The trial of Strafford: The twenty-sixth article

Pages 589-600

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

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The Six and Twentieth Article.

The Charge.


26. That the said Earl of by his wicked Counsels, having brought His Majesty into excessive Charge, without any just cause, he did in the month of July last (for the support of the said great Charges) Counsel and approve two dangerous and wicked Projects, viz.

To seize upon the Bullion, and Money in the Mint.

And to imbase His Majesties Coyn with the mixtures of Brass

And accordingly he procured One hundred and 30000 l. which was then in the Mint, and belonging to divers Merchants, Strangers, and others to be seized on, and stayed to His Majesties use. And when divers Merchants of London, owners of the said Bullion and Money, came to his House, to let him understand the great mischief that course would produce here, and in other parts, and what prejudice it would be to the kingdom, by discrediting the Mint, and hindring the importation of Bullion: he the said Earl told them, that the City of London dealt undutifully and unthankfully with His Majesty: And that they were more ready to help the Rebels, than to help His Majesty: And that if any hurt came to them. they may thank themselves; and that it was the course of other Princes, to make use of such Money's to serve their occasions.

And when in the same month of July, the Officers of His Majesties Mint came to him, and gave him divers Reasons against the imbasing the said Money he told them that the french king did use to lend Commissaries of Horse, with Commiision to search into Mens Estates, and to peruse their Accounts, that so they may know what to levy to them by force, which they did accordingly levy; and turning to the Lord Cottington, then present, said, That this was a point worthy of his Lordships consideration, meaning this course of the french king, to raise Money's by force, was a point worthy of his Lordships Consideration.

Mr. Maynard proceeded to open the 26th Article, and observed, That they had shewed formerly, how my Lord of Strafford had laboured a Disaffection betwixt His Majesty and His People: Now they come to shew, That His Majesty being put to extream Charges, by the Advice of my Lord of Strafford; my Lord adds his Advice, for seizing Money in the Mint, and for that of the base Coyn, or Black Money; And, that when some attended my Lord of Strafford about it, to shew to him the Danger and ill Consequence, that right arise from it, my Lord of Strafford tells them, The City had dealt undutifully and unthankfully with His Majesty, and were more ready to help the Rebels than His Majesty; And they may Thank themselves; And, it was the Course of other Princes, to make use of such Monies; And, when the Masters of the Mint gave Reasons against it, my Lord said, The French King uses to send Commissaries to Mens Shops, and to look into the Acccompts and Books of Men, to see and Peruse their Estates, that they might raise and levy it by Force: And turning to a Noble Lord by him, he said, That was a Point worthy of his Lordship's Consideration.

To prove the Words spoken, about seizing the Money in the Mint,

Robert Edwards Witness.

Robert Edwards was Sworn, and Examined, What he heard my Lord of Strafford say, when he attended him, about the Money seized in the Mint?

He Answered, That he went to his Lordship about the Danger, that the Company of Merchant-Adventurers Were in, in regard, their Estates were beyond Sea, giving his Lordship to understand the Danger, in regard so much Money Was taken out of the Tower, being, as he remembers, on Saturday Night. They went on Monday Morning, and desir'd my Lord to speak to His Majesty, that the Money might be restored again, that their Means might not be seized for; some Strangers had threatned, they would signify to their Principal, how their Money was taken from them, and would seek for a Recompence again, by the Means they had beyond Sea: And my Lord made Answer again to him, and divers others that were there, That if they fared amiss, they might thank themselves; for if they went on in that manner, they were like to find it themselves; and that they should have the Damage of it, if they did look to it no better. And withal he said, That though they think it is a strange Business here, yet beyond Sea it is not so; but on Command Men have their Goods taken. This was the Substance, as he remembers, of what he said to them.

Being asked, What my Lord of Strafford said, touching the City of London?

He answered, That he said, They did deal very unthankfully and undutifully; for there was but 14000l. for Ship-Money that was His Majesty's Due, and they deny'd the Payment of that; and did more to maintain the Rebels, than they did to maintain His Majesty.

Being bid to repeat his Words.

He said, that they came at first to be humble Suitors to his Lordship, to be a Means to His Majesty, that the Money taken from the Tower, might be restored again; for, the Merchants Advenrurers Estates beyond Sea, were in great Danger, in regard there were some Strangers threatned, to write to their Principals, to stay their Estates there, for the Money stayed in the Tower: Whereupon my Lord made Answer, That if they did speed amiss, they might thank themselves; for they are more ready to hold with Rebels, than they were to give His Majesty His Due, which was 14000l. for Ship-Money.

