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Full text of "The Popish plot; a study in the history of the reign of Charles II"

THE POPISH PLOT 









I 



THE 

POPISH PLOT 




THE REIGN OF CHARLES II 



BY 



JOHN POLLOCK 

FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE 



" Some truth there was, but dashed and brewed with lies." 

Absalom and Achltophel. 

" Oh ! it was a naughty Court. Yet have we dreamed of it as the period 
when an English cavalier was grace incarnate ; far from the boor now hust- 
ling us in another sphere j beautifully mannered, every gesture dulcet. 
And if the ladies were ... we will hope they have been traduced. But if 
they were, if they were too tender, ah ! gentlemen were gentlemen then 
worth perishing for ! " The Egoist. 

" Donner pour certain ce qui est certain, pour faux ce qui est faux, pour 
douteux ce qui est douteux." Mabillon. 



LONDON: 

DUCKWORTH AND CO. 
MCMIII 



INSCRIBED TO THE MEMORY OF 

LORD ACTON 



PREFACE 

WHEN I first undertook the study of the Popish Plot 
the late Lord Acton wrote to me : " There are three 
quite unravelled mysteries : what was going on between 
Coleman and Pere la Chaize ; how Gates got hold of the 
wrong story ; and who killed Godfrey." The following 
book is an attempt to answer these questions and to 
elucidate points of obscurity connected with them. 

In the course of the work I have received much kind 
help from Dr. Jackson and Mr. Stanley Leathes of this 
college, from the Rev. J. N. Figgis of St. Catharine's 
College, and from my father; and Mr. C. H. Firth of 
All Souls' College has been exceedingly generous in giving 
the assistance of his invaluable learning and experience 
to a novice attacking problems which have been left too 
long untouched by those better fitted for the task. 

It is only as a mark of the deep gratitude I bear him 
that I have ventured to dedicate this book to the memory 
of the illustrious man whose death has deprived it of its 
sternest critic. Few can know so well as myself how far 
its attainment falls short of the standard which he set up. 
With that standard before me I can justify myself only 
by the thought that I have tried to follow strictly the 
injunction : Nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in 
malice. J. P. 

TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, 1903. 



vn 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

TABLE OF SOME EVENTS OCCURRING IN THE HISTORY OF THE 

POPISH PLOT xiii 



I. DESIGNS OF THE ROMAN CATHOLICS 
CHAPTER I 

TITUS GATES 3 

CHAPTER II 

THE NATURE OF THE DESIGNS . . . . . 15 

CHAPTER III 
GATES AGAIN . 70 

II. SIR EDMUND BERRY GODFREY 
CHAPTER I 

GODFREY .......... 83 

CHAPTER II 
BEDLOE AND ATKINS 106 

CHAPTER III 

BEDLOE AND PRANCE . . . . . . . .117 

ix 



x The Popish Plot 

PAGE 

CHAPTER IV 
PRANCE AND BEDLOE . . . . . . . .132 

CHAPTER V 
THE SECRET ... ..... 149 

III. POLITICS OF THE PLOT 
CHAPTER I 

THE GOVERNMENT ... . . . . . . .169 

CHAPTER II 
THE CATHOLICS ......... 196 

CHAPTER III 

SHAFTESBURY AND CHARLES 222 

IV. TRIALS FOR TREASON 
CHAPTER I 

MAGISTRATES AND JUDGES 265 

CHAPTER II 

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE . . . . , 288 

CHAPTER III 

TRIALS FOR THE PLOT . 304 

i 

APPENDICES 

APPENDIX A 375 



Contents xi 

PAGE 

APPENDIX B .......... 382 

APPENDIX C .......... 390 

APPENDIX D .......... 394 

APPENDIX E .......... 400 

- 

MATERIALS FOR THE HISTORY OF THE POPISH PLOT . . . 405 

INDEX . . 415 



TABLE OF SOME EVENTS OCCURRING IN 
THE HISTORY OF THE POPISH PLOT 



1677. Ash Wednesday. 
April 

October 30 
December 10 . 

1678. April 24 . 
June 23 
June 27 . 
August 13 

August 14 

August 31 
September 2 
September 6 
September 27 . 
September 28 . 



September 29 



Titus Gates converted to the Church of 

Rome. 
Enters the English Jesuit college at Val- 

ladolid. 

Expelled from the college at Valladolid. 
Enters the English Jesuit college at St. 

Omers. 

Jesuit congregation held at St. James' Palace. 
Gates expelled from the college at St. Omers 
and returns to London. 
Christopher Kirkby informs the king of a 

plot against his life. 
Kirkby and Dr. Tonge examined by the 

Earl of Danby. 
The king goes to Windsor. 
The forged letters sent to Bedingfield at 

Windsor. 
Tonge introduces Gates to Kirkby at his 

lodgings at Vauxhall. 
Gates swears to the truth of his information 

before Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. 
Gates and Tonge summoned before the 

Privy Council. 
Gates swears again 

formation before 

copy with him. 
Gates examined at length by the council. 

Search for Jesuits begun that night. 
Edward Coleman pays a secret visit to 

Godfrey. 

Sir George Wakeman before the council. 
Gates again examined by the council and 

continues the search for Jesuits at night. 
Warrant issued for the arrest of Coleman 

and seizure of his papers, 
xiii 



to the truth of his in- 
Godfrey and leaves a 






xiv The Popish Plot 



1678. September 30 



October i. 



October 12 
October 15 
October 17 

October 1 8, 19 
October 20 

October 21 

October 23 
October 24 



October 25-31 



October 28 
October 30, 31 
November I 



November 5 
November 7 



November 10, 18. 
November 12 . 
November 20 . 

November 21 . 
November 24 . 
November 26 



Coleman surrenders to the warrant against 
him and is placed in charge of an officer. 
His house searched and his papers seized. 

Gates examined twice by the council and 
again searches for Jesuits. 

The king goes to Newmarket. 

Coleman's papers examined by a committee 
of the council. 

Coleman committed to Newgate. 

Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey missing. 

News of his disappearance published. 

His body found in a field at the foot of 
Primrose Hill. 

An inquest held. 

Reward of .500 offered for the discovery of 
Godfrey's murderers. 

Meeting of Parliament (seventeenth session 
of Charles II's second or Long Parliament). 

Gates at the bar of the House of Commons. 

Assurance of protection added to the reward 
offered for the discovery of Godfrey's 
murderers. 

The Earl of Powis, Viscount Stafford, Lord 
Petre, Lord Bellasis, and Lord Arundel of 
Wardour surrender to the warrants out 
against them as being, on Gates' informa- 
tion, concerned in the Plot. 

Test Act passes the Commons. 

Gates at the bar of the House of Lords. 

Resolution of both Houses of Parliament 
with regard to the Plot. 

Funeral of Godfrey. 

Proclamation commanding Popish recusants 
to depart ten miles from London. 

Arrest of Samuel Atkins. 

Bedloe surrenders himself at Bristol. 

Bedloe comes to town and is examined by 
the king and secretaries. Examination of 
Coleman in Newgate. 

Bedloe at the bar of the House of Commons 

and at the bar of the House of Lords. 

Test Act passed, but with a proviso exempt- 
ing the Duke of York. 

Trial and conviction of William Staley for 
high treason. 

Gates accuses the queen in examination by 
Secretary Coventry. 

Staley executed at Tyburn, denying his guilt. 



Table of Events 



xv 



1678. November 27 
November 28 

November 30 

December 3 
December 5 
December 16 
December 17 

December 19 

December 21 
December 23 

December 28 
December 29 
December 30 

1679. January 1 1 
January 24 

February 5 

February 8 
February 21 
February 28 
March 3 . 

March 4 . 
March 6 . 



March 13 , 
March 1 5 . 
March 21 . 

March 22, 

March 24 
March 25 . 
April I 



Trial and conviction of Coleman for high 

treason. Bedloe accuses the queen. 
Gates accuses the queen at the bar of the 

House of Commons. He is confined by 

the king and his papers are seized. 
The king refuses to pass the Militia bill, 

even for half an hour. 
Execution of Coleman. 
The five Popish Lords impeached. 
Supply granted for disbanding the army. 
Trial and conviction of Ireland, Pickering, 

and Grove for high treason. 
Montagu's papers seized. He produces 

Danby's letters to the Commons, revealing 

the secret treaty with Louis XIV. 
Miles Prance arrested and recognised by 

Bedloe. Impeachment of Danby. 
Prance confesses and accuses Green, Berry, 

and Hill of being Godfrey's murderers. 
Dugdale comes forward as a witness. 
Prance recants. 

Parliament prorogued till February 4. 
Prance retracts his recantation. 
Long Parliament dissolved. 
Ireland and Grove executed ; Pickering 

respited till May 25. 
Trial and conviction of Green, Berry, and 

Hill for Godfrey's murder. 
Atkins is acquitted of the same murder. 
Execution of Green and Hill. 
Execution of Berry. 
The king declares that he was never married 

to any woman but Queen Catherine. 
The Duke of York leaves for Brussels by 

command of the king. 
The king repeats his declaration. 
The third Parliament meets. Edward 

Seymour chosen Speaker, and is rejected 

by the king. 

Parliament prorogued for two days. 
Serjeant Gregory chosen Speaker. 
Parliament votes the Plot to be read. 

Prance's examination read to the Lords. 
The Commons resolve to proceed with 

Danby's impeachment. 
Danby takes refuge at Whitehall. 
Speech on Scotland by Shaftesbury. 
Bill of attainder voted against Danby. 






xvi The Popish Plot 



1679. April 15 
April 1 6 



April 21 . 

April 24 . 

April 27 . 

April 30 . 
May 3 
May 1 1 

May 15 . 

May 23, 24 

May 26 



May 29 



June i 
June 

June 13 



June 14 

June 15 
June 20 
June 22 

July 9 



July 14 
July 17 

July 1 8 



August 

AugUSt 22 

August 23 



Bill of attainder passed. 

Danby surrenders himself and is committed 

to the Tower. 
A supply voted and appropriated for the dis- 

bandment of the army. 
The king declares a new privy council, devised 

by Sir William Temple. 
Trial and conviction of Reading. 
Resolution of Parliament against the Duke 

of York. 

The king's speech concerning the succession. 
Sharp, Archbishop of St. Andrews, murdered. 
The Exclusion bill voted by the Commons. 
The Exclusion bill read for the first time. 
The Commons attack the system of secret 

service money. 
The Habeas Corpus Act passed. The 

Parliament prorogued to August 14, and 

afterwards dissolved against the advice of 

the whole council. 
Outbreak of the Bothwell Brigg rebellion. 

The Covenant proclaimed in the west of 

Scotland. 

Claverhouse defeated at Drumclog. 
Publication of " An Appeal from the City to 

the Country." 
Trial and conviction of Whitebread, Fenwick, 

Harcourt, Gavan, and Turner (the five 

Jesuits) for high treason. 
Trial and conviction of Richard Langhorn 

for high treason. 

Monmouth starts to suppress the rebellion. 
Execution of the Five Jesuits. 
The Covenanters routed by Monmouth at 

Bothwell Brigg. 
Samuel Pepys and Sir Anthony Deane, in 

prison on account of the Plot, admitted to 

bail by Scroggs. 
Execution of Langhorn. 
Sir Thomas Gascoigne committed to the 

Tower on a charge of high treason. 
Sir George Wakeman, Marshall, Romney, 

and Corker tried for high treason and 

acquitted. 
Executions in the provinces of priests on 

account of their orders. 
The king ill at Windsor. 
The Duke of York summoned from Brussels. 



Table of Events xvii 



1679. August 29 

September 2 
September 12 

September 24 
September 27 
October 7 

October 15 
October 20 
October 27 

October 29 
November 9 
November 17 

November 19 

November 25 
November 27 
December 6 

December 9 



December 1 1 
1680. January 6 . 
January 9 . 

January 21 
January 31 

February 5 

February 1 1 

February 24 
February 26 



March 8 



The Duke sets out from Brussels 

and reaches Windsor. 

The Duke of Monmouth removed from his 

commission of Lord General. 
Monmouth leaves for Holland. 
James leaves for Brussels, thence to Scotland. 
The new Parliament, meeting, is prorogued 

by successive stages to October 1680. 
Shaftesbury dismissed from his place at the 

council board. 
Dangerfield searches Col. Mansell's lodgings 

and is arrested. 
Dangerfield committed to prison on charge 

of high treason. 

Papers found in Mrs. Cellier's meal tub. 
Dangerfield pardoned. 
First great Pope Burning, organised by the 

Green Ribbon Club. 
Laurence Hyde appointed First Commissioner 

of the Treasury. 

Trial and conviction of Knox and Lane. 
Monmouth returns to England without leave. 
Archbishop Plunket committed to the castle 

at Dublin. 
Petition of seventeen Whig peers for the 

sitting of Parliament marks the beginning 

of the practice of petitioning. 
Proclamation against petitioning. 
Mowbray and Bolron pardoned. 
Mrs. Cellier accuses Sir Robert Peyton ot 

high treason. 
Gates and Bedloe exhibit articles against 

Lord Chief Justice Scroggs. 
Lord Russell, Lord Cavendish, Sir Henry 

Capel, and Mr. Povvle resign their places 

on the council. 
Benjamin Harris tried and convicted for a 

libel in publishing "An Appeal from the 

City to the Country." 
Sir Thomas Gascoigne tried for high treason 

and acquitted. 

The Duke of York returns from Scotland. 
Declaration of the Scottish Privy Council of 

their abhorrence of tumultuous petitions 

published in the Gazette marks the begin- 
ning of the " abhorrers' " addresses. 
The king and the Duke of York entertained 

at a banquet by the Lord Mayor. 






xviii The Popish Plot 

1680. March 30. . Thomas Dare of Taunton fined for seditious 

and dangerous words. 
April 15 . . Assault on Arnold. 
April 26 and June 7. Declarations published in the Gazette 

denying all truth in the rumour of the 

Black Box. 
May II . . Indictment of high treason, on Dangerfield's 

evidence, against the Countess of Powis 

ignored by the grand jury of Middlesex. 
May 13 . The king ill at Windsor. 

May 1 5 . . "A Letter to a Person of Honour concerning 

the Black Box" published. 

May 24 . . Trial and conviction of Tasborough and Price. 
June 10 . . Conclusion of a treaty between England and 

Spain to maintain the peace of Nymeguen. 
June II. . Mrs. Cellier tried for high treason and 

acquitted. 
June 23 . . The Earl of Castlemaine tried for^iigh treason 

and acquitted. 
June 26 . . Shaftesbury, with Titus Gates and fourteen 

peers and commoners, presents the Duke 

of York as a popish recusant. 
July 14 . Trial and conviction of Giles for an attempt 

to murder Arnold. 
July 28, 29 . Trials for high treason at York. Lady 

Tempest, Sir Miles Stapleton, and Mary 

Pressicks acquitted, but Thwing, a priest, 

convicted. 

August-October. Western progress of the Duke of Monmouth. 
August 20 . Death of Bedloe at Bristol. 

September 1 1 . Trial and conviction of Mrs. Cellier for 

writing and publishing a libel. 
October 20 . The Duke of York leaves London for 

Edinburgh. 

October 21 . Meeting of Charles II's fourth Parliament. 
October 26 . Dangerfield at the bar of the House of 

Commons. 
October 28 . Bedloe's deathbed deposition read to the 

House of Commons. Two members of 

the Commons expelled for discrediting the 

Plot. 
October 30 . Archbishop Plunket brought to London and 

committed to the Tower. 
November 2 . The Exclusion bill voted. 
November 10 . Lord Stafford's trial resolved on by the 

Commons. 
November II . Third reading of the Exclusion bill in the 

House of Commons. 






Table of Events 



xix 



1680. November 15 
November 16 
November 17 

November 24 
November 30- 
December 15 

December 29 

1 68 1. January 5 . 

January 7, 10 

January 10 
January 18 
January 25 

February 28 
March 14. 
March 17 . 
March 21 . 

March 25 . 
March 26 . 

March 28 . 
May 

May 3 
June 9 . 
July I 



. The Exclusion bill rejected by the House 

of Lords owing to Lord Halifax. 
. Halifax proposes the banishment of the 

Duke of York. 
. Second great Pope Burning. 

The House of Commons proceed against 

Halifax. 
. The Commons vote the impeachment of 

Lord Chief Justice North. 
December 7. Trial and conviction of Lord 

Stafford for high treason. 
. Sir Robert Peyton expelled from the House 

of Commons. 
. Execution of Stafford. 
. The Commons vote the impeachment of 

Lord Chief Justice Scroggs and other 

judges. 
. The Commons pass resolutions against the 

Duke of York, against such as shall lend 

money to the crown, against a prorogation. 
Parliament prorogued 
and suddenly dissolved. 
. Sixteen Whig peers present a petition against 

a parliament being held at Oxford. 
. Edward Fitzharris arrested for writing a 

treasonable libel. 
. The king concludes a secret verbal treaty 

with Louis XIV and sets out for Oxford. 
. Shaftesbury and other Whig leaders set out 

for Oxford with an armed escort. 
. Meeting of Charles II's fifth and last 

Parliament at Oxford. 
. The Commons impeach Fitzharris. 
. The Exclusion bill voted. 

The Lords refuse to proceed on Fitzharris' 

impeachment. 
. The Exclusion bill read the first time in the 

House of Commons. Parliament suddenly 

dissolved. 

. The king's declaration justifying the dis- 
solution answered by "A Just and Modest 

Vindication of the Proceedings of the two 

Last Parliaments." 
. Trial and conviction of Archbishop Plunket 

for high treason. 
. Trial and conviction of Fitzharris for high 

treason. 
. Execution of Plunket and Fitzharris. 






DESIGNS OF THE ROMAN CATHOLICS 






CHAPTER 1 

TITUS GATES 

TITUS GATES has justly been considered one of the world's 
great impostors. By birth he was an Anabaptist, by 
prudence a clergyman, by profession a perjurer. From 
an obscure and beggarly existence he raised himself to 
opulence and an influence more than episcopal, and, when 
he fell, it was with the fame of having survived the finest 
flogging ever inflicted. De Quincey considered the murder 
of Godfrey to be the most artistic performance of the 
seventeenth century. It was far surpassed by the products 
of Gates' roving imagination. To the connoisseur of 
murder the mystery of Godfrey's death may be more 
exhilarating, but in the field of broad humour Gates bears 
the palm. There is, after all, \something laughable about 
the rascal. His gross personality had in it a comic strain. 
He could not only invent but, when unexpected events 
occurred, adapt them on the instant to his own end. His 
coarse tongue was not without a kind of wit. Whenever 
he appears on the scene, as has been said of Jeffreys, we 
may be sure of good sport. Yet to his victims he was an 
emblem of tragic injustice. Very serious were his lies to 
the fifteen men whom he brought to death. The world 
was greedy of horrors, and Gates sounded the alarm at the 
crucial moment. In the game he went on to play the 
masterstrokes were his. Those who would reduce him to 
a subordinate of his associate Dr. Tonge, the hare-brained 
parson whose quarterly denunciations of Rome failed to 
arouse the interest of Protestant London, have strangely 

3 






The Popish Plot 



misunderstood his character. Tonge was a necessary 
go-between, but Gates the supreme mover of diabolical 
purpose. 

In the year of the execution of King Charles the First 
Titus Gates was born at Oakham in the county of 
Rutland. His father, Samuel Gates, son of the rector of 
Marsham in Norfolk, had graduated from Corpus College, 
Cambridge, and received orders from the hands of the 
Bishop of Norwich. On the advent of the Puritan 
Revolution he turned Anabaptist, and achieved fame in the 
eastern counties as a Dipper of energy and sanctity. In 
1650 he became chaplain to Colonel Pride's regiment, 
and four years later had the distinction of being arrested 
by Monk for seditious practices in Scotland. The Restora- 
tion returned him to the bosom of the established church, 
and in 1666 he was presented by Sir Richard Barker to 
the rectory of All Saints' at Hastings. Shortly before, 
his son Titus went his ways to seek education and a 
livelihood in the world as a scholar. Ejected in turn 
from Merchant Taylors' School and Gonville and Caius, 
Cambridge, he found a refuge at St. John's College, and 
some three years later was instituted to the vicarage of 
Bobbing in Kent. " By the same token," it was re- 
marked, " the plague and he visited Cambridge at the 
same time." 

Gates was a bird of passage. He obtained a license 
not to reside in his parish, and went to visit his father at 
Hastings. Long time did not pass before he took wing 
again. He had already once been indicted for perjury, 
though no further proceedings were taken in the case. 1 
Now he conspired with his father to bring an odious 
charge against the schoolmaster of Hastings, who had 
incurred his enmity. The charge fell to the ground, 
Gates' abominable evidence was proved to be false, and 
he was thrown into gaol pending an action for a thousand 
pounds damages. 2 Escape from prison saved him from 

1 7 State Trials 128. Evidence of Sir Denny Ashburnham, ibid* 
1097. 

2 Anthony a Wood, Life and Times ii. 417. 7 State Trials 1094. 



Titus Gates 5 

disaster, and he fled to London. As far as is known, 
no attempt was made to prosecute him. The men of 
Hastings were probably rejoiced at his disappearance. 
There was no profit to be made out of such a culprit 
as Gates. If he were caught, it would only bring expense 
and trouble to the authorities. It was the business of 
no one else to pursue the matter. So Gates went free. 
Without employment, he managed to obtain the post of 
chaplain on board a vessel in the Royal Navy. The 
calling was rather more disreputable than that of the Fleet 
parson of later times. Discipline on board the king's 
ships was chiefly manifest by its absence ; under the 
captaincy of favourites from court the efficiency of the 
service was maintained only by the rude ability of men 
who had been bred in it ; and the standard expected from 
the chaplain was " damnably low." Nevertheless Gates 
failed to achieve the required measure of respectability. 
He was expelled upon the same grounds as he had formerly 
urged against the fortunate schoolmaster. 1 

The mischance marked the beginning of his rise. 
Again adrift in London, the tide threw him upon William 
Smith, his former master at Merchant Taylors' School. 
It was Bartholomew-tide in the year 1676. With Smith 
was Matthew Medburne, a player from the Duke of 
York's theatre, and by creed a Roman Catholic. The 
two made friends with Gates, and on Medburne's intro- 
duction he became a member of a club which met twice a 
week at the Pheasant Inn in Fuller's Rents. The club 
contained both Catholics and Protestants, discussion of 
religion and politics being prohibited under penalty of a 
fine. 2 Here Gates made his first acquaintance with those 
of the religion which he was afterwards to turn to a source 
of so great profit. The rule which forbade controversy 
applied only to the meetings of the club, and beyond its 

1 Burnet ii. 157. 

2 Smith, Intrigues of the Popish Plot 4. Gates, Narrative 35, 36. 
It was at this house that Baxter was insulted in 1677 by a Catholic 
gentleman, who accused him of having been tried at Worcester for the 
murder of a tinker. Baxter's, .^/<2fr'0 iii. 179. 






6 The Popish Plot 

limits discussion between members seems to have been 
free. It was perhaps by the agency of some of these that 
in the winter of the same year Gates was admitted as 
chaplain into the service of the Duke of Norfolk. 1 Testi- 
mony to character on the engagement of a servant in the 
seventeenth century was probably not severely examined. 

In the house of the great Catholic noble Gates found 
himself in the company of priests of the forbidden church. 
Conversation turned on the subject of religion, and Gates 
lent ear to the addresses of the other side. Though he 
wore the gown of an English minister, his faith sat light 
upon him, and he did not scruple to change it for advan- 
tage. On Ash Wednesday 1677 ne was formally recon- 
ciled to the Church of Rome. 2 The instrument for the 
salvation of the strayed lamb was one Berry, alias Hut- 
chinson, a Jesuit whom Gates had afterwards the grace to 
describe as " a saintlike man, one that was religious for 
religion's sake." By others the instrument was thought 
to be somewhat weak-minded ; at a later date he seceded 
to the Protestant faith and became curate in the city, 
later still to be welcomed back into the bosom of his 
previous church ; withal a very pious person, removed 
from politics, and much given to making converts. 
Neither conversion nor piety alone was an end to Gates. 
He soon made his way to Father Richard Strange, pro- 
vincial of the Society of Jesus, and notified him of a desire 
for admission into the order. Consulting with his fellows, 
Strange gave consent to the proposal, and before the end 
of April, Gates was shipped on a Bilboa merchantman with 
letters to the English Jesuit seminary at Valladolid. 3 

There was little that Gates could hope from a career 
as an English parson. Almost any other calling, especially 
one that took him abroad, offered better chances. He 
probably believed that Jesuit emissaries led a merry life 
and a licentious. Perhaps it is true that, as he said, vague 
talk in the Duke of Norfolk's household of the glorious 

1 Burnet ii. 157. 7 State Trials 1320. 

2 7 State Trials 1320. 

3 Ibid. 1096, 1320, 1321. Burnet ii. 157. Foley, Records v. 12. 



Titus Gates 7 

future for Catholicism had come to his ears. At least the 
times must make him credulous of Catholic machinations. 
To his sanguine mind the future would present unbounded 
possibilities. On the other side, stout recruits for the 
Catholic cause were not to be despised. Gates' character 
was tough, and he was not the man to shrink from dirty 
work. Had they known him well, his new patrons would 
hardly have welcomed him as a convert. The plausible 
humility he aired was the outcome of a discretion which 
rarely lasted longer than to save him from starvation. By 
nature he was a bully, brutal, sensual, avaricious, and 
gifted with a greed of adulation which, in a man of less 
impudence, would have caused his speedy ruin. From 
earliest youth he was a liar. Yet he was shrewd enough, 
and shrewdness and promptitude were qualities not without 
a certain value. His vices had not yet grown to be 
notorious. So he was taken to serve masters who gener- 
ally succeeded in giving their pupils at least the outward 
stamp of piety. In person Gates was hideous. His body 
was short, his shoulders broad. He was bull-necked and 
bow-legged. Under a low forehead his eyes were set 
small and deep. His countenance was large and moon- 
like. So monstrous was his length of chin that the wide 
slit mouth seemed almost to bisect his purple face. His 
voice rasped inharmoniously, and v he could tune it at will 
to the true Puritan whine or to scold on terms with such 
a master of abuse as Jeffreys. The pen of Dryden has 
drawn a matchless portrait of the man 

Sunk were his eyes, his voice was harsh and loud, 
Sure signs he neither choleric was nor proud : 
His long chin proved his wit, his saint-like grace 
A church vermilion and a Moses' face. 1 

This was the tender being whom the Colegio de los 
Ingleses took to nurse into a Jesuit. 

1 Absalom and Achitophel 646-649. Father John Warner describes 
Gates in similar terms : " Mentis in eo summa stupiditas, lingua bal- 
huticns, sermo e trivio, vox stridula et cautillans, plorantis quam 
loquen^is similior. Memoria fallax, prius dicta nunquam fideliter 
reddens, frons contracta, oculi parvi et in occiput retracti, facies plana. 






8 The Popish Plot 

The project failed of its mark. Five short months 
completed Gates' stay amid the new surroundings. On 
October 30, 1677 he was expelled the college and shipped 
home, reaching London in November. 1 The sojourn 
was in after days utilised to elevate him to the dignity 
of doctor of divinity. He had obtained the degree at 
Salamanca, he said. The truth was more accurately 
expressed in the lines 

The spirit caught him up, the Lord knows where, 
And gave him his Rabbinical degree 
Unknown to foreign university ; - 

for none but priests were admitted by the Catholic Church 
to the doctorate, Oates was never a priest, and was never 
at Salamanca in his life. 3 Though Valladolid had proved 
no great success, Oates was unabashed. He returned to 
Strange and the Jesuits in London. Protestations were 
renewed, and the eagerness of the expelled novice was not 
to be withstood. The Jesuits afterwards professed that 
they simply desired to keep Oates out of the way. 
Whatever their motive, he was given a new trial. The 
society furnished a new suit of clothes and a periwig, put 
four pounds into his pocket, and sent him to complete 
his education at St. Omers. On December 10 he was 
admitted into the seminary. 4 For one ambitious of an 
ecclesiastical career the venture was not fruitful. Long 
evidence was given at a later date descriptive of Oates' 
course in the college. In important points it lies under 
strong suspicion, 5 but the picture of his daily doings may 

in medio, lancis sive disci instar, compressa, prominentibus hie inde 
genis rubicundis nasus, os in ipso vultus centro, mentum reliquam 
faciem prope totam aequans, caput vix corporis trunco extans, in 
pectus declive, reliqua corporis hisce respondentia, monstro quam 
homini similiora." MS. history 104. 

1 Lettre ecrite de Mans a un ami a Paris, 1 679. 7 State Trials 1322. 

2 Absalom and Achitophel 657-659. 

3 Sir William Godolphin to Henry Coventry, on information 
obtained in Spain, November 6/16, 1678, Longleat MSS. Coventry 
Papers Ix. 264. 

4 7 State Trials 358, 1322. Burnet ii. 158. Florus Anglo- 
Bavaricus 93. 

5 See below in Trials for Treason. 



Titus Gates 9 

be taken as faithful. Gates was not a congenial companion 
to his fellows. Though a separate table was provided 
for him at meals, he went to school with the rest and 
attempted to gain their intimacy. He was the source 
of continual quarrels, spoiled sport, tried to play the 
bully, and sometimes met with the retribution that falls on 
bullies. He was reader in the sodality, and enlivened more 
serious works, such as Father Worsley's Controversies, 
with interludes from that most entertaining book, The 
Contempt of the Clergy. 1 He had a pan broken over his 
head for insisting at a play by the novices on sitting in 
the place reserved for the musicians. On another occasion 
he excited the amusement of the college by allowing 
himself to be beaten up and down by a lad with a fox's 
brush. Still nobler was an effort in the pulpit, where 
he preached " a pleasant sermon," expounding his belief 
that " King Charles the Second halted between two 
opinions and a stream of Popery went between his legs." 
Lurid tales of Gates' conduct were afterwards published 
by the Jesuit fathers. 3 What is more certainly true is 
the fact that his presence in the seminary rapidly became 
embarrassing. On June 23, 1678 he was turned out of 
doors, and shook the dust of St. Omers from his feet. 
On the 2yth he reached London. 4 

When Oates formed his alliance with Dr. Ezrael 
Tonge, rector of St. Michael's in Wood Street, is un- 
certain. The point is not without importance. If Oates 
came first to Tonge in the summer of 1678, the fact 
would be so far in his favour that he may have sought a 
good market for wares which he believed to be in some 
degree sound. If he took directions from Tonge before 
his visit to the Jesuit seminaries, the chance of his sincerity 

1 The Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy and Religion 
enquired into. By John Eachard, D.D., Master of Catherine Hall, 
Cambridge, 1670. 

2 7 State Trials 360-375. 10 State Trials 1097-1132. 
8 Florus Anglo- Eavaricus 93, 94, 95. 

4 7 State Trials 324, 1325. Lett re ecrite de Mons a un ami a 
Paris. Florus Anglo- Bavaricus 95. 



io The Popish Plot 

would be much diminished. Simpson Tonge, the rector's 
son, afterwards composed a journal of these events. 
Unhappily his statements are without value. Hoping for 
reward at one time from Gates, at another from his 
enemies, Tonge contradicted himself flatly, urging for the 
informer that Gates had sought his father only after the 
return from St. Omers ; against him, that the two had, 
during an intimacy of two years, designed the Popish 
Plot before ever Gates went abroad. 1 Judgment must 
therefore be suspended ; but it is notable that King 
Charles thought the evidence as to the intrigue between 
Gates and Tonge unworthy of credence. Simpson Tonge 
was taken to Windsor in the summer of 1680 to reveal 
his knowledge. He left there papers in which evidence 
of the facts was contained. Charles examined them, and 
told Sydney Godolphin that " he found them very slight 
and immaterial," and refused to see Tonge again. 2 At 
whatever point co-operation began, acquaintance between 
the two men was likely enough of long standing. Tonge 
had been presented to his living by Sir Richard Barker, 
the ancient patron of Samuel Gates. A natural tie thus 
existed, now to be developed by circumstances into strong 
union. The doctor was an assiduous labourer in the 
Protestant vineyard. His fear of Popery amounted to 
mania. Volumes poured from his pen in denunciation of 
Catholic conspiracies. A catalogue was afterwards made 
of Tonge's library. Its character may be judged from 
the titles of the following works : Massacres threatened 
to Prevent, Temple and Tabernacle, Arguments to suppress 
Popery? He had co-operated with John Evelyn in 
translating The Mystery of Jesuitism, a work which King 
Charles said he had carried for two days in his pocket 
and read ; " at which," writes Evelyn, " I did not a little 

1 Simpson Tonge's Journal, S.P. Dom. Charles II 409 : 39. 
Simpson Tonge to L'Estrange, Brief Hist. i. 38. Simpson Tonge's 
Case, House of Lords MSS. 246-249. 

2 S.P. Dom. Charles II 414 : 185. Sydney Godolphin to Sir 
Leoline Jenkins, September 25, 1680. 

3 S.P. Dom. Charles II 409 : 36. 



Titus Gates 1 1 

wonder." 1 When fame overtook him, Tonge raised the 
ghost of Habernfeld's Plot and spent some ingenuity in 
turning the name of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey to Dy'd 
by Rome s rev *engd fury, that of Edward Coleman to Lo a 
damned crew. Now he passed a bashful and disappointed 
life. Needy and full of silly notions, he divided his time 
between the detection of Jesuitry and the study of obscure 
sciences. Here was beyond doubt the man to interest 
himself in Gates. For Gates had brought back from 
beyond seas a prodigious tale, calculated to set the most 
unpractical alarmist in action. 

The scope of the disclosure was vast. Written at 
length and with the promise of more to come, Gates' True 
and Exact Narrative of the Horrid Plot and Conspiracy of 
the Popish Party against the life of His Sacred Majesty^ 
the Government^ and the Protestant Religion filled a folio 
pamphlet of sixty-eight pages. The Pope, said Gates, 
had declared himself lord of the kingdoms of England 
and Ireland. To the work of their reduction and 
government the Jesuits were commissioned by papal briefs 
and instructed by orders from the general of the society. 
Jesuit agents were at work fomenting rebellion in Scotland 
and Ireland. Money had been raised and arms collected. 
The hour had only to strike for an Irish port to be 
opened to a French force in aid of the great scheme. 
The Papists had burned down London once and tried to 
burn it again. A third attempt would be no less success- 
ful than the first. Chief of all, a " consult " of the 
English Jesuits had been held on April 24, 1678 at the 
White Horse tavern in the Strand, to concert means for 
the king's assassination. Charles was a bastard and an 
excommunicated heretic. He deserved death, and the 
deed was necessary for the Catholic cause. Want of 
variety in the instruments chosen should not save him. 
He was to be poisoned by the queen's physician. He 
was to be shot with silver bullets in St. James' Park. 
Four Irish ruffians were hired to dispatch him at Windsor. 
A Jesuit named Corners had consecrated a knife a foot in 

1 Evelyn, Diary January 25, 1665. 






ia The Popish Plot 

length to stab him. Great sums of money were promised 
by French and Spanish Jesuits and by the Benedictine 
prior to whoever should do the work. If the Duke of 
York did not consent to the king's death, the same fate 
lay in store for him. In all this Oates had been a confi- 
dential messenger and an active agent. It was only due 
to the fact that he had been appointed for the task of 
killing Dr. Tonge that the scheme thus carefully prepared 
was not put to the test ; for Tonge had moved him to 
exchange the trade of murderer and incendiary for that 
of informer. Thus the great plot was divulged, together 
with the names of ninety-nine persons concerned, as well 
as those nominated for offices under the prospective 
Jesuit government, of whom the most prominent were the 
Lords Arundel of Wardour, Powis, Petre, Stafford, 
Bellasis, Sir William Godolphin, Sir George Wakeman, 
and Mr. Edward Coleman. The falsehood of all this 
has been conclusively demonstrated. Not only did Oates 
bear all the marks of the liar and never produce the 
slightest evidence for what he announced, but much of 
his story is contradicted by the actual conditions of politics 
at the time. The fact of his conviction for perjury is 
widely known and its justice unquestioned. To rebut 
his accusations singly would be fruitless, because un- 
necessary. Their general untruth has long been known. 
Much time was occupied by Oates and Tonge in reducing 
their bulk to the shape, first of forty-three, then of eighty- 
one articles. Oates took a lodging in Vauxhall, near Sir 
Richard Barker's house, where Tonge dwelt. Together 
they drafted and copied until all was prepared. Nothing 
lacked but a proper flourish for the introduction of so 
grand an event. 

For this a pretty little comedy was arranged. Oates 
was to keep behind the scenes while Tonge rang up the 
curtain. Nor did Tonge wish to expose himself too 
soon to vulgar light. He procured an acquaintance, Mr. 
Christopher Kirkby, to act as prologue. Kirkby was a 
poor gentleman of good family, interested in chemistry, and 
holding some small appointment in the royal laboratory. 



Titus Gates 13 

Their common taste for science probably accounted for 
his relation with Tonge ; and since he was known to the 
king, he could now do the doctor good service. On 
August n, 1678 Gates thrust a copy of the precious 
manuscript under the wainscot of a gallery in Sir Richard 
Barker's house. There Tonge found it, and on the follow- 
ing day read it to Kirkby, who declared in horror at the 
contents that the king should be informed. He would 
take this part upon himself, he said. Accordingly on 
August 13, as Charles was starting for his accustomed 
walk in St. James' Park, Kirkby slipped a note into his 
hand begging for a short audience on a matter of vital 
importance. The king read it and called Kirkby to ask 
what he meant. " Sire," returned the other, " your 
enemies have a design against your life. Keep within 
the company, for I know not but you may be in danger 
in this very walk." " How may that be ? " asked the 
king. " By being shot at," answered Kirkby, and desired 
to give fuller information in some more private spot. 
Charles bade him wait in his closet, and finished his stroll 
with composure. 1 

1 Simpson Tonge's Journal S.P. Dom. Charles II 409 : 39. 
Simpson Tonge to the King, ibid. 414: 139. Simpson Tonge to 
I/Estrange, Brief Hist. i. 38. Kirkby, Compleat and True Narrative 
i. .Impartial State of the Case of the Earl of Danby 14. Brief Hist. 
ii. 100-125. Burnet ii. 158. North, Examen 170. Ralph i. 382, 
542. In this account of Gates and the revelation of the Plot I have 
made considerable use of Mr. Seccombe's monograph on Titus Gates 
in Twelve Bad Men, and of Sir George Sitwell's study of The First 
Whig. I am unable however to follow these writers, and especially 
Sir George Sitwell, to whom I am much indebted for a loan of his 
book, in placing much reliance upon witnesses on the Catholic and 
Tory side. These labour under as great a bias as their opponents, 
and on some points are convicted of falsehood. This applies in 
particular to the evidence of L'Estrange and Simpson Tonge, upon 
whose authority the story of the deliberate concoction of the Plot by 
Gates and Dr. Tonge rests. That Tonge was a fanatic and Gates a 
villain is unquestioned ; and it is probably as just to call Tonge 
villain and Gates fanatic. But that their rascality took this form is 
not proved. Simpson Tonge was also a rascal, and his repeated con- 
tradictions, in the hope of gain from both parties, make it impossible 
to discover the truth from him. In the winter of 1680 L'Estrange 
challenged Gates (Observator i. 138) to prosecute young Tonge for 






14 The Popish Plot 

defamation of character. The challenge passed unnoticed ; but the 
fact proves nothing, for however many lies Tonge had told, Gates 
was not then in a position to risk a rebuff or to court an inquiry into 
his own conduct. And L'Estrange's bare assertion is no proof of the 
truth of the fact asserted. The way I have treated this, as all other 
doubtful evidence in the course of this inquiry, is always to disbelieve 
it, unless it is corroborated from other sources, or unless the facts 
alleged are intrinsically probable, and the witness had no motive for 
their falsification. When the test is applied to the present case, I 
believe that no other result than that stated above can be obtained. 



CHAPTER II 

THE NATURE OF THE DESIGNS 

FOR contemporaries the Popish Plot provided a noble 
field of battle. Between its supporters and its assailants 
controversy raged hotly. Hosts of writers in England 
and abroad proved incontestably either its truth or its 
falsehood. 1 With which of the two the victory lay is 
hard to determine. Discredit presently fell on the Plot, 
but the balance was restored by the Revolution, when 
Gates' release, pardon, and pension gave again the stamp 
of authority to his revelations. From this high estate its 
reputation quickly fell. Hume pronounced belief in it to 
be the touchstone for a hopelessly prejudiced Whig, Fox 
declared the evidence offered " impossible to be true," 
and before the end of the eighteenth century Dalrymple 
accused Shaftesbury of having contrived and managed the 
whole affair. Since that time little serious criticism, with 
the notable exception of Ranke's luminous account, has 
been attempted. Historians have generally contented 
themselves with relying on the informers' certain mendacity 
to prove the entire falsehood of the plot which they 
denounced. The argument is patently unsound. As 
Charles II himself declared, the fact that Gates and his 
followers were liars of the first order does not warrant 
the conclusion that all they said was untrue and that the 
plot was wholly of the imagination. 2 The grounds upon 

1 See, for instance, La Politique du Clerge de France, by Pierre 
Jurieu. Arnauld, Apologie pour les Catholiques Le "Jesuite secularise, 
and La Critique du Jesuite secularise, Cologne, 1683. 

2 Barillon, January 16/26, 1680. See below in Trials for Treason. 

'5 



1 6 The Popish Plot 

which judgment must be based deserve to be more 
closely considered. 

On November 8, 1675 a remarkable debate took place 
in the House of Commons. Mr. Russell and Sir Henry 
Goodrick informed the House of an outrage said to have 
been committed by a Jesuit upon a recent convert from 
Roman Catholicism. Amid keen excitement they related 
that one Luzancy, a Frenchman, who, having lately come 
over to the Church of England, had in the French chapel 
at the Savoy preached a hot sermon against the errors of 
Rome, had been compelled at peril of his life to retract all 
he had said and sign a recantation of his faith. The man 
guilty of this deed was Dr. Burnet, commonly known as 
Father St. Germain, a Jesuit belonging to the household 
of the Duchess of York. 1 The Commons were highly 
enraged. " This goes beyond all precedents," cried Sir 
Charles Harbord, " to persuade not only with arguments 
but poignards ! " He never heard the like way before. 
Assurance was given by Mr. Secretary Williamson that 
strict inquiry was being made. The king was busy with 
the matter. Luzancy had been examined on oath before 
the council, and a special meeting was now summoned. 
A warrant was out for St. Germain, but the Jesuit had 
fled. The House expressed its feeling by moving that 
the Lord Chief Justice be requested to issue a second 
warrant for St. Germain's arrest, and yet another in 
general terms " to search for and apprehend all priests 
and Jesuits whatsoever." 2 It was a strange story that 
Luzancy told. By Protestants he was said to have been 
a learned Jesuit, by Catholics a rascally bastard of a dis- 
reputable French actress. 3 The two accounts are perhaps 
not irreconcilable. At least he was a convert and had 
preached. Thereupon St. Germain, as he said, threatened 

1 He was wrongly said to be the Duchess's confessor. Sarotti, 
October 26/November 4, 1678. Ven. Arch. Inghil. 65. 

2 Part. Hist. iv. 780, 781, 782. C.J., November 8, 1675. 

3 Ibid. Reresby, Memoirs 98, 99. Ralph i. 292. Verney MSS. 
466. Foley i. 276 seq. Lingard xii. 278-282. Antoine Arnauld, 
CEuvres xiv. 532, 533. Foley i. 276, 277. Wood, Fasti Oxon. (ed. 
Bliss 1815-20) ii. 350. 



The Nature of the Designs 17 

him and forced a recantation. Before resorting to this 
extreme the Jesuit had tried persuasion. The Duke of 
York, he told Luzancy, was a confessed Roman Catholic. 
At heart the king himself belonged to the same faith and 
would approve of all he did. Schemes were afoot to pro- 
cure an act for liberty of conscience for the Catholics. 
That granted, within two years most of the nation would 
acknowledge the Pope. It was sometimes good to force 
people to heaven ; and there were in London many 
priests and Jesuits doing God very great service. Others 
besides Luzancy had been threatened with tales of 
Protestant blood flowing in the London streets ; and 
these, being summoned to the council, attested that the 
fact was so. Lord Halifax rose and told the king that, 
if his Majesty would allow that course to Protestants for 
the conversion of Papists, he did not question but in a 
very short time it should be effected. 1 Two days later a 
proclamation was issued signifying that Luzancy was 
taken into the royal protection, and St. Germain, with a 
price of ^200 on his head, fled to France, there to become 
one of the most active of Jesuit intriguers. 2 Though the 
brandished dagger was likely enough an embellishment of 
Luzancy's invention, it is probable that his story was in 
substance true. In December St. Germain found himself 
in Paris and in close correspondence with Edward 
Coleman, the Duchess of York's secretary. Such a man 
writing within a month from the catastrophe would 
certainly, had he been falsely charged, be loud in vindica- 
tion of his innocence and denunciation of the villain who 
had worked his ruin. St. Germain merely wrote that his 
leaving London in this fashion troubled him much. He 
had done all that a man of honesty and honour could ; 
an ambiguous phrase. It was absolutely necessary, more 
for his companions and the Catholics' sake than for his 
own, that his conduct should be justified. 3 Evidently St. 

1 Ralph i. 292. Verney MSS. 466. Burnet ii. 104. 

2 Ruvigny, November 7/17, 8/18, 1675. 

3 Fitzherbert MSS. 112, 76 ; St. Germain to Coleman, December 
3/13, 167,5 J January 5/15, 1676. 

C 



1 8 The Popish Plot 

Germain was less troubled at the injustice of the charge 
against him than incensed at its results. What he wanted 
was not that his character might be cleared from a false 
accusation, but that the tables might be turned on his 
accuser. 1 

The conduct of St. Germain illustrates well the aims of 
the Roman Catholic party in England about the year 
1675. Their policy, already undergoing modification, 
had root deep in the history of the times. 

For the first thirteen years of his reign Catholics 
looked for the advancement of their cause to the king. 
During the Civil War none had shown a more steadfast 
loyalty than they, and none hailed the Restoration with 
greater eagerness. Half a century earlier a considerable 
number of the squires of England had been Catholic. 
They were a class bound closely to the royal cause both 
by tradition and by personal inclination, and though the 
operation of the penal laws effectively prevented their 
ranks from swelling, they rendered conspicuous service to 
the crown in the day of trouble. With their strength 
further diminished by death and by confiscation of estates 
under the Commonwealth government, their hopes rose 
higher at the king's return. There was much justifica- 
tion for their sanguine view. The promise of religious 
liberty contained in the declaration of Breda was known 
to be in accord with Charles' own desires. He was the 
son of a Catholic mother and of a father suspected, how- 
ever unjustly, of Catholic tendencies. He was himself 
not free from the same suspicion. He was under the 
deepest obligations to his Catholic subjects. They had 
risked their persons and squandered their fortunes for 
him. They had fought and intrigued for him, and 
succoured him in distress. He owed them life and 



1 Sarotti, who might have been expected to have heard of the 
case favourably to St. Germain, writes of him simply as " un Padre 
Jesuita che fu capellano della medesima Signora Duchessa e gia tre 
anni in circa fuggl, ritrandosi a Parigi per le differenze ch' hebbe con 
un ministro Calvinista della casa del Signer di Rouvigny," October 
26/November 4, 1678, as above. 



The Nature of the Designs 19 

liberty. They had done so much for him that it was not 
unreasonable to hope that, as it was not averse to his 
wishes, he would do something for them. 

The disappointment of the Catholic expectations was 
not long delayed. Whatever promises Charles had made, 
and whatever hopes he had fostered, were dependent 
upon others, and not upon himself, for fulfilment. The 
Restoration was a national work, and it was not in the 
power of the king to act openly in opposition to the 
nation that had restored him. Since he was not a 
Catholic, he was impelled to run no great risk for the 
interest of those who were. And it became increasingly 
clear that by far the greater part of the nation was in no 
mind to tolerate any change which would make for 
freedom of life and opinion for the maintainers of a 
religion which was feared and fiercely hated by the 
governing classes and by the church which aspired to 
govern in England. Fear of Roman Catholicism was a 
legacy of the dreadful days of Queen Mary and of her 
sister's Protestant triumph. That legacy was a possession 
not of one sect or of one party alone. Cavaliers and 
Roundheads, Puritans and high churchmen shared it alike. 
So long as the Church of Rome was of a warring disposi- 
tion, it was vain to expect that the English people would 
see in it other than an enemy. The Protestant religion 
was too insecurely established in the land and the 
memory of sudden changes and violent assaults too recent 
for Englishmen to harbour a spirit of liberal charity 
towards those who disagreed from them in matters of 
faith. The Catholic, who cried for present relief from an 
odious tyranny, appeared in their eyes as one who, were 
relief granted, would seize any future chance to play the 
tyrant himself. 

No less than twelve penal statutes, of tremendous 
force, existed to prevent Roman Catholics from exercising 
influence in the state. 1 Had they been strictly executed, 
the Catholic religion must have been crushed out of 
England ; but they were generally allowed to remain 
1 See Appendix E. 






20 The Popish Plot 

dormant. Even so they were a constant menace and an 
occasional source of more or less annoyance, varying 
infinitely according to time and place and the will of the 
authorities from an insulting reminder of Catholic in- 
feriority to cruel and deliberate persecution. The tenor 
of these laws was so stringent that among moderate 
Protestants there were many who believed that the more 
obnoxious and unjust might be removed without placing 
a weapon of serious strength in the hands of their opponents. 
In the House of Lords a party was formed in favour of 
the Catholic and Presbyterian claims and opposed to the 
arrogant pretensions of the Earl of Clarendon and his 
followers. Clarendon's wish was for the supremacy of his 
own church, but there were already not a few who had 
begun to view his position with jealousy. In June 1661 
a committee of prominent Catholics met at Arundel House 
to consider their position. They presented a petition to 
the Lords protesting against the penalties on the refusal of 
Catholics to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, 
but after several debates and the lapse of more than 
eighteen months it was resolved that " nothing had been 
offered to move their lordships to alter anything in the 
oaths." Nevertheless Colonel Tuke of Cressing Temple 
was admitted to the bar and heard against the " sanguinary 
laws," and papers on the subject were laid on the table 
of the House. The petitioners disclaimed the Pope's 
temporal authority and offered to swear " to oppose with 
their lives and fortunes the pontiff himself, if he should 
ever attempt to execute that pretended power, and to obey 
their sovereign in opposition to all foreign and domestic 
power whatsoever, without restriction." A committee 
was appointed to deal with the matter, and acting on its 
report the Lords resolved to abolish the writ de haeretico 
inquirendo and the statutes making it treason to take orders 
in the Roman Church, as well as those making it felony to 
harbour Catholic priests and prasmunire to maintain the 
authority of the Bishop of Rome. 

At this point, when all seemed going well, misfortune 
intervened and the hopes of success were dashed to the 



The Nature of the Designs 21 

ground. It was suggested that on account of its known 
activity and powers of intrigue the Society of Jesus should 
be excepted from the scope of the proposed measure. A 
heated controversy was instantly aroused. While Pro- 
testants and many Catholics demanded that the Jesuits 
should accept the situation and retire gracefully to win 
advantages for their brothers in religion, members of the 
society retorted that a conspiracy was on foot to divide the 
body Catholic against itself, and that it was not for the 
general good to accept favours at the price of sacrificing 
the most able and flourishing order of the church. It 
soon became evident that the Jesuits were not to be moved. 
Their struggle in England had been hard. Their position 
among English Catholics was one of great importance. 
They would not now surrender it for the sake of a partial 
and problematical success from the enjoyment of which 
they were themselves to be excluded. The time when 
affairs were still unsettled was rather one at which they 
should be spurred to greater efforts. 

Without the compliance of the Jesuits the moderate 
Catholics could do nothing. A feeling of disgust at the 
selfish policy of the society found free expression. It 
seemed that its members would never consider the interest 
of others before their own. Nevertheless there was no 
remedy ; the committee at Arundel House was dissolved ; 
at the request of the Catholic peers the progress of the 
bill of relief in the House of Lords was suspended, and 
it was never resumed. 1 

No better fate attended the king's efforts to make 
good the promises he had given at Breda. With the 
assurance of support from the Independents and Presby- 
terians he had issued late in the year 1662 a Declaration of 
Indulgence, suspending all penal laws, against dissenters, 
Catholic as well as others, by virtue of the power which 

1 L.J. xi. 276, 286, 299, 310. Kennet, Register and Chronicle 469, 
476, 484, 495. Orleans, History of the Revolutions in England 236. 
Letter from a Person of Quality to a Peer of the Rea/m, 1661. Collection 
of Treatises on the Penal Laws, 1675. Continuation of Clarendon's Life, 
by himself, 140, 143. 



2,2, The Popish Plot 

he considered inherent in the crown. 1 The move called 
forth a storm of opposition, both against the dispensing 
power and against the object for which it was used. To 
appease the Commons, Lord Ashley, afterwards Earl of 
Shaftesbury, brought in a bill to define and legalise the 
royal power to dispense with laws requiring oaths and 
subscription to the doctrines of the established church. 
The answer of the Commons was an address against the 
Declaration, 2 in the House of Lords Ashley's bill was 
defeated by Clarendon and the bishops, and on March 31, 
1663 Parliament addressed the king for a proclamation 
ordering all Catholic priests to leave the realm. Charles 
never forgave his minister, but he was powerless to resist. 
On April 2 he recanted his declaration by issuing the 
desired order. A bill to check the growth of popery and 
nonconformity passed quickly through the House of 
Commons, but was stopped by the influence of the 
Catholic peers, and an address for the execution of all 
laws against dissenters was voted in its place. 3 

Thus the penal laws were retained in their full vigour. 
And if the enactments against the Catholics were not 
removed from the statute book, still less were the causes 
which had produced them removed from men's minds. 
Only the establishment of general confidence that the 
Catholic religion lacked power to menace the cause of 
Protestantism in England and to invade the rights which 
were dear to Englishmen could be effective in this ; and 
confidence, so far from becoming general, shrank to limits 
that became ever narrower. In the years that followed, 
fear of the advance of Catholicism only increased. Fresh 
laws were passed to check it. The House of Commons 
voted address after address that the old might be put in 
action, petition after petition for the banishment of priests 
and Jesuits from court and capital. To their alarm and 

1 December 6, 1662. Kennet, Register and Chronicle 848-891. 
Baxter's Life ii. 429. 

2 February 27, 1663. 

3 July 25, 1663. CJ. Feb. 27, 28, April 27, May 30. L.J. 
xi. 478, 482, 486, 491, 558, 578. Clarendon 245-249. James i. 428. 



The Nature of the Designs 2,3 

chagrin it appeared that all efforts were in vain, and belief 
spread that the failure was chiefly due to opposition 
emanating from the highest quarters. Instead of aiding 
in the accomplishment of the desired object, the influence 
of the crown seemed to be directed absolutely to prevent 
it. For the king's policy was one which could only 
inspire the nation with a sense of growing distrust. 1 

Though Charles II had ascended the throne on a wave 
of popular enthusiasm, his ideas were widely removed from 
those of his subjects. By birth and education his mind 
was drawn towards the aims and methods of French 
politics, and he leaned away from the Church of England. 
With this bias he inherited for Puritanism and the Presby- 
terians a dislike strengthened by personal experience. 
Coming into England without knowledge of parliamentary 
government, his first trial of it was far from encouraging. 
He found Parliament intolerant, suspicious, unstatesman- 
like. The Commons fenced in the Anglican Church with 
severe penal laws against dissent, and gave the king an 
income less than the annual expenses of government and 
the services by half a million pounds. Charles had been 
restored to a bankrupt inheritance, and with every good 
intention the Commons failed completely to render it 
solvent. Soon their good-will ceased. They were jealous 
of the royal expenditure. They did not perceive the royal 
wants. They destroyed the existing financial arrange- 
ments and did not replace them with better. 2 They 
desired to carry the Protestant and Parliamentary system 
to its logical end in controlling the King's foreign policy 

1 For a general statement of the Catholic case see The Catholique 
Apology, attributed to the Earl of Castlemain, and on the other side 
An Account of the Growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government in 
England, by Andrew Marvell. 

2 Ranke iv. 323. W. A. Shaw, "The Beginnings of the 
National Debt," Owens College, Manchester, Historical Essays. Mr. 
Shaw's remarkable essay throws a flood of light on the financial 
difficulties of the early part of the reign. He considers the year 1667, 
when the Commons attacked the administration and voted a commission 
to examine public accounts, to be the point beyond which patriotic 
action could be expected on the part neither of the Commons nor of 
the king. 



24 The Popish Plot 

and directing it against the influence of the Roman 
Catholic Church. To Charles this was intolerable. To 
be forced to act at the bidding of Parliament was odious 
to him. He would be no crowned do-nothing. And 
here the fortunes of England touched on those of France. 
The schemes of Louis XIV for the expansion and con- 
solidation of the French kingdom made it imperative that 
he should obtain for their prosecution the neutrality, if 
not the assistance, of England. He could not devote 
his energy to the settlement of his north-east frontier and 
the maintenance of his claims on the Spanish empire with 
a Protestant country ever ready to strike at his back. He 
was therefore always ready to pay for the concurrence of 
Charles and with him of England. 1 The establishment of 
the Roman Catholic religion, could it be effected, would 
be of material assistance to him. Especially on the 
religious side of his policy it would be a powerful support. 
Charles, on the other hand, desired to free himself from 
the financial control of Parliament and to grant toleration 
to the Catholics. He was therefore always ready to be 
bought. He was all the better pleased since co-operation 
with France brought him into conflict with the Dutch 
republic, which he disliked upon commercial and detested 
upon dynastic grounds. Toleration Charles found to be 
impossible, and he was subjected to constant annoyance 
by the attempts of the Commons to control his dealings. 
Thus his aims crystallised into a policy of making the 
crown supreme in the constitution and establishing the 
Roman Catholic faith as the state religion upon the 
approved model in France. 2 

The plan undertaken in concert with his great ally 
was not the first effort of Charles to give his ideas effect. 
During his exile on the continent various tenders had been 
made for papal support ; Charles promised in return 
conversion and favour to his Catholic subjects ; and 

1 Ruvigny, January 17/27, 1675 : "Que les finances du roi ne 
pouvaient pas mieux etre employees qu'a la destruction d'un puissant 
ennemi, qui soutenait tous les autres." 

2 As to the date of Charles' conversion see Ranke iv. 383, 384. 



The Nature of the Designs 25 

within a few years of the Restoration a serious negotiation 
was started with Pope Alexander VII. In 1663 Sir 
Richard Sellings was sent on a mission to Rome to beg 
the bestowal of a cardinal's hat on the Abbe d'Aubigny, 
almoner to the newly-married queen, and cousin to the 
king. Charles took the opportunity to propose through 
Bellings the formation of an Anglican Roman Church in 
England. He was to announce his conversion, the 
Archbishop of Canterbury was to be patriarch of the 
three realms, and liberty of conscience should be assured 
to remaining Protestants. Roman Catholicism would 
become the state religion and Rome gain the whole 
strength of the English hierarchy. 1 An understanding 
was impracticable and the scheme fell through ; but the 
renewed solicitations of the English court on Aubigny's 
behalf were successful. In November 1665 ne was 
nominated Cardinal, and died almost immediately after. 
To the hopes of the Catholics his death was a terrible blow. 
" The clouds," wrote the general of the Jesuits on hearing 
of it, " which are gathering over Holland, Poland, and 
Constantinople are so dense that every prudent man 
must see reason to apprehend enormous catastrophes 
and storms that will not be ended without irreparable 
disasters. But in my mind all these coming evils are 
overshadowed by the death of the Abbe Aubigny, which 
deprives the Church, for a time at least, of the joy of 
beholding an English cardinal of such illustrious blood, 
created at the public instances of two queens, and at the 
secret request of a king, a prodigy which would, without 
doubt have confounded heresy and inaugurated bright 
fortunes to the unhappy Catholics." 

Three years later a still more remarkable embassy than 
Bellings' took place. It is not even in our own day 
commonly known that the Duke of Monmouth, reputed 
the eldest of the sons of Charles II, had an elder brother. 
So well was the secret kept, that during the long struggle 

1 Ranke iv. 384-386. Gentleman's Magazine, January 1866. Lord 
Acton, x " Secret History of Charles II," Home and Foreign Review i. 146. 
Hallam ii. 387. 






2,6 The Popish Plot 

to save the Protestant succession and to exclude the Duke 
of York from the throne, no man ever discovered that 
there was another whose claims were better than those of 
the popular favourite, and who had of his free will pre- 
ferred the gown of an obscure clerk to the brilliant prospect 
of favour at court and the chance of wearing the English 
crown. For this son, born to the king in the Isle of Jersey 
at the age of sixteen or seventeen years, the child of a lady 
of one of the noblest families in his dominions, was named 
by his father James Stuart, and urged to be at hand to 
maintain his rights should both the royal brothers die 
without male heirs. He set the dazzling fortune aside and 
resolved to live and die a Jesuit. In the year 1668, then 
being some four and twenty years old, he entered the house 
of novices of the Jesuits at Rome under the name of James 
de la Cloche. Towards the end of the same year Charles 
wrote to Johannes Oliva, the general, desiring that his son 
might be sent to England to discuss matters of religion. 
Assuming the name of Henri de Rohan, La Cloche made 
for England. He was received by the queen and the 
queen mother, and by them secretly taken to the king. 
What passed between father and son has never transpired. 
La Cloche was sent back to Rome by the king as his 
" secret ambassador to the Father General," charged with 
an oral commission and orders to return to England as 
soon as it was fulfilled. The nature of that mission is 
unknown, and whether or no the young man returned to 
England. Trace of embassy and ambassador alike is lost, 
and the young prince disappears from history. Yet it may 
be that his figure can be descried again, flitting mysteriously 
across the life of his father. At the height of the turmoil 
of the Popish Plot a certain gentleman was employed to 
bring privately from beyond seas a Roman Catholic priest, 
with whom the king had secret business to transact. The 
king and the priest stayed long closeted together. At 
length the priest came out with signs of horror and fear on 
his face. Charles had been seized with a fit and, when the 
priest would have called for help, to preserve their secret 
summoned strength to hold him till the attack had passed. 



The Nature of the Designs 27 

On Charles' death two papers on religion were found in 
his cabinet and published in a translation by his brother. 
The originals were in French, in the form of an argument 
addressed by one person to another, and it is suggested, not 
without reason, that their author was the same man as the 
king's questionable visitor, and none other than his 
own son, who had forgotten his native tongue and had 
surrendered fame and country for the good of his soul 
and of the Catholic Church. 1 

One more negotiation was undertaken directly with 
Rome. By command of the pope the papal internuncio 
at Brussels came to England. He had sent a confidant to 
prepare the way, and was assured of welcome at court. 
The Venetian envoy offered the hospitality of his house 
to the visitor, and arranged an interview with the king. 
The queen, the Duke of York, and Lord Arlington were 
also present, and the nuncio received promises of the king's 
good intentions towards the Catholics. 2 The fruits of this 
undertaking, had there been any, were spoiled before the 
gathering by the intrigue into which Charles had already 
entered with Louis XIV. Only under a Catholic constitu- 
tion, said Charles, might a King of England hope to be 
absolute. He was to live to see the prophecy falsified, and 
by his own unaided effort to accomplish what he believed 
impossible, but now he showed the courage of his con- 
victions by attempting to make England Catholic. The 
scheme was afoot in the summer of 1669. Nearly a year 
passed in its completion, and on June I, 1670 " le Traite 
de Madame " was signed at Dover. Arlington, Clifford, 
Arundel, and Sir Richard Bellings signed for England, and 
Colbert for France ; and Henrietta of Orleans, to whose 
skilful management success was due, returned to her 
husband's home to die, leaving a potent influence to carry 
on her work Louise de Keroualle. Louis' object in the 
treaty was to break the Triple Alliance and carry the war 

1 Acton, op. cit. Gentleman's Mag. January 1866. Boero, Istoria 
della Conversione alia Chiesa Cattolica de Carlo II. Welwood, Memoirs 
146. 

2 Brosch 420, n. Ranke v. 88. 






2,8 The Popish Plot 

to a successful conclusion ; that of Charles to make himself 
master of England once again under the Catholic banner. 
The two kings were to aid each other in men and money. 
" It was in reality," says Lord Acton, " a plot under cover 
of Catholicism to introduce absolute monarchy and to 
make England a dependency of France, not only by the 
acceptance of French money, but by submission to a 
French army." l Charles was to declare himself a Catholic 
when he thought fit. In the event of resistance from his 
subjects he was to receive from Louis the sum of 
150,000 and a force of 6000 men to bring his country 
under the yoke. Lauderdale held an army 20,000 strong 
in Scotland, bound to serve anywhere within British 
dominions. Ireland under Lord Berkeley was steeped in 
Catholic and loyal sentiment. The garrisons and ports of 
England were being placed in safe hands. If the scheme 
succeeded, the Anglican Church would be overthrown, 
Parliamentary government would be rendered futile, and 
Charles would be left at the head of a Catholic state and 
master of his realm. 

Success however was so far from attainment that no 
attempt was made to put " la grande affaire " into effect. 
It was decided that Charles' declaration of Catholicism 
should be preceded by his attack in concert with Louis on 
the Dutch. War was declared on March 17, 1672. Two 
days before, the Declaration of Indulgence, suspending all 
penal laws against dissenters, was issued. It sprang from 
the desire to obtain the support of dissent for the war and 
to pave the way for a successful issue of the Catholic 
policy at its close. Arms alone could determine victory 
or defeat. If Charles thereafter found himself in a position 
to dictate to Parliament, the rest might not prove difficult. 
Otherwise there would be little hope of success. But the 
war did not justify Charles' expectations. Dutch tenacity 
and the growing hostility in England to the alliance with 
France made it certain that the chief objects for which 
Charles had sealed the Dover treaty could not be achieved. 
When on February 19, 1674 he concluded peace with the 
1 Lectures on Modern History. 



The Nature of the Designs 29 

Republic for 800,000 crowns, the honour of the flag 
northward from Cape Finisterre, and the retention of all 
his conquests outside Europe, the king seemed to have 
emerged successfully from the struggle. In fact he had 
failed to reach the goal. Unless he gained a commanding 
position at home by military success abroad, he could not 
hope to put into practice the English part of the programme 
drawn up at Dover. It was something that his nephew the 
Prince of Orange had ousted the odious republican faction 
from power in Holland, and much that the Republic had 
been for ever detached from its alliance with France ; but 
even this was hardly sufficient compensation to Charles 
for the abandonment of his policy in England. He had 
planned to restore the monarchy to its ancient estate by 
means of Roman Catholicism. He had failed, and now 
he turned his back finally upon Catholicism as a political 
power. He had already been compelled to cancel the 
Declaration of Indulgence, and on March 29, 1673 
clearly marked the change by giving the royal assent to 
the Test Act. A return to the policy of Anglican 
Royalism, which in some ways approached that of 
Clarendon, was shaped. The Cabal had been dissipated, 
the plans of its Catholic members ruined, its Protestant 
members driven into opposition. Charles, guiding foreign 
policy himself, and Danby as Lord Treasurer managing 
affairs at home, determined to draw all stable elements in 
the kingdom round the Church and the Crown, and to 
offer a united opposition to the factions and the dis- 
senters. The famous Non-Resisting Test was the result. 1 
Here again Charles failed. The opposition of Shaftesbury 
rendered abortive the second line of policy by which the 
king attempted to restore the full majesty of the crown. 
There was nothing left him now but a policy of resistance. 
The next move in the game must come from his opponents. 
Thus the three following years were spent by Charles 
intriguing first with Louis, then with William, seeming to 
be on the brink of war and a Protestant policy and always 
drawing back. No decisive step could be taken until the 

1 April 1675. 



30 The Popish Plot 

panic of the Popish Plot gave to the country party an 
opportunity, which after a three years' struggle the king 
turned to his own account with signal triumph. 

From the moment when he revoked the Declaration of 
Indulgence the Catholics had nothing to hope from Charles. 
Up to that time Roman Catholic policy in England looked 
to him ; thereafter he stood apart from it. Throughout 
his reign the king had been studying to rise to absolute 
sovereignty on the ladder of Catholicism. By the treaty 
of Dover he was actively concerned in a conspiracy to 
overturn the established church and again to introduce 
the Roman Catholic religion into England. He had un- 
doubtedly been guilty of an act which in a subject would 
have been high treason. Although he now dissociated 
himself from his former policy, it was not abandoned by 
others. The Catholics had been deceived by Charles. 
They now fixed their hopes upon his brother, the Duke of 
York. Since the king would no longer join with the 
Jesuit party, it was determined to go without him. From 
that time James became the centre of their intrigues and 
negotiations. He was the point round which their hopes 
revolved. 

