RECORDS OF PERSECUTIONS
Examples of the Legal Trial Justice Given to Quakers
- the Trial of William Penn, (Founder of Pennsylvania), and William Mead -
The following account is from William Sewel's 1695 History of a People Called Quakers. Sewell was raised a Quaker in Holland, a generation after the below events occurred. He had access to the court records and interviewed many of the eye-witnesses to the events of which he wrote; as such he is considered the definitive historian of the movement.
Now, although persecution was not as bad in London as in other places in the country, yet sometimes even there it was very severe, as may be seen by the example of William Penn and William Mead, who were taken from a meeting and imprisoned, and tried at Old Bailey [the ancient court of England].
The indictment contained, 'That William Penn and William Mead, with several other persons, to the number of three hundred, at Gracechurch-street, [the largest meeting house for London Quakers ] in London, on the 15th of August, with force and arms, had tumultuously assembled together, and that William Penn, by agreement between him and William Mead, had preached there in the public street, which was caused a great concourse and tumult of the people.'
The recorder then asked William Mead, whether he was there? Who answered, that ‘It is a maxim in your own law, nemo tenetur scipsum accusasare, which if it is not true Latin, I am sure it is good English, ‘Since no man is bound to accuse himself, why then do you offer to ensnare me with such a question?' At which time the recorder showed himself so displeased, that he said, ‘Sir, hold your tongue, I did not go about to ensnare you.' Then William Penn said, 'we confess ourselves to be so far from recanting, or declining to vindicate the assembling of ourselves, to preach, pray, or worship the eternal, holy, just God, that we declare to all the world, that we do believe it to be our indispensable duty, to meet incessantly, upon so good an account; nor shall any power upon earth be able to divert us from reverencing and adoring our God who made us.' The sheriff, Richard Brown, said,' You are not here for worshipping God, but for breaking the law. You do yourselves a great deal of wrong in going on in that discourse.' At which point, William Penn answered, 'I affirm I have broken no law, nor am I guilty of the indictment that is laid to my charge; and to the end, the bench, the jury, and myself, with these that hear us, may have a more direct understanding of this procedure, I desire you would let me know by what law it is by which you prosecute me, and upon what law you ground my indictment?' The recorder answered, ‘Upon the common law?' 'Where is,' asked Penn, 'that common law ?' ‘You must not think,' said the recorder ‘that I am able to run up so many years and over so many adjudged cases, which we call common law, to answer your curiosity.' ‘This answer,' replied William Penn, ‘I am sure is very short of my question, for if it is common, it should not be so hard to produce.' The recorder replied, 'Sir, will you plead to your indictment?' ‘Shall I,' answered William Penn, ‘plead to an indictment that has no foundation in law? If it contains the law you say I have broken, why should you decline to produce that law, since it will be impossible for the jury to determine, or agree to bring in their verdict, who have not the law produced, by which they should measure the truth of this indictment, and the guilt or contrary of my fact’. The recorder being angry, said, ‘You are a saucy fellow, speak to the indictment.' William Penn replied; ‘I say, it is my place to speak to matter of law. I am arraigned as prisoner in my liberty, which is next to life itself, is now concerned.'
At this time several judges spoke harshly against the prisoner to try to intimidate him. Penn said, ‘You are many mouths and ears against me, and if I may not be allowed to make the best of my cause, it is hardly fair. I say again, unless you show me and the people the law you base your indictment upon, I shall take it for granted your proceedings are merely arbitrary.' The recorder then replying, said, 'The question is, whether you are guilty of this indictment.' ‘The question,' said William Penn, 'is not whether I am guilty of this indictment, but whether this indictment is legal. It is too general and imperfect an answer, to say it is the common law, unless we know both where, and what it is. For where there is no law, there is no transgression; and that law which is not in being, is so far from being common, that it is no law at all.' The recorder snapped at him with, ' You are an impertinent fellow; will you teach the court what law is? It is the Common Law of England, that which many have studied thirty or forty years to know, and would you have me tell you in a moment.' 'Certainly,' replied Penn, ‘if the common law is so hard to be understood, it is far from being very common; but if the lord Coke in his institutes, is of any consideration, he tells us, that common law is common right; and that common right is the great charter privileges confirmed, 9 Hen. 3. 29. 25 Edw. 1. 1. 9 Edw. 3. 8. Coke's Institutes, 2. p. 56.' The recorder taking no pleasure in that speech, said, 'Sir, you are a troublesome fellow, and it is not for the honor of the court to allow you to go on.' 'I have,' replied William Penn, 'asked but one question, and you have not answered me; though the rights and privileges of every Englishman are conceded in it! 'Well,' said the recorder, ' if I should allow you to ask questions until tomorrow morning, you would be never the wiser.' That is,' said William Penn, ‘according as the answers are.' 'But,' says the recorder, ‘we must not stand to hear you talk all night.' At which point Penn replied, 'I desire no affront to the court, but to be heard in my just plea; and I must plainly tell you, that if you deny me the hearing of that law, which you suggest I have broken, you do at once deny me an acknowledged right, and evidence to the whole world your resolution to sacrifice the privileges of Englishmen, to your sinister and arbitrary designs.' This so enraged the recorder, that he called to the officers, ‘Take him away.' And to the lord mayor he said, ' My lord, if you take not some course with this pestilent fellow, to stop his mouth, we shall not be able to do anything tonight." Then the lord mayor cried, ' Take him away; take him away; turn him into the bail-dock.'
William Penn seeing how force and violence prevailed, said, 'These are but so many vain exclamations; is this justice or true judgment? Must I therefore be taken away because I plead for the fundamental laws of England?' Then addressing himself to the jury, he said, 'However, this I leave upon your consciences who are of the jury, and my sole judges, that if these ancient fundamental laws which relate to liberty and property, and are not limited to particular persuasions in matters of religion, must not be indispensably maintained and observed, who can say he has right to the coat upon his back? Certainly our liberties are openly to be invaded, our wives to be ravished, our children enslaved, our families ruined, and our estates led away in triumph, by every sturdy beggar and malicious informer, as their trophies, by our pretended forfeits for conscience-sake. The Lord of heaven and earth will be judge between us in this matter.' The hearing of this emphatic speech was so troublesome to the recorder, that he cried,' Be silent there.' At which William Penn returned, 'I am not to be silent in a cause in which I am so much concerned, and not only myself but many ten thousand families besides.'