Being Asked (on my Lord of Strafford's Motion) where he spake them? and, Whether he was not then Sick?

He Answrerd, It was in his Chamber: and my Lord did sit in his Chair, and he (the Examinant) stood hard by him, with four or five more, and he conceives my Lord was sick at that time.

Being Asked, on like motion, Whether he did not tell them he was sick, and could not go to the King at that time?

He Answered, That he remembers not that my Lord said, he could not go to the King; but, he said, he knew nothing of it till that Morning, to his (the Examinants) remembrance.

Palmer Witness.

Anthony Palmer Sworn, and Interrogated, What my Lord of Strafford said to him, concerning the mixt Money?

He Answered, That my Lord of Strafford had some Discourse with him, and the rest of his Fellow-Officers, concerning base Money; and, upon the Questioning of it, they gave him their Reasons against it, and the Insufficiency of it to do any thing, and said so much, as they conceived my Lord was dissuaded from going any further in it: Upon this, he afterwards shewed them a Letter, drawn out of his Pocket, which, as he said, was sent him out of France, and in the French Tongue; aud, because he (the Examinant) did not understand the French Tongue, he read it in English to this effect, so far as the best of his Memory will hold; That the King of France, or the French King, had appointed certain Officers of his, to go and take view of Mens Books of Accompt and Estates, by which means to see what they were worth, and to know what the King might demand of them; and, if they were not willing to pay it, there would be a Force upon them to pay it. This, to the best of his Remembrance, is that my Lord did deliver.

Being asked, Whether my Lord of Strafford did not speak Words to this Effect, That if His Majesty should do so, he should have the Examples of others, or to that Purpose?

He Answered, Something he set forth to this Effect, but the very Words he cannot express, but it was to that Purpose; That he had received Letters, that the King of France had sent Officers, that took View of Mens Books and Accompts, to raise to himself some Monies (if they were not willing) by Constraint, and withal some other Speeches did fall from him to this Purpose, but the very Words he cannot speak, that it was an Example, or might be an Example, to do the like in England.

Being asked (on my Lord of Strafford's Motion) where this was spoken?

He Answered, It was in my Lord's own House in Leister-Fields, he thinks, and there were present three more, Sir William Parkhurst, Mr. Gogan and himself, and my Lord Cottington was also there.

Henry Gogan Sworn and Interrogated, What he heard my Lord of Strafford say, when he attended him, about the abasing of the Coyn?

He Answered, That after the Coyning the Base Money was thought on, there were Queries made, and they were to give an Answer the next Day about the making of it; that was about the Expedition, and what it would cost, and two other Particulars, the Paper Sir William Parkhurst hath. But, some of them spoke against the making of the Money; Mr. Palmer and the rest shewed the Inconvenience of it; and then my Lord pull'd out a Letter in French, and read it in English, to this Purpose; That the King of France raised Money by Force, sending Commissaries of Horse to look into their Books and Estates, and levy Money accordingly; and, did turn about to my Lord Cottington, and said, My Lord, this is worthy your Consideration or Hearing, or Words to that Purpose.

Being asked (on my Lord of Strafford's Motion) Where it was spoken?

He Answered, It was spoken at my Lord's House in the Fields, in the Presence of Sir William Parkhurst, Lord Cottngton, Mr. Palmer and himself.

Sir William Parkhurst being Sworn, and Interrogated, What my Lord of Strafford said, when he and the rest attended him about the Copper Money?

He Answered, That they were sent for; and, the first Question they were asked, was, What Sorts of Money were made in Queen Elizabeth's Time of Copper, for the Kingdom of Ireland? they told him what they were, and that they could produce the Indentures and Circumstances of making those Monies; and they had divers Discourses of the Matter of Money, and it was resolved into certain Queries that they should consider of which he the Examinant was never formerly examined of, and the Papers are not here, neither was he warned hither to Day. And, in the Discourse of these Monies, my Lord of Strafford did produce a Letter written in French, as News lately received from thence, and, doubting whether they understood French or no, he Englished it, in these Kinds of Words, or thus much in Substance, That the French King had lately sent certain Commissaries, or Commissioners, into divers Parts of France, there to take and Peruse the Accompts of Merchants, and the Books of Mens Estates, whereby they might know what Estates they had, and this is the substance of what he can say, and further he heard him not say.

Being Asked (on my Lord of Strafford's Motion) Who was there present?

He Answered, My Lord of Strafford, my Lord Cottington, Mr. Palmer, Mr. Gogan, and himself.

Being Asked, on the like Motion, Whether he heard my Lord of Strafford offer to my Lord Cottington, That this was worthy his Consideration or Notice?