The foundation of the intrigue was laid in the summer 
of 1673. Some eighteen months before the duke had 
made known to a small circle his conversion to the Roman 
Catholic Church. 1 The step was taken in the deepest 
secrecy, and even at Rome was not recognised as final until 
some years afterwards, for although James laid down his 
office of Lord High Admiral in consequence of the Test 
Act, he still continued to attend service in the royal chapel. 2 
But despite all caution, enough suspicion was aroused by 
James' marriage at the suggestion of the French court with 

1 Clarke, Life of King James II i. 440, 629. In referring to 
this work I adopt Lingard's plan of mentioning it simply as "James," 
except where the passage referred to is based, as here, upon James' 
original memoirs, when I refer to it as "James (Or. Mem.)." Klopp 
i. 235. Foley i. 272 seq. 

2 Cardinal Howard to Coleman, April 1 8, 1676. Treby i. 85. 
Courtin, April 2, 1676. 



The Nature of the Designs 31 

a Roman Catholic princess, Mary of Modena. It was a 
definite sign of his attachment to the French and Catholic 
interest, and paved the way for the correspondence which 
was afterwards so nearly to procure his downfall. The 
duke had for secretary a young man named Edward 
Coleman, whom mysterious doings and a tragic fate have 
invested with not unmerited interest. Coleman was the 
son of an English clergyman. At an early age he was 
converted to the Catholic faith and educated by the Jesuits, 
and to the furtherance of their schemes devoted the rest of 
his life. To the good cause he brought glowing ardour 
and varied talents. He was noted as a keen contro- 
versialist and a successful fisherman of souls. The 
confidence of three ambassadors from the court of France 
argues versatile ability in the man. With Ruvigny 
Coleman enjoyed some intimacy ; Courtin found him of 
the greatest assistance ; he discussed with Barillon subjects 
of delicacy on his master's behalf. The ambassadors found 
him a man of spirit, adept in intrigue, with fingers on the 
wires by which parties were pulled. And they valued him 
accordingly. For Coleman undertook the difficult task of 
agent between Louis XIV and the mercenary Whigs. 
More than three thousand pounds can be traced passing 
through his hands. The leaders of the opposition had 
their price at some five hundred guineas ; but these took 
their money direct from the ambassador. Coleman dealt 
with the rank and file, and here the gold, which among 
the more exalted would have soon been exhausted, probably 
went far. He kept a sumptuous table for his friends and 
laid up for himself what he gained by way of commission. 
Knowledge of foreign languages, a ready pen, and his 
Jesuit connection marked Coleman as the man for the 
duke's service. He had all the talents for the post save 
one. James' want of discretion was reflected in his 
secretary. Twice Coleman was dismissed ; the dismissal 
was apparent only, and he continued work as busily as 
before. He had occupied himself in writing seditious 
letters to rouse discontent in the provinces against the 
government. Complaint was made. Coleman was dis- 



32, The Popish Plot 

charged from his place by the duke. He was immediately 
taken into the service of the duchess in the same capacity. 
Some years later his zeal brought him into collision with 
the Bishop of London. Compton went to the king and 
obtained an order to the duke to dismiss his wife's secretary. 
The French ambassador was much perturbed and pressed 
James to afford protection. Coleman received his dismissal 
and took ship to Calais. His Jesuit friends sent the news- 
sadly one to another. His very talents, it was said, had 
destroyed him. He was too much in the duke's counsels. 
His enemies could not countenance the presence of a man 
of such parts. The duchess chose a new secretary. Within 
a fortnight Coleman returned, and in secret resumed his 
office. He was in the duke's confidence and necessary to 
him. 1 Altogether Coleman was not quite the innocent 
lamb that he has often been painted. 

1 Ruvigny, August 19/29, 1675. Courtin, October 9/19, 1676, 
January 11/21, 15/25, 1677. Barillon, December 17/27, 1677^ 
Giacomo Ronchi, October 3/13, 1678, in Campana de Cavelli i. 233. 
Longleat MSS. Strange to Warner, December 28, 1676; Bedingfield 
to Warner, December 28, 1676 ; Coleman to Whitehall, January i y 
1677 j Mrs. Coleman to Coleman, January I, 1677, January 4, 1677 ; 
Coventry Papers xi. 245, 246, 247. MS. diary of Lord Keeper 
Guildford, Dalrymple ii. 199, 200. Par/, hist. iv. 1035. Hist. MSS. 
Com. Rep. i. Ap. 56. Florus Anglo- Bavaricus 136. Forneron, Louise 
de Keroualle 136, 161, 179. Ralph i. 272. Burnet ii. 51, 99. 

Coleman is described by Warner, MS. history 41 : " Hunc 
proxime secutus est Edwardus Colemannus, serenissimae Ducissae 
Eboracensi a secretis, in haeresi educatus, quam detectis erroribus 
ejuravit, et totus in Catholicorum partes transiit, quas exinde promovit 
pro virili, magno zelo sed impari prudentia. Magnum a natura sortitus 
est et festivum ingenium, cui dum nimium indulgeret, et liberrimis 
censuris quae parum a satyris abessent curules perstringeret, divum 
nulli parcens, multorum, praecipue, Danbaei, offensam incurrit, a 
quibus tandem oppressus est." 

The imputation that he diverted the Frenchmen's gold to his own 
use was put upon Coleman by Whig historians. Of this his character 
has been cleared by Sir George Sitwell (First Whig 25, note). The 
Whig Committee of the House of Commons appointed to examine 
Coleman reported his confession " that he had prepared guineas to 
distribute among members of Parliament, but that he gave none and 
applied them to his own use" (C.J. November 7, 1678). The committee 
was composed of men who themselves received money from the French 
ambassador, and therefore had the strongest motive to conceal the facts. 



The Nature of the Designs 33 

At the outbreak of the second Dutch war an English 
cavalry regiment was sent for the French service under 
the command of Lord Duras. Among the officers was 
Sir William Throckmorton, an intimate of Coleman and 
converted by him to the Catholic faith. Throckmorton 
left the regiment and settled in Paris as his friend's agent. 
The two corresponded at length, and by Throckmorton's 
means Coleman was put in communication with Pere 
Ferrier, Louis XIV's Jesuit confessor. Ferrier was assured 
by Coleman that parliament would force Charles II to 
break with France and make peace with the Dutch. The 
accuracy of his prophecy gained the confessor's confidence. 
Letters were exchanged and the means to advance the 
Duke of York and the Catholic cause in England debated. 
Ferrier was the first of Louis' confessors to play an 
important part in politics, and his alliance was an achieve- 
ment to be counted to the duke. 1 Coleman proceeded 
to extend his connection in other quarters. Under the 
assumed name of Rice the Earl of Berkshire was in com- 
munication with him, urging with doleful foreboding the 
overthrow of parliament and the Protestant party. 2 
Berkshire was Coleman's sole correspondent known in 
England, but on the continent others took up the thread. 
In France the Jesuit Sheldon was high in praise of Coleman 
and his design. From Brussels the papal internuncio 
Albani discussed it somewhat coolly. Meanwhile Cole- 
man's relations with Paris had undergone a change. In 
May 1675 Sir William Throckmorton died disreputably 

But the truth slipped out two years later in a speech made in the House 
by Mr. Harbord (December 14, 1680). Coleman, he said, did confess 
" that he had twenty-five hundred pounds from the French ambassador 
to distribute amongst members of Parliament, and your committee 
prudently did not take any names from him, it being in his power to 
asperse whom he pleased, possibly some gentlemen against the French 
and Popish interest." The prudence of the committee in attributing 
to Coleman statements which he never made is also indubitable. 

1 Coleman to Ferrier, June 29, 1674. Ferrier to Coleman, 
September 25, 1674. Coleman to Ferrier in answer to above. 
Coleman to La Chaize, September 29, 1675. Treby i. i, 3, 6, 109. 
Chantelauze, Le Pere de la Chaize 4. 

2 Berkshire to Coleman, March 24, 1675. Treby i. 103. 

D 






34 The Popish Plot 

of a wound received in the course of his too eager court- 
ship of a certain Lady Brown, while his wife yet lived, 1 
and in December St. Germain, banished from England, 
took up his place. More important was the death of 
Pere Ferrier in September of the same year, for Louis XIV 
chose as his confessor Pere de la Chaize, the famous Jesuit 
whose dealings with Coleman subsequently formed the 
heaviest part of the proof against the unlucky intriguer. 2 
Finally to the list of his political correspondents whose names 
are known Coleman added that of Cardinal Howard, better 
known as Cardinal Norfolk, at the Roman court. 3 

Of this correspondence nearly two hundred letters have 
been preserved. The insight which they give into the 
minds and intentions of their writers is invaluable. They 
throw a strong light upon the undercurrent of political 
movement at a time when politics were perhaps more 
complicated and their undercurrents more potent than at 
any time before or after. From them might be detailed 
the tenor of the designs undertaken by a great religious 
party during a period of fierce struggle. Such recon- 
struction from a fragmentary correspondence must always 
be difficult. In the case of the Coleman correspondence 
the difficulty would be great. That the letters can be 
read at all is due to the fact that the key to the cipher in 
which they are written was found with them. Not only 
were they written in an arbitrary cipher, not to be 
elucidated without the key, but in such guarded and 
metaphorical language that the meaning can often be caught 
only by chance or conjecture. 4 Parables can easily be 
understood after the events to the arrangements for which 

1 Throckmorton to Coleman, April zj, May I, 1675. Fitzherbert 
MSS. 70. Burnet ii. 103. 

2 Chantelauze, Le Pere de la Chaize 4. See below in Trials for 
Treason. 

3 In 1672 Howard was appointed bishop-elect of England with a 
see "inpartibus" but not consecrated. In 1675 he was created 
cardinal by Clement X, and in 1679 was nominated by Innocent XI 
Cardinal Protector of England and Scotland. 

4 Some of the letters could not be deciphered ; see for instance 
Albani to Coleman, January 12, 1675. Treby i. 121. 



The Nature of the Designs 35 

they refer ; but when no effect follows, the drift is more 
obscure. When before the Spanish Armada an English 
agent writes from Spain that bales of wool are being stored 
in large quantities, muniments of war may be read between 
the lines. When Jacobites give notice to their exiled king 
that Mr. Jackson need only appear in Westminster Hall 
to recover his estate, or that a cargo of the right sort, now 
in great demand, must be shipped at once, their meaning 
is transparent. But to the obscure terms used by Cole- 
man and his friends after events afford a slighter clue. 
No notion discussed by them was ever tested as a 
practicable scheme in action. Neither success nor ex- 
posure sheds light whereby to read their letters. What- 
ever is in them must be painfully read as intention alone, 
and as intention abandoned. The general ideas however 
are plain, and an admirable exposition by Coleman himself 
saves the necessity of piecing them together from small 
fragments. 

On September 29, 1675 he wrote a long letter to Pere 
de la Chaize relating in some detail the history of the 
intrigues of the previous years. 1 Catholic ascendency in 
England and a general peace in favour of France were the 
objects for which he had worked. For these the dissolu- 
tion of Parliament and money were necessary, money both 
to dissolve Parliament and to supply the king's wants. 
Next to Parliament Lord Arlington was the Duke of 
York's greatest enemy ; for Arlington was the supporter, 
if not the promoter of the Test Act. 2 In response to this 
beginning Pere Ferrier had sent a note to the duke 
through Sir William Throckmorton. In agreement with 
James it was Louis XIV's opinion that Arlington and 
the Parliament formed a great obstacle to their joint 
interest ; and if the duke could succeed in dissolving the 
present Parliament, he would lend the assistance of his 
power and purse to procure another better suited to their 
purpose. The duke replied to Ferrier in person, and 

1 Treby i. 109-116. 

2 Colbert, November 10/20, 1673, on the information of St. 
Evremonde. Mignet, Negotiations iv. 236. 






36 The Popish Plot 

Coleman answered too. Their letters were to the same 
effect. The French king's offer was most generous and 
highly gratifying, but money was needed at the moment 
as urgently as thereafter, for without money a dissolution 
could not be obtained, and without a dissolution every- 
thing done so far would be nugatory. So far as money 
went it was possible to consult Ruvigny, the ambassador 
in England ; further not, for Ruvigny was a Protestant. 
Eulogies of Throckmorton and Coleman passed from 
Ferrier to James and back, each expressing to the other 
his confidence in their agents. 1 At this time, said Coleman, 
Charles II was undecided and felt the arguments for and 
against dissolution equally strong. But if a large sum 
such as 300,000 had been offered to him on condition 

1 Treby i. no. Ferrier to Coleman, September 25, 1674; and 
Coleman's answer to Ferrier, Treby i. 3, 6. The Duke of York to 
Ferrier, Treby i. 119. This last letter Coleman declared at his 
examination in Newgate to have been written by himself in the duke's 
name and without his knowledge. 7 State Trials 54. There is however 
no reason to accept his statement as true. Answering Ferrier's letter 
Coleman writes, " His royal highness has received the letter that you 
sent him by Sir William Throckmorton, which he has answered to 
you himself." Treby i. 3. Supposing Coleman to have told the truth 
to his examiners, he must have forged the letter, a work of considerable 
difficulty, since James' writing would certainly have been well known 
at the French court. Throckmorton and Coleman must also in this 
case have conspired to divert Ferrier's letter to James and never 
deliver it ; for there could be no reason for the duke to meet with a 
marked rebuff a letter so flattering to him and written in his interest, 
and unless he refused to send an answer, Coleman would have no 
motive to forge one. Nor can it be supposed that Coleman carried on 
his correspondence without the duke's knowledge. Beyond the 
certainty that Coleman was in James' confidence, this is plain from 
the fact that on several occasions either Coleman's correspondent 
desires him particularly to show his letter to the duke or he mentions 
that he has done so. And Coleman had the strongest motive to shield 
his master by taking on himself the authorship of the letter. That he 
was believed is probably due to Gates' careful exoneration of the duke 
from concern in the Plot at a time when he was not certain of a 
favourable reception for his story. Another misunderstanding would 
be welcomed by Coleman. This letter was said at the time to have 
been addressed to La Chaize, and the belief would suit Coleman, 
since the letter would be less likely to be connected with his own 
written to Ferrier at the same time. The confessor to whom it was 



The Nature of the Designs 37 

that Parliament should be dissolved, he would certainly 
have accepted both money and condition. Peace would 
then be assured, with other advantages to follow. Logic 
built upon money, wrote Coleman, had more charms at 
the court of St. James than any other form of reasoning. 1 
To obtain this money Coleman and his associates had 
worked hard. Not only did Coleman write to Ferrier 
about it and talk to Ruvigny about it in London, but he 
made Throckmorton press for it in Paris, and press 
Pomponne, the French secretary of state, as well as the 
confessor. Twice Throckmorton persuaded Pomponne 
to speak particularly to Louis on the subject, and once he 
sent a memoir for the king's perusal. Louis returned it 
with expressions of great interest in the duke's cause and 
the message " that he should always be ready to join and 
work with him." Also Pomponne was bidden to say that 
he had orders to direct Ruvigny u that he should take 
measures and directions from the duke," especially in 
what concerned the dissolution of Parliament. Louis, he 
said, was most sensible of the need for energy and caution 
and gave the greatest consideration to the matter. 2 At 
the same time Sheldon was pressing the French king's 
confessor. 3 Still the money did not come. One excuse 
after another was made. Pomponne declared that so 
great a sum as that demanded could not possibly be 
spared by Louis ; and Throckmorton believed that this 
was so ; but he was compelled to admit that another 
campaign would cost perhaps ten times as much. The 
foreign secretary also complained that the duke did not 

sent was certainly Ferrier and not La Chaize, for Throckmorton, who 
is mentioned in it, was dead some months before the latter came to 
court. The erroneous idea was probably owing to the manner in 
which Ferrier is spoken of in the letter in the third person, an use 
common with the writers in this correspondence. 

1 Treby i. no, ni, 112. 

2 Treby i. 112. Coleman to Throckmorton, February i, 1675. 
Treby ii. I. Throckmorton to Coleman, November 28, December I, 
1674. Fitzherbert MSS. 50, 51. Same to same, February 13, 1675. 
Treby u 73. 

3 Sheldon to Coleman, July 13, 1675. Treby i. 49. 



38 The Popish Plot 

appear sufficiently in the movement himself. He was 
answered by Coleman that James had ceased negotiating 
with the ambassador as Ruvigny gave so little help, but 
he was in communication with Ferrier. Coleman thought 
that Ruvigny's backwardness was deliberate. Sheldon and 
Throckmorton were of the same opinion, and Throck- 
morton suggested as an alternative that a subscription 
should be raised from the Catholics ; ^50,000 he thought 
might be promised from France, and he hoped for twice 
that sum in England. 1 

While Coleman was begging from the French court 
and declaring his exclusive devotion to the interests of 
France, he was at the same time urging the papal nuncio 
to obtain money from the Pope and the Emperor and 
renouncing all designs except that of forwarding the 
Catholic cause in the Pope's behalf. Albani was moder- 
ately enthusiastic. The Emperor commanded him to 
assure the Duke of York of the passionate zeal he enter- 
tained for his service and the Catholic cause. The Pope 
too would assist in matters in which he might properly 
appear. But James must himself point the direction of 
the assistance to be granted. Coleman replied that he 
had already shewn the way. Money alone was needed to 
procure the dissolution of Parliament. Dissolution would 
mean peace abroad and Catholic ascendency in England to 
the great advantage of the Pope, the Emperor, and the 
whole Church. It was incumbent on the Emperor and 
more especially on the Pope to open wide the purse for so 
fair a prospect. 2 The nuncio was not however to be 
carried away by emotion. Money could not be expended 
by the Pope upon such vague expectation. He had others 
to think of in greater straits than the English Catholics. 
Before the matter could be submitted to Rome more 

1 Trebyi. 112. Throckmorton to Coleman, December 8, December 
22, 1674, January 19, 1675. Fitzherbert MSS. 51, 62. Treby i. 66. 
Coleman to Throckmorton, February I, 1675. Treby ii. I. Sheldon 
to Coleman, July 13, 1675. Treby i. 45. 

2 Albani to Coleman, August 4, 1674. Coleman to Albani, August 
21, 1674. Treby i. 21 : 7. 



The Nature of the Designs 39 

definite guarantees must be given that the Catholic cause 
would really be served. In any case what the Pope could 
afford would be nothing in comparison to what was 
needed. 1 Coleman continued to press, even to the point 
of Albani's annoyance. 2 Repetition of the same argu- 
ments merely met the same reply ; and when by command 
of the Duke of York Coleman paid a secret visit to 
Brussels to interview the nuncio, the result was no better. 8 

So the shuttlecock was beaten backwards and forwards 
between London, Paris, and Brussels. Writing to La 
Chaize Coleman naturally made no mention of his corre- 
spondence with the nuncio. Different arguments had to 
be used in the two quarters. To Albani Coleman vowed 
his undying affection for the Pope, to the Jesuit an ex- 
tremity of devotion for French interests. Neither the 
one nor the other had the desired effect. Advice and 
encouragement were forthcoming, but not pistoles. The 
bashfulness of Coleman's correspondents is not hard to 
understand. Albani gave his reasons brutally enough. 
Those at the court of Versailles were probably of the same 
nature. And here they had additional force, for if on 
general grounds the French were unlikely to pay, they 
were still less likely to support the Duke of York with 
doubtful advantages at a time when they could obtain 
their chief object by subsidising his brother the king. No 
one of business habits would pour his gold into English 
pockets without reasonable expectation of a proportionate 
return. The English pocket had the appearance of being 
constructed upon a principle contrary to that of Fortu- 
natus' purse. 

The scheme for which support was thus begged from 
whoever seemed likely to give was not promising to any 
but an enthusiast. Money was wanted certainly to bring 
Charles to the dissolution of Parliament, an idea which was 

1 Albani to Coleman, October 19, 1674. Treby i. 23. 

2 Coleman to Albani, October 23, 1674. Albani to Coleman, 
January 12, 1675. Treby i. 12, 25. 

8 Fitzherbert MSS. 113. Par/. Hist. iv. 1024, 1025. Burnet 
ii. 104. 



40 The Popish Plot 

constantly in the air at court. The Cavalier Parliament 
was an uncompromising opponent of Popery, and the 
Catholics bore it a heavy grudge. But dissolution in itself 
would hardly improve their own position. The design 
reached considerably farther than that. It was no less than 
to bribe the king to issue another declaration of indul- 
gence, appoint the Duke of York again to the office of 
Lord High Admiral, and leave the whole management of 
affairs to his hands. 1 In the course of the next year a 
new parliament should be assembled, bribed to support the 

1 Coleman to Throckmorton, February I, 1675. "The duke having 
the king wholly to himself, he would no longer balance between the 
different motives of his honour and the weak apprehensions of his 
enemies' power ; but then the duke would be able to govern him 
without trouble, and mark out to him what he ought to do for the 
establishment of his grandeur and repose. For you well know that 
when the duke comes to be master of our affairs the King of France 
will have reason to promise himself all things that he can desire. How 
shall we get this parliament dissolved ? ... by the King of France 
and the help of three hundred thousand pounds. This parliament is 
revengeful to the last degree, and no man that offends them must think 
to escape. But as for a new parliament that will be better natured 
and will doubtless accord to his Majesty all that he shall need for his 
occasions. And this for very good reason, since they will more depend 
upon his Majesty upon other accounts than his Majesty upon them for 
money. And to conclude where we began, the duke by the dissolution 
will be all-powerful " (Treby ii. I, 2, 3). 

Coleman to Albani, August 21, 1674.. "So that if the duke can 
happily disengage himself of those difficulties wherewith he is now 
encumbered, all the world will esteem him an able man, and all people 
will entrust him in their affairs more willingly than they have done 
formerly. And the king himself, who hath more influence on the East 
India Company (Parliament) than all the rest, will not only re-establish 
him in the employment he had before, but will put the management 
of all the trade into his hands. We have in agitation great designs, 
worthy the consideration of your friends, and to be supported with all 
their power, wherein we have no doubt but to succeed, and it may be 
to the utter ruin of the Protestant party" (Treby i. 78). 

Coleman to Albani, October 2, 1674. "If tne duke can shew to 
the king the true cause of all these misfortunes and persuade him to 
change the method of their trade, which he may easily do with the 
help of money, he will without difficulty drive away the Parliament 
and the Protestants who have ruined all their affairs for so great a 
time, and settle in their employments the Catholics, who understand 
perfectly well the nature of this sort of trade " (Treby ii. 6). 



The Nature of the Designs 41 

French and Catholic interest, and the Catholic position in 
England would be assured. James was an able and 
popular officer and enjoyed great authority in the navy. 
Supposing the stroke could be effected, he would occupy a 
position not only of dignity but of power to meet any 
attack that might be made upon his new state. The 
scheme was so far advanced that Coleman drew up a 
declaration for the king to issue setting forth his reasons 
for a dissolution, and solemnly protesting his intention to 
stand by the Protestant religion and the decisions of the 
next parliament. That was to be before the end of 
February I675. 1 

Although Coleman wrote to the nuncio that the 
Catholics had never before had so favourable an oppor- 
tunity, the design was shortly modified and deferred. 2 In 
its present shape the possibility of putting it to the test 
depended upon the good-will of the ministers. After the 
dissolution of Parliament their assistance would be necessary. 
Without it nothing could be done. If Parliament were 
dissolved and the ministers stopped the execution of all 
that was to follow, the last state would be worse than the 
first. And it now became evident that matters were in 
just that case. Whatever the Cabal might have done, it 
was certain that those who followed would have no hand 
in exalting the Duke of York's power. jDanby, whose 
watchword was Monarchy and No Toleration, was now 
firmly fixed in authority. Early in February a proclamation 
was issued ordering the execution of the penal laws, whetted 
against Roman Catholics by the promise of reward to 
informers ; young men were to be recalled from Catholic 
seminaries abroad, subjects were forbidden to hear mass in 
the chapels of foreign ambassadors, all English priests 
were banished from the kingdom. 3 The effect of the 

1 Treby ii. 21-25. 

2 Coleman to Albani, October 2, 1674. Treby ii. 6. 

3 Coleman to Albani, February 12, 1675. Treby ii. 8. John 
Leybourn, president of the English College at Douay, to Cardinal 
Albani, June 17, 1675. Vat. Arch. Misc. 168. Par!, hist. iv. 673, 
674. Brosch 431, 432. 






42, The Popish Plot 

proclamation was chiefly moral ; but the worst con- 
sequences might be expected from the Non-Resistance bill, 
now in active preparation for the April session. Should 
this be passed, Catholic, Presbyterian, and Whig alike 
would be excluded from all part in the management of 
affairs, and the royal Church of England would triumph. 
The Duke of York's party veered round and adopted the 
cause of parliament as a bulwark for themselves against 
the ministerial attack. The moment was critical for all 
concerned. A golden age seemed to have arrived for the 
Commons. Money was showered lavishly on them. For- 
tune rained every coinage in Europe. Danby, the Bishops, 
the Dutch, and the Spanish ambassador did battle with 
their rouleaux against the Catholics, the Nonconformists, the 
French ambassador and theirs. The scenes in Parliament 
were unprecedented, and have since scarcely been surpassed. 
Swords were drawn and members spat across the floor of 
the House. In the House of Lords the king appeared 
regularly at the debates to exert a personal influence on his 
peers, and was likened to the sun, scorching his opponents, 
Here Charles and Danby had the advantage, and after 
seventeen days the bill was sent down to the Commons ; 
but Shaftesbury, who had fought with the utmost resolution, 
seized his opportunity to foment the old dispute between 
the Houses as to the right of appeal to the Lords, with 
such success that the session had to be closed before the 
bill could be introduced, Parliament was prorogued, and 
the Test vanished for ever. 1 Coleman and his friends 
breathed again and proceeded to adapt their programme 
to the new situation. Since dissolution would not help 
them, they would mould Parliament to their design. At 
the moment the Duke of York's position was as precarious 
as before ; but, wrote Coleman to La Chaize, " if he could 
gain any considerable new addition of power, all would 
come over to him as the only steady centre of our govern- 
ment, and nobody would contend with him further. Then 

1 Ranke v. 184, 185, 186. Airy, The English Restoration 235, 236, 
237. Brosch 432. Par/. Hist. iv. 715 seq. Schwerin, Briefe aus 
England 24. Andrew Marvell, Growth of Popery. Treby 1.114. 



The Nature of the Designs 43 

would Catholics be at rest and his most Christian Majesty's 
interest be secured with us in England beyond all appre- 
hensions whatsoever. In order to this we have two great 
designs to attempt the next sessions. First, that which 
we were about before, viz. to put Parliament upon making 
it their humble request to the king that the fleet may be 
put in his royal highness' care. 1 Secondly, to get an act 
for general liberty of conscience." Coleman had already 
spoken to Ruvigny on the subject ; the ambassador was 
not enthusiastic, but he admitted the advantages that would 
ensue to France. Twenty thousand pounds, thought 
Coleman, would ensure success ; and success would be 
" the greatest blow to the Protestant religion here that 
ever it received since its birth." 2 La Chaize answered 
briefly, promising to give the matter consideration and 
desiring to hear more from his correspondent. 3 Coleman 
rejoined in his last letter to the confessor that has been 
preserved. He engaged to write whenever occasion arose, 
and sent La Chaize a cipher for use between themselves ; 
and for greater security he would write between lines of 
trivial import in lemon juice, legible when held to the fire. 
Only that part of the business not relating to religion 
could be discussed with Ruvigny, continued Coleman ; and 
then, coming to the point, " We have here a mighty work 
upon our hands, no less then the conversion of three 
kingdoms, and by that perhaps the subduing of a pestilent 
heresy, which has domineered over great part of this 
northern world a long time ; there were never such hopes 
of success since the death of Queen Mary as now in our 
days, when God has given us a prince who is become (may 
I say, a miracle) zealous of being the author and instrument 
of so glorious a work. . . . That which we rely upon 
most, next to God Almighty's providence and the favour 

1 This is awkwardly expressed. What they were about before was 
to have the- duke put again over the fleet, but not to have this done 
at the request of Parliament ; for it was then the object to have 
Parliament dissolved. 

2 Treby i. 116. See also Coleman to Albani, February 12, 1675. 
Treby 1 ii. 8. 

3 Treby i. 117. 



44 The Popish Plot 

of my master the duke, is the mighty mind of his most 
Christian Majesty." l 

The significance of this is beyond doubt. It has been 
the custom of historians, quoting the last passage alone, to 
belittle its importance as the exaggerated outpouring of a 
zealot's fancy. Taken with the context it is seen to be 
something very different. The words only express more 
clearly what was often hinted at and half outspoken in 
the correspondence which led up to this point. Jesuit 
agents and the Duke of York's confidential secretary, for 
such in fact Coleman was, had something more to do than 
to entertain themselves by writing at length and in 
cipher to all parts of Europe with no other intention than 
to express their hopes for the propagation of the Catholic 
faith in a manner quite detached from politics, or to dis- 
cuss political schemes as matters of speculative interest ; 
such things are not done for amusement. Coleman's 
phrases are pregnant with real meaning. They are to be 
understood literally. The design which his letters sketch 
was in substance the same as that afterwards put into 
practice when the Duke of York ascended the throne as 
James II. Under the guise of a demand for liberty of 
worship, it was a design to turn England into a Roman 
Catholic state in the interest of France and the Jesuits, 
and by the aid of French money. The remark of Halifax 
that dissenters only plead for conscience to obtain power 
was eminently true of his own time. No less true was it 
that those who separated themselves from the religion of 
the state aimed at the subversion of it. 2 

1 Treby i. 117, 118. 

2 Halifax, Maxims of State ; 

xxm. The Dissenters of England plead only for conscience, but 
their struggle is for power ; yet when they had it, have always denied 
to others that liberty of conscience which they now make such a 
noise for. 

xxvi. They that separate themselves from the Religion of the State 
and are not contented with a free Toleration, aim at the Subversion of 
it. For a conscience that once exceeds its bounds knows no limits, 
because it pretends to be above all other Rules. 

The dangerous nature of Coleman's correspondence was recognised 
at the time by sensible people, as well Catholics as Protestants. 



The Nature of the Designs 45 

High treason, be it remarked, is the only crime known 
to the law in which the intention and not the act con- 
stitutes the offence. The famous statute of Edward III 
had defined as the most important treasons the compass- 
ing or imagining of the king's death, the levying of war 
against the king, and adherence to the king's enemies 
within the realm or without. 1 An act passed at the 
height of power of one of the most powerful monarchs 
who have reigned in England was insufficient for the 
needs of those whose position was less secure. The 
severity of repeated enactments under Henry VIII to 
create new treasons, and perhaps the difficulty of meeting 
attempts against the crown by statutory definition, rendered 
this method of supplying the want unpopular and un- 
satisfactory. So in the reign of Queen Elizabeth the 

Barillon, October 3/13 : "On trouve dans les papiers de ceux qui ont 
etc arrete"s beaucoup de commerces qui paraissent criminels en 
Angleterre, parce qu'il s'agit de la religion." October 10/20, 1678 : 
" On continue toujours ici la visite des papiers du Sieur Coleman. 
. . . Tous les gens raisonnables croyent que la conjuration centre la 
personne du Roi de la Grande Bretagne n'a aucun veritable fonde- 
ment. Les commissaires du conseil qui instruisent 1 'affaire parlent de 
la meme maniere sur cela, mais en me'me temps ils disent qu'il parait 
un commerce fort dangereux pour 1'Etat avec les etrangers. Qu'il 
s'emploie de grandes sommes pour soutenir les cabales et pour 
augmenter la religion catholique, et que par les lois d'Angleterre la 
plupart de ceux qui sont arretes sont criminels. Ils parlent bien plus 
affirmativement du Sieur Coleman. On a trouve dans ses papiers des 
minutes de toutes les lettres qu'il ecrivait a Rome, en France, et 
ailleurs. On pretend qu'il y a quantites de projets qui tendent a la 
ruine de la religion protestante en Angleterre et a 1'etablissement 
d'une autorite souveraine en Angleterre et d'un changement de 
gouvernement par le papisme." 

II Nuntio di Vienna al Nuntio in Francia, Nimega, October 
18/28, 1678 : "Al Colman oltre 1' insufficient! imputationi de com- 
plicita s'adossa hoggi corrispondenza per altri capi criminali, che lo 
mettono in gran pericolo della vita." Vat. Arch. Nunt. di Francia 329. 

J. Brisbane to Henry Coventry, October 14/24, 1678. M. de 
Pomponne and M. Courtin treat the whole matter of the plot en 
ridicule and say that " le pauvre Coleman est mort seulement pour 
etre Catholique." February n, 1679. Finds that those who did not 
long ago canonise Mr. Coleman, do now acknowledge his execution 
to have been a just punishment. Bath MSS. 242, 243. 

1 25 Edward III St. 5, c. i. 

I 






46 The Popish Plot 

extension of the statute of Edward III by construction 
became the settled mode of procedure. With the lapse 
of time the scope of constructive treason was extended. 
Coke laid down that an overt act witnessing the intention 
to depose or imprison the king or to place him in the 
power of another was sufficient to prove the compassing 
and imagining his death. Conspiracy with a foreign 
prince to invade the realm by open hostility, declared by 
an overt act, is evidence of the same. 1 Hale held con- 
spiracy, the logical end of which must be the death or 
deposition of the king, even though this were not the 
direct intention, to be an act of high treason. To levy 
war against the king is an overt act of treason ; conspiracy 
to levy war is thus an overt act of treason by compassing 
the king's death. To restrain the king by force, to 
compel him to yield certain demands, to extort legislation 
by terror and a strong hand, in fact all movements tend- 
ing to deprive him of his kingly government, whether of 
the nature of personal pressure or of riot and disturbance 
in the country, are acts of treason. To collect arms, to 
gather company, to write letters are evidence of the inten- 
tion of the same. 2 Treason by adherence to the king's 
enemies was equally expansive. Thus it has been held, 
says Sir James Stephen, " that to imagine the king's death 
means to intend anything whatever which under any 
circumstances may possibly have a tendency, however 
remote, to expose the king to personal danger or to the 
forcible deprivation of any part of the authority incidental 
to his office." 3 In 1678 a question was put to the judges 
by the Attorney-General : " Whether it be not high treason 
to endeavour to extirpate the religion established in this 
country, and to introduce the Pope's authority by com- 
bination and assistance of foreign power ? " The judges 
were unanimous in their opinion that it was treason. 4 

1 Third Institute 6, 12, 14. 

2 Hale, P.C. i. 109, no. 

3 History of the Criminal Law i. 268. See on the whole subject 
Stephen i. 241-281 and Hale, P.C. i. 87-170. 

4 S.P. Dom. Charles II 407 : i. 128. 



The Nature of the Designs 47 

And in the case of Lord Preston in 1691 it was held 
that taking a boat at Surrey Stairs in Middlesex in order 
to board a ship off the coast of Kent, and convey to the 
French king papers containing information on the naval 
and military state of England, with the purpose of helping 
him to invade the realm, was an overt act of treason by 
compassing and imagining the death of the king. 1 

Doubt cannot exist as to the dangerous consequence 
of the correspondence carried on by Coleman. Under 
the most favourable interpretation it reveals a design to 
accomplish again by means of bribery what the English 
nation had already rejected as illegal and unconstitutional, 
a deed which was said to have broken forty acts of 
Parliament, 2 to give the sanction of authority to a re- 
ligion which was banned and to priests who were under 
doom of high treason. And the most favourable inter- 
pretation is certainly not the most just. Those "great 
designs ... to the utter ruin of the Protestant party," 
which should "drive away the Parliament and the 
Protestants . . . and settle in their employments the 
Catholics," refuse such a colouring. 3 At Coleman's sub- 
sequent trial the Lord Chief Justice told him, " Your 
design was to bring in Popery into England and to 
promote the interest of the French king in this place. 
. . . Our religion was to be subverted, Popery established, 
and the three kingdoms to be converted " ; 4 and what the 
Chief Justice said was true. Coleman and the party to 
which he belonged had designed " to extirpate the religion 
established in this country " by the assistance of money 
given by a foreign power. Such an endeavour could not 
be undertaken without the commission of high treason. 
By the theory of the constitution the king can do no 
wrong. Much less can he do wrong to himself. He 
cannot be persuaded to perform an act directed against 
his own person. Great persuasion or importunity addressed 
to the king, says Hale, cannot be held an act of treason, 
since an intention must be manifested to restrain or influence 

1 X I2 State Trials 646. 2 Par/. Hist. iv. 519. 

3 See above. 4 7 State Trials 60, 67. 



48 The Popish Plot 

him by force. 1 But the king cannot be supposed of his 
free will to undertake measures having their end, according 
to the construction of the statute, in the compassing of his 
own death. Nor can he be supposed to be persuaded to 
such measures, for both cases involve a contradiction of 
himself. No king can be guilty of high treason. Except 
by Act of Parliament none in England can divest his office 
of any of the full authority pertaining thereto. Persuasion 
of the king to do so is by the nature of the case impossible, 
whether it be in the form of money or other. Any one 
who plans a fundamental change of the constitution, to 
be effected by money or other means except by the con- 
stitutional action of Parliament, falls under the penalty for 
treason none the less because he may hope for assistance 
from the man who is king, since the king cannot be 
considered to assist an unconstitutional change. Any one 
planning such a change, though he intends to obtain the 
king's assistance, acts against the king's authority as 
much as if he did not so intend, and is therefore guilty of 
high treason. Of such possible changes the overthrow of 
the Church of England is one, for the king cannot otherwise 
than constitutionally join in the subversion of the church 
of which he is head, and which he has sworn to maintain. 
If he is successfully persuaded to take part in such an act, 
the persuasion must be regarded as tantamount to force, 
for persuasion of the king to commit treason against 
himself is absurd. And the position of a man declaring 
his intention to accomplish this change is exactly that of 
Coleman and the Jesuit party in England. There can be 
no doubt that the subjects who took part with Charles II 
in the treaty of Dover were guilty of high treason, none 
the less because the man who was king acted in concert 
with them. And similarly, none the less because they 
expressed the intention of bribing the king to assist their 
design, no doubt can exist that Coleman and his associates 
were brought by their schemes under the penalty of the 
same crime. 

Such was the state of the Roman Catholic designs 
1 Hale, P.C. i. no. 



The Nature of the Designs 49 

the real Popish Plot in England at the close of the year 
1675. The direction in which they turned during the 
next three years is now to seek. At the outset the 
chief part of the evidence fails. Until his arrest in 
September 1678 Coleman continued his foreign corre- 
spondence, 1 but in comparison with the letters of earlier 
date the portion of it preserved is meagre indeed. Above 
all, no such exposition of his schemes as Coleman sent to 
La Chaize exists to afford a clue to the tangled and 
mysterious allusions with which his letters abound. The 
only two of Coleman's later correspondents whose letters 
are extant were St. Germain and Cardinal Howard. The 
last written by St. Germain from Paris bears the date 
October 15, 1678, but with this exception all his letters 
belong to the year 1676. They are partly occupied with 
business of slight connection with politics. A scheme 
of the Duchess of York for the increase of an English 
Carmelite convent at Antwerp was pressed upon the 
French court. Rambling intrigues undertaken for the 
purpose finally succeeded in breaking down Louis 
XlV's reluctance, the convent was allowed to plant 
colonies in the French Netherlands, and the irritation 
caused to the duchess by the delay was allayed by a 
splendid present of diamonds made her in secret by the 
King of France. 2 St. Germain's letters also show that 
intrigues were being ceaselessly carried on in the French 
and Jesuit interest throughout the year 1676 by Cole- 
man and his party. They do not show at all clearly 
of what nature those intrigues were. After the failure 
in England caused by his indiscretion Coleman prob- 
ably did not accord him full confidence. St. Germain's 
complaints of his treatment were constant ; and he 

1 Evidence of Jerome Boatman, his secretary, House of Lords 
MSS. 8. 

2 St. Germain to Coleman, March 28, April 8, April 15, September 
6, 1676. Treby i. 32, 40. Fitzherbert MSS. 81. Treby i. 42, ii. 18. 
Courtin, March 23, April I, July 16, August 1 1, August 13, 1676. 
Pomporwie to Ruvigny, April I, 1676. Both Ruvigny and Courtin 
were in London at this time. 





50 The Popish Plot 

was always in want of money. 1 Nor does the Italian 
correspondence throw much greater light. Cardinal 
Howard's letters extend with somewhat longer intervals 
from January 1676 to the end of the following year. 
They tell still less of the political intrigues. The business 
passing through Howard's hands was considerable. He 
was concerned with the difficult business of keeping the 
Duke of York on good terms with the Pope. Coleman's 
endeavours to keep up the pretence that James was not 
engaged to French schemes were not uniformly successful, 
and on the death of Clement X Howard received definite 
orders from home to vote in the conclave with the French 
party. Yet the task was accomplished with some adroit- 
ness. Howard was able to persuade the Pope that the 
marriage of Mary of York to the Prince of Orange was 
not due to her father's fault, and on another occasion 
obtained a letter from James to Innocent XI of such 
sweetness that " the good man in reading it could not 
abstain from tears." Sinister rumours were afloat at 
Rome of the duke's Jesuit connection, and repeated 
warnings were sent that, if they proved true, his cause 
would be ruined. There were even grave doubts as to 
the genuine character of his faith. For some time the 
troublesome conduct of an English Protestant agent at 
Florence occupied Howard's attention. The Inquisition 
bestirred itself in the matter. A triangular correspondence 
between Howard, Coleman, and Lord Arundel resulted in 
the man's recall and led them to debate the possibility of 
a match between the Princess Anne and the son of the 
Duke of Florence. Another source of continual trouble 
was Prince Rinaldo d'Este in his quest for a cardinal's hat. 
While his niece, the Duchess of York, backed by a special 
envoy from the court of Modena, was worrying the French 
ambassador in London for Louis XIV's support, Coleman 
applied directly to Howard at Rome. Promises of con- 
sideration for the matter were all that could be obtained. 

1 St. Germain to Coleman, January 15,29, February I, 5, 8, 
March 1 8, April 13, November 18, 1676. Fitzherbert MSS. 76, 78, 
79, 96, 107. Treby i. 30, 32,35. 



The Nature of the Designs 51 

The prince, who had no claims other than those of family, 
afterwards gained his object by constant importunity. 
Courtin had information that the Spanish ambassador had 
offered the Duke of York the whole credit of Spain for 
the prosecution of Rinaldo's suit if he would quit the 
French interest, and therefore could not risk the result of 
a definite refusal ; but neither Paris nor Rome manifested 
at this time the slightest intention to support the Modenese 
pretensions. 1 Cardinal Howard was in fact the official 
correspondent of the English Catholic party at Rome, and 
beyond the general business of helping in the amelioration 
of Catholic conditions and the improvement of the relations 
between different sections of the party, had little to do 
with particular schemes that might be fostered by one 
or another. Thus the literary evidence on the develop- 
ment of Roman Catholic policy in England is of the 
slightest. Accessible documents give little information. 
Nothing can be known exactly. The course of events 
between the years 1675 and 1678 cannot be elucidated by 
aid of the evidence of those who shaped it. The argument 
must be from the known to the unknown. 

To start with, it is known that Coleman's corre- 
spondence did not cease, as he stated, in the year 1675. 
On the contrary, it was maintained down to the day of his 
arrest and even beyond. 2 Among others it is almost 
certain that he continued his negotiation with Pere de la 
Chaize. 3 The subject of this later correspondence is 
debatable. It may have been concerned with a design 

1 Leybourn, Howard's secretary, to Coleman, May 16, June 20, 
September 5, September 21, 1676, June 25, July 10, July 16, 
August 6, 1677, January i, 1678. Fitzherbert MSS. 102, 103, 104, 
105. Treby i. 94, 95, 96. Howard to Coleman, March i, April 18, 
1676. Treby i. 8 1, 85. Courtin, March 13/23, March 22/ April I, 
April 3/13, April 10/20, July 6/16, November 9/19, November 
22/December 2, November 3O/December 10, 1676. Correspondence 
later on the same subject March 29, April 8, 1679; tne Duke of 
York to the Pope ; the Duchess to the Pope. Vat. Arch. Epist. 
Princ. 1 06. The internuncio at Brussels to the Pope. Nunt. di 
Fiandra, 66. 

2 See below in Trials for Treason. 3 Above, 43. 






52 The Popish Plot 

again to establish the Roman Catholic religion in England. 
Or it may not ; and in this case Coleman's letters may 
have been filled with matters of less importance, such as 
are to be found in those of Cardinal Howard. This 
alternative however is hardly tenable. Not only are there 
allusions in St. Germain's letters inexplicable except on the 
supposition that they refer to the hopes of the Catholics 
for the re-establishment of their religion, but the position 
of Coleman and the Jesuits rendered a continuance of 
their schemes virtually necessary. Early in 1676 St. 
Germain wrote that he had urged on La Chaize the 
absolute necessity of " vigorous counsels ... to produce 
success in the traffic of the Catholics " ; in these, he said, 
the Duke of York took the lead, and that by the inspira- 
tion of Coleman. A month later he added that Coleman 
was incurring reproof at Paris on account of the violent 
measures he was said to advocate. The secretary of the 
English ambassador tried to ingratiate himself with the 
Jesuit by professing great zeal for the duke ; was he 
sincere, asked St. Germain, and " has the duke all along 
trusted him with the secret of his affair " ? On Ruvigny's 
return to Paris from his embassy St. Germain had an 
interview with him. Ruvigny expressed the opinion that 
the intrigues of Coleman and the Jesuits would prove 
fatal to James. Their conduct was detestable not only to 
Protestants and the government, but to a certain section 
of the Catholics also, " because," said the ambassador, 
" they would introduce an authority without limits and 
push Mr. Coleman to make such strange steps which must 
precipitate them into destruction." l Had the policy of 
which St. Germain was an agent been wholly without 
reproach, it would be hard to ascribe an adequate meaning 
to expressions like these. Coleman's anxiety to deny his 
correspondence would be equally difficult of explanation. 
Curious too would be the comment of Pomponne, the 
French minister for foreign affairs ; for he undertook to 
prove the absurdity of the charges against Coleman by 

1 St. Germain to Coleman, January 29, April 15, July 25, 1676. 
Treby i. 30, 43. Fitzherbert MSS. 80. 



The Nature of the Designs 53 

remarking in ridicule that he had even been accused of 
intriguing with Pere de la Chaize, a fact the truth of 
which was perfectly known to him. 1 The situation of 
affairs argues with still greater force. The Jesuits were 
beyond all others the most militant order of the church. 
They formed the advance guard in the march against 
heresy. They had already borne, and were again to bear, 
the brunt of the battle. It was their particular business 
to carry war into the enemy's camp, for this was the reason 
as well as the excuse for their existence. They must work, 
fight, intrigue against the heretic and the heretic state, or 
leave their mission unfulfilled. And Coleman was in the 
same position. He was a pupil of the Jesuits, and under 
the guise of secretary to the Duchess of York maintained 
an active correspondence with agents abroad in the interest 
of their chief hope, the duke. Intrigue was his business, 
and his conduct of it was made more eager by the keenness 
of a convert. No one in the least acquainted with the 
history of the Jesuits and with the writings of their 
apologists can believe that their method of procedure was 
by conversion of individuals alone. The society has 
always been in its essence political, and in the troubled 
times of the seventeenth century political action of the 
exiled, the feared, the reputed traitor was seldom calculated 
to avoid the retribution of the laws by which those against 
whom it was directed were fenced. The penal laws were 
harsh, but harshness was of necessity ; and the very 
necessity of their harshness begot retaliation ; while retalia- 
tion completed the circle by driving into conflict with the 
law many who would have been glad to obey in peace and 
nurse conscience in quiet. 

The class of Catholics whom Ruvigny found opposed 
to the Jesuit policy was large. At the close of the 
seventeenth century it probably comprised a majority of 
Roman Catholics in England. These were they who 
would take the oath of allegiance to their sovereign, 
holding it no bar to their faith, the followers of Blackloe, 
of Peter Walsh, of John Sergeant, the men who thought 
1 Memoir es du Marquis de Pomponne i. 538. 






54 The Popish Plot 

it no shame to liberalise belief by divorcing it from state- 
craft, the adherents of the church but not of the court of 
Rome. 1 The Jesuits had already once in the reign of 
Charles II interposed to prevent Roman Catholics in 
England from bettering their position, and when persecu- 
tion fell on these in the evil days of Gates' grandeur, they 
showed to the astonishment of the society that it had 
earned small gratitude from them. 2 On the question of 
the oath of allegiance the English Catholic body was 
divided throughout the century. Catholics were willing 
to prove their loyalty by taking the oath, but this proof 
they were not allowed to give. The fruitless concessions 
offered by Charles I showed conclusively that despite all 
protestations the papal party would not abandon the 
deposing power. Whenever the movement in favour of 
the oath seemed to be gaining strength, the whole weight 
of the papal court and of the Society of Jesus was thrown 
into the scale against it. It was probably the only point 
upon which the two were at this time in agreement. The 
Earls of Bristol, Berkshire, Cardigan, Lord Stafford, and 
Lord Petre actually took the oath, and of these, horrid 
thought to the Jesuits, two had for their confessors Bene- 
dictines ; Lord Arundel, and for a time the Duke of York, 
stood firm in refusal. 3 The division between the Catholics 
was purely political ; it marked those on whose loyalty 

1 This distinction was widely recognised, see 7 State Trials 475. 
Ralph i. 91, note. Part. Hist. iv. 274. It corresponded in the ideas 
of the time to the difference between a simple Roman Catholic and 
" a Jesuited Papist." 

2 Stafford's statement ; House of Lords MSS. 43. Burnet i. 346. 
Foley v. 19. 

3 Foley v. 80. John Leybourn, April 19/29, 1674 ; same to Cardinal 
Albani, June 7/17, 1675. Vat. Arch. Nunt. di Inghilterra and Misc. 168. 

Pietro Talbot (the Jesuit Archbishop of Dublin), Primate de 
Irlanda al Nuntio F. Spada, Nuntio in Parigi, April 3/13, 1675. 
Nunt. di Francia, 431. "V. S. Ill"" si compiaccia de aggiungere 
le inchiuse propositioni del Sig n Giovanni Sargentio alle altre sue ; 
tutte (come V. S. Ill ma vede) sono heretiche o almeno inferiscono 
Theresia." 

Continual references to the same subject are found in the Papal 
despatches of the time. 



The Nature of the Designs 55 

reliance could be placed from those who must be suspected 
of disloyalty ; and the former class suffered for what the 
latter alone undertook. The line lay between the Catholic 
and the Jesuit parties, between those who would be satisfied 
with liberty of conscience and those who would not. 
Undoubtedly the Catholic body in England was much 
weakened thereby, and government owed not a little to 
the moderate Catholics ; but however much the execution 
of Catholic policy was hampered, its direction was not 
diverted. Abstinence from political action was the basis 
of the pure Catholic position. The Jesuits held the wires 
of politics in their hands and directed the policy. They 
too affirmed purity of faith to be their motive. " Prosecu- 
tion for matters of conscience," remarks Halifax, " is very 
unjust ; but great care ought to be taken that private 
conscience is not pleaded against the security of the public 
constitution. For when private conscience comes to be a 
justifiable rule of action, a man may be a traitor to the 
state and plead conscience for treason." l 

Thus it may be accepted that Coleman's correspondence 
between the years 1675 and 1678 was not of an entirely 
innocent character, but was concerned with matters of 
perilous import for the prosperity of the government and 
of the Church of England. Since it was not dropped, the 
negotiation must have proceeded either in the same line as 
that in which it lay at the end of 1675 or m another. 
Did the design drag on a weary course in the feeble hope 
of finding a parliament congenial to Roman Catholic ideas 
and of obtaining the king's support in return for a sub- 
stantial sum of money : or did the Catholic politicians 
change their tactics to discover a better opening ? If the 
argument is thus far sound, answer can be made without 
hesitation. Early in that year Coleman and his party had 
found that in the event of a dissolution of Parliament they 
could not hope for a third declaration of indulgence and 
the reappointment of the Duke of York to the offices 
which he had formerly held. The design was thereupon 
altered to a scheme for bribing the existing parliament to 
1 Maxims of State Ixv. 






56 The Popish Plot 

petition for the recall to office of James, and to pass an act 
for general liberty of conscience. Coleman's ideas were 
based on two miscalculations. He understood neither the 
temper of the English people nor the character of Charles 
II. The king was to him an amiable debauchee, caring 
only for his pleasures and his pocket. A sufficient present 
of money would induce him to retire from the management 
of affairs and console himself with his mistresses, leaving 
the reins of power for his brother to handle. As most 
men of his own and after times have thought the same, 
Coleman's mistake is perhaps excusable. Nothing could 
be further from the truth. Not money, but power was 
what Charles wanted, and in the use of power, not of 
money, he was skilled. Any plan grounded upon this 
conception of his character was foredoomed to failure. 
Equally grave was the other miscalculation, and in this 
too Coleman was not peculiar. A man looking back on 
the history of the seventeenth century, and guided by the 
story of the Revolution, can say with assurance that any 
attempt in its latter half to restore Catholicism in England 
must have been hopeless of success. The nation which 
drove out James II would have driven out another for 
the like cause. Charles himself had learnt this in the best 
of schools. The fact may have been plain to clear-sighted 
statesmen, but to the mass a restoration of the old religion 
was looked on as among events that were more than 
possible. Here was the root of the deep hatred of 
Catholicism cherished by the English nation. Not only 
was the event hoped by the one side, but it was feared by 
the other. And the hopeful party had more reason to 
hope than the fearful to fear. Englishmen might with 
justice anticipate intrigues and even plots, but never their 
success. But the Jesuit, whose education was continental 
and whose ideas were traditional, was unaware of 
the change that had passed over England. He was 
still inspired by the genius and followed the example 
of the dead Robert Parsons. His mind was filled 
with the great instances of past times. Henry VIII, 
Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth had drawn their subjects 



The Nature of the Designs 57 

with them like sheep from one church into another. 
Within the memory of man a wave of Puritanism had 
swept over the country, tottered, and broken. There 
followed a loyal reaction and a court in which strong 
elements were Catholic. The people who had so willingly 
followed their leaders before might be expected to do so 
again. The hope of rebuilding the ruins of Jerusalem was 
strong in the belief of its possibility. 1 Such notions render 
the undertaking of Coleman and his party intelligible. But 
they were not blinded by prejudice to the obvious meaning 
of facts passing within range of their own observation. 
One scheme had already been abandoned : the second was 
to be abandoned now. For if the former had proved 
impracticable, much more so was the latter. To ask the 
House of Commons in the year 1676 to pass an act of 
religious toleration and to petition in favour of the Duke 
of York was to suggest that it should contradict its nature. 
The strongest characteristic of the Cavalier Parliament was 
its hatred of Roman Catholicism. It had already forced 
the retractation of two declarations of indulgence, and had 
on several occasions instituted proceedings against the 
Catholics. Coleman's experience perhaps led him to 
ascribe an undue importance to the influence of money. 
Dishonest members of the country party might accept 
bribes from the French king when the course which they 
were asked to take would be to the embarrassment of 
government, but not all the gold of France would induce 
them to put a weapon of such strength into the grasp of 
the court as to petition for what they had repeatedly 
prevented it from accomplishing. Popery and tyranny, 
it was said, went hand in hand. It must soon have 
been seen by the Catholic managers that such a policy 
was hopeless. If this was not evident at first, it must 
have become more than plain when early in April 1676 
the Duke of York took the momentous step of ceasing 
to go to the royal chapel, and all England knew that 
he was a Catholic. It was the first occasion for a long 

1 See D'Avrigny, Memoires four servir a Phiitoire de F Europe 47, 48. 
Arnauld, (Euvres xiv. 410. 






5 8 The Popish Plot 

time on which he had acted not in consonance with the 
ideas of France. Rome was delighted and recognised 
him as a true son, but elsewhere the news was not hailed 
with such joy. James had obtained his brother's consent 
only with difficulty. Pomponne marked the withdrawal 
of the declaration of indulgence as the beginning of 
the troubles that crowded on the royal authority in 
England. The duke's declaration created a notable 
addition. The effect of his move was instantaneous. 
Throughout the country the feeling roused was intense, 
the penal laws were once more put into execution, and 
Charles told the French ambassador that if he were to die 
the duke would not be allowed to remain in the country 
eight days. 1 It is perhaps to this time that the abandonment 
of the second scheme sketched by Coleman to La Chaize 
should be referred. 2 There can at all events be no doubt 
that its impracticable nature soon became manifest. It was 
therefore along another line that the design proceeded 
from the summer of 1676 onwards. 

1 Leybourn to Coleman, May 2, 1676. Fitzherbert MSS. 102. 
John Verney to Sir Ralph Verney, March 30, 1676, "The Duke of 
York did declare that he would never more come under the roof of 
Whitehall chapel, which makes every one say he is a perfect papist. 
. . . 'Tis said he publicly goes to mass. God bless him and preserve 
the King." Verney MSS. 467. Courtin, March 23, April 2, October 
2/12, 1676. Le ministre des affaires etrangeres a Courtin, April l/il, 
1676. Memoires du Marquis de Pomponne i. 491. Marchese Cattaneo 
al Duca di Modena, April 20/30, 1676 : "In alcune parti d'Inghilterra 
si e cominciata 1'esecuzione delle legge contro i Cattolici, imprigionan- 
doli e confiscandogli i beni. . . . Delle rincrudite persecuzioni verso 
i Cattolici e accagionato il Duca d'York perche non ha voluto nella 
Pasqua recarsi alia capella Regia (Protestante)," in Campana de Cavelli 
i. 171. Longleat MSS. Proclamation of October 3, 1676. Coventry 
Papers xi. 154. 

2 The interpretation of the following letter seems doubtful, but it 
is worth quoting. It is a curious fact that Lord Castlemaine should 
have either taken, or intended to take, orders in the Church of Rome. 

January i, 1677. To the Lord Castlemaine at Liege : " 118 and 
109, as I am privately told, are now perfectly reconciled to the Duke 
of York, and fully resolved to serve him and his interest, so that if the 
Lords and Commons when they meet do nothing, the King will dissolve 
them and once more publish a toleration. Consider if Mr. Skinner 
can make a seasonable check of mettlesome stuff for the conjuncture. 



The Nature of the Designs 59 

Since the year 1670 various ways of procuring success 
for the Catholic religion has thus been considered, adopted, 
and abandoned. The policy of the Dover treaty had been 
led by Charles. Had it been successful he would have 
been left at the head of a Catholic state, controlled and 
compact. That had been blown to the winds. The 
declaration of indulgence, faint resemblance of the plan 
which was to have been put into execution, was the direct 
result of royal authority. With its failure the king's 
leadership in the last movement of the counter-reformation 
ceased. Then followed the two schemes which Coleman 
related to La Chaize. In the one the motive power was 
to be the king, backed by the ministers and Parliament ; 
in the other Parliament, working on the king and 
supported by him. When these were deserted, practically 
every arrangement in which the king could figure as chief 
had been tried. The game of the Dover treaty had been 
opened by the king, backed by French force ; that of the 
declaration by the king's move alone ; Coleman had 
suggested action by the king and Parliament, by Parlia- 
ment and the king. Unless one of these moves was 
made again, Charles would stand in the background of the 
game; none would be made again, for each had been 
proved ineffective. Even by the last two the object had 
been to raise the authority not of the king, but of the 
Duke of York. The only remaining possibility was that 
the duke should be not only the object, but the leader of 
the game. He was the piece with which the move had to 
be made. 

In what direction then could the move be made ? So 
far from being an assistance to the Catholic movement, 
Charles was now a direct hindrance to it. He had 
abandoned the Catholic interest as a political weapon, and 

By a letter from Mr. Warner at Paris I find D. of Cleveland persuaded 
that Ld. Castlemain is already made a priest by the Jesuits' underhand 
contrivances, and that she obstructed it what she could at Rome. I 
should think it expedient that she should continue in that belief, that 
she may think it now too late to go about to hinder it." Unsigned 
Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 347. 



60 The Popish Plot 

had engaged in a policy of Anglican predominance. 
Undoubtedly the design must be conducted behind his 
back, but it was impossible not to take count of his 
position and influence in the state. Three courses were 
left open to the managers of the movement. The king 
might be forced to take action on their side, or he might 
be thrust away from it, or he might be gradually 
elbowed into a position where his personal action 
would be negligible. The last course had already 
been considered. During the winter of 1674 and spring 
of the next year Lord Berkshire and Sir William Throck- 
morton had submitted the advisability of adopting a 
platform, the chief planks in which should be the 
debauchery and political profligacy of the king and the 
sobriety and ability of the Duke of York. By this means 
they hoped that all the supporters of order and moderation 
would be drawn to the duke, James would be surrounded 
by a compact and influential party composed of Catholics 
and Protestants alike, the whole management of affairs 
would eventually fall into his hands, and the king would 
be left beyond the range of politics, ousted from their 
control, contented with the otiose life of a peaceful rake. 1 
This however had been discarded for the plans submitted 
by Coleman to Pere de la Chaize, in turn to be relegated 
to the domain of untried political suggestion. The scope 
for the design was therefore reduced to the alternatives : 
Charles must either be thrust on one side or be compelled 
to take action in it himself. As he had already been tried 
as a leader and had failed, the latter course would mean 
that the plan should run without him, until at the moment 
of success he should be forced by the necessity of events 
to throw in his lot with the movement. In the former 
case the course of events would be exactly similar, save 
that the king would not be taken into the scheme at any 
point, and the movement would be carried to completion 
without him. That both of these courses involved 
treasonable schemes is hardly open to doubt. The logical 

1 Throckmorton to Coleman, January 9, February 20, 1675. Fitz- 
herbert MSS. 60, 66. Berkshire to Coleman, n.d. Treby i. 102. 



The Nature of the Designs 61 

end of the negotiations in either case was a coup d'etat, in 
whatever degree, a revolutionary measure. 

In March of the year 1679 tne Earl f Berkshire lay 
dying in Paris. A month later a man passing under the 
name of John Johnson landed at Folkestone, and was 
arrested at Dover on his way to London. He was a 
certain Colonel John Scott, for whose arrival the authorities 
had been on the watch for some time past. Whether or 
no he was the same Colonel Scott who acted as an English 
spy in Holland during the second Dutch war it is 
impossible to say. Latterly he had been attached to the 
household of the Prince de Conde, and had commanded a 
troop of horse in the French service. 1 Subsequent events 
make it seem likely that orders for the Colonel's appre- 
hension were issued by the secretary of state, owing to the 
belief that he had information of value to impart. To 
the officers at Dover he ascribed his return to England to 
a desire to see his native country, but when he reached 
London he told a different tale. As the Earl of Berkshire 
lay on his deathbed, he sent for Colonel Scott, who had 
vainly called a famous physician to his aid, and bade him 
take a message to the king. There had been a foolish 
and an ill design carried on in England, he said. He was 
a good Roman Catholic, and in the Catholic religion he 
was minded to die ; but some of his faith were swayed by 
a giddy madness, and this he blamed. He was neither a 
contriver nor a great supporter of the business. He 
would not have had a hand in it but that Lord Arundel, 
Coleman, and others had told him that it could not 
miscarry, and that, if he did not stand with them, evil 
would be thought of him. That he ought long before to 
have disclosed what he knew he was well aware ; personal 

1 Journal of Sir Joseph Williamson, March 12, 30, 1672, in Cal. 
S.P. Dom. 1671-1672, 608. Longleat MSS. Francis Bastwick to 
Henry Coventry, April 29, 1679. Examination of Col. Scott at Dover 
of same date. Coventry Papers xi. 393, 396. Two letters in the 
same collection seem to show that Scott was a regular spy of the 
English Government, but they are so vague that much reliance 
cannot* be placed on them. Coventry Papers xi. 171, 506. See 
Appendix A. 






6z The Popish Plot 

duty and the allegiance of every man to his sovereign 
should have constrained him to speak ; there were bad 
men in the matter, Lord Bellasis and others, who spoke 
ill of the king and very irreverently. But to his know- 
ledge there was never talk of killing the king ; if there 
had been, he would have spoken out. Then Colonel Scott 
asked who those others were ; but Lord Berkshire begged 
for no questions, repeating, " If I had known of approach- 
ing dangers to the king, I should have told him." 
Presently the sick man began to sigh and to weep. 
" Friend," said he, " I see things will go as you will. 
For God's sake promise me you will find some way to tell 
the king every word I say, and that though some passages 
in letters of mine may look a little oddly, I would have 
run any hazard rather than have suffered any injury to 
have been done to his Majesty's person. 'Tis true I 
would have been glad to see all England Catholic, but not 
by the way of some ill men." Let the king have nothing 
to do with those he had named, nor with Stafford, nor 
Powis, nor Petre. Yet he hoped and believed that 
matter would not be found against them to take away 
their lives. 1 If Colonel Scott spoke truth, then the fore- 
going argument is certainly not quite baseless. And 
reason may be given for supposing this to be the case. 
At the time when Scott gave his information the fact of 
Berkshire's correspondence with Coleman was not publicly 
known. Coleman had already been tried and executed, 
and at the trial a number of his letters were read as 
evidence against him, but among them none from Lord 
Berkshire. Until the publication of the correspondence 
by order of the House of Commons this was the only 
channel by which particular knowledge of it reached the 
world at large. The other letters were not published 
until December 1680. It must therefore be supposed 
that Scott obtained his knowledge of the earl's corre- 

1 Longleat MSS. "An account of what the Earl of Berkshire 
desired Colonel John Scott to communicate to his Majesty." Coventry 
Papers xi. 397. See Appendix A. See too Collins' Peerage, 1812, 
iii. 163. 



The Nature of the Designs 63 

spondence privately. The only persons who had private 
knowledge on the subject were Lord Berkshire, the 
officials in whose custody the letters lay, and Coleman. 
Coleman was dead before Colonel Scott came into England, 
and the secretary of state by whom he was examined 
would have been most unlikely to furnish him with 
materials. It must therefore have been from Lord 
Berkshire himself that he obtained his information. But, 
it may be suggested, Scott may have drawn his bow at a 
venture, knowing merely that Berkshire was a prominent 
Catholic, and using his name as likely to gain credence for 
his story. The weight against this suggestion is heavy. 
If Scott had been for all he knew inventing the letters of 
which he spoke, he would surely have said more about 
them than he did. To mention them in so casual a 
manner would have been useless. The simplicity and 
directness of his relation points in this matter to its 
substantial truth. Another proof of genuineness has still 
greater force, the extreme moderation of the whole 
narrative. A scoundrel following in the track of Gates 
and Bedloe would never have concocted such a story. So 
far from being to his advantage, what Scott said might 
actually put him into a most unpleasant predicament. 
The chief point of the plot which Gates had discovered 
was the king's assassination. The chief agents in it were 
said to be the Jesuits. All the informers who came after 
spoke to the same effect and tried to spice their tales still 
more highly. Scott said not a word about the Jesuits. 
He stated on his sole authority, one of the men who 
might be expected to know, that no harm was intended to 
the king. To some extent what he said is borne out by 
Berkshire's letters. Passages in them must certainly have 
looked " a little oddly " to the government, and perhaps 
contained matters technically treasonable, but in nothing 
do they suggest any personal danger to the king. No 
one looking for the rewards of a professional informer 
would have acted as Colonel Scott. Nor did he ever seek 
these. x He never came forward to give evidence against 
those condemned for the Plot. His name does not appear 






64 The Popish Plot 

in the list of secret service money, doled out to the 
shameless witnesses for the crown. Nothing more is 
known of him. 1 His information may be accepted as 
genuine. Clearly then there was some truth in the 
discovery of a Roman Catholic conspiracy in the year 
1678. What Lord Berkshire said sketches its essence. 
Oates was not after all aiming shafts entirely at random. 
During his stay in the Jesuit seminaries in Spain and 
Flanders he must have obtained an inkling of what was in 
the air, and proceeded to act upon the information to his 
best advantage. That the whole truth had little re- 
semblance to his tale of fire and massacre is certain, but 
the tale was not wholly devoid of truth. His vast super- 
structure of lies was not without a slight basis of solid fact. 
This conclusion can in some degree be supported from 
other sources. Any attempt to reconstruct the part 
played by the Catholic reformation in the years preceding 
the appearance of Oates must be chiefly conjectural. 
Scarcely any evidence on the subject is known, but what 
more comes to hand points in the same direction. In 
December 1680, as he lay in the Tower under sentence 
for high treason, Lord Stafford sent a message by Dr. 
Burnet and the Earl of Carlisle to the House of Lords 
that he would confess all he knew of the Catholic 
intrigues. He was admitted to speak from the bar of the 
House. Unfortunately his statement does not refer at all 
to the later years of the movement, for when he came to 
describe the project debated between Shaftesbury and the 
Duke of York for a coalition between the Catholic and 
country parties to obtain a dissolution of Parliament and 
general toleration, Stafford was stopped hastily at the 
mention of the great Whig leader's name. To a few 
more questions put he simply answered no, and was 
presently sent back to the Tower. Cut short as it was, 
his account is of some value. He admitted that he had 

1 Scott afterward gave evidence before the House of Commons 
against Pepys, whom he charged on report with having given informa- 
tion of the state of the navy to the French court ; but the affair was never 
thoroughly investigated. Grey, Debates in Parliament vii. 303-309. 