Penn was hauled into the bail-dock, it was William Mead's turn to plead, who spoke the following, 'You men of the jury, I now stand here to answer to an indictment against me which is a bundle of stuff full of lies and falsehoods. For therein I am accused, that I met by force and arms; unlawfully and tumultuously. There was a time was when I had freedom to use a carnal weapon, and then I thought I feared no man; but now I fear the living God, and dare not make use of arms nor hurt any man, nor do I know I demeaned myself as a tumultuous person. I say, I am a peaceable man; therefore it was a very proper question that William Penn demanded in this case, a hearing of the law, on which our indictment is grounded.' To this the recorder said, 'I have made an answer to that already! William Mead then turning his face to the jury, said, ‘You men of the jury, who are my judges, if the recorder will not tell you what makes a riot, a rout, or unlawful assembly; Coke, he that once they called the lord Coke, tells us what makes a riot, a rout, or unlawful assembly. A riot is when three or more are met together to beat a man, or to enter forcibly into another man's land, to cut down his grass, his wood, or break down his fencing! The recorder interrupting him, and scornfully pulling off his hat, said, 'I thank you, sir, that you will tell me what the law is;' and Richard Brown, that inveterate enemy of the Quakers, said, ‘He talks at random, one while an Independent, another while of some other religion, and now a Quaker, and next a Papist.' Mead, not being minded openly to affront this alderman told him this well known Latin verse:
Turpe est doctori cum culps redarguit ipsum
For Brown himself formerly had been an Independent Puritan, though now he had switched to the church of England, and was for the court party. [The King's court was Anglican and very opposed to the Quakers, who were seriously depleting their membership, and threatened the financial strucure of the Chruch of England. The officials of London, including the Lord Mayor and Sheriff Brown, were persecuting the Quakers in order to maintain and gain favor with the officialdom of the King's Court.] But the lord mayor, who it seems was a great friend of Brown's, said to Mead, ‘You deserve to have your tongue cut.' ‘And,' added the recorder, 'if you discourse on this manner, I shall take occasion against you.' To which Mead returned, 'You promised me I should have fair liberty to be heard. Why may I not have the privilege of an Englishman? You should be ashamed of this dealing.' At this the envious recorder said, 'I look upon you to be an enemy to the laws of England, which ought to be observed and kept; nor are you worthy of such privileges as others have.' Mead, seeing well that force and violence prevailed in the courtroom, and that his speaking could not help him, said with a composed mind, 'The Lord be judge between me and you in this matter.'
Upon which he was taken away into the bail-dock, and the recorder gave the jury the following charge: 'You have heard what the indictment is; it is for preaching to the people, and drawing a tumultuous company after them; and Mr. Penn was speaking. If they are not halted, you see they will go on; there are three or four witnesses that have proved this, that he was preaching there; and that Mr. Mead allowed of it. After this, you have heard by substantial witnesses, confirming the charges against them. Now we are upon the matter of fact, which you are to keep to, and observe, as what has been fully sworn, at your peril.' That the recorder spoke thus to the jury in the absence of the prisoners, was indeed irregular; therefore William Penn, who heard this from a distance, spoke with a very raised voice, (that so he might be heard by those on the bench), saying ,'I appeal to the jury, who are my judges, and to this great assembly, whether the proceedings of the court are not most arbitrary, and void of any law, in offering to give the jury their charge in the absence of the prisoners. I say it is directly opposite to, and destructive of the undoubted right of every English prisoner, as Coke in the 2 Inst. on the chap. of Magna Carta, speaks.' The recorder being thus unexpectedly lashed for his extra-judicial procedure, said with a disdainful smile, 'Why, you are present; you do hear, do you not?' To which Penn returned,' No thanks to the court, that commanded me into the bail-dock; and you of the jury take notice, that I have not been heard, neither can you legally leave the court before I have been fully heard, having at least ten or twelve material points to offer, in order to invalidate their indictment.' This plain speaking of William Penn, so enraged the recorder, that he cried, 'Pull that fellow down; pull him down.' For to be heard the better, Penn had climbed up a little by the rails of the bail-dock. Then William Mead said, 'Are these according to the rights and privileges of Englishmen, that we should not be heard, but be placed into the bail-dock while making our defense; and the jury charged in our absence? I say, these are barbarous and unjust proceedings.' The recorder yet more incensed, cried, 'Take them away into the hole; to hear them talk all night as they would, that I think does not become the honor of the court.'
The prisoners were kept in a stinking hole; and the jury was commanded up, [go upstairs to the jury deliberation room], to agree upon their verdict; and after an hour and a half's time, eight came down agreed, but four remained above. The court then sent an officer for them, and they accordingly came down; but the court used many indecent threats to the four that had dissented, and after much menacing language, and a very imperious behavior against the jury, the prisoners being-brought to the bar, the foreman was asked, 'How say you; is William Penn guilty of the matter of which he stands indicted in manner and form, or not guilty?' Foreman: 'Guilty of speaking in Gracechurch-street.' The next question was, ‘Is that all?' Foreman: 'That is all I have in commission.' This answer so displeased the recorder, that he said, ' You had as well say nothing.' And the lord mayor, Starling, said, ‘Was it not an unlawful assembly? You mean he was speaking to a tumult of people there?' To which the foreman returned, 'My lord, this was all I had in commission.' Some of the jury seemed now to buckle to the questions of the court; but others opposed their leading questions, and said they allowed of no such word as an unlawful assembly in their verdict. Now some of the judges on the bench took occasion to vilify them with opprobrious language. And because the court would not dismiss the jury before they gave a more satisfactory verdict, they called for pen, ink, and paper, and so went up again; and after half an hour returning, delivered the following verdict in writing :
This verdict the mayor and recorder resented at so greatly, that they exceeded the bounds of all moderation and civility; and the recorder said, 'Gentlemen, you shall not be dismissed until we have a verdict that the court will accept; and you shall be locked up, without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco; you shall not think thus to abuse the court; we will have a verdict by the help of God, or you shall starve for it.'
The court now being resolved to send the prisoners to their jail, and the jury to their chamber, Penn spoke as follows: 'The agreement of twelve men is a verdict in law, and such a one being given by the jury, I require the clerk of the peace to record it, as he will answer it at his peril. And if the jury brings in another verdict contradictory to this, I affirm they are perjured men in law.' And looking upon the jury, he said, 'You are Englishmen, mind your privilege; give not away your right.' To which E. Bushel, one of them, returned, 'Nor will we ever do it.' Another of the jurymen pleaded indisposition of body, and therefore desired to be dismissed; but the lord mayor said, ‘You are as strong as any of them; starve them, and hold your principles! To which the recorder added, ‘Gentlemen, you must be content with your hard fate; let your patience overcome it; for the court is resolved to have a verdict, and have that verdict before you can be dismissed.' And though the jurymen said, 'We are agreed, we are agreed, we are agreed,' yet the court swore several persons, to keep the jury all night, without meat, drink, fire, or any other accommodation; no, they had not so much as a chamber-pot, [no bathrooms in this age, only a pot] though requested. Thus force and violence prevailed. The next day, though it was the first of the week, by the world called Sunday, the court sat again; and the prisoners were brought to the bar, the jury was called in, and their foreman was asked, 'Is William Penn guilty of the matter of which he stands indicted, in manner and form before said, or not guilty?' To which he answered as before, 'William Penn is guilty of speaking in Gracechurch-street.' The lord mayor then asking, 'to an unlawful assembly?' Edward Bushel answered, 'No, my lord, we give no other verdict than what we gave last night; we have no other verdict to give.' ‘You are,' returned the lord mayor, 'a factious fellow. I will take a course with you.' 'I have,' said Bushel, 'done according to my conscience.' This so displeased the mayor, that he said, 'That conscience of yours would cut my throat; but I will cut yours so soon as I can.' To which the recorder added, 'He has inspired the jury; he has the spirit of divination; I think I feel him. I will have a positive verdict, or you shall starve for it.'