He Answered, That he did not hear it.

Being Asked, Whether he said, That if the King should do so, he should follow the Example of other Princes?

He Answered, No.

Sir Ralph Freeman being Asked, What Words my Lord of Strafford spake concerning Copper-Money, If it were refused to be taken?

He Answered, That he was not there at the first meeting, but at the private Council, His Majesty being Present, there was a Debate about Paying Copper-Money, and he (the Examinant) Answering, That they would not Work, if they were paid in Copper Money: My Lord of Strafford replyed, You know what Course to take with them, you may send them to the House of Correction; This is all he heard.

Mr. Maynard.

Mr. Maynard desired Tho. Skinner's Examination might be read, as to the Matter which Mr. Stewart was Examined to, he being seen at Westminster that Morning, and acknowledged, that he was to be examined here as a Witness, and it seems could not get in, or is otherwise kept away.

My Lord of Strafford desired, they might reserve the Advantage of him, and he would give Way to it.

Mr. Maynard.

Mr. Maynard answered, That when he says a Witness may be kept away, it is not that he is kept away, for he is here; But, if a Witness hath been Examined, and doth not come, his Examinations may be read, for it is Possible a Witness may be kept away, though he be not sick.

George Henley being Sworn, and Interrogated, Whether he saw Skinner this Morning at Westminister?

Mr. Henley, Witness.

He Answered, He saw him in the Palace-yard, and he told him the Examinant, that he (the said Skinner) was to be here as a Witness.

My Lord of Strafford desiring that liberty for him, to Cross-examine him might be reserved, and that being granted, the Examinations were read.

The Examination of Tho. Skinner Gent. Taken, the 8th. Jan. 1641.

To the 98 Interrogatory he saith, That he attended Mr, Edwards and other Merchants-Adventurers to the Lord-Lieutenant, a little after the stay of the Money and Bullion in the Mint, and the said Merchants represented divers Inconveniences to his Lordship which might arise from the stay thereof; And alledged, That it would Occasion a seizure of the English Merchants beyond the Seas. Whereupon his Lordship said, He did not know of the seizure untill that Morning; But, if any Inconvenience happen, they may thank themselves: And his Lordship further said, that though this Act. might seem strange in England, it was no News in other Countries; Where Princes made use of such Means to serve their Occasions; and his Lordship did very much tax, and blame the City of London, saying, They dealt unworthily with His Majesty, in refusing to pay the 14000l. of Ship-Money, which was his due; And that they were more ready to hold with Rebels than with His, Majesty; And, that they dealt unthankfully with His Majesty, in not relieving him in His great Necessities.

And so Mr. Maynard concluded this Article, the Words charged being proved, and my Lord of Strafford's Answer was expected.

After a small Time given him to recollect his Notes, my Lord Strafford made his Defense, in substance as followeth,

E. of Straffords Defence.

That he is to give his Defense to the 26th Article, the first Part whereof was, That he should Counsel and Approve two Dangerous and Wicked Projects.

First, To seize on the Bullion and Money in the Mint.

Secondly, To debase the Coyn with Mixture of Brass.

That he hath, in his Answer, denied either the Counselling, or the approving of these Projects, as they call them; and, for that Part, which indeed would be the Principal Thing in the Charge, if it were proved, there is no offer of any, Proof at all, that is, concerning his Approving, Counselling, or Devising those Projects.

To this he Answereth, It will appear in their own Proof, he (the Desendant) did not Counsel the seizing of the Money, for Mr. Edwards acknowledges, when they came to acquaint him with the business, he professed he knew nothing of it; Nor did he, being then sick and unfit for this Matter.

And, Mr. Skinner says, He (my Lord of Strafford) told them That he knew nothing of the Seizure of that Money; So that there is no Proof against him: and, the Proof brought, acquits him, as to that.

For the debasing of the Coyn, Mr. Palmer says, That he and the rest of the Officers giving Reasons against it, he (my Lord of Strafford) gave it over; He remembers very well, there was some Speech about the Copper Coyn; and, that Information was to be given what Queen Elizabeth had done in the like Case; And he remembers too, that it was given over: Also, that he was one of the Committee, to take Information of the Reasons for it, and against it; and, to Report: And, further then that, he meddled not with it.

For the rest of the Charge, in telling the City, They dealt undutifully with His Majesty, &c. he conceives the Proofs are full in the Point, and fuller then any Thing of the Charge since the Trial began.