The Nature of the Designs 65 

endeavoured to alter the established faith, and gave some 
details of the meeting held early in Charles II 's reign at 
the Earl of Bristol's house to discuss the oath of allegiance. 
He had always disapproved the policy of the declarations 
of indulgence, and marked them as causes of the downfall 
of his religion. At one time he almost decided to leave 
England and live beyond sea. Others however were not 
of his opinion. The Papists and Jesuits had been far too 
open in their conduct, he said, and he had even seen a 
priest in the House of Lords standing below the bar. All 
his fellow peers, excepting the Earl of Bristol, were in 
favour of toleration for the Catholics. There was even 
talk of a restitution of the church lands, but Stafford 
warned the Duke of York that they were in so many 
hands as to render any attempt of the kind impracticable. 1 
All this does not amount to much ; nevertheless it shows a 
drift in one direction. Other straws are floated down the 
same stream. In the summer of 1678, when it was 
doubtful whether or no England would declare war on 
Louis XIV, Catholics in Ireland were discussing the 
chances in that event of a rebellion in their country aided 
by France. Calculations were made on the strength of 
the French navy, and there was talk of a rising in Scot- 
land as well. 2 There were Jesuit missioners in Scotland, 
poor and hard worked, and it is possible that Jesuit 
influence had been concerned in organising the rebellion 
there in the year 1666 ; 3 while in 1679 there was serious 
consideration of a movement in Ireland under Colonel 
Fitzpatrick, who crossed to Brussels during the Duke of 
York's exile there to consult with him. 4 More definite 

1 House of Lords MSS. 43, 44. Burnet i. 345, 346 ; ii. 276, 
277. Airy, The English Restoration 240. 

2 Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 310, 313, 317. See 
Appendix A. 

3 J. P. Oliva Generale dei Gesuiti al Cardinale Altieri, September 
23/October 3, 1674. Vat. Arch. Archivio di Propaganda Fide. 
Ranke v. 91. 

4 Dal Sig r Internuncio, May 24/June 3, 1679. Vat. Arch. Nunt. 
di Fiandra 66. Add. MSS. 32095 : 196. See below in Politics 
of the Plot. 

F 



66 The Popish Plot 

information can be obtained from the case of Pere de Ja 
Colombiere. The celebrated Jesuit preacher, famed for 
his propagation of the cult of the Sacred Heart, was 
living in England at the time of the Popish Plot panic, 
and acting as confessor to the Duchess of York. Two 
Frenchmen, Olivier du Piquet or Figuere and Francois 
Verdier, accused him to the House of Lords of extra- 
ordinary activity in spreading the Catholic religion. La 
Colombiere had concealed himself, but was discovered, 
arrested, and shipped out of the country. Besides the 
general charge of caring for the growth of his faith, he 
was accused of a close connection with Coleman and Pere 
de la Chaize. In attempting the conversion of Fiquet, 
who was a Protestant, he had used as an argument that 
the Duke of York was openly, and the king in secret, 
Catholic by faith. Parliament, he said, should not always 
be master ; in a short time all England would be changed. 1 
Supposing that these men had wished to make their 
accusation a source of gain, they would have charged the 
confessor with being a party to the king's assassination, 
or at least to the plot in general. Since they did not, 
their statements may be taken as true. Nothing dis- 
honourable was alleged against La Colombiere, but he 
plainly harboured the expectation of seeing England before 
long Catholic. His hope was shared by others ; for in 
advising on the establishment of a nunnery by the York- 
shire baronet, Sir Thomas Gascoigne, the Jesuit John 
Pracid wrote on June 9, 1678 to suggest the insertion of 
a clause in the deed, depending on the condition : " If 
England be converted." 2 At most the evidence is slight, 
but it seems clear that the Jesuit party was indulging in 
hopes considerably more active than they could naturally 
have been if wholly unsupported by any plan of action. 

While the schemes of which these traces are to be 
found were in the air, Gates was studying and being 

1 LJ. November 21, 1678. Foley v. 221, 222. Longleat 
MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 483, a version of Du Piquet's information 
in French. 

2 7 State Trials 1007. 



The Nature of the Designs 67 

expelled from Valladolid and St. Omers. There were 
in Flanders twenty -seven English Roman Catholic 
seminaries ; five belonged to the Jesuits, and of these the 
establishment at St. Omers was the largest. It contained 
some thirty professed fathers and a hundred and twenty 
scholars. 1 Probably the best education in Europe was 
provided for the boys, and life there was comfortable ; 
but to the unwilling the seminary became a prison. 
Pressure was put upon them to become priests, and com- 
munication with the outside world was carefully restricted. 
In a letter preserved from this time a Welsh boy, placed 
in the college by a wicked uncle, wrote secretly to his 
father begging piteously to redeem him from his great 
captivity. 2 Here, unless he made a prodigious guess, the 
most fortunate in history, Oates must have acquired hints 
dropped on the subject of the movement in England. 
It is not very profitable to speculate on the question 
exactly how much truth his vivid imagination concealed. 
Possibly a demonstration of force was suggested, organised 
by the great Catholic nobles and relying on support for 
the Duke of York to be gained in the navy. The fleet 
was at the moment being strengthened by the addition of 
several capital ships, and in the spring of 1678 was at full 
strength in sea service, with complete stores for six 
months. 3 If this were the case, if Arundel, Bellasis, and 
Stafford were implicated in the affair, but nothing definitely 
arranged so soon as the autumn of 1678, Oates' diffident 
denunciation of these peers and the evident falsehoods 
which he, Bedloe, and Dugdale afterwards told in 
their statements regarding the Popish army, would be 
sufficiently accounted for. Or again, it is possible that 
the design included help from France in money, and 
perhaps the use of the English regiments employed in the 

1 Brusselles Dal. Sig* Internuncio, April 19/29, 1679. Vat. 
Arch. Nunt. di Fiandra 66. 

2 Longleat MSS. St. Omers, August 14, 1678. Sam Morgan to 
his father, Coventry Papers xi. 204. See Appendix A. 

3 Pepys, Memoires relating to the State of the Royal Navy in 
England 4, 5, 8. 






68 The Popish Plot 

French service. Many of their officers were Irishmen, 
and most Catholics. 1 For this it would be necessary to 
wait until peace was definitely concluded in order that 
both men and money might be liberated from the calls on 
them. Such a supposition would go some way to explain 
the " dark, suspicious letter " seized at Coleman's house 
after his arrest, and bearing the date September 18, 1678. 
The writer, posting from Paris, informed Coleman that 
the peace had broken all their plans, for the French pre- 
tended that since its conclusion they had no need of his 
party. Yet there was hope from another quarter. Let 
an agent known to him be sent over. "To put our 
traffic afoot," continues the letter, " it's absolutely 
necessary that my friend come speedily over to you, to 
converse with you and our other friends, because his 
measures are so well taken in Italy, that we can't miss to 
establish this commodity better from those parts than 
from any here at present, tho' hereafter we may find 
means and helps from hence too. But it's most certain, 
now is the time or never to put things in order to 
establish it with you." 2 The letter seems to point to 
hopes of early aid from France, since disappointed. In 
this case Pere de la Chaize, or whoever managed the affair 
in France, may have thought that the gold of French 
Catholics could be put to better purpose than to assist 
their fellows of the faith in England in a forlorn hope. 
The likelihood of such a desertion is to some extent 
supported by the refusal of the French government in 
November 1678 to take any steps to assist the Duke of 
York or his party. 3 But from the scraps of evidence 
obtainable it is plain that the design, supposing it to have 
been such as is here sketched, had not advanced beyond 
the stage of negotiation, ready to be construed into 
immediate action. 

1 Longleat MSS. Letter of December 23, 1676. Coventry 
Papers xi. 171. See Appendix A. 

2 Treby i. 19. September 18/28, 1678. 

3 L'Abbate G. B. Lauri a S. Em 23 , November 22/December 2, 
1678. Vat. Arch.. Nunt. di Francia 332. See Appendix A. 



The Nature of the Designs 69 

According to the information which Lord Berkshire 
gave to Colonel Scott, no harm was intended to the king ; 
at least he knew of none. This may well have been ; but 
at the same time it is necessary to remember that Charles 
was at the moment the greatest impediment to the chance 
of Catholic success. He was little older than his brother, 
and enjoyed far better health. As far as could be judged, 
he was by no means likely to be the first to die. He had 
definitely adopted a policy adverse to the Catholics. If he 
were to die, the charge of revolutionary dealing would lie 
at the door of those who should attempt to keep the Duke 
of York from the throne. So long as he lived, any attempt 
to restore the Roman Catholic religion in England, certainly 
any attempt made behind his back, would be a matter of high 
treason and against the interests of peace and established 
order. This much only can be said with safety, that the 
brothers hated each other, 1 that the death of the king was 
talked of in Jesuit seminaries on the continent, 2 and that 
James was not above tolerating, if he did not direct, an 
attempt to murder the husband of his daughter. 3 

1 Barillon, October 21/31, 1680. "II (le Due d'York) me fit 
entendre. . . . qu'il ne comprenait pas que le Roi son frere voulut 
mettre tous les Catholiques en desespoir et les persecuter sans aucunes 
mesures. II ajouta a cela en termes pleines de colere et ressentiraent 
que si on le poursuit a bout et qu'il se voit en etat d'etre entierement 
ruine par ses ennemis, il trouvera le moyen de les en faire repentir et 
se vangera d'eux. . . . M. le Due de Bouquinham m'a dit plusieurs 
fois qu'il avait bu fort souvent avec le Roi de la Grande Bretagne, 
mais qu'il n'avait jamais vu ce Prince dans une debauche un peu 
libre qu'il ne temoignat beaucoup d'aigreur et de la haine meme 
contre son frere." 

2 Examinations of Saunders, Coulster, and Towneley, April 28, 
1679. House of Lord MSS. 149-152. 

3 Macaulay iv. 649 - 652. Lord Acton, Lectures on Modern 
History. If Charles' word when he was sober can be trusted, he 
believed there was no ground to suspect the duke of any intention 
against his life. Barillon, November 22/December 2, 1680. "Le Roi 
de la Grande Bretagne dit encore en jurant avant hier au conseil : 
Mon frere ne m'a point voulu faire tuer, ny pas un de vous ne le croft." 
It was however Charles' constant policy to uphold the Duke of York. 
See top Reresby, Memoirs 146. 



CHAPTER III 

GATES AGAIN 

THUS the Popish Plot was introduced to the world, "a 
transaction which had its root in hell and its branches 
among the clouds." l While Charles proceeded on his 
walk, Chiffinch, his confidential valet, refused Kirkby 
admittance into the royal bedchamber, not knowing his 
business. Kirkby therefore waited in the gallery till 
Charles returned and summoned him to ask the grounds 
of such loyal fears. Kirkby replied that two men, by name 
Pickering and Grove, were watching for an opportunity to 
shoot him, and that should they fail, Sir George Wakeman, 
the queen's physician, was employed to use poison. 2 Gates 
and Tonge had committed this piece of information to 
paper for him the day before. Asked how he knew this, 
Kirkby answered that he had the news from a friend, who 
was ready to appear with his papers whenever the king 
should command. He had waited to give his warning the 
day before, but had failed. Charles ordered him to return 
with his friend in the evening. Accordingly between 
eight and nine o'clock Kirkby escorted Dr. Tonge to 
Whitehall. The doctor brought with him a copy of the 
forty-three articles and solemnly presented it to the king, 
with a humble request for its safe keeping. He entreated 
that only the " most private cabinet " should be acquainted 
with the contents ; otherwise the secret would leak out, 
full discovery of the plot would be prevented, and the 

1 Ralph i. 382. 

2 It is a tribute to the liveliness of Gates' imagination that Pickering, 
said to be an agent in the Jesuit plot, was a Benedictine lay-brother. 

70 



Gates Again 71 



lives of the discoverers put in hazard. But if under the 
guise of chemical students they might have access to his 
Majesty until seizure of the conspirators' letters showed 
beyond doubt the truth of their story, all would be well. 
Tonge afterwards complained that full discovery was 
rendered impossible because the king did not take his 
advice. Charles was too busy or too apathetic to attend 
to the matter himself. He was going to Windsor on the 
morrow, he said, and would leave the inquiry to Lord 
Treasurer Danby, on whose ability and honour he placed 
all reliance. 1 Whence did the papers come to Tonge ? he 
asked. The doctor returned he had found them under 
the wainscot in Sir Richard Barker's house ; he did not 
know the author, but suspected him to be a man who had 
once or twice been there in his absence and had formerly 
discoursed with him on such matters as appeared in the 
articles. Of his condition too Tonge was uncertain, but 
thought he had been among the Jesuits ; perhaps, he 
suggested, the man had been set on by secular priests or 
the Jansenists. 2 Much the same story was told next day 
to the Earl of Danby. Tonge and Kirkby called on him 
in the afternoon, and Kirkby, introducing the doctor, was 
requested to leave. The Lord Treasurer had read the 
information overnight and proceeded to examine Tonge 
on the subject. Were the papers originals ? No, they 
were copies of the doctor's writing, the originals being in 
his custody. He did not know the author, but guessed 
who he was. Did he know where to find this man ? No, 
but he had lately seen him two or three times in the street 
and thought it likely they might meet again before long. 3 
Many were Dr. Tonge's falsehoods in order to raise an air 
of sufficient mystery. Three or four days later he returned 
to Danby with the information that his guess at the 
authorship of the papers was correct ; nevertheless for 

1 Kirkby, Compleat and True Narrative i. Simpson Tonge's 
Journal 38 ; S.P. Dom. Charles II 409. 

2 x Simpson Tonge's Journal 39. 

3 Kirkby, Compleat and True Narrative 2. Simpson Tonge's 
Journal 40, 41. Impartial State of the Case of the Earl of Danby 13, 14. 






72, The Popish Plot 

secrecy's sake he was not to give the name, since if the 
fact were to become known the informer would be murdered 
by the Papists. Danby asked some more particulars. Did 
the doctor know Pickering and honest William, as Oates 
had called Grove, who were named as the king's assassins ? 
Certainly ; he could point them out waiting their murderous 
chance in St. James' Park. He did not know their lodging, 
but would find it out and inform the earl ; for Danby 
insisted that they should be arrested forthwith. Leaving 
a gentleman of his household in London in communication 
with Tonge, Danby drove down to Windsor and told the 
king all that had passed. He urged that one of the secre- 
taries of state should issue a warrant for the apprehension of 
the dangerous persons and that the whole matter should be 
brought before the council, but Charles would not hear of 
it. On the contrary, he commanded Danby not even to 
mention the affair to the Duke of York, only saying that 
he would take great care of himself till more was known. 
The Treasurer left Windsor for his house at Wimbledon 
and sent directions that Lloyd, the gentleman whom he 
had trusted, should bring him whatever news occurred. 1 
Meanwhile Oates was consorting with his Jesuit acquaint- 
ances, and even obtained supplies from them ; somewhat 
to their discredit, seeing that he had twice been expelled 
from Jesuit colleges. 2 In the intervals he concocted 
additional information, which Tonge took to Kirkby to 
copy and Kirkby gave to Lloyd for Danby's perusal. 

Despite Tonge's assurance that Pickering and Grove 
might be captured in St. James' Park with their guns, the 
inquiry seemed as far from reaching solid ground as ever. 
All that the doctor could do was to point out Pickering to 
Lloyd in the chapel at Somerset House. It was offered as 
an excuse for Grove's absence that he had a cold. Some- 
thing better than this was obviously required. So one 
night Tonge went to Wimbledon himself and informed 
Danby that the assassins were bound for Windsor the next 
morning ; he would arrange for Lloyd to travel in the 

1 Impartial State of the Case 14, 15. 
2 Florus Anglo- Bavaricus 95. 



Gates Again 73 

same coach with them and procure their arrest on arrival. 
The Treasurer started at once and slept that night at 
Windsor, laying his plans for the capture ; but when the 
coach drove in, lo ! Danby's gentleman stepped out alone. 
The others had been prevented from coming by an unfore- 
seen accident. Within two days at furthest however, as 
Lloyd brought word from Tonge, they would be sure to 
come. Curiously enough the ruffians failed a second time. 
On this occasion they were riding and one of the horses 
had hurt his shoulder. The most that Tonge could 
manage was by way of addition to the information already 
lodged. Although Pickering and Grove had been stopped 
from attacking the king at Windsor, they had all but 
made the attempt in London. Unfortunately the flint of 
Pickering's pistol was loose and he dared not fire : and for 
this he suffered a penance of thirty lashes. The story was 
afterwards improved, for Pickering had missed a rare 
chance not only once, but three times. Now his flint was 
loose, on another occasion he had no powder in the pan, 
on a third he had loaded with bullets only and no powder. 
It might be suspected too that the discovery of the plot 
was no longer a secret ; for Gates, going one day to see 
Whitebread, the Jesuit provincial, had been met with abuse 
as a traitor and even with blows. Clearly the Duke of 
York, who had seen Kirkby come from his first interview 
with the king, had mistaken him for Gates and told his 
confessor of the accident. 1 The doctor's efforts were vain. 
By no device could Charles be moved to take interest in the 
matter. Danby was alarmed by the idea that he was the 
only man beside his master to whomTonge's disclosures were 
known, thinking perhaps that if ill came it might go hard 
with himself, and urged that they might be communicated 
to others ; but the king had already come to the conclusion 
that the conspiracy was fictitious, and after the ridiculous 
excuses offered by Tonge for the absence of the supposed 
assassins was all the more positive in his refusal to order a 
formal inquiry. He should alarm all England, he said, 

1 Impartial State of the Case I 5. Kirkby, Compleat and True Narrative 
2. 7 State Trials 96, 328, 345. Simpson Tonge's Journal 39, 59. 



74 The Popish Plot 

and put thoughts of killing him into the minds of people 
who had no such notions before. 1 

Oates and Tonge now planned a bolder stroke. On 
August 30 Danby received news from Tonge, for Oates 
was at this time still unknown to him, that letters telling 
of treasonable designs had been sent to Father Bedingfield, 
the Duke of York's Jesuit confessor, and might be in- 
tercepted at the Windsor post-office. Danby instantly 
returned to Windsor and showed Tonge's letter to the 
king. He was met by the announcement that Bedingfield 
had already been at the post-office. The confessor had 
found a packet awaiting him. It contained four letters, 
ostensibly from priests of his order known to him but not 
in their hands, and a fifth in the same style. All were 
apparently of dangerous concern, full of mysterious phrases 
which seemed of no good meaning. Bedingfield took the 
letters to the duke, who showed them to the king. Thus 
when Danby arrived at Windsor his news was stale. Charles 
believed still less in the existence of a real plot. The letters 
were transparent forgeries. Purporting to be written by 
different persons, from different places, at different dates, 
they bore a curious likeness one to another. The paper 
on which they were written bore the same watermark and 
appeared to have been cut from one sheet. In every case 
the name signed was misspelt. Throughout, the writing 
was disfigured by the same blemishes of style and spelling. 
Only one of the letters contained a single stop, and that 
seemed to have been made accidentally. Oates professed 
afterwards that the handwriting was disguised and that the 
writers made mistakes on purpose, should the letters be 
intercepted, to lull the reader to false security. A Jesuit 
in London, who scented the discovery of the plot, had sent 
warning to Bedingfield, and the confessor had handed his 
letters to the duke with the express intention of showing 
them to be counterfeit and himself to be innocent. Thus, 
declared the informer with indignation, they had been 
made to appear the work of forgery. So far as the last 
goes, Oates spoke the truth. They were patently the 

1 Impartial State of the Case 15. 



Gates Again 75 



composition of himself and his confederate. A tribute to 
the unscrupulous energy of those who adopted the plot for 
political purposes is paid by the fact that these letters were 
suppressed and never brought forward as evidence, although 
three of the men who were supposed to have written them 
were afterwards tried for treasons of which, had they been 
genuine, the letters would have afforded strong proof. 
Gates met the rebuff by going at Kirkby's instigation to 
swear to the truth of his story before a London magistrate. 
But at court the intriguers were badly received. Kirkby 
and Tonge called several times on the Treasurer, only to 
be refused admittance, and when Charles met his old 
acquaintance he passed by him without word or look. 1 

At this moment a sudden move of the Duke of York 
threw the game into the hands of Gates. With his usual 
want of tact James demanded an inquiry into the matter 
by the privy council. What difference this actually made 
to the course of subsequent events it is hard to calculate, 
for Gates was clever enough to place himself in a position 
not wholly dependent on the action of government, but 
at least it smoothed his way at the moment. The act of 
the duke was that of applying the bellows to the seed of 
a mighty conflagration. At the meeting of Parliament 
Danby was accused of having tried to stifle the plot ; 
unjustly, for he too had urged investigation. For some 
time Charles withstood their instance. Danby alone he 
could have resisted, but when James, whose occasions for 
importunity were better than those of the Treasurer, added 
his demand, the king gave way and, against his better 
judgment, consented. Gates was still occupied in enlarging 
and copying his information when on the evening of 
September 27 Kirkby brought word from Lloyd that 
Tonge was summoned to go with him to the council. 
The council had already risen and their appearance was 
postponed till the next morning. Tonge asserted that he 

1 Impartial State of the Case 15, 16. Kirkby, Compleat and True 
Narrative 2, 3. Simpson Tonge's Journal 64, 65, 124. L'Estrange, 
Brief Hist. ii. 4-15. Observator ii. 150-153, October 1684. James 
(Or. Mem.) i. 518, 519. Ralph i. 383, 384. Burnet ii. 158. 



76 The Popish Plot 

would have been better pleased had the inquiry been longer 
delayed that yet more of the plot might have been dis- 
covered. His feelings must really have been of some 
relief at the opportunity afforded, tempered with suspicion 
of the council's intention towards himself. Taking the 
precaution to place his information beyond reach of 
danger by leaving a sworn copy with the magistrate who 
had attested his oath, Gates accompanied his friend to 
Whitehall. Some ten days earlier Charles had been made 
acquainted with the informer's name. The opinion of the 
government was that Tonge had no other end in view than 
to obtain a deanery. That notion must have been rudely 
dispelled by Gates' appearance at the council board. 1 

Dr. Tonge was the first to enter and, kneeling, handed 
a petition for pardon for himself and Gates, together with 
a list of the plotters and their lodging. He was asked 
who Gates was. An acquaintance of short standing, he 
answered. He had been a chaplain in the navy on board 
Sir Richard Ruth's ship, but having given information of 
some miscarriages had received hard dealing from the 
privy council. In point of fact this was the occasion 
when he had been summarily ejected from the service. 
As Tonge begged excuse from reciting what he knew 
further of the plot, an abstract he had made of Gates' 
information was read. Gates was called and examined on 
the contents of the papers. The council sat long, and he 
was heard at length. His statements were of so general a 
character that little criticism could be made, but the board 
was sufficiently satisfied to authorise the informer to search 
for the men he had named as conspirators. As night fell, 
he issued forth armed with warrants and officers. Before 
morning Father Ireland, procurator of the province of the 
Society of Jesus, Fenwick, agent for the college at St. 
Omers, Pickering, and other Jesuits were in Newgate. 
Gates returned to the council on the morning of Sunday, 
being Michaelmas day, to continue his examination. This 

1 Simpson Tonge's Journal 135. Kirkby, Compleat and True 
Narrative 3. Impartial State of the Case 16. James (Or. Mem.) i. 518. 
Temple, Works i. 398. Reresby, Memoirs 147. Burnet ii. 158. 



Gates Again 77 

time the king was present. Gates was made to repeat all 
he had said the day before. He had named in his narra- 
tive Don John of Austria as not only cognizant of the 
plot, but active in it. What was he like ? asked Charles. 
Tall and graceful, with fair hair, Gates replied promptly. 
Charles had seen Don John and knew him to be short, 
fat, and dark. Gates said that he had seen Pere de la 
Chaize pay in Paris ten thousand pounds as the price for 
the king's death. The victim now asked in what part of 
Paris. In the Jesuits' house close to the Louvre, was the 
answer. Again Gates had committed himself, for there 
was no such house in that position. The letters sent to 
Bedingfield at Windsor were produced. Gates skated 
over the thin ice as best he could, declaring that Jesuits 
used to make their letters appear foolish to conceal their 
meaning. He pursued his tale with unbroken confidence. 
Arundel and Bellasis were mentioned. Charles remarked 
that those lords had served him faithfully, and that without 
clear proof he would not credit anything against them. 
Gates protested to God that he would accuse none falsely ; 
he did not say that they were partners in the plot, only 
that they were to have been acquainted with it. His 
whole behaviour was of a piece with this. Loud in general 
accusations, he refused to bring particular charges against 
persons who might appear to contradict him successfully. 
Whenever he was pressed, he drew back and hedged. 
The king ended the meeting by exclaiming that he was a 
most lying knave. 1 

Gates' credit was rudely shaken. Nevertheless the 
matter could not be dropped without further investigation. 
The informer managed to cover his mistakes by the sug- 
gestion that he had himself been deceived. He had mis- 
spelt the name of Louis XIV's confessor, calling him Le 
Shee ; but in an age of loose spelling, when Barillon wrote 
of Shaftesbury as Schasberi, and Cardinal Howard's name 
was spelt Huart by a papal nuncio, this was not of great 

1 $impson Tonga's Journal 152. 7 State Trials 29. James (Or. 
Mem.) i. 518-521. Warner MS. history 26. Floras Anglo- Bavaricus 
98. Foley v. 16. Burnet ii. 160. North, Examen 58. 



78 The Popish Plot 

weight. Gates had evidently lied, but perhaps he had 
spoken some truth. His assurance and readiness had been 
such as to amaze the council. Charles himself was taken 
aback, and though he gave no credence to the informer's 
story, felt that great care was necessary for the discovery 
of the truth. Falsehood has not been unknown in the 
seventeenth and other centuries as a prop to even a good 
cause. At all events persons, against whom serious charges, 
not disproved, had been made, could not be allowed to 
remain at large. So on the second night in succession 
Gates was sent his rounds with a guard, sleepless and defy- 
ing the stormy weather. Before dawn most of the Jesuits 
of eminence in London lay in gaol. At one point the 
party encountered a check. Gates led his men to arrest 
Whitebread, the provincial, at the residence of the Spanish 
ambassador. The ambassador's servants resisted the in- 
trusion, and the next day Count Egmont and the Marquis 
Bourgemayne lodged a complaint with the secretary of 
state. Material compensation was not to be had, but an 
ample apology ; and the soldiers with Gates were said to 
have been drunk and were punished. 1 Of greater import- 
ance than persons was a find of papers. A warrant had 
been signed at the council board for the arrest of Coleman. 
When the meeting rose the Earl of Danby noticed that 
direction for seizing his papers had been omitted. He 
hastily caused another warrant for this purpose to be 
drawn, and obtained the five requisite signatures just in 
time that a messenger might be dispatched the same even- 
ing. Coleman's house was searched, and, besides others, a 
deal box containing the most important of his letters was 
found in a secret recess behind a chimney. Danby could 
boast with justice, when he was accused of having acted in 
the French and papist interest, that but for his action the 
chief evidence of the schemes of both in England might 
never have come to hand. The Duke of York, against 
whom they told heavily, would never forgive him, he said. 

1 Barillon, September 3O/October 10, 1678. 7 State Trials 656. 
Foley v. 17, 18, 20, 21. Schwerin, Briefe aus England 330, 334, 
342. 



Gates Again 79 



Coleman surrendered himself on Monday morning, and 
was put under the charge of a messenger with only Gates' 
accusation against him. He managed to send word to the 
French ambassador that nothing would be found in his 
papers to embarrass him. A cruel awakening from the 
dream was not long delayed. When his letters came to 
be read, the lords of the council looked grave and signed 
a warrant for his commitment. Coleman disappeared into 
Newgate. 1 

On Monday, September 30, Gates was again examined 
before the council, and again coursed London for Jesuits. 
The town was by this time thoroughly alarmed. Cole- 
man's papers were regarded by the council as of high 
importance. They shewed at any rate that Gates had 
known of his correspondence with La Chaize, and seemed 
evidence of a serious state of affairs. In the streets they 
were taken as proof of his every statement. Catholics 
who had sneered at the disclosure began to realise that the 
charges against Coleman were heavy and that he was in 
danger of his life. 2 The Protestant mob of London was 
convinced that the charges against all accused were true. 
The Duchess of York started on a visit to the Princess of 
Orange in Holland. It was said that she was smuggling 
guilty priests out of the country. A fever seemed to be 
in men's minds. Freedom of speech vanished. To doubt 
the truth of the discovery was dangerous. Opinions 
favourable to the Catholics were not to be uttered 
without risk. The household of the Duke of York was 
in consternation, and James himself gloomy and disquiet. 
Orders were sent into the country to search the houses of 
Catholics for weapons. Sir John Reresby hurried to town 
with his family to be on the scene of a ferment the great- 
ness whereof none but an eye-witness could conceive. 

1 Barillon, October 3/13, 10/20, 1678. 7 State Trials 29, 30, 33. 
Impartial State of the Case 17. Add. MSS. 28,042 : 32. Notes by Danby 
for a letter to be sent to a member of the House of Commons. Danby 
to Lord Hatton, March 29, 1678. Hatton Correspondence i. 184. 

2 if Nuntio di Vienna al Nuntio in Francia. Nimega, October 
18/28, 1678. Vat. Arch. Nunt. di Francia, 329. 



8o The Popish Plot 

" In fine," wrote Lord Peterborough, " hell was let loose ; 
malice, revenge, and ambition were supported by all that 
falsehood and perjury could contrive ; and lastly, it was 
the most deplorable time that was ever seen in England." 
Gates was hailed as the saviour of the nation and was 
lodged with Dr. Tonge in Whitehall under a guard. 
" One might," exclaimed North, " have denied Christ with 
less contest than the Plot." To add to the general con- 
fusion the king left for the races at Newmarket, scandalis- 
ing all by his indecent levity. During his absence Dr. 
Burnet paid Tonge * a visit in his lodgings at Whitehall. 
He found the poor man so much uplifted that he seemed 
to have lost the little sense he ever had. Gates appeared 
and was introduced. He had already received a visit from 
Evelyn. The courtier found him " furiously indiscreet." 
Burnet received the flattering intelligence that he had been 
specially marked by the Jesuits for death ; the same had 
been said of Stillingfleet ; but the divines thought the 
compliment cheap when they found that it had been paid 
also to Ezrael Tonge. The informer burst into a torrent 
of fury against the Jesuits and swore he would have their 
blood. Disliking the strain, Burnet turned the conversa- 
tion to ask what arguments had prevailed upon him to 
join the Church of Rome. Whereupon Gates stood up 
and, laying his hands on his breast, declared : God and 
his holy angels knew that he had never changed, but that 
he had gone over to the Roman Catholics to betray them. 1 
The perjurer might well triumph. The days of his glory 
were beginning. On October 2 1 Parliament met. Before 
that time Godfrey, the magistrate before whom Gates had 
sworn to the truth of his deposition, was dead amid 
circumstances of horror and suspicion, and the future of 
the informer with his hideous accusations was assured. 

1 Barillon, October 3/13, 7/17, 10/20, 17/27, 1678. Paolo Sarotti, 
Ven. arch. October 11/21, 1678. Schwerin, Briefe aus England 
October 4/14, 1678. Luttrell, Brief Relation i. I. Halstead, Succinct 
Genealogies 433. Reresby, Memoirs 145. North, Examen 177. 
Evelyn, Diary October I, 1678. Caveat against the Whigs ii. 42. 
Foley v. 18. Burnet ii. 161, 162. 



SIR EDMUND BERRY GODFREY 



CHAPTER I 

SIR EDMUND BERRY GODFREY 

THE death of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey has passed for 
one of the most remarkable mysteries in English history. 
The profound sensation which it caused, the momentous 
consequences which it produced, the extreme difficulty of 
discovering the truth, have rendered Godfrey's figure 
fascinating to historians. Opinion as to the nature of his 
end has been widely different. To the minds of Kennet, 
Oldmixon, and Christie the Catholics were responsible. 
North declared that he was murdered by the patrons of 
Gates, to give currency to the belief in the Plot. Sir 
James Fitzjames Stephen hazards that Gates himself was 
the murderer, and is supported by Mr. Traill and Mr. 
Sidney Lee. L'Estrange was positive that he committed 
suicide. Lingard and Sir George Sitwell have given the 
same verdict. Ralph, Hallam, Macaulay, Ranke, and 
Klopp pronounce the problem unsolved. Hume has pro- 
nounced it insoluble. All have admitted the intricacy of 
the case and its importance. None has been able without 
fear of contradiction to answer the question, " What was 
the fate of Sir Edmund Godfrey ? " On the answer to 
this question depends to a great extent the nature of the 
final judgment to be passed upon the Popish Plot. If 
Godfrey met his death at the hands of political assassins, 
the weight of the fact is obvious. If he was murdered by 
the Roman Catholics, much of the censure which has been 
poured on the Protestant party misses the mark ; if by 
Protestant agents, that censure must be redoubled before 
the demands of justice are satisfied. If he committed 

83 






84 The Popish Plot 

suicide, or was done to death in a private cause, the 
criminal folly of many and the detestable crime of a few 
who in the cause of religious intolerance fastened his 
death upon the innocent were so black as to deserve 
almost the same penalty. 

Scarcely ever has a fact so problematical been attended 
by such weighty results. Sir Edmund Godfrey left his 
house on October 12, 1678. On October 17 his corpse 
was found in the fields at the foot of Primrose Hill. 
From that moment belief in the Popish Plot was rooted 
in the mind of the nation. The excitement throughout 
the country rose to the mark of frenzy. Godfrey's death 
seemed clear evidence of the truth of Gates' sanguinary 
tales, and the prelude to a general massacre of Protestants. 
It became an article of faith that he had been murdered 
by the Catholics. To deny it was to incur the most 
awkward suspicion. No man thought himself safe from 
the same fate. Every householder laid in a stock of arms. 
Posts and chains barricaded the streets of the city. Night 
after night the Trained Bands stood to arms and paraded 
the town as if an insurrection were expected before morn- 
ing. During the winter which followed, wrote Shaftesbury, 
" the soberest and most peaceable of the people have, either 
in town or country, hardly slept for fear of fire or mas- 
sacring by the Papists." Alderman Sir Thomas Player 
declared that when he went to bed " he did not know but 
the next morning they might all rise with their throats 
cut." And this state of things continued, as sober Calamy 
remarked, " not for a few weeks or months only, but 
for a great while together." It was regarded as most 
fortunate that the Protestants did not seek to avenge 
Godfrey and anticipate their own doom by exterminating 
the Roman Catholics. 1 

Upon the death of a London magistrate was grounded 
the firm conviction of the reality of the Popish Plot, under 

1 Calamy, Own Life i. 83, 84. Christie, Life of Shaftesbury ii. 
309. Burnet ii. 165. North, Examen 206. Luttrell, Brief Rela- 
tion i. 12, 21. Schwerin, Briefe aut England 336, 351, November 1 8, 
1678. 



Godfrey 85 



cover of which the Whig party was all but successful in 
deranging the legitimate succession to the throne, and even 
perhaps in overturning the monarchy itself. Of the 
instruments by which Shaftesbury turned the Plot to this 
end, none was more powerful than the belief in Godfrey's 
murder. In one connection or another that event appeared 
in almost all the state trials of the two following years, in 
the debates in Parliament, in the pulpit, on the stage. 1 
The part which it played in the electioneering methods of 
the Whigs was still more formidable, and Godfrey's corpse 
was a central figure in the grand annual ceremonies of 
Pope Burning, which were arranged by the Green Ribbon 
Club. 2 Without the mystery of Godfrey's death it is 
possible that the agitation of the plot would have burnt 
itself out in the course of a few months. As it was, the 
fuel was fanned into a blaze of unexampled fierceness, 
which did not die down until nearly three momentous years 
in English history had passed. 

No one undertaking the study of this problem is likely 
to underrate the difficulty of the task. To find a solution 
is obviously a matter of great importance ; but it is also a 
matter in which small success may reasonably be expected. 

1 See the prologue to Dryden's tragi-comedy, The Spanish Friar, 
produced early in 1681 : 

A fair attempt has twice or thrice been made 
To hire night murderers and make death a trade. 
When murder's out, what vice can we advance, 
Unless the new-found poisoning trick of France ? 
And when their art of rats-bane we have got, 
By way of thanks, we'll send them o'er our Plot. 

Scott suggests that the allusion is to the murder of Mr. Thynne, but 
this did not occur till some months after the production of the play. 
Christie refers it to the assault made upon Dryden himself in Rose 
Alley in December 1679 ; but the reference to the plot makes it far 
more probable that Dryden had in his mind the murder of Godfrey 
and the sham attempt on Arnold eighteen months later. He would 
certainly class the two together, for he attributed Godfrey's death to 
Gates : 

And Corah might for Agag's murder call 
In terms as coarse as Samuel used to Saul. 

Absalom and Achitophel, 676, 677. 

2 Sir George Sitwell gives a most instructive and entertaining 
description of these, The First Whig, chap. vi. 



86 The Popish Plot 

The door of the secret has remained unopened for so long. 
The door is not one which can be forced, and the key is 
missing. It would be worse than sanguine to hope for its 
discovery after a light search. Nevertheless there is some 
hope. " When a door-key is missing," says Dr. Gardiner, 
" the householder does not lose time in deploring the 
intricacy of the lock ; he tries every key at his disposal to 
see whether it will fit the wards, and only sends for the 
locksmith when he finds that his own keys are useless. 
So it is with historical inquiry. . . . Try, if need be, one 
hypothesis after another. . . . Apply them to the evidence, 
and when one fails to unlock the secret, try another. 
Only when all imaginable keys have failed, have you a 
right to call the public to witness your avowal of incom- 
petence to solve the riddle." l In the case of the Gun- 
powder Plot Dr. Gardiner tried the key afforded by the 
traditional story and found that it fitted the lock. With 
the secret of Sir Edmund Godfrey's death the method 
must be different. There is no traditional story to test. 
What seems more remarkable is that no determined attempt 
has been made to construct a consistent theory to fill the 
empty place. Contemporaries who approached the ques- 
tion answered it according to their prejudice, and selected 
only such evidence as would support their preconceptions. 
Later historians who have answered definitely have arrived 
at their conclusions by considering the balance of general 
probability in the matter, and have supported them from 
the contemporaries whose evidence lies on the side to 
which the balance seems to them to fall. No one has 
formed a hypothesis to explain the facts and tested it by 
all the evidence, in whatever direction it seems to point. 
The following study is an attempt to accomplish this. It 
would be impertinent to suppose that it offers a perfect 
key to fit the lock. But it offers a key with which trial 
may be made, and which may not be found altogether of 
the wrong size and shape. There is at least a hypothesis 
to be tested. If it jars with established fact, this will be 
detected. If the test reveals assumptions which are beyond 

1 What Gunpowder Plot was 13. 



Godfrey 87 

the scope of legitimate imagination, it must be discarded. 
At least its abandonment will be because it has been shown 
to be inconsistent with the facts of the case. It will then 
leave the way clear for the same test to be applied to 
another theory. 

Sir Edmund Berry and not Edmundbury Godfrey 
was a justice of the peace for the county of Middlesex and 
the city of Westminster. He came of a Kentish family 
of some wealth and of good repute in the county. His 
elder brother, father, and grandfather had all been justices 
of the peace before him, and he was popularly said himself 
to be " the best justice of the peace in England." He 
had been educated at Westminster and Christ Church, 
Oxford, had spent some time in travelling abroad, was a 
member of Gray's Inn, and owned a prosperous business 
as merchant of wood and coal in Hartshorn Lane, near 
Charing Cross. 1 To the public he had long been known. 
During the ghastly year when London was in the grip of 
the plague and all who could fled to the pure air of the 
country, Godfrey stayed at his post in town. London 
was given up to the dying, the dead, and their plunderers. 
In the midst of the chaos Godfrey went about his duties 
with redoubled energy and conspicuous gallantry. Numer- 
ous thefts from corpses were traced to a notorious ruffian. 
A warrant was issued for his apprehension. The wretch 
took refuge in the pest-house, whither none would follow 
him. Godfrey himself entered the forbidden spot and 
took the man alone. As an appropriate punishment he 
sentenced him to be whipped round the churchyard which 
he had robbed. It was of this time that his friend Dr. 
Lloyd spoke : " He was the man (shall I say the only 
man of his place ?) that stayed to do good, and did the 
good he stayed for. . . . His house was not only the seat 
of justice, but an hospital of charity." The king was not 

1 Tuke, Memoirs of Godfrey 1-15. Sidney Lee, Article on God- 
frey in Diet, of Nat. Biog. Gentleman's Magazine, January 1848. 
Godfrey's Christian names are variously spelt. I give the most correct 
form in writing, but in quoting retain that used by the writer or 
reporter. 2 Tuke, Memoirs 39-51. 



88 The Popish Plot 

slow to recognise good service, especially when the recog- 
nition was not expensive. Charles gave Godfrey a knight- 
hood and a silver tankard, inscribed with an eulogy of the 
service which he had done during the plague and the great 
fire. 1 Three years later Godfrey roused sentiments of a 
less grateful character in his sovereign. Sir Alexander 

D O 

Frazier, the king's physician, owed the justice ^30 for 
firewood. Godfrey issued a writ against the debtor ; but 
Frazier took the matter before the king, the bailiffs were 
arrested, and together with the magistrate were committed 
to the porter's lodge at Whitehall. Charles was so much 
angered at the interference with his servant that he had 
the bailiffs flogged, and was scarcely restrained from 
ordering the infliction of the same punishment on Godfrey 
himself. " The justice," writes Pepys, " do lie and justify 
his act, and says he will suffer in the cause for the people, 
and do refuse to receive almost any nutriment." To the 
great wrath of the king, Godfrey was supported by the 
Lord Chief Justice and several of the judges. After an 
imprisonment of six days Charles was forced to set the 
magistrate at liberty and to restore him to the commission 
of the peace from which his name had been struck off. 2 

A portrait of Godfrey belongs to the parish of St. 
Martin in the Fields. 3 It shows the bust of a spare man, 
dressed in a close-fitting coat of dark material, a high 
lace collar, and a full-bottomed wig. The head is large, 
the forehead wide and high, the nose hooked, the chin 
strong and prominent. The frank eyes and pleasant 
expression of the firm lips belie the idea of melancholy. 
Godfrey's height was exceptional, and his appearance 
made more striking by a pronounced stoop. He 
commonly wore a broad-brimmed hat with a gold band, 
and in walking fixed his eyes on the ground, as though in 

1 Sidney Lee, op. fit. Gazette No. 88. Ralph i. 139. 

2 Pepys, Diary May 26, 1699. Tuke, Memoirs 36-39. Tuke 
is mistaken in saying that Godfrey was knighted on this occasion, in 
recompense for the injury done him. The knighthood was conferred ' 
in September 1666. 

3 An engraving by F. H. van Hove is inserted in Tuke's Memoirs. 



Godfrey 89 

deep thought. Now and again he wiped his mouth with 
a handkerchief. " He was a man," writes Roger North, 
" so remarkable in person and garb, that, described at 
Wapping, he could not be mistaken at Westminster." 
Godfrey moved in good society. He numbered the Earl 
of Danby among his acquaintance, was on terms of 
friendship with Sir William Jones and the Lord Chancellor, 
and counted Gilbert Burnet and Dr. Lloyd among his 
intimates. 

Early in 1678 he was ordered to the south of France 
for the benefit of his health. He stayed for some months at 
Montpellier, and there admired the construction of the 
great canal which Louis XIV was undertaking to connect 
the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. 2 Late in the summer 
Godfrey returned to England and resumed his magisterial 
duties in London. It was scarcely beyond the ordinary 
scope of these when on September 6 three men entered his 
office and desired him to swear one of them to the truth 
of certain information which he had committed to writing. 
The three were Titus Gates, Dr. Tonge, and Christopher 
Kirkby. The paper contained Gates' famous information 
drawn up in forty-three articles. Gates made affidavit to 
the truth of the contents, and his oath was witnessed by 
his two friends and attested by Godfrey. They refused 
however to allow the magistrate to read the information 
in detail, " telling him that his Majesty had already a true 
copy thereof, and that it was not convenient that it should 
be yet communicated to anybody else, only acquainting 
him in general that it contained matter of treason and 
felony and other high crimes." Godfrey was satisfied, 
and the three men departed without more ado. 3 Gates 
professed afterwards to have taken this course as a 
safeguard for himself and his discovery from the vengeance 
of the Jesuits. His motive was far more probably to form 
a connection apart from the court, where he had been 
poorly received. At this point, so far as Godfrey was 

1 Tuke, Memoirs 19, 20. North, Examen 199. 

2 Tuke, Memoirs 52, 53. 
3 Kirkby, C ample at and True Narrative 2, 3. 






90 The Popish Plot 

concerned, the matter rested. He was relieved of 
responsibility by the fact that the information had been 
forwarded to the king, and there were no steps for him 
to take. But on the morning of Saturday, September 28, 
Gates appeared before him again. Kirkby and Tonge had 
been summoned to the council the previous evening, but 
before they could be fetched the council had risen after 
giving orders that they should attend the next day. 
During the last three weeks the informer and his allies had 
felt their distrust of the council become more acute. 
While Oates had been engaged in writing copies of his 
information, Tonge had on several occasions been refused 
admittance to the Lord Treasurer. They believed that 
the discovery was neglected, and probably suspected that 
the summons to Whitehall was the prelude to discredit and 
imprisonment. To guard against this they determined to 
remove the matter from the discretion of the council. 
Two copies of the information, now in the form of eighty- 
three articles, were laid before Godfrey, who attested Gates' 
oath to the truth of their contents. One Godfrey retained 
in his possession, the other was taken by Oates to the council 
at Whitehall. 1 

Godfrey was now in the centre of the intrigue. His 
eminence and reputation for the fearless performance of 
his duty had no doubt directed Oates to select him as the 
recipient of the discovery. The fact that he was known 
to have resisted pressure from court with success on a 
former occasion made it likely that he would not submit to 
be bullied or cajoled into suppressing the information if, as 
Oates feared, the court had determined on this. He would 
certainly insist upon making the facts public and would 
force an inquiry into the matter. As a matter of fact 
Oates and Tonge were mistaken, for the council proposed 
to investigate the case thoroughly. Even so, it was from 
their point of view a good move to lay the information 
before Godfrey. It would appear to be evidence of Gates' 
desire to act in a straightforward manner and frankly 

1 Kirkby, Compleat and True Narrative 3. Simpson Tonge's 
Journal 126, 135. 



Godfrey 9 1 



according to the law. But in doing so they introduced a 
complication of which they were probably unaware. 
Godfrey was not only remarkable for his ability as justice 
of the peace, but for the tolerance with which he dealt 
between the parties and creeds with which the business of 
every magistrate lay. He was credited with sound 
principles in church and state, but he did not find it 
inconsistent with these to allow his vigilance to sleep on 
occasion. The penal laws against dissenters were not to 
his mind, and he refrained from their strict execution. 
He " was not apt to search for priests or mass-houses : so 
that few men of his zeal lived upon better terms with the 
papists than he did." Dr Lloyd put the matter in his 
funeral sermon : " The compassion that he had for all men 
that did amiss extended itself to all manner of dissenters, 
and amongst them he had a kindness for the persons of 
many Roman Catholics." Among these was Edward 
Coleman, secretary of the Duchess of York, who was now 
accused by Gates of high treason. 1 The intimacy between 
the two men exercised a profound influence upon the 
course of after events, which Gates could not have foreseen. 
After Godfrey's disappearance his connection with Coleman 
became known ; but at the time it was only apparent that 
Godfrey was an energetic magistrate who possessed the 
somewhat rare quality of being impervious to court 
influence. That he was upon friendly terms with the 
Roman Catholics was, for the informer's purpose, of little 
moment. Gates was in search of support outside the 
council-chamber, and Godfrey offered exactly what he 
wanted. In case the government wished to suppress the 
discovery of the plot, Godfrey was not the man to acquiesce 
in such a design on account of private considerations. 

1 Tuke, Memoirs 22, 23, 29. Burnetii. 163. North, Examen 199, 200. 

The author of the Annual Letters of the English Province S.J. is 
probably inaccurate in stating, " He was especially kind to the Roman 
Catholics, and was moreover a great confidant of the Duke of York " 
(quoted Foley Records v. 15) ; but the statement is only an exaggera- 
tion of the truth. Warner MS. history 26, "Nee alius in eo magistratu 
aut Carolo fidelior aut Catholicis, etiam Jesuitis, quorum multos 
familiarissime noverat, amicior." 



92 The Popish Plot 

On Saturday, October 12, Sir Edmund Godfrey left 
his house in Hartshorn Lane between nine and ten o'clock 
in the morning. That night he did not return home. 
The next day Godfrey's clerk sent to inquire at his 
mother's house in Hammersmith. Obtaining no news 
there, the clerk communicated with his master's two 
brothers, who lived in the city. They sent word that 
they would come to Hartshorn Lane later in the day, 
and enjoined the clerk meanwhile to keep Godfrey's 
absence secret. In the evening Mr. Michael and Mr. 
Benjamin Godfrey appeared at their brother's house, and set 
out in company with the clerk upon a round of inquiry. 
That night and all Monday they continued the search, but 
could nowhere obtain tidings of the missing man. On 
Tuesday the brothers laid information of Godfrey's 
absence before the Lord Chancellor, and in the afternoon 
of the same day the clerk publicly announced his dis- 
appearance at a crowded funeral. 1 Up to this time the 
fact was unknown except to Godfrey's household and 
near relatives. It was afterwards asserted by those who 
wished to prove his suicide that the secret had been kept 
in order to prevent discovery of the manner of his death. 
The law directed that the estate of a person dying by his 
own hand should be forfeited to the crown, and to prevent 
the forfeiture Godfrey's family concealed the fact. Sir 
Roger L'Estrange devoted some effort to establish this. 2 

1 Burnet ii. 164. Depositions of Henry Moor, Godfrey's clerk. 
L'Estrange, Brief History iii. 203, 204, 208. The depositions collected 
by L'Estrange in this work must be regarded with suspicion. The 
statements in many are obviously untrue, and L'Estrange was not 
above falsifying evidence to suit his purpose. Among other reasons 
for the use of great caution is the fact that most of the depositions 
were not taken until eight or nine years after the event. Their 
exact dates cannot be ascertained, as they are seldom quoted by 
L'Estrange, and the original documents are missing. They are sup- 
posed to have been stolen from the State Paper Office immediately 
after the Revolution (Sitwell, First Whig ix.). Only after careful 
scrutiny can these papers be used as evidence. Moor's evidence was 
taken for the coroner. He afterwards went to live at Littleport, in 
Cambridgeshire, and died apparently in 1685 or 1686. Brief Hist. 
iii., Preface vii. 171. 2 Brief Hist. iii. 204, 205. 



Godfrey 93 



He was however so unwise as immediately to demolish 
his case by collecting evidence to show that the dead 
man's brothers had approached the Lord Chancellor, " to 
beg his lordship's assistance to secure their brother's 
estate, in case he should be found to have made himself 
away." 1 Certainly, if the Godfreys had known his 
suicide and had been moved to conceal it in order to save 
his estate, the last person in the world to whom they would 
have admitted their motive was the Lord Chancellor. 
L'Estrange's sense of the contradictory was small. Not 
only did he commit this blunder, but he was at consider- 
able pains to show that the fact of Godfrey's disappearance 
was never concealed at all ; on the contrary, the news was 
bruited about the town as early as the afternoon of the 
day on which Sir Edmund left his house, in order to raise 
a cry that he had been murdered by the Roman Catholics. 2 
He did not consider that, as the only persons who had 
first-hand news of Godfrey's absence were members of 
his family, the rumour must have emanated from them- 

1 Brief Hist. iii. 205, 206. Depositions of Pengry and Fall. 

2 Brief Hist. ii. chap, vi, 199, iii. 195-201. The evidence that the 
news of Godfrey's absence was known before Tuesday, October 1 5, is 
not to be relied on. It consists wholly of depositions taken by 
L'Estrange several years after. Some contain such ridiculous state- 
ments as that before 3 P.M. on Saturday, October 1 2, it was a common 
report that Godfrey was murdered by the Papists. (Dep. of Wynell, 
Burdet, Paulden, 195, 196, 200.) At this time even his household 
could not possibly have known that he would not return. Another 
declares that on the morning of Sunday " it was in all the people's 
mouths in that quarter that he was murdered by the Papists at 
Somerset House." (Dep. of Collinson, 200.) At this time it was 
not known in Hartshorn Lane that Godfrey had not spent the night 
at his mother's. In another a false statement can fortunately be de- 
tected. Thomas Burdet deposed (196, 197) that Godfrey and Mr. 
Wynell had an appointment to dine on the Saturday with Colonel 
Welden, that Godfrey did not keep his appointment, and that the 
surprise which was caused by this was increased by the immediate 
report of his murder. As a matter of fact Godfrey had no appoint- 
ment to dine with Welden, and so could not have caused surprise by 
not appearing. He had been invited, but could not promise to come. 
Welden gave evidence before the Lords' Committee : " He came on 
Friday night with officers of St. Martin's, and at going away I asked 
him tOxdine with me on Saturday. He said he could not tell whether 



94 The Popish Plot 

selves ; whereas he persisted at the same time that their 
one object was to keep the fact secret. There was good 
reason why the family should be unwilling to publish Sir 
Edmund's disappearance until they had, if possible, some 
clue to his whereabouts or his fate. A man of his promin- 
ence and consideration could not vanish from the scene 
without giving rise to reports of an unpleasant nature. 
When for expedience sake his brothers announced that 
he was missing and brought the matter to the notice of 
government, there sprang into being tales which any 
persons of repute would have been glad to avoid, none 
the less because they perhaps believed that some of them 
might be true. On the Wednesday and Thursday follow- 
ing stories of Godfrey's adventures were rife. He had 
chosen to disappear to escape creditors, to whom he owed 
large sums of money. As no creditors appeared this 
notion was exploded. 1 He had been suddenly married in 
scandalous circumstances to a lady of fortune. He had 
been traced to a house of ill repute, now in one part of 
the town, now in another, and there found in the midst 
of a debauch. With one of these last stories the Duke of 
Norfolk went armed to Whitehall, and was so ill-advised as 
to announce it for a fact. But gradually, as none of them 
gained support, the rumour spread that Godfrey had been 
murdered. It was reported that he had been last seen at 
the Cock-pit, the Earl of Danby's house ; then at the 
Duke of Norfolk's residence, Arundel House ; then at 
St. James', the Duke of York's palace ; even Whitehall, it 

he should." (House of Lords MSS. 48.) North's assertions to the 
same effect (Examen 201) are equally worthless. Burnet is positive 
that the news of Godfrey's absence was not published before Tuesday, 
October 15. Burnet's character has been sufficiently rehabilitated by 
Ranke and Mr. Airy ; but I may remark that, as he was opposed to 
the court, did not believe in Gates' revelations, and had access to 
excellent sources of information, his evidence upon the Popish Plot is 
of remarkable value. 

1 Burnet places this tale at a time before the news was public, 
and says that the suggestion was credited by Godfrey's brothers. Very 
likely they may have believed it, but a comparison with Moor's 
evidence (see above) makes it probable that this explanation was the 
first given after his absence was known. 



Godfrey 95 



was said, was not spared. 1 The general belief was, " the 
Papists have made away with him." Everywhere the 
missing magistrate afforded the main topic of conversation. 
The government was occupied with the case. Michael 
and Benjamin Godfrey were summoned before the 
council, and there was talk of a proclamation on the 
subject. 2 

Before further steps could be taken definite news 
came to hand. On Thursday, October 17, a man, who 
could never afterwards be found, came into the shop of a 
London bookseller in the afternoon with the information 
that Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey had been found dead 
near St. Pancras' Church with a sword thrust through 
his body. A Scotch minister and his friend were in the 
shop and carried the news to Burnet. 3 The report was 
correct. At two o'clock in the afternoon two men were 
walking across the fields at the foot of Primrose Hill, 
when they saw, lying at the edge of a ditch, a stick, a 
scabbard, a belt, and a pair of gloves. Pushing aside the 
brambles, they found a man's corpse in the ditch, head 
downwards. With this discovery they proceeded to the 
Whitehouse Inn, which stood in a lane not far off. John 
Rawson, the innkeeper, offered them a shilling to fetch 
the articles which they had seen on the bank, but rain 
had begun to fall, and they decided to wait till it should 
cease. By five o'clock the rain had stopped, and Rawson, 
with a constable and several of his neighbours, set out, 
guided by the men who had brought the news. They 
found the body at the bottom of the ditch resting in a 
crooked position ; " the left hand under the head upon 
the bottom of the ditch ; the right hand a little stretched 
out, and touching the bank on the right side ; the knees 
touching the bottom of the ditch, and the feet not touch- 

1 Burnet ii. 164. North, Examen 202. Diary of Lord Keeper 
Guildford, Dalrymple ii. 321. 

2 John Verney to Sir Ralph Verney, Verney MSS. 471. 

3 Lloyd to L'Estrange, Brief Hist. iii. 87. Burnet ii. 164. 
Nc-th says the body was found upon Wednesday, October 16 (Exame?i 
202), but this is a mistake. 



9 6 The Popish Plot 

ing the ground, but resting upon the brambles " : through 
the body, which hung transversely, a sword had been 
driven with such force that its point had pierced the back 
and protruded for the length of two hand-breadths. In 
the ditch lay the dead man's hat and periwig. The 
constable called the company to notice particularly the 
details of the situation. They then hoisted the corpse 
out of the ditch, and to facilitate the carriage withdrew 
the sword ; it was " somewhat hard in the drawing, and 
crashed upon the bone in the plucking of it forth." The 
body was set upon two watchmen's staves and carried to 
the Whitehouse Inn, where it was placed upon a table. 
As they came into the light the men recognised, what 
they had already guessed, that the dead man was Sir 
Edmund Berry Godfrey. A note of the articles found 
was taken. Besides those brought from the bank and 
the ditch, a large sum of money was found in the pockets. 1 
On the fingers were three rings. Leaving two watchmen 
to guard the body, the constable and half a dozen others 
rode off to Hartshorn Lane. There they found Godfrey's 
brothers and his brother-in-law, Mr. Plucknet. Towards 
ten o'clock at night the constable returned to the inn with 
Plucknet, who formally identified the body. Rawson and 
Brown, the constable, then took him to view the place 
where it had been found, by the light of a lantern. The 
same night the brothers Godfrey sent to Whitehall to 
notify what had passed, and a warrant was issued for the 
summons of a jury to take the inquest. 2 

On the following morning a jury of eighteen men and 
Mr. Cooper, coroner of Middlesex, met at the Whitehouse. 
At the instance of some officious tradesmen the coroner 
of Westminster offered his services also, but they were 
properly refused. 3 The jury sat all day, and as the 

1 " 7 guineas, 4 broad pieces, ^4 in silver." The coroner's 
evidence. 

2 Evidence of the coroner and Rawson before the Lords' Com- 
mittee. House of Lords' MSS. 46, 47. Evidence of Brown, the 
constable, at the inquest. Brief Hist. iii. 212-215, 222 - 

3 Deposition of White, coroner of Westminster. Brief Hist. iii. 224. 



Godfrey 97 

evidence was unfinished, adjourned in the evening. On 
Saturday, October 19, the inquest was continued at the 
Rose and Crown in St. Giles' in the Fields, and late at 
night the verdict was returned : " That certain persons to 
the jurors unknown, a certain piece of linen cloth of no 
value, about the neck of Sir Edmund bury Godfrey, then 
and there, feloniously, wilfully, and of their malice afore- 
thought, did tie and fasten ; and therewith the said Sir 
Edmundbury Godfrey, feloniously, wilfully, and of their 
malice aforethought, did suffocate and strangle, of which 
suffocation and strangling he, the said Sir Edmundbury 
Godfrey, then and there instantly died." 1 Stripped of its 
cumbrous verbiage the jury gave a verdict of murder by 
strangling against some person or persons unknown. 
They were determined in this chiefly by the medical 
evidence. 2 Testimony was given at great length on the 
position and appearance of the corpse in the ditch. A 
number of people had examined the body and the spot 
where it was found. Five surgeons and two of the king's 
apothecaries formed professional opinions on the subject. 
At the inquest only two of the surgeons gave evidence, 
but the testimony of the others, taken at a later date, 
entirely supported their judgment. To points of fact 
there was no lack of witnesses. 

Godfrey's movements were traced to one o'clock on 
the afternoon of Saturday, October 12. At nine o'clock 
in the morning one of the jurymen had seen him talking 
to a milk-woman near Paddington ; at eleven another had 
seen him returning from Paddington to London ; at one 
Radcliffe, an oilman, had seen him pass his house in the 
Strand, near Charing Cross. 3 It was proved that on 

1 Quoted from the printed copy published by Janeway in 1682. 
Brief Hist. iii. 232. 

2 " The jury's reasons for the verdict they gave." Brief Hist. iii. 
chap. xii. 

8 Evidence of Collins, Mason, and Radcliffe. Brief Hist. iii. 252, 
300. Some not very good evidence was collected several years after- 
wards as to Godfrey's movements later in the day. It cannot be con- 
sidered trustworthy. 8 State Trials 1387, 1392, 1393. Brief Hist. iii. 
'74, W 

H 



9 8 The Popish Plot 

Tuesday there had been nothing in the ditch where 
Godfrey's corpse was found two days later. 1 Further 
evidence of this was given at the trial of Thompson, Pain, 
and Farwell in 1682 for a libel "importing that Sir 
Edmund Bury Godfrey murdered himself." Mr. Robert 
Forset was then subpoenaed to appear as a witness, but 
was not called. He deposed before the Lord Mayor that 
on Tuesday, October 15, 1678 he had hunted a pack of 
harriers over the field where the body was found, and that 
his friend Mr. Harwood, lately deceased, had on the next 
day hunted the hounds over the same place and along the 
ditch itself ; on neither occasion was anything to be seen 
of cane, gloves, or corpse. 2 An examination of the body 
revealed remarkable peculiarities. From the neck to the 
top of the stomach the flesh was much bruised, and seemed 
to have been stamped with a man's feet or beaten with 
some blunt weapon. 3 Below the left ear was a contused 
swelling, as if a hard knot had been tied underneath. 
Round the neck was a mark indented in the flesh, merging 
above and below into thick purple creases. The mark 
was not visible until the collar had been unbuttoned. The 
surgeons' opinion was unanimous to the effect that it had 
been caused by a cloth or handkerchief tightly tied, and 

1 The coroner's evidence before the Lords' committee : " There 
was nothing in the field on Tuesday." House of Lords MSS. 47. 
Evidence of Mrs. Blith and her man at the inquest. Brief Hist. 
iii. 244. 

2 Deposition of Robert Forset. 8 State Trials 1394, 1395. 

3 Sir George Sitwell says : " The bruises or discolourations upon 
his chest might well have been produced by those who knelt upon it 
in stripping off the clothes" (First Whig 41). Bruises however 
cannot be made to appear upon a corpse beyond the time of three and 
a half hours after death (Professor H. A. Husband in the Student's Hand- 
book of Forensic Medicine), nor is there any evidence that the body was 
so treated. Marks which look like bruises may be caused after death 
by the process of hypostasis or suggillation, the gravitation of the blood 
to the lowest point in the dead body. But if the marks on Godfrey's 
body had been thus caused, the face and neck would have shown 
pronounced signs of discolouration, since the head was lower than any 
other point in the body. It had moreover been in that position 
for at most only twenty-four hours, so that the blood would not have 
gravitated to the chest immediately after death at all. 



Godfrey 99 

that the collar had been fastened over it. 1 The neck was 
dislocated. 2 The body was lissom, and in spots on the 
face and the bruised part of the chest showed signs of 
putrefaction. Two wounds had been inflicted on the 
breast. One pierced as far as a rib, by which the sword 
had been stopped. From the other, which was under the 
left breast, the sword had been extracted by the constable ; 
it had been driven through the cavity of the heart and had 
transfixed the body. 3 These facts were suggestive, but 
the point which deservedly attracted most attention was 
the striking absence of blood from the clothes of the dead 
man and the place where his corpse had been found. In 
spite of the rain the ditch, which was thickly protected by 
brambles and bushes, was dry, and would certainly have 
shewn marks of blood if any had been there. The 
evidence is positive that there was none. Brown, the 
constable, Rawson, and Mr. Plucknet examined the spot 
with lanterns on the night of Thursday, October 17. 
Early the next morning the ditch was searched by several 
other persons. At no time did it contain traces of any 
blood whatever. A few yards to the side of the ditch the 
grass was stained with blood and serum which had oozed 
from the wound in the back after the withdrawal of the 
sword. Some stumps, over which the men carrying the 
body to the inn had stumbled, were stained in the same 
way. As they had entered the house the body had been 
jerked against the doorpost ; similar marks were found 
there ; and when it was set on the table there was a 

1 L'Estrange afterwards persuaded the surgeon Lazinby to say 
that the mark was caused by the pressure of the collar. Brief Hist. iii. 
259. But his evidence in court was, on the contrary, that it was caused 
"by the strangling with a cord or cloth." 8 State Trials 1384. 

2 The evidence as to the exact condition of the neck varies slightly, 
but the doctors, and indeed all who saw the body, were agreed that it 
was broken. 

3 Evidence of the surgeons Cambridge and Skillard at the trial of 
Green, Berry, and Hill. 7 State Trials 185, 1 86. Evidence of the 
coroner before the Lords' committee. House of Lords MSS. 46. 
Evidence of Hobbs and Lazinby, surgeons, and the two Chaces, 
apothecaries, at the trial of Thompson, Pain, and Farwell. 8 State 
Trials 1381-1384. 



ioo The Popish Plot 

further effusion of blood and serum which dripped upon 
the floor of the inn parlour. With the exception of the 
part of the shirt which covered the wound at the back, 
the clothes of the dead man were without any stain of 
blood. 1 The importance of this is obvious. A sword 
driven through the living heart must produce a great 
discharge of blood. The clothes of a man thus killed 
would be saturated with blood. The ground on which he 
lay would be covered with it. Only in one case would 
this not happen. If the sword plugged the orifice of the 
wound in such a way as wholly to stop the flow of blood 
from it, the quantity which escaped would be inconsider- 
able. In the case of Sir Edmund Godfrey this could not 
have taken place. L'Estrange says : " The sword stopped 
the fore part of the wound, as tight as a tap." 2 But the 
only manner in which he could suggest that Godfrey 
committed suicide was by resting his sword on the edge of 
the bank beyond the ditch and falling forward on it. 3 It 
is impossible to believe that if he had killed himself in this 
manner the sword should not have been disturbed or 
twisted by his fall. As he fell, it must have been violently 
wrenched, the wound would have been torn, and the 
ensuing rush of blood have flooded the ditch and his body 
lying in it. 4 Apart from L'Estrange's bare word, there is 

1 Evidence of Brown, Skillard, and Cambridge at the trial of Green 
and others. 7 State Trials 184, 185, 186. Evidence of Hazard, Batson, 
Fisher, Rawson, Mrs. Rawson, Hobbs, Lazinby, the Chaces, at the 
trial of Thompson and others. 8 State Trials 1379-1384. Depositions 
of Skillard, Rawson, and others. Brief Hist. iii. 265-271. Some of 
the witnesses in their depositions before L'Estrange spoke of the 
presence of a greater quantity of blood than they had previously 
remembered. Obviously their earlier impressions are the more trust- 
worthy. Even at the later date the quantity to which they swore was 
not considerable. 

2 Brief Hist. iii. 271. He does not attempt however to give any 
evidence for his statement. 

3 Brief Hist. iii. 230. 

* Mr. W. M. Fletcher, M.B., Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, 
has kindly furnished me with his opinion on this point. He says : "A 
sword transfixing the living body and at the same time driven through 
the cavity of the heart would cause violent haemorrhage from one or 
other of the external wounds, except only under a set of circumstances 



Godfrey i o i 



no reason to believe that the wound was plugged by the 
blade of the sword. This would have been in itself a 
remarkable circumstance ; and the fact that there is no 
evidence to the point, when every other detail was so 
carefully noted, raises a presumption that the statement 
was untrue. Even if it had been the case, the second 
wound would still afford matter for consideration. It 
would be sufficiently strange that a man wishing to end 
his life should bethink himself of falling on his sword only 
after bungling over the easier way of suicide by stabbing 
himself. But it is hardly credible that a considerable 
flesh wound should be made and the weapon withdrawn 
from it without some flow of blood resulting ; and there 
was no blood at all on the front of Godfrey's body or on 
the clothes covering the two wounds. The surgeons and 
the jury who trusted them were perfectly right in their 
conclusion. There can be no substantial doubt that the 
wounds found on Godfrey's body were not the cause of 
his death, but were inflicted at some time after the event. 
As a dead man cannot be supposed to thrust a sword 
through his own corpse, he had certainly been murdered. 
When this point was reached, the nature of his end was 
evident. The neck was dislocated and showed signs of 
strangulation. Clearly the magistrate had been throttled 
in a violent struggle, during which his neck was broken 
and his body hideously bruised. The clerk proved that 
when his master went out on the morning of October 1 2 
u he had then a laced band about his neck." When the 
body was found, this had disappeared. Presumably it was 
with this that the act had been accomplished. 