Then William Penn said, 'I desire to ask the recorder one question: do you allow of the verdict given of William Mead?' to which the recorder answered, ‘It cannot be a verdict, because you are indicted for a conspiracy; and one being found not guilty, and not the other, it cannot be a verdict.' This made Penn say, 'If not guilty be not a verdict, then you make of the jury and Magna Carta but a mere nose-of-wax.' 'How?' asked William Mead then, ‘Is not guilty a verdict ?' 'No,’ said the recorder, ‘It is no verdict.' ‘To which Penn replied, ' I affirm that the consent of a jury is a verdict in law; and if William Mead is not guilty; it consequently follows, that I am clear, since you have indicted us of conspiracy, and I could not possibly conspire alone.' After this, the court spoke to the jury, and caused them to go up again, if possible to extort another verdict from them. Then the jury being called, and asked by the clerk, "What do you say, is William Penn guilty of the matter of which he stands indicted, in manner and form before said, or not guilty?' The foreman answered, ‘Guilty of speaking in Gracechurch-street.' To which the recorder returned, ‘What is this to the purpose? I say I will have a verdict.' And speaking to E. Bushel, said, ‘You are a factious fellow; I will set a mark upon you; and while I have anything to do in the city, I will have all eye upon you.' To this the mayor added, ‘Have you no more wit than to be led by such a pitiful fellow. I will cut his nose.'
Thus the court endeavored to intimidate the jury; and therefore it was not without very good reason that William Penn said, 'It is intolerable that my jury should be thus menaced. Is this according to the fundamental laws? Are not they my proper judges by the great charter of England? What hope is there of ever having justice done, when juries are threatened, and their verdict is rejected? I am concerned to speak, and grieved to see such arbitrary proceedings. Did not the lieutenant of the tower render one of them worse than a felon. And do you not plainly seek to condemn such for factious fellows, who answer not your ends? Unhappy are those juries, who are threatened to be fined, starved, and ruined, if in their verdicts they don’t contradict their consciences.' These plain expressions so troubled the recorder, that he said to the lord mayor, 'My lord, you must take a course with this fellow.' And then the mayor cried, 'Stop his mouth; jailer, bring chains, and stake him to the ground.' To which William Penn said, 'Do your pleasure; I don't fear your chains.' The recorder then ventured to say, 'Till now I never understood the reason the policy and prudence of the Spaniards in allowing the Inquisition among them. And certainly it never will be well with us, until something like the Spanish Inquisition is instituted in England.' The jury was required to find another verdict, and they saying they would not change their verdict already given, the recorder grew so angry, that he said, ‘Gentlemen, we shall not be at this impasse always with you; you will find that at the next session of parliament there will be a law made, that those who will not conform, shall not have the protection of the law. Your verdict is nothing; you play upon the court. I say, you shall go together, and bring in another verdict, or you shall starve, and I will have you carted about the city, as in Edward the Third's time.'
The jury refusing to give in another verdict, since they had all agreed to that which they had given, and showing themselves unwilling to go up again, the lord mayor told the sheriff to make them go. The sheriff then coming off his seat, said, 'Come, gentlemen, you must go up; you see I am commanded to make you go.' Upon which the jury went up, and several were sworn to keep them without any accommodation as before said, until they brought in their verdict: and the prisoners were remanded to Newgate, where they remaining until next morning were then brought to the court again: and being set to the bar, and the jury called, and asked, ' Is William Penn guilty of the matter of which he stands indicted in manner and form, guilty or not guilty?' The foreman answered, ‘You have there read in writing already our verdict, and our hands subscribed.' Now the clerk who had that paper, was by the recorder stopped from reading it; and it was said by the court, that paper was no verdict. Then the clerk asked, ‘How say you? Is William Penn guilty, or not guilty?' To which the foreman answered, ' Not guilty.' The same question being put concerning William Mead, the foreman answered likewise, ' Not guilty.' The jury then being asked by the clerk, whether they said so all, they answered, ' We do so! The bench still unsatisfied, commanded that every person should distinctly answer to their names, and give in their verdict, which they unanimously did, in saying, ' Not guilty.' The recorder, who could not bear this, said, ‘I am sorry, gentlemen, you have followed your own judgments and opinions, rather than the good and wholesome advice which was given you. God keep my life out of your hands: but for this the court fines you forty marks a man, and imprisonment until paid.'William Penn then stepping up towards the bench, said, ‘I demand my liberty, being freed by the jury.' ‘No,' said the lord mayor, 'you are in for your fines.' Fines!' returned Penn, ‘for what ?' 'For contempt of the court,' said the lord mayor. ‘I ask,' replied Penn, ' if it is according to the fundamental laws of England, that any Englishman should be fined or arbitrarily punished, but by the judgment of his peers or jury? Since it expressly contradicts the 14th and 29th chapters of the great charter of England, which say, ‘No freeman ought to be arbitrarily punished but by the oath of good and lawful men of the vicinage.' Instead of answering to this question, the recorder cried, ‘Take him away, take him away; take him out of the court.' On which William Penn said, 'I can never urge the fundamental laws of England, but you cry, take him away, take him away. But it is no wonder, since the Spanish Inquisition has so great a place in the recorder's heart. God Almighty, who is just, will judge you for all these things.' William Penn was not allowed to speak any more, but he and William Mead were hauled to the bail-dock, and there sent to Newgate, and so was all their jury.
The case of the courageous jurymen, (Thomas Vere, Edward Bushell, and ten others), was reviewed on a Writ of Habeus Corpus and England's Chief Justice Vaughan delivered the opinion of the court which established The Right to Juries to give their verdicts according to their convictions or conscience. In effect, this established the legal precedent of jury nullification, which still exists in USA and English courts; although in the USA, the judge often questions potential jurors of their willingness to forego disagreement with the law, (resulting in nullification), excusing any potential jurors who do, regardless of conscience.
Site Editor's Comment : After being freed, both Penn and Mead continued to serve the Lord magnificently for many years. Penn published a book about this trial, which was widely read in England; and which resulted in legal reform and punishment of the officials of the court. Penn's eloquence, (as we also see demonstrated in his excellent Introduction to Fox's Journal), convinced and motivated the jury to defy the perfidious judges, but was unfortunately not typical of Quaker trials; the norm was to quickly convict them with juries that were stacked with Quaker haters, sometimes even with the same soldiers that had arrested them. However, Penn's and Meads's trial illustrates the depth of depravity that existed in the Protestant officials of the day, who were motivated by the ruling church authorities' desire to eradicate the Quakers.)