And, is is true, he did not at that Time think the City had dealt thankfully with His Majesty, they having received so many Favours from him, and He residing amongst them, should refuse the Loan of 100000 l. on good security given; and, it might very well be (as he thinks he did) at that time, he might say so; And, if he spake it out of overmuch sense towards His Majesty, and His Service, surely he doth not conceive it to be any great Crime, to say, They dealt undutifully with the King: But, whatsoever it was, he is sure he is ready to amend it, and to be of another Opinion; For, he remembers very well, and, he thinks many of their Lordships will call it to Mind, that when upon the return of diverse Noble Persons to York, he understood that the City of London had lent the King 200000l. He then said, That he was glad for his Part, extreamly glad of it; and, all that was past formerly, was now fully satisfied, as to him, and he should be ready to serve them with his Life for it, as long as he lived; And this he spake in the Great Council of the Peers at York, and that he would be as ready to serve the City of London, as any Poor Gentleman in the Kingdom, and so he says again, he will: and if at that time, or other time, he was so sensible of the Service of His Master, as not to think it Well done of them, to refuse so small a Curtesie, and exprest something that might have been spared: Men oftentimes offend with the Tongue, when they offend not with the Heart; And, he hopes this can be no such Bloody Crime, it arguing him rather to be innocent from doing any great Evil, when Words are so often charged on him, rather than doing.

But, there are some things not proved, that perhaps will be mentioned, because they be singly spoken of, but not doubly proved.

The next Charge is a Letter, that he should shew, about the King of France appointing Officers to take Accompts, and to View Mens Books, and that it might be an Example for us here. Which Words he doth absolutely deny. He never spake them. He never thought them. And Mr. Palmer only speaks it; But says, the very Words he cannot express: and, if he cannot (the Defendant) appeals to their Lordships, whether he should be Condemned for Words which cannot be exprest? and he hopes it will be of very little force with their Lordships, when it is so uncertainly delivered. But, however, it is a single Testimony none of the other Witnesses testifying the Words, as he conceives.

Sir William Parkhurst denies expresly, that he heard them.

Mr. Gogan is a single Testimony, in saying, what my Lord of Strafford should say to my Lord Cottington, That they might be worthy of his Lordships Consideration; And Sir William Parkhurst denies that he heard them.

But, it will be Necessary for him, to let their Lordships know clearly and plainly, what this great Matter was concerning the French Letter, for he trusts my Lord Cottington would remember it, and my Lord Treasurer too, If need were; but this is no Way on his Charge, and therefore he shall not insist on the proof of it.

His Lordship having the Honour to be of the Foreign Committee, my Lord of Leicester was pleased to send Weekly Letters, to divers of their Lordships, and, among the rest, he received one, being in the Nature of a Gazettee: In which Letter, nothing was mentioned of Commissaries of Horse; but, it was mentioned, that the Cardinal had given Direction to certain Commissioners, to go into the Houses of divers Merchants, not Over the Kingdom, but at Paris, and Inform themselves by their Books of Accompt, what Estates they had, that they might demand Supply.

This Letter he says, he Read, with this Clause, You may see what is done in other places; but, God be thanked you have so Pious and Gracious a King, that he thinks on none of these Things; he read it to them as a Gazettee, a foolish idle Letter, and no more.

My Lord Cottington being Interrogated touching the Letter, &c.

L. Cottington Witness.

He professes that he knew nothing of such a Letter, but because he would remember it, He spake with Sir William Parkhurst, and Mr. Palmer, and some others, and they told him, that when my Lord was Reading the Letter, he was Writing in another Room; and asking, Why it was said he was present? they told him then, That they thought Gogan had said so, when there was no such Matter; For, he having seen his Name in the Printed Book, he hath been careful to inform himself, what Kind of Letter it was, for he profest to their Lordships, he remembred not the Letter, nor the Discourse, and asking Sir William Parkhurst and the rest, why it was said, such Words were spoken to him by my Lord of Strafford? they say, they had been Examined upon it, and had denyed it.

For Sir Ralph Freeman's Deposition, that my Lord of Strafford should say, That if the Poor Men that Work on the Money should refuse to Work, they might be sent to the House of Correction; That he conceives he might say without Offence, but it is no Part of his Charge.

My Lord Cottington being asked (on Mr. Glynn's Motion) Whether he had heard of such a Ltter?

He professed, to his remembrance he never heard of the Letter.

Mr. Maynard.

Whence Mr. Maynard inferred, there be others that speak to that, therefore there may be something that is not Remembred.