That the murder was not for vulgar ends of robbery 

which could be present only by the rarest chance ; the haemorrhage, 
that is to say, could be restrained only by an accidental block produced 
not only at one but at two points on either side of the heart cavity, 
where the torn tissues might happen so to fit outwards upon and 
closely against the undisturbed sword as to form a kind of valve. Such 
an accidental valve formation, occurring at two separate points on each 
side of the pent-up blood, is improbable enough, but could not be 
imagined as a prevention of haemorrhage if the sword were bent, 
twisteds or withdrawn after the infliction of the wound." 



102 The Popish Plot 

was proved by the valuables found upon the body. 
Another fact of importance which came to light at the 
inquest shewed as clearly that it was dictated by some 
deeper motive. The lanes leading to the fields surround- 
ing Primrose Hill were deep and miry. If Godfrey had 
walked thither to commit suicide, his shoes would have 
told a tale of the ground over which he had come. When 
his body was found the shoes were clean. 1 Upon this was 
based the conclusion that Godfrey had not walked to 
Primrose Hill on that day at all. It was clear that he 
had been murdered in some other place, that the murderers 
had then conveyed his body to Primrose Hill, had 
transfixed it with his sword, and thrown it into the 
ditch, that the dead man might seem to have taken his 
own life. 

The result of the inquest was confirmed by what 
passed some years later. In the course of the year 1 6 8 1 
a series of letters were published in the Loyal Protestant 
Intelligencer, purporting to prove that Sir Edmund Godfrey 
had committed suicide. Thompson, Pain, and Farwell, 
the publisher and authors of the letters, were tried before 
Chief Justice Pemberton on June 20, 1682 for libel and 
misdemeanour. The accused attempted to justify their 
action, but the witnesses whom they called gave evidence 
which only established still more firmly the facts elicitated 
at the inquest. Belief in the Popish Plot was at this time 
on the wane throughout the country, and at court was 
almost a sign of disloyalty. The men were tried in the 
fairest manner possible, and upon full evidence were 
convicted. Thompson and Farwell were pilloried and 
fined 100 each, and Pain, whose share in the business had 

1 7 State Trials 295. Information of Mrs. Warrier. Brief Hist. iii. 
142. Burnet ii. 164. Evidence of the coroner before the Lords' 
committee. House of Lords MSS. 46. L'Estrange produces two 
depositions to the effect that the ground was quite dry and not muddy, 
and in doing so contradicts the argument upon which he lays stress in 
arguing against Prance's story (see below) that if the body had been 
brought to Primrose Hill upon a horse, the feet and legs must have 
been covered with mud. Brief Hist. iii. 261, and see 8 State Trials 
1370 for the same point in Thompson's libel. 



Godfrey 103 



been less than theirs, escaped with a fine. 1 None but 
those who were willing to accept L'Estrange's bad testi- 
mony, assertions, and insinuations could refrain from 
believing that Godfrey's death was a cold-blooded murder. 
Even some who would have been glad to credit his suicide 
were convinced. The king certainly could not be suspected 
of a desire to establish belief in the murder. When news 
of the discovery of the body first reached him, he thought 
that Godfrey had killed himself. 2 But when Dr. Lloyd, 
who went with Burnet to view the body at the Whitehouse 
Inn, brought word of what they had seen, Charles was, 
to outward appearance at all events, convinced that this 
could not have been the case. He was open enough in 
his raillery at the witnesses of the plot, but he never used 
his witty tongue to turn Godfrey's murder into a suicide. 3 
The rumours which had before connected the magis- 
trate's disappearance with the Roman Catholics were now 
redoubled in vigour. 4 Conviction of their truth became 
general. The Whig party under the lead of Shaftesbury 
boomed the case. Portrait medals of Godfrey were struck 
representing the Pope as directing his murder. Ballads 
were composed in Godfrey's memory. Sermons were 
preached on the subject. Dr. Stillingfleet's effusion ran 
into two editions in as many days, and ten thousand copies 
were sold in less than a month. 5 An enterprising cutler 
made a special " Godfrey " dagger and sold three thousand 
in one day. On one side of the blade was graven : 
Remember the murder of Edmond Bury Godfrey ; on 
the other : Remember religion. One, ornamented with 

1 8 State Trials 1359-1389. 

2 Barillon, October 21/31, 1678. " Ce Godefroy s'est trouve mort 
a trois milles d'ici sans qu'on sache qui 1'a tue. Le Roi d'Angleterre 
et M. le Due d'York m'ont dit que c'etait une espece de fanatique et 
qu'ils croyent qu'il s'e"tait tue lui-me'me." 

8 Burnet ii. 165. Blencowe's Sidney Ixii. Lady Sunderland 
to John Evelyn, December 25, 1678. 

4 See the letter subscribed T. G. to Secretary Coventry and 
Coventry's reply. Longleat MSS. See Appendix B. 

6 John Verney to Sir Ralph Verney, Verney MSS. 471. This 
did npt take place till November, but it may be noted at this point. 



104 The Popish Plot 

a gilt handle, was sent to the Duke of York. Ladies of 
high degree carried these daggers about their persons and 
slept with them beneath their pillows, to guard themselves 
from a similar doom. Others as timid followed the lead 
of the Countess of Shaftesbury, who had a set of pocket 
pistols made for her muff. 1 The corpse of the murdered 
magistrate was brought to London in state, and lay 
exposed in the street for two days. A continual pro- 
cession of people who came to gaze on the sight passed 
up and down. Few who came departed without rage, 
terror, and revenge rooted in their hearts. On October 
31 the body was borne to burial at St. Martin's in the 
Fields. Seventy-two clergymen walked before ; above a 
thousand persons of distinction followed after. The 
church was crowded. Dr. Lloyd, afterwards Dean of 
Bangor and Bishop of St. Asaph, himself a friend of 
Godfrey, preached a funeral sermon from the text : 
" Died Abner as a fool dieth ? " It consisted of an 
elaborate eulogy of the dead man and an inflammatory 
attack upon the Roman Catholics. To crown the 
theatrical pomp of this parade, there mounted the pulpit 
beside the preacher two able-bodied divines, to guard his 
life from the attack which it was confidently expected 
would be made. "A most portentous spectacle, sure," 
exclaims North. " Three parsons in one pulpit ! Enough 
of itself, on a less occasion, to excite terror in the audience." 2 
There was one thing still lacking. As yet no evidence 
had appeared to connect any one with the crime. On 
October 2 1 a committee of secrecy was appointed by the 
House of Commons to inquire into the Popish Plot and 
the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. On the 23rd a 
similar committee was established by the House of Lords. 3 

1 Barillon, January 16/26, 1679. Despatches of Giacomo Ronchi, 
secret agent of the Duke of Modena in London, January 20, 1679. 
Campana de Cavelli i. 239. Memoirs of Thomas, Earl of Ailesbury i. 29. 

2 Lansd. MSS. 1235 : 76. North, Examen 202, 204, 205. North 
alone relates the incident of the pulpit. As Ranke observes, he has 
never been contradicted, so that the story may be accepted. Burnet 
ii. 165. Ralph i. 392. Echard 950. Oldmixon 620. 

8 Par I. Hist. iv. 1022. L.J. xiii. 299. House of Lords MSS. i. 



Godfrey 105 

The secretaries of state and the privy council were 
already overwhelmed with work which the investiga- 
tion of the plot had thrown upon their shoulders. For 
ten days the committees laboured at the inquiry, and 
examined some dozens of witnesses without drawing 
nearer to the desired end. Nothing appeared to throw 
light upon the subject. Every clue which was taken up 
vanished in a haze of rumour and uncertainty. There 
seemed every probability that the murderers would escape 
detection. But information was soon to be forthcoming 
to shed a ray of light upon the scene. 



CHAPTER II 

BEDLOE AND ATKINS 

ON October 20 a proclamation was published offering a 
pardon and the reward of ^500 to any one whose evidence 
should lead to the apprehension and conviction of the 
murderers. Four days later a second proclamation was 
issued containing in addition to these a promise of pro- 
tection to the discoverer of the culprits. It is easy to 
point out that this course offered temptations to perjury 
and to sneer at the motives of the government, but it 
must be remembered that in the days when the police 
were a force of the future it was only by obtaining an 
accomplice in the crime to give evidence that criminals 
could in many cases be brought to justice. The pro- 
clamations took effect. At five o'clock in the afternoon 
of Friday, November i , Samuel Atkins was arrested at the 
offices of the Admiralty in Derby House for being con- 
cerned in the murder of Sir Edmund Godfrey. Atkins 
was clerk to Samuel Pepys, the secretary of the navy board. 
He was arrested on the evidence of a certain Captain 
Charles Atkins. The two men were not related by blood, 
but were acquaintances, and " for name-sake have been 
called cousins." Captain Atkins had laid information 
before Henry Coventry on October 27. l Three days 
later he made the same relation to the privy council, and 
on Friday, November I, swore to his statement before Sir 
Philip Howard, justice of the peace for the county of 

1 Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 232. The information of 
October 27 is practically the same as that given below from the Lords' 
Journals. 

106 



Bedloe and Atkins 107 

Middlesex. He deposed : " That in Derby-house, being 
in discourse with Samuel Atkins (clerk of Mr. Pepys, 
secretary of the Admiralty), the said Samuel did say that 
Sir Edmundbury Godfrey had very much vilified his 
master, and that if he lived long would be the ruin of 
him ; upon which the said Samuel did ask this examinant 
whether he did think Child to be a man of courage and 
secrecy ; to which this examinant did reply that the said 
Child had been at sea, and had behaved himself very well, 
as he had been informed ; upon which the said Samuel bid 
this examinant send the said Child to his master, Mr. 
Pepys, but not to him the said Samuel, for that he would 
not be seen to know anything of it. This examinant did 
endeavour to find out the said Child, but did not meet 
with him till the day after the discourse had happened 
between him and Samuel Atkins, at the Three Tobacco 
Pipes in Holborn, where this examinant did tell Child that 
Secretary Pepys would speak with him ; and the next time 
that this examinant did see the said Child (after he had 
given him that direction) he, the said Child, did endeavour 
to engage the said examinant to join him in the murder of 
a man." l The quarrel between Pepys and Godfrey, he 
said further, was occasioned by the discovery of the Popish 
Plot. 2 

Samuel Atkins was immediately carried before the 
committee of inquiry of the House of Lords. The 
conduct of the committee reflected anything but credit 
upon its members. An account of the proceedings in his 
case was afterwards drawn up by Atkins for Mr. Pepys. 3 
In the course of them he had been subjected to great 
annoyance and ill-treatment ; he had been imprisoned for 
a considerable length of time, and had been tried for his 
life. Every motive was present to induce him to be unfair 
towards the instigators of his prosecution. Even if he 
were perfectly honest in drawing up his account, it could 

1 Examination of Charles Atkins, Esq. 6 State Trials 1479. L.J. 
November 12, 1678. 

2 Evidence of C. Atkins before the Lords' Committee. 6 State 
Trials 1474. 3 6 State Trials 1473-1492. 



io8 The Popish Plot 

hardly be an accurate relation of what took place. The 
careful literary form in which it is written shows that he 
arranged it elaborately and revised it often. Since his 
papers were twice taken from him in prison, he must have 
composed it afterwards from memory. 1 But after full 
allowance is made for this, the statement probably repre- 
sents with considerable truth what took place. It was not 
written for publication as a controversial pamphlet, but for 
Pepys' private information. Atkins was likely therefore 
to attempt as far as possible to tell the truth. Moreover 
the conclusions to be drawn from it are supported by a 
consideration of the evidence produced in the case and 
the trial in which it ended. 2 

Atkins indignantly denied the whole story. He was 
several times called before the committee, and received 
considerable attention from the Earl of Shaftesbury 
himself, its most prominent member. Noble lords and 
reverend bishops alternately coaxed him to confess and 
threatened him with the awful consequences of a refusal. 
Plain hints were given to him that both he and his master 
must certainly be papists, and that he had only to admit 
their complicity in Godfrey's murder to gain liberty, 
pardon, and prosperity. In the intervals he was remanded 
to Newgate to reflect upon the best means of getting out 
of it. Before he knew what reception his revelations 
would find with the parties, Gates had taken care to 
exonerate the Duke of York from all concern in the plot. 
It would be a fine stroke for Shaftesbury, with whose 
schemes this did not at all accord, if he could implicate 
the duke in the murder. If only Atkins could be brought 
to accuse Pepys, the duke, under whom he had worked 
for many years at the Admiralty, would offer an easy mark. 

That this was Shaftesbury's real object can hardly be 
doubted. Captain Atkins was known to be a person of 
disreputable character, and gave his evidence in the most 

1 6 State Trials 1484, 1491. 

2 There is unfortunately a gap from October 28 to December n 
in the minutes of the committee of inquiry of the House of Lords, so 
that it is impossible to check Atkins' statements exactly. 



Bedloe and Atkins 109 

suspicious manner. 1 When the man Child was produced 
he did not know Samuel Atkins by sight, and was unable 
to say anything about the matter. 2 The captain was 
treated by the committee with consideration. Although 
some show was made of pressing him in examination on 
his statements, the pressure was removed as soon as it 
appeared that his embarrassment was likely to lead to 
awkward consequences to his patrons. 3 He was sent to 
interview his namesake in Newgate in the hope of extorting 
admissions in the course of conversation, and seemed to 
have been posted with fresh charges against Pepys and 
the Duke. He was evidently prepared to spice and ex- 
pand his evidence in this direction whenever it seemed 
desirable. 4 But before the time arrived for this, a new 
witness appeared upon the scene. 

On Wednesday, October 30, a man named William 
Bedloe wrote from Bristol to Henry Coventry, secretary 
of state, signifying that he had information to give con- 
cerning the murder of Sir Edmund Godfrey, and desiring 
aid and protection in coming to London. The next day 
he wrote in a similar strain to Secretary Sir Joseph 
Williamson. Both the secretaries answered him. To 
make sure that he should not think better of his project 
and escape, Williamson wrote to the mayor of Bristol 
enclosing a communication for Bedloe, while Coventry 
addressed his reply to Bedloe and enclosed a letter to the 
mayor with orders to give whatever assistance might be 
necessary. 5 Bedloe gave himself up forthwith to the 
mayor and was sent post-haste to town. On November 
7 he made a deposition before the council and was ex- 
amined in the presence of the king ; on the 8th he was 

1 See 6 State Trials 1476, 1481. 

2 Ibid. 1474. 

3 Ibid. 1481. 

4 See the conversations between Charles and Samuel Atkins on the 
stairs of the committee room, November 6, and in Newgate, November 
8. Ibid. 1480, 1484. North, Examen 243-247. 

5 S.P. Dom. Charles II 407 : i. 285. Bedloe to Williamson, 
October 31, 1678 ; ii. 23. Williamson to Bedloe, November 5. 
Brief Hist. iii. 7. Coventry to Bedloe, November 2. 



no The Popish Plot 

examined by the Lords' committee and made a statement 
at the bar of the House. 1 It has constantly been said 
that at his first examination Bedloe denied all knowledge 
of the Popish Plot, and after professing to speak only to 
Godfrey's murder, the next day expanded his information 
to embrace more general topics ; and it is told that the 
king on hearing this exclaimed, " Surely this man has 
received a new lesson during the last twenty-four hours. 2 " 
The story is a mere fiction. In his first deposition he 
" acquainted the Lords that he had several things to com- 
municate to them which related to the plot, and that he 
was able to confirm several passages which Mr. Oates 
had discovered concerning the plot." 3 Examined on 
this, he gave a long account of the military operations to 
be taken by the Roman Catholics ; Chepstow Castle was 
to be surrendered to Lord Powis, who was to command 
an army of twenty thousand " religious men " shipped from 
Spain ; a similar number were to sail from Flanders to 
join Lord Bellasis at Bridlington Bay. He had known 
this for four years, and had been employed by the Jesuits 
in London to carry letters to Douay, Paris, and Madrid. 4 
As far as Bedloe's character is concerned the matter is im- 
material, for another lie from his mouth would scarcely 
add weight to the scale of his perjury ; but it is important 
not to exaggerate the folly and credulity of the govern- 
ment, and here at least it has been maligned. This was 
little more than a support for Oates' story in general. 
The more remarkable part of Bedloe's information dealt 
with the murder of Sir Edmund Godfrey. All that need 
be extracted from it at this point is his evidence against 
Atkins. Godfrey, he swore, had been murdered on 
Saturday, October 12, in Somerset House, the queen's 

1 See Appendix B. 

2 Whence Lingard derives the words I cannot discover, xiii. 98. 
Brief Hist. iii. 16. Ralph i. 393. Burnet ii. 168. Burnet, who relates 
that Charles told him the same thing of Bedloe, must have misunder- 
stood the king's words, unless, which is quite possible, Charles deceived 
him intentionally. 

3 Add. MSS. II, 058 : 244. See Appendix B. 

4 S.P. Dom. Charles II 407 : ii. 29. See Appendix B. 



Bedloe and Atkins 1 1 1 

palace. He was himself to have been one of the party to 
do the deed, but failed to come at the right time. Soon 
after nine o'clock on Monday night he had been taken 
by one of the murderers to see the dead body in the room 
where it had been laid. There, in a small company, he 
saw by the light of a dark lantern, standing near the 
corpse, two men "who owned themselves, the one to be 
Lord Bellasis' servant, and the other to be Mr. Atkins, 
Pepys' clerk." l The account which was communicated 
to the Lords concludes : " The same time Mr. Atkins 
being called in before Mr. Bedloe, Mr. Bedloe saith that 
he is in all things very like the person he saw in the room 
with Sir Edmundbury Godfrey's dead body ; and he doth 
verily believe it was him that owned himself to be Pepys' 
clerk ; but because he never saw him before that time, he 
cannot positively swear it, but he doth verily believe him 
to be that man." 2 According to Atkins' own account 
Bedloe's charge against him at this meeting was still more 
vague. Bedloe was asked if he knew the accused. Turn- 
ing to Atkins he said, " I believe, Sir, I have seen you 
somewhere, I think, but I cannot tell where ; I don't 
indeed remember your face." " Is this the man, Mr. 
Bedloe ? " asked the Duke of Buckingham. " My Lord," 
returned the informer, " I can't swear this is he ; 
'twas a young man, and he told me his name was Atkins, 
a clerk, belonging to Derby House ; but I cannot swear 
this is the same person." 3 

Bedloe was a man of evil character. He had been in 
the service of Lord Bellasis, and had subsequently held a 
commission as lieutenant in a foot company in Flanders. 4 
He was of a type not uncommon in the seventeenth 
century, one of the vast crowd who lived a roving life of 
poverty and dishonesty, travelling from one country to 
another, in many services and under many names, living 

1 Deposition of November 8 before the Lords' committee. 6 State 
Trials 1487. 

3 Ihid. 1489. 3 Ihid. 1484. 

4 7 State Trials 347, 349. Exam, of November 7. S.P. Dom. 
CharlesJI 407. See Appendix B. Care, History of the Plot 127. 






ii2 The Popish Plot 

upon their own wits and other people's money, men for 
whom no falsehood was too black, no crime too gross to 
be turned to profit, men without truth, without shame, 
without fear of God or man. Bedloe was afterwards 
known to be notorious throughout Europe. He had 
been imprisoned in Spain for obtaining money under false 
pretences. He had been imprisoned in the Marshalsea for 
debt. He had been sentenced to death for robbery in 
Normandy, but had escaped from prison. When the 
agitation of the Popish Plot broke out he had only lately 
been released from Newgate. He had passed himself off 
on the continent as a nobleman, and had swindled his way 
from Dunkirk to Madrid. In Flanders his name was 
Lord Newport, in France he called himself Lord Corn- 
wallis, in Spain Lord Gerard. 1 When he was examined 
before the House of Lords he denied without reservation 
that he knew Titus Gates. 2 The government made in- 
quiries behind his back. His mother, his sister, and a 
friend were examined by the Bishop of Llandaff on 
Bedloe's behaviour between November 2 and 5, when he 
had stayed at his mother's house at Chepstow. It 
appeared that he had discoursed to them about the plot, 
and had announced his intention of discovering the 
murderers of Godfrey ; but he also told them that he had 
known Oates intimately when they were together in 
Spain. 3 This might have led to unfortunate consequences. 
Bedloe attempted to recover the slip by saying that he 
had known Oates personally, but not by that name, since 
at Valladolid he had called himself Ambrose. Oates sup- 

1 Warner MS. history 36.i|Exam. of Mary Bedloe (see below). 
Burnet ii. 168. Florus Anglo- Bavaric us 127. Lettre ecrite de Mons a 
un ami a Paris, 1679. L.J. xiii. 392, Reresby, Memoirs 149. 

2 L.J. xiii. 343, November 12. 

3 Deposition of Alice Tainton, alias Bedloe, taken this I4th day of 
November 1678, before the Rt. Rev. father in God William Lord 
Bishop of Landaffe, one of his Majesty's justices of the peace in the 
county of Monmouth. Deposition of Mary Bedloe of Chepstow of 
same date before the Bishop of Landaffe. Deposition of Gregory 
Appleby, December 2, 1678 before the Bishop of Landaffe. Longleat 
MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 287, 307. 



Bedloe and Atkins 113 

ported him by the statement that he had been acquainted 
with Bedloe in Spain under the name of Williams. 1 The 
recovery was not sufficient, for Bedloe had told his family 
that he had known Gates by the same name ; but the 
unsystematic method of examination came to the informer's 
aid, and the fact passed at the time unnoticed. His denial 
of Gates' name and recognition of his person took place 
before the House of Lords, while the facts which proved 
his perjury in this only came to the notice of the privy 
council. When examinations of the same persons on the 
same or different points might be conducted by the secre- 
taries of state, by the privy council, at the bar of the 
House of Lords, at the bar of the House of Commons, or 
before the secret committee of either one house or the 
other, and when it was the business of nobody to dissect 
and digest the results of this mass of raw evidence, it can 
hardly be a matter of surprise that contradictions went 
undetected and lying statements unrebuked. 

In spite of this false step Bedloe was a man of some 
ingenuity and even moderation. In his evidence against 
Atkins he had left the way open to advance, if possible, 
and charge Pepys' clerk more fully with being implicated 
in the murder, or to retreat, if necessary, and protest with 
a profusion of sincerity that he had been hoaxed. He 
was far too careful to run the risk of definitely accusing 
any one with having been in a certain place at a certain 
time until he was sure that his reputation would not be 
ruined by running upon an alibi. The tactics which he 
employed were justified by their success. After the 
examination of Friday, November 8, Atkins was sent 
back to Newgate and heavily ironed. On the following 
Monday Captain Atkins was again sent to him in prison 
and exhorted him to be cheerful and confess his guilt. 
This interview was the prelude to a visit on the next day 
from four members of the House of Commons, headed by 
Sacheverell and Birch. They went over the whole case to 
the prisoner, pointed out the extreme danger in which he 
was situated, urged him with every argument to confess, 

1 L.J. November 24, 28 ; xiii. 389, 391. 
I 






ii4 The Popish Plot 

and declared that his refusal would be held to aggravate 
the crime of the murder. Atkins remained obdurate, and 
the four left him with serious countenances, Sacheverell 
saying as he went away that the prisoner was " one of the 
most ingenious men to say nothing " whom he had ever 
met. 1 Since nothing was to be gained in this fashion it 
was determined to bring Atkins to trial. The date seems 
to have been fixed for Wednesday, November 20, the day 
before the conviction of Staley. When the day came the 
case was postponed. Atkins remained in Newgate, and 
was allowed pen, ink, and paper to compose his defence. 
The fact was that the committee had received intelligence 
that Atkins could produce good evidence of an alibi for 
the evening of October 14, the only point at which the 
evidence of Bedloe touched him. He had in the mean- 
time by the help of his friends collected witnesses, and the 
crown was unable to face the trial without knowing what 
statements they would make. When Atkins had com- 
mitted enough to writing, his papers were seized, and 
gave to the prosecution detailed information on the sub- 
ject. 2 On December 13 his witnesses were summoned 
before the committee of the House of Lords. They 
proved to be Captain Vittells of the yacht Catherine and 
five of his men. They were examined at length. On 
Monday, October 14, Atkins had sent word to Captain 
Vittells that he would bring two gentlewomen, his friends, 
to see the yacht. At half-past four o'clock in the after- 
noon they appeared at Greenwich, where the vessel lay, 
and came aboard. The captain took them to his cabin, 
and they drank a glass of wine. The wine was good, the 
company pleasant, and they stayed drinking till seven 
o'clock. Atkins then sent away his boat and returned to 
supper. After supper they drank again, and the gentle- 
men toasted the ladies, and the ladies toasted the gentle- 
men, till night had fallen and the clock pointed to half- 

1 6 State Trials 1489, 1490. Sitwell, First Whig 51. North, 
Examen 248. 

2 6 State Trials 1490, 1491. For Staley's case see below in Trials 
for Treason. North, Examen 249. 



Bedloe and Atkins 115 

past ten. By this time they were all, said the captain, 
pretty fresh, and Mr. Atkins very much fuddled. Captain 
Vittells put his guests, with a Dutch cheese and half a 
dozen bottles of wine as a parting gift, into a boat belong- 
ing to the yacht and sent them to land. The tide flowed 
so strongly that the men rowing the wherry could not 
make London Bridge, but set Atkins and the two ladies 
ashore at Billingsgate at half- past eleven o'clock, and 
assisted them into a coach. " Atkins," said one of the 
sailors, " was much in drink, and slept most of the way 
up." l He must have blessed the fate that led him to 
joviality and intoxication on that evening. It was obvious 
that he could not have been soberly watching Sir Edmund 
Godfrey's corpse at Somerset House when he was at the 
time named by Bedloe, and for two hours after, first 
hilarious and then somnolent at Greenwich. The evidence 
was unimpeachable. The only fact revealed by a some- 
what sharp examination was that some of the sailors had 
signed a paper for the information of Mr. Pepys stating 
at what time they had left Atkins. One of them admitted 
that he could not read, but added immediately that he was 
a Protestant. In the seventeenth century sound religious 
principles covered a want of many letters. 

At this point the case rested. A true bill had already 
been found against Atkins by the grand jury, but it was 
not until Tuesday, February n, 1679 that he could 
obtain a trial. 2 Important developments had in the 
meantime taken place, and Atkins was no longer the 
game at which the plot-hunters drove. On the day before 
he was brought to the bar three men were convicted of 
the same murder for which he was indicted on two counts, 
both as principal and as accessory. The former of these 
was now dropped, and Atkins was tried only as an accessory 
to the murder of Sir Edmund Godfrey. The centre of 
interest in the case had moved away from him and Mr. 

1 Evidence of Captain Vittells and his men before the Lords' com- 
mittee. House of Lords MSS. 49, 50, 51. Evidence of Vittells and 
Tribbett at Atkins' trial. 7 State Trials 248. 

2 6 State Trials 1491, 1492. 



1 1 6 The Popish Plot 

Pepys and the Duke of York, and the same evidence 
originally preferred against him was produced in court 
without addition. The case for the prosecution was 
lamentably weak. Captain Atkins swore to his previous 
story at greater length, but without any new statement of 
importance. 1 Bedloe followed with the story of the man 
who gave his name as Atkins at the meeting over 
Godfrey's corpse ; but whereas he had formerly seemed 
willing to recognise Atkins without much difficulty, he 
now professed himself entirely unable to swear to his 
identity. " There was a very little light," he said, " and 
the man was one I was not acquainted with. ... So that 
it is hard for me to swear that this is he. And now I am 
upon one gentleman's life, I would not be guilty of a 
falsehood to take away another's. I do not remember 
that he was such a person as the prisoner is ; as far as I 
can remember he had a more manly face than he hath, 
and a beard." 2 The crown evidence was so feeble that it 
was never even proposed to call the man Child. An 
attempt was made to show that Atkins was a Roman 
Catholic, but failed ignominiously. 3 The prisoner called 
Captain Vittells and one of his men, who proved an alibi 
in the most decisive manner ; the Attorney-General threw 
up his case, and the jury without leaving the bar returned 
a verdict of not guilty. 4 Sir William Jones was anxious 
that no one should go away with the opinion that the 
king's evidence had been disproved. The Lord Chief 
Justice supported him. He pointed out that Bedloe had 
not been contradicted, and that every one who appeared 
at the trial might speak the truth and the prisoner yet be 
perfectly innocent. 5 What he did not say, and what 
neither he nor many others thought, was that Bedloe 
might equally be telling the grossest falsehoods. 

1 7 State Trials 238-240. 

2 Bedloe's evidence. Ibid. 242, 243. 

3 Ibid. 241, 245. 4 Ibid. 246-249. 

5 Ibid. 249. North, Examen 250, 251. North's account is as 
usual highly coloured, and contains at least one untrue statement. 



CHAPTER III 

BEDLOE AND PRANCE 

THE change in the situation had been caused by the 
appearance of a witness whose evidence about the murder 
was of the greatest weight, and whose position in the 
intrigues of the Popish Plot has always been of some 
obscurity. Bedloe's information was already of a startling 
character. It was as follows. Early in October he had 
been offered by two Jesuits, Walsh and Le Fevre, the 
sum of ^4000 to assist in killing a man " that was a great 
obstacle to their designs." He gave his word that he 
would do so, but when on Friday, October 1 1 , Le Fevre 
told him to be ready at four o'clock the next day to do 
the business, he became nervous and failed to be at the 
place of meeting. On Sunday he met Le Fevre by acci- 
dent in Fleet Street, and by appointment joined him 
between 8 and 9 o'clock P.M. the next day in the court of 
Somerset House. Le Fevre told Bedloe that the man 
whom he had been engaged to kill was dead and his corpse 
lying in the building at that moment. Bedloe was taken 
into a small room to see the body. Besides himself and 
Le Fevre there were also present Walsh, the man who 
called himself Atkins, a gentleman in the household of 
Lord Bellasis, and a person whom he took to be one of 
the attendants in the queen's chapel. A cloth was thrown 
off the body, and by the light of a dark lantern he recog- 
nised the features of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. It was 
agreed to carry the corpse to Clarendon House, and to 
take it thence by coach to the fields at the foot of Prim- 
rose Hjll. Bedloe promised to return at eleven o'clock to 

"7 



u8 The Popish Plot 

assist, but went away intending to meddle with the business 
no more. The next day he happened to meet Lc Fevre 
in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Le Fevre began to rebuke him 
for breaking his word. Bedloe answered that he had been 
unwilling to come because he had recognised the dead 
man. Le Fevre bound him to secrecy and then proceeded 
to tell him how the murder had been committed. Under 
pretence of making a further discovery of the plot, the 
two Jesuits and Lord Bellasis' gentleman had persuaded 
Godfrey to come into Somerset House with him. They 
then set upon him and with two others dragged him into 
a room in the corner of the court. A pistol was held to 
his head and he was threatened with death unless he would 
surrender the examinations which he had taken concerning 
the plot. If they could obtain these, said Le Fevre, fresh 
examinations would have to be taken, the originals could 
then be produced, and the contradictions which would 
certainly appear between the two would exonerate the 
plotters and convict the informers of falsehood in the eyes 
of the world. Godfrey refused, saying that he had sent 
the papers to Whitehall. Upon this they seized him, 
held a pillow over the face until he was nearly stifled, and 
then strangled him with a long cravat. On Monday 
night, after Bedloe had gone away, the murderers carried 
the body out into the fields and placed it where it was 
found with the sword run through it. 1 

Bedloe's evidence varied greatly on points of detail. 
The amount of the reward which he was offered varied 
from two guineas to four thousand pounds ; the time at 
which Godfrey was killed from two o'clock to five ; the 
day on which his corpse was removed from Monday to 
Wednesday. Sometimes he was stifled with one, at others 
with two pillows. Once Bedloe said that the body was 
placed in the room where the Duke of Albemarle lay in 
state, while according to another statement it was hidden 
in the queen's chapel. When his evidence was heard in 
court, a multitude of further alterations was introduced. 

1 Bedloe's deposition before the Lords' committee. LJ. November 
12, xiii. 350, 351. 



Bedloe and Prance 119 

In all the different versions of his story however there 
appeared with but little variation the statement that 
Godfrey had been murdered in Somerset House in the 
course of the afternoon on Saturday, October 12, by the 
means or at the direction of three Jesuits, Walsh, 
Pritchard, and Le Fevre, and that on the night of the 
following Monday he had seen the body lying in Somerset 
House in the presence of these three, and of a man whom 
he thought to be a waiter in the queen's chapel. 

Of all those mentioned only one fish had been netted, 
and it was certain that even he could not be brought to 
land. At the trial of Atkins the Attorney -General 
darkly hinted that had it not been for the conviction on 
the previous day, the prisoner would have been indicted 
as a principal in Godfrey's murder, and would probably 
have been condemned. 1 But it may be doubted that this 
was more than a piece of bravado. The evidence of 
Captain Atkins was worth nothing ; that of Bedloe little 
more. If the informers had expanded and defined their 
information to an extent unparalleled even in the history 
of the Popish Plot, where such things were not rare, it 
would hardly have produced much effect. The evidence 
produced for Atkins' alibi was too strong to be seriously 
shaken. By the middle of November the investigation 
into the murder had thus come to a halt. Proclamations 
were out for the rest of the men accused by Bedloe, but 
there seemed to be every probability that they would 
escape. If Atkins were brought to trial and acquitted, 
consequences which would be serious to the policy of 
the Whigs on the committees of secrecy might ensue. 
Consequences almost as serious were to be expected in the 
event of his being released without a trial. In either one 
case or the other the failure to obtain a conviction for the 
murder of Godfrey would be damaging to their cause. 
They had staked much on the cards, and it seemed as if 
the game was going against them. Unless fortune came 
to their aid, the murder of which there had been so much 

1 7 State Trials 237. 






i2o The Popish Plot 

talk would go unpunished, and the sensation which it 
created would die down. 

Meanwhile the public mind was occupied on other 
points. The trials of Staley, Coleman, and Ireland for 
high treason filled the greater part of one excited month. 1 
Almost till Christmas the great murder case made no 
progress. Just then, when it must have seemed less than 
likely after the lapse of eight weeks and after the only 
hopeful trail had disappeared that any substantial advance 
should be gained, an extraordinary incident occurred. 
There was living in Covent Garden a Roman Catholic 
silversmith, by name Miles Prance, who did a fair busi- 
ness with those of his own religion and was occasionally 
employed by the queen. He was a friend of the Jesuits 
who had been imprisoned on account of the plot and, 
being in liquor one day at a tavern, had declared loudly 
" that they were very honest men." Suspicion was 
aroused, and on inquiry it was found that he had slept 
away from his house for three nights about the time of 
Godfrey's disappearance. In point of fact this had been 
before the date of the murder, and Prance's subsequent 
connection with the case was due to this initial mistake. 
His landlord laid information, and on Saturday, December 
21, Prance was arrested for being concerned in Godfrey's 
murder. He was taken into the lobby of the House of 
Commons and was there waiting until the committee was 
ready to examine him, when Bedloe happened to pass 
through. His eye fell upon Prance and he cried out 
without hesitation, " This is one of the rogues that I saw 
with a dark lantern about the body of Sir Edmond Bury 
Godfrey, but he was then in a periwig." 2 Prance was 
taken before the committee of the House of Lords and 
strictly examined. He denied knowing Walsh, Pritchard, 

1 See below in Trials for Treason, 

2 Burnet ii. 191. 7 State Trials 183. True Narrative and Dis- 
covery 20. Brief Hist. iii. 52, 53, 65. L'Estrange alone gives the 
words. The fact that Prance was questioned about the periwig makes 
it probable that they are more or less correct. L'Estrange also says 
that the meeting was prearranged by Bedloe and Sir William Waller. 
Reasons for disbelieving this will appear later. 



Bedloe and Prance 12,1 

or Le Fevre. He denied that he was guilty of Sir 
Edmund Godfrey's death and that he had assisted in 
removing his body. When he spoke of Fenwick and 
Ireland in the coffee-house he was drunk. He had not 
worn a periwig once in the last ten years, but he owned 
one at home which had been made twelve months since 
from his wife's hair. He had not been to the queen's 
chapel at Somerset House once a month. After denying 
that he had received money from Grove, he confessed that 
Grove had paid him for some work. He first denied, 
but afterwards admitted that he had hired a horse to ride 
out of town. He had intended to leave London to 
escape the oaths administered to Roman Catholics, but 
had in the meantime been arrested. 1 Prance was com- 
mitted a close prisoner to Newgate, and was lodged in the 
cell known as the condemned hole. There he remained 
during the nights of December 21 and 22. On the 
morning of Monday, December 23, he sent a message to 
the committee of inquiry offering on the assurance of 
pardon to confess. By order of the House of Lords the 
Duke of Buckingham and other noblemen were sent to 
Newgate with the promise of pardon and to take his 
examination. 2 At the same time the Commons ordered 
that the committee of secrecy or any three of them should 
examine Prance in prison, and acquaint his fellow- 
prisoners in Newgate with the king's assurance of pardon 
consequent on discoveries relating to the plot. 3 Prance 

1 House of Lords MSS. 51. 

2 L.J. xiii. 431. Blencowe's Sidney Ixii. Lady Sunderland to 
John Evelyn, December 25, 1678. 

3 C.J. ix. 563. L'Estrange comments on this : "It makes a man 
tremble to think what a jail delivery of discoverers this temptation 
might have produced" (Brief Hist. iii. 55). Surely it is more natural 
to suppose that the information was directed not to the common male- 
factors, but to those already imprisoned in Newgate on account of the 
plot. If an examination of Prance was taken by the Commons' com- 
mittee, it was never reported to the House. On December 30, 1678 
Parliament was prorogued, and on January 24, 1679 dissolved. The 
new parliament did not meet till March 6, when the trial for Godfrey's 
murder had already taken place, and Green, Berry, and Hill had 
been hanged. 



122 The Popish Plot 

confessed that he had been engaged in the murder and 
had much information to give on the subject. He was 
examined by the lords, and on the next day repeated his 
deposition before the privy council. At the beginning 
of October one Gerald, or Fitzgerald, an Irish priest 
belonging to the household of the Venetian ambassador, 
had approached him on the subject of putting out of the 
way a man whose name was not divulged. About a week 
later he learned that this was Sir Edmund Godfrey. Two 
other men were also concerned in the matter, Green, a 
cushion -layer in the chapel at Somerset House, and 
Laurence Hill, servant to Dr. Gauden, the treasurer of the 
queen's chapel. They told him that Godfrey was to be 
killed, " for that he was a great enemy to the queen or her 
servants, and that he had used some Irishmen ill." Lord 
Bellasis, said Gerald, had promised a reward. Prance 
consented to their proposals, the more readily because he 
had a private grudge against the magistrate. During the 
next week they watched for an opportunity to waylay 
Godfrey, and on Saturday, October 12, "did dodge him 
from his house that morning to all the places he went to 
until he came to his death." l The same day the king 
ordered the Duke of Mon mouth and the Earl of Ossory 
to accompany Prance to Somerset House and examine 
him on the spot where he said that the murder had taken 
place. There he entered into a detailed account of the 
crime. At about nine o'clock at night 2 Godfrey was 
coming from St. Clement Danes down the Strand, followed 
by Hill, Green, and Gerald. Hill walked on ahead, and 
as Godfrey came opposite the water-gate of Somerset 
House begged him to come into the court and put an 
end to a quarrel between two men who were fighting. 
The magistrate turned in through the wicket, with Hill, 

1 L.J. xiii. 436. 

2 The deposition begins, " That it was either at the latter end 
or the beginning of the week that Sir E. Godfrey," and so on. The 
rest of the examination is only intelligible on the ground that Saturday 
was the day of the murder. Prance's reasons for prevaricating in this 
statement will be the subject of discussion below. 



Bedloe and Prance 123 

Green, and Gerald following them. Prance, who was wait- 
ing inside, came to the gate to keep watch. The others 
went down the court until they came to a bench in the 
right-hand corner close to the stable-rails, where Berry, 
the porter of Somerset House, and an Irishman, whose 
name Prance did not know, were sitting. Green crept up 
close behind, and when they had reached the bench threw 
a large twisted handkerchief round Godfrey's neck and 
pulled it tight. The three other men set upon him and 
dragged him down into the corner behind the bench. 
Green knelt upon his chest and pounded it, and then 
wrung his neck round until it was broken. This, said 
Prance, Green had told him a quarter of an hour after- 
wards when he came down from the gate to see what had 
happened. The body was carried across the court, 
through a door in the left-hand corner, from which a 
flight of stairs led to a long gallery. From the gallery a 
door opened on to a flight of eight steps, leading into 
Hill's lodgings. In a small room to the right of the 
entrance the body was set on the floor, leaning against the 
bed. There it remained for two days. On Monday night 
at nine or ten o'clock the same men removed the corpse 
to another part of Somerset House, " into some room 
towards the garden." As it lay there Prance was taken 
by Hill to see it. He could not say if he had seen 
Bedloe there, but Gerald and Green were present. 
Thence twenty-four hours later the body was taken back, 
first to a room near Hill's lodging, and on Wednesday 
evening to the same room in which it had been at first. 
At midnight Hill procured a sedan chair, and Godfrey's 
corpse was put inside. Berry opened the gate of the 
court, and Prance, Gerald, Green, and the Irishman 
carried the chair as far as the new Grecian Church in 
Soho. There Hill met them with a horse, upon which the 
body was set. Sitting behind the body, Hill rode off" in 
company with Green and Gerald, and deposited it where 
it was found, having first transfixed it with the sword. 

Having taken his examination, Monmouth and Ossory 
bade prance guide them to the places he had mentioned. 






12,4 The Popish Plot 

Without hesitation he led the way to the bench, and de- 
scribed with assurance the manner in which the murder had 
been committed. Then he shewed the room in which the 
body had first been laid, and conducted his examiners to 
every spot of which he had spoken with unerring direction. 
To this process there was one exception. Prance could not 
find the room in which he said the corpse had been 
placed on the night of Monday 14. The three passed 
up and down, into the corner of the piazza, down a flight 
of steps, up again, across the great court which lay towards 
the river, into and out of several rooms, but without success. 
The room could not be found. Finally Prance desisted 
from the search, " saying that he had never been there but 
that once, when Hill conveyed him thither with a dark 
lantern, but that it was some chamber towards the garden." 
Monmouth and Ossory returned to the council-chamber 
with the report of Prance's examination, upon which the 
council made a note, " that the said particulars were very 
consonant to what he had spoken at the board in the 
morning, before his going." l The council sat again in the 
afternoon. Green, Hill, and Berry were summoned. All 
denied with emphasis the charges which Prance had made 
against them, and denied that they knew Sir Edmund 
Godfrey. Green and Hill admitted knowing Father 
Gerald, and Green identified the Irishman mentioned by 
Prance as a priest named Kelly. In one point Hill con- 
firmed Prance's evidence. While they had been in his 
lodgings that morning, Monmouth and Ossory had 
examined Mrs. Broadstreet, the housekeeper of his master, 
Dr. Gauden. She affirmed that Hill left the lodgings at 
Michaelmas to move into a house of his own in Stanhope 
Street. When Prance said she was mistaken, since Hill 

1 L.J. xiii. 437, 438. 7 State Trials 191, 192. Evidence of Sir 
Robert Southwell, clerk to the privy council. There exists among 
the state papers the notes taken by Sir Joseph Williamson, secretary 
of state, of Prance's first examination before the council. They only 
differ from the account in the Lords' Journals in that they begin 
" On a certain Monday." The paper is worth studying for the 
wonderful vividness in which Williamson's disjointed sentences bring 
the scene to the mind. See Appendix B. 



Bedloe and Prance 125 

had not left his rooms in Somerset House until a fortnight 
after Michaelmas, Mrs. Broadstreet contradicted him 
angrily. Hill now declared that in the middle of October 
he had been busy making arrangements for the move ; on 
the day of Godfrey's disappearance he was still occupied 
with his landlord in drawing up terms of agreement, and 
the agreement was not concluded until the Wednesday 
following. 1 

In addition to his evidence about Godfrey's murder, 
Prance made a statement concerning the plot. Fenwick, 
Ireland, and Grove, he said, had told him that " Lord Petre, 
Lord Bellasis, the Earl of Powis, and Lord Arundell were 
to command the army." As more decisive evidence had 
already been given against all these, his information was of 
little consequence. He also desired to be set at liberty, 
that he might be able to discover some persons connected 
with the plot whose names were unknown to him. The 
request was naturally refused, but Prance was removed 
from the dungeon and Hill was confined there in his 
place. 2 Within forty-eight hours from this time Prance 
had recanted his whole story. On the evening of 
Sunday, December 29, Captain Richardson, the keeper 
of Newgate, received an order of council to bring Prance 
before the Lords' committee for examination. Prance 
was in a state of great agitation and begged to be taken 
to see the king. Charles received him in the pres- 
ence of Richardson and Chiffinch, his confidential valet. 
Prance fell upon his knees and declared that the whole of 
his evidence had been false, that he was innocent of the 
murder, and the men whom he had accused as far as he knew 
were innocent too. The next day he was taken before the 
council and persisted that he knew no more of Godfrey's 
murder than was known to the world. He was asked if 
any one had been tampering with him and answered, No. 
Hardly had he been taken back to Newgate when he 
begged Captain Richardson to return to the king and say 
that all his evidence had been true, and his recantation 

1 X L.J. xiii. 439. 2 House of Lords MSS. 52. 



126 The Popish Plot 

false. 1 From this he again departed and reaffirmed his 
recantation. He was heavily ironed and a second time 
imprisoned in the condemned hole. Here he remained 
until January II, 1679, wnen to complete the cycle of 
his contradictions he once more retracted his recantation 
and declared that the whole of his original confession was 
true. 

On February 10, 1679 Green, Berry, and Hill were 
brought to the bar of the Court of King's Bench to be 
tried upon an indictment for the murder of Sir Edmund 
Berry Godfrey. The prosecution began by evidence to 
shew that for some days before his disappearance Godfrey 
had been in a state of alarm. Oates swore that Godfrey 
had complained to him of the treatment he had received 
in consequence of having taken his deposition ; on the one 
hand those who wished to accelerate the discovery of the 
plot had blamed him for not being sufficiently eager in its 
prosecution ; those, on the other, who were endangered 
by Oates' revelations had threatened the magistrate for the 
action which he had taken. Godfrey told Oates that " he 
went in fear of his life by the popish party, and that he 
had been dogged several days." The testimony of Oates 
carries no greater weight on this than on any other occasion, 
but he was supported by another and a more respectable 
witness. Mr. Robinson, chief protonotary of the court 
of common pleas, gave evidence of Godfrey's disturbance 
of mind. The two had met on October 7, and Robinson 
questioned the magistrate about the depositions which he 

1 Warner MS. history 37. S.P. Dom. Charles II 407 : ii. 17. 
Note of the proceedings at the council on December 30. 7 State Trials 
177,210. Evidence of Richardson and Chiffinch. James (Or. Mem.) 
i. 535. Burnet ii. 193. Brief Hist. iii. 61, 62, 65. L'Estrange says 
that the king saw Prance alone on the evening of December 29, 
and called in Richardson and Chiffinch afterwards. This is contradicted 
by Richardson and Burnet. It would moreover have been a piece of 
imprudence unlike Charles' caution ; and as none of the Whig writers, 
who would have given much to obtain such a handle against the king, 
mention a private interview, the story is probably without truth. The 
events which passed between Prance's first confession and his final ad- 
herence to it will be discussed below. 



Bedloe and Prance 127 

had taken. Godfrey replied that he wished that another 
had been in his place, for he would have small thanks for 
his pains ; the bottom of the matter had not yet been 
reached, he said ; and then, turning to Robinson, exclaimed, 
" Upon my conscience I believe I shall be the first martyr." l 
This was the prelude by which the evidence of Prance and 
Bedloe was introduced. Bedloe retold the story to which 
he had treated the council, the committee, and the House 
of Lords. This time it differed in almost every point of 
detail from the statements which he had previously made. 
The Jesuits who tempted him into the murder had sent 
him about a week before to effect an acquaintance with 
Godfrey. There were several separate schemes on foot to 
dispatch the justice. After seeing the body upon Monday 
night he had gone away and never seen the murderers 
again. The Jesuits told him that Godfrey had been 
strangled, but how he did not know. His account of his 
many interviews with Le Fevre were hopelessly at 
variance with what he had said about them before. 2 But 
as the rules of legal procedure did not admit as evidence 
depositions and reports of testimony given elsewhere, it 
was impossible to convict the witness of these alterations. 
Bedloe's evidence too shewed striking points of difference 
from that of Prance, who preceded him, even after he had 
toned it into better accord. The prisoners, excited and 
ignorant, unused to sifting evidence and wholly unskilled 
in examining witnesses, failed altogether to detect and 
point out the discrepancies. 

The evidence given by Prance was, on the contrary, 
remarkably consistent with the information which he had 
furnished on other occasions. He went through all the 
incidents which he had detailed first to the council and 
then on the spot to the Duke of Monmouth and the Earl 
of Ossory. He described each point with perfect decision 
and answered the questions put to him without hesitation. 
The only point on which he showed uncertainty was when 
he was asked to describe the room in which the body lay 
on the night of October 14. He said frankly, " I am 
1 7 'State Trials 167, 168, 169. 2 Ibid. 179-183. 






12,8 The Popish Plot 

not certain of the room, and so cannot describe it." In 
one particular alone did a statement vary from his previous 
evidence. He had told the council that on the morning 
of the fatal Saturday Green had called at Godfrey's house 
and inquired if he was at home. 1 Now he said that he 
could not be certain whether it was Green or Hill who 
went to Hartshorn Lane. 2 His motive in altering the 
distinct statement is not far to seek. Elizabeth Curtis, 
who had been maid at Godfrey's house, was called as a 
witness. She testified that on the morning of October 1 2 
Hill came to see her master and had conversation with him 
for several minutes. He wore the same clothes, she said, 
in which he appeared in court ; and Hill admitted that he 
had been dressed in the same way on that day. Green 
had come to Hartshorn Lane about a fortnight before to 
ask for Godfrey, but on the date of his disappearance Hill 
was there alone. 3 The suspicion is difficult to stifle that 
Prance had some knowledge of the evidence which the 
maid would give, and altered his own in order not to 
contradict it. When he afterwards published his True 
Narrative and Discovery of several Remarkable Passages 
relating to the Horrid Popish P/ot, he simply stated in 
accordance with the evidence of Curtis that it was Hill 
who spoke with Godfrey on that morning. 4 In some other 
points Prance's evidence was supported by independent 
witnesses. He had spoken of meetings held by Gerald, 
Kelly, the prisoners, and himself at a tavern with the sign 
of the Plow, where he was enticed to be a party to the 
murder. The fact that they were frequenters of the Plow 
was proved by the landlord of the inn and his servant. 1 
About a fortnight after the murder Prance had entertained 
a small party at the Queen's Head Inn at Bow. Gerald 
was there, and a priest named Leweson, and one Mr. 
Vernatt, who was described as being in service to Lord 
Bellasis. They were joined by a friend of Vernatt, named 
Dethick, and dined on flounders and a barrel of oysters. 

1 L.J. xiii. 437. 2 7 State Trials 169-173. 

3 Ibid. 1 8 6, 187. 4 True Narrative and Discovery 12. 

5 7 State Trials 169, 188, 189. 



Bedloe and Prance 129 

According to Prance's statement Vernatt should have been 
present at the murder, but as he had been prevented, Gerald 
furnished the company with an account of the manner in 
which it had been accomplished. While the talk ran 
thus, Prance heard a noise outside the door. Opening 
it suddenly, he caught the drawer eavesdropping and sent 
him off with threats of a kicking. 1 This was confirmed 
by the evidence of the drawer. He had listened at the 
door and heard Godfrey's name mentioned, and one of the 
party had threatened to kick him downstairs. 2 Several 
important witnesses were called for the defence. Mary 
Tilden, the niece of Dr. Gauden, and his housekeeper, 
Mrs. Broadstreet, gave evidence that Hill was at home on 
the evening of the murder and the following nights, when 
he was accused of being busy with the body, and that the 
corpse was never brought to their lodgings. The judges 
continually bullied and sneered at the witnesses. The 
room in which Prance said the body was laid was described 
by Sir Robert Southwell as "an extraordinary little place." 
Mrs. Broadstreet said that it was impossible for a corpse 
to be placed there without their knowledge. On this Mr. 
Justice Wild told her that it was very suspicious, and 
Dolben remarked, " It is well you are not indicted." 
The hostile attitude of the court was not mollified when 
it appeared that there was some confusion in the evidence 
of both witnesses. Mary Tilden stated that during the 
time when they were in town she had never been out of 
the lodgings after eight o'clock in the evening. " When 
were you out of town ? " asked Mr. Justice Jones. " In 
October," the witness answered. The judge pointed out 
that October was just the month in question. Mistress 
Tilden said that she had made a mistake ; she had meant 
to say that they were out of town in September. She said 
too that there was only one key to the door of the 
lodgings ; but Prance declared, and was not contradicted, 
that in her examination before the Duke of Monmouth, 
Mrs. Broadstreet had admitted that there were several. 

1 7 State Trials 174. True Narrative 18. 

2 7 State Trials 190. 

K 






130 The Popish Plot 

The latter made the mistake of saying that Hill occupied 
the rooms until a fortnight after Michaelmas, whereas she 
had before sworn, as Sir Robert Southwell testified, that 
he left them in the first week in October. 1 The workman 
who had been employed at Hill's new house in Stanhope 
Street proved that he had been in Hill's company from 
nine to two in the afternoon of Saturday, October 12, and 
a neighbour that Hill had been at his house from five to 
seven o'clock on the same evening. 2 Green called for his 
defence his maid, his landlord, and the landlord's wife. 
The maid testified that Green was always at home before 
nine o'clock at night ; James Warrier and his wife that 
he was within doors in their company till after ten o'clock 
on the night of October 12. Mrs. Warrier however 
made the mistake of saying that this was a fortnight after 
Michaelmas day, which it was not, and so raised a doubt 
that the evidence was directed to a time a week later than 
the date in question. 3 The most weighty evidence for the 
defence was produced by Berry in the persons of the 
sentries who had kept guard at the gate of Somerset 
House on the night of Wednesday, October 16. On that 
night Prance swore that Berry had opened the gate to let 
the sedan chair containing Godfrey's corpse pass out. 
From seven to ten o'clock Nicholas Trollop had kept 
guard, Nicholas Wright from ten to one, from one to four 
Gabriel Hasket. During the first watch a chair had been 
carried into Somerset House, but all three men were 
confident that none had been carried out. They were 
equally positive that at no time had they left the beat to 
drink at Berry's house or with any one else. If the gate 
had been opened and a sedan taken through, it would 
certainly have been seen by the soldier on duty. Berry's 
maid also testified that her master had come in that evening 
at dusk and had remained at home until he went to bed at 
midnight. 4 The only part of the evidence for the prisoners 
to which the Lord Chief Justice devoted attention in his 

1 7 State Trials 195-200. 

2 Ibid. 201, 202. 3 Ibid. 204, 205, 206. 

4 Ibid. 207, 208, 209. 



Bedloe and Prance 131 

summing up was the testimony of the sentries. He remarked 
to the jury that it was a dark night and that the soldier 
might not have seen the gate opened, or, having seen, might 
have forgotten. Scroggs went over the evidence of Bedloe 
briefly and of Prance at length, and delivered a harangue 
on the horrors of the Plot, of which Godfrey's murder, he 
said, was " a monstrous evidence." After a short delibera- 
tion the jury returned a verdict of guilty against all the 
prisoners. The Chief Justice declared if it were the last 
word he had to speak in this world he should have pro- 
nounced the same verdict, and the spectators in court met 
his announcement with a shout of applause. 1 

On February 1 1 Green, Berry, and Hill came up to 
receive sentence, and ten days later Green and Hill were 
hanged at Tyburn, denying their guilt to the last. Berry, 
who was distinguished from them by being a Protestant, 
was granted a week's respite. To the indignation of 
Protestant politicians he made no confession, and when he 
was executed on February 28, declaring his innocence to 
the end, a rumour was spread that the court party had 
gained him to a false conversion in order to give the 
Roman Catholics the chance of saying that he at least 
could not have lied in hope of salvation. 2 It was after- 
wards remembered that by an extraordinary coincidence 
Primrose Hill, at the foot of which Godfrey's body was 
found, had in former days borne the name of Greenberry 
Hill. 2 

1 7 State Trials 213-221. 2 Ibid. 223-230. Burnet ii. 194, 195. 
3 Luttrell, Brief Relation i. 9. 



CHAPTER IV 

PRANCE AND BEDLOE 

AT this point the atmosphere begins somewhat to clear. 
Two trials have been discussed, and the result is seen that 
the two chief witnesses at them were guilty of wilful perjury. 
Bedloe contradicted himself beyond belief. Although it 
was by no means clear at the time, the men convicted upon 
the evidence of Prance were certainly innocent. This has 
since been universally recognised. Yet the verdict against 
them was not perverse, and small blame attaches to the 
judges and jury who acted on the evidence of Prance. 
For all they knew he was speaking the truth. The 
witnesses for the defence were uncertain in points of time 
to which they spoke, and Prance was to a certain extent 
corroborated by independent evidence. On the case which 
came into court the conviction was certainly justifiable. 
It is now possible to see that the verdict was wrong. 
The motive which Prance alleged for the crime was weak 
in the extreme, and his subsequent conduct supports the 
fact of his perjury. Although an absolute alibi was not 
proved for any of the accused at the time of the murder, 
a considerable body of evidence came near the point, and 
an alibi was proved both for Green and for Hill at the 
time when Prance stated that each was engaged in dogging 
Sir Edmund Godfrey to his death. The sentries proved 
that the body had not been removed in the manner which 
Prance described. The evidence of the inmates of Hill's 
house proved that it had not been placed where Prance 
affirmed. Green, Berry, and Hill were wrongfully put to 
death. 

132 



Prance and Bedloe 133 

From this point it is necessary to start upon the pursuit 
of the truth, and before starting it is well to take a view 
of the situation. Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey disappeared 
on Saturday, October 12. Five days later his body was 
found in a field near Primrose Hill. He had been 
murdered, and the crime was committed for some motive 
which was not that of robbery. He was murdered more- 
over not where his corpse was found, but in some other 
place from which it had afterwards been conveyed thither. 
Whoever was the criminal had placed the body in such a 
way that those who found it might attribute the magistrate's 
death to suicide. Two witnesses appeared to give evidence 
to the fact of the murder. These two were the only men 
who ever professed to have direct knowledge on the subject. 
They both accused innocent men, told elaborate falsehoods, 
and contradicted one another. Their stories were so un- 
like, and yet had so much in common, that the fact must 
be explained by supposing either that there was some truth 
in what they said, or that one swore falsely to support the 
perjury of the other. The relation between the two is the 
point to which attention must be devoted in order to trace 
the interaction of their motives and to determine whether 
both or neither or one and not the other knew anything 
about the murder of Sir Edmund Godfrey. 

Nearly eight years after these events, in the second 
year of the reign of King James the Second, Miles Prance 
pleaded guilty to an indictment of wilful perjury for having 
sworn falsely at the trial of Green, Berry, and Hill. 1 Later, 
when L'Estrange was writing his work on The Mystery 
of Sir E. B. Godfrey Unfolded, Prance sent to him an 
account of the manner in which his evidence had been 
procured. He was, he said, wholly innocent and wholly 
ignorant of the murder. Before his arrest he knew no 
more of Godfrey, Bedloe, or any one else concerned than 
was known to the world at large. His arrest took place 
upon Saturday, December 21. During the nights of 
Saturday and Sunday he lay in irons in the dungeon in 
Newgate. Early on the Sunday morning he was disturbed 

1 7 State Trials 228. 



134 The Popish Plot 

by the entrance of a man, who, as Prance declared, laid a 
sheet of paper beside him and went out. Soon after 
another entered, set down a candle, and went out. By 
the light of the candle Prance read the paper : " wherein," 
says L'Estrange, " he found the substance of these following 
minutes. So many Popish lords to be mentioned by 
name ; fifty thousand men to be raised ; commissions 
given out ; officers appointed. Ireland was acquainted 
with the design ; and Bedloe's evidence against Godfrey 
was summed up and abstracted in it too. There were 
suggestions in it that Prance must undoubtedly be privy 
to the plot, with words to this purpose, you had better 
confess than be hanged." In the evening of the same day 
he was taken to Shaftesbury's house and examined by the 
earl. The Whig leader threatened him with hanging if 
he would not confess and acquiesce in what had been 
suggested to him in the paper. He could resist no 
longer, he said, " and so framed a pretended discovery in 
part, with a promise to speak out more at large if he might 
have his pardon." A paper containing this was given him 
to sign, and he was sent back to Newgate, where he made 
a formal confession the next day. Clearly, thought Prance, 
the men who came into his cell, and left instructions for 
the evidence which he was to give and a light by which 
to read them, had acted under orders from Shaftesbury. 1 
This is what Prance and L'Estrange had to say about this 
first confession. Before examining it further it will be 
proper to consider Prance's condition between that time 
and the date when after numerous manoeuvres he finally 
returned to it. On December 30 he appeared before the 
council and recanted his confession. For nine days there 
seems to have been no development. Prance lay in the 
dungeon and adhered to his last statement. But on 
January 8 Captain Richardson, the keeper of Newgate, 
and his servant, Charles Cooper, appeared before a com- 
mittee of the privy council with information that Prance 
was feigning madness. When he was fettered he behaved 
the more sensibly. It was ordered accordingly that he 

1 Brief Hist. iii. 26, 27. 



Prance and Bedloe 135 

should be kept in irons and that Dr. Lloyd, the Dean of 
Bangor, should be asked to visit and converse with him. 1 
On January 10 a similar order was given for the admittance 
of William Boyce, an old friend of Prance, to be with him 
in prison. Cooper passed two nights with the prisoner. 
His sleep was irregular, and he spent long periods raving 
and crying out that " it was not he murdered him, but 
they killed him." In spite of his wild talk Prance seemed 
to behave rather as if he wished to be thought mad than 
as if he actually were so ; he ate heartily, used a bed and 
blankets which had been given him, and adjusted his dress 
with care. 2 Boyce also visited him, and found him some- 
times reasonable, at others apparently out of his senses. 
Once he found him lying at full length on the boards of 
his cell and crying, " Guilty, guilty ; not guilty, not guilty ; 
no murder " ; but when he first went to the prison Prance 
met him quietly and said, " Here am I in prison, and I 
am like to be hanged. I am falsely accused." Shaftes- 
bury's threats had terrified him for the safety of his life, 
but he was anxious to learn that Green, Berry, and Hill 
had not been set at liberty, and in a conversation of January 
1 1 told Boyce " that he would confess all if he were sure 
of his pardon." 3 On Friday, January 10, Dr. Lloyd 
visited Newgate and found Prance in a very wretched 
condition. The weather was intensely cold, and the 
prisoner suffered severely from it, despite the covering 
with which he had been provided. He was very weak 
and denied his guilt sullenly, but after a time begged 
Lloyd to come again the next day, when he would tell 
everything that he knew. 4 Accordingly on the evening 
of January 1 1 the dean returned, and Prance was brought 
to him by the hall fire. For some time he remained 
stupefied by the cold ; he was without a pulse and seemed 
almost dead ; but after warming himself at the fire threw 

1 Brief Hist. iii. 66, 67. 

2 Ibid. 67, 68. Cooper's information of January 9 and January II. 

3 Ibid. 69, 75. Informations of Boyce. 

4 Lloyd's report to the Council. Brief Hist. iii. 69. Lloyd to 
L'Estrange. Ibid. 82. 



136 The Popish Plot 

off the lethargy and conversed with Lloyd briskly and 
with freedom. The dean reported to the council : " He 
appeared very well composed and in good humour, saying 
that he had confessed honestly before, and had not wronged 
any of those he had accused." He proceeded further to 
tell of a plot to murder the Earl of Shaftesbury, and said 
that a servant of Lord Arundel, one Messenger, had 
undertaken to kill the king. Lloyd warned him to be 
careful of speaking the truth ; Prance protested that he 
would do nothing else. When he had finished his con- 
fession he asked to be lodged in a warmer room and to 
have the irons knocked off. 1 From that time onward he 
remained steadfast to his first confession. Writing many 
years later, when everybody connected with the Plot had 
fallen into discredit and Prance had pleaded guilty to the 
charge of perjury, Lloyd assured L'Estrange that he had 
never believed the informer's evidence. In this he was 
deceived by his after opinions, for at the time he told 
Burnet that it was impossible for him to doubt Prance's 
sincerity. 2 Lloyd did not escape the calumny which 
pursued every one who refused to be an uncompromising 
supporter of all the evidence offered in the investigation 
of the Plot. He expressed himself doubtful as to the 
guilt of Berry and thought that Prance might have made 
a mistake of identity. It was immediately said that Berry 
had made horrible confessions to him, and that he had 
been pressed at court not to divulge them. 3 

Prison life in the seventeenth century was hard. 
Prisoners were treated in a way that would now be con- 
sidered shameful, and Prance did not escape his share of 
ill-treatment. He was kept in the cell reserved for felons 
and murderers. According to the general practice he was 
heavily ironed. Until his life was thought in danger he 
had nothing but the boards on which to lie. The greatest 
hardship arose from the cold, against which there was no 

1 Lloyd's report to the Council. Fitzherbert MSS. 154. Brief 
Hist. iii. 69, 71. Lloyd to L'Estrange. Ibid. 85. 

2 Burnet ii. 193, 194. 

3 Burnet ii. 194. Brief Hist, iii. 85, 86. 



Prance and Bedloe 137 

real provision. But there is no evidence that Prance was 
more hardly used than his fellow gaol-birds. A detest- 
able attempt was afterwards made to prove that he had 
been tortured in prison to extract confessions from him. 
In the course of the year 1680 Mrs. Cellier, the Roman 
Catholic midwife of otherwise dubious reputation, pub- 
lished a pamphlet entitled " Malice Defeated ; or a Brief 
Relation of the Accusation and Deliverance of Elizabeth 
Cellier." The work was an attack upon the prosecutors 
of the Popish Plot, conducted with all the coarse weapons 
of seventeenth -century controversy. Incidentally she 
called the crown witnesses " hangman's hounds for weekly 
pensions." On September 1 1 she was indicted for a 
malicious libel and tried before Baron Weston and the 
Lord Mayor. The libel lay in her open declaration that 
Prance was put on the rack in Newgate and that Francis 
Corral, who had been imprisoned on suspicion of com- 
plicity in Godfrey's murder, was subjected to intolerably 
ill treatment and active torture in Newgate in order to 
make him confess his guilt. 1 The charges which Mrs. 
Cellier made were not only outrageous but ridiculous, 
and were so improbable as not to deserve detailed discus- 
sion. Witnesses were called for the prosecution who 
proved their complete falsity, and Mrs. Cellier's counsel 
virtually threw up his brief. Not only did the keeper of 
Newgate deny everything in the publication relating to 
himself, but the parties who had been mentioned in it 
were summoned as witnesses and gave decisive evidence. 
Prance denied the whole story and, what was of greater 
value than his word, made the pertinent remark that, had 
he been used in such a way as Mrs. Cellier suggested, 
Dr. Lloyd must certainly have known about it. The 
man Corral had been kept out of court by the defence, 
but he had already denied all Mrs. Cellier's allegations in 
a deposition made before the Lord Mayor. His wife 
had made a similar deposition and, being now called as a 

1 State Trials 1183-1188. This was also a Jesuit story. Warner 
MS. history 37, "fidiculis tortus et se reum asseruit, et complius 
[sic. qu. complures] se accusaturum." 






138 The Popish Plot 

witness, wholly refused to support the statements of the 
accused. Her husband had been treated hardly, as were 
all prisoners, but Mrs. Cellier's charges of torture and 
brutality were false. She had been allowed to see her 
husband occasionally and to send him food constantly, 
and he had been given a charcoal fire in his cell to protect 
him from the cold weather. Mrs. Cellier had offered to 
support them both, apparently on the understanding that 
they should acquiesce in what she had said. 1 Another 
important witness proved the falsehood of many state- 
ments made in the publication, and after a lengthy 
summing up of the evidence by Baron Weston the jury 
without difficulty returned a verdict of guilty against the 
prisoner. Mrs. Cellier was sentenced to stand three 
times on the pillory, to a fine of a thousand pounds, 
and to imprisonment until the fine was paid. 2 Eight 
years later the same charges were repeated by Sir Roger 
L'Estrange and were supported by Prance, to whose 
objects this line of conduct was now better suited. The 
evidence which L'Estrange collected was exactly similar 
to that which Mrs. Cellier had obtained, and equally 
worthless. Not only the result of the trial, but the 
essential improbability of the facts alleged makes it 
certain that these allegations were absolutely devoid of 
truth. 3 Dr. Lloyd, who was well acquainted with the 
hard treatment accorded to Prance, saw no evidence that 
it exceeded the common practice of the prison, and dis- 
believed the gruesome stories which were industriously 
spread abroad. 4 

Whether or no Prance was subjected to illegitimate 

1 7 State Trials 1199, 1200, 1210-1212. 