- How Failure to Swear was Used : (Sewel continues)
I have inserted this indictment, that the reader may see not only the manner of proceeding, but also with what black and heinous colors the religious meetings of those called Quakers, were represented. This indictment being read, the prisoners desired that they might be tried by the late act of parliament against conventicles. But it was answered, they might try them by what they would, that was in force. Then the prisoners desired that the statute, (namely, the 35th of Elizabeth), might be read. This was done but in part, and it was said to the clerk, it was enough. The prisoners said then, that that act was made in the time of ignorance, when the people were but newly stepped out of popery; and they showed also how unjustly they were dealt with. Then being required to plead guilty, or not guilty, to the indictment, some who were not very forward to answer, were hauled out of the court, as taken pro confessis; and so sent back to prison. The rest, being twenty-two in number, pleaded not guilty. Then the jurymen were called, and when they had excepted against one, the judge would not allow it, because he did not like the reason they gave, that is, that they saw envy, prejudice, and a vain deportment in him. Another was excepted against, because he was heard to say, that he hoped before long, that the Quakers should be arraigned at the bar, and be banished to some land, where there were nothing but bears. At this the court burst out into a laughter: yet the exception was admitted, and the man put by. The prisoners not thinking it convenient to make more exceptions, the jury was sworn; then two witnesses were called, who testified at most, that in such a place they took such persons met together, whose names were specified in writing. Then the prisoners told the jury, take heed how they did sport or dally with holy things, and that those things, which concerned the conscience, were holy things. And as a man was not to sport with the health or illness of his neighbor, so he was not to sport with the liberty or the banishment of his neighbor. And where they were accused of being wicked, dangerous, and seditious sectaries, that was not true; for they were not wicked, but such as tried to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the world; concerning the truth of which, they appealed to themselves. Neither were they seditious, but peaceable. And where they were charged for not coming to hear the common prayer, this was false; for the service book was not quite printed several weeks after the said 29th of June; so that they could not be charged of neglecting to hear that which was not to be heard read any where. This puzzled the court; and other disturbing reasons were also given by the prisoners, some of whom were men of learning; insomuch that the judge was not able to answer the objections, except by confusion and evasion. At length the jury went out to consult, and one of them was heard to say, as they were going up stairs, ‘Here is a deed to do indeed, to condemn a company of innocent men.'
After some time, the jury coming again, and being asked whether the prisoners at the bar were guilty or not guilty, they said they were guilty in part, and not guilty in part. But this verdict did not please the judge. The jury then going out again, and prevailing upon one another, quickly returned, and declared the prisoners guilty, according to the form of the indictment. At this point the judge Onslow pronounced sentence, namely, ‘That they should return to prison again, and lie there three months without bail; and if they did not make submission according as the law directed, either at or before the end of the before said three months, that then they should abjure the realm: but in case they refused to make abjuration, or after abjuration made, should forbear to depart the realm within the time limited, or should return again without license, they should be proceeded against as felons.
Just before sentence given, the judge said to one of the prisoners, there was a way to escape the penalty, namely, Submission. And being asked, what submission was, the judge answered, ‘To come to common prayer, and refrain these meetings.’ The prisoners giving reasons for refusal of both, the judge said, ' Then you must abjure the land.' 'Abjure,' returned the prisoners, 'is forswear.' To which one of the justices said laughingly, ‘And you cannot swear at all.' Just as if it were but jest, thus to treat religious men. But they had signified already to the jury, that they must rather die than do so. How long they were kept prisoners, and how released, I could not learn; but this I know, that many in the like cases have been long kept in jail, until sometimes they were set at liberty by the king’s proclamation.
- John Crook's Trial for failure to take the Oath of Allegiance :
By John Crook's trial, we may judge, as an example, of other trials of the Quakers. J. Crook was brought to the sessions house in the Old Bailey, with two of his friends, name, Isaac Gray, physician, and John Bolton, goldsmith; one of the prisoners was called to the bar, and then the Chief Judge began the trial:
Chief Judge. What meeting was that you were at?
Prisoner. I desire to be heard; where is my accuser?
Chief Judge. Your tongue is not your own, and you must not have liberty to speak what you wish.
Prisoner: I speak in the presence and fear of the everlasting God, that my tongue is not my own, for it is the Lord's, and to be disposed of according to his pleasure, and not to speak my own words; and therefore I desire to be heard: I have been so long in prison--(then he was interrupted by the judge).
Judge. Leave your canting; (and then the Judge commanded him to be taken away, which he was accordingly by the jailer. This was the substance of what the prisoner before said spoke the first time.)
Judge. Call John Crook to the bar; (which the crier did accordingly, he being among the felons as before said.)
Judge. When did you take the oath of allegiance?
John Crook. I desire to be heard.
Judge. Answer to the question, and you shall be heard.
John Crook. I have been about six weeks in prison, and am I now called to accuse myself! For the answering to this question in the negative, is to accuse myself, which you ought not to put me upon; for there are legal statutes to forbid such. I am an Englishman, and by the law of England I ought not to be taken, nor imprisoned, nor dispossessed of my freehold, nor called in question, nor put to answer, but according to the law of the land; which I challenge as my birthright, on my own behalf, and all that hear me this day; (or words to this purpose). I stand here at this bar as a delinquent, and do desire that my accuser may he brought forth to accuse me for my delinquency, and then I shall answer to my charge, if I am guilty of any.
Chief Judge. You are here demanded to take the oath of allegiance, and when you have done that, then you shall be heard about the other; for we have power to tender it to any man.
John Crook. Not to me upon this occasion, in this place; for I am brought here as an offender already, and not to be made an offender here, or no one should be obliged to betray himself or to accuse myself; for I am an Englishman, as I have said to you, and challenge the benefit of the laws of England; for by them is a better inheritance derived to me as an Englishman, than that which I received from my parents: for by the former the latter is preserved; and this is Been in the 29th chapter of Magna Carta, and the petition of right, mentioned in the third of Car. I. and in other good laws of England; and therefore I desire the benefit and observance of them; and you that are judges upon the bench, ought to be my counsel, and not my accusers, but to inform me of the benefit of those laws; and wherein I am ignorant, you ought to inform me, that I may not suffer through my own ignorance of those advantages, which the laws of England afford me as an Englishman.
(Reader, I here give you a brief account of my taking and imprisoning, that you may the better judge what justice I had from the court before said; which is as follows:
Chief Judge. We sit here to do justice, and are upon our oaths; and we are to tell you what is law, and not you us; therefore, sirrah, you are too bold.
John Crook. "Sirrah" is not a word becoming a judge, for I am no felon, neither ought you to menace the prisoner at the bar. For I stand here arraigned as for my life and liberty, and the preservation of my wife and children, and outward estate, (they being now at the stake;) therefore you ought to hear me to the full, what I can say in my own defense, according to law, and that in its season, as it is given me to speak. Therefore I hope the court will bear with me, if I am bold to assert my liberty, as an Englishman, and as a Christian; and if I speak loud, it is my zeal for the Truth, and for the name of the Lord; and my innocence makes me bold-
Judge. (Interrupting John Crook;) It is an evil zeal.
John Crook. No. I am bold in the name of the Lord God Almighty, the everlasting Jehovah, to assert the Truth, and stand as a witness for it: Let my accuser be brought forth, and I am ready to answer any court of justice-
(Then the judge interrupted me, saying sirrah, with some other words I do not remember. But I answered,
John Crook. You are not to threaten me, neither are those menaces fit for the mouth of a judge; for the safety of the prisoner depends upon the indifference of the court; and you ought not to behave yourselves as parties, seeking all advantage against the prisoner, but not heeding anything that may make for his clearing or advantage.' (The judge again interrupted me, saying :)
Judge. Sirrah, you are to take the oath, and here we tender it you, (saying, read it).