And so my Lord of Strafford concluded, that he had told their Lordships clearly and plainly what is proved, what the Things were, and as they were; and he trusts nothing is in his Actions, but such as may admit of a Noble and Favourable Construction: and so there is no more for him to Answer to this Article, but only to say, That under the Favour of these Gentlemen, nothing can incline one Way or other, to be an Accusation of High-Treason.

To which Mr. Maynard made a Reply in substance as followeth.

Mr. Maynard's Reply

That he should not hold their Lordships long in Reply to this; My Lord denies the Counselling and Approving the Matter of seizing the Mint, and debasing the Coyn, and a Witness produced, says, My Lord knew nothing of it; that they can press no farther, but that is no justification to my Lord Strafford, to retort such Words concerning the Great City of this Kingdom, on so small an Occasion, as their desire to have their Money discharged. It was a grievous thing, and is not to be slighted; that their Estates being beyond Sea, my Lord of Strafford should make so little of it. But my Lord Answers nothing to these Words, That the City of London was more ready to help the Rebels, than to help the King, and he doth well not to do it, for whosoever doth help a Rebel, is of the same condition with the Rebel. For the Matter of the Letter, it is of no great Importance whether it be so or no? but the matter is, What Speeches were used? My Lord says, the Speeches are proved by only one Witness; But the Truth is, one Witness positively swears one Part and another the other Part; but both agree, That my Lord Cottington was there, though Sir William Parkhurst doth not remember it.

Mr. Whitlock

Mr. Whitlock added, That my Lord of Strafford is pleased to mention a Letter from an Honourable Person, my Lord of Leicester, and now he observes, it was a Gazette, and no Letter at all from my Lord of Leicester.

But my Lord of Strafford desired, he might not be mistaken, he being very tender to have it laid on him, that he should in any Thing speak untruth, or contradict himself.

Their Lordships know, the Letters sent familiarly every Week from my Lord of Leicester's Secretary, as News to the Foreign Committee, are only in the Nature of a Gazettee, and so he intended to open it.

Mr. Strowd.

Mr. Strowd added, There is something in the Tract of this Article that sticks near to me, and I cannot let it pass; Whereas my Lord says Words are only laid to his Charge, which argues his Innocency in Fact, in that he hath been sparing in doing, Whatsoever his Language is, First, The Laws are clear, that Words may be Treason, and to every Man's reason it sounds thus far, That Words in consequence may go beyond some Actions; and Words of the highest Nature he hath used; all trenching deeper on us than some Acts might have done: To Counsel his Majesty in things of that Consequence, it touches not only on the Safety of His Majesty's Crown, but also on the Liberty of his People and may go beyond force, for if my Lord of Strafford had brought in his 8000 Irish by Force, we might have withstood them by Force.

But when he goes to the Ear of a Pious Prince, and insinuates that we know not of, and brings a Desolation on a Kingdom who shall repells such Language, when force may repell Forces? And surely had he plotted and devised against His Majesty, by any one (which God forbid be should, or that His Majesty should be in that Danger) the presence of a Prince might have daunted a Traitor, that he could not have done the Work; yet had he done it (which God forbid) a Prince, may dye with fair Reputation to Posterity; but when he shall inspire a Prince in his Ear, and provoke Tyrannical Carriage to His Subjects, he may abuse a good Prince, but how he may leave him to posterity, I leave to your Lordships.

But my Lord stays not singly in Counsel and Advice but something was done upon it. I appeal to your Lordships, when Proof shall be brought in the Case; and First, consider the Misery that England is, now in, what could have been done more to have made us miserable, but absolute Desolation? The Aldermen were committed that very Day, and though it cannot be proved, he gave the immediate Counsel, yet he gave the Counsel that hath been proved, and that Day four of them were committed; and this the Aldermen are ready to prove.

Sir Henry Garraway Interrogated, Whether any of the Aldermen were committed?

Garraway Witness.

He Answered, That he shall not need to Answer that; for my Lord will confess it, there were four Aldermen committed, Alderman Rainston, Alderman Somes, Alderman Geere, Alderman Atkins, and it was the same Day they, were there, to give an account of the able Men, and the Loan of 100000 l. Their Answer not giving Satisfaction, they were committed the same Day to several Prisons, by what Order or Direction he knows not.

So Mr. Glyn desired their Lordships, to observe the Words proved against him, That no good will be done on them, till they were laid by the Heels, which my Lord says, produced no effect; yet that very Day four were laid by the Heels, and it rests upon their Lordships Judgements by whose Advice.

And Mr. Strowde concluded, That my Lord of Strafford's Words and Actions agree in this Kindom, and the Miseries of this Kingdom, do agree with his Words and Actions.

And so the 26th Article was concluded.