2 Evidence of Fowler. Ibid. 1194-1197, 1204-1209. 

3 The improbability does not lie in the unlikelihood of the appli- 
cation of torture to witnesses at this date so much as in the nature of 
the particular facts alleged, which cannot be believed. Brief Hist, 
in. 76, 77, 78, 80. L'Estrange procured Corral to contradict his 
evidence at the trial. Ibid. 102, 106. It is important to insist upon 
the falsehood of the charge in this case, because it has been adopted 
without question by Foley v. 29, n., and see Echard, 503 seq. 

4 Brief Hist. iii. 84. 



Prance and Bedloe 139 

and illegal pressure after his recantation in order to secure 
his adherence to the earlier confession is a question of 
less importance than how that confession was obtained. 
Prance's subsequent account has already been given. It 
remains to be considered whether that was true or false. 
Apart from the rest of the evidence produced at the trials 
of the Popish Plot, that of Prance exhibited one remark- 
able peculiarity. All the other witnesses altered and 
rearranged their stories with constant facility to suit the 
conditions in which they found themselves at any moment. 
Among this rout of shifting informations the evidence of 
Prance offers an exception to the rule of self-contradiction. 
In all but a few particulars it remained constant. Other 
witnesses invariably put out feelers to try in what direction 
they had best develop their tales. The methods of Gates, 
Atkins, and Bedloe are notorious instances of this. Prance 
produced the flower of his full-blown. Its bouquet was 
as strong when it first met the air as at any later time. 
The evidence which he gave to Godfrey's murder in his 
first confession was as decisive and consistent in form 
as after constant repetition, recantation, and renewed 
asseverance. Almost all the other witnesses at their first 
appearance told stories which were loose, haphazard, 
inconsequent. Prance's story was from the beginning 
minute and elaborate. He spoke of places in great detail 
and afterwards pointed them out. He gave a coherent 
account of what had happened at each spot. On these 
points he did not contradict himself. The evidence 
which he proceeded to give about the Plot in general 
throws his account of Godfrey's death into high relief. 
His later information was exactly similar in character to 
that offered by all the other witnesses. It was vague and 
incoherent and full of absurdities. The contrast to the 
elaboration and detail of his previous evidence is striking. 
Compared with Bedloe's account of the murder the 
testimony of Prance shows another noteworthy feature. 
The evidence of the two men hardly covers the same 
ground at all. In almost every particular it offers remark- 
able points of difference. Up to the date of October 






140 The Popish Plot 

12 the two stories run in different lines altogether. Ac- 
cording to Prance two priests, named Gerald and Kelly, 
had, by means of menace and abstract arguments, induced 
him to join with them and four others, Green, Hill, Berry, 
and Vernatt, in the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, 
on the score that " he was a busy man and going about to 
ruin all the Catholics in England." l One Leweson, a 
priest, was also to have a hand in the business. Bedloe's 
tale on the contrary was that Le Fevre, Pritchard, Keynes, 
and Walsh, four Jesuits, had employed him to effect an 
introduction to Godfrey for them. Le Fevre afterwards 
offered him ^4000, to be paid by Lord Bellasis through 
Coleman, if he would undertake to kill " a very material 
man " in order to obtain some incriminating papers in his 
possession, without which " the business would be so 
obstructed and go near to be discovered " that the great 
Plot would come to grief. 2 At this point the stories begin 
to converge, and at the same time retain strikingly different 
features. Prance's account ran that on October 12 Gerald, 
Green, and Hill decoyed Godfrey as he came down the 
Strand from St. Clement's into Somerset House at about 
9 o'clock in the evening under pretence of a quarrel. 
Green, Gerald, Hill, and Kelly then attacked him. Green 
strangled him with a twisted handkerchief, knelt with all 
his force upon his chest and " wrung his neck round," 
while Berry and Prance kept watch. 3 On the nights of 
Saturday and Sunday the body was left in Hill's lodgings 
in Somerset House, and on Monday was removed to 
another room across the court. There Hill shewed it to 
Prance by the light of a dark lantern at past 10 o'clock at 
night : " Gerald and Hill and Kelly and all were there." 4 
Prance had no knowledge of seeing Bedloe in the room. 
At midnight on Wednesday, October 16, the corpse was 
placed in a sedan chair and carried, as Prance said, by 
Gerald, Green, Kelly, and himself as far as Soho Church. 
Hill met them there with a horse, on which he put the 

1 True Narrative n. 2 7 State Trials 180. 

3 True Narrative 13, 14. 
4 7 State Trials 172. True Narrative 15. 



Prance and Bedloe 141 

body and rode with it to Primrose Hill. 1 Bedloe's finished 
account gave a picture very unlike this. He stated that 
on Monday, October 14, between 9 and 10 o'clock P.M. 
Le Fevre took him to a room in Somerset House and 
showed him the body of the murdered man lying under a 
cloak. He recognised the body to be that of Sir Edmund 
Godfrey. Besides Le Fevre he only saw in the room 
Walsh, a servant of Lord Bellasis, the supposed Atkins, 
and another man whom he had often seen in the chapel 
and afterwards recognised as Prance. 2 The next day Le 
Fevre described the murder to him in detail. Before 5 
o'clock in the afternoon of October 12 Le Fevre, Walsh, 
and Lord Bellasis' gentleman had brought Godfrey from 
the King's Head Inn in the Strand to Somerset House 
under the pretext of taking him to capture some con- 
spirators near St. Clement's Church. They took him into 
a room and, holding a pistol to his head, demanded the 
informations which he had taken. On his refusal they 
stifled him with a pillow and then strangled him with his 
cravat. 3 On Monday night the murderers agreed with 
Bedloe " to carry the body in a chair to the corner of 
Clarendon House, and there to put him in a coach to 
carry him to the place where he was found." 4 Two 
accounts of the same facts could hardly be imagined to 
differ more from one another than the stories of Prance 
and Bedloe. To state the matter briefly, Bedloe swore 
that Godfrey was murdered in one place, at one time, in 
one manner, for one motive, by one set of men ; Prance 
swore that he was murdered in another place, at another 
time, in another manner, for another motive, by another 
set of men. Both Prance and Bedloe swore that they had 
seen the body of Sir Edmund Godfrey at nearly the same 
time in a room in Somerset House on the night of Monday, 
October 14, but Prance swore only to the presence of the 
men whom he had named as the murderers, while Bedloe 
swore only to the presence of the men whom he had named, 

1 7 State Trials 173. True Narrative 16, 17. 
2 6 State Trials 1487. 7 State Trials 182. 
3 6 State Trials 1488. 4 Ibid. 1487. 






142, The Popish Plot 

with the addition of " the other person he saw often in the 
chapel," whom he afterwards recognised to be Prance. 

What then becomes of Prance's statement that the 
only source of his information was the paper introduced 
into his cell on the morning of December 22, and containing 
the substance of Bedloe's evidence? He professed that 
it was solely from this that his elaborate confession of 
December 23 and 24 was drawn, and that it was arranged 
not only by the connivance, but absolutely at the direction 
of the Earl of Shaftesbury. Nor was this all. He told 
L'Estrange further that after he had been forced to retract 
his recantation his friend Boyce had acted as agent of 
Bedloe and Shaftesbury in bringing his evidence into line 
with that of Bedloe. On one point he refused to yield ; 
he would not own that he had worn the periwig of which 
Bedloe had spoken ; but for the rest, according to his own 
account, he made no difficulty. 1 The story is glaringly 
inconsistent with the facts. So far from agreeing first or 
last with Bedloe, Prance contradicted him in almost every 
possible point. If it was true that, as he said, he was 
wholly ignorant of the murder and concocted his confession 
from minutes of Bedloe's evidence which were given to 
him, the confession would have worn a very different 
colour. His only object was to save his neck and get out 
of Newgate. He would certainly have taken the material 
with which he was provided, and have simply repeated 
Bedloe's tale with so much alteration as was necessary to 
make himself a partner in the murder. He had no motive 
to do anything else. Even alone he could hardly have 
missed the point, and by his own statement did not. 
Under the astute guidance of Shaftesbury there could be 
no possible danger of bungling. Instead of this being the 
case he acted in a fashion which, if he spoke the truth, 
would have been inconceivable. Not only did he not tell 
the same story as that which he professed was his only 
guide, but he told a tale so entirely different that neither 
Bedloe's name nor the name of a single man given by 
Bedloe was mentioned in it at all. The idea of collusion 
1 Prance to L'Estrange, January 17, 1688. Brief Hist. iii. 127. 



Prance and Bedloe 143 

between the informers in this way must be discarded. It 
is impossible that it should be true. 

The story was adorned with another flourish which 
Prance did not himself venture to adopt. On his arrest 
he was met by Bedloe in the lobby of the House of 
Commons and there charged by him with complicity in 
the murder. L' Estrange declared that Bedloe had first 
made inquiries about him and had seized the opportunity 
to take a good view of him under the guidance of Sir 
William Waller. 1 But it would be little good to Bedloe 
to act in this way in accusing a man who might for all he 
knew refuse to give evidence, or give evidence which 
would not corroborate his own. The more definitely he 
accused Prance, the more difficult would be his own 
position if Prance should not support him. He must 
certainly have assured himself beforehand that Prance 
would make a good witness. Assurance might have been 
gained either by arranging that Prance should be in- 
formed of what was expected before his arrest, or by 
the knowledge that Shaftesbury would see to the matter 
afterwards. Both conjectures are in the same case. The 
latter has been shewn to be wide of the mark. For the 
same reasons the former must be thought equally in- 
accurate. Further than this the comparison between the 
evidence of Prance and Bedloe shows conclusively that 
the two did not arrange beforehand to give false evidence 
about the murder. Perjurers may be as stupid as other 
men, and an awkward muddle might have ensued ; but 
two men arranging a profitable piece of perjury would 
hardly be at the pains to contradict each other's evidence 
in every particular. Also, between the date of Bedloe's 
first information and Prance's confession there intervened 
a period of seven long weeks. If there had been previous 
collusion between the two, Prance would have come 
forward far sooner than four days before Christmas. 

Out of the total number of possible hypotheses which 
may be advanced to account for the relation between 
Prance and Bedloe two are thus disposed of. The 

1 Brief Hist. ii. 52, 53. 






144 The Popish Plot 

witnesses did not arrange together to give evidence of 
Godfrey's murder. Nor was Prance furnished with the 
information which he was wanted to give and then sub- 
jected to such pressure that he was compelled to acquiesce 
in it. What then are the remaining explanations which 
may be put forward ? The notion that Bedloe, on seeing 
Prance in custody on December 21, proceeded to denounce 
him at a venture in the bare hope of getting some support 
from him may be dismissed briefly. It would in any one 
have been a mad action to expose himself to the risk that 
Prance could prove an alibi, but for Bedloe to take such 
a course would have been more than improbable. When 
at a former date he accused Atkins of complicity in the 
murder, he used the greatest caution to obviate this risk. 
Until he knew whether or no Atkins could prove an alibi 
he would make no positive charge at all. The fact that 
his caution was justified would only make him more care- 
ful to avoid being caught in a trap similar to that which 
he had only just avoided. A more probable supposition 
is that Bedloe had made sufficient inquiries to be sure that 
Prance could not prove an alibi, and then denounced him, 
as if on the spur of the moment. This is a theory which 
has likelihood in its favour and deserves to be well weighed. 
Bedloe, it is supposed, had given entirely false information 
about the murder. After his failure to secure the con- 
viction of Atkins he was compelled to turn in another 
direction. Looking round, his eye fell upon Prance as a 
suitable tool. He made careful inquiries as to his oppor- 
tunity and ability to bear false witness, found that Prance 
would be unable to make out an alibi, and denounced him 
dramatically at Westminster. Prance was clapped into 
prison and, without having any notes of Bedloe's evidence 
given him, was so terrified by the two nights which he spent 
in the dungeon in Newgate that he concocted a false story 
and then made confession of it. There is certainly some- 
thing to be said in favour of this view. It was common 
talk that Godfrey had been murdered in Somerset House, 
and Bedloe was well known to have said as much. Prance 
was well acquainted with the place and the people belonging 



Prance and Bedloe 145 

to it. He had at least as fair a chance as another of 
making a plausible account of the murder. He was in 
considerable danger and in great discomfort. He had 
already lost his liberty and bade fair to lose his life for 
speaking the truth. It was natural enough that he should 
renounce his honesty and spin a tale to save his skin. He 
could make use of knowledge which would render it un- 
likely that he should be caught tripping. He had heard 
Bedloe say that he saw him on the Monday night standing 
by the body with a , dark lantern, so that he could place 
this incident in his story without hesitation. The publicity 
of the manner of Godfrey's death would enable him to 
speak with equal certainty as to the actual murder. 

Here is a plausible enough theory of the relation 
between the witnesses and the manner in which Prance's 
evidence was procured. Unfortunately there are consider- 
able difficulties in the way of its acceptance. If Prance was 
enabled by the words which he heard Bedloe speak to 
place the incident of October 14 in his narrative, he was 
also enabled to make a connection with Bedloe himself 
at that point. As according to the hypothesis this was his 
only knowledge of the details of Bedloe's information, he 
would have been eager to make the most of it. It would 
have been the first point for him to clutch. On the con- 
trary, Prance did nothing of the kind. He did not mention 
Bedloe's name at all. The question why he did not is, if 
this theory be true, unanswerable. Bedloe too went to the 
trouble of spending four valuable weeks in his search for 
a suitable instrument to bear out his story. If that was 
the case it is surely strange that he should not have at- 
tempted to make certain that the man whom he obtained 
at last should be more or less acquainted with the tale 
which he was to corroborate. To do this after the arrest 
would probably be very difficult, but as a previous step 
it would be by no means so hard. Oates and Bedloe had 
many disreputable friends, by profession Roman Catholics, 
who could have easily effected an introduction to Prance 
and have held conversation the meaning of which would 
after his arrest be plain. Instead of this Bedloe on the 

L 



146 The Popish Plot 

hypothesis preferred to run the risk of having his whole 
story contradicted. These are objections of weight ; but 
a still greater lies in the nature of the evidence which 
Prance gave on his confession. He had been in a very 
cold dungeon for thirty-six hours at most, from the 
evening of December 21 to the morning of December 23. 
If he was unprepared for Bedloe's charge, his mind must 
have been in a turmoil of conflicting emotions. Yet within 
this time he evolved a story so detailed, elaborate, connected, 
and consistent that he never afterwards found the need to 
alter it materially. For such a task phenomenal powers of 
memory, imagination, and coolness would be demanded. A 
man of Prance's station, suddenly thrown into a horrible 
prison on a false charge, cannot be supposed to have been 
endowed with such a wealth of mental equipment. If he 
had possessed a tithe of the powers which in this case 
would have been necessary, he would have made sure of 
cementing a firm connection in his narrative between 
himself and Bedloe. 

This consideration then has reached the result that the 
relation between the two men is not only inexplicable on 
the theory just discussed, but that it is inexplicable except 
upon the ground that there was more in Prance's evidence 
than a work of mere fancy. Within the space of thirty- 
six hours, and with every condition adverse to clear and 
connected thought, he could not have produced the evidence 
which he gave on December 23 and 24 unless it had been 
based upon some reality in fact. On December 24 he 
was taken to all the places of which he had spoken, and 
went to each, describing the transaction on the spot in a 
manner perfectly consonant with what he had said under 
examination elsewhere. The consistence of his story, its 
readiness, the minuteness of its detail point to the certainty 
that he was speaking, not of incidents manufactured to 
order, but of facts within his knowledge. Prance was in 
fact a party to the murder. 1 From this it is a sure deduc- 

1 It is worthy of remark that Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, judging 
only from the evidence which Prance gave at the trial, has come to 
the same conclusion. Hist, Crim. Law i. 393. 



Prance and Bedloe 147 

tion that when Bedloe denounced him in the lobby of the 
House of Commons he was not, as L'Estrange asserted, 
making a move in a game which had been arranged 
beforehand, but had on the contrary really recognised the 
man and on the instant made an accusation not wholly 
devoid of truth. Bedloe too must therefore have known 
something about the murder. It would be an unbelievable 
coincidence that, if Bedloe were wholly ignorant, he should 
chance to choose, out of all London, one of the few who 
were not. 

It now becomes evident what part of Prance's evidence 
was true and what false. The three men whose conviction 
for the murder he procured were certainly innocent. 
Almost with equal certainty it can be said that he was not 
speaking at random. The truth of what he affirmed lay 
therefore in the facts and the manner of the transaction 
which he described. The murder had taken place at 
Somerset House in the way which he related, but he 
fastened the crime upon men who were guiltless of 
Godfrey's death. The extent of Bedloe's information 
also can be calculated. On every point of time and place 
he had prevaricated and contradicted himself beyond 
measure. On none of these is his testimony of the 
slightest value. Nevertheless he was possessed of enough 
knowledge to accuse definitely a man who was actively 
concerned in the crime and could relate the facts as they 
happened. Clearly he had become acquainted with the 
persons who were guilty of the murder. The probability 
then is that those whose names he first gave directly were 
the culprits. Prance he did not know by name, but by 
sight alone. From the beginning he had always spoken 
of " the waiter in the queen's chapel," or of the man whom 
" he saw often in the chapel." If this had been a chance 
shot, he would afterwards have identified this man with 
Green, who actually answered to the description. Instead 
of this he recognised him in the person of Prance. As he 
only mentioned the fact incidentally and did not insist 
upon it as a circumstance in his favour, his word on the 
point' is the more deserving of credit. If Prance himself 






148 The Popish Plot 

was a party to the murder he must have known the real 
authors of it. He must have accused the innocent not 
from necessity but from choice, and in order to conceal 
the guilty. As he was expected and supposed to cor- 
roborate Bedloe's evidence, his most natural course was 
to introduce into his story all those whom Bedloe had 
named. He carefully avoided mentioning any of them. 
No other reason is conceivable except that he knew 
Bedloe to have exposed the real murderers, and that he 
wished to shield them. What then was the motive of the 
crime, and how did this extraordinary complication arise ? 



CHAPTER V 

THE SECRET 

SIR EDMUND BERRY GODFREY was an intimate friend of 
Edward Coleman, secretary to the Duchess of York. At 
the time of the murder Coleman lay in Newgate under an 
accusation of treason, and had so lain for a fortnight. He 
was therefore never examined on the subject of his friend's 
death. The omission was unfortunate, for Coleman could 
probably have thrown some light upon the nature of the 
magistrate's end. 1 It was constantly said, and the state- 
ment has often been repeated, that when Gates left a copy 
of his information with Godfrey on September 27, Godfrey 
at once wrote to Coleman an account of the charges 
contained in it to give the Duke of York warning of the 
coming storm. 2 The story was extensively used by those 
who wished to prove that Godfrey had been murdered by 
the supporters of the Plot, or that he had committed 
suicide from fear of a parliamentary inquiry into his 
conduct. He had not only this reason for fear, urged 
L' Estrange, but he had concealed the fact of Gates' dis- 
covery to him for nearly a whole month ; this was the 
meaning of Godfrey's enigmatical expressions of apprehen- 
sion, and his fear, combined with constitutional melancholy, 
drove him to take his own life. 3 Whether or no he 

1 It was ordered that an examination should be held on the 
subject, but Coleman was never questioned on Godfrey's death. 
House of Lords MSS. 48. L.J. xiii. 303, 307, 308. 

2 Warner MS. history 27: " Rem totam Eboracensi detulit." 
Floras Anglo- Bavaric us 97. James (Or. Mem.) i. 534. North, Examen 
174. Lingard xiii. 69. Sitwell, First Whig 40. 

3 brief Hist. iii. 1 8 1 - 1 8 6. 

149 






150 The Popish Plot 

suffered from depression is not a question of importance, 
since it has been proved that he did not commit suicide, 
but was murdered. The rest of the argument is equally 
unsound. When Godfrey took Gates' first deposition on 
September 6, he had no copy of the information left with 
him and knew that it had already been communicated to 
the government. 1 As for the fact that Godfrey had sent 
an account of Gates' revelations to the Duke of York, it 
would be absurd to suppose that plans of vengeance were 
harboured against him on this score, for the duke had 
been acquainted with the matter since August 31, when 
the forged letters were sent to Bedingfield at Windsor, so 
that the information he received from Godfrey was un- 
important. 2 As this was a fact of which the Lord 
Treasurer was perfectly aware, the suggestions of North 
and Warner, the Jesuit provincial, that Godfrey had been 
threatened and finally dispatched by order of Danby, on 
account of his officiousness in making a communication to 
the duke, fall to the ground at the same time. 3 Taken 
in this sense the words in which Godfrey foreshadowed 
his doom are meaningless. He had assured Mr. Robinson 
that he believed he should be the first martyr. " I do 
not fear them," he added, " if they come fairly, and I 
shall not part with my life tamely." He declared to 
Bur net his belief that he would be knocked on the head. 
To his sister-in-law he said, " If any danger be, I shall be 
the first shall suffer." He had told one Mr. Wynnel that 
he was master of a dangerous secret, which would be fatal 
to him. " Gates," he said, " is sworn and is perjured." 4 

1 See above, 89. 

2 James (Or. Mem.) i. 517-519. Impartial State of the Case of the 
Earl of Danby. Lingard xiii. 68. 

3 North, Examen 174. Florus Anglo- Bavaricus 97,98. Godfrey 
"rem totam Edwardo Coleman . . . per literas aperuit : quod non 
neminem usque adeo offendit, ut Godefredus haud ita multo post 
violenta morte suam in Catholicos benevolentiam luerit." Warner 
MS. history 26, 31, to the same effect. Warner names Danby as 
the probable author of the murder. 

4 7 State Trials 168. House of Lords MSS. 47. Brief Hist. iii. 
187. Burnet ii. 163. 



The Secret 151 



Clearly Godfrey was labouring under an apprehension of 
quite definite character. He was in possession of secret 
information concerning Gates' discovery and believed that 
it would cost him his life. What this secret was is now 
to seek. The nature of it must show why danger was to 
be apprehended and from what quarter. 

The statement that Godfrey wrote to Coleman to 
acquaint him with Gates' accusations is not quite correct. 
Burnet notes : " It was generally believed that Coleman 
and he were long in a private conversation, between the 
time of his (Coleman's) being put in the messenger's 
hands and his being made a close prisoner." l Such a 
conversation in fact took place, though it was earlier 
than Burnet thought. Coleman surrendered to the 
warrant against him on Monday, September 3<D. 2 Two 
days before he came to the house of Mr. George Welden, 
a common friend of himself and the magistrate. Welden 
sent his servant to Godfrey's house with the message 
that one Clarke wanted to speak to him. It was the 
form arranged between them for use when Godfrey was 
in company and Coleman wished to see him. Godfrey 
went to Mr. Welden's and there had an interview with 
Coleman. " When Mr. Coleman and Sir Edmondbury 
were together at my house," said Welden, " they were 
reading papers." 3 It can hardly be doubted what these 
papers were. The date was Saturday, September 28, the 
day on which Godfrey had taken Gates' deposition. 
In that Gates had made charges of the most serious 
nature against Coleman ; and Coleman was Godfrey's 
friend. The papers can scarcely have been other than 
Godfrey's copy of the deposition. Godfrey had probably 
sent at once to Coleman to tell him what had passed. 
This much may be gathered from the reports of letters 
which he was said to have sent to Coleman and the Duke 
of York. Coleman then met him at Welden's house, 
and together they went through Gates' information. 

1 Burnet, ibid. 2 7 State Trials 29. 

8 Welden's evidence before the Lords' committee. House of 
Lords "MSB. 48. 



152, The Popish Plot 

" Gates," said Godfrey, " is sworn and is perjured." 
This alone was hardly a secret so dangerous as to make 
him fear for his life. Many believed it. It was not an 
uncommon thing to say. The most grievous consequence 
that could ensue would be to gain the reputation of a 
" bloody papist," and possibly to be threatened with impli- 
cation in the Plot. Such an opinion could not conceivably 
lead to fears of assaults by night and secret assassination. 
But there was one particular in which knowledge of Gates' 
perjury might be very dangerous indeed. No doubt 
Coleman pointed out Gates' long tale of lies through 
many articles of his deposition. There was one which he 
certainly would not omit. The cardinal point in the Plot, 
according to Gates' revelation, was a Jesuit congregation 
held on April 24, 1678 at the White Horse Tavern in 
the Strand, where means were concerted for the king's 
assassination. At all the trials of the Jesuits Gates came 
forward to give evidence to this point. It was of the 
first importance. Gates' statement was false. No con- 
gregation had met on that day at the White Horse 
Tavern. His perjury is more easy to prove here than in 
most other particulars, for it is certain that the Jesuit 
congregation was held on April 24 in a different place. 
It was held at St. James' Palace, the residence of the 
Duke of York. More than five years afterwards James 
II let out the secret to Sir John Reresby. 1 Up to that 
time it had been well guarded. It was of the utmost 
consequence that the fact should not be known. Had it 
been discovered, the discredit into which Gates would 
have fallen would have been of little moment compared 
to the extent of the gain to the Whig and Protestant 

1 Reresby, Memoirs 325. Warner MS. history 27. "Ad con- 
gregationem provincialem ubi ventum est, cui se interfuisse mentitus 
predicat Gates, Carolus ab eo petiit, ubinam convenissent Jesuitae ? 
Respondit alter, magna cum fiducia, convenisse Londini, in plataea 
quae Strand dicitur, in oenopolio cui insigne Equi Albi. Hoc falsum 
esse sciebat Carolus, cui notum ipsos in ipsa Eboracensis Aula con- 
venisse ; cujus tamen rei nee Carolus nee ullus alius Catholicorum 
apologista mentionem fecit donee persecutio plane desaevisset, ne 
augeretur inde in Eboracensem invidia." 



The Secret 153 

party. To Shaftesbury the knowledge would have 
meant everything. Witnesses of the fact would certainly 
have been forthcoming, and James' reception of the Jesuits 
in his home was a formal act of high treason. The Ex- 
clusion bill would have been unnecessary. James would 
have been successfully impeached and would have been 
lucky to escape with his head upon his shoulders. Charles 
would hardly have been able to withstand the outcry for 
the recognition of the Protestant duke as heir to the 
throne, the Revolution would never have come to pass, 
and the English throne might to this day support a 
bastard Stuart line instead of the legitimate Hanoverian 
dynasty. Besides the Duke of York and the Jesuit party 
one man only was acquainted with this stupendous fact. 
It is hardly credible that Godfrey met Coleman on 
September 28, 1678 with any other object than to discuss 
with him the charges made by Gates. Still less is it 
credible that Coleman failed to point out Gates' perjury 
in this matter. It need not be supposed that a definite 
statement passed from him. A hint would have sufficed. 
In some way, it may be conjectured, Coleman disclosed to 
the magistrate that which he should have concealed. Such 
understandings are abrupt in origin but swift in growth. 
Beyond doubt the secret, the shadow of which Godfrey 
saw stretching across the line of his life, was that the 
Jesuit congregation of April 24 had been held in the 
house and under the patronage of the Duke of York. 1 

1 At Lord Stafford's trial in 1680 Dugdale, the informer, declared 
that Godfrey had been murdered by the Duke of York's orders because 
Coleman had made disclosures to him. He did not however suggest 
what the nature of those disclosures was. A theory not unlike that 
set out in the text was therefore in the air at the time. As almost 
every conceivable hypothesis to account for the murder was being 
discussed, this is not surprising ; but there was this difference, that 
then Dugdale had no good reason to offer in favour of the truth of 
what he said. He was at the time of the murder in communication 
with various Jesuits in Staffordshire : but it is most unlikely that, even 
if they knew anything about it, they would have told him. If he had 
known anything, it would probably have been that the Jesuit congrega- 
tion was held at St. James'; and he was certainly ignorant of this. 
Burnet x tells, on the authority of the Earl of Essex, that the king pre- 



154 The Popish Plot 

And hence arose the perplexity and depression of mind 
from which he is said to have suffered during the last days 
of his life. He was possessed of information which, if 
published, would infallibly ruin the cause of the Duke of 
York and of the Catholics, to whom he was friendly. It 
had come to him in private from his friend, and to use it 
might seem an act almost of treachery. Yet with these 
sentiments Godfrey's duty as a magistrate was in absolute 
conflict. It was undoubtedly his business at once to 
communicate his knowledge to the government. Not 
only was it illegal not to do so, and highly important 
that such a weighty fact should not escape detection, but 
Godfrey found himself at the centre of the investigation 
of Gates' discovery, and to reveal his news was probably 
the only way of exposing Gates' perjury. Nor did 
Godfrey underestimate the danger into which this know- 
ledge brought him. He feared that he would be assassi- 
nated. The Jesuits were confronted with the fact that a 
secret of unbounded value to their enemies had come into 
the hands of just one of the men who could not afford, 
however much he might wish, to retain it. Godfrey was, 
by virtue of his position as justice of the peace, a govern- 
ment official. He might take time to approach the point 
of revealing his information, but sooner or later he would 
assuredly reveal it. All the tremendous consequences 
which would ensue could not then be prevented or 
palliated. The only possible remedy was to take from 
Godfrey the power of divulging the secret. His silence 
must be secured, and it could only be made certain by the 
grave. To the suggestion that the motive to the crime 
was not sufficient, it need only be answered that at least 
nine men preferred to die a horrible and ignominious 

vailed on Dugdale to stifle this part of his information because it 
pressed on the Duke of York ; but, as Essex, or Burnet, taking the tale 
from him, was mistaken as to the date when Dugdale first told the 
story, and as Dugdale could beyond doubt have had a better price for 
his information from Shaftesbury than from Charles for the suppression 
of it, this cannot be believed without corroboration, which is not 
forthcoming. Burnet ii. 190, 191. 7 State Trials, 1316, 1319. And 
see below in Trials for Treason. 



The Secret 155 

death rather than prove their innocence and purchase life 
by telling the facts. 1 Godfrey's death was no ludicrous 
act of stupid revenge, but a clear-headed piece of business. 
It was a move in the game which was played in England 
between parties and religions, and which dealt with issues 
graver than those of life and death. 

So far the matter is clear. Sir Edmund Godfrey was 
an intolerable obstacle to the Jesuit party. He was in 
possession of a secret the disclosure of which would 
utterly ruin them. He recognised himself that his life 
was in danger and went in expectation of being assas- 
sinated. His murder was, like Charles the First's execu- 
tion, a cruel necessity. Two men gave evidence as to his 
death. The one, Bedloe, contradicted himself beyond 
belief. Nevertheless he was able to recognise and accuse 
the other, Prance, whose minute and consistent descriptions 
of time and place mark him as a partner in the crime. 
The inference therefore is sound that, as Bedloe accused 
correctly a man whom he knew by sight and not by name, 
some of the men whose names he gave directly in his 
account of the murder were probably the real criminals. 
These were Le Fevre, the Jesuit confessor of the queen, 
Charles Walsh, a Jesuit attached to the household of Lord 
Bellasis, and Charles Pritchard, a third member of the 
Society of Jesus. With them were associated the Roman 
Catholic silversmith, Miles Prance, whom Bedloe recog- 
nised as the man whom he had taken for a waiter in the 
queen's chapel, and a servant of Lord Bellasis, whom he 
named as Mr. Robert Dent. 2 Strictly, it is only a matter 
of conjecture that these men undertook the deed, but it is 
supported by considerable probability. They were singu- 
larly unfitted for the task. Godfrey had to be killed and 
his corpse to be disposed in such a way that the crime 
might not be traced to its true source. The men to do 
this were not professional criminals. They did not know, 

1 See below (in materials for the history of the Popish Plot), 
Foley's note on Warner's MS. history. 

2 Slip appended to examination of November 7. Longleat MSS. 
Coventry Papers xi. 276. 






156 The Popish Plot 

what constant experience has demonstrated, that the most 
apparently simple crimes are the hardest to bring home to 
their authors. Their proper course was to waylay the 
magistrate in the darkness of a narrow street, strip his 
body of every article of value, and leave it to be supposed 
that the murder had been committed for a vulgar robbery. 
Instead of this they determined to dispose the corpse in 
such a way that Godfrey might be thought to have com- 
mitted suicide. The disposal would need time, and to 
gain the time necessary it was needful that they should 
choose a spot to which they could have free access, and 
where they would be undisturbed. As the most secret 
spot known to them they chose exactly that which they 
should have most avoided, the queen's palace, Somerset 
House. To decoy Godfrey was not difficult, for, contrary 
to the practice of the day, he went abroad habitually 
without a servant. 1 The court of Somerset House was 
not, as the Duke of York afterwards declared in his 
memoirs, crowded with people ; on the contrary, it was 
understood that the queen was private, and orders were 
given that visitors were not to be admitted in their 
coaches. 2 The queen's confessor and his friends however 
could doubtless secure an entrance. Here Godfrey was 
murdered, and in Somerset House his body remained for 
four nights. In what place it was kept cannot be decided. 
Hill's lodgings were certainly not used. Perhaps the spot 
chosen was the room in the same passage where Prance 
said that the body had lain during one night. 3 The drops 
of white wax which Burnet afterwards saw must have here 
been spilt upon the dead man's clothes. Godfrey himself 
never used wax candles. 4 On Wednesday night the body 

1 7 State Trials 168. Burnet ii. 163. 

2 James (Or. Mem.) i. 527, 528. Burnet ii. 174. House of 
Lords MSS. 52. 7 State Trials 154. L.J. xiii. 353. 

3 7 State Trials 172, 192. 

4 Burnet ii. 164, 165. L'Estrange produced some bad evidence, 
which he does not even seem to have believed himself, to the effect 
that these stains were of mud, and not wax. Brief Hist. iii. 326, 336. 
Sir George Sitwell says : "The drops of wax . . . may have been spilt 
the evening before, when Sir Edmund, for some mysterious reason, was 



The Secret 157 

was removed from Somerset House and carried to the 
field in which it was found. That it was not taken 
through the gate is made certain by the sentries' evidence. 
It must therefore have been carried through a private 
door. Thence it was taken in a carriage to the foot of 
Primrose Hill ; marks of coach wheels were seen in the 
ground leading towards the spot in a place where coaches 
were not used to be driven. 1 Godfrey's sword was driven 
through his body, and the corpse was left lying in the 
ditch, where it was found next day. 

In lodgings near Wild House lived four men. Two 
of them were Le Fevre and Walsh, parties to the murder 
of Sir Edmund Godfrey ; the others were Captain William 
Bedloe, " the discoverer of the Popish Plot," and his coad- 
jutor, Charles Atkins. Atkins had declared before the 
secretary of state that he lodged at Holborn, but Bedloe 
let the truth appear in his examination. As it was a slip, 
which he immediately tried to cover, and he was far from 
bringing it forward as a point in his favour, his statement 
may be accepted. 2 Bedloe was thus in daily contact with 
two of the criminals. He was on terms of intimacy with 
them. They went about in his company and confided in 
him enough to allow him to be present at secret celebration 
of the mass. 3 From this quarter Bedloe's information was 

engaged in burning a quantity of his private papers" (First Whig 41). 
But the evidence for this is wholly valueless, being told on hearsay from 
a bad witness by a worse. Brief Hist. iii. 179. 

1 Evidence of the coroner before the Lords' committee, House of 
Lords MSS. 46. 

2 Examination of Charles Atkins, October 27, 1678. Slip ap- 
pended to the examination in Coventry's hand. "Mr. Charles Atkins 
lodgeth at the Golden Key in High Holborn, over against the Fountain 
Tavern." Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 234. Examination 
of Bedloe of November 7. " Lodges where Captain Atkins lodges, 
where Walsh the priest lodges, near Wild House." S.P. Dom. Charles 
II 407 : ii. 29. Longleat MSS. ibid. 272-274 ; ibid. 278, on a slip 
appended to the examination, "Le Fevre: about fifty years of age, 
with a flaxen periwig, a handsome man. He lodges where Captain 
Atkins lodges, near Wild House." 

3 LJ. xiii. 353. Evidence of Diana Salvin, Elizabeth Salvin, 
John launders, Alexander Oldis. 






158 The Popish Plot 

derived. It is easy to conjecture how he could have 
obtained it. Walsh and Le Fevre were absent from their 
lodgings for a considerable part of the nights of Saturday 
and Wednesday, October 12 and 16. Bedloe's suspicions 
must have been aroused, and either by threats or cajolery 
he wormed part of the secret out of his friends. He 
obtained a general idea of the way in which the murder 
had been committed and of the persons concerned in it. 
One of these was a frequenter of the queen's chapel whom 
he knew by sight. He thought him to be a subordinate 
official there. If he went afterwards to the chapel to dis- 
cover him he must have been disappointed, for the man 
occupied no office. He had failed to learn his name. It 
was only by accident that nearly two months later he met 
Prance and recognised him as the man he wanted. As he 
had no knowledge himself of the murder and could not 
profess to have been present at it, he devised the story 
that he had been shewn the body as it lay in a room in 
Somerset House on the night of October 14. At this 
point he introduced the name of Samuel Atkins. Le 
Fevre and Walsh had in the meantime disappeared, and 
Bedloe was left without any fish in his net. Doubtless 
the fact that Charles Atkins was his fellow-lodger sug- 
gested the idea of implicating Pepys' clerk. Samuel 
Atkins was well known to his namesake and had in times 
past given him considerable assistance. 3 Charles Atkins 
now shewed his gratitude by arranging with Bedloe to 
accuse his benefactor of complicity in Godfrey's murder. 

Prance's conduct is now easy to explain. He was 
denounced by a man who, as he had good reason to know, 
was not a party to the crime and could have no certain 
knowledge of it. If he could shew a bold front and 
stoutly maintain his perfect innocence all might be well. 
But to do this meant to expose himself to the danger of 
being hanged. Bedloe had moreover named other of the 
real criminals. They might yet be taken and the secret 
be dragged from them. This at any cost must be pre- 
vented. So Prance determined to pose as the repentant 
1 6 State Trials 1475-1477. 



The Secret 159 

convert and to shield the real culprits by bringing to 
death men whom he knew to be innocent. His know- 
ledge of the crime enabled him to describe its details in 
the most convincing manner, while his acquaintance with 
the circle of Somerset House enabled him to fit the wrong 
persons to the facts. No doubt, when he was once out of 
the condemned cell, he felt that he would prefer to keep 
free of the business altogether. Perhaps too he was not 
without shame and horror at the idea of accusing innocent 
men. He recanted. A recantation moreover, if he could 
persevere in it, might succeed in shattering Bedloe's credit 
as well as his own and in diverting the line of inquiry 
from Somerset House. Pressure was immediately put 
upon him, he was forced to retract and to return to his 
original course of action. In this he was perfectly suc- 
cessful. Not only was the investigation removed from a 
quarter unpleasantly near to the Duke of York, but 
Prance manipulated his evidence so cleverly that even the 
keen inquisitors who sat on the parliamentary committees 
never for a moment suspected that the germ of truth for 
which they were seeking was not contained in his but in 
Bedloe's information. After the appearance of Prance that 
was relegated to a secondary position ; but as Bedloe gained 
the reward of ^500 offered for the discovery of the 
murder, was lodged in apartments at Whitehall, and 
received a weekly pension of ten pounds from the secret 
service fund, he had no reason to be dissatisfied with the 
result. Prance too received a bounty of fifty pounds 
" in respect of his services about the plot." 1 The fact that 
the murder was sworn to have taken place in Somerset 
House was not without danger to the queen herself. At 
Bedloe's first information she acted a prudent part. She 
sent a message to the House of Lords expressing her grief 
at the thought that such a crime could have taken place 
in her residence, and offered to do anything in her power 
that might contribute to the discovery of the murderers. 
When an order was given to search the palace, she threw 

1 Par I. Hist. iv. 1113. Secret Services of Charles II and James 
II, payment to Prance 22. 



160 The Popish Plot 

open the rooms and in every way facilitated the process. 
The course which she adopted was most wise. The Lords 
were touched by her confidence and voted thanks for her 
message. 1 Her confessor, who had been accused by 
Bedloe, was not charged by Prance. In spite of the libels 
which assailed her she was never again molested on the 
matter. 2 

Prance's attitude as it has here been sketched accorded 
entirely with the rest of his evidence. In his examination 
before the council he began his story : " On a certain 
Monday." 3 When he was taken by Monmouth and 
Ossory to Somerset House he said "that it was either 
at the latter end or the beginning of the week" that 
Godfrey had met his death.* The significance of this is 
clear. No one wishing to construct a false account of the 
murder could possibly have made these statements. It 
was notorious that Godfrey had disappeared upon Saturday, 
October 12. To postpone the date of the murder would 
be to add a ludicrous difficulty to the story. This is 
exactly what Prance wanted to do. If only he could be 
branded as a liar and thrust ignominiously out of the 
circle of inquiry, his dearest object would be accomplished. 
Other statements in his information make it certain that 
this was the case. After naming Monday night as the 
time of the murder, he went on to say to the council 
that the body lay in Somerset House for four days, 
and was then carried away on the night of Wednesday. 
Reckoning at the shortest, the fourth day from Monday 
night was Friday, twenty-four hours after Godfrey's body 
was found. Reckoning backwards from Wednesday, the 
fourth day was Saturday, when Godfrey was missed. 
Prance was therefore deliberately falsifying his evidence 
in point of time when he named Monday. A similar 
result is obtained from his examination by the Duke of 
Monmouth. In that he said that the day of the murder 

1 L.J. November 15, 1678. Ralph i. 398. 

2 For example the libel, " A copy of a letter dropped in the ex- 
change," 1679. 

3 See above and Appendix B. 4 See above, 122. 



The Secret 161 

was either at the latter end or the beginning of the week. 
He further said "that the body lay in Somerset House 
about six or seven days before it was carried out." 
Counting the week-end from Friday to Tuesday, six days 
from either of those or the intermediate points brings the 
calculation at least to Thursday. At the same time Prance 
declared that the body was removed at midnight on 
Wednesday. It is evident that he was trying to throw 
dust in the eyes of the investigators. These tactics were 
in vain, and he was forced to tell the story in point of 
time truthfully. As for the fictitious view of the body 
on the night of October 14, Prance simply told Bedloe's 
story with as little variation as possible, with the exception 
that he did not mention Bedloe at all. Bedloe had 
landed himself in hopeless confusion when he was taken 
to Somerset House to shew the room where it had taken 
place. 1 Prance did not attempt to point it out. 

Prance did not stop at his evidence on the subject of 
the murder, but went on to give information as to the 
Plot. Unless he had done so he could hardly have hoped 
to escape from prison, for it would seem incredible to the 
authorities that he should know so much and yet not 
know more. Perhaps too he was bitten with the excite- 
ment and glory of an informer's life. His evidence was 
not however calculated to assist materially the party 
whose interest it was to prosecute the plot. He had 
already aroused annoyance by contradicting Bedloe's 
evidence concerning the murder. 2 He now proceeded 
to spin out a string of utterly ridiculous stories about the 

1 James (Or. Mem.) i. 528. Schwerin, November 22, 1678. 
" Bedloo hat in Somerset House das Gemach gewiesen in welchem 
ihm der todte Korper gezeigt worden ist ; allein weil er in derselben 
Kammer eine Thiire angab, die sich nicht daselbst vorfand, iiber- 
dem die Konigin damal in diesem Gemache wohnte, und der Ort, 
an welchem ihm der todte Korper gezeigt worden sein soil, ein 
steter Durchgang und Aufenthalt aller Domesticken der Konigin ist, 
so wird die Angabe von vielen fur verdachtig gehalten." Briefe von 
England 352. 

2 James, Duke of York, to the Prince of Orange, December 24, 
1678, "... some are not well pleased with what this man says, 
because it contradicts Bedloe." Foljambe MSS. 127. 

M 



1 62 The Popish Plot 

Jesuits and other Roman Catholics. All that was im- 
portant in his evidence was hearsay or directed against 
men who had already to contend against weightier accusa- 
tions. He declared that Fenwick, Ireland, and Grove had 
told him that four of the five Popish lords were " to 
command the army." l They had for some time past 
been in prison in the Tower on far more direct charges. 
At the trial of Ireland and Grove Prance was not pro- 
duced as a witness at all. At the trial of Whitbread, 
Fenwick, and Harcourt he made the same statement. 
Fenwick had told him also that he need not fear to lose 
his trade in the case of civil war, for he should have 
plenty of work to do in making church ornaments. 2 
These stories were again retailed at the trials of Langhorn 
and Wakeman. 3 When he was summoned as a witness 
against Lord Stafford he could say no more than that one 
Singleton, a priest, had told him " that he would make 
no more to stab forty parliament men than to eat his 
dinner." 4 Much of his evidence about the Plot was so 
ludicrous that it could never be brought into court at all. 
Four men were to kill the Earl of Shaftesbury and went 
continually with pistols in their pockets. One Bradshaw, 
an upholsterer, had said openly in a tavern that it was no 
more sin to kill a Protestant than to kill a dog, and that 
" he was resolved to kill some of the busy lords." It was 
the commonest talk among Roman Catholics that the 
king and Lord Shaftesbury were to be murdered. It was 
equally an ordinary subject of conversation that a great 
army was to be raised for the extirpation of heretics. A 
surgeon, named Ridley, had often told him " that he 
hoped to be chirurgeon to the Catholic army in England" ; 
and when he complimented one Moore, a servant of the 
Duke of Norfolk, upon " a very brave horse " which he 
was riding, " Moore wished that he had ten thousand of 
them, and hoped in a short time that they might have 
them for the Catholic cause." In his publication Prance 
added to this a disquisition on the immorality of the 

1 House of Lords MSS. 52. 2 7 State Trials 34.3. 

3 Ibid. 425, 612, 613. 4 Ibid. 1320. 



The Secret 163 

secular priests, among whom he had at the time two 
brothers. 1 So tangled and nonsensical a tale could be a 
source of strength to no prosecution. Dr. Lloyd was 
alarmed at the extent and facility of Prance's new in- 
formation. 2 Bishop Burnet thought, " It looked very 
strange, and added no credit to his other evidence that 
the papists should thus be talking of killing the king as 
if it had been a common piece of news. 3 And Warner, 
the Jesuit provincial, characterised Prance's later evidence 
as of little scope and less weight. 4 

To how many persons Prance's real position in the 
tortuous intrigues which circled round the murder of Sir 
Edmund Godfrey was known is a question very difficult 
to answer. By the Jesuit writers on the Plot his character 
is treated with a moderation foreign to their attacks on 
the other informers. He is to them " a silversmith of 
no obscurity," and " by far less guilty than the rest 
in the crimes of their past lives." 5 It is hard to think 
that some of them were not acquainted with the part 
which he had played. There are stronger indications 
that within a select circle his true character was appreci- 
ated. When James II came to the throne Prance was 
brought to trial for perjury, and on June 15, 1686 
pleaded guilty to the charge. The court treated him to 
a lecture in which his conduct was compared favourably 
to that of Gates, who had remained hardened to the end, 
and promised to have compassion on a true penitent. He 
was sentenced to pay a fine of a hundred pounds, to be 
three times pilloried for the space of an hour, and to be 

1 Lloyd to the council, January 1 1, 1679. Examinations of Prance 
of December 26, 1678, January 13, March 19, March 22, 1679. 
Fitzherbert MSS. 154-158. 7 State Trials 1226, 1231. Warner MS. 
history 37. True Narrative 2-8, 26-40. 

2 Lloyd to L'Estrange, April 16, 1686. Brief Hist. iii. 83. 

3 Burnet ii. 195. 

4 Warner MS. history 37 : "librum edidit in quo pauca de Jesuitis, 
eaque leviora retulit . . . et in sacerdotes saeculares fanda infanda 
conjecit, tanquam e plaustro probra jaceret (qu, tanquam e plaustro = 
histrionis more. v. Hor. A. P. 275 ap. Face.), ipsa maledicentiae 
magnitudine fidem sibi detrahens : quam apud paucissimos invenit." 

5 Floras Anglo- Bavaric us 103, 128. 



164 The Popish Plot 

whipped from Newgate to Tyburn. The last and heaviest 
part of the punishment, the flogging, under which Gates' 
iron frame had nearly sunk, was remitted by the king's 
command. 1 There is considerable reason to believe that 
the trial was collusive and the result prearranged. That 
Prance should confess himself perjured is easy to under- 
stand : to understand why Prance's sentence was lightened, 
unless it was in reward for good service done, would be 
very difficult. All the reasons which had worked before 
for the exculpation of the Roman Catholics from the 
guilt of Godfrey's murder were now redoubled in force. 
Gates had already suffered for his crimes. The Popish 
Plot, as Sir John Reresby told James, was not only dead, 
but buried. To overthrow the Protestant story of 
Godfrey's death would be to throw the last sod upon its 
grave. This was much ; but James was not the man to 
forego without reason the sweetest part of his vengeance 
upon the witness who had set up that story. The rancour 
with which he pursued Gates and Dangerfield seemed to 
have completely vanished when the turn came to Prance. 
Prance had certainly diverted the investigation from James' 
personal neighbourhood ; but Gates had been saved nothing 
of his terrible punishment by the fact that he had cleared 
the Duke of York in his first revelation of the plot. The 
harm done by Dangerfield to the Catholic cause was 
nothing compared to that accomplished by Prance, if 
the surface of events told a true tale. Dangerfield was 
whipped, if not to death, at least to a point near it. But 
Prance was let off the lash. Without the flogging 
his sentence was trifling. James had no love for light 
sentences in themselves. His action is only explicable on 
the ground that he was acquainted with the truth, and 
knew how valuable an instrument Prance had proved 
himself. 

One man at least could have told him the facts : 
Father John Warner, late provincial of the Jesuits in 
England and confessor of the king. Less than three 
years later, when the storm of revolution burst over the 

1 7 State Trials 228. House of Lords MSS. 1689-1690, 61. 



The Secret 165 

Catholic court and drove its supporters to seek a penurious 
refuge on the continent, a shipload of these was setting 
out from Gravesend in mid December. They were 
bound for Dunkirk with as many valuables as they 
could carry with them. Before they could set sail, 
information was laid and an active man, aided by the 
officers of the harbour, boarded the vessel. The last 
passengers were being rowed out from shore. They were 
arrested in the boat and carried back with the others 
seized on the ship. They were Father Warner and Miles 
Prance. While the officers were busy in caring for the 
captured property, their prisoners escaped. Warner made 
his way to Maidstone and by means of a forged passport 
crossed the Channel. Prance was soon after retaken in 
the attempt to follow under a false name. The vessel on 
board which he was found was seized, but those on her 
were discharged, and Prance was probably successful in his 
third endeavour to reach the continent. 1 Supposing that 
Prance had been the Protestant puppet which he has been 
believed, this was queer company in which to find him. 
He had attacked Warner's religion, accused his friends, 
and brought to death those of his faith by false oaths. 
His confession of perjury would hardly weigh down the 
scale against this. At least he was not the man whom 
Warner would choose as a travelling companion on a 
journey in which detection might at any moment mean 
imprisonment and even death. The risk that Prance 
would turn coat again and denounce him was not incon- 
siderable. Prance's conduct too was remarkable. Why 
should he fly from the Revolution ? True, he had con- 
fessed that his accusations of the Catholics were false, and 
he could not expect great gratitude from the party in 
power ; but he had only to retract his words once more, 
on the plea that his confession had been extorted against 
his will, to live in safety, at any rate, if not with pros- 
perity. Away from England, surrounded by those whom 
he had wronged, the future before him was hopeless. 

The supposition cannot be supported. Prance's posi- 
1 House of Lords MSS. 1689-1690, 61. Foley v. 285, 286. 



1 66 The Popish Plot 

tion in the politics of the plot is not easy to set in a clear 
light. The attempt made here to do so at least offers a 
hypothesis by which some of the difficulties are explained. 
The last phase of the informer's career, at all events, 
becomes intelligible. Prance had been throughout one 
of the most astute and audacious of the Jesuit agents, and 
Warner must have been perfectly aware of the fact. 

The success of Godfrey's murder as a political move 
is indubitable. The Duke of York was the pivot of the 
Roman Catholic schemes in England, 1 and Godfrey's 
death saved both from utter ruin. Nevertheless it was 
attended by gravely adverse consequences. If the fact 
of the Jesuit congregation at St. James' Palace had become 
known, nothing could have saved the duke. But the 
crime which prevented this gave an impetus to the pursuit 
of the Plot and a strength to the Whig party, so great 
that it all but succeeded in barring him from the throne 
and establishing a Protestant dynasty. Godfrey's fame 
rose almost to the height of legend. On a Sunday in the 
February after his murder a great darkness overspread 
the face of the sky of London. The atmosphere was so 
murky that in many churches service could not be con- 
tinued without the aid of candles. It was said that in 
the midst of the gloom in the queen's chapel at Somerset 
House, even while mass was being said, the figure of Sir 
Edmund Berry Godfrey appeared above the altar. There- 
after the place went by the name of Godfrey Hall. 2 

1 S. A. Tanari, Internuncio at Brussels, to the papal secretary of 
state, June 17, 1679: " Nella salute della sua persona consistevano 
tutte le speranze di veder ristabilita la vera religione in Inghilterra." 
Vat. Arch. Nunt. di Fiandra 66. 

2 Luttrell, Brief Relation i. 8. 



POLITICS OF THE PLOT 






CHAPTER I 

THE GOVERNMENT 

"THE English nation are a sober people," wrote Charles 
I to his abler son, " however at present infatuated." 
Charles II had greater right than ever his father to believe 
that his subjects were mad. The appearance of Gates and 
the death of Godfrey heralded an outburst of feeling as 
monstrous as the obscure events which were its cause. 
From the sense of proportion they had displayed in the 
Civil War the English people seemed now divorced and, 
while they affected to judge those of " less happier lands " 
fickle and tempest-tossed, let the tide of insobriety mount 
to the point of complete abandonment. Public opinion 
was formed without reason. The accumulated suspicion 
and hatred of years swelled into an overpowering volume 
of tumultuous emotion. Scarcely the most sane escaped 
the prevailing contagion of prejudice and terror. None 
could tell where the spread would stop. 

The times were in a ferment when Parliament met on 
October 21, 1678. In his speech from the throne the 
king gave notice to the Houses that information had been 
laid of a Jesuit conspiracy against his life, and he and the 
Lord Chancellor following promised a strict inquiry. The 
government wished to keep the investigation clear of 
Westminster, recognising the danger of parliamentary 
interference ; l but the Commons were of another mind. 

1 Memorandum by Danby. " Q. Whether the Plot be not triable 
out of Parliament?" Add. MSS. 28042: 19. Henry Coventry to 
the king, October 7, 1678. . . . " It will be worth your serious considera- 
tion when you return on which side the greater inconveniency will be, 
either in the suppressing them [Coleman's letters] or publishing them, or 
whether any middle way can be taken." Add. MSS. 32095 : 119. 

169 






170 The Popish Plot 

They returned to their house, and business was begun by 
members of the privy council. Motions were made to 
take the king's speech into consideration, for the keep of 
the army, and the court party tried first to turn the 
attention of the house to the need for money. The 
question was about to be put, while country members sat 
in amazement. Suddenly one rose to his feet and in a 
speech of fire brought to debate the subject that was in 
the mind of every man present. He admired, he said, 
that none of those gentlemen who had spoken nor any 
others of the house who held great places at court should 
speak one word of the Plot, though his Majesty's life and 
government were exposed to manifest danger ; the property, 
liberty, lives, and, yet dearer, the religion of all were 
embarked in the same bottom ; that neither an army nor 
money, in however vast sums, could protect a prince from 
the knife of a villain the murder of two Kings of France 
testified ; and was the prisoner Coleman, so inconsiderable 
a person, to be thought the chief agent in a design of such 
importance, of such deep intrigues and tortuous ways ? 
But a few days before Sir Edmund Godfrey had been 
done to death. Were a spaniel lost, inquiry was made in 
the Gazette : now a worthy gentleman had been bar- 
barously murdered in discharge of his duty, and no search 
was undertaken for the criminals. The privy council, 
declared the speaker, was cold in its pursuit ; let the great 
council of the land proceed with greater vigour. 1 Parlia- 
ment threw itself into the case with immediate determination. 
Committees were appointed to consider ways and means 
for the preservation of the king's person, to inquire into 
the Plot and Godfrey's murder, a bill was prepared to 
disable papists from sitting in either house of Paraliament, 
addresses were made for the removal of all popish recusants 
from London and for a day of solemn fast, which was 
accordingly appointed by proclamation for November 13. 
Gates and Bedloe were heard with their expansive tales at 
the bars of both houses, and on the ist of November a 

1 A narrative of proceedings in the House of Commons. Harl. 
MSS. 6284: 35, 36. 



The Government 171 

joint resolution was voted that " there hath been and still 
is a damnable and hellish Plot, contrived and carried on 
by Popish Recusants, for the assassinating and murdering 
the King and rooting out and destroying the Protestant 
religion." l 

Consternation was not expressed in debate alone. 
Gallant members were in alarm as well for themselves as 
for their sovereign. Sir Edward Rich informed the Lords' 
committee of an apprehension he had for some time felt 
that both houses of Parliament were to be blown up. A 
beggar at the Great Door was arrested on suspicion that 
he was an Irish earl's son. Great knocking had been 
heard underground in the night hours. Sir John Cotton, 
who owned a cellar beneath the Painted Chamber, was 
requested to have his coals and faggots removed from so 
dangerous a spot, and the Duke of Monmouth generously 
lent guards to stand watch until a strict examination could 
be made. Accompanied by the Masters of the Ordnance 
and an expert builder, Sir Christopher Wren and Sir Jonas 
Moore conducted the inspection. They reported the lower 
structure of the house to be in an extremely dangerous 
state. The walls were mostly seven feet thick and con- 
tained many secret places. Vaults ran all the way from 
the Thames under Westminster Hall. By the help of 
neighbours who owned the cellars any one could introduce 
a store of gunpowder within four and twenty hours. 
Without a guard their lordships could have no security. 
Orders were given for the adjoining houses and vaults to be 
cleared, for the cellars to be opened one into another, and 
sentinels to patrol them night and day under command of 
a trusty officer. It was even doubted whether Parliament 
had not better remove to Northumberland House. Still 
as neither knocking nor the beggar were seen to produce 
ill effects, nothing further was done, and Sir Edward Rich 
found himself derided as a lunatic. 2 Beyond Westminster 
the terror ran no less high. A report came to town that 

1 Par/. Hist. iv. 1021-1026. 

2 House of Lords MSS. 16, 17. Lady Sunderland to John Evelyn, 
October 28, 1678. Correspondence of John Evelyn, 1852, 251. 



172, The Popish Plot 

St. John's College, Cambridge, had been burnt down and 
three priests taken with fireballs in their possession. The 
new prison at Clerkenwell was fired and some priests 
immured there hailed as the obvious incendiaries. Somerset 
House was searched by Lord Ossory, who was promptly 
said to have found a hundred thousand fireballs and hand- 
grenades. A poor Venetian soapmaker was thrown into 
prison on the charge of manufacturing similar infernal 
machines ; but on examination his wares turned out to be 
merely balls of scent. Dread of fire seemed to have 
touched the limit when Sir William Jones sent an express 
from Hampstead with orders to move his store of fire- 
wood from the front to the back cellar of his house in 
London that it might be less near the malign hands 
of Jesuits. And from Flanders came the disquieting 
rumour that if, as was expected, the Catholics in England 
were destroyed in the turmoil, the burghers of Bruges 
had prepared the same fate for English Protestants in 
their town. 1 

Into the midst of so fierce a storm Charles II and his 
government were thus suddenly thrown. It had broken 
over their heads almost without warning. September had 
passed with a clear sky ; October was not out before the 
elements had massed their forces against the king's devoted 
servants and were threatening to overwhelm the land with 
a gigantic catastrophe. In August Charles had at his 
control a formidable army and in his pocket the sum of 
8 00,000, with the added satisfaction of seeing removed 
by the general peace a fruitful opportunity for his political 
opponents : before December the throne on which he 
sat seemed tottering to its fall. The servants of the crown 
faced the situation with admirable fortitude. English 
statecraft of the Restoration period was a haphazard school. 

1 W. Harrington to George Treby, February 1679. Fitzherbert 
MSS. 14. John Verney to Sir Ralph Verney, November n, 1678. 
Same to same, May 12, 1679. Verney MSS. 471. Sarotti, November 
15/25, 1678. Ven. Arch. Inghilterra 65. Lives of the Norths i. 70. 
Le Gros to Sir Charles Lyttleton, November 26, 1678. Longleat MSS. 
Coventry Papers xi. 301. 



The Government 173 

Since the fall of Clarendon integrity of dealing had ceased 
to be an ideal for English politicians. Common honesty, 
the saving grace of party principle, fled from a scene where 
could be witnessed the sight of offices bought and sold 
with cheerful frankness and votes bidden for as at an 
auction without shame. The king's chief minister lent 
himself to a policy of which he heartily disapproved. The 
king's mistresses were notable pieces in the game played 
at court. A quarrel between them might be expected to 
influence the fate of incalculable futures. General want 
of method reduced the public services to chaos. The 
salaries of ambassadors fell into long arrear ; clerks in the 
offices of the secretaries of state petitioned vehemently for 
their wages ; the very gentlemen waiters were forced to 
urge that either their diet or money in its stead should 
not be denied them. 1 Nevertheless the nation throve on 
a habit of inspired disorder. Lord Treasurer Danby 
increased the royal revenue wonderfully. The Stop of 
the Exchequer, a breach of faith which convulsed the city, 
scarcely sufficed to shock the national credit. The growth 
of trade and commerce was completely changing the 
aspect of England, and wealth increased rapidly. Able 
and painstaking men such as Sir Joseph Williamson, Sir 
William Temple, Henry Coventry, Sir Leoline Jenkins, 
and in a lesser degree Samuel Pepys and the Earl of 
Conway, conducted the changeful administration of affairs 
with industry and circumspection. Want of order did not 
disturb them, for they were used to none ; and secretaries 
of state were accustomed to pursue their royal master 
with business in bed, at his after-dinner dose, and even to 
still more remote places of retreat. 2 A continual shifting 
of the horizon prepared them for unexpected events. 
Without brilliant parts they learned to confront steadily 
situations of difficulty and danger. That which now met 

1 Sir W. Godolphin to Henry Thynne, August 14/24, 1679. 
Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers Ix. 275. S.P. Dom. Charles II 408 : 
i. 119, 120 ; ii. 70, 79. 

2 Earl of Conway to Sir L. Jenkins, September 26, 1 68 1. S.P. 
Dom. 'Charles II 416 : 30. 






174 The Ppish Plot 

them was not without precedent. It had become almost 
a tradition of Charles' government to expect the worst 
without ceasing to hope for the best. From the Restora- 
tion onwards alarms had been frequent and a spirit of 
revolt, even of revolution, in the air. Venner's insurrec- 
tion and the trouble in Scotland served during the earlier 
years to make plain that stability was not assured, and it 
was not only events on the surface that denoted uneasiness. 
In 1673 an d tne following year attention was occupied by 
a mysterious affair, never probed to the bottom, in which 
Edmund Everard, later perjured as an informer at the 
time of the Popish Plot, was charged with a design to 
poison the Duke of Monmonth and other persons of 
quality, and himself confessed his ill intention, having 
apparently been tutored by some of the experts in that art 
who flourished across the channel ; with the result that he 
was thrown into the Tower, and was able four years after 
to boast of having been the first to discover the Plot and 
to charge the authorities with stifling it in his person. 1 
Other problems trod upon the heels of this in quick succes- 
sion. Throughout the years 1675 anc ^ 1676 the government 
shewed anxiety lest a fresh sectarian movement was on 
foot. A great riot made in the former year by the London 
prentices drew watchful eyes upon reputed fanatics. 
Considerable information was collected in the provinces, 
and judges on circuit earned golden praise by proving 
their attachment in word and deed to the established 
church. At Worcester a man of notorious opinions 
stood his trial for treason, but the jury acquitted him on 
the ground of madness, and despite plain speaking from 
the bench held to their verdict. Dark hints reached the 
government that on the first meeting of Parliament after 
the long prorogation an attempt would be made to seize 
the king and his brother and " order all things securely." 
Somewhat later Compton, Bishop of London, furnished 
the Lord Treasurer with particulars of conventicles held 
by Anabaptists and other dangerous dissenters in the city 

1 Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 17-54. Narrative of 
Edmund Everard 1679. 



The Government 175 

and in Southwark, amounting to the number of sixteen, 
and for the most part frequented by between one and 
three hundred persons ; while from another source Danby 
learned that the total of a few of the London congrega- 
tions rose to over four thousand souls. 1 

At the same time other adversaries of the church were 
not neglected. Already in the spring of 1676 report was 
rife of papists laying in supplies of arms, and a gentleman 
of Hereford was charged by a number of witnesses with 
having declared that, had a recent account of the king's 
sickness or death continued but one day longer, the Duke 
of York would have been proclaimed, and rather than 
allow the duke to want men he would have raised a troop 
of horse at his own expense. Orders were sent to the 
deputy lieutenant of the county to keep stricter watch 
over the Roman Catholics of whom such tales were told. 2 
Repeated proclamations against the bold and open repair 
to the chapels of foreign ambassadors for the purpose of 
hearing mass and of the maintenance by them of English 
priests were doubtless caused by political need, but the 
same reason cannot account for private directions given 
by the king to Secretary Coventry to obtain information 
as to the extent and nature of the correspondence carried 
on with foreign parts by Edward Coleman. Instructions 
were issued for his letters to be intercepted, and some 
dozen were seized, but among them, unfortunately for 
all concerned, none of high importance. Although no 
find was made, the fact that search should have been 
thought necessary denotes in the government a real sense 

1 Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 67, 92, 98, 100, 114, 138, 
140. Ibid. 148, Lord Windsor to Henry Coventry, July 8, 1676. 
See Appendix C. Verney MSS. 465. Earl of Danby to the Lord 
Chancellor, April 4, 1676. Leeds MSS. 13. Particulars of Con- 
venticles. Leeds MSS. 15. John Smith to Henry Coventry, January 
24, 1676. Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 172. A paper endorsed 
by the Earl of Danby : " Fifth monarch meetings in London and 
Southwark. This was given me by the Bishop of London in October 
1677." Add. MSS. 28093 : 212. And see Gooch, English Demo- 
cratic Ideas in the Seventeenth Century 326. 

2 Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 117, 120, 122, 124, 126, 
132- 



176 The Popish Plot 

of the working underground. 1 Shortly before, Danby had 
caused the bishops to make returns of the proportion of 
Roman Catholics and other dissenters to conformists in 
their several dioceses, and that from the Bishop of 
Winchester is preserved. Dr. Morley had been advised 
that the motive was a fear of the result should the laws 
against conventicles be fully executed, as it was sus- 
pected that the number of those to be suppressed ex- 
ceeded that of the suppressors. He was delighted to 
reply that the fear was groundless. Out of nearly 
160,000 inhabitants in the diocese of Winchester 140,000 
conformed to the Church of England, and of the re- 
mainder only 968 were classed as popish recusants ; while 
the bishop's pious belief that the odds in favour of his side 
would be equally great elsewhere was confirmed by an 
abstract of the returns for the whole province of Canter- 
bury setting down the complete number of papists at 
11,870. Other accounts gave the number of Catholics 
in London alone as 30,000, and their real strength in 
England remains unknown ; but Danby had to admit to 
the French ambassador, when he spoke of the alarm 
caused by the Duke of York's conduct, that they did 
not muster in all more than twelve thousand. 2 Though 
he did not lose sight of Catholic movements and provided 
himself with detailed accounts of their less known leaders 
in London, 3 the Lord Treasurer clearly entertained keener 
fears of danger from the other side. 

So corrupt and able a statesman as the Earl of Danby 
could not fail of being an object of attack when the panic 
of the Popish Plot swept over the country. The one 
party accused him of having contrived the whole affair to 
sustain his credit by a persecution of the Catholics and an 

1 " Memd. of his Majesty's directions for interrupting Coleman's 
letters." December 10, 1676. Henry Coventry to Col. Whitely, 
December n, 1676. Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 168, 170. 
And the letters intercepted, ibid. 224, 245, 246, 247, 248. And see 
above, Designs of the Catholics 32, n. 

2 Spillmann . Pater Spillmann's work is in general of little 
value. Bishop Morley to the Earl of Danby, June 10, 1676. Leeds 
MSS. 14. Courtin, August 6, 1676. 8 Leeds MSS. 17. 