John Crook. Let me see my accuser, that I may know for what cause I have been six weeks imprisoned, and do not put me to accuse myself by asking me questions; but either let my accuser come forth, or otherwise let me be discharged by proclamation, as you ought to do - (Here I was interrupted again.)
Judge Twisden. We take no notice of your being here otherwise than of a straggler, or as any other person, or of the people that are here this day; for we may tender the oath to any man. And another judge spoke to the like purpose.
John Crook. I am here at your bar as a prisoner restrained of my liberty, and do question whether you ought in justice to tender me the oath on the account I am now brought before you, because I am supposed to be an offender; or else why have I been six weeks in prison already. Let me be cleared of my imprisonment, and then I shall answer to what is charged against me, and to the question now propounded; for I am a lover of justice with all my soul, and am well known by my neighbors, where I have lived, to keep a conscience void of offence, both towards God and towards man.
Judge. Sirrah, leave your canting.
John Crook. Is this canting, to speak the words of the scripture?
Judge. It is canting in your mouth, though they are Paul's words.
John Crook. I speak the words of the Scripture, and it is not canting, though I speak them; but they are words of truth and soberness in my mouth, they being witnessed by me, and fulfilled in me.
Judge. We do ask you again whether you will take the oath of allegiance? It is but a short question, you may answer if you will.
John Crook. By what law have you power to tender it? (Then, after some consultation together by whispering, they called for the statute book, and turning over the leaves, they answered:)
John Crook. I desire that statute may be read for I have consulted itand do not understand that you have power by that statute to tender me the oath, being here before you in this place, upon this occasion, as a delinquent already; and therefore I desire the judgment of the court in this case, and that the statute may be read. (Then they took the statute-book, and consulted together upon it, and one said, ‘We are the judges of this land, and do better understand our power than you do, and we do judge we may lawfully do it.")
John Crook. Is this the judgment of the court?
John Crook. I desire the statute to be read that empowers you to tender the oath to me upon this occasion in this place; for, Vox audita perit, sed litera scripta manet, therefore let me hear it read.
Judge. Hear me.
John Crook. I am as willing to hear as to speak.
Judge. Then hear me: you are here required to take the oath by the court, and I will inform you what the penalty will be, in case you refuse; for your first denial shall be recorded, and then it shall be tendered to you again at the end of the sessions; and upon the second refusal you run into a premunire, which is the forfeiture of all your estate, (if you have any), and imprisonment,
John Crook. It is justice I stand for; let me have justice, in bringing my accuser face to face, as by law you ought to do, I standing at your bar as a delinquent; and when that is done, I will answer to what can be charged against me, as also to the question; until then, I shall give no other answer than I have already done - at least at present.
(Then there was a cry in the court, take him away, which occasioned a great interruption; and J. Crook spoke to this purpose, saying, ‘Mind the fear of the Lord God, that you may come to the knowledge of his will, and do justice; and take heed of oppressing the innocent, for the Lord God of heaven and earth will assuredly plead their cause: and for my part, I desire not the hurt of one of the hairs of your beads; but let God's wisdom guide you.’ These words he spoke at the bar, and as he was carried away.)
On the sixth day of the week, in the forenoon following, the court being seated, John Crook was called to the bar.
Judge. Friend Crook, we have given you time to consider of what was said yesterday to you by the court, hoping you may have better considered of it by this time; therefore, without any more words, will you take the oath? And called to the clerk, and told him read it.
John Crook. I did not, neither do I deny allegiance, but do desire to know the cause of my so long imprisonment; for, as I said, I stand at your bar as a delinquent, and am brought here by force, contrary to the law; therefore, let me see my accuser, or else free me by proclamation, as I ought to be, if none can accuse me; for the law is grounded upon right reason, and whatsoever is contrary to right reason, is contrary to Jaw; and therefore if no accuser appear, you ought to acquit me first, and then I shall answer, as I have said, if any new matter appear; otherwise it is of force, and that our law abhors, and you ought not to take notice of my so being before you: for what is not legally so, is not so; and therefore I am in the condition, as if I were not before you: and therefore it cannot be supposed, in right reason, that you have now power, at this time, and in this place, legally to tender me the oath.
Judge. Read the oath to him; and so the clerk began to read.
John Crook. I desire justice, according to the laws of England; for you ought first to convict me, concerning the cause of my so long imprisonment; for you are to proceed according to laws already made, and not to make laws, for you ought to be ministers of the law.
Judge. You are a saucy and an impudent fellow: will you tell us what is law, or our duties? Then said he to the clerk, read on; and when the clerk had done reading,
John Crook. said, read the preface to the act; I say again, read the title and preamble to the act; for titles to laws are claves legum, as keys to open, the law; for by their titles, laws are understood and known, as men by their faces. Then the judges would have interrupted me, but I said as follows: "if you will not hear me, nor do me justice, I must appeal to the Lord God of heaven and earth, who is judge of quick and dead; before whom we must all appear, to give an account of the deeds done in the body; for he will judge between you and me this day, whether you have done me justice or not."
These words following, (or the like), I spoke as going from the bar being pulled away, namely, ‘Mind the fear of the Lord God, that you may do justice, lest you perish in his wrath.’
For sometimes the court cried, pull him away, and then said, bring him again; and thus they did several times, like men in confusion and disorder.
The same day, in the afternoon, silence being made, John Crook, was called to the bar, before the judges and justices before said, the indictment being read,
John Crook. I desire to speak a few words in humility and soberness, in regard that my estate and liberty lie at stake; and am like to be a precedent for many more; therefore I hope the court will not deny me the right and benefit of the law, as being an Englishman. I have some reason, before I speak any thing to the indictment, to demand and tell you, that I desire to know my accusers; I have been kept these six weeks in prison, and know not, nor have I seen the faces of them.
Judge. We shall afford you the right of the law, as an Englishman. God forbid you should be denied it; but you must answer first, guilty, or not guilty, so that in your trial you may have a fair hearing and pleading; but if you go on as you do, (and will not answer guilty, or not guilty), you will run yourself into a premunire, and then you lose the benefit of the law, and expose yourself, body and estate, to great hazards; and whatever violence is offered to your person or estate, you are out of the king's protection, and lose the benefit of the law; and all this by your not answering, (guilty, or not guilty). If you plead not guilty, you may be heard.
John Crook. It is recorded in the statutes of the 28 Edw. 3. & 3. and 42 Edw. 3. & 3. in these words, 'No man is to be taken, or imprisoned, or be put to answer, without presentment before justices, or matter of record, or by due process, or writ original, according to the old law of the land; and if anything from henceforth be done to the contrary, it shall be void in law, and held as error.' And also in the 25th of Edw. 1. 2. and the 3 Car. 1. and the 29 cap. Mag. Chart. C 'No freeman shall be taken and imprisoned but by the law of the Land:' these words, (the law of the Land), are explained by the statute of 37 Edw. 3. 8. to be, without due process of law; and if any judgments are given contrary to Mag. Chart. they are void, 20 Edw. 1.2.
Judge. Mr. Crook, you are out of the way, and do not understand the law, though you adore the statute law so much, yet you do not understand it.
