuting any thing against him. He confesses he wishes he had not spoken them; but being spoken, and spoken to that End and Purpose, as high a thing as this might have been pass'd over, and not charg'd on him as aCrime but rather as an extravagant Saying, which God forbid a Man should be Arraigned for in this Kind, as he is, and a little Excess of Speech, he trusts by that Lordships Favour and Goodness, may be excused, if not pardoned, at least so much pardoned, as it shall not be laid to him as Treason, when it is but a hasty Word, and nothing follows upon it.

For the other Words which my Lord Major says, That he the Earl of Strafford should say to His Majesty, Sir, there will be no good done with the Citizens of London, till you have hanged some of them up; which at first he said, was to his best Remembrance, and upon Recollection, he says directly and absolutely; for my Lord said, he must not make it weaker against himself than it is; and he wishes that Rule might be kept on both Sides, which is to repeat the Evidence to their Lordships clearly and plainly as it is; which Duty he said, he had religiously observed, since the beginning of the Cause, and will perform to the last, not misreciting any thing for his advantage or disadvantage; this being howsoever his Comfort and Joy, that their Lordships are so wise, as not to hearken to what is repeated of the Evidence, but to the Evidence it self, as it is plainly and clearly represented, and that will not deceive them: and therefore my Lord said, to the best of his Remembrance (and the Witnesses said, no more at the first) he spake them not, but he thinks they were spoken in so good Company, before their Lordships of the Council-Board, that it cannot but be remembred, by some of their Lordships, if the Words had been spoken, and by His Majesty, to whom it is said they were directed.

But being an equal Testimony (however in this Condition, and Misfortune, and Affliction, it may be between this Gentleman and himself) he thinks that before these Troubles befell him, he was as equally to be believed as the other; and therefore all the Difference is, one says it, the other denies it.

My Lord added, That he deny'd it in his Answer, and he denies it at the Bar, and in Truth, to his best Remembrance, he never spake the Words; and it is a thing of no great Moment, being a hasty Word, and at the most very excusable, especially to a free-spoken Man, as he is, and he smarts for it, which hath further ingag'd him, perhaps than a wiser Man would have been, that hath much worse Thoughts than ever he had, but he hoped it will be pardoned, and not amount to make good the Charge against him, but that their Lordships Honour and Justice will excuse it, rather than punish it; and so his Lordshid said, he would say no more to it.

Mr. Maynard made Reply thereunto, in Substance as followeth:

The Committee shall need to say little to this Answer of my Lord of Strafford, for whereas he says nothing of High-Treason is proved, their Lordships will be pleased to remember, how oft this hath been answered; for if their Lordships will look back, to what they have proved from the beginning: They charge not this as a particular Treason, but having charged him with a Design to subvert the Fundamental Laws; it appears he threaten'd it, That the King's little Finger should be heavier than the Loins of the Law: They have shew'd what he did in Ireland, how he did not only threaten, but gave Sentence of Death on one for Words, how there he hanged another; it appears what a Jurisdiction he erected against Law, and Ways were taken to maintain them; how Soldiers were forced on Mens Houses against their Will; and what Insolency they committed, and that must not be questioned when it is propounded; When he comes in to England, their Lordships hear what Counsels he gives, which compared with the Plots he laid, there is reason to think, that these Words proceeding from my Lord of Strafford, that Men should be Fined and Ransomed, Hanged up, and laid by the Heels, comes not out of suddain passion, but rise from those Principles and Resolutions that were in him, to do all things according to his Will and Pleasure, against Law.

They beseech their Lordships, these may not pass as hasty Words, when they appear to be suitable and conformable to Actions and Counsels preceeding for many Years, and not yet laid down by him, for ought can be discerned.

The singleness of the Testimony hath been often Objected, and as often Answered, but this is no single Testimony; My Lord Treasurer speaks of his Advice to go on vigorously with a Ship-Money; Others prove Fine and Ransome, and Hanging up, Threatned, which have all concurred to the general Charge, being several circumstances proved by several Witnesses.

But whereas my Lord thinks to excuse himself, because there was a Judgement in the Exchequer-Chamber; God be thanked, it appears to be a Judgement against Law; and my Lord of Strafford spake these Words after the King offered to lay down the Ship-Money, for it was after the Parliament; But there was never any Judgment, that a Man might be Hanged in such a Case, nor be Fined and Ransomed for the certifying in Matter of Loan; my Lord of Strafford knows as well as any Man, that it is against Law himself having had a Great Hand in the Petition of Right.

Mr. Glyn.

Mr. Glyn desired he might observe one Thing, that fell from my Lord of Strafford, not at this time only, but at several times; That it is hard he should for Words be Questioned as High-Treason being a Word spoken and no ill effect of it; their Lordships may be pleased to call to Mind, that for Words spoken concerning Treading on his Toe, he prosecuted so far as to Life; and yet they were spoken as accidentally as these, and not of less Consequence, and Nothing came of them; and yet he procured a sentence of Death against the Speaker, but here he extenuates it, and must not be Charged with Words,

And so the 25th Article was concluded,