The Government 177 

increase of the army, the other of stifling it to save the 
Duke of York, his former patron. 1 In truth he had done 
neither the one nor the other. When Tonge's information 
first came to hand he had regarded it carefully and wished 
to sift the matter with caution. As likelihood grew stronger 
that the doctor was a liar, Danby became cooler towards 
him ; so cool indeed that Tonge and his associates fell into 
a fright for the prosperity of their future and sought help 
elsewhere. Yet he realised the necessity for watchfulness, 
and it was due to his energy that Coleman's papers were 
seized. 2 This attitude was hardly changed by the meeting 
of Parliament. The Lord Treasurer was a consistent 
opponent of the French and Roman Catholic interest. 
His constant endeavour was to draw Charles into union 
with Parliament and foreign Protestant powers against the 
pretensions of Louis XIV, and he thought that unless the 
king obtained foreign aid and set himself to a regular 
conquest of his country this was the only way to avoid 
complete division and debility at home ; 3 but though these 
were his hopes, he was ready at the very moment of urging 
them to support his master's private policy abroad in a 
wholly contrary spirit, and so caused his own fall ; for 
when Charles wrote to Paris for money from the French 
king, Danby executed his orders, thus leaving his hand- 
writing to be produced against him. The fate that forced 
the Lord Treasurer to act on instructions he detested was 
bitter. Nevertheless he was not prepared to sacrifice office 

1 Foley v. 1 1, 12, 13. Diary of Lord Keeper Guildford, Dalrymple, 
ii. 200, 320. Articles of Impeachment against the Earl of Danby iv. 
Par/. Hist. iv. 1068. 

2 See above 78. 

3 Memorandum by Danby, undated, but probably in 1677. 
" State and present condition of the crown, which cannot be amended 
but by force or by compliance. 

[Compliance to the old parliament would mean war with France 
and the enforcement of all laws against papists and dissenters ; with a 
new parliament, war with France and general toleration except for the 
papists.] From all this it seems as if compliance must necessarily 
conclude in a resolution to give satisfaction in point of France. [Force 
could hardly be exerted without foreign aid, which would certainly 
mean] a \otal conquest." Add. MSS. 28042 : 17. 

N 



178 The Popish Plot 

for principle. He continued to obey orders and to hold his 
place. Retribution fell on him. The immoral character 
of his conduct reaped a full reward ; but it must be re- 
membered that at a time when the king was master of his 
servants as well in fact as in name, there was something in 
Danby's plea that the monarch's command in matters of 
peace and war and foreign policy was absolute to his 
minister, and not open to question. Immoral or not, the 
danger of Danby's course was obvious, for powerful enemies 
at home and abroad were eagerly waiting the moment to hurl 
the forerunners of prime ministers from his eminent seat. 

The opportunity had at last arrived. Feared and hated 
by the opposition for his policy of Anglican predominance 
at home, by the French government as a chief supporter 
of Protestant resistance on the continent, by both for the 
army which might be used against either, Danby found 
himself assailed by a combination of the Whig leaders 
and the French ambassador. He had refused the place of 
secretary of state to Ralph Montagu, ambassador in Paris, 
and the latter was now recalled from his post by Charles 
owing to a discreditable intrigue he had formed with the 
Duchess of Cleveland, abandoned and living in France. 
Nor did the disgrace end there, for Montagu's name was 
struck off the list of the privy council. With him he 
brought back to England letters written by Danby to 
demand subsidies from Louis. His intentions could not 
yet be foreseen, but the indications of public events were 
enough to cause the Treasurer grave anxiety. An atmo- 
sphere of plot and disturbance surrounded the court, and 
while information poured in, little exact evidence could be 
extracted from it. Money either to pay or to disband 
the army there was none ; the fleet was equally without 
provision, and Parliament was tender of voting supplies 
lest they should be misused. The Commons had im- 
prisoned Secretary Williamson for issuing commissions to 
popish recusants, and were highly incensed when on the 
next day Charles calmly released him : worst of all, they 
were preparing a bill to raise the militia of the whole 
kingdom without possibility of its disbandment for a period 



The Government 179 

of six weeks. Danby believed that under cover of the 
universal excitement sinister designs against the Duke of 
York and himself were in the air. Many were of opinion, 
he wrote to Sir William Temple, that those who called for 
inquiry into the Plot had objects nearer their hearts that 
they were pursuing under its cover. Yet he was so over- 
whelmed with business that he hardly had time to review 
the situation in his mind and consider the best course to 
pursue. 1 

Suddenly the bolt fell as if from the blue. Danby 
was warned by Sir John Reresby of danger impending 
from Montagu's side. He had in vain attempted to 
manage the ambassador's exclusion from Parliament ; 
Montagu was defeated at Grinstead by the Treasurer's 
candidate, and narrowly won a seat for Northampton on 
a contested election. Had he failed he could scarcely 
have dared fortune, but privilege of Parliament secured 
him from the enmity of the powers. Roused to immedi- 
ate action, the minister attempted a counterstroke. 
Montagu had held unauthorised communication with 
the papal nuncio at Paris, and Danby charged him before 
the council with his malpractice, swiftly sending a warrant 
to seize his papers. But here the adroit statesman met 
more than his match. In the midst of the disturbance 
caused to the Commons by the king's message on the 
subject, Montagu quietly remarked that he believed the 
search a design by abstracting evidence to conceal the 
misconduct of a great minister of which he had know- 
ledge. He had in fact removed the documents from his 
other papers and placed them in safe keeping ; and on the 
following day they were triumphantly produced to the 
House as evidence of Danby's popery, treachery, and sub- 
servience to the interests of the King of France. For 
Montagu had been bought by Barillon and Shaftesbury, 
and promised Louis XIV for a hundred thousand crowns 

1 Earl of Danby to Sir W. Temple, November 19, 1678. Add. 
MSS. 28054: 196. Burnet ii. 97, note, 151, 152. See also Lindsay 
MSS. 359. Forneron, Louise de K'eroualle 153. Harris, Life ef 
Charles II 226 seq. 






i8o The Popish Plot 

to procure the Treasurer's ruin within six months. At a 
moment when all Protestants in the realm were crying in 
horror at the danger threatening their religion, the spectacle 
was exhibited of the king's chief minister hurled from 
power by the French ambassador in conjunction with the 
leaders of the Protestant party for his too powerful sup- 
port of the Protestant cause and the Anglican constitution. 
The man who had reorganised the royal finance, and had 
persistently advocated a national policy in the cause of 
English commerce and the English crown, vanished from 
the scene, accused of treachery to all three and under the 
stigma of having robbed his master and left twenty-two 
shillings and ten pence in an exchequer which, after 
payment for a vast addition to the navy, was actually 
stocked with over a hundred thousand pounds. 1 Charged 
with plotting, the Treasurer was himself the victim of a 
plot as base and planned by men as unscrupulous as are 
known to the annals of English politics. The rest of the 
story is thrice-told ; how Danby was impeached and de- 
fended himself, pardoned and raised to a marquisate, how 
he lay hid in Whitehall while the bill of attainder was being 
passed, how he saved his head by surrendering four days 
before the attaint had force, and passed from the intrigues 
of the Popish Plot to an imprisonment of five years in the 
Tower, whence he was released in the day of his master's 
triumph. Many years after, when Danby published his 

1 Memoranda by Danby. Add. MSS. 28042 : 53. 

" The three points to be considered by the committee of trade every Thursday : 
(i) A treaty marine with France. 

(z) What should be proposed to the king to be done by his example in not per- 
mitting French commodities to be worn in the court. 
(3) A treaty of commerce with France." 

Add. MSS. 28042 : 60. 

" For the 30 ships 

In 1677 90,000 o o 

In 1679 [?8] 339.735 

In 1679 before the 25th March 47,957 o o 

477,692 o o 

584,978 

477,692 

107,286 remaining in the Exchequer, Lady Day, "79." 
See too Campana de Cavelli i. 290-294. Barillon, March 3/13, 1679. 



The Government 181 

letters, he took occasion to prove himself no less unscrupu- 
lous than his enemies by judiciously altering the words, 
" I approve of this letter," which stood in the king's 
writing at the foot of the most incriminating sheet, to those 
which in their yet more exonerating form have become 
famous : "This letter is writ by my order C. R." Mean- 
while his opponents triumphed, and Montagu was even 
successful in obtaining from the French king as much as 
half the reward promised for his perfidy. 1 

The fall of the Lord Treasurer swelled the difficulties 
of the government without disconcerting its policy. 
Though the opposition could score so great a success, 
there was no thought of giving up the main issue. The 
scheme of the militia bill was struck to the ground, for 
Charles declared that he would not comply with it for so 
much as the space of half an hour ; he had not forgotten 
that the home forces might be used against other than 
foreign enemies. The Whig party was inspired with 
rage. Ten days before it had met with a still more 
serious rebuff. On November 20 the bill disabling 
Roman Catholics from sitting in Parliament was passed 
by the Lords, but with a proviso excepting the Duke of 
York by name from its action. James had won his point 
only by tears and incredible exertion, and the opposition 
expected confidently to throw the proviso out in the 
Commons. A furious debate took place. Supporters of 
the duke were assailed with cries of " Coleman's letters ! 
Coleman's letters ! " High words were bandied across 
the floor of the House, and Sir Jonathan Trelawney, on 
the court side, was committed to the Tower for boxing 
the ears of Mr. Ash, a country member, and calling him 
a rascal. Yet to the bitter disappointment of its oppo- 
nents the government was successful, and the saving 

1 Webster MSS. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. iii. 421. Article by Mr. 
Sidney Lee on Osborne (Thomas) in the Diet, of Nat. Biog. Danby 
obtained his knowledge of Montagu's connection with the nuncio from 
Olivencranz, the Swedish ambassador. Sir Leoline Jenkins to the 
Earl of Danby, January 13, 1679. Lindsey MSS. 398. Grey, Debates 
vi. 388.^ The authorities for the story of Danby's fall are well known 
and too numerous for citation. 



1 8 2, The Popish Plot 

clause passed by a majority of two votes. The French 
ambassador thought that James could have hardly escaped 
from a greater danger. 1 Another was already looming 
darkly against him out of the cloudy future. Early in 
the session of Parliament Shaftesbury, supported by 
Halifax, Essex, and Barlow, now Bishop of London, had 
demanded the Duke of York's dismissal from the king's 
presence and counsels. Lord Russell moved an address 
to the same effect in the Commons. In the debate which 
followed Sacheverell, acting on the report of Coleman's 
examination that he had himself drawn up, gave the first 
direct hint of the memorable project of the Exclusion 
bill. Might not the king and Parliament, he asked, 
dispose of the succession to the crown of England ? 2 The 
idea struck immediate root. It was the obvious point to 
which all that had gone before tended. The exclusion of 
James was to be the touchstone of English politics for 
two years, and the lines on which parties were to be 
divided by it showed themselves at once. King Charles 
did not delay to make his view of the situation plain. 
He told Danby in private that he would not object to 
pare the nails of a popish successor, but that nothing 
should induce him to see his brother's right suffer injury ; 
and with more dignified language and thanks for the 
care manifested for his personal safety informed Parlia- 
ment of his readiness to join in all possible ways and 
means to establish the Protestant religion in firm security. 
Subjects might be assured that he would assent to any 
bills presented to safeguard them during the reign of his 
successor, with this ominous condition only, that none 
should diminish the just powers of the throne or tend to 
impeach the right of succession and the descent of the 
crown in the true line. 3 On the other side the Whig 

1 Par/. Hist. iv. 1039-1045, 1052. Burnet ii. 176, 178. Barillon, 
November 25/December 5, 1678. Ferguson, Growth of Popery, Part 
II. 219. 

2 Par/. Hist. iv. 1034. Sitwell, First Whig 63. 

3 Reresby, Memoirs 149. Par/. Hist. iv. 1035. Barillon, October 
17/27, 1678. Ranke v. 236. 



The Government 183 

lords, with whom Halifax was still at this time allied, had 
adopted the notion and persuaded Barillon that an attack 
upon the duke was the best way to attain his end. The 
ambassador was not wholly convinced but, since the resist- 
ance he could make to their plan would be useless, went 
the way of his friends and lent them judicious assistance. 
At least the Frenchman's policy proved successful. His 
objects were to overthrow Danby and force Charles to 
disband the army which might perhaps be used against 
France. Danby fell ; and on the very day when the 
warrant was sent to seize Montagu's papers, the Commons 
voted a supply for the purpose of paying off all the troops 
raised in the course of the preceding year. A month 
later, as a last attempt to save his minister, Charles dis- 
solved the Cavalier Parliament after an unbroken existence 
of eighteen years. 

The elections for the new parliament were fought 
amid intense excitement and with peculiar energy. Both 
parties exerted their utmost powers to gain the day. The 
contest was the sole subject of conversation. Purse and 
pen and all other imaginable means of influence were 
employed without stint to elevate the intelligence and 
debase the morals of the electors of England. At this 
time began the ingenious practice of splitting freeholds to 
multiply votes. Under the guidance of Shaftesbury 
pamphlets urging the Exclusion as the only means of 
safety for the nation flooded the country. Lord Russell, 
one of the most honest of his party, was elected for 
two counties. Drunkenness and bribery were every- 
where notorious. At Norwich " a strange consump- 
tion of beer" was noted by Sir Thomas Browne. Sir 
William Waller, a magistrate famed for his success 
in priest - hunting, won a seat at Westminster at no 
less a cost, as those on his own side reported, than of 
a thousand pounds. At the Bedfordshire polls the 
same interest carried the day for six times that sum. 
Everywhere the Whigs were victorious. When the 
result came to be known, it was found that the govern- 
ment could rely upon a mere handful of twenty or thirty 



184 The Popish Plot 

votes in the new parliament as against a hundred and fifty 
in the old. 1 

Notwithstanding the disastrous complexion of affairs 
Charles began the session on March 6, 1679 with con- 
siderable success. Outside the circle of politicians the 
chief cause of alarm to the nation was the continued exist- 
ence of the army. The king had decided to remove the 
ground of fear by undertaking the actual disbandment of 
his troops. To this end he demanded from the Commons 
the accomplishment of the offer made by the last parlia- 
ment. On April 16 a supply of over ^206,000 was voted 
and appropriated for the purpose, and the disbandment 
began at once. 2 Before many months had passed a source 
of apparent strength and real weakness to the government 
was thus removed. Accusations of arbitrary rule lost 
much of their force ; for those who now indulged in the 
charge were not only open to the retort, which could be 
levelled at them before, that their insistance was insincere, 
but found themselves in a far less good position to reply. 
It was perhaps with more personal pleasure that Charles 
defeated the Commons in an altercation that took place at 
the opening of Parliament over their choice of a Speaker. 
Edward Seymour, a wealthy and profligate Devonshire 
landowner, who had served in the chair in the late House 
of Commons, was noted for an able opponent of the 
court and in particular of Lord Danby. The government 
determined to effect a change, and named for Speaker Sir 
Thomas Meres, a member of the Whig party, as less 
likely to give offence than one from the court side. The 
Commons however elected Seymour again, and he, having 
wind of the king's intention to grant the formal request 

1 Barillon, February 17/27, February 24/March 6, 1679. Edm. 
Verney to Sir R. Verney, February 24, 1679. Verney MSS. 471. 
Fitzherbert MSS. 12, 13. Foljambe MSS. 127. Caveat against the 
Whigs i. 47. Ranke v. 244, 245. Sir Thomas Browne, Works, 1836, 
240. Sitwell, The First Whig 54, 55. 

2 Barillon, December 30, i678/January 9, 1679, January 3o/Feb- 
ruary 9, May 12/22, June 2/12, 1679. John Verney to Sir R. 
Verney, May 22, 1679. Verney MSS. 472. Par/. Hist. iv. 1086, 

II2I. 



The Government 185 

made by all Speakers to be relieved of their dignity, on his 
presentation omitted the customary words ; but the Lord 
Chancellor replied for Charles that he could not allow 
such talent to be wasted on the post, having other employ- 
ment for him, and sent Seymour and the rest of the 
Commons back to choose another. High was the indig- 
nation of the House, which sat for a whole week headless, 
combative, and remonstrating. One ardent member de- 
clared : " This is gagging the Commons of England and, 
like an Italian revenge, damning the soul first, then killing 
the body." A representation was made to the king, pro- 
testing that his action was without precedent and the 
Commons only within their rights, and a second to justify 
the first, which Charles had told them was mere waste of 
time. In answer the king prorogued Parliament for two 
days. When it again assembled, the matter was allowed 
to drop. Neither Seymour nor Meres was proposed, but 
Serjeant Gregory, of a more neutral disposition, who was 
elected and approved without difficulty. 1 Though the 
Commons professed to be satisfied, since they had estab- 
lished their right to a free choice, the honours lay in reality 
with Charles, who had successfully rejected a freely chosen 
candidate objectionable to himself. 

The beginning of the parliament was prophetic of 
what was to come. At the time no cause could seem 
lower than that of the court. The Whigs had swept the 
country at the elections. Everything at Whitehall, at the 
exchequer, in the services, was in disorder and disrepair. 
The royal household still clamoured for unpaid wages. 
The whole nation was in a ferment. Men's minds were 
painfully divided by the project of exclusion. Innumer- 
able cabals, intriguing one against another, troubled the 
surface of politics and clouded the depths. No one could 

1 Part. Hist. \v. 1092-1111. Burnet ii. 205 and note 2. And 
see Temple i. 412. Seymour had formerly been on the court side, 
and after Danby's imprisonment made up the quarrel. A memorandum 
in the Leeds papers contains the following note on Seymour : "This 
man, the most odious to the House, till he disturbed your Majesty's 
affairs.'" Add. MSS. 28042 : 21. 



1 86 The Popish Plot 

tell what designs and what dangers any moment might 
bring forth. Above all no one could gauge the king's 
intentions. Uncertainty reigned everywhere, and it seemed 
as if the opposing forces had but to make one push and 
thrust aside the resistance of government, order England 
as they would, and reign in peace. 1 A somewhat different 
light is shed by after events on " the very melancholy 
aspect " which Sir John Reresby noted in the kingdom. 
In spite of the clamour raised on all sides against feeble- 
ness and irresolution, the government had marshalled its 
strength with some adroitness. Dan by was in the Tower. 
The army was in the act of being disbanded. The trea- 
sury was put into commission, and the Earl of Essex, 
whose austerity and popular sympathies could not but 
inspire some measure of confidence, named as first com- 
missioner. Before Parliament assembled the Duke of 
York at his brother's command had left the kingdom, 
and was watching events with wrath and foreboding, but 
with little influence, from across the Channel. Nothing 
that could betoken a conciliatory spirit in the court had 
been omitted. There followed a move still more important 
as a check to the unbridled Commons. The committee of 
secrecy had just been instructed to consider methods of 
impeachment of the five Popish lords, when on April 21 
the king announced to Parliament that he had chosen a 
new privy council. The scheme he went on to outline, 
though attributed at the time to divers other heads, had 
its origin in the elegant fancy of Sir William Temple. 2 
That excellent ambassador and gardener, returning from a 
mission to the Hague, found the turbulence of the state 
and the dangers surrounding the king such that he 
promptly set to considering how he might devise some 
advantage to his master's service. Diplomatic experience 
and a natural bent to theoretical statesmanship were more 

1 See Reresby, Memoirs 170, 171. Temple i. 396-414. 

2 ParL Hist. iv. 1122. Algernon Sidney wrote that Halifax was 
the author of the scheme. Letters 34. James had news that the 
Duchess of Portsmouth bragged that she had helped to make it. James 
to the Prince of Orange, May 8, 1679. Foljambe MSS. 129. 



The Government 187 

prominent in his mind than knowledge of the practical 
expedients which must temper the keenness of political 
ideas in action. He saw Parliament daily encroaching, 
as it seemed to him, on the royal prerogative ; he saw the 
king drawing apart from his people ; he feared an open 
rupture which might throw the state into convulsion. 
On these considerations he evolved the notion of a third 
authority, which, standing midway between the two, should 
act at the same time as a cushion and as a link. The 
instrument he found in the privy council. By reducing 
the number from fifty to thirty Temple hoped that business 
would be discussed by the whole board, cabals and secret 
understandings avoided. Members were no longer to be 
of one party only, or allied in ambition ; on the contrary, 
fifteen places should go to officers of state, fifteen to 
popular leaders from both houses of Parliament ; and 
since he observed authority to follow land, Temple 
arranged that the total income of the several members 
should amount to ^ 300,000, a sum to be compared not 
unfavourably with that of the House of Commons, which 
was estimated at a third as much again. By such a council 
the king's policy would be ably regulated. Its composi- 
tion would give confidence even to the most hostile parlia- 
ment. Neither by Parliament nor by king could its 
authority be lightly disregarded. In the event of a breach 
between the two the council would be rich enough to assist 
the finances of the state. At the same time the king 
could be certain, by means of the votes of his fifteen 
officers, that he would not be forced to act against his own 
interests. The project won instant approval. Essex con- 
sidered that it pointed a return to the happy days of the 
Restoration ; Lord Sunderland, now secretary of state in 
place of Sir Joseph Williamson, was favourably impressed ; 
the Lord Chancellor declared it was as a thing from heaven 
fallen into his majesty's breast. The Chancellor's remark 
had an unwitting point. Though the scheme was of 
Temple's conception, Charles made it his own by a char- 
acteristic touch. He consented to the inclusion of Halifax 
in the new council only after some pressure, for he disliked 






1 88 The Popish Plot 

and perhaps feared the great Trimmer. It was therefore 
with amazement that his advisers heard the king name 
Lord Shaftesbury. Still more amazing, Charles positively 
insisted on the earl's inclusion as an extraordinary member 
of the council and its president. Temple was compelled 
to submit, not without protest. It was an act which should 
have given pause to optimists. None the less the news of 
the scheme was hailed with general applause. Bonfires 
were lighted in the city, the East India Company's stock 
rose rapidly, Barillon did not conceal his mortification, 
and the Dutch republic marked the occasion by the 
appointment of one of its most able ministers as ambas- 
sador to St. James' ; only the House of Commons viewed 
the matter in an unexpected light and with dissatisfaction. 
While the French feared a bond of union between the 
hostile parties in England and old Cavaliers that the king 
had delivered himself into the hands of his enemies, the 
Whigs held sullenly aloof from rejoicing, or proclaimed 
that they were being led into a trap. The Earl of Essex 
had already lost credit with his friends by serving on the 
commission for the treasury, and those of the party who 
took places on the council found that glances were cast 
askance at them as betrayers of their trust. 1 

To most eyes the situation as affected by the change 
of council was far from clear. The king himself held the 
key to it. Whether or no Temple's scheme was really 
practicable, Charles did not intend to try. He had gained 
a point by dissolving his old council, which was filled with 
friends of Danby. 2 Another and a greater advantage 
was that signified by the choice of Shaftesbury as president 
of the new. His friends thought the king guilty of a 
lamentable piece of feebleness. Had the council been 
meant to consult it would perhaps have been so. But 

1 Temple i. 414-419, 473-477. Barillon, April 7/17, April 
2l/May I, April 24/May 4, April 28/May 8, 1679. Dalrymple ii. 
216,217. Reresby, Memoirs 168. North, Examen 76, 77. Ferguson, 
Growth of Popery, Part II. 238 ; and see Foxcroft, Life of Halifax 
i. chap. vi. 

2 Burnet ii. 209. 



The Government 189 

this was far from Charles' design. " God's fish ! " he said 
to an intimate, " they have put a set of men about me, but 
they shall know nothing, and this keep to yourself." 
Evidently the diplomatic constitution had no grand future 
before it. And so it proved. Within a short time the 
author was actively disregarding his own principle by form- 
ing one of a cabinet of four with Sunderland, Essex, and 
Halifax, to arrange matters before they came before the 
council and Parliament ; while Charles, as good as his 
word, kept his own counsel and acted without the advice 
either of them or of the board at large, on one notable 
occasion against its will and to the great displeasure of the 
popular members. In Parliament the Whig councillors 
continued their opposition as fiercely as ever, but at the 
council board they had little influence. The position 
rapidly became impossible. It can hardly be doubted 
that this was Charles' exact intention. He had achieved 
a double success. He had seemed to give the Whig 
leaders a chance of reforming the government, while in 
fact he had only driven them to greater exasperation. In 
the eyes of the nation he had offered a compromise, secure 
in the knowledge that it would not be accepted. The trick 
which the Commons feared had been played to a nicety. 
For this their chiefs had only to thank themselves. Had 
they acted on their suspicion and refused places on the 
council, their conduct would in this have been faultless. 
But the bait was too tempting to be rejected. They 
accepted the offer of office, intending from this new 
post of vantage to pursue their old plans. Their duplicity 
gained nothing. The king had provided for the result, 
and their failure could only seem due to the deceit and 
intolerance with which they had repulsed his good inten- 
tions. On October 15, 1679 Shaftesbury was dismissed 
from the council in consequence of his agitation against 
the Duke of York, and three months later Russell, 
Cavendish, Capel, and Powle, his four most prominent 
allies on the board, tendered their resignation by his 
advice. Charles accepted it in the words, " With all my 
heart." The famous scheme was thus finally abandoned. 



190 The Popish Plot 

Temple withdrew from politics to his garden and his 
library. Essex quitted the treasury and openly joined 
the opposition. Only Halifax, after retirement to the 
country, remained in the king's service. 1 

Meanwhile the tide in Parliament ran high against the 
government. The new constitution had hardly begun its 
career before the Commons on April 27 settled to consider 
how they might best preserve his Majesty's person from 
the attacks of papists. Impotent attempts made by 
members in the court interest to divert the debate only 
increased its keenness, and the House passed from stage to 
stage of fiery enthusiasm until on Mr. Hampden's motion 
it was unanimously declared that " the Duke of York 
being a papist and the hopes of his coming such to the 
crown have given the greatest countenance and encourage- 
ment to the present conspiracies and designs of papists 
against the king and the Protestant religion." With the 
addition that James had been the unwilling cause of the 
Plot, the House of Lords adopted the motion as it stood. 
This was the prelude to the piece to come. On Sunday, 
May 1 1 , when daylight had gone out with talk, a resolu- 
tion was carried, those against it refusing to have their 
votes taken, " that a bill be brought in to disable the 
Duke of York to inherit the Imperial Crown of this 
realm." It was followed by the ferocious declaration of 
the Commons that they would stand by his Majesty with 
their lives and fortunes and, should he come to any violent 
death (which God forbid !), revenge it to the utmost upon 
the Roman Catholics. Four days later the Exclusion bill 
was introduced and read for the first time. On May 21 
it passed the second reading and was committed. The 
threatening aspect of these events could not be mistaken. 
The Commons were fierce and pertinacious. Danby's 
discomfiture was followed by an attack on Lauderdale and 
by another, still more violent, on the system of secret 

1 Barillon, February 5/15, 1680. Luttrell, Erief Relation i. 19, 33. 
Burnet ii. 246, 248, 249. Temple i. 419, 420, 441-444. Ailes- 
bury, Memoirs i. 35. Foxcroft, Life of Halifax i. 173-178, 192. 
Christie, Life of Sbaftesbury ii. 357. Airy, Charles II 240. 



The Government 191 

service money. " Extraordinary heats " broke out on the 
question whether bishops had or having should retain their 
right to sit in judgment upon peers arraigned on a capital 
charge, for the trial of the five Popish lords was expected, 
and the strength of the spiritual peers was a matter of 
grave consideration to those who hoped for an adverse 
verdict. Many were the indecencies, records Burnet, that 
arose on this occasion both in town and in country. Shaftes- 
bury was expecting an easy triumph. Suddenly all came 
to an end. The king had information that the common 
council of the city was about to offer public assistance to 
the Commons in their efforts for the preservation of the 
Protestant faith, and that an inflammatory remonstrance on 
the subject of the Plot lay ready for presentation in the 
House. His mind was made up. With the cheerfulness 
characteristic of him he seemed to be thinking of nothing, 
when on May 26 he summoned the Commons to his 
presence and without warning declared a prorogation of 
three months. Eight weeks later Charles dissolved the 
Little Parliament of Westminster against the advice of 
almost the whole of his council. The blow fell with 
crushing effect upon the Whig party. Shaftesbury swore 
openly that he would have the heads of those who had 
counselled it. 1 Yet this uproarious session produced one 
good thing. Before proroguing Parliament the king 
gave his assent to the Habeas Corpus Act, its solitary 
record on the statute book. How near that sheet was to 
being blank may be told by the fact that this measure, of 
weighty importance in the history of England, only passed 
its third reading in the House of Lords because the Whig 
teller in joke counted one very fat lord as ten. 2 

Neither Parliament nor the privy council as a whole 
can properly be said at this time to have been the govern- 
ment of the country. Under the old system the council 

1 Barillon, May z6/June 5, 1675. Par/. Hist. iv. 1125-1149. 
Temple i. 424, 429-432. Burnet ii. 210-215. Reresby, Memoirs 
173. North, Examen 506. Ralph i. 453, 454, 455. 

2 X Burnet ii. 263, 264. House of Lords MSS. 136. And see 
Ferguson, Growth of Popery, Part II. 246. 



192, The Popish Plot 

was a large and chiefly honorary body, the business of 
which was regularly transacted by a few of its members. 
By Sir William Temple's construction it became a miniature 
of the House of Commons as in the days when the 
government could count upon about half the votes with 
an occasional majority. Though those who carried on 
affairs might be privy councillors, there were also many 
councillors who made it their chief business to prevent 
them from doing so. The parliament of 1679 was still 
less to be classed with the government than its predecessor. 
Here the Commons hardly disguised an overmastering 
wish to obstruct the administration by others until it fell 
wholly into their own hands, and to force on the govern- 
ment a policy framed in the country and strongly dis- 
approved at court. The humour of the Commons 
seemed to infect the Lords also. The alarm and activity 
of the upper house throughout the panic of the Plot 
almost equalled those of the Commons ; and it was by 
great exertion alone that the court could carry the day 
even when the gravest interests were at stake. The 
English state presented at the moment a striking appear- 
ance. Since the beginning of the modern world government 
in England has been with scant exception by consent, not 
only in the sense that in every case force is ultimately on 
the side of the governed, but by virtue of the fact that 
the English government has had nothing on which to rely 
but the consent of the nation. Two famous examples had 
already shown how hard of execution other methods must 
be. Mutual agreement between parts of the frame was 
necessary to its usefulness. But now it seemed as if this 
was no more. . Variance had sprung up and silently grown 
until it became direct opposition. Government and 
governed were divided by an openly contrary spirit. It 
was a question how far Charles' government could allow 
the division to widen without being engulfed in it. On 
the one side were ranged the forcible and callous statesmen 
who had organised the country party in the old Cavalier 
Parliament and transformed its soul to Whiggism ; the 
country gentlemen, formerly staunchest adherents of the 



The Government 193 

government, the class from whom now its keen opponents 
were drawn ; religious dissenters ; high -principled re- 
publicans ; malcontents of every kind ; the squirearchy, 
the magistracy, the Church of England. 1 On the other 
there met this formidable array a mere handful of men, 
dependents of the court or trained officials zealous to 
perform their duty and to uphold the traditions of English 
politics. The government was formed of the king and 
his servants, chief among them the secretaries of state. 
Apart from these support for the king's policy was 
meagre indeed. 

The work which fell on the secretaries' shoulders was 
immense. Throughout the winter which followed Gates' 
revelations a perpetual stream of reports, warnings, infor- 
mations poured into their offices. From all quarters came 
disturbing news. Alarms of armed men exercising in 
bands at night were constant. Spanish forces were said 
to have landed in Ireland and the French in Scotland. 
Tynemouth Castle was reported blown up by gunpowder. 
Five thousand Spaniards were in Wales. A combined 
French and Spanish fleet was only prevented by a storm 
from landing at Milford Haven. The king's ships at 
Chatham and elsewhere were to be burnt and thus facilitate 
the passage of troops from Dunkirk, while Hull and other 
seaports were ready to receive the invaders. Gentlemen 
rode up from Yorkshire with wild tales of " the crack and 
noise " in those parts, and in the West Riding the militia 
was called out against imaginary foes. Vast fears came 
from Cheshire of strange persons and a private post, 

1 See Lord Keeper Guildford MS. diary. Dalrymple ii. 91, 321. 
" It is certain the Church of England men joined in this cry as heartily 
as any else, for they were always most eager against Popery, although 
they had friendship with the Cavalier papists, and many considering 
men seeing an army kept up against an act of Parliament were zealous 
that fetters might be put on the King, and therefore would join in 
showing any discontent." The Whig party on Temple's council tried 
to purge the commission of the peace of justices on the other side, but 
Charles prevented this by a very droll device. North, Examen 78. 
Nevertheless the weight of the commission was against the court. See 
below in Trials for Treason. 

O 






194 The Popish Plot 

denoting no good intentions. An English doctor wrote 
from Amsterdam telling how he had overheard con- 
spirators planning the king's destruction for the month 
of April, and had barely escaped being murdered for 
his indiscretion. 1 All this and a vast mass of the same 
description demanded instant attention, decision, and 
answer. Frivolous accusations against reputed papists 
and plotters were innumerable. A well-wisher sent from 
Vienna as a present to the king an antidote of astonishing 
excellence against possible poisons. A still more ingenious 
correspondent forwarded a scheme to turn the tables on 
the pope by " assaulting the city of Rome on that side 
where the Vatican palace stands and bringing away the 
library." 2 In Ireland, where the Duke of Ormonde's 
sober government preserved admirable order, long reports 
were drawn up for the instruction of the secretaries at 
Whitehall, and these too had to be perused. 3 London 
alone, apart from the turmoil caused by Godfrey's death, 
provided heavy work. Order had to be taken for safe- 
guarding the palace ; twenty doors leading into St. James' 
Park were blocked and a sewer grated. Protestants and 
Catholics posted mutual accusations to Whitehall until 
the secretaries were at their wits' end how to deal with 
them. On the prorogation of Parliament in May, bills 
were distributed urging the prentices to take arms and 
demand the trial of the lords in the Tower. The guards 
at the palace were doubled, strong watches posted, and 
every precaution taken. A few weeks before it had been 
thought necessary to send two companies of dragoons to 

1 W. Harrington to Sir G. Treby, February 20, 1679. Fitzherbert 
MSS. 14. Thomas Ward to Sir J. Williamson, November 15. Sir 
Francis Chaplin to same, November 30. Henry Layton to same, 
December 9, 1678. S.P. Dom. Charles II 407 : i. 108, 167 ; ii. 117. 
George Beckett, vicar of Castham, to Sir Peter Pindar at Chester, 
October 28. Examination of same, November 4, 1678. Longleat 
MSS. Coventry Papers xi. 229. Dr. Henry Corneil to Sir J. 
Williamson, December 23, 1678, January 20, 1679. S.P. Dom. 
Charles II 408 : ii. 59 ; 41 1 : 69. 

2 Add. MSS. 32095 : 160. S.P. Dom. Charles II 408 : i. 36. 

3 Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers xx. 120-130. S.P. Ireland 
339. Carte, Life of Ormonde 477-481. 



The Government 195 

Portsmouth. 1 The whole country seemed on the verge 
of insurrection. In December Charles thought he saw 
signs of a rebellion brewing. A few months later Danby 
drew up a memorandum in the Tower which clearly shewed 
that he was of the same opinion. He suggested that the 
king should take up his residence out of London and call 
Parliament to meet him away from the capital, the strong- 
hold of his opponents' power. Touch should be kept with 
the troops disbanded. All who had served against the 
king in the Civil War could be forced to register their 
names. The navy might be officered by men who would 
have influence on the sailors. Lastly and most significant, 
the Tower should be secured. 2 

Such and so multifarious were the doings of members 
of the government. Yet they were members only. The 
head was the king's, the policy his, and to him its ultimate 
failure or success must be ascribed. 

1 S.P. Dom. Charles II 407 : i. 268. Par!. Hist. iv. 1034. J onn 
Vcrney to Sir R. Verney, June 12, 1679. Verney MSS. 472. 
Barillon, April ig/May I, June 12/22, 1679. And see Klopp ii. 193. 

2 Burner ii. 179. Add. MSS. 28042 : 19. See Appendix C. 



. 



CHAPTER II 

THE CATHOLICS 

OF the five hundred Cavalier gentlemen who^fell in the 

Civil War more than one-third were Catholics. 1 The 

remnant of the class that had once been the most 

dignified and the wealthiest in England was thrown by 

the Popish Plot into the fiercest persecution known to 

its history. For the first time a real attempt was made 

to put the penal laws into full force. All over the 

country the prisons were filled, houses of Roman 

Catholics searched for arms, their estates confiscated. 

Fourteen men were executed for high treason in the Plot, 

three for Godfrey's murder. Eight Catholic priests 

suffered on account of their orders under the statute of 

Queen Elizabeth which made it treason for a subject 

to take orders from the Church of Rome and, returning 

to England, to remain there upwards of forty days. 

Five died in prison. Thirty more were condemned to 

death, but were reprieved, and of these sixteen died in 

confinement. 2 The actual figures are enough, but they 

do not complete the tale of suffering. Nothing is told 

by them of the persecution less than to death, the 

harrying of men and women for conscience' sake, the 

cruel blight fallen on the lives of hundreds because of 

the crimes and follies of intriguers who turned religion 

to be an affair of politics. The odour of mystery and 

the fear of foreign assault which Catholic designs had 

for years aggravated had worked in the minds of English- 

1 Klopp i. 26. 2 Foley v. 95, 96. 

196 



The Catholics 197 

men with so strong a ferment that, were there much or 
little of truth in the Plot, it needed only an opportunity 
for hardly concealed terror and hatred finally to burst 
restraint. 1 On all sides the lot of Catholics was pitiable. 
Those in London who were not imprisoned were banished 
from the capital. As many as thirty thousand were said 
to have fled. In the country fresh persecution awaited 
them. Justices of the peace had orders to execute strictly 
the laws against recusants, the Lord Chancellor to weed 
the commission of those who did not. Popish books and 
relics were diligently sought out, seized, and burnt. The 
library, papers, and vestments of Father Harcourt, rector 
of the Jesuit College in London, went to make a public 
bonfire. Wild House, the residence of the Weld family 
near the Strand, and a noted resort of Roman Catholics, 
was ransacked and twenty-seven chests of goods haled 
from a grotto in the garden. Houses of eminent Catholics 
all over the kingdom were searched and searched again, 
and sometimes almost destroyed by the efforts of officers 
to find hidden priests. Catholic merchants found them- 
selves bankrupt. Everywhere Catholics were driven from 
home and livelihood, reduced to beggary. Only the 
Penderels, Huddlestone the priest, and others who had 
helped the king in his flight from Worcester escaped 
the general fate. Charles' gratitude procured for them 
exemption from the action of the laws. 2 For the rest 
only good fortune could mitigate the horrors of that 
time. Those in prison had nothing on which to subsist 
but the charity of friends. Seized at inns, in secret 
retreats, on beds of sickness, they were hurried through 
rain or snow to dreadful cells without money or a 
sufficient supply of clothes. The Duke and Duchess of 

1 Ranke v. 233. Das papistische Complot crscheint als ein 
Symptom der zwischen den Bekenntnissen wieder angeregten heftigen 
Antipathien. 

Schwerin, Briefs 330. Es sei nun an dieser Conspiration viel 
oder wenig, so ist es doch gewiss, dass diese Nation sowohl gegen die 
Papisten als gegen Frankreich dem es besonders beigemessen wird 
von neoem erbittert wird. 

2 L.J. xiii. 408. Airy, Charles II 70. 



198 The Popish Plot 

York, Lord Castlemaine, and other noble Catholics made 
great efforts for their fellows in religion. Yet to relieve 
the vast mass of suffering no private aid could suffice. 
Many were reduced to the greatest distress. Some even 
died of want. Priests, hunted from one to another more 
painful hiding-place, were put to every shift to evade 
capture. For days they lay, cramped and hungry, in 
holes within walls, behind chimneys, even fastened up 
beneath tables, while their pursuers tore up the floors, 
broke down the walls, dug up the garden walks within 
a few yards of them. When they ventured forth to 
escape, it was in the depth of winter, through ice and 
mud, and in the teeth of midnight storms. Nor were 
the pious alone objects of attack. The most irreligious 
of their religion were not spared. Long-stored enmity 
and an insatiable desire for novelty caught at victims 
of whatever character. The Duchesse Mazarin, who 
lived only for play and her light loves, was accused of 
being a party to the Plot. Where the end would come 
no man could say. All the Catholics in the service of 
the royal family who could took ship for the continent. 
The Duchess of York wrote to her brother that she 
could not describe the hundredth part of the trouble into 
which they were plunged. Many abjured their faith or 
at least took the condemned oaths of allegiance and 
supremacy. Pilate and Herod, wrote the Jesuit Warner 
to his general, were banded with the heretic priests against 
his society and the Catholics. A few weeks later he 
added : " Hope itself is scarce left us." l 

1 Warner MS. hist. 29 from Gazette de Hollands, November 22, 1678. 
Schwerin, Briefs 340, 348. Duchess of York to Duke of Modena, 
November 3, November 24, December 16, 1678. Ronchi, January 
20, February 23, November 21, 1679. Campana de Cavelli i. 229, 
236, 239, 240, 242. Warner MS. Letter book, December 3, 
December 30, 1678. Fitzherbert MSS. 12. House of Lords MSS. 
39, 126. Foljambe MSS. 123. L.J. xiii. 482,485, 502, 512. Foley 
v. 21, 23, 80, 482-488, 915, 965, 966. 8 State Trials 532, 533. 

The internuncio at Brussels acutely noted as the three causes of 
the feeling aroused "1'odio de' Protestanti, gli amatori di novita, e 
li nemici della casa Reale." October 3O/November 9, 1678. Vat. 
Arch. Nunt. di Fiandra 66. 



The Catholics 199 

In no part of the country was persecution more bitter 
than in Yorkshire. Even before the time of the Popish 
Plot Catholics in the country had been subjected to 
considerable annoyance, and when " the great crack and 
noise " of the event burst on the astonished ears of the 
world they became at once the object of vehement attack. 
Inquisition was made in all parts for priests and recusants. 
The cells of York Castle, of which the condition was 
notorious in an age of notorious prisons, were filled. To 
priests and their relatives particular attention was paid. 
Soon two scoundrels, by name Mowbray and Bolron, came 
forward to give evidence of the preparations of papists to 
aid in the grand design discovered by Gates. Bolron had 
been manager of coal-pits on the estate of Sir Thomas 
Gascoigne, an aged baronet and representative of the 
ancient family of Barnbow Hall in the West Riding, and, 
being suspected of fraud, was threatened with a prosecution 
for felony by Lady Tempest, the baronet's daughter. 
Mowbray was a servant in the same family discharged on 
suspicion of theft. Thus the two had every reason to 
plot revenge. Bolron swore that Sir Thomas, together 
with his daughter, Sir Miles Stapleton, several other 
gentlemen, and his nephew, a priest named Thwing, had 
signed a resolution to kill the king and had offered a 
thousand pounds to whoever should do the deed. 
Mowbray added that they had intended to burn London 
and York to the ground. The Yorkshire magistrates 
refused to act on the information of known criminals, 
but Bolron went to town and found in Shaftesbury 
an inquisitor who would not consent to see the matter 
dropped. 1 Sir Thomas was tried at Westminster, but 
acquitted by a jury of Yorkshire gentlemen. Sir Miles 
Stapleton and Lady Tempest stood their trial at York. 
They also were acquitted, but upon the same discreditable 
evidence Thwing was convicted and on October 23, 
1680 suffered the penalty for high treason. In spite of 
the fact that three juries had disbelieved his word Bolron 
was able by permission of the House of Commons to 
1 7 State Trials 995. 



200 The Popish Plot 

produce an ingenious forgery, entitled " The Papists' 
Bloody Oath of Secrecy and Litany of Intercession," 
which after repeated exposure and the lapse of more than 
two centuries is still sometimes taken for true by his more 
gullible, if less malignant, successors. For the moment 
the acquittal of Gascoigne and his friends stayed the flow 
of blood, but the Yorkshire Protestants shewed effectively 
by their conduct at the Revolution that their feelings 
remained unchanged. 1 

While persecution fell indiscriminately on those who 
confessed the creed of the Roman Church, it was not to 
be expected that all should view their troubles alike. 
The lead given in the speech from the throne was freely 
followed. It was a Jesuit plot, said the king. It was a 
Jesuit plot, cried Catholics who were not under the 
influence of the order. The society has seldom drawn 
the affection of many outside its own ranks in any age, and 
in the seventeenth century incurred the hatred of almost 
all parts of the English Catholic body. Constant in- 
trigues set the secular priests, members of the other 
orders, and, it can hardly be doubted, a large number of 
laymen against its restless and selfish policy. The result 
was plain. For the doings of the society every one had 
now to suffer. In the midst of fierce trouble it was not 
against the government but against the Jesuits that 
Catholic resentment was shewn. Jesuits were everywhere 
scouted, railed at for their pernicious principles, scarce 
treated civilly in the company they sought. There was 
even rejoicing at their downfall. At last old scores would 
be paid off ; at last all the juggles and intrigues at court 
would find their due reward in public shame. The Jesuit 
historian sighs with meek grief at the additional burden 
the society was compelled to bear. 2 It was perhaps not 

1 7 State Trials 959-1043, 1162-1183. C.J. December 16, 1680. 
Narrative of Lawrence Motobray 1680. Narrative of Robert Bolron 
1680. Depositions from York Castle, Surtees Society xl. 1861. Foley 
v. 759-767. The Month xviii. 393. 

2 Foley v. 19, 21. Warner MS. history 29. Misera Catholicorum 
omnium conditio, maxime vero Jesuitarum, quos et communia mala et 
omnium insuper invidia gravabat, etiam apud simul patientes. Ibid. 36. 



The Catholics 201 

only political intrigues that roused the displeasure of 
laymen. Though many of the priesthood were men of 
saintly temper and bore affliction with constancy and 
admirable effort on behalf of their brethren, there were 
also black sheep among them. Scandal caused by priests 
who thronged the court was of long standing. In the 
opinion of the more discreet their behaviour was such as 
to cause harm rather than good to the Catholic religion 
in England. 1 The case of St. Germain was notorious. 
Great disrepute was brought on the Society of Jesus by the 
story of Godfrey's murder : had the real facts been known 
they would have been more damaging still. Yet more 
unfortunate, since it brought laughter with it, was the case 
of Father John Gavan, the famous martyr and Jesuit who 
was likened to " an angel of God " and his voice in 
preaching to " a silver trumpet " ; for, having done battle 
in youth with the lust of the flesh, he was seized at the 
height of his reputation in the stables of the Imperial 
ambassador, where he was hiding with a woman who 
passed as his wife and their son. 2 

It was the distressing fate of so prized a member of 
the society to be a cause of dissension and scandal. Even 
his death at Tyburn did not make an end. The no less 
famous Dr. John Sergeant, who had passed a long career 
in controversy against Jesuit and Protestant divines, came 
forward to blacken Gavan's memory. Sergeant had 
already given trouble to the Roman officials by his teach- 
ing on the oath of allegiance. 3 With the prosecution of 
the Popish Plot the movement in favour of the oath 
naturally grew in strength among moderate Catholics ; 

Maxime odiosum Jesuitarum nomen, sacerdotibus etiam et saecularibus 
et regularibus et ipsis Catholicis laicis, quod ab iis orta feratur ista 
saevissima tempestas quae totam religionem Catholicam cvertet. 

1 Brosch 432. 

2 S.P. Dom. Charles II 411 : 87, a paper endorsed by Sir Joseph 
Williamson, "25 January, 78/9. Gavan the priest. Information, etc." 
Ibid. 92. "It was Sir William Waller who, by a warrant from the 
council, seized Gavan in Count Wallenstein the Imperial ambassador's 
stables in bed." Foley v. 454. Le Fleming MSS. 155. 

3 See above 53. 



The Popish Plot 

the formula had been many times condemned at Rome ; 
and it was heard with dismay at the curia that the Duke 
of Norfolk had flouted authority and taken the oath, 
presumably to obtain more easily a pass to go beyond 
seas. 1 With others of his order Gavan had written 
against the oath and, though he pronounced in his speech 
from the gallows against the notion that kings might be 
killed at the pope's command, would not surrender the 
theory of the deposing power. 2 Soon after his execution 
Sergeant came to Henry Sidney, ambassador at the Hague. 
He knew nothing of the Plot, but offered to prove that 
according to the teaching of a certain Jesuit the queen 
might lawfully kill the king for his unfaithfulness. Sidney 
brought the priest to London, where on October 31, 1679 
he was examined by the king in council. A few months 
later the council again received his information and that 
of another priest, David Morris, who had been educated 
at St. Omers and the English Jesuit College in Rome. 
The Jesuit of whom they spoke ,was Gavan. It seemed 
that he had expressed the opinion complained of to a lady 
living in Brussels. By order of the House of Commons 
the depositions were printed and obtained a wide circula- 
tion. The spectacle of two priests informing against a 
brother in orders was calculated to afford grave scandal 
to Catholics and equal satisfaction to Protestants. Con- 
siderable pains were taken by the Jesuits to upset the 
credit of the story, and the rector of the college at Liege 
wrote an account containing a denial of the fact by the 
lady in question ; but the compiler of the Annual Letters 
for the year 1680 was unfortunate in choosing to cast 
doubt upon her credibility, thus leaving the matter as 
much open to question as before. 3 The division in the 

1 Di Brusselles dal Sig r Internuncio, March 20/30, 1680. Vat. 
Arch. Nunt. di Fiandra 66. S.P. Dom. Charles II 4 1 3 : 252. Order in 
Council for a passport for Henry, Duke of Norfolk, May 26, 1680. 

2 7 State Trials 496. Foley v. 460. 

3 Sidney's diary in Sidney's Charles Hi. 82, 163, 165, 166, 174- 
176. Sidney, Letters 154. Domestic Intelligence, September 26, 1679. 
C.J. March 26, 1681. Foley v. 80, 81, 460-467. Burnet ii. 228. 

It has been supposed that John Sergeant who bore witness against 



The Catholics 203 

Catholic body of which this was a symptom was a source 
of undoubted weakness : all the efforts to crush those in 
favour of the oath were unavailing, and lively agitation 
was caused by the certain news that the Duke of York 
himself had pledged his allegiance by it, seduced thereto 
by the example of so many born Catholics who upheld 
its lawfulness. 1 However much it might be denied in 
public controversy, the refusal to allow the oath to 
Catholics was indissolubly bound up with the claim to 
the papal power of deposition. About the same time a 
priest whose name is given as Forstal maintained that the 
king might be deposed at the command or at least with 
the participation of the pope. James questioned the 
nuncio at Brussels on the subject, and received answer 
that the error lay not in the opinion held, but in the 
choice of so inopportune a moment to express it, since 
the worst consequences might be expected. No doubt 
the matter was in debate, but the meaning to be drawn 

Gavan was a different person from the eminent controversialist of the 
same name (see his life in Diet, of Nat. Biog. by Mr. Cooper). His 
identity is however placed beyond question by the advertisement 
in the Domestic Intelligence above cited, by despatches of Roman 
ecclesiastics which refer to " il Dottore Sargentio " without hinting at 
any change of person, and by the indignant exclamation of Warner 
(MS. hist. 132), "et, proh dolor! Johannes Sergeantius et David 
Mauritius" in speaking of the witnesses for the Plot. So too Luttrell 
(Brief Relation i. 21): " One Sergeant, a secular (who hath writ against 
Dr. Stillingfleet), is expected from Holland, and 'tis said he will 
discover several matters about the plot." The letter of the internuncio 
from Brussels of March 20 30, 1680 contains the following passage : 
Ho pregato S. A. di discorrere opportunamente col Sigr Duca d'Jorch, 
excitandolo ad opporsi ad ogni tentative che potesse tentarsi dal Frate 
Valesio, e delli Dottori Sergeant e Mauritio accioche non si proponga 
a Catt ci il giuramento di Fedelta, gia censurato dalla S. Sede, b non se 
ne inventi nuova formula che non sia precedentemente approvata da 
S. Bne quale ho assicurato esser per mostrarsi sempre propenso verso 
le convenienze di S. A. Reale. Vat. Arch. Nunt. di Fiandra 66. 

1 Di Brusselles del Sigr Internuncio, April 28/June 8, 1680. 
Circa il giuramento di fedelta condannato altre volte dalla S. Sede, 
e pur troppo vero che il Sig r Duca di Jorch lo presto anni sono, sedotto 
dall' esempio di molti allevati nella Religion Cattca e non informato 
che lo stesso fosse stato prescritto da Sommi Pontifici. Vat. Arch. 
Nunt. di Fiandra 66. 






204 The Popish Plot 

from the prelate's reply was obvious, for he did not 
think it worth while to argue the point further. The 
priest guilty of such rashness was induced to withdraw 
for a time to a monastery in Westphalia. Prudence was 
above all things necessary in the cause of the church. 1 

The Catholic body was thus divided within itself when 
the odium into which it had fallen was enhanced by the 
obscure intrigue known as the Meal Tub Plot. It was 
a time when Catholics could afford to take few risks in 
their conduct. Besides direct charges against them they 
lay under the imputation of more than one attempt to 
confound their accusers by means as base as those used 
against themselves ; two brothers of Prance, who was not 
distinguished by the world from other informers, were 
secular priests ; Jennison, a follower in the train of Gates, 
had a brother in the Society of Jesus, who lay dying in 
Newgate, and was thought to be a wealthy country gentle- 
man appearing for honesty's sake to enlighten his fellow- 
countrymen ; strong suspicion attached to witnesses who 
came to speak for the Jesuits at their trials. 2 It might 
therefore be expected that the more Catholics loved their 
religion, the more carefully would they refrain from 
adding to the frightful hostility already shewn against it. 
Nevertheless it was at this moment that some of their 
leaders, not without influence or repute, undertook to 
retaliate on their enemies by weapons of more than 
questionable worth. Whether they were the first movers 
in the affair or entered it on the invitation of others was 
the question. 

In March 1679 a voun g man f infamous character 
who went by the name sometimes of Willoughby, some- 
times of Dangerfield, lay in the debtor's side of Newgate. 
Having been in gaol for the best part of a year, he began 
to turn his thoughts to means of getting out, and pro- 

1 Di Brusselles dal Sig r Internuncio, August 16/26, August 22/Sep- 
tember 2, 1679. Vat. Arch. Nunt. di Fiandra 66. 

2 See below in Trials for Treason. 7 State Trials 617. Burnet 
ii. 196-198. 

Thomas Jennison, S.J., died in Newgate on September 27, 1679. 



The Catholics 205 



ceeded to draw articles of complaint against Captain 
Richardson, the keeper of Newgate, for his treatment of 
prisoners. This came to the ears of another gaol-bird, 
Mrs. White, who, fancying Dangerfield's ability, on her 
discharge imparted the fact to a friend on the look-out 
for an assistant of talent. Her friend was Mrs. Cellier, 
whose name and character have become notorious in a 
swarm of pamphlets and reports of trials of the time. 
She was the wife of a French merchant and pursued the 
profession of midwife, and assuredly of something else, 
within a circle of Roman Catholic notables. She was 
employed to collect alms for the relief of those of her 
religion in prison for the Plot. She had been concerned 
in the unsavoury case of Knox and Lane, who were put 
up to defame Gates' character. 1 When witnesses were 
sent over from St. Omers to give evidence at the trials, 
it was at her house that they were lodged and fed by 
Lord Castlemaine. The Duchess of York had used her 
services to no small extent. She was in fact a regular 
agent of the Catholic nobles in political intrigue, and in 
close connection with the Countess of Powis, whose 
husband, together with the Lords Petre, Arundel, Stafford, 
and Bellasis, was in the Tower on a charge of high treason, 
a woman of bold and active spirit and devoted to the 
Duke of York. The conduct of Mrs. Cellier was not 
such as to inspire confidence in the purity of her inten- 
tions. Armed with Mrs. White's information she repaired 
to one Gadbury, an astrologer, for Dangerfield's horoscope, 
pretending that she wished for a man to collect her 
husband's debts. To suppose that any sane person could 
use one of Dangerfield's stamp for the purpose would be 
absurd : it was certainly for other purposes that he was 
wanted. Their character soon became apparent. For 
there was in Newgate a prisoner named Stroud, a friend 
of Bedloe and thought capable of proving that the Earl 
of Shaftesbury was suborning witnesses against the lords 
in the Tower. Dangerfield was employed to make him 
drunk and learn what he could. So well did he perform 
1 See below in Trials for Treason. 






206 The Popish Plot 

his task that Mrs. Cellier paid his debts, whether to the 
amount of five pounds, as she, or of seven hundred, as he 
said, and obtained his release. He was a handsome fellow 
enough, and found favour in her eyes. It was now the 
month of June. Dangerfield was maintained by his friend, 
and earned his wages by doing the work of messenger 
for the witnesses sent from beyond seas for the defence of 
the Five Jesuits, who stood their trial at this time. 1 

Clad in a decent suit, with money in his pocket, and 
the friend of Mrs. Cellier's bosom, Dangerfield began to 
go about the town. He was taken to Powis House and 
introduced to the Countess. He took notes at the trials 
of Wakeman and Langhorn and carried them to Lord 
Powis in the Tower. Indeed his appearance was so 
pleasing and his recommendation so high that he was 
allowed to take up his abode at Powis House, and even 
to sit with Lady Powis at table. 2 And now the serious 
business began. One Nevil, alias Payne, a writer of 
libellous pamphlets, was retained by Mrs. Cellier with 
others of his trade for the service of Lady Powis. Danger- 
field's talents were added to the band, which carried on a 
lively production of ballads and pamphlets, such as " The 
Transforming of Traitors into Martyrs," " The Presby- 
terian Unmasked," "The Ballad of the Popish Plot," 
" The Danby Reflections," and an edition of the Five 
Jesuits' dying speeches, all launched against the Presby- 
terians. Dangerfield was an attorney's son and, having 
been bred a clerk, could write with some smartness. At 
the same time he was employed to go the round of coffee- 
houses frequented by old Presbyterians and new Whigs, 
to pick up what scraps of information against them he 
could. 3 The result was most satisfactory. Lists of names 

1 7 State Trials 1049. Dangerfield's Particular Narrative 1-7. 
Malice Defeated : or a Brief Relation of the Accusation and Deliverance of 
Elizabeth Cellier 12, 13, 28. Col. Mansell's Exact and True Narrative 
7, 60. 

2 Dangerfield's Narrative 8. Malice Defeated 13, 39. Mansell's 
Narrative 39, 47, 60, 69. 

8 Mansell's Narrative 43, 53, 54, 69. Malice Defeated 13, 14. 
Dangerfield's Case ^. North, Ex amen 268. 



The Catholics 207 



were obtained from the drawers. By means of Gadbury, 
Dangerfield was introduced to Sir Robert Peyton, the great 
Whig merchant whose apostasy was the first blow to 
the Whig cause. He thought of joining the King's Head 
Club himself, but was dissuaded on learning that he would 
be required to pay a subscription of one or two guineas. 
He began to find out the habits of Shaftesbury's partisans. 
Presently there appeared between Dangerfield and Mrs. 
Cellier those papers, the authorship of which each fastened 
upon the other, bearing witness to the existence of a 
Presbyterian plot. According to Mrs. Cellier' s account 
Dangerfield brought the notes to her ; they were written 
at the dictation of Lady Powis, was what he said. That 
point may be discussed later. It is at any rate certain 
that Lady Powis was acquainted with their contents and 
ready to act upon them. She took Dangerfield to her 
son-in-law, the Earl of Peterborough, Lord Peterborough 
to the Duke of York, the Duke of York to the king, and 
the papers, which contained an account of an extensive 
movement planned by Shaftesbury and Monmouth, were 
seen by all. The budget was headed " The State of the 
Three Kingdoms." The names of the leaders were noted 
down, commissions were stated to have already been 
granted, and a scheme for a revolutionary government was 
sketched. James gave the captain, as Dangerfield was 
styled by himself and Lord Peterborough, twenty guineas 
in reward for his zeal ; the king added forty more and 
turned him over to Secretary Coventry. As earnest of his 
good faith, Dangerfield produced two letters addressed to 
Shaftesbury by Sir Richard Bulstrode, the minister at 
Brussels. They were on indifferent subjects ; but how 
came they in Dangerfield's possession ? Coventry was 
dissatisfied with the affair, and told the captain that if he 
were to be believed, something more material must be 
forthcoming. Dangerfield pressed for a general warrant 
to search, but on the advice of Chief-Justice North was 
refused. Evidently other means must be tried. 1 

1 Dangerfield's Narrative 30-36. Malice Defeated 14. Mansell's 
Narrative 57, 58, 62. North, Examen 267. 



ao8 The Popish Plot 

On October 22 Dangerfield, having given notice of a 
parcel of Flanders lace smuggled into the country by one 
Colonel Mansell, obtained a warrant to search his lodgings, 
which were in the same house as his own. That is to say, 
Dangerfield had specially engaged rooms under Mansell's 
roof. The colonel was named in his list as quartermaster 
of the prospective Presbyterian army. Under Danger- 
field's guidance the customs' officers went through the 
rooms, but could find nothing. He begged them to look 
behind the bed and, when nothing came thence, himself 
darted behind, pulled out a packet of papers, and began 
to cry "Treason." The officers took their find to a 
justice of the peace, who, having regard to the suspicious 
circumstances, acted upon the maxim, He who hides can 
find, and issued a warrant for Dangerfield's apprehension. 
An investigation was immediately ordered by the council. 
On the next day, as Dangerfield was waiting to be ex- 
amined, an officer of the Mint happened to pass and, recog- 
nising in him an old offender, had him arrested for coining 
false money. When Henry Coventry appeared in the 
council-room he was met by the somewhat surprising 
intelligence that his informer was in custody as a forger 
and coiner, and was known for a noted criminal. A 
thorough examination made the truth of the charges 
certain, besides bringing to light the fact, unfortunate for 
the captain, that he had stood twice in the pillory, had 
only escaped a third dose of the same punishment by 
breaking prison, and was in fine a mischievous and 
notorious rascal. It was proved beyond doubt that he 
had himself disposed the papers, containing a plain account 
of the so-called Presbyterian Plot, in Mansell's room and, 
since there were no contraband goods there at all, had 
only brought the customs' officials to perform what the 
refusal to grant a search warrant had prevented him from 
doing otherwise. As the result on October 27 Danger- 
field was committed to Newgate. He had in the mean- 
time sent a note to Mrs. Cellier, and by her assistance was 
let out for a couple of days on bail. Thus the authorities 
were enabled to follow Dangerfield's committal by a search 



The Catholics 209 

at Mrs. Cellier's. Here on October 29 Sir William 
Waller found two bundles of papers, one behind the 
kitchen boiler, the other at the bottom of the meal tub, 
whence on this account the name of the plot was derived. 
One contained a copy of Dangerfield's letter to the king, 
offering to make yet greater disclosures ; the other and 
larger proved to be a considerable amplification of the 
story he had told on his first introduction at court. Fear- 
ing that the captain would betray her, Mrs. Cellier had a 
message conveyed to him with the encouraging words, 
which she boasted as her motto, " I never change," and 
was immediately after carried to the Gatehouse. The 
Lady Errant, as she became known by her enemies, de- 
clared afterwards that her fear was lest Dangerfield should 
falsely use their connection to his own advantage. What- 
ever its nature, her fear was justified ; for on October 31 
he desired to be taken before Sir Robert Clayton, then 
Lord Mayor, and made confession that the Presbyterian 
Plot was, in a word invented by himself, a Sham destined 
to cover the intentions of the papists and to ruin their 
adversaries. The papers found in the meal tub, besides 
the treasonable letters he had put behind Colonel Mansell's 
bed, were dictated to him by the Countess of Powis, and 
approved by Lord Peterborough and Mrs. Cellier. He 
had resisted the bribe of 2000 offered him by Lord 
Arundel to murder the king, but had undertaken to the 
Earl of Powis to assassinate Lord Shaftesbury for a quarter 
of that sum. Divers attempts had actually been made on 
the Whig leader ; twice he had been himself to the earl's 
residence, Thanet House in Aldersgate Street, and once 
Mrs. Cellier went in person, only to meet with failure. 
All this had been with the knowledge and at the direction 
of Roman Catholic priests. The next day Dangerfield 
was taken before the council and affirmed the truth of his 
statement. 1 

In the tangle of accusations and informations which 
followed and were laboriously examined at the council 

1 Dangerfield's Narrative 37-49. Dangerfield's Information 1680. 
Malice Defeated 14-18. Mansell's Narrative 18-40. 

P 



210 The Popish Plot 

board, either side tried to throw the blame of the intrigue 
on the other. Protestants were jubilant at the detection 
of another Catholic plot, and swore by the whole truth of 
Dangerfield's confession. Catholics declared that the affair 
was designed by Lord Shaftesbury to injure the Duke of 
York, and that their leaders had been deceived by the 
captain, who had led them step by step to catastrophe and 
hid the treasonable packet at Colonel Mansell's with the 
sole intention that his own sketch of the Presbyterian 
designs might be discovered in Mrs. Cellier's meal tub. 1 
The intricacy of these events will probably never be wholly 
developed. Every one concerned was ready to lie in his 
own interest. Every one of the principals did lie, it can 
hardly be doubted. Many committed perjury ; and some 
were probably suborned to perjure. The tale of complex 
untruth and base endeavour is one that threatens to become 
dreary. Nevertheless there are indications of the truth on 
which a general opinion may be based. This is certain, 
that Dangerfield, perilous rogue as he was known to be, 
was taken from prison by Mrs. Cellier, the confidante of 
Lady Powis, supported in her house and at her cost. He 
was employed in maintaining the cause of their religion, 
his employment was known to Lord Peterborough, a friend 
of the Duke of York, and he was introduced to the duke 
by him as an active agent against their common enemies. 
By their account they took from him the tale of a Presby- 
terian plot ; by his own he invented it at their direction. 
Were the Catholic statements accepted as true, they would 
convict the duke's party of most gross folly in trusting a 
man of character so depraved : more than that, for the 
man had been paid to play the spy and, it was admitted by 
his employers, had been given hints that it would be good 
to discover plots of the nature of that which he retailed to 
them ; and to accept such a story without investigation, 
when it was known that the teller had orders beforehand 

1 Ferguson, Growth of Popery ii. 265. Sidney, Letters 152, 153. 
Halstead, Succinct Genealogies 434-437. North, Examen 261, 262. 
And see Burnet ii. 244, 245. Hatton Correspondence v. 201, 
202. 



The Catholics 211 

to collect materials, argues at least some disingenuity. 
Nor is this all. There is reason to think that in some 
essentials Dangerfield's confession contained the truth. 
Supposing that, as Lord Peterborough and his friends 
declared, the captain had only hidden his parcel behind 
Mansell's bed in order to be detected, he would at least 
have taken the trouble to make discovery of evidence 
against Mrs. Cellier certain. The papers concocted be- 
tween them were in his possession, and he had only to hide 
them without her knowledge where they could be easily 
found by an officer. On the supposition that he meant to 
turn informer against the Catholics their discovery at Mrs. 
Cellier's was necessary to his success. Without it there 
would be no more than his bare word to shew that they 
had employed him at all. As evidence the find of papers 
was invaluable to him. Yet he did not even attempt to 
supply that evidence. So far from concealing the incrimi- 
nating notes himself, he gave them to Mrs. Cellier to dis- 
pose as she thought best. The natural thing for her to 
do was to burn them and, for all Dangerfield knew, she 
might have done so. For whatever reason she preferred 
the other course. She gave the papers to her servant to 
hide, and it was the servant who placed them in the regions 
of the kitchen where they were found by Sir William 
Waller. 1 Dangerfield could not possibly have known of 
their concealment or even of their preservation. The fact 
that Mrs. Cellier chose to conceal the evidence against her 
rather than deliver it to the council, which would have 
been her best course had she been wholly innocent, or 
burn it to destroy the traces of her guilt, if she were 
guilty, tells nothing ; for on Dangerfield's arrest she hoped 
that he would still be faithful to her, and was not in any 
case so clean of hand as to court an inquiry into the nature 
of the services she had from him. She may well have 
hoped that their connection would escape notice. But 
beyond this it is plain that, even if she was not aware of 
Dangerfield's intention to fix the odium of a fictitious plot 

1 Malice Defeated 15. Examination of Anne Blake, Mansell's 
Narrative 41. 



2,12 The Popish Plot 

on the Protestant party, her relations with him were of so 
intimate a kind that only wilful ignorance could have saved 
her from knowledge of it. She knew of the treasonable 
papers in Colonel Mansell's room and, when a search 
warrant could not be procured, it was she who advised 
Dangerfield to have recourse to the customs house. 1 At 
least one who was closely acquainted with the Catholic 
leaders and could not be suspected of prejudice declared 
the whole affair to be a design of persons zealous for the 
Duke of York. Lord Peterborough and Lady Powis, 
wrote the French ambassador, thought to render a great 
service by bringing forward a man who would give evidence 
against the Earl of Shaftesbury. They had merely tried 
to use tools similar to those by which their enemies were 
thought to have achieved success. 2 

Though it was admitted that Dangerfield had tried to 
fit the Protestants with a forged plot and highly probable 
that the Catholics had a hand in the forgery, there is yet 
something to be said on the other side. The Presbyterian 
plot was a fiction ; but there was a basis of Dangerfield's 
story that was not fictitious. An actual movement, the 
lines of which are partly known, was at the moment being 
concerted by the Whig leaders. The list of those concerned 
in the plot drawn up by Dangerfield contains the names 
of many undoubtedly implicated, and of many afterwards 
guilty of the treason of the Rye House Plot, which grew 
out of the designs at this time. 3 Another fact is of import- 
ance. To strengthen his story in the eyes of the secretary 
of state, Dangerfield produced two letters belonging to 
Lord Shaftesbury. 4 In his confession he declared he had 
stolen these on one of the occasions when he went to kill 
the earl. There is no need to linger over the tales of 
attempted assassination. Improbable as they were in 
themselves, they are set beyond the bounds of credibility 
by the informer's halting narrative and the ridiculous 

1 Malice Defeated 15. 

2 Barillon, November zy/December 7, 1679. 

8 See below in Shaftesbury and Charles. Dangerfield's Narrative 30. 
4 Dangerfield's Narrative 39. 



The Catholics 213 

excuses he alleged for failure. 1 Nevertheless his production 
of the letters makes it evident that he had been with the 
Whig leader. There can be no doubt that he had some 
knowledge of the Whig designs. Most likely he was 
intriguing with both parties at the same time in order to 
see which he could with greater profit betray, and ended 
by betraying both, though the Catholics, since they had 
trusted him the more, were more severely affected by the 
results of his treachery. In the course of the next year 
Mrs. Cellier and the Earl of Castlemaine were tried for 
high treason. Lady Powis too had been committed to the 
Tower, but the bill against her was ignored by the grand 
jury. Both cases rested largely upon the evidence of 
Dangerfield, against whom records of crime were produced 
by the defence. As his pardon did riot cover a felony of 
which he had been convicted, Mrs. Cellier was formally 
acquitted on the ground that he was no good witness and 
that only one other appeared against her ; and when the 
pardon was afterwards corrected, the jury before whom 
Castlemaine was tried refused to believe the word of a man 
who bore the accumulated weight of sixteen convictions, 
guilty of " six great enormous crimes," and pronounced a 
verdict of not guilty after an absence of only a few minutes 
from the box. 2 Few will be found to quarrel with the 
judgment of the Lord Chancellor, who told Dangerfield : 
"You are a fine fellow, first to come to his Majesty and 
there tell him one story, then to my Lord Powis, and from 
thence to my Lord Shaftesbury's, discovering to one what 
discourse you held with the other ; and thus to bring one 
story to the council, another to the Earl of Shaftesbury." 3 
The Duke of York's conduct in the Meal Tub Plot 
was characteristic of him. He had brought Dangerfield 
to the king and by his imprudence was the cause of much 
suspicion and distrust. No one felt certain how the affair 
would turn out. People thought that James would " never 

1 Traill shews the absurdity neatly, though he makes the mistake 
of joining Mrs. Cellier with Dangerfield. Shaftesbury 154. 
3 *7 State Trials 1043-1111. 
3 Mansell's Narrative 40. 