John Crook. I would have you tell me the right way.
Judge. Mr. Crook, hear me; you must say, guilty, or not guilty; if you plead not guilty, you shall be heard, and know how far the law favors you. And the next thing is, there is no circumstance whatsoever that is the cause of your imprisonment, that you question, but you have as a subject, your remedies, if you will go this way, and waive other things, and answer guilty, or not guilty; and what the law affords you, you shall have, if you do what the law requires you; or else you will lose the benefit of the law, and be out of the king's protection.
John Crook. Observe how the judge would draw me into a snare, that is: By first pleading, (guilty, or not guilty), and when I have done so, he and his brethren intend suddenly to put me, (as an outlawed person), out of the king's protection; and how then can I have remedy for my false imprisonment? Therefore first clear me, (or condemn me), from my false imprisonment, while I am in a capacity to have the benefit of the law, and not to outlaw me for an offence created by yourselves; and then, to stop my mouth, you tell me, that if I have been wronged, or false imprisoned, I may have my remedy afterwards; this is to entrap me, and contrary to both law and justice, etc.
Judge. You must plead guilty, or not guilty.
John Crook. I do desire in humility and meekness to say, I shall not; I dare not betray the honesty of my cause, and the honest ones of this nation, whose liberty I stand for, as well as my own; as I have cause to think I shall, if I plead to the present indictment, before I see the faces of my accusers; for truly, I am not satisfied in my judgment and conscience, that I ought to plead to a created offence by you, before I be first acquitted of the cause of my being brought prisoner to your bar, and therefore it sticks with me to urge this further, namely: That I may see my accusers (interruption).
Judge. The most arrant thief may say, he is not satisfied in his conscience.
John Crook. My case is not theirs, yet they have their accusers; and may not I call for mine? And therefore call for them, for you ought to do so: as Christ said to the woman, "Woman, where are your accusers?" So you ought to say to me,"Man, where are your accusers ?" --Interruption.
Judge. Your indictment is your accuser, and the grand jury have found you guilty because you did not swear. What say you, Mr. Crook, are you guilty, or not guilty? If you will not answer, or what you have said, be taken for your answer, as I told you before, you lose the benefit of the law; and what I tell you, is for your good.
John Crook. What is for good, I hope I shall take it so.
Judge. If you will not answer, you run yourself into a premunire; and you will lose the benefit of the law, and the king's protection, unless you plead guilty, or not guilty.
John Crook. I stand as brought forcibly and violently here. Neither had I been here but by a violent action; and that you should take no notice of it, seems strange to me; and not only so, but that you should hasten me so fast into a course, that I should not be able any ways to help myself by reason of your hasty and fast proceedings against me, to put me out of the king's protection, and the benefit of all law. Was ever the like known, or heard of, in a court of justice?
Judge. Friend, this not here in question, whether you are unjustly brought here, or not. Do you question that by law, but not disable yourself to take advantage by the law. If brought by a wrong hand, you have a plea against them; but you must first answer guilty, or not guilty.
John Crook. How can I help myself when you have outlawed me? Therefore let proclamation be made in the court, that I was brought by force here, and let me stand cleared by proclamation, as you ought to do; for you are to determine by law what is just, and not to do what seems good in your own eyes (here I was interrupted again, but might have spoken justice Crook's words in Hampden's case, who said,
That we who are judges speak upon our oaths, and therefore must deliver our judgments according to our consciences; and the fault will lie upon us, if it be illegal, and we deliver it for law; and further said, we that are judges must not give our judgments according to policy, or rules of state, nor conveniences, but only according to law. These were his words, which I might have spoken; but was interrupted,
Judge. What, though no man tendered the oath to you, when you were committed, (as you say), it being now tendered to you; from the time you refused it, being tendered to you by a lawful authority, you refusing, are indicted. We look not upon what you are here for; but here if to determine by law what it just finding you, we tender you the oath; and you refusing it, your imprisonment is now just, and according to law. (Something omitted which I spoke afterwards).
John Crook. How did I come here? If you do know not, I have told you it is by force and violence, which our law altogether condemns; and therefore I not being legally before you, am not before you; for what is not legally so, is not so; and I not being legally brought to your bar, you ought not to take notice of my being here.
Judge. No, no, you are mistaken; so you may say of all the people gazing here, they not being legally here, are not here. I tell you, a man being brought by force here, we may tender him the oath; and if he takes it not, he may be committed to prison. Authority has given us the power, and the statute-law has given us authority to tender the oath to any person, and so have we tendered it to you; and for your not taking it, you are indicted by the grand jury. Answer the accusation, or confute the indictment; you must do the one or the other; answer, guilty or not guilty.
Here I was interrupted, but might have said, that the people that were spectators, beholding and hearing the trials, are not to be called gazers, as the judge terms them; because it is their liberty and privilege, as they are Englishmen, and the law of England allows the same; so that they are not to be termed gazers upon this account, but are legally in that place, to hear trials, and see justice done, and might have spoken, (if occasion had been), anything in the prisoner's defense, tending to clear up the matter in difference, and the court must have heard them or him: and this as a stander-by, or a friend of the court so said Crook.
John Crook. The law is built upon right reason, or right reason is the law; and whatever is contrary to right reason, is contrary to law; the reason of the law, being the law itself. I am no lawyer, and my knowledge of it is but little, yet I have had a love to it for that reason I have found in it, and have spent some leisure hours in the reading thereof; and the law is that which I honor, and is good in its place; many laws being just and good, (not all), but, I say, a great part of them, or much of them; and it is not my intention in the least to disparage, or derogate from them.
Judge. Mr. Crook, you have been told, you must plead guilty or not guilty, or else you run yourself into a premunire; do not be your own enemy, nor be so obstinate.
John Crook. I would not stand obstinately before you, neither am I so; if you understand it otherwise, it is a mistake indeed.
Judge. Will you speak to the indictment, and then you may plead? If you will not answer guilty, or not guilty, we will record it, and Judgment shall go against you. Clerk, enter it.
Recorder. Mr. Crook, if you will answer, you may plead for yourself; or will you take the oath? The court takes no notice how you came here; what say you? Will you answer? For a man may be brought out of Smithfield by head and shoulders, and the oath tendered to him, and may be committed, without taking notice how he came here.
John Crook. That kind of proceeding is not only unjust, but unreasonable also--(here was some interruption), and against the laws before said, which say, ' No man shall be taken or imprisoned but by warrant, or due process of law.' So that this speech of the recorder's, savors more of passion than justice; and cruelty, than due observance of law; for every forcible restraint of a man's liberty, is an imprisonment in law. Besides, this kind of practice, to take men by force, and imprison them, and then ask them questions, the answering of which makes them guilty, is not only unrighteous in itself, but against law; and makes one evil act the ground of another; and one injury offered to one, the foundation of another; and this is my case this day. (Interruption).
Judge. Mr. Crook you must not be your own judge; we are your judges; but for our parts we will not wrong you; will you answer, guilty or not guilty? If not, you will run yourself into a premunire unavoidably, and then you know what I told you would follow; for we take no notice how you came here, but finding you here, we tender you the oath.