214 The Popish Plot 

leave off tampering." a He was a man with the smallest 
aptitude for diplomacy. He was able neither to let events 
take their course without interference nor by fingering 
ever to improve them. He was always for action of a 
decided and generally a tactless kind. While he persistently 
endeavoured to make others change their views, his own 
were held with an obstinacy that nothing could uproot. 
His continual desire for activity was one of the difficulties 
which most hampered Charles II's policy. Apart from his 
itch for management and a preference shared with other 
politicians of the time for underhand dealing his very 
presence at court was as a trumpet call to his enemies. 
His severance from the Church of England was a 
severance from the English people likewise. The 
Church of Rome was traditionally held the enemy of 
the nation. It was responsible for many of the doubts 
and difficulties of the restored monarchy. Its action 
was coupled in the general mind with the aggression of 
foreign foes. For the heir to the throne at such a time 
to go over to it was an act of great hardiness. Nor could 
he do so without himself being proclaimed an enemy of 
the people and disloyal to his duty. The horror expressed 
at the notion that James should depart from the faith 
which his father had signed with blood was increased by 
contemplation of the results attending the step. The 
Roman Catholic religion, it was said, introduced an 
imperium in imperio and, were it settled in England, 
would at once destroy the liberties and drain the wealth 
of the country. 2 It seemed as if the duke must have 
some deep and sinister motive in his mind to leave the 
religion that had been won by so much blood. Many 
princes had changed their faith for reason of state, but the 
instance of one who departed from the church of the people 
against the clearest command of expedience and, as it 
seemed to them, the no less clear showing of reason was 
unparalleled. And the subtle influence of Jesuits who 

1 Barillon, November zy/December 7, 1679. Sidney's Diary, 
October 7, October 14, in Sidney's Charles II i. 181, 185. 

2 Parl. Hist. iv. 1029, 1030. 



The Catholics 215 



had wrought this in him was feared as well in the present 
as for the future. So long as the duke remained at the 
king's right hand there was the added terror that he would 
shape the royal policy in the direction whither he would 
direct it himself from the throne. Nothing could be 
devised to cure the distrust aroused by his attitude, except 
that he should return to the Protestant religion or withdraw 
from the king's presence. The latter was tried with 
success, the former without. By the advice of Danby, 
when it was certain that the elections for the parliament 
of 1679 were unfavourable to the court, James was 
unwillingly sent out of England and ordered to take up 
his abode in Brussels. 1 Episcopal powers of persuasion 
had already been tried on him in vain. Before he set 
out another attempt was made, with the like result. It is 
to the credit of his courage that no prospect of advantage 
could bring him to surrender his faith. The bishops 
brought forward every available argument, but were unable 
to boast any satisfaction. Rome was hopeful that he 
would withstand all similar proposals. 2 As the prosecution 
of the Popish Plot drove the storm higher against the 
court and the Catholics, the pressure put on James to 
recant his faith increased. A year later when the duke 
was in London during the prorogation a strong attempt 
was made by his friends. They knew that his conversion 
would mean the greatest embarrassment to the host of 
enemies who built high upon his opposition to the national 
temper. Should he consent they would be compelled to 
change all their plans and perhaps fail to find another 
weapon strong enough to serve the same purpose. At 
least he would be able to remain at court. Charles spoke 
forcibly on the subject. A more powerful advocate was 
found in the duchess, who despite James' gross and 
notorious profligacy exercised some influence on him and 

1 Dartmouth MSS. 36. 

2 Sir W. Temple to the Earl of Essex, October 25, 1673. Essex 
Papers. Burnet ii. 31. James (Or. Mem.) i. 530, 536, 537. Clarendon 
Cor. li. 467-471. Brusselles Dal. Sigr Internuncio, March 8/18, 1679. 
Vat. Arch. Nunt. di Fiandra 66. 






2i 6 The Popish Plot 

wished at any price to escape a third exile. Months went 
by and the agitation continued. James seemed to be 
weakening. As the day fixed for the meeting of Parliament 
drew near, the gossip of Whitehall had it that he would 
come over. Expectation was disappointed. On the day 
before the session opened the duke and duchess set sail 
for Edinburgh, as Catholic as ever. 1 There was nothing 
to be gained from him by argument. Nor was he to be 
driven. Even Charles' threat that unless he went to 
church the Exclusion bill should be passed failed to move 
him. Conscience and honour forbade him equally to deny 
and to dissemble his religion. Besides, if he were to 
consent, Shaftesbury would only put about that he had a 
dispensation from the pope and was still a Catholic at heart. 
His mind was fixed. By God's grace he was determined 
" never to do so damnable a thing." 2 

James' mind was fixed on other points as well. He 
could not understand that time had any value in the 
struggle between men or delay any merit. The king's 
policy of waiting was wholly unintelligible to him. Ulti- 
mate success seemed to him to depend upon immediate 
triumph, and for immediate triumph he was ready to 
stake everything. Each concession, each dilatory advance, 
each deceptive retreat appeared as sure tokens that he and 
the monarchy were on the verge of ruin, about to be 
hurled together into the abyss. There was little enough 
of sympathy between the brothers, who made a public 
show of friendship and in private kept secrets to themselves. 
When he afterwards compiled the memoirs of his life, 
James was able to exhibit some calmness in discussing 
their relations ; for, as he said, the king was sensible that 
their interest was at bottom the same against common 
adversaries, since " his chief security lay in having a 
successor they liked worse than himself." " He resolved 
therefore," continued the writer, " to stick to the main 
chance, and suffer no diminution in the prerogative during 

1 Barillon, July 19/29, October 4/14, 14/24, 21/31, 1680. 

2 James to Col. Legge, December II, 1679, January 25, December 
14, 1680. Dartmouth MSS. 40, 47, 55. James i. 657. 



The Catholics 217 

his time ; however, he thought it necessary to yield as far 
as he could to convince the world of his sincerity, and to 
put his enemies so much in the wrong (without parting 
with any essential thing) as that, if they forced him to 
break, he might have friends enough to assist him." l At 
the time this series of penetrating afterthoughts did not 
cross the duke's mind. He had so little conception of 
Charles' aim and point of view as to be in constant terror 
that he would be abandoned to the wrath of the opposing 
forces. He conceived himself, like his son-in-law the 
Prince of Orange, to be dealing with a volatile being of 
pleasure, and crying, as the captain of a ship to his 
helmsman in a storm : Steady, steady, steady. 2 Only 
positive commands and elaborate assurances, to which 
even then he attached little weight, 3 could induce him to 
leave the court at moments of crisis when his presence 
was likely to have the worst possible effects. He could 
never think that his absence would not serve only to 
embolden his enemies. Present, he was continually inter- 
fering and making unwise suggestions. Absent, he did 
not cease pressing for his recall. 4 Nor did he cease from 
Belgium and Scotland to press on the king counsels of 
desperation. Anything tainted with moderation had to 
his nostrils the odour of surrender. He had not been 
two months at Brussels before he was urging Charles to 
steps which he knew must mean civil war. Ireland, 
Scotland, the fleet, the guards, the garrisons, were still in 
the king's hand. The Prince of Orange had given 
assurance that he would be on the side of royalty. Let 
Charles cease to countenance Monmouth and the party 
with him, let him think on the fate of Edward II, Richard 
II, and the king his father. " Now or never," wrote the 
duke, " is the time to save the monarchy." 5 This was 
of a piece with all his advice. All things, he thought, 

1 James i. 550, 551. 2 Temple i. 382. 

3 Barillon, October 21/31, 1680. 

4 James i. 554, 556, 574, 659, 660. Dartmouth MSS. 35, 36, 39, 
41, 4*5, 47, 58. Savile Foljambe MSS. 134, 135. 

5 James to Col. Legge, May 28, 1679. Dartmouth MSS. 33, 34. 






2i 8 The Popish Plot 

tended to a republic. Sir William Temple's council 
seemed to him to make the king little better than a Doge 
of Venice, and to leave him so little support that the 
Exclusion bill could hardly be resisted, a calamity by 
which the house of Stuart would be " absolutely ruined 
and given up." A short time after he expressed the 
opinion that if Charles would not submit to be less than 
a Doge of Venice a rebellion would be the necessary result. 
By June 1679 he was writing: "Things have been let 
go to that pass that the best I can expect is very great 
disorders, and unless something very vigorous is done 
within a very few days, the monarchy is gone." l Five 
months, six months, a year later the same counsel was 
being reiterated. 2 While Charles remained cool and un- 
dismayed in the midst of pressing danger, every fresh 
event abashed the mind of James. 8 He could not appraise 
facts at their true worth, since he was without insight ; 
devoid of imagination, he was unable to attribute to others 
powers he lacked himself. His very friends spoke against 
his unenlightened zeal, and the pope favoured him and 
his wife each with a brief on the subject. 4 It was the 
beginning of that stream of protest which afterwards 
marked with increasing volume the course of his downfall. 
Advice to others to act boldly is not uncommon. But 
James was ready on occasion to act on his own behalf. 
In May 1679 there appeared at Brussels one Colonel 
Fitzpatrick, a man of brave counsel and of great repute 
among his countrymen the Irish. He had come to 
arrange a rising in Ireland. The Catholics were groaning 
under an intolerable yoke and would follow him. By a 
small amount of assistance from foreign powers the coasts 
could be seized, arms and munitions landed, and success 
assured. Fitzpatrick was said to have for his project the 

1 James to the Prince of Orange, May 14, May 29, June I, 1679. 
Savile Foljambe MSS. 129-131. To Col. Legge, July 22, Dartmouth 
MSS. 36. And see James (Or. Mem.) i. 551. 

2 E.g. Dartmouth MSS. 38, 42, 46, 54. 

3 Barillon, July i/li, July 24/August 3, October 21/31, 1680. 

4 Campana de Cavelli i. 302, 304. 



The Catholics 219 

consent of the Irish Catholic clergy and to have carried 
letters of recommendation into France before coming to 
Flanders. But French policy was opposed to assisting 
James in the formation of a strong party and the money 
was not to be obtained. Rather than run the risk of 
increasing hostility in England by the Colonel's presence 
near him, James dismissed him. With much murmuring 
Fitzpatrick left Brussels. 1 Though this proposal had to 
be refused, James kept the idea constantly before his 
mind. The more certain that the king's refusal to accept 
his violent advice became, the more his thoughts turned 
to the possibility of violence without the king's participa- 
tion. With the approach of Parliament in the winter of 
1680 the notion became further developed. James 
believed that open force alone could re-establish the royal 
authority, on the security of which he felt his own safety 
to rest. If he could compel his brother to act, a final 
rupture might be precipitated. His enemies would be 
forestalled, and out of the civil war that would ensue the 
power of the throne might issue triumphant. It was his 
policy to push matters to the point of extremity. When 
he was ordered from London to avoid the session he took 
northwards with him the intention to see to his own 
interest. Should the attack on him be pushed further, he 
thought to unite parties in Scotland in the royal cause and 
by exciting trouble there and in Ireland to bring the struggle 
to a head. Then he believed that a larger party than 
many imagined would be on his side in England. 2 

On the success of the Duke of York depended all the 
hopes of Roman Catholics for the future of their religion 
in the English realm. He was their secular head and 
the turning-point of their plans. His movements were 
watched with the keenest interest by the authorities of the 
church. Patience, prudence, and persistence was the policy 

1 Vat. Arch. L'Abbe G. B. Lauri a S. Em.3 a > October 23/Decem- 
ber 2, 1678. Nunt. di Francia 332. Di Brusselles dal Sigr Inter- 
nuncio, May 24; June 3, 1679. Nunt. di Fiandra 66. Add. MSS. 
32095 : 196. See Appendix C. 

2 Barillon, August 9/19, September 20/30, October 21/31, 1680. 



22O The Popish Plot 

they advocated. Exhortations to obedience, expressions 
of attachment and submission passed continually between 
him and his spiritual patrons. The papal nuncio at 
Brussels informed him of the deep concern that the 
Catholic religion had in his cause, and received the gratify- 
ing assurance that he would make it his first care to 
propagate the true faith by every means at his disposal. 1 
How James fulfilled that promise is well known. How- 
ever much devotion he expressed to the wishes of the 
Holy Father, his heart was more at one with the Society 
of Jesus than with the court of Rome. He chose Jesuits 
for his confessors, begged emoluments for them, took their 
policy for his guide. While his course drew from the 
Jesuits inexhaustible and still unexhausted praise, it was 
met by a series of remonstrances waxing in indignation 
from the pontiff. In the year 1687 fifty candidates for 
orders in the society were being prepared for work in the 
English province. King James, it is said, informed Father 
John Keynes, the provincial, that double or treble that 
number would be necessary to accomplish what he destined 
for Jesuit hands. 2 The result declared his wisdom. The 
mystery of the Revolution was that William of Orange, a 
Protestant invading the realm of a Catholic monarch, had 
the support of the Catholic emperor at the instigation 
of the pope. From the fierce battle of the Popish Plot 
Charles II tore a prize to deliver to the man by whose ill- 
judged efforts he had most nearly been robbed of it. At 
his death he left a kingdom compact, loyal, prosperous, 
ready to carry on the traditions that had been built up 

1 Vat. Arch. Di Brussells dal Sigr Internuncio, June 7/17, 
September 6/1 6, October 18/28, November 15/25, 1679. Nunt. di 
Fiandra 66. 

Ibid. July 3O/September 9. La sera pero di detto giorno fattomi 
introdurre nel suo gabinetto (del Duca d'Yorch), m'incarico di dar 
parte del successo a S. Bne, e di confermargli nuovamente che in ogni 
luogo e stato havrebbe sempre vissuto figlio obedientissimo della S. 
Sede, e che nell' animo suo a qualsivoglia altra consideratione o 
interesse havrebbe prevaluto il riguardo di conservare la fede, e di 
propagarla per quanto sara in suo potere. 

2 Foley v. 152, 157. 



The Catholics 221 

with labour and in the teeth of disaster. When that day 
came James behaved in perfect accord with his character. 
Within four years he had thrown away the fruits of a 
struggle that had lasted for a quarter of a century, and 
paid the penalty of folly and invincible obstinacy by the 
dragging existence of a pretender, an exile, a dependent, 
and a criminal. 



CHAPTER III 

SHAFTESBURY AND CHARLES 

OF all men whose reputation was made or raised by the 
Popish Plot, none have since maintained their fame at so 
even a height as John Dryden. His person but not his 
name suffered from the changes of fortune, and at a 
distance of more than two centuries the sum of continuous 
investigation has little to add to the judgments passed on 
his times by the greatest of satirists. The flashes of 
Dryden's insight illumine more than the light shed by 
many records. In politics, no less than in society, his 
genius had ample room. The Plot gave him a subject 
worthy of a master : 

Some truth there was, but dashed and brewed with lies 

To please the fools and puzzle all the wise : 

Succeeding times did equal folly call 

Believing nothing or believing all. 

This plot, which failed for want of common sense, 

Had yet a deep and dangerous consequence ; 

For as, when raging fevers boil the blood, 

The standing lake soon floats into a flood, 

And every hostile humour which before 

Slept quiet in its channels bubbles o'er ; 

So several factions from this first ferment 

Work up to foam and threat the government. 1 

The lines are a witness against the two great parties whose 
intrigues were woven to menace the security of the English 
state. Gates' false oaths ruined the hopes of the Roman 
Catholics : the designs of the English Whigs were 
grounded on them. 

1 Absalom and Achitophel 114-117, 134-141. 
222 






Shaftesbury and Charles 223 

Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, was the 
first statesman to learn the art of organising support for 
policy from an entire nation. His course in life was 
determined by the belief that it is the business of a poli- 
tician to succeed, and to that mass of mankind which is 
of the same opinion he should be at once apostle and 
martyr. No means which made for the end he had in 
view came amiss to his hand ; by using good and bad 
alike, he won the power of drawing round him men who 
could make some show of virtuous conduct in company 
with scoundrels of the choicest villainy ; and he used them 
with infinite address. From the age of twenty years he 
had lived in the glare of public life, ever rising on the 
tide, true to his own principles and false to all whom in 
their interest he could serviceably betray. In the Civil 
War he fought for the king and served him well. As a 
member of Barebones' Parliament he was for Cromwell 
against the Saints. When the Protector threw the lot 
for absolute rule, it was in him that parliamentary govern- 
ment found its keenest supporter. To this course Shaftes- 
bury remained faithful. The throne on which " foolish 
Ishbosheth " sat became more rickety under his attacks. 
When that shadow of his father vanished from the scene, 
he strove with success against the despotism of the army. 
He was sent by the Convention Parliament as one of the 
two commissioners to invite Charles II to return to his 
kingdom. Under the restored monarchy Shaftesbury 
found a fair and a wider field for the exercise of talents 
which he devoted to the cause of religious and political 
freedom and commercial enterprise. At his request John 
Locke drew for the state of Carolina a constitution in 
which toleration was a prominent idea. In the office of 
Lord Chancellor he earned an abiding reputation for 
speed and purity of justice. He was an ardent foe of 
the Dutch republic, the threatening rival of English 
prosperity. He opposed the Stop of the Exchequer. 
As the last act in the service of government he counselled 
the Declaration of Indulgence, for when that was withdrawn 
there was nothing more to hope from the crown in the 



22,4 The Popish Plot 

fight for liberty. At last he knew the Catholic tendency 
of the king and, learning perhaps the dupe that he had 
been made by the Treaty of Dover, flung himself into the 
bitterest opposition. 

The foundation of the Whig party may be referred to 
the year 1675, when the French ambassador first con- 
tracted an alliance with a cabal consisting of four lords, 
Buckingham, Wharton, Ogle and, chief among them, 
Shaftesbury. 1 From that time onwards Shaftesbury 
enjoyed a growing ascendency over his partners. The 
fight over the bill of Non-Resistance brought them closely 
together ; their victory, though it was by an artifice, gave 
them strength. But while the new party gained followers 
in Parliament and support in the country, it was some 
time before further success was achieved. The Cavalier, 
otherwise known by the nicknames of the Pensioned and 
the Pump, Parliament depended too much on the court 
to allow the possibility of complete triumph to the oppo- 
sition. 2 Away from Westminster the terror of popery, 
with a Catholic successor to the crown in view, dominated 
the country, and on this basis the programme of the 
Whigs was constructed. Popery and slavery, to quote 
Shaftesbury's memorable phrase, went hand in hand. 
The Whigs aimed at securing the liberties of the nation 
and reducing the Catholic religion to impotence. The 
overthrow of Danby with his policy of Anglican suprem- 
acy, the dissolution of the House of Commons which 
lavish and ingenious corruption had bound to his side, 
the destruction of the Catholic strength in the House of 
Lords, the downfall of the Duke of York ; these were 
the main ideas in their system. Yet so long as the Lord 
Treasurer led the Commons by his purse-strings they 
were unable to mark progress in the open, however much 
they might gain behind the scenes. So the next two 

1 Ranke v. 186. 

2 John Verney to Sir R. Verney, May 19, 1677. "The people 
about town call this the Pump Parliament, alluding, as a little water 
put into a pump fetches up a great deal, so, etc." Verney MSS. 469, 
and see The Pump Parliament by Sir Charles Sedley. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 225 

years brought only failure. When Parliament met in 
February 1677 after a prorogation of fifteen months, the 
Whigs, resting their case on an obsolete statute of Edward 
III, elected to argue that after so long an interval it had 
no legal existence. The move resulted in immediate 
victory to the government, and Buckingham, Shaftesbury, 
Salisbury, and Wharton, the chief movers in the Lords, 
being ordered to ask pardon of the House for their 
offence, and refusing, were sent to the Tower. Thus, 
said Marvel), a prorogation without precedent was to be 
warranted by an imprisonment without example. Danby 
was strong enough to obtain an unconditional vote of 
600,000. When however he introduced a bill for the 
better securing of the Protestant religion in case of a 
Catholic heir to the throne, though its drastic provisions 
passed the Lords easily enough, the mere fact that it 
seemed to legalise such a state of things roused against 
it the fury of the Commons, who threw it out, with the 
added indignity of noting in their journal, Because the 
body of the bill was contrary to the title. 1 After a few 
weeks three of the imprisoned peers made submission and 
were set at liberty ; but Shaftesbury still lay in the Tower 
when in November the government reckoned another 
stroke to its credit in the marriage of William of Orange 
and Mary of York. It was not until February 1678 that 
he was released. To human reckoning it seemed as if the 
Whig cause was lost. Danby was firmer in power than 
ever, the royal marriage bade fair to conciliate the nation, 
the peace of Nymeguen was approaching its tardy con- 
clusion. Well-informed persons believed that the leaders 
of the opposition were about to confess their defeat and 
bid farewell to politics. 2 Eight months later an auspicious 
wind blew Titus Gates on to the scene, and the aspect of 
affairs was completely changed. 

There have not been wanting either among his con- 
temporaries or in later times some to assert that Gates 

1 Ranke v. 201, 220. Par/. Hist. iv. 861-863. C.J. April 4, 1677. 
RalpfTi. 310-314, 318. Andrew Marvell, Growth of Popery, Part I. 149. 

2 Burnet ii. 155. 

Q 



22,6 The Popish Plot 

was procured and his story directed by the Earl of 
Shaftesbury. Once and again the case has broken down. 
Neither is there the slightest evidence for the notion, nor 
has it the least intrinsic probability. So clear a head as 
Shaftesbury's could never have been guilty of that 
monstrous stupidity. Clumsy forgery, feeble promises, 
lame excuses, bald melodrama characterised the informer's 
entry into public life. The tale he told was full of gross 
improbabilities. And with what truth it contained Shaftes- 
bury could not have been acquainted. But what makes 
certainty still more certain is that on his first appearance 
Oates was so little sure of support from any quarter that 
he not only exonerated the Duke of York from complicity 
in the plot, but was so disobliging to the Whigs as to 
name him for a possible victim. The king at first thought 
he saw traces of Shaftesbury's hand, but was soon convinced 
that he erred. Before they had time to gauge the situation 
the Whigs laughed at the Plot as an artifice for keeping 
the army on foot. 1 Yet though he had no claim to be 
Oates' tutor, Shaftesbury welcomed him with alacrity. 
Fortune as if from heaven had fallen at his feet, and he 
prepared to make the most of it, and at the same time 
to vindicate the penetration of Colbert Croissy, who 
had called him " le plus fourbe, le plus injuste, le plus 
malhonnete d'Angleterre." 

The wished occasion of the plot he takes, 

Some circumstance he finds, but more he makes ; 

and, since the making of circumstance lies as well in the 
reception as in the invention of facts, justice must be 
admitted to the second line equally with the first. Circum- 
stance was exactly what Shaftesbury could provide. He 
created the atmosphere for Oates to work in. 

The miscreant who a few weeks before had been 
begging from the Jesuit fathers rose to an undreamed 
height of luxury and influence. Repeated addresses from 
the Commons obtained for him lodgings which he shared 

1 Burnet ii. 179. Barillon, September jo/October 10, 1678. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 227 

with Dr. Tonge in Whitehall. 1 The modest sum of 
12 a week allotted him "for dyett and expenses" was 
eked out by occasional gifts of 50 "as of free gift 
and royal bounty " and the payment of long bills incurred 
for his witnesses at trials. Within twelve months the 
total amount made out to him reached the figure of 
^945 : 8 : 10. Yet Gates was but one of a host whom the 
popular fury enabled to batten on the royal resources ; and 
during the same period the accounts of the secret service 
money, disbursed almost exclusively to informers, showed 
an expenditure of nearly ^ooo. 2 The Salamanca doctor 
made the most of his luck. Robed like a bishop and 
puffed with insolence he became the darling of the Whig 
party. He set up as " a solemn housekeeper " and kept 
a fine table. Each morning there waited at his lodgings 
to dress him two or three gentlemen who vied for the 
honour of holding his basin. He was received by the 
primate at Lambeth. The Bishop of Ely welcomed him as 
a frequent guest at dinner and was unable to set bounds 
to the brutality of his conversation, till Sir John Reresby 
administered a merited rebuke. He received the public 
thanks of the House of Lords. The House of Commons 
made the Duke of Monmouth responsible for his safety, the 
Lord Chamberlain for his lodging, the Lord High Treasurer 
for his nourishment. His sermons were public events, his 
person followed by admiring crowds. Popular odes were 
composed in his honour, popular dinners were given him 
in the city, designs represented him knocking the tiara 
from the head of " that infallible fop, the pope," or more 
exalted still, as an angel looking down from heaven. 
Among English merchants abroad his health was drunk 
next to that of the king. Everywhere he was courted, 

1 Sir Edward Carteret provided his rooms at the rent of 60 a 
year. 

2 Secret Services of Charles II and James 7/3-15. I do not know 
if the very comic accounts said to have been presented by Gates and 
Bedloe are authentic (L'Estrange, Brief Hist, iii. 121-124. Lingard 
xii. 363). They are not inconsistent with the men's character, but 
L'Estrange was quite capable of having invented them. In any case 
they were not paid. 






228 The Popish Plot 

feted, acknowledged. " Whig peers," writes Sir George 
Sitwell, " supported him by their subscriptions. Whig 
peers welcomed him to their houses in London and in 
the country, Whig peers rolled him down in their coaches 
to aid by his unblushing presence the election of Whig 
candidates, Whig peers defended him in council and 
flocked to support him at his trials, while their political 
followers were engaged in threatening and hustling the 
witnesses." l Gates had become for the moment the 
representative of the aspirations of the Whig party. 

In this the influence of Shaftesbury is clearly visible. 
Though he did not procure Gates' appearance, it cannot 
be supposed that the informer's subsequent steps were 
without his knowledge and approval. At his first 
examination by the council Gates had declared that he 
knew no more than he had said against any person of 
what quality soever. Within two months he thought 
better of his memory in a way that points to refreshment 
from another source. The wife of one of the gentlemen 
of the bedchamber was entrusted with a message that, 
if the king would give way to it, Gates had somewhat 
to swear against no less a person than the queen. The 
royal leave was granted. On November 25 therefore 
Gates declared to the king in full council that if all 
other attempts upon his Majesty's life had failed the 
queen was to have been employed to murder her 
husband. Three days later he appeared at the bar of 
the House of Commons and raised his strident voice 
with the words, " I do accuse the queen for conspiring 
the death of the king and contriving how to compass it." 
It was a ludicrous invention of having heard the queen 

1 State Trials vii. 796, ix. 489, 490, x. 134, 136, 137, 1275, 
1299. Reresby, Memoirs 196. Evelyn, Diary October i, November 
15, 1678. Smith, Intrigues of the Popish Plot. Luttrell, Brief Relation 
i. 112. North, Examen 223. Lives of the Norths ii. 180. Hatton Corre- 
spondence i. 198. Sitwell, First Whig 43, 44. I am indebted to Sir 
George Sitwell for some of these references, and have ventured to quote 
a portion of his admirable description, some strokes of which however 
are drawn from sources not beyond doubt. The epithet applied to 
the Pope is from " Rawleigh Redivivus." 



Shaftesbury and Charles 229 

in conversation with certain Jesuits approve the plan for 
Charles' assassination and promise to assist it. Bedloe 
had a similar story, which the Lords also heard as well 
as that of Gates. When they asked what the two had 
meant by keeping back their information, Gates replied 
that by " no other person of quality " he had meant none 
other of the peers. Bedloe said he had forgotten. The 
House of Commons, stirred by their deep affection and 
care for the royal person, voted an immediate address 
for the removal of the consort and her household from 
Whitehall, and sent to beg the Lords' concurrence ; but 
the Lords, dissatisfied with the depositions laid before 
them, refused, under protest of Shaftesbury and two of 
his followers, to join in the vote. Their consideration 
had been won by the queen's behaviour on the subject 
of Godfrey's murder, and they refused to allow her to 
be molested. In public she bore herself bravely, but 
her intimates knew how greatly she had been distressed 
by the attack. By an order from the king Gates was 
placed in strict confinement, his papers were seized, his 
servants dismissed, and free access to his rooms restrained. 
A strong remonstrance was prepared by the Commons, 
and Charles closed the incident by restoring the villain 
to his former liberty. 1 

The attack on the queen affords a clue to the ideas 
of both adversaries in the great battle that was being 
waged in the English state between authority and revolu- 
tion. Mrs. Elliot, wife of Elliot of the bedchamber, 
had been the agent who took Gates' message to the 
king. She had also spoken to Tonge, and in a significant 
statement to the House of Lords confessed she had been 
sent to him by Lady Gerard of Bromley. The mention 

1 Grey, Debates vi. 296. Barillon, November 25/December 5, 
1678. L.J. xiii. 389-392. C.J. November 28, 29, December 6, 7. 
Danby's notes of Gates' examination, November 25. Add. MSS. 
23043: 5. James to the Prince of Orange, November 26, 1678. Fol- 
jambe MSS. 125. See too House of Lords MSS. 66. Lord Ossory 
to th.e Duchess of Ormonde. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi. App. 723. 
James (Or. Mem.) i. 529. Burnet ii. 173, 174. Even Oldmixon did 
not believe the accusation. History of the House of Stuart 618. 



230 The Popish Plot 

of this lady's name throws a ray of light on the doubtful 
intrigue, for she was in close connection with the Whig 
leaders ; and were it in any case permissible to suppose 
that Gates had acted without assurance of support in 
bringing forward a charge of so delicate a nature, her 
appearance in the background would make it certain 
that this was not so. It may be taken that the move 
was directed from the headquarters of the Whig party. 
What then was the object ? Catherine had never played 
any part whatever in politics. In obtaining favour for 
those of her religion she had held strictly to the terms 
of her marriage treaty. After the first shock at her 
husband's faithless impudence she had passed her time 
in gaiety, dancing, and frivolity. Only one end could 
be served by attempting to prove her a party to the Plot. 
It was to obtain her divorce and to marry the king to 
a wife who should bear him Protestant children. The 
knowledge of Catherine's childlessness had given rise 
before to talk of a similar project. 1 If it could actually 
be brought to completion and Charles beget a Protestant 
heir to the throne, there seemed a fair chance that the 
clouds which hung over the future of England would 
be dispelled. Desire for power alone did not then 
actuate Shaftesbury, but a purer hope for his country's 
prosperity. For had the scheme of divorce borne fruit 
and the Duke of York, with all the unrest and insecurity 
that his presence denoted, been removed from the 
succession by the appearance of a child who could 
hardly have been educated except as a Protestant, 
Shaftesbury could not have hoped himself to exercise 
a decisive influence on the king's policy. The storm 
gave Shaftesbury his power ; when calm returned it 
would dissolve. This is his claim to real statesmanship. 
He was willing, it must be believed, to sacrifice power to 
principle, and to plan, though with odious implements, 

1 Burnet i. 470-474. In 1671 Burnet propounded the questions : 
"Is a woman's barrenness a just ground for divorce or polygamy; 
and is polygamy in any case lawful under the Gospel ? " The answer 
to both was in the affirmative. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 231 

advantage to the nation, while he contemplated for 
himself a relapse into insignificance. What followed 
under Charles II's successor justified his position. Swift 
changes transformed his schemes and drove him to 
counsels of extremity, but the Revolution suspends 
judgment against him. The principle he embodied was 
that which William the deliverer came to England to 
save from utter ruin, the reasoned liberty of thought 
and action. For that he worked and made others work 
without sparing, bribed while his own hands were clean 
of gold, joined while his private life was pure with 
profligates of unrestrained license ; for that he planned 
murder and brewed rebellion ; for that he " fretted the 
pigmy body to decay " ; l for that he died. This 
particular proposal was not without recommendation. 
It was the simplest way out of the difficulty. It could 
cause no political commotion in the country. No 
principle would be overset by it nor any tradition 
overruled. It might be supposed to be not unpalatable 
to Charles. The English Reformation had followed one 
divorce ; another might have rendered the English 
Revolution unnecessary. There was not however the 
smallest chance of success, for the king was unalterably 
opposed to anything of the sort. Badly as he had 
behaved to Catherine, he was not without gratitude 
and affection for her and was constant in his resolution 
not to add to his other faults the graver one of desertion. 2 
Further, Charles was determined to Jet the royal power 
suffer injury in no respect. When the subject of the 
accusation prepared against the queen was first broached, 
he said privately that he was willing to give Gates line 
enough. It was the secret of the king's whole policy 

1 Sarotti describes him as " un cadavere spirante." December 

12/22, 1679. 

2 Burnet i. 474, ii. 180. North, Examen 186. Airy, Charles II 
137, 138, 230. The relations between the king and queen became 
much better about this time in consequence, one may imagine, of 
these intrigues. Countess of Sunderland to Henry Sidney, August 
1 5, 1*679 : " The Q ueen wno i s now a mistress, the passion her 
spouse has for her is so great. . . ." Sidney's Charles II i. 86. 



232 The Popish Plot 

during the agitation of the Plot. He was playing the 
Whig party as a skilful angler plays his fish. Each 
length of line run out seemed to be the last of his reserve. 
Throughout his reign Charles had been striving to restore 
the power of the monarchy in England. Now it looked 
as if all his efforts had been in vain. His opponents 
appeared about to gain the final victory. The king's 
only chance was to let them exhaust themselves by the 
violence of their onslaught. 

Having failed in one direction, Shaftesbury's attention 
was promptly turned to others. A difficulty confronting 
him in his hope of excluding the Duke of York from the 
succession was the choice of a substitute. The scheme of 
Charles' divorce and second marriage would have over- 
come this, but when that was dashed it became necessary 
to pursue the question further. At the time when 
Clarendon was chief minister, his opponents and among 
them the Duke of Buckingham proposed, in order to 
remove his son-in-law James, whose influence was thought 
to support him, that the Duke of Monmouth, the eldest 
of Charles' sons living in England, should be declared 
legitimate and heir to the crown. 1 The idea had created 
agitation at other times as well ; and now Shaftesbury 
infused fresh life into it by adopting the bastard's cause 
and supporting him with a powerful following. It was 
this which rent the Whig party and destroyed its chance 
of success. Up to a certain point Shaftesbury could carry 
the other leaders. Halifax was at one with him on the 
treatment of the Plot, for he said that it must be handled 
as if it were true, whether it were so or no, and told Sir 
William Temple that, unless he would concur in points 
so necessary for the people's satisfaction, he would brand 
him everywhere as a papist. He demanded that Catholic 
priests should without receiving public warning be sub- 
mitted to the rigours of a law unenforced since the reign 
of Elizabeth. He was willing to join with Shaftesbury 
in planning such steps as the French ambassador thought 
would tend to the entire annihilation of the royal authority 

1 Pepys, Diary December 24, 31, 1662. Burnet i. 469, 470. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 233 

and reduce England to a republic under kingly forms. 
But when it became apparent that Shaftesbury had adopted 
the cause of the graceful, popular, feather-headed Duke 
of Monmouth, Halifax drew away to the king's side and 
took with him " the party volant," which boasted with 
the proud title of Trimmers to hold the balance in the 
constitution. With them for the moment were also the 
more respectable of the old Presbyterian party under the 
lead of Lord Holies. 1 If the nation was divided by the 
Exclusion bill, those in favour of the project were divided 
among themselves by the problem in whose favour ex- 
clusion should be. Of the two claimants to consideration 
the Prince of Orange in virtue of his wife and his mother 
had obviously the better title. On the other hand it was 
thought that his father-in-law the Duke of York might 
have a dangerous influence over him ; and there were 
fears that the republican party in Holland would in alarm 
cast itself into the hands of Louis XIV and thus ruin 
still more irretrievably the interests it was desired to 
preserve. The reasons against the Duke of Monmouth 
were evident. To alter the succession for the son of a 
prostitute, for the duke's mother was a woman of low 
character, could not but cause offence to many. Still 
more would resent the violation of the rights of an heir 
who had done nothing to forfeit them but adhere to the 
dictates of his conscience. Henry VIII had more than 
once altered the succession by act of Parliament, but 
though he declared his children bastards, they had yet 
been got in lawful wedlock. When it came to the point 
of a struggle, the Duke of York would have a good 
rallying cry. Monmouth was nevertheless secure of a 
strong party ; all who were opposed to James for religion's 
sake, who were many, and all Scotland, which grew daily 
more exasperated under the unpopular government of 
Lauderdale. It may be believed that the weakness no 

1 Barillon, April z8/May 8, May 5/15, 1679. Temple 1.421,423, 
426,429. MS. diary of Lord Keeper Guildford, Dalrymple ii. 322. 
Burnet ii. 233. Foxcroft, Life of Halifax i. 173-178. Hatton Corre- 
spondence v. 192. 



234 The Popish Plot 

less than the strength of Monmouth's position appealed 
to Shaftesbury. The Whig power lay not in support of 
the right, but in the constituencies, above all in London, 
where the sentiments by which Monmouth found favour 
had their strongest hold. Monmouth was moreover a 
man open to influence. Were the Duke of York success- 
fully excluded, Shaftesbury was more likely to find room 
for the exercise of his talents under the rule of James' 
nephew than under that of his son-in-law, William of 
Orange. Of the two Monmouth gave far better promise 
to the earl that he would retain his power in the country 
and regain it in the government. Shaftesbury took his 
measures accordingly. Yet the Whig prospect looked by 
no means assured. Dissension in the party was widespread. 
" I must confess," wrote Algernon Sidney, summing up 
the arguments on the one side and on the other, " I do 
not know three men of a mind, and that a spirit of 
giddiness reigns amongst us, far beyond any I have ever 
observed in my life." l 

The prorogation of Parliament in May 1679 filled the 
nation with ill humours. Members rode down to their 
country seats in high discontent. Alarm was general and, 
wrote Sidney significantly, " they begin to look more 
than formerly unto the means of preserving themselves." 2 
Scarcely were they clear of Westminster before news came 
that the Scottish Covenanters were up in arms and in 
possession of Glasgow. The outbreak was not unwelcome. 
Nor was it unexpected. As early as the beginning of 
the month Sidney had information that a rising might 
be expected at any moment. A few weeks before an 
inflammatory speech was delivered by Shaftesbury in the 
House of Lords ; he charged the government with 
fomenting discord in Scotland by its evil rule, and declared 
that in England popery was to have brought in slavery, 
but in Scotland, while slavery went before, popery was to 
follow. By the next post, it was said, forty copies of his 
speech were carried up north to hearten the malcontents 

1 Sidney, Letters 52, 53. 
2 Ibid. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 235 

by the knowledge that they were favoured by a party in 
England. The subject was freely discussed by the Whigs 
in London. Even if they were not in direct communica- 
tion with the rebels, there can be no doubt that they had 
let it be known on which side their sympathies lay. 1 The 
events of the ill-fated rebellion of Bothwell Brigg do not 
belong to this story. It did not fail for want of effort 
on the part of those who had encouraged its authors. 
Lauderdale had been attacked by an address of the 
Commons, and a deputation under the Duke of Hamilton 
now arrived to plead against him before the king. 
Charles remarked that " they had objected many damned 
things he had done against them, but there was nothing 
objected that was done against his service." When the 
revolt came up for discussion at the council, Lord 
Russell rose and expressed his wonder that war had not 
begun long ago rather than that it should have come at 
last, " since his Majesty thought fit to retain incendiaries 
near his person and in his very council." Lauderdale 
begged leave to retire, but the king turned to Russell 
with the words, " No, no. Sit down, my Lord. This 
is no place for addresses." Charles, who boasted with 
some justice that he understood Scotch affairs better than 
any of his advisers, was for the immediate suppression of 
the rising by force. He was opposed by those who felt 
their interest advanced by its continuance. The Duke of 
Hamilton and his friends gave assurance that peace might 
be restored without bloodshed if only such men were 
employed as were acceptable to the nation. Shaftesbury 
did not conceal his desire that the rebels might at least 
be successful in obtaining a change of government. The 
Presbyterians and other sectaries were united in their 
hopes for their brethren in Scotland, and pamphlets were 
strewn about the town inciting the people to prevent 

1 Ralph i. 434. North, Examen 86. Sidney, Letters 52, 90. 

2 Burnet ii. 235. Par/. Hist. iv. 1130. North, Examen 79. 
This story may be accepted, since North probably had it from his 
brother the Chief Justice. And see Sidney's Charles II i. 5, where 
Henry Sidney states that Charles supported Lauderdale at the council. 






236 The Popish Plot 

the court from making preparations of war. By the 
suggestion of the Duke of Monmouth as commander-in- 
chief of the forces, the king gained his point. Shaftesbury 
had argued that English troops could not legally be sent 
to serve in Scotland. Glad to avail himself of the prestige 
his puppet would win from the campaign, he now con- 
sented to the arrangement, hoping that the duke would 
carry powers not only to beat but to treat with the rebels ; 
more might perhaps be gained by negotiation than by 
arms. In this he was nearly successful. While the com- 
mission giving to Monmouth full powers was signed, 
Lauderdale sat silent. As the council rose he followed 
the king into his bedchamber and begged him, unless he 
wished to follow his father, to rescind that part of the 
commission which might be used to encourage rebellion in 
Scotland and raise another in England. " Why did you 
not argue this in council ? " asked Charles. His gross 
but able administrator answered with emphasis, " Sire, 
were not your enemies in the room ? " To the great 
disappointment of Monmouth and the Whigs as well as 
the Covenanters, peremptory orders were sent after him 
that he should not treat but fall on them at once. 
Shaftesbury's party discovered that they had been tricked. 
Lord Cavendish and Lord Gerard refused to serve under 
their commissions ; Mr. Thynne declined to receive one ; 
Lord Grey of Werke resigned his command of the horse. 
Even after Monmouth had started an attempt was made 
to obtain his recall and, had time allowed, a monster 
petition in favour of the rebels, to be signed by many 
peers and gentlemen and all the principal householders 
of London, was prepared for presentation to the king. 
Charles made use of the event, by an order which had 
the additional advantage of creating a difference between 
the Earls of Essex and Shaftesbury, to raise a troop of 
two hundred guards to be about his person. 1 

1 Barillon, June 12/22, 1679. Sidney, Letters 95-97, 104-107, 
112-113. Temple i. 420, 427, 428. North, Examen 81, 82. 
Burnet ii. 234, 235, 239. S.P. Dom. Charles II 412 : 26. Sunder- 
land to Essex, July 1679, 262. Essex to the King, July 21, 1679. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 237 

The copies of Shaftesbury's speech intended for such 
fatal use in Scotland were said to have been made in the 
Green Ribbon Club. 1 That famous society, founded in 
the year 1675, nac ^ quickly acquired ascendency over the 
Whig party. To-day it has been almost forgotten ; its 
influence was unknown to the classic historians of England, 
who were in politics mostly Whig ; but during seven 
tumultuous years of English history it played a part that 
can only be compared to the work of the more notorious 
Jacobin organisation of a century later across the Channel. 
The club met at the King's Head Tavern at the corner of 
Chancery Lane and Fleet Street. Its character may be 
known at once from the fact that its members organised 
and paid for the imposing ceremonies of pope burning, by 
which the most fiendish lies of Gates were yearly sustained 
and the worst passions of the London mob, a word, it may 
be noted, itself derived from the club, systematically 
inflamed. Gates himself was a member, and Aaron Smith, 
his legal adviser ; and under the leadership of Shaftesbury 
the club was filled with men of the same kidney, who 
crowded on to the balcony with pipes in their mouths and 
wigs laid aside to witness the papal holocaust with which 
each great procession ended opposite their windows. 
Here was the fountain of the inner counsels of the Whig 
party and the seat of its executive. Within the walls of 
the club the decision had been taken to agitate for the 
dissolution of Parliament after the long prorogation of 
1677 ; here a few years later the Rye House conspiracy was 
schemed ; here the actual assassination plot was hatched. 
Over the country the Green Ribbon Club enjoyed a 
profound influence. It was the centre of the party 
pamphleteers who devoted keen ability to incite the nation 
and defame the government, and their productions were 
scattered far and wide by means of a highly effective 
service of correspondents. While policy was debated and 
action resolved by the chiefs of the club, their agents at 
the coffee-houses in London and throughout the country 
obeyed orders from headquarters. At the elections their 
1 Sitwell, First Whig 70. 






2,38 The Popish Plot 

activity was unparalleled. Tracts poured into the con- 
stituencies. Industrious agents attacked the character of 
the court candidates and firmly organised the national 
opposition. It was the Green Ribbon Club which in- 
troduced the " Protestant flail " to London and clothed 
the town in silk armour as a defence against the expected 
daggers of papists. The club almost usurped the functions 
of Parliament. Many members of that body belonged to 
it, attended its consultations, took their cue from its 
decisions. Agents thronged the lobby of the House of 
Commons, posting members with arguments for debate, 
whipping in sluggards to a division, carrying the latest news 
back to the club. Men of all classes and various character 
belonged to the society, broken scoundrels and wealthy 
statesmen, pious enthusiasts and tired profligates, the 
remains of the Cromwellian party, the forerunners of the 
Revolution, poets, aldermen, 'country gentlemen, assassins, 
bound together in a common league of animosity against 
Charles II and his government, not a few traitors to that 
bond itself. Scarcely a name of note on the Whig side is 
absent from the list, which contained Shaftesbury and Mon- 
mouth, Buckingham, Ireton, Slingsby Bethel, Sir William 
Waller, the Spekes, the Trenchards, Howard of Escrick, 
Sir Robert Peyton, Russell, Holies, and Algernon Sidney. 
With the lapse of time the counsels of the club became 
more violent ; and the most infamous of political tracts, 
" An Appeal from the Country to the City," which spread 
deliberate and abominable lies to incite the nation to rebel- 
lion, and urged the Duke of Monmouth to strike with force 
for the crown, not because he had a right to it, but because 
he had none, was written by Robert Ferguson, nicknamed 
the Plotter, himself a member, Shaftesbury's dme damnee^ 

1 MS. diary of Lord Keeper Guildford, Dalrymple ii. 322, 323." 
North, Examen 571-575. Par/. Hist. iv. App. ix. Ralph i. 476, 
477, 483. Sitwell, First Whig 83-89. And see the trial of Benjamin 
Harris, the publisher of the Appeal, 7 State Trials 925. Wilson, Life 
of Defoe, chap. i. Defoe, Review ix. 152. "As to handing treasonable 
papers about in coffee-houses, everybody knows it was the original of 
the very thing called a coffee-house and that it is the very profession of 
a coffee-man to do so, and it seems hard to punish any of them for it." 



Shaftesbury and Charles 239 

More than a third of the whole number of members 
of the club were concerned in the Rye House Plot. 
Sixteen or eighteen took an active part in Monmouth's 
invasion. After the Revolution they obtained their 
reward. Shadwell, the poet of the club, was made laureate 
in place of Dry den. Aaron Smith became Chancellor of 
the Exchequer to King William. Lord Grey of Werke, 
basest of traitors, was given office and an earldom. Sir 
John Trenchard was made secretary of state. Dukedoms 
were conferred upon the Earls of Bedford and Devonshire 
and a marquisate upon Lord Mulgrave. Ireton be- 
came lieutenant-colonel of dragoons and gentleman of the 
horse to the king. Gates was pilloried and pensioned. 
Speake, Ayloffe, Rouse, Nelthrop, and Bettiscomb were 
hanged. 1 

In August 1679 the chance of the Green Ribbon Club 
seemed to have arrived. After a hard game of tennis the 
king took a chill in walking by the river-side at Windsor. 
Fever ensued, and a horrible fear that Charles lay on his 
death-bed struck at men's hearts. The cry rose everywhere 
that he had been poisoned. The Duchess of Portsmouth 
was accused of having done the black deed. Amazement 
and horror were universal. People looked upon any ill 
that should happen to the king, said Sir William Temple, 
as though it were the end of the world. The privy 
council was obliged to take action to prevent an over- 
whelming rush of inquirers into the royal bedchamber. 
Algernon Sidney returning to town found the general 
apprehension such that, had the king died, there was no 
extremity of disorder that might not be expected. " Good 
God ! " wrote Henry Savile from Paris, " what a change 
such an accident would make ! the very thought of it 
/rights me out of my wits. God bless you and deliver us 
all from that damnable curse." 2 There were indeed good 

1 Sitwell, First Whig, 87, 88. 

2 Barillon, September 4/14, 1679. Temple i. 433. Countess of 
Sunderland to Henry Sidney, September 2. Henry Savile to Henry 
Sidney,* September n, 1679. Sidney's Charles II i. 122, 140. 
Sidney, Letters 143. Ralph i. 477. 



240 The Popish Plot 

grounds for the fears so poignantly expressed. The Duke 
of York, who had been sent from the country in February, 
was still beyond seas. Monmouth had returned from 
Scotland, puffed with success in having pacified the Cove- 
nanters. Shaftesbury divided the court and seemed to 
have the nation at his back. If the king died, he was 
prepared to make a bold push for fortune. The second 
declaration of Monmouth, published in the following 
reign, made mention of a consult held at this time " for 
extraordinary remedies." No copy of the declaration can 
now be traced, but it was seen and the fact noted by David 
Hume. That consult decided upon notable measures. 
Early in the course of the next year Sir Robert Peyton 
was accused by Mrs. Cellier and Gadbury the astrologer 
of treasonable practices, and was examined before the privy 
council. Though he denied his guilt, he let it be under- 
stood that the charge was not baseless and confessed to 
the House of Commons that he had been intriguing with 
the Duke of York. His old associates turned against 
him, and Peyton was expelled the House ; but his object 
was accomplished and he went over to the court side, 
to find a reward for his perfidy in the favour of 
James. No definite accusation was made against the 
heads of the popular party, but the extent of the 
Whig plans became vaguely known. On the news of 
the king's illness preparations had been quickly made 
for insurrection. Money was collected and old Crom- 
wellian officers engaged. A large force would have 
been in the field at a few days' notice. Had Charles 
died at Windsor the leaders of the movement were 
ready to seize the Tower, Dover Castle, and Ports- 
mouth, and to arrest the Lord Mayor and those privy 
councillors who should offer to proclaim the Duke of 
York king. 1 

1 Barillon, July 3/13, 1679, January 12/22, 1680. Dangerfield's 
Particular Narrative 30, 60. The Case of Thomas Dangerfield 5. 
Mansell's Exact and True Narrative 62. Grey, Debates vii. 358, 359, 
viii. 136-149. Gazette, No. 1476. Ralph i. 496, 497. Par/. Hist. 
iv. 1233. Le Fleming MSS. 174. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 241 

The government was not idle in face of the danger. 
With the consent of the king Sunderland, Halifax, and 
Essex, most unstable of triumvirates, summoned the 
duke from Brussels. Leaving his wife and children, James 
set out in disguise and reached Windsor on September 2 
without being recognised by more than two persons on 
the way. Charles received him with admirably feigned 
surprise. The danger was past ; Jesuits' powder, the 
modern quinine, had already restored the king to the 
point of eating mutton and partridges, and within ten 
days he was again discussing important business with the 
French ambassador. Another issue of events had been 
expected. If the worst had taken place, the Lord Mayor 
and aldermen had concerted means to declare the duke 
their sovereign. Fortunately for the nation the Whigs 
were deprived of the chance to decide whether they or the 
government held the stronger hand. On the contrary 
the hopes raised by the king's illness brought on them a 
serious rebuff. Once in England James, who had con- 
tinually pressed for his recall and thought his brother's 
behaviour was driving the country to ruin, shewed no 
desire to depart again. It was represented to him that his 
absence was for the king's advantage, and he consented to 
leave ; but on conditions, for Sunderland suggested that 
Monmouth, whom his father's danger made yet more 
arrogant and his uncle's unexpected arrival sulky and 
furious, should quit the country too. James after a brief 
visit to Brussels took coach for Scotland, but Monmouth, 
to the delight of the court party deprived of his office of 
captain -general of the forces and his command of the 
horse guards, for Holland. There was some thought of 
his attempting to refuse, but milder counsels prevailed 
and he was persuaded that a willing submission would 
serve to invest him in the eyes of the people with the 
character of a martyr. The generalship was abolished 
and the business of the office handed over to Sunder- 
land. Yet another slight was put upon the Whig 
party .* Sir Thomas Armstrong, the intimate agent of 
Monmouth and a fierce opponent of the Duke of York, 

R 



242* The Popish Plot 

was banished from the king's presence and court for 
ever. 1 

As the year 1679 wore away the disturbance of the 
kingdom seemed to increase. A rising had been expected 
as the result of James' return to England, and alarms of 
the same nature were raised when the king paid a visit to 
London after his recovery. Guards were set in Covent 
Garden and Lincoln's Inn Fields ; barges and an escort 
two hundred strong were in readiness to carry the royal 
party to the Tower in case of a tumult ; but no stir was 
made and the day passed quietly. Fears of the vaguest 
character were abroad. " I am very confident," wrote 
Charles Hatton, " you will suddenly hear very surprising 
news, but what I am unable to inform you as yet." At 
the back of men's minds the feeling was growing that the 
Whigs could not attain their object except by plunging 
the country into civil war. 2 The agitation became greater 
than ever when at the end of November the Duke of 
Monmouth returned without leave to England. He 
entered London at midnight to the sound of ringing bells 
and by the light of a thousand bonfires, crackling almost 
at the palace doors. His popularity seemed unbounded. 
Crowds followed him in the streets and stopped passers to 
drink his health. Nell Gwyn, cheered by the crowd as 
" the Protestant whore," entertained him at supper. He 
struck from his arms the bar sinister, which denoted the 
maimed descent : it was a fashion among the royal 
bastards, for the Duke of Richmond, Charles' son by 
Louise de Keroualle, who was thought to have intentions 
on the queen's throne for herself, had done the same, 
and displayed the lions of England without diminu- 

1 Burnet ii. 242. Carte, Life of Ormonde ii. 493. Barillon, Sep- 
tember 4/14, 11/21, 15/25, 1679. Temple i. 433-438. Foljambe 
MSS. 137, 138. Foxcroft, Life of Halifax i. 189-191. Gazette 
1449. S.P. Dom. Charles II 412 : 24. Conway Papers, Septem- 
ber ii, 1679. Airy, Charles II 245. James (Or. Mem.) i. 566, 
570-580. 

2 James (Or. Mem.) i. 563. James to the Prince of Orange, 
Foljambe MSS. 137. Burnet ii. 243. Hatton Correspondence i. 194. 
Barillon, September 15/25. December i/n, 1679. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 243 

tion. 1 The king was incensed, refused to 'see the pre- 
tender, deprived him of all his offices, ordered him to quit 
London. Monmouth at length obeyed, but it was to 
make a royal progress through the west of England, 
captivating the people and laying the foundations of the 
support for his hapless attempt against his uncle's crown. 2 
Meanwhile the question arose when Parliament should 
meet. The elections had not much altered the complexion 
of the House of Commons, but it was noted that while 
the Whigs held their own in the counties and great cor- 
porations, the court began to gain in many small boroughs. 3 
On the appointed day in October Charles first prorogued 
and then adjourned Parliament till the following January. 
Shaftesbury attempted to force the king's hand by appear- 
ing in company with sixteen other peers to present a 
petition that set forth the danger in which the monarch, 
the religion, and the government of England lay, and 
their prayer that his Majesty would make effectual use of 
the great council of the realm. Charles replied he would 
consider it, and heartily wished that all others were as 
solicitous as himself for the good and peace of the nation. 
Three days later he shewed the meaning of his answer by 
proroguing Parliament, without the advice of the council, 
to November 1680. He followed the stroke by summon- 
ing the Lord Mayor and aldermen to his presence to 
enforce on them their duty of preserving the peace and 
preventing ill-disposed persons from pursuing the ends of 
discord under cover of petitioning. The surprise of the 
Whigs was intense. Only one thing was left for them to 
do. They went on petitioning. Petitions, prepared in 
accordance with Shaftesbury's instructions, bombarded the 
king from all over the country. A proclamation issued 
to denounce merely had the effect of redoubling them. 

1 Dal. Sigr. Internuncio Brusselles, June 8, 1679. Vat. Arch. 
Nunt. di Fiandra 66. Ferguson, Growth of Popery, Part II. 276. 

2 Barillon, December i/il, 8/18, 1679. Sidney, Letters 165. 
Charles Hatton to Lord Hatton, November 29, 1679. Hatton Corre- 
sponde^nce i. 203. Ralph i. 484, 497. 

3 Sidney, Letters 143, 144. 



244 The Popish Plot 

Charles' own answers were far more effective. The men 
of Wiltshire presented a petition as from their county, but 
lacking the sanction of the grand jury were rated as a 
company of loose and disaffected persons. The petitioners 
from London and Westminster were told by Charles that 
he was the head of the government and would do as he 
thought best ; while to the Berkshire gentlemen he replied, 
" We will argue the matter over a cup of ale when we 
meet at Windsor, though I wonder my neighbours should 
meddle with my business." In one case alone Charles 
had the worst of a passage of arms. When a citizen of 
Taunton offered him a petition, the king asked how he 
dared do so ? To which the man replied, " Sir, my name 
is Dare." The government was not behindhand in deal- 
ing with the situation. To shew that the petitioners did 
not represent the country, an immediate flood of counter 
addresses poured in, expressing confidence in the king's 
wisdom and abhorrence of the petitioners. Petitioners 
and abhorrers divided the nation, and it was by no other 
godfather than Titus Oates that the latter party, by a 
name famous in English history, was christened Tory. 1 
In this clamorous contest the king gained an undeniable 
success. But success did not bring repose. Watchful- 
ness was more severely needed than ever. To calm sus- 
picion the penal laws were once more sharpened against 
the Catholics. Additional garrisons were thrown into 
the Tower and Tilbury Fort. Portsmouth and Sheerness 
were strengthened. London remained quiet, but the 
Christmas festivities were suspected of unfortunate possi- 
bilities. There was talk of threatening Shaftesbury with a 
prosecution. 2 

Instead of a prosecution Shaftesbury was drawn into 
a negotiation with the court. The French ambassador 
learned with agitation that the earl went secretly by 
night to Whitehall to discuss terms of settlement with the 
king. Shaftesbury offered to let drop the Exclusion bill 

1 Temple i. 441. Ralph i. 490-494. Le Fleming MSS. 165. 
North, Examen 541-548. Defoe, Review vii. 296. 

2 Barillon, December 11/21, 15/25, 18/28, 1679. James i. 581. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 245 

and assure Charles an ample revenue for the rest of his 
life if he would consent to a divorce and to marry a 
Protestant. The king should make a show of resistance, 
to be overborne by apparently irresistible pressure, the 
country would be satisfied, and peace return to the land. 
Charles made believe that he viewed the notion with 
favour. Only Lord Holies and very few others were 
admitted to knowledge of what was passing. Soon 
Lauderdale, whose character and career were particularly 
displeasing to the Presbyterians, was added to their 
number. Holies drew back, then fell ill, and the scheme 
languished. Nevertheless Shaftesbury hoped for success. 
Suddenly his hopes were shattered. On January 29, 
1680 Charles brought the matter to an end by declaring 
to the council that, since the Duke of York's absence had 
not produced the desired effect, he was about to recall him 
to England. A royal yacht left immediately for Edin- 
burgh to convey him thence. On February 24 James 
arrived in London. The recorder of the city presented 
him with a complimentary address. A sumptuous banquet 
was given the royal brothers by the Lord Mayor. To 
crown the display a grand illumination was arranged to 
testify the extraordinary joy all good subjects were sup- 
posed to feel. 1 Shaftesbury might well harbour resent- 
ment at the artifice of which he had been a victim. 

In the "Appeal from the Country to the City" the 
Duke of Monmouth was recommended by name to be 
the saviour of the people, since he who had the worst title 
was like to make the best king. Between that, the project 
of the queen's divorce, and the pretence that Monmouth 
was in fact the legitimate heir to the throne the minds 
of Whig politicians wavered. The last idea had already 
risen to such prominence that, when the Duke of York 
left the kingdom in March, a solemn declaration was 
drawn from Charles that he had never married or made 
any contract of marriage with any other woman than his 

1 Barillon, January 8/18, 12/22, 15/25, 19/29, January 29/Feb- 
ruary 8, March 11/21, 1680. James (Or. Mem.) i. 587. Ralph i. 
494. 



246 The Popish Plot 

wife, Queen Catherine, then living. 1 For greater security 
the king's signature was attested by his councillors and 
the deed enrolled in Chancery. Shaftesbury had no sooner 
emerged from his defeat of the midnight meetings at 
Whitehall than the fable sprang into renewed life. 
Mysterious tales were bruited abroad of a certain black 
box, which, if found, should contain the contract of 
marriage between the king and Lucy Walters, mother of 
the Duke of Mon mouth. The box was said to be in the 
possession of Sir Gilbert Gerard. If it did not contain 
the actual contract, at any rate there lay in it a certificate 
from the hand of Dr. Cosens, late Bishop of Durham, 
who had solemnised the marriage. Others had it that 
one Dr. Clare, an eminent royalist parson, had read the 
service. At least the ceremony had been witnessed by a 
judge and three other persons of quality. The story 
attained such proportions that an extraordinary meeting 
of the council was held. Sir Gilbert Gerard was called to 
state what he knew. It appeared that he knew nothing. 
He had never seen either contract or box, and had no 
knowledge whatever of anything of the sort. The 
rumour was traced to a maternal aunt of the late Lucy 
Walters : who had set her on could only be conjectured. 
It cannot be doubted that the tale emanated from the 
office of the Whig party. The authors of it were men 
of versatility. Sir Gilbert Gerard's statement seemed to 
have dissolved the myth, but within a few weeks the 
appearance of a pamphlet entitled " A Letter to a Person 
of Honour concerning the Black Box " brought the facts 
again into question. 2 The whole account of the black 
box, affirmed the letter, was a mere romance, an ingeni- 
ous device of the Duke of York to sham and ridicule the 
marriage, which indeed had no relation to it, for with the 

1 The declaration was made twice, on January 6 and March 3, 
1679. 

2 The author was probably Ferguson. See Sprat's History of the 
Ryekouse Plot, where a printer's bill made out to him is printed in the 
appendix, one item of the bill being for the Letter. The pamphlet 
was published on May 15, 1680. 






Shaftesbury and Charles 247 

exposure of the box the true history would at the same 
time fall into discredit. It was notorious that assurance 
of Monmouth's legitimacy had been given to the Countess 
of Wemyss before she disposed her daughter in marriage 
to him. In a letter from the king to Mrs. Walters, 
intercepted by Cromwell's officers, he had addressed her 
as wife. And it was beyond doubt that she had actually 
received homage from many of the royalist party. Many 
copies of this pamphlet were scattered in the Exchange 
and dispersed throughout the kingdom. It had an instant 
effect. On June 7 another declaration was published by 
the king, condemning the libel, denouncing its falsehood, 
and forbidding all subjects on pain of the utmost rigour 
of the law to utter anything contrary to the royal pro- 
nouncement. The result was a second " Letter to a 
Person of Honour," in which Charles' word was contra- 
dicted and his motives traduced. All the former state- 
ments were repeated, some arguments added, and the 
pamphlet ended by the modest proposals, "That Parlia- 
ment, being admitted to sit, may examine this affair, 
whereof they alone are competent judges ; and that the 
Duke of York may be legally tried for his manifold 
treasons and conspiracies against the king and kingdom," 
which treasons were set out at length in thirty -four 
articles. 1 To carry the war still further into the enemies' 
camp, on June 26 Shaftesbury appeared in Westminster 
Hall in company with the Earl of Huntingdon, Lord 
Grey, Lord Gerard, Lord Russell, Lord Cavendish, and 
nine commoners to present the Duke of York to the 
grand jury as a popish recusant and to indict the Duchess 
of Portsmouth for a national nuisance. With them went 
Titus Gates, invested as it were with a representative 
authority on behalf of the Whig party. That both 
charges were true is certain ; but the action of the Whigs 
was dictated by a purely partisan spirit, and Chief Justice 

1 S.P. Dom. Charles II 413 : 103, 105, 107, 118, 120, 131, 132, 
229, 231. Informations and examinations concerning the Black Box. 
Gazette, Nos. 1507, 1520. Somers Tracts viii. 187-208. James I 
589. 



248 The Popish Plot 

Scroggs, judging the fact so, discharged the jury before 
they could find a bill. Four days later the attack was 
repeated in another court, and with the same result. The 
judges only followed their chief's example. James 
appeared downcast and knew well what danger he ran. 
His adversaries seemed to be throwing off the mask, 
strong in the support of which they were assumed to be 
conscious. When it was told to Shaftesbury that the 
king had railed at him and his party as seditious rebels, 
he replied aloud and in public, " The king has nothing 
to do but take the pains to punish rebels and seditious 
persons. We will keep with the bounds of the law, and 
we shall easily find means by the law to make him walk 
out of the kingdom." There were not many who could 
boast of having the last laugh in a game with Charles. 
Not many months after, when the law by which he held 
was put into operation against the Whig leader, Charles 
heard that Shaftesbury had accused him of suborning 
perjurers, and thereupon very pleasantly quoted a Scotch 
proverb. Veiled in the decency of a learned language it 
ran : " In die extremi judicii videbimus cui podex niger- 
rimus sit." 1 

Violent distempers were now feared on all sides. 
Partisans of the Prince of Orange were intriguing keenly 
on his behalf. In the spring of the year Charles was ill 
again, and the several parties hastily met to concert action. 
" God keep the nation," wrote Dorothy Sidney, " from 
the experiment what they could have done." The danger 
may be gauged by the fact that, had the king's illness 
continued, three hundred members of the Commons were 
determined to remain sitting despite the prorogation. A 
considerable movement was detected among the London 
prentices. The date of May 29 had been fixed for a large 
meeting to be held under pretence of burning the Rump ; 
four or five thousand men had pledged themselves to 
attend, but information was laid, the leaders arrested, 
and the outbreak apprehended by the court did not take 

1 Barillon, June 28/July 8, July l/il, 8/18, 1680. 8 State Trials 
179. Burnet ii. 300. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 249 

place. 1 Those of the opposite party were no less alarmed. 
Their chief enemy, James, was holding a brilliant court 
and still maintained himself against them. Shaftesbury 
left town for Easter, fearing a personal attack. Mr. 
William Harbord looked abroad to spy some safe retreat. 
Sir William Waller fled to Holland, thence to Italy, 
pursued by the watchful eye of the government. On the 
pretext of Catholic intrigues, the city guards were doubled. 2 
A penetrating observer might have perceived a change 
drawing over the spirit of the times. While the Whig 
attack, far from having spent itself, grew only the more 
fierce, and a final struggle with authority seemed imminent, 
the nation had begun to reflect upon the turn of events. 
If passion was exasperated by the last bold step against the 
Duke of York, it shewed too the extremity to which his 
opponents were driving. Thereafter could be no thought 
of reconciliation : they must either ruin him or them- 
selves end in ruin. It was not without some justice that 
Charles I called the English sober. As the future was 
dimly shaped to men in shadows of high misfortune, the fear 
of open strife and loss of all they had given so much to gain 
in recalling Charles II to the throne of his fathers weighed 
more heavily upon them. Innate reverence for authority, 
standing to the letter of its rights, returned in some of its 
ancient force. Though they were willing to see the royal 
prerogative curbed, there was no sympathy for those who 
would strike against its existence. And in the party 
which fostered terror and maddened the nation by the 
Popish Plot were not a few to whom this was the object, 
Independents and other sectaries, fierce republicans who 
had fought through the Civil War and might not be 

1 S.P. Dom. Charles II 413 : 75, Lord Massareen to Lord Con- 
way. 76, Francis Gwyn to same, March 23, 1680. Barillon, March 
25/April 4, May 17/27, 20/30, July i/n. Countess of Sunderland 
to H. Sidney, May 18, 1680. Sidney's Charles II ii. 60. Luttrell, 
Brief Relation i. 38. 