John Crook. Then it seems you make the law a design to ensnare me, or as a nose-of-wax, or what you please. Well, I shall leave my cause with the Lord God, who will plead for me in righteousness. But suppose I do take the oath (now), at this time, you may call me again, (tomorrow), and make a new tender; or others may call me before them.
Judge. Yes, if there be new matter; or if there fall out any emergent occasion whereby you may minister on your part new occasion. Mr. Crook, will you swear?
John Crook. If I do take it today, it may be tendered me again tomorrow, and so next day, ad infinitum, whereby a great part of my time may be spent and taken up, in taking the oath and swearing.
Judge. When you have (once) sworn, you may not be put upon it again, except you minister occasion on your part.
John Crook. Is this the judgment of the court, that the oath (once) taken by me is sufficient, and ought not to be tendered a second time, without new matter ministered on my part?
Judge. Yes; you making it appear you have (once) taken it.
John Crook. Is this the judgment of the whole court? For I would not do anything rashly.
Judges, Yes, it is the judgment of the court, (To which they all standing up, said, Yes).
John Crook. Then it seems there must be some new occasion ministered by me after I have (once) taken it, or it ought not to be tendered to me the second time.
John Crook. Then by the judgment of this court, if I may make it appear that I have taken the oath (once) and I have ministered no new matter on my part, whereby I can be justly charged with the breach of it, then it ought not to be tendered to me the second time: but I am the man that have taken it, (once) being a freeman of the city of London, when I was made free; witness the records in Guildhall, which I may produce, and no new matter appearing to you on my part; if there do, let me know it; if not, you ought not, by your own judgment, to tender me it the second time; for “that which does not appear, is to be judged as that which does not exist.” (Interrupted by the shout of the court, when these last words might have been spoken).
Judge. Mr. Crook, you are mistaken, you must not think to surprise the court with criticisms, nor draw false conclusions from our judgments.
John Crook. If this is not a natural conclusion from the judgment of the court, let right reason judge; and if you recede from your own judgments in the same breath, (as it were), given even now, what justice can I expect from you? For, if you will not be just to yourselves, and your own judgments, how can I expect you should be just to me?
Judge. Mr. Crook, if you have taken it, if there be a new emergency, you are to take it again; as for instance, the king has been out of England, and now is come in again; there be many that have taken it twenty, thirty, or forty years since, yet this new emergency requires it again; and although you have taken it, yet you must not make it appear before you answer guilty, or not guilty; therefore do not wrong yourself, and prejudice yourself and family. Do you think that every fellow that comes here shall argue as you do? We have no more to do, but to know of you, whether you will answer (guilty, or not guilty), or take the oath, and then you shall be freed from the indictment. If you will not plead, clerk, record it. What do you say? Are you guilty, or not guilty?
John Crook. Will you not stand to your own judgments? Did you not say, even now, that if I had (once) taken the oath, it ought not to be tendered to me the second time, except I administered new matter on my part that I have not kept it. But no such matter appearing, you ought not to tender it to me the second time, by your own confession, much less to indict me for refusal.
Judge. If you will not plead, we will record it, and judgment shall be given against you. Therefore say, guilty, or not guilty, or else we will record it, (The clerk beginning to record it).
John Crook. Before I answer, I demand a copy of my indictment; or I have heard it affirmed by counsel learned in the law, that if I plead before I have a copy, or have made my exceptions, my exceptions afterward against the indictment will be made void. Therefore I desire a copy of the indictment.
Judge. He that said so, deserves not the name of a counsel; for the law is, you must first answer, and then you shall have a copy. Will you plead guilty or not guilty?
John Crook. If my pleading guilty or not guilty, will not deprive me of the benefit of quashing the indictment, for insufficiency, or other exceptions that I may make against it, I shall speak to it.
Judge. No, it will not. Will you answer, guilty or not guilty. If you plead not, the indictment will be found against you. Will you answer? We will stay no longer.
John Crook. I am upon the point. Will not my pleading deprive me of the benefit of the law? For I am tender in that respect, because it is not my own case only, but may be the case of thousands more; therefore I would do nothing that might prejudice others, or myself, as a Christian, or as an Englishman.
Judge. Understand yourself (but we will not make a bargain with you, said another judge), you shall have the right done you as all Englishman, the way is to answer, guilty or not guilty. If you plead, and find the indictment not good, you may have your remedy; answer, guilty or not guilty?
John Crook. As to the indictment it is very large, and seems to be confused, and made up of some things true, and some things false; my answer therefore is, what is true in the indictment I will not deny, because I make conscience of what I say, and therefore, of what is true, I confess myself guilty, but what is false, I am not guilty of.
Judge. That is not sufficient, either answer guilty, or not guilty, or judgment will be given against you.
John Crook. I will speak the truth, as before the Lord, as all along I have endeavored to do; I am not guilty of that which is false, contained in the indictment, which is the substance thereof.
Judge. No more ado; the form is nothing, guilty or not?
John Crook. I must not wrong my conscience, I am not guilty of what is false, as I said before; what is true, I am guilty of; what is not true, I am not guilty of that; which is the substance thereof as I said before.
Recorder. It is enough, and shall serve turn. Enter that, clerk.
The seventh day of the week, called Saturday. Silence being made, John Crook was called to the bar. The clerk of the sessions read something concerning the jury, which was impaneled on purpose, (as we said), the jury being discharged who were eye-witnesses of what passed between us and the court; and this jury, were several of them soldiers, some of whom did by violence and force pull and haul Friends out of their meetings, and some of us out of our houses; and these were of the jury by whom we were to be tried. The clerk reading the indictment, (as I remember).
John Crook. I desire to be heard a few words, which are these, that we may have liberty until the next quarter sessions to traverse the indictment, it being long and in Latin, and like to be a precedent; and I hope I need not press it; because I understood that you promised, and (especially the recorder, who answered, when it was desired, you shall), that we should have counsel also, the which we cannot be expected to have had the benefit of as yet, the time being so short, and we kept prisoners, that we could not go forth to advise with counsel, neither could we tell how to get them to us; we having no copy of the indictment before this morning; and because so suddenly hurried down to the sessions, we cannot reasonably be supposed to be provided, (as to matter of law), to make our defense.
Judge. We have given you time enough, and you shall have no more; for we will try you at this time, therefore swear the jury.
John Crook. I desire we may have justice, and that we may not be surprised in our trial, but that we may have time until the next quarter sessions, our indictment being in Latin, and so large as it is; and this is but that which is reasonable, and is the practice of other courts: for, if it be but an action above forty shillings, it is not ordinarily ended under two or three terms. And in the quarter sessions, if one be indicted for a trespass, if it be but to the value of five shillings, he shall have liberty to enter his traverse, and upon security given to prosecute, he shall have liberty until the next sessions, which is the ordinary practice: which liberty we desire, and we hope it is so reasonable, that it will not be denied, especially upon this occasion, we being like. to be made a precedent: and courts of justice have used to be especially careful in making of precedents; for we are not provided, according to law, to make our defense at this time; and therefore if we be put upon it, it will be a surprise.
Judge. There is no great matter of law in the case; it is only matter of fact, whether you have refused to take the oath or not; that is the point in issue; and what law can arise here.
Recorder. Mr. Crook, the keeper of the prison was spoken to, to tell you, that we intended to try you this day, and therefore ordered him that counsel might come to you if you would; and also that the clerk should give you a copy of the indictment: this is fair; therefore we will go on to swear the jury, for the matter is, whether you refuse the oath, or not? And that is the single point, and there needs neither law nor counsel in the case; and therefore we considered of it last night, when we sent you word, and did determine to try you; and therefore it is in vain to say any thing, for the court is resolved to try you now; therefore swear the jury, crier.
John Crook. I hope you will not surprise us.
Then the other prisoners, (who also were indicted), cried out, (having spoken something before), let us have justice, and let not the jury be sworn until we are first heard. So there was a great noise, the court being in a confusion, some crying, Take them away; others, Stay, let them alone; others saying, Go on to swear the jury; and the crier, in this uproar and confusion, did do something as if he had done it: then we all cried out for justice and liberty until the next sessions; the court being in confusion, some crying one thing, and some another, which now cannot be called to mind, by reason of the great distraction that was in the court; neither what we said to them, nor they to us, the noise was so great, and the commands of the court so various to the officers, some commanding them to take us away; others, to let us alone; others, to bring us nearer; others cried, put them into the bail-dock; others, to put them within the furthest bar where the felons use to stand; which we were forced into accordingly. And in this hurly-burly and confusion that was among them, some men were sworn, to testify that we refused to take the oath, which we never positively did; other officers of the court, whom they would have sworn, refused to swear, though pressed to it by the chief justice, they desired to be excused. Then spoke one of the prisoners again pretty much, but could hardly be understood, by reason of the noise in the court; but the people, to whom he spoke with a loud voice, by way of exhortation, might hear the substance of what he said, which cannot now particularly be called to mind; but it was to express the presence and love of God to himself, and to exhort others to mind his fear, that they also might be acquainted with God, ....
Judge. Stop his mouth, executioner. (Which was accordingly done).
Prisoners. Then we cried out, will you not give us leave to speak for ourselves? We except against some of the jury, as being our enemies, and some of them who by force commanded us to be pulled out of our meetings, contrary to law, and carried us to prison without warrant, or other due process of law; and shall these be our judges? We except against them.
Judge. It is too late now, you should have done it before they had been sworn jurymen. Jury, go together, that which you have to find, is whether they have refused to take the oath, or not, which has been sworn before you that they did refuse: you need not go from the bar. And like words said the recorder and others, there being a confusion and noise in the court, many speaking together.
Then we cried for justice, and that we might be heard, to make our defense, before the jury gave their verdict; but the judge and recorder said, we should not be heard, (making good by their practice, what the chief judge had said the day before, namely, That if we had liberty to speak, we should make ourselves famous and them odious), crying again stop their mouths, executioner; which was done accordingly with a dirty cloth, and also endeavored to have gagged me, striving to get hold of my tongue, having a gag ready in his hand for that purpose; and so we were served several times. Then I called out with a loud voice, "Will you condemn us without hearing? This is to deal worse with us, than Pilate did with Christ, who, though he condemned him without a cause, yet not without bearing him speak for himself; but you deny us both."
Judge. Let Mr. Gray come to the bar.
Room being made he was conveyed to an officer in the inner bar, where he spoke to the court to this purpose: 'I desire to know whether, according to law and the practice of this court, myself and my fellow prisoners, may have liberty to put in bail, to prosecute our traverse at the next sessions?’
Court. No, we will try you presently.
Judge. Stop their mouths, executioner.
And this was the cry of many upon the bench, they being still in a continued confusion; some crying to the jury, Give in your verdict, for we will not hear them; with other words which could not be heard for the noise, the court being in confusion.
John Crook. You might as well have caused us to have been murdered before we came here, as to bring us here under pretence to try us, and not give us leave to make our defense; you had as good take away our lives at the bar, as to command us thus to be abused, and to have our mouths stopped; was ever the like known? Let the righteous God judge between us. Will you hear me? You have often promised that you would.
Judge. Hear me, and we will hear you.
Then he began to speak, and some others of the bench interrupted him, sometimes they speaking two or three at a time, and the noise among the officers of the court; but the judge said, ‘We may give you liberty until the next sessions, but we may choose; and therefore we will try you now.'
I told the people take notice of their promise, that I should have liberty to speak, saying, "See now you be as good as your words."
Judge. The law of England is not only just, but merciful; and therefore you shall not be surprised, but shall have what justice the law allows-(Interruption).
John Crook. Remember what the judge said even now, that the law of England was a merciful law; that the court had said before, they might if they would, give us liberty until the next sessions, but they would not; and the maxim of the law also is, “the extreme of the law is extreme injustice,” therefore I hope your practice will make it good, that it is a merciful law; and not to execute summa jus &C. upon me, and thereby condemn yourselves out of your own mouths.
John Crook. Let me have liberty first to speak, it is but few words, and I hope I shall do it with what brevity and pertinence my understanding will give me leave, and the occasion requires; it is to the point in these two heads, namely, Matter of law, and matter of conscience: to matter of law I have this to say. First, as to the statute itself it was made against the Papists, occasioned by the Gunpowder Plot, and is entitled, for the better discovery and suppressing of Popish Recusants : but they have liberty, and we are destroyed, what in you lies-(interrupted by the judges and disturbance of the court). As to conscience, I have something to say, and that is, it is a tender thing, and we have known what it is to offend it; and therefore we dare not break Christ's commands, who has said, Swear not at all: and the apostle James said, Above all things my brethren swear not.-(Interrupted. The court calling Again to the executioner to stop my month; which he did accordingly, with his dirty cloth, as before said, and his gag in his hand).
Judge. Hear the jury:
Who said something to him, which was supposed to give in the verdict, according to his order; for they were fit for his purpose, as it seems, they beginning to lay their heads together, before we had spoken any thing to them, only upon his words.
Judge. Crier, make silence in the court.
Then the recorder, taking a paper into his hand, read to this purport, namely: The jury for the king does find, that John Crook, John Bolton, and Isaac Gray, are guilty of refusing to take the oath of allegiance; for which you do incur a premunire, which is the forfeiture of all your real estates during life, and your personal estates forever; and you to be out of the king's protection, and to be imprisoned during his pleasure; and this is your sentence.
John Crook. But we are still under God's protection.
Then the prisoners were remanded to Newgate, where J. Crook found opportunity to make a narrative of the whole trial, which was printed as before said, together with the Latin indictment, in which he showed several errors, either by wrong expressions, or by omissions. Thus the injustice of these arbitrary proceedings was exposed to public view, when this trial appeared in print; that the king himself might see thereby, how ill his subjects were treated. But at that time there were so many among the great ones and bishops, who were inclined to promote the extirpation of the Quakers, that there seemed no human help. John Crook showed also circumstantially, how in many cases of trial, they had acted against law; for he himself having formerly been a justice, knew well enough how, and after what manner, justice ought to be administered and maintained. How long he continued prisoner, I cannot tell. But by this trial alone the reader may see, how the Quakers, so called, were treated in regard to the oath; and such kind of proceeding was the lot of many of them, because the intent of those in authority seemed to be to destroy them.
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