2 William Harbord to H. Sidney, April 1680. Sidney's Charles II 
ii. 23. Countess of Sunderland to same, April 16. Sir L. Jenkins to 
same, circa May 20. Sir W. Temple to same, April 27. Sidney's 
Diary, May 25. Ibid. 52, 53, 64, 66. Barillon, October 7/17, 1680. 






250 The Popish Plot 

sorry at the chance of fighting through another. It was 
felt that the least accident might throw everything into 
confusion. People began at length to test the stories 
circulated for their consumption. Tales " that Holborn 
should be burnt down and the streets run with blood " 
were no longer accepted on the mere statement. The 
Irish Plot, loudly denounced about this time by Shaftes- 
bury, found small credence except from the London mob, 
and even in London the busy merchants who feared dis- 
order exercised an influence of restraint. At the end of 
July Sir Leoline Jenkins was able to write : " Letters 
from several parts beyond the seas do tell us that we are 
represented there as if we were already in a flame. God 
be praised ! 'tis no such matter. All things are as still 
and peaceable as ever they were, only we are pelted at with 
impudent, horrid libels." Evidently the English nation 
was in no humour for a second civil war. 1 

The king met Parliament on October 21, 1680. 
James was again on his way to Edinburgh, induced to 
withdraw himself by a promise of full support, but in- 
wardly persuaded that he was lost. Seven of the council 
had favoured the journey, eleven were against it. " Since 
he has so many friends for him," said Charles, " I see he 
must go." In spite of gay hearts the royal prospect was 
not bright. The king had tried a bout with the Whigs 
over the city elections, and was forced to accept their 
choice ; and the Duchess of Portsmouth, fearful of an 
attack on herself and with a heavy bribe in her purse, had 
gone over to the side of his enemies. 2 The session opened 

1 Barillon, December i/n, 11/2 1, 1679, January 5/15, April 5/15, 
July i/i i, 1680. S.P. Dom. Charles II 413: 82. Sir James Butler 
to Lord Craven, March 25, 1680. Temple i. 450. Sir L. Jenkins to 
Henry Sidney, July 24, 1680. Sidney's Charles II ii. 86. A concise 
account of the extreme difficulties of the time may be found in a letter 
from Henry Sidney to the Prince of Orange, October 7, 1680. Groen 
van Prinsterer v. 422. 

2 Ralph i. 502, 503. Groen van Prinsterer v. 428. Burnet 
ii. 253. Barillon, October 21/31, 1680. James (Or. Mem.) i. 591- 
600. And see Somers Tracts viii. 137. Articles of Impeachment 
against the Duchess of Portsmouth. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 251 

with turbulence almost unexampled even in the hot times 
that had passed. For discrediting the Plot in the last 
parliament, a member had been expelled by the Commons. 
He was now followed by two others. Petitioning was 
voted to be the right of the subject. Abhorrers were 
violently attacked. Charles had long expressed his 
willingness for any compromise that should leave his 
brother the title of king when he came to the throne, 
and offered Expedients, the effect of which would be to 
take all power from the hands of the sovereign. Similar 
proposals were made by others also. Halifax suggested 
that the duke should be banished for five years, Essex an 
association in defence of the Protestant religion, Shaftesbury 
would still be satisfied by a divorce. Otherwise he stood 
firm for Exclusion. James viewed the Expedients alike 
with horror, and the Commons rejected them with insult. 
Once let a popish king have the title, it was said, and he 
would take the power too. "Expedients in politics are 
like mountebanks' tricks in physic," cried Sir William 
Jones. The bill, the bill, and nothing but the bill, was 
the cry. Colonel Titus summed the matter up neatly. 
" You shall have the Protestant religion," he said, " you 
shall have what you will to protect you, but you must 
have a popish king who shall command your armies and 
your navies, make your bishops and judges. Suppose 
there were a lion in the lobby, one cries : Shut the door 
and keep him out. No, says another, open the door and 
let us chain him when he conies in." The metaphor 
became popular in verse : 

I hear a lion in the lobby roar ; 
Say, Mr. Speaker, shall we shut the door 
And keep him out ? or shall we let him in 
To try if we can turn him out again ? x 

On November 4 the Exclusion bill was introduced, 

1 Par/. Hist. iv. 1118, 1160-1175, 1291. Beaufort MSS. 112. 
Burnet ii. 212, 256. Temple i. 421. Foxcroft, Life of Halifax 
i. 154, 208, 224, 236. Ralph i. 444. Groen van Prinsterer v. 435, 
437- 



252, The Popish Plot 

heralded by denunciations of James. The violence of 
the debates beggars description. If swords were not 
drawn, their use was not forgotten. The prospect of 
civil war was freely mooted. " The case, in short, is 
this," exclaimed Mr. Henry Booth, "in plain English, 
whether we would fight for or against the law." Sir 
William Jones pursued, " The art of man cannot find out 
any remedy as long as there is a popish successor and the 
fears of a popish king." He was answered by Colonel 
Legge, a personal friend of the Duke of York : " There 
has been talk in the world of another successor than the 
duke, in a Black Box ; but if Pandora's box must be 
opened, I would have it in my time, not in my children's, 
that I may draw my sword to defend the right heir." 
On November 1 1 the bill was passed, and four days later 
with a mighty shout was carried to the Lords by Russell, 
followed by a great body of the Commons. To signify 
the attitude of the city, he was accompanied by the Lord 
Mayor and aldermen. At the debate which followed 
Charles was present. He heard the passionate attacks of 
Shaftesbury, the grave force of Essex's oratory. He 
witnessed the treachery of Sunderland, who joined his 
enemies. He heard Monmouth urge Exclusion as the 
only safety for the king's life, and broke in with a loud 
whisper, " the kiss of Judas." He saw Halifax rise to 
champion the right, and heard him speak fifteen or sixteen 
times and carry the day by his inexhaustible powers of 
wit, sarcasm, and eloquence. At nine o'clock in the 
evening, after a debate of six hours, the bill was thrown 
out by sixty-three votes to thirty. 1 It was a memorable 
victory. 

The fury of the Commons exceeded all bounds. 
Supplies were refused. Votes and addresses were passed 

1 Par!. Hist. iv. 1175-1215. L.J. xiii. 666. Barillon, November 
18/28, 1680. James (Or. Mem.) i. 617, 618. Temple i. 453. 
Halstead, Succinct Genealogies i. 204. Reresby, Memoirs 192, 197. 
Burnet ii. 259. Foxcroft, Life of Halifax i. 246-249. James 
to the Prince of Orange, November 23, 1680. Groen van Prinsterer 
v. 440. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 253 

against Halifax, against Jeffreys, Recorder of London, 
against Lord Chief Justice North, against placemen and 
pensioners, against the judges, against James. "No 
sooner does a man stand by the king but he is attacked," 
wrote the duke to William of Orange. To the attack 
against Halifax Charles answered suavely that " he doth 
not find the grounds in the address of this House to be 
sufficient to induce him to remove the Earl of Halifax." 
He told Reresby : " Let them do what they will, I will 
never part with any officer at the request of either House. 
My father lost his head by such compliance ; but as for 
me, I intend to die another way." And Halifax took 
occasion to say to Sir John : " Well, if it comes to a war, 
you and I must go together." A bill for a Protestant 
association for the government of the country with 
Monmouth at its head was being prepared, when on 
January 10, 1681 the king suddenly prorogued and then 
dissolved Parliament, leaving twenty-two bills depending 
and eight more already ordered. The next parliament 
was summoned for March 21, and according to the old 
advice of Danby not in the capital, but at Oxford. 1 

Charles' wisdom in this course cannot be questioned. 
Before the last session Ferguson the Plotter had returned 
from concealment in Holland. An agent of Essex was 
busy in London concerning " the linen manufacture," for 
which he had enrolled three or four hundred men and 
spent as much as a thousand pounds. Hugh Speke sent 
down to the country to have his horse ready. " Get him 
in as good case as you can," he wrote, " for God knows 
what use I may have for him and how suddenly." There 
is reason to think that Shaftesbury had been planning to 
place Parliament under control of the city. 2 London had 
always armed the Whigs with the possibility of support 

1 Par/. Hist. iv. 1215-1295. Reresby, Memoirs 191. Groen van 
Prinsterer v. 444. 

2 Sitwell, First Whig 142. S.P. Dom. Charles II 414 : 101, 
Robert Ferguson to his wife, August 14, 1680. 243, Hugh Speke 
"for, Mr. Charles Speke at Whitelackington." 275, James Holloway 
to the Earl of Essex, December 14, 1680. 



254 The Popish Plot 

other than parliamentary. The removal of Parliament to 
Oxford made it certain that the coming struggle would 
be fought on ground favourable to the king. No sooner 
was Charles' determination known than Shaftesbury, 
Monmouth, and Essex, together with thirteen other peers, 
presented a petition shewing that evil men, favourers of 
popery and enemies of the happiness of England, had 
made choice of Oxford as a place where the Houses would 
be daily menaced by the swords of papists who had crept 
into the ranks of the king's guards, and making their 
humble prayer and advice that the parliament should sit 
at Westminster as usual. " That, my lord, may be your 
opinion," returned the king to Essex ; " it is not mine." l 
The Whigs promptly set to making the elections their 
own. Nothing was omitted to secure their success. 
Instructions from the Green Ribbon Club directed events 
in all parts of the country. Members bound themselves 
to prosecute the Plot, to demand restriction of the king's 
power to prorogue and dissolve Parliament, to support 
the Exclusion, the right of petitioning, the Association. 2 
When the means of man were exhausted, supernatural 
powers were called to assist. On the one side and on the 
other were raised ghosts, who foretold doom to their 
opponents. The city of London elected its old repre- 
sentatives. They were begged to refuse supplies and 
assured that in pursuit of their ends they should have the 
support of the citizens' lives and fortunes. A host of 
scribblers, libellers, and caricaturists poured into Oxford. 
A rumour was spread that the city would be the scene of 
a massacre. The Whig chiefs rode down attended by 
bands of armed retainers. Guards of townsmen accom- 
panied members from the boroughs. The Londoners 
appeared in a great company with bows of blue satin in 
their hats, on which were woven the inscription : " No 
Popery ! No Slavery ! " Tory crowds met them at the 

1 Charles' actual words are in doubt, but it is certain that he re- 
ceived the deputation coldly and sent it away unsatisfied. 

2 " Instructions for members of Parliament summoned for March 
21, 1 68 1, and to be held at Oxford." 



Shaftesbury and Charles 2,55 

gates, red-ribboned, brandishing clubs and staves, and 
crying, " Make ready ! Stand to it ! Knock 'em down ! 
Knock 'em down ! " In the midst of his life-guards, 
among whom Essex had failed at Charles' polite request 
to point out the creeping papists, the king drove from 
Windsor. Information had come to hand of a plot to 
kidnap him at Oxford. Measures were taken accord- 
ingly. A regiment was moved up to the Mews in case 
of an attack on Whitehall. The constable of the Tower 
was advised to hold himself in readiness. Attention was 
given to Lambeth Palace and the forts on the Thames. 
The cannon at Windsor were looked to, and Lord 
Oxford's regiment was posted along the Windsor road, 
should Charles be compelled to retreat. " If the king 
would be advised," said Halifax, "it is in his power to 
make all his opponents tremble." l It was what he had 
come prepared to do. 

Since the fall of Danby Charles had lived in a state 
of poverty. Scarcely any supplies were furnished by Parlia- 
ment. None came from France. His resources were at 
one moment so low that he even thought of recalling his 
ministers from the courts of foreign princes. 2 At the 
same time thousands of pounds were being absorbed by 
the informers against popish plotters, tens of thousands 
by the royal mistresses. The treasury was in the hands 
of Laurence Hyde, second son of Lord Chancellor 
Clarendon. That he was able to pay the way is a source 
of wonder and admiration. Such a state of affairs could 
not last for ever, and Charles had recourse to the mine 
whence he had drawn so much wealth before. Though 
Louis XIV had gained his immediate object by turning 

1 North, Examen 100-102. Reresby, Memoirs 204. S.P. Dom. 
Charles II 415 : 37. Answer of the Earl of Essex, January 27, 1681. 
66, The Earl of Craven's proposition, February 14, 1681. "About 
the disposing of the king's forces." 126, Information of Mr. John 
Wendham of Thetford against Wm. Harbord, M.P. 156, Quarters 
of his Majesty's forces, March 22, 1681. Luttrell, Brief Relation 
i. 70. Ralph i. 562, 563. Sitwell, First Whig 144, 145. Klopp II. 
308. t And see the trial of Stephen Colledge 8 State Trials 549-724. 

2 Barillon, January 13/23, 1679. 






256 The Popish Plot 

against his cousin, he felt as time went on that the tools 
he used might destroy his own work. His constant 
desire was to keep England in such a position that, if she 
would, she could not thwart his plans. For this he had 
joined the Whigs against Danby. From the same motive 
his ambassador supported Shaftesbury in his advertise- 
ment of Monmouth and bribed not only members of 
parliament, but city merchants and Presbyterian preachers. 
But there was a point beyond which he could not follow 
this line. It would be as little to his interest to see 
Charles' authority overthrown and English policy directed 
by a Protestant parliament as to contend with Charles 
adopting and leading the same policy. Therefore in the 
autumn of 1679 Barillon had tried to come to an agree- 
ment with Charles. He offered the sum of 200,000 for 
three years but, attempting to get more than the king 
was willing to give, found the proposal fall to the ground. 
Charles threw himself on to the side of the allies against 
France and in July of the following year concluded a 
treaty with Spain to resist the pretensions of Louis. 
Alarmed by the violence of the Commons and realising 
that their hostility to France could not be cured by gold, 
Bar i lion again broached the subject. The king hung 
back until just before the dissolution of the last parlia- 
ment at Westminster and by skilful play obtained what 
he wanted. A verbal treaty was concluded in the queen's 
bedroom, between the bed and the wall. Charles agreed 
to disengage himself from the Spanish alliance and to 
prevent the interference of Parliament. In return he was 
to receive from Louis an amount equivalent to twelve and 
a half million francs in the course of the next three years. 
So close was the secret kept that besides the two kings 
only Barillon, Laurence Hyde, and the Duke of York 
had knowledge of the treaty. 1 Though he was tight 
bound by it for the matter of foreign policy, Charles had 
attained his object. Except for the advancement of his 
power at home and to quicken the growth of English 

1 Barillon, passim. There was however talk of the negotiations in 
diplomatic circles. Brosch 452. 



Shaftesbury and Charles 257 

commerce he did not care for foreign politics. So long 
as he could turn Louis' ambition to his own advantage 
he was satisfied. This the new treaty accomplished, and 
although Louis too gained handsomely by it, he was 
obliged to confess the victory not altogether his by the 
complete reversal of his policy of the last four years 
in England. Charles met Parliament strong in the 
consciousness of his independence. 

The session that now opened gave little hope of a 
peaceful end. Meeting on March 2 1 , the Houses listened 
to a speech of studious moderation from the throne. 
Charles promised consent to any means whereby under 
a Catholic successor the administration should remain 
in Protestant hands, but what he had already said with 
regard to the succession, by that he would abide there 
should be no tampering with that. There could be no 
mistake as to his attitude. " I, who will never use 
arbitrary government myself," he said with a proud lie, 
" am resolved never to suffer it in others." Charles 
could well offer a compromise, for he knew it would never 
be accepted. The two parties, it was said, were like hostile 
forces on opposite heights. The Commons refused the 
Expedients. They adopted the cause of a wretch named 
Fitzharris, whose obscure intrigue, by whomever directed, 
was certainly most base and most criminal, and tried to 
turn him into an engine of political aggression. It was 
evident that they meant to force the king to abandon 
James and recognise the Duke of Monmouth. Shaftes- 
bury once more tried negotiation. In conversation with 
Charles in the House of Lords he pressed him in the 
public interest and for the peace of the nation to accept 
the position and give way. The king returned : " My 
Lord, let there be no self-delusion, I will never yield and 
will not let myself be intimidated. I have the law and 
reason on my side. Good men will be with me. There 
is the church," and he pointed to where the bishops sat, 
" which will remain united with me. Believe me, my 
Lord, we shall not be divided." It was an open declara- 
tion x of war. On March 26 the Exclusion bill was 



2,58 The Popish Plot 

voted. Monday, March 28, was fixed for the first 
reading. On Sunday the king busied himself with 
preparing the Sheldonian theatre for the Commons, who 
complained that Convocation House was too small ; he 
viewed the plans, strolled among the workmen, con- 
gratulated himself on being able to arrange for the better 
comfort of his faithful subjects, and made all show of 
expecting a long session. That night his coach was 
privately sent a stage outside Oxford with a troop of 
horse. Next morning he was carried as usual to the 
House of Lords in a sedan chair, followed by another 
with drawn curtains, seeming to contain a friend. When 
the king stepped out his friend was found to be a change 
of clothes. He had come to make his enemies tremble. 
At the last moment an accident nearly wrecked the scheme. 
The wrong robes had been brought. Hastily the chair 
was sent back for the robes of state, while Charles held 
an unwilling peer in conversation that he might not 
give the alarm. Then, when all was ready, he swiftly 
took his seat on the throne and, without giving the Lords 
time to robe, summoned the Commons to attend. As Sir 
William Jones was in the act of appealing to Magna Carta 
as the safeguard of the subject's right, the Black Rod 
knocked at the door. The Commons thronged eagerly 
through the narrow passages to the king's presence, the 
Speaker leading with Russell and Cavendish at either 
hand. They thought they had come to receive Charles' 
surrender. When the tumult was calmed the king 
spoke : " My lords and gentlemen, that all the world 
may see to what a point we are come, that we are not like 
to have a good end, when the divisions at the beginning 
are such, therefore, my Lord Chancellor, do as I have 
commanded you." Finch thereupon declared Parliament, 
which had lived for exactly one week, to be dissolved, and 
Charles immediately left the throne. As he reached his 
dressing-room he turned to a friend, his eyes gleaming, 
with the remark that it was better to have one king than 
five hundred. He made a short dinner and, leaving by 
the back stairs, drove off in Sir Edward Seymour's coach 



Shaftesbury and Charles 259 

to where his own was waiting. That night he was in 
Windsor. 1 

The dissolution scattered the opposition as a gust of 
wind the leaves of a tree in autumn. Shaftesbury in vain 
attempted to hold the Houses together. His followers in 
the Lords remained for an hour under pretence of signing 
a protest, while messengers were dispatched urging the 
Commons to fulfil their promises. But they were too 
much cowed by the stroke. They feared " if they did not 
disperse, the king would come and pull them out by the 
ears." Presently they fled. In a quarter of an hour the 
price of coaches in the town doubled. Oxford had the 
appearance of a surrendered city disgorging its garrison. 2 
And with their flight the history of the Popish Plot comes 
to an end. On that the Whigs had staked all, and they 
had lost. The country was alienated by their violence and 
rapacity and fearful of the horrors of civil war. Once 
deprived of their means of action in Parliament they could 
do nothing but go whither the king drove them, to plot 
frank rebellion without the shadow of legality. Up to 
this point Shaftesbury had led a bold attack, not without 
good hope of success. Now he was left to sustain the 
defence, stubborn and keen, but in the end incapable of 
avoiding ruin. The tide had at last turned, and Charles, 
who since the first appearance of Oates had borne with 
unexampled equanimity a series of the most fierce assaults, 
found himself upon a pinnacle of triumph, his enemies 
lying crushed beneath his throne until he should goad 
them to complete disaster. Had he struck twelve months 
sooner the country would in all likelihood have been on 
their side ; but he had gauged the 'temper of his people 
correctly and knew now that they would be with him. 
The history of these years is in brief the history of Charles 

1 North, Examtn 104, 105. Barillon March zS/April 7, 1681. 
Beaufort MSS. 83. Reresby, Memoirs 207-211. Ralph i. 570-580. 
Parl. Hist. iv. 1298-1339. Airy, Charles II 257. Ailesbury, Memoirs 
i. 57. Luttrell, Brief Relation i. 72. "Some are pleased to call it the 
Jewish Parliament, it being dissolved on the eighth day, alluding to that 
people's manner of circumcision on the eighth day." 

2 Lord Grey's confession 12, 13, 14. North, Examen 105. 






260 The Popish Plot 

II's reign, the history of a long struggle for the power of 
the crown. In the panic of the Popish Plot and the wild 
agitation of the Exclusion bill that struggle, exasperated by 
the Dover treaty and the Catholic intrigues, came to a head. 
Its consequence was the Rye House Plot, the perfection of 
Whig failure. In that struggle too the conflicting principles 
found their absolute exponents in the two wittiest and two 
of the most able statesmen in English history, each gifted 
with a supreme political genius, each exclusive of the other, 
each fighting for personal ascendency no less than for an 
idea, for principle no less than for power, Charles II and 
the Earl of Shaftesbury. Without a grasp of this the 
history of the times cannot be understood, and for this 
reason some historians have found in them, and more have 
left, a mere tangle of helpless chaos. Of the two Charles 
had the better fortune in his life, Shaftesbury after death. 
For Shaftesbury, ruined, disappointed, embittered at the 
loss of all his hopes, was yet the father of the Revolution : 
all that Charles had gained was thrown away by his less 
worthy brother. But the personal triumph of the king 
was unique. While to the world he seemed a genial 
debauchee, whose varied talents would have fitted him 
equally to be a chemist, shipwright, jockey, or dancing- 
master, the horseman, angler, walker, musician, whose 
energy tired while his company delighted the most brilliant 
of English courts, more admirable than Crichton had he 
not been more indolent, he laboured in an inner life at a 
great endeavour and, chiefly by letting himself be misunder- 
stood, achieved it. 1 He restored the crown to its ancient 

1 It is remarkable that every one thought he understood Charles and 
that most who opposed him paid in the end the penalty of their 
mistake by failure. Only the most acute indeed were able to realise 
the strength of the character which they began by thinking weak. 
Thus Courtin believed that Charles could do nothing but what 
his subjects wanted. Jusserand, A French Ambassador 150. Baril- 
lon, with the possible exception of Gremonville, the ablest of 
Louis XIV's diplomatists, whom Ranke compares to the Spanish 
ambassador Mendoza of the time of the League, thought when he first 
came to England that he could in every instance measure Charles' 
weight in the balance. Before the Popish Plot had ceased its course, 
he perceived that he could not. He writes on January 15/25, 1680 : 
II est fort difficile de penetrer quel est dans le fonds son veritable 



Shaftesbury and Charles 261 

place in the state, whence his father and his grandfather 
had let it fall. He gave Parliament just enough rope to 
hang itself. 

dessein. Again on September 9/19 of the same year : Le Roi de la 
Grande Bretagne a une conduite si cachee et si difficile a penetrer 
que les plus habiles y sont trompe"s. And again on January 13/23, 
1 68 1 : Je ne puis encore expliquer aver certitude a V.M. 1'etat des 
affaires de ce pays-ci. Ceux qui approchent de plus pres du Roi 
d'Angleterre ne penetrent point le fonds de ses intentions. See too 
Burnet II 409 n. 3, 467 n. 









TRIALS FOR TREASON 






CHAPTER I 

MAGISTRATES AND JUDGES 

THE trials of the Popish Plot have remained the most 
celebrated in the annals of our judicial history. Their 
reports occupy three volumes of the State Trials and 
more than two thousand pages of crowded print. They 
contain twenty-two trials for treason, three for murder or 
attempt to murder, eleven for perjury, subornation of 
perjury, libel, and other misdemeanours. They gave rise 
to proceedings in Parliament against two Lord Chief 
Justices, and against two judges of the Court of King's 
Bench. They are a standing monument to the most 
astounding outburst of successful perjury which has occurred 
in modern times. It is due to their connection with these 
trials that posterity has branded the names of three 1 
judges with lasting infamy, and that fourteen men executed 
as traitors have earned the reputation of martyrs. Not 
only are they filled and brimming with the romance of life 
and death, but there lies locked within them the kernel of 
that vast mass of treason, intrigue, crime, and falsehood 
which surrounds and is known as the Popish Plot. 
Strangely enough, therefore, they have been little studied 
and never understood. 

The consequence of this has been unfortunate. Instead 
of going to the fountain-head for information, historians 
have for the most part contented themselves with relying 
on accounts supplied by writers on the one side or the 
other, sources which are always prejudiced and usually 
contradictory. To extract truth from the mutual opposi- 

1 If Pemberton is counted. 
265 



2,66 The Popish Plot 

tion of two lies is an ingenious and useful task when 
evidence is not forthcoming at first hand ; but it is a 
method less accurate than the examination of original 
authorities when these can be consulted. Nor is there 
only an obligation to devote attention to the trials 
themselves ; they cannot be judged alone : and historians 
have not escaped error when, although they have studied 
the trials immediately within view from the actual reports, 
they have neglected to read them in the light of the 
preceding practice of the English courts of law, and to 
ground their opinions upon the whole judicial system 
which gave them their peculiar character, and of which they 
were an inseparable part. To appreciate properly the 
significance of the trials they must not be taken apart from 
their setting, and it is necessary before passing judgment 
upon the events recorded in them to review the past which 
lies behind them and the causes which influenced their 
nature. 

The judicial system of England in the latter half of the 
seventeenth century was very different from its descendant 
in the twentieth. Its nature had been determined by the 
course of political events which moulded it into a form as 
unlike to that of two centuries after as the later Stuart 
constitution was to the Victorian. 

Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 
from the time when Henry VIII broke the political power 
of Rome in England until the day when the last revolution 
destroyed the influence of the Jesuits in English politics, 
the English state lived and developed in an atmosphere 
charged with the thunderstorm and resonant with the 
note of war. War against foes within the land and 
without was the characteristic condition of its existence. 
Besides conflict with foreign powers, war and rebellion, 
constant in Scotland and almost chronic in Ireland, may 
be counted in eight reigns three completed revolutions, 
ten 1 armed rebellions, two great civil wars, and plots 

1 Pilgrimage of Grace ; Insurrection in West ; Kent ; Wyatt ; 
Rising in North; Essex; Penruddock ; Booth, 1659; Venner; Mon- 
mouth. 



Magistrates and Judges 267 

innumerable, all emanating from within the English nation 
alone. From beyond seas enemies schemed almost without 
ceasing to overturn religion or government or both as 
they were established at home. There is no need to 
wonder that the English government was a righting 
machine. In this light it was regarded by all men. Where 
government is now looked on as a means of getting neces- 
sary business done, of ameliorating conditions of life, and 
directing the energy of the country to the highest pitch of 
efficiency, two centuries and a half ago it was anxiously 
watched as an engine of attack or defence of persons, 
property, and conscience. The first duty of government 
is to govern ; to guard the tranquillity of the society over 
which it is set, to anticipate the efforts of malignants 
against the social security, and to punish crime, the com- 
mission of which it has been unable to prevent. This is 
at all times a heavy burden ; but its weight is redoubled 
when private gives way to public crime, and the criminal 
turns his strength against the state itself. For acts directed 
against society in its corporate being are fraught with far 
more danger than those which touch it indirectly, however 
great their magnitude, not only because the consequences 
of the successful act in the former case are vital, but also 
because the restless class from which the actors are drawn 
commands a higher ability than that containing men to 
whom crime is a means to private gain, and is endowed 
with a reckless hardihood which springs from the certainty 
of detection and retribution in case of failure. In the 
seventeenth century this class was numerous, and the diffi- 
culties of guarding against it great. The state was always 
in danger, the government always battling for its own life 
and the safety of society, the morrow always gloomy for 
the success of their cause. To be for or against the 
government was the shibboleth which marked the peace- 
able man from the revolutionary. To be " counted to be 
a very pernicious man against the government " l was 
sufficient to weigh against the credibility of a witness 

1 See the evidence of Lord Ferrers against Southall at the trial of 
Lord Stafford. 7 State Trials 1485. 






2.68 The Popish Plot 

before the highest tribunal of the kingdom. Therefore it 
was that far wider scope could then be allowed to acts of 
administration than ought to be allowed in peaceful times, 
and that the government might be sure of support for its 
bad as well as its good measures when they appeared to 
be directed towards the doing of rough justice on indi- 
viduals whose presence was felt to be a common danger. 
It could be assumed that the means adopted for this 
purpose would not be too closely scrutinised. 

Government was from necessity a fighting machine. 
But it was a machine so ill adapted for fighting that its 
action, far from attaining to mechanical precision and 
gravity, was coarse, spasmodic, questionable, and was 
driven to atone for want of ease and regularity by display- 
ing an excess of often ill-directed energy. The means 
ready to the hand of the administration were scanty. 
Without an army, without police, without detectives, the 
order maintained in the country practically depended upon 
the goodwill of the upper and middle classes. The police 
of the kingdom consisted of watchmen in the cities and 
boroughs ; in the country, of parish constables. Both 
were notoriously inefficient. The type of watchmen with 
which Londoners were familiar in the opening years of the 
seventeenth century is sufficiently known from the char- 
acter of Dogberry. About the same time the parish con- 
stables were distinguished for being " often absent from 
their houses, being for the most part husbandmen, and so 
most of the day in the fields." 1 As late as 1796 the 
watchmen of London were recruited by the various authori- 
ties from " such aged and often superannuated men living 
in their respective districts as may offer their services," 
and were recognised to be feeble, half-starved, lacking the 
least hope of reward or stimulus to activity. 2 Without an 
excessive strain on the imagination it may be conjectured 
that in the intervening period the police system did not 

1 Dalton, Justice, quoted Stephen, History of the Criminal Law, 
i. 195. Temp. James I. 

2 Colquhoun, Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis, quoted 
Stephen i. 195. 






Magistrates and Judges 2,69 

rise to a high pitch of perfection. In the capital the 
king's guards and the city trained bands were available 
forces, but in the provinces the only body on which reliance 
could be placed for the execution of justice was formed by 
the sheriff's officers or in the last resort the cumbrous 
militia. Even the militia could not be maintained under 
arms for more than twelve days in the year, for although 
the force of any county might be kept on foot for a longer 
period by the king's special direction, the Lord Lieutenant 
had no power to raise money with which to pay the men. 1 
The only practicable instrument of government for the 
defence of the state was the judicial system of the country. 
As there was no method known for the prevention of 
crime by an organised force of police, and no deterrent 
exerted on would-be criminals by the existence of a stand- 
ing body of soldiery, the only possible weapon to be used 
against them was to be found in the law courts. It 
followed that the judges and justices of the peace not only 
fulfilled the judicial and magisterial functions which are 
known to modern times, but constituted as well an active 
arm of the administration. 

The justices of the peace combined in their persons 
the characters, which have since been distinguished, of 
prosecutor, magistrate, detective, and often policeman. 
They raised the hue and cry, chased malefactors, searched 
houses, took prisoners. A justice might issue a warrant 
for the arrest, conduct the search himself, effect the cap- 
ture, examine the accused with and without witnesses, 
extract a confession by alternately cajoling him as a friend 
and bullying him as a magistrate, commit him, and finally 
give damning evidence against him at his trial. Such was 
the conduct of Alderman Sir Thomas Aleyn in the case of 
Colonel Turner, tried and convicted for burglary in i66^.. 2 
The alderman examined Turner in the first place, and 
charged him point-blank with the offence. He then 
searched his house. In this he was unsuccessful, but the 
next day, owing to information received, tracked the 

lx Ralph i. 399. See also the Statutes: 13 C. II c. 6, 14 C. II 
c. 3, 15 C. II 0.4. 2 6 State Trials 566-630. 






270 The Popish Plot 

colonel to a shop in the Minories, where he was found in 
possession of money suspected to be part of the stolen 
property. 1 Aleyn carried him to the owner of the stolen 
goods, upon whose engagement not to prosecute Turner 
confessed that he knew where the plunder was concealed, 
and by a further series of artifices induced him to sur- 
render, through the agency of his wife, part of the missing 
jewelry. On this he committed both Colonel and Mrs. 
Turner to Newgate, and finally appeared at their trial to 
tell the whole story of his manoeuvres in considerable 
detail and with the greatest composure. 2 Twenty years 
later, as Sir John Reresby was going to bed one night, he 
was roused by the Duke of Monmouth's page to play a 
similar part. Mr. Thynne had been shot dead as he was 
driving in his coach along Pall Mall, 3 and Sir John was 
summoned to raise the hue and cry. He went at once to 
the house of the murdered man, issued warrants for the 
arrest of suspected persons, and proceeded to investigate 
the case. From a Swede who was brought before him he 
obtained the necessary information, and set out to pursue 
the culprits. After giving chase all night and searching 
several houses, he finally took the German officer who had 
been a principal in the murder in the house of a Swedish 
doctor in Leicester fields at six o'clock in the morning, 
and was able to boast in his diary that he had performed 
the somewhat perilous task of entering the room first and 
personally arresting the captain. 4 On another occasion 
Reresby deserved well of the government by his action in 
an episode connected with the Rye House Plot. Six 
Scotchmen had been arrested and examined in the North, 
and were being sent in custody to London by directions of 
one of the secretaries of state. Sir John however was 
led to suspect that the examination had not been thoroughly 
conducted and stopped the men at York. He examined 

1 jiooo was stolen in cash, and over 2000 in jewelry. 

2 6 State Trials 572-575. 

3 By two Germans and a Pole, acting, it was said, under orders 
from Count Konigsmark, who had been courting Mr. Thynne's bride. 

4 Reresby, Memoirs 235, 236. 



Magistrates and Judges 271 

them again and extorted confessions of considerable im- 
portance, which he was then able to forward to the secre- 
tary in company with the prisoners. 1 

Instances to illustrate the nature of these more than 
magisterial duties might easily be multiplied. The agita- 
tion caused by the Popish Plot was naturally a spur 
to the activity of justices throughout the country. 
Especially was this the case in the west of England, where 
the Roman Catholics had their greatest strength. In 
Staffordshire Mr. Chetwyn, in Derbyshire Mr. Gilbert, 
in Monmouthshire Captain Arnold were unflagging in 
their efforts to scent out conspiracy and popery. In 
consequence of information laid before the committee of 
the House of Lords Mr. Chetwyn, in company with the 
celebrated Justice Warcup, 2 searched Lord Stafford's house, 
Tart Hall, for a secret vault in which some priests were 
said to be concealed. The search was unsuccessful, but 
the vigorous manner in which it was conducted is testified 
by Chetwyn's furious exclamation " that if he were the 
king, he would have the house set fire to, and make the 
old rogues come forth." 3 The same magistrate also would 
have assisted in the work of obtaining Dugdale's con- 
fession, had he not been absent in London at the time. 4 

To Henry Gilbert, justice of the peace for Derby- 
shire, belonged the merit of tracking, arresting, and 
obtaining the conviction of George Busby, Jesuit, for 
being a Romish priest, at the Derby Assizes of i68i. 5 
The evidence which Gilbert gave is very instructive as to 
the scope of a magistrate's duty. 6 As early as January 
1679 ^ r William Waller had come to search Mr. 
Powtrel's house at West Hallam, where the Jesuit was 
said to be concealed, but was dissuaded on Gilbert's 
assurance that he had already been over the place several 

1 r Reresby, Memoirs 281, 282. 

2 This was the recognised appellation of a J.P. in the seventeenth 
century. 

3 House of Lords MSS. 39, under date May 29, 1679. 

4 7 State Trials 1471. 5 8 State Trials 525-550. 
6 * Gilbert's evidence, ibid. 531-534. 






272, The Popish Plot 

times in vain and believed Busby to have escaped from 
England. Since then however trustworthy information 
had come to hand that he was still in hiding. Gilbert 
first reconnoitred the house under the pretext of buying 
wood for his coal-pits. He then went away, returned 
with a constable and five or six other men and, fortified 
by the news that Busby had been seen in the garden 
only a few moments before, conducted a thorough search, 
which resulted in the discovery of various priestly vest- 
ments, an altar, " a box of wafers, mass-books, and divers 
other popish things. 1 This was on March i, 1681. A 
fortnight later, in spite of some opposition from Mr. 
Justice Charlton, who was on circuit for the spring assizes, 
Gilbert sent the prize, which by law should have been 
burnt, back to West Hallam, in the hope of lulling the 
priest to a false security. On the same night he went to 
gather the fruits of his manoeuvre. Posting men round 
the house, he made a noise and then waited to see " if 
they could spy any light, or hear any walking in the lofts 
or false floors. 2 A constable and further assistance was 
summoned, and about midnight Gilbert tapped at a 
window and demanded admittance. It was refused, and 
after a proper interval the constable broke in the door 
and the whole party entered the house. The priest's 
chamber was found in disorder ; the fire had been lately 
extinguished, the bedclothes were lying about the room 
in heaps, and the mattress, which had been turned, was 
cold on the top, but warm underneath. This was the 
prelude to a thorough examination of the house. The 
spies in the garden had heard the priest's footsteps near 
a corner under the roof as he retreated to his hiding- 
place. From one until ten in the morning of March 1 6 
the search was carried on, Gilbert tapping on the plaster 
inside with his sword and the others meeting him by 
knocking on the tiles and walls from the other side. 
Hope was nearly abandoned when the searchers were 
spurred by the jeers of the people of the house to one 
last effort. At length they were rewarded. Sounding 
1 8 State Trials 531. 2 Ibid. 532. 



Magistrates and Judges 273 

the roof inch by inch, they came upon a spot near 
some chimney stacks where the knocks from the two 
sides did not tally ; breaking open the tiles, they 
discovered a priest's hole, and in it Busby, whom Mr. 
Gilbert forthwith bore off in triumph and committed to 
Derby gaol. 

These exploits were no doubt typical of the range of 
activity common to busy justices of the peace throughout 
the kingdom. Important business passed through their 
hands, and they felt their position likewise to be important. 
They were an energetic body of men and spared not 
themselves, nor their neighbours, nor those against whom 
their action was directed in the execution of their duty 
as government officials. Each was sure to be in his way 
a local magnate, and thus the influence which the govern- 
ment exerted on the justices was through them spread 
widely over the country. Well known among provincial 
magistrates, and still more active than the two above 
mentioned, was Captain Arnold, whose name appeared in 
the commission of the peace for Monmouthshire. It 
was this Arnold who in 1679 assisted Dr. Croft, Bishop 
of Hereford, in his attack on the Jesuit college at Combe, 
near Monmouth. The college was dispersed and ten 
horse loads of books, seized in it, were removed to the 
library of Hereford Cathedral. 1 In December of the 
previous year he had been instrumental in the arrest of 
Father Pugh, formerly of the Society of Jesus, and in the 
seizure of papers and valuables belonging to Hall, another 
member of the society. 2 But Arnold exhibited something 
more than the zeal proper to an energetic and business- 
like justice. He was a keen adherent to the Whig and 
extreme Protestant party. In addition to the usual 
government reward of ^50 for the apprehension of a 
Jesuit, he offered 200 from his own resources for each 
capture. 3 He made friends with the missioners and then 

1 Foley v. 891. House of Lords MSS. 89. See also Fitzherbert 
MSS. 1 8, 19. 

2 Foley v. 34. House of Lords MSS. 89. 

3 'Foley v. 883. 

T 






274 The Popish Plot 

procured their own dependents to give evidence against 
them. He armed bodies of servants to assist him in his 
expeditions, and brought the unfortunate priest whom 
Gates had named as prospective Bishop of Llandaff 
triumphantly into Monmouth at the head of a dozen 
horsemen. 1 Chief among his performances was the capture 
of two well-known Jesuits, David Henry Lewis and Philip 
Evans, popularly dubbed Captain. Lewis was taken by 
Arnold in person, Evans through his agency. Against 
both he produced the witnesses and managed the evidence. 2 
Both were convicted of high treason under the statute 
of Elizabeth, for being priests in orders received from the 
see of Rome. Evans was executed at Cardiff on July 22, 
Lewis at Usk on August 27, i6j^. 5 In the summer of 
1680 Arnold's name leaped into notoriety in London, 
when on July 16 John Giles was brought to the bar at 
the Old Bailey " for assaulting and intending to despatch 
and murder John Arnold, one of his Majesty's justices 
of the peace." 4 This incident however, which raised 
Arnold's importance so high with the Whig party that 
his popularity bade fair to rival even that of the murdered 
Sir Edmund Godfrey, 5 affords strong grounds for doubting 
the candour of motive in his official alertness ; for there is 
reason to believe that no attempt whatever was made upon 
his life, and that the whole affair was trumped up in a 
most discreditable manner with a view to establishing more 
firmly the reputation of the Protestant party and the guilt 
of the Roman Catholics. 6 One more, and this again a 

1 "A true narrative of the imprisonment and trial of Mr. Lewis," 
written by himself. Foley v. 917-928. His account of the trial is 
inserted in 7 State Trials 249-260. 

2 Foley v. 885. 7 State Trials 249, 252. 

3 Foley v. 96. Catalogue of those who suffered in Gates' Plot and 
on account of their priesthood, taken from Dodd and Challoner. 

4 7 State Trials 1131. 

5 Ralph i. 570. 

6 See Appendix D, where Giles' trial is discussed. Lawrence 
Hyde to the Prince of Orange, April 1 6, 1680. "This I say is a very 
unfortunate accident to revive men's fears and apprehensions of the 
Plot, which were pretty well asleep, but there is no care or watch- 



Magistrates and Judges 275 

characteristic instance, may suffice to illustrate the varied, 
almost intriguing, nature of a magistrate's position and 
the inquisitorial side which did not completely disappear 
from his duty until far into the nineteenth century. 1 At 
Lord Stafford's trial the three justices who had examined 
Dugdale immediately after his arrest in December 1678 
were called by the prisoner to prove that the witness had 
then absolutely denied all knowledge of the Plot. 2 To 
rebut this evidence the managers of the prosecution called 
William Southall, coroner of the county of Stafford. This 
man, who was not even a magistrate and occupied the 
least judicial position known to the law, had taken the 
opportunity of some legal business which was to be trans- 
acted between a cousin of his and Dugdale to undertake 
a little private examination of the latter on his own behalf 
in the hopes of obtaining information about the Plot. 
According to his own account Southall acquitted himself 
with some skill and, by assuming a knowing air as if 
convinced of Dugdale's guilt and playing upon his hopes 
of pardon and reward, managed to extract from him a 
material confession. With this he repaired, not to the 
justices of the peace by whom Dugdale had originally 
been examined, but to three different magistrates, and in 
their company was present the next day at a detailed 
examination of Dugdale, who then swore to nearly the 
same evidence as he now gave at the trial of Lord 
Stafford. 3 Whether this story was true, or, as is suggested 
by the ease of Southall's success where others naturally 
better qualified had failed, the interview and its result was 
arranged beforehand between the two men, is at this point 
immaterial ; for honest or fraudulent, the coroner's be- 
haviour was accepted as a matter of course, and without 
the least hint that there was any irregularity in the action 
of an inferior official going behind the backs of his 
superiors, and finally transferring so delicate a matter out 

fulness can prevent the folly and wickedness of men that are so given 

to it." Groen van Prinsterer v. 395. 

1 See Stephen i. 228. 2 7 State Trials 1397-1399- 

3 Southall's evidence. 7 State Trials 1467-1471. 






276 The Popish Plot 

of their cognisance altogether into the hands of a third 
party. 

Such were the functions of the justices of the peace in 
the seventeenth century, and so wide was the reach of the 
magisterial arm stretched out as a weapon in the service 
of the administration of government. And if the justices 
filled so important a position, still more important was 
that assumed by the king's judges. The justices were 
able administrators, dealers of small mercy to the evil- 
doer, guardians of the peace in the name of which their 
commissions ran ; but the judges took a place in the 
foremost rank as great officers of state. The character of 
their office had been determined by the famous conflict 
between James I and Lord Chief Justice Coke which 
came to a head in 1616 and ended in Coke's dismissal. 1 
The Chief Justice's endeavour had been to erect the bench 
into an independent tribunal, founded on the ruins of 
broken agreement between king and Commons, and 
occupying the position of arbitrator and guardian of the 
constitution midway between the two. To the king and 
to Bacon, who advised him, this seemed intolerable : to 
James, because the ideal of absolutism which guided his 
mind could not admit in the state a constitutional oracle 
other than himself ; to the Attorney-General, because his 
liberal instincts, wide statesmanship, and knowledge of 
political requirements made clear the impracticable nature 
of Coke's ideas, the bonds of crabbed technicality with 
which they sought to shackle the future, their essential 
conservatism. Coke's parchment knowledge, too good 
for James, was not good enough for Bacon. If Bacon 
inclined towards administrative absolutism, and Coke 
represented in the struggle the majesty of the law, 
assuredly the law for which the Chief Justice fought, for 
ever seeking guidance in the records of the past, was unfit 
to mould the future of a great nation. So when Coke 
fell, characteristically enough, over a sordid squabble into 
which a question of principle was inappropriately dragged, 

1 For the following paragraph I have used Gardiner's History of 
England iii. 1-27. 



Magistrates and Judges 277 

his fall demands our sympathy perhaps, but hardly our 
regret. Regret at a victory in the personal cause of the 
monarch and the check given to the forward march of 
constitutional progress is profitless. Between the ideas of 
Bacon and Coke there was no middle course open at the 
moment when a choice became necessary. It was impossible 
to avoid the conclusion that the judges must either become 
an independent power in the state, an irresponsible 
tribunal to which constitutional questions of the highest 
importance should be referred for decision in strict accord- 
ance with the rules of the Court of King's Bench, or be 
content to remain in subservience to the crown, supporters 
of the king's prerogative, and administrators of his policy. 
The expedient, which has since made the way plain, of 
the constitutional supremacy of the Commons of England 
was then unborn, and as yet in the light of practical affairs 
inconceivable. The Lord Chief Justice, " toughest of 
men," and too stubborn to yield, was broken ; but his 
brethren on the bench gave way and offered assurances of 
their good conduct for the future and of their devotion to 
the royal will. James took the opportunity of the lecture 
which he read to the judges in the- star chamber to com- 
pare their behaviour in meddling with the prerogative of 
the crown to the atheism and blasphemy committed by 
good Christians in disputing the word of God. 

Thus the judges became, according to Bacon's wish, 
" lions, but yet lions under the throne," and carried them- 
selves very circumspectly not to " check or oppose any 
points of sovereignty." l Of their regularity in this 
course there can be no doubt, for if any lapsed into for- 
bidden ways, a judge he speedily ceased to be. His 
appointment was durante beneplacito 2 and revocable at the 

1 Essay of Judicature. 

2 This rule was not without exception. Baron Flowerdue, raised 
to the bench in 1684, held office quamdiu se bene gesserit. (Prothero, 
Statutes and Constitutional Documents 143). And we learn from Coke 
(Inst. iv. 117) that the Chief Baron always held office on a permanent 
tenure (Prothero cviii.). Of course it made no difference, for good 
behaviour in the eyes of the king, with whom the decision rested, 
was likely to have much in common with his good pleasure. 






278 The Popish Plot 

will of the king ; and the king took full advantage of 
his power. The example offered by the case of Coke was 
not left long in isolation. The government was engaged 
in the hopeless attempt to uphold the constitution of the 
Tudor monarchy at a time when the nation had outgrown 
it, and had opened a war to the death with the progressive 
tendency of Parliament. In such a struggle the judges 
were the king's strongest weapon, and as a weapon that 
turns uselessly in the hand, the recalcitrant judge was 
discarded without scruple. When the better class of 
judges questioned the legality of acts of government they 
met with the same fate as their rugged predecessor. 
Under Charles I two Lord Chief Justices were dismissed 
and Chief Baron Walter was suspended from office. 
Judicial offices of consequence were filled with " men of 
confidence," men who enjoyed the confidence of the king 
and quickly lost that of every one else. 1 

In their support of the crown by technical legality and 
practical injustice the courts lost all repute as temples of 
the law. Even that high royalist, Lord Clarendon, 
recognised that reliance upon such means was a cause of 
weakness, not of strength, and that men ceased to respect 
judicial decisions when they were used to cloak the designs 
of government. " When they saw," he writes, " in a 
court of law (that law that gave them a title to the posses- 
sion of all they had) reason of state urged as elements of 
law, judges as sharp-sighted as secretaries of state, and in 
the mysteries of state, . . . they had no reason to hope 
that doctrine, or the promoter of it, would be contained 
within any bounds. And here the damage and mischief 
cannot be expressed that the crown and state sustained 
by the deserved reproach and infamy that attended the 
judges ; there being no possibility to preserve the dignity, 
reverence, and estimation of the laws themselves but by 
the integrity and innocency of the judges." 2 To the 
thorough supporter of the administration the matter 
appeared in a different light. When the two dissenting 

1 Gneist, Constitutional History of England (trans. Ashworth) 550. 
2 Clarendon, Hist. Reb. (Oxford, 1826) i. 123, 124. 



Magistrates and Judges 279 

judges gave way under pressure and adhered to the report 
of the majority in favour of ship-money, they were told 
by Lord Wentworth that it was the greatest service the 
legal profession had rendered to the crown during this 
period. 1 

For good or evil the work of reducing the bench to an 
arm of the administration had been done, and from this 
political degradation it did not recover for nearly three- 
quarters of a century, until William III was seated on the 
throne and the judges became independent of the crown. 

The stirring events of the great rebellion, the Pro- 
tectorate, and the Restoration, which so profoundly 
affected the life and institutions of the nation in other 
ways, touched the bench but slightly. In the early 
months of the Long Parliament a resolution was passed 
by both houses of Parliament to the effect that the 
judges' appointments should be for the future quamdiu 
se bene gesserint, and on January 15, 1641, the king 
gave effect to this by a declaration that they should no 
longer hold office at the pleasure of the crown but 
during good behaviour. For twenty-four years the 
improvement was maintained in theory ; in practice the 
old system kept its hold unshaken. During the short 
remainder of Charles I's reign the judges were concerned 
on only two occasions in affairs of state. These were 
however enough to demonstrate that the change in the 
manner of their appointments had by no means the 
result of rehabilitating the character of the bench and 
restoring to it the quality, which it had long lacked, of 
independence. One of the first acts of the Long Parlia- 
ment, after dealing with the vital question of ship-money, 
was to turn upon the judges who had lent the weight 
of their names to the decision which pronounced its 
legality. Finch was violently attacked as a traitor in 
the House of Commons, and his impeachment voted with 
scarcely a dissentient voice. The Lord Keeper preferred 
the path of safety to that of dignity and fled to Holland 
on board a royal vessel, leaving the impeachment to be 

1 Gneist 552 n. See Gardiner viii. 208. 






28 o The Popish Plot 

formally concluded in his absence. At the same time 
proceedings were commenced against six other judges 
who had sat at Hampden's trial. 1 The effect of this was 
immediate. Only once again did the judges come into 
prominence before the outbreak of the Civil War. Scarcely 
five months after Finch's impeachment the House of 
Lords demanded their opinion whether or no the articles 
against Strafford amounted to making him guilty of 
treason. Without hesitation they replied unanimously 
that upon the articles which the Lords had voted to be 
proved it was their opinion that the Earl of Strafford 
did deserve to undergo the pains and penalties of high 
treason by law. 2 Not only was their conduct in delivering 
this extra-judicial opinion decidedly irregular, 3 but their 
decision was in flagrant opposition to the clearest dictates 
of justice and rules of law, for the accusations against 
Straffbrd cannot be regarded as tantamount, or even 
approaching, to a substantial charge of treason. 4 The 
fault lay not in their intelligence, but in the system which 
had made their honesty an asset in the treasury of 
government, and had robbed them of their ability to 
judge facts in the light of law and reason without 
reference to principles of statecraft or the struggle of 
parties. It was not upon the merits of the case that 
their decision was based now that it was unfavourable 
to the administration, any more than their favourable 
decisions had been based upon the merits of cases when 
the administration was in power : the only difference 

1 Gardiner ix. 246, 247. Gneist 555. 

2 LJ. May 6, 1641. Par/. Hist. ii. 757. 

3 In a somewhat similar case the judges under Charles JI refused 
to give an opinion until the matter had been argued before them by 
counsel. The Attorney-General, among other questions put to the 
judges at the outbreak of the agitation of the Popish Plot, asked 
"Whether there be any evidence against these particular persons 
besides the single testimony of Mr. Gates ? " To which it was 
answered that it was a question of fact, and could only be determined 
in court. S.P. Dom. Charles II 407 : i. 128. 

4 Gardiner ix. 306, 307. Gneist 555 n. Hallam (ii. 107) attempts 
to uphold the judges' decision, but Stephen's argument (i. 362, 363) 
must be held to settle the question. 



Magistrates and Judges 281 

was that formerly thay had feared dismissal from the 
service of an angry sovereign as the result of an in- 
dependent opinion, whereas now they feared impeachment 
at the hands of the angrier Commons. 

Under the Commonwealth and the Protectorate the 
bench fared no better. In October 1649 a ^ judges an d 
other officers of the law, down to the very clerks of 
the courts, who had shown themselves hostile to the 
Parliament and in sympathy with the monarchy, were 
summarily dismissed, and their posts filled by men in 
whom trust could be reposed. Even this was not suffi- 
cient. In affairs of state justice was at a still greater 
discount under the Protectorate than under the monarchy. 
The cause of right was pleaded in vain when it came 
into collision with the power and plans of the Protector. 
" For not observing his pleasure " judges were rebuked, 
suspended, dismissed. Special judicial commissions were 
appointed to do his work ; obnoxious attorneys and 
critical counsel were imprisoned. 1 The jury which 
acquitted Lilburn after " the furious hurley-burleys " of 
his second trial were sharply examined on their conduct 
by the Council of State. 2 Moreover the new appoint- 
ments to the bench in spite of all care were not entirely 
satisfactory to Cromwell's government. The judges still 
exhibited a bent which must have been far from pleasing 
to the republicans. Sir Matthew Hale withdrew as far 
as possible from all political trials and refused to sit 
on Penruddock's trial after the collapse of the rising at 
Salisbury. 3 Surely it is this rather than the respectability 
of their characters that should explain how it came about 
that at the Restoration nine out of the fifteen republican 

1 Gneist 570 n. (2) 2 4 State Trials 445-450. 

3 Foss, Judges of England vii. 109, no. Burnet, Life and Death 
of Sir Matthew Hale. Mr. J. M. Rigg in his article on Hale in the 
Dictionary of National Biography doubts the truth of this on the 
ground that Penruddock was tried at Exeter, and Hale belonged to 
the Midland circuit. Hale however changed his circuit on at least 
one occasion. See Foss vii. 112, and the Gentleman's Mag., July 
1851, p. 13, where an anecdote is told which shows that Hale had 
belonged at one time to the Western circuit. 






z82, The Popish Plot 

judges then in office were found acceptable to the new 
government. 

The character of the bench was no more altered by 
the Restoration than by the rebellion. If the traditions 
of forty years had clung too closely to be shaken off by 
those who might perhaps wish to be rid of them, they 
were not likely to be removed ten years later by those 
whose interest it was to retain them. The only practical 
difference was that the judges, whose duty as partisans of 
the government had been sealed by time and recognised 
by all who were concerned in the government, could 
now return to their more natural sphere as servants of 
the crown as well. Thenceforward until the end of the 
Stuart monarchy they were indispensable as allies of the 
king, protectors of the administration, shining examples 
of loyalty well applied and labour serviceably directed. 
They possessed moreover the signal advantage of being 
able to enforce the example which they inculcated. Those 
who did not obtained an evil reputation at court ; and 
Sir Matthew Hale was looked at askance as one who was 
suspected of not lending a whole-hearted support to the 
government. 1 Even the theoretical advantage which had 
been gained by 'the Long Parliament now disappeared. 
Charles II took advantage of the lengthy prorogation of 
1665 quietly to reintroduce appointments "at the good 
pleasure " of the crown. 2 

There was however some change for the better. A 
large majority of the nation was for the first time for 
thirty years united in sympathy with the government. 
The universal desire was for peace and stability. The 
great constitutional questions which had rent the kingdom 
and distracted the bench Jay for the moment at rest. 
Government was no longer divided against itself; what 
was now found in opposition was not a combination of 
popular feeling with constitutional principle, to crush 
which the law must be strained by a serviceable judiciary, 
but a discredited party of fanatics and dissenters, the 

1 North, Life of Lord Keeper Guildford 1 19. Dryden, Prose Works 
(ed. Malone) iv. 156. 2 Gneist 600 n. (2). 



Magistrates and Judges 283 

dregs of a defeated rebellion, against whom the law could 
be directed legally and to the satisfaction of the vast 
majority of the king's subjects. 

The demand therefore for that cast of mind which 
under Charles I had been the peculiarity of a successful 
judge no longer existed for Charles II. When definitions 
of law were no longer needed to support the crown in 
opposition to the other legitimate elements of the consti- 
tution, and when the government was in close accord with 
the people, there was no temptation to subject the law to 
such strains as it had formerly been made to bear in the 
effort to galvanise into life a system which had already 
died a natural death. Perhaps it was less that judges had 
become more scrupulous than that the objection to their 
scruples had disappeared. To whatever cause they were 
due, it is certain that the reign of Charles II was marked 
by the renewal of decisions which must have been ob- 
noxious to the government. No doubt these are not to 
be found in particular cases which were regarded as of 
high consequence, but the tendency is perfectly visible, 
and in one instance at least proved to be of profound 
importance. This was the trial of Penn and Meade in 
1670, for by the proceedings which arose from it was 
finally established the principle that a jury has an absolute 
right to give such a verdict as it thinks proper without 
being open to question therefore by any other person or 
authority whatsoever. 1 The Quakers had been indicted 
for an unlawful assembly, and the jury before whom they 
were tried, in spite of repeated direction and shameful 
abuse from the Lord Mayor and the Recorder, found a 
verdict of not guilty. For this the court sentenced the 
jurymen to a fine of forty marks apiece and imprisonment 
until the fine was paid. Bushell, the foreman, and his 
fellow-jurors obtained a writ of habeas corpus, and the 
point was argued at length on the return to the writ. 
Ten judges out of twelve affirmed the absolute discretion 
of the jury to believe or disbelieve the evidence given ac- 
cording to the dictates of conscience, and not only were the 

1 6 State Trials 951-1013. 






284 The Popish Plot 

jurymen discharged from custody without paying the fine, 
but no attempt has ever been made since to contest the 
principle thus established. 1 

One further instance may be noted. In 1675 a con ~ 
sultation of all the judges but two was held to decide a 
case which was submitted to them by the Attorney-General. 
A great riot had been made a month before by the weavers' 
apprentices in various parts and suburbs of London by 
way of protest against the increased introduction of looms 
into their trade ; the looms had been broken, a large 
amount of property destroyed, and several persons injured. 
The Attorney-General now wished to indict the rioters 
for high treason ; but the judges were divided, five for, 
five against the opinion that treason had been committed, 
and in spite of the evident anxiety of the government to 
proceed against the apprentices on the graver issue, the 
Attorney -General had to be content with laying the 
indictments for a riot and obtaining convictions for the 
lesser offence. 2 When it is remembered that the London 
apprentices perpetually drew upon themselves the watchful 
eye of the government by their obnoxious politics, and 
that a trade riot was always suspected of being the fore- 
runner of a sectarian revolt, it is evident that the decision 
of the judges meant considerable annoyance, if not an 
actual rebuff, to the government. 3 

The general usefulness of the bench was not however 
impaired by such exceptions. The judges still formed 
one of the most important parts of the administrative 
machinery. They were consulted by the government, 
gave advice, and put into effect the results of their advice. 
They supplied the king during the long prorogation of 
1675 with the pretext which he required for the suppression 
of the coffee-houses. 4 Before the trial of the regicides they 
had held a conference with the king's counsel, Attorney, 

1 See also Hallara iii. 8. Stephen i. 373-375. 

2 Hale, P.C. i. 143-146. 

3 Compare the attempt to create a riot among the apprentices in 
July 1679, immediately after the trial of the Five Jesuits. 

4 Par/. Hist. iv. 803. Ralph i. 297. North, Examen 139. 



Magistrates and Judges 285 

and Solicitor -General to resolve debatable points which 
were likely to arise in the course of the trials. 1 When 
the Licensing Act expired in 1679, the judges were ordered 
by the king to make a report concerning the control of 
the press. Their unanimous decision was " that his 
Majesty may, by law, prohibit the printing and publishing 
of all newsbooks and pamphlets of news whatsoever, not 
licensed by his Majesty's authority, as manifestly tending 
to a breach of the peace and disturbance of the kingdom" ; 2 
and their preaching was put into practice before many 
months had elapsed at the trials of Harris 3 and Carr, 4 the 
former of whom was sentenced to the pillory and a fine of 
^500, and the latter to the suppression of the newspaper 
which he owned. 

Actions for libel had always afforded a wide field for 
the exercise of administrative authority. Under the 
Clarendon regime the sentence pronounced by Chief-Justice 
Hyde upon Twyn, the printer, had fully sustained the 
traditions of the trials of Prynne, Bastwick, and Lilburn. 5 
With the multiplication of political pamphlets after 1678 
trials and convictions for libel became frequent. Within 
two years six important prosecutions of authors, printers, 
or publishers were instituted, and not only resulted almost 
always in the infliction of heavy punishments, but offered 
at the same time opportunities for many caustic and edify- 
ing remarks from the bench. Some time after, the number 
of trials for political libels and seditious words held within 
the space of seven months actually mounted to the total 
of sixteen. 6 

The advantage of lectures thus delivered in court on 
general politics and the duties of a good subject was of 

1 Amos, The English Constitution in the Reign of Charles II 302. 

2 Gazette, May 5, 1680. 

3 7 State Trials 926-931. 4 Ibid. 1111-1130. 

5 Twyn and two other printers were sentenced to the pillory, im- 
prisonment, and heavy fines. Amos 249. 6 State Trials 513-539. 
See also the trials of Dover, Brewster, and Brooks, which followed on 
Twyn's case, ibid. 539-564. 

6 April 30 to November 28, 1684. Luttrell, Diary, printed 
10 State Trials 125-129. 






286 The Popish Plot 

considerable value to the government. In this part of 
their duties the judges rivalled even the courtly eloquence 
of divines whose chief occupation was the advocacy of the 
doctrine of non-resistance. On his elevation to the bench 
in October 1676 Sir William Scroggs "made so excellent 
a speech, that my Lord Montague, then present, told the 
king he had since his happy restoration caused many 
hundred sermons to be printed, all which together taught 
not half so much loyalty ; therefore as a sermon desired 
his command to have it printed and published in all the 
market towns in England." l It was afterwards made a 
ground for proceedings in Parliament against Scroggs that 
he had publicly spoken " very much against petitioning, 
condemning it as resembling 41, as factious and tending 
to rebellion, or to that effect " ; 2 and it was said that Sir 
Robert Atkyns was dismissed from the bench for contra- 
dicting a dictum of the Chief Justice while on circuit, 
" that the presentation of a petition for the summoning of 
Parliament was high treason." 3 Similar behaviour was 
also made the subject of complaint against Mr. Justice 
Jones. 4 Even the courteous Lord Chancellor Finch, in 
delivering sentence upon Lord Stafford, undertook to 
prove by the way that Godfrey had been murdered, and 
London burnt, by the papists. 5 But most of all the influ- 
ence and importance of the judges was shown in trials 
for treason. In those days state trials were not merely 
impartial inquiries into the question whether or no certain 
persons had committed certain acts, the nature of which 
was under examination : they were life-and-death struggles 
of the king and his government against the attacks of 
those who wished to subvert them. It was the business of 
those engaged in them to see that the king's cause took 
no hurt. In this light they were universally regarded, 
and to this end their conduct was undertaken. Judges 
and jurors alike were engaged in the recognised task of 

1 Clarendon Correspondence i. 2. 
2 8 State Trials 193, i.e. as resembling the opinions of 1641. 

3 Gneist 600 n. 
4 8 State Trials 194. 5 7 State Trials 1556-1567. 



Magistrates and Judges 287 

the defence of the state. To the hearers it was no quaint 
piece of antiquated phraseology when the clerk of the 
crown addressed the prisoner arraigned at the bar for high 
treason : " These good men that are now called, and here 
appear, are those which are to pass between you and our 
sovereign lord the king, upon your life and death " ; it 
was a sober expression of vivid truth. The jury stood 
between the king's life and the intrigues of a defeated 
malefactor. Of his innocence they were indeed ready to 
be convinced, but it would require strong evidence to con- 
vince them. In his guilt their belief was already strong. 
They can scarcely have refrained from regarding them- 
selves less as agents employed in the cause of truth to 
examine without prejudice the merits of the case before 
them than as executors of an already predetermined justice. 
And here the weight of the judge's authority was pre- 
ponderant. He directed those heavy advantages which 
weighed on the side of the king and against the prisoner. 
The stringent system of preliminary procedure, which 
rendered extreme the difficulty of properly preparing his 
case beforehand, his isolation when actually upon trial, 
and the unsympathetic atmosphere by which he was sur- 
rounded, and of which the counsel for the prosecution 
were ready to take advantage to press every point home, 
combined to render the accused almost helpless against the 
crown. Even when administered with mercy the system 
was severely favourable to the prosecution ; and the adverse 
rules which hemmed in the prisoner were generally worked 
to the utmost. To understand these clearly, it will be 
necessary to pass shortly in review the history of criminal 
procedure in the English courts of law, and the develop- 
ments which led to its state at the time of the trials for the 
Popish Plot. 1 

1 In this I have constantly used, as will be seen, Sir J. F. Stephen's 
History of the Criminal Law in England (vol. i., especially chapters viii. 
and xi.), a work to which I am under the deepest obligations. 






CHAPTER II 

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE 

THE Reformation, as in almost all other branches of 
modern history, constitutes the starting-point at which the 
study of public procedure must be begun. Rather it 
would be true to say that in this as in other subjects it 
should form the starting-point. Unfortunately the neces- 
sary materials are here wanting. The State Trials, which 
afford not only the greatest quantity but the finest quality 
of evidence on the judicial history of England, are printed 
from reports which do not begin before the reign of Queen 
Mary in 1554. From that date until our own day they 
are continuous, and form the greatest collection of his- 
torical documents in the English language. From that 
date too the history of criminal procedure in modern 
England may be said to begin. Throughout the seven- 
teenth century the courts of law occupy for the student of 
history a position of singular importance. They were the 
scenes not only of profound constitutional struggles, but 
of brilliant and deadly political contests. 

The study of criminal procedure is therefore indis- 
pensable to an understanding of the numerous historical 
problems which have been worked out in the courts of 
law ; especially to an understanding of those, not few, 
which have been worked to a conclusion, but not to a 
solution. 

The difference between the procedure in criminal cases 
as it exists to-day and as it existed two centuries and a half 
ago is but little known. It is the more difficult to under- 
stand because it is witnessed by few great landmarks in the 

288 



Criminal Procedure 289 

history of the administration of justice, and owes its exist- 
ence to no promulgation of new codes or rules to which a 
triumphant finger may be pointed. Rather the new system 
has emerged from the old by a procession of unconsidered 
changes, at different times, of varying importance, the 
results of which have come to be so universally known 
and approved, that to the backward glance they seem to 
be not the outcome of long experience, but inextricable 
parts of a system which has existed from all time. The 
essential change has been one of conduct less than of 
opinion, and is to be found rather in an altered point of 
view than in any variation of practical arrangements. 

The evolution of the forms under which trials were 
conducted during the later Stuart period was slow and 
unpronounced. The all-pervading activity of the Tudor 
privy council in affairs of state had left a deep imprint 
upon the course of English justice, and one from which it 
did not soon free itself. It was then that the courts gained 
the inquisitorial character which they did not lose until 
after the restoration of the monarchy, and it was not until 
the Puritan Revolution that the judicial authority of the 
council, which had grown to such a height of severity in 
the preceding half century, was swept away. During that 
time the privy council played a part of high importance 
in political trials. When a suspected criminal was to be 
brought to justice a stringent preliminary inquiry was 
held. The accused was examined on oath and in secret 
by the council. His examination was taken down in 
writing and might afterwards be produced against him 
under the name of a " confession." The investigation 
here made had the greatest weight. " In point of fact," 
says Dr. Gardiner, " these preliminary investigations 
formed the real trial. If the accused could satisfy the 
privy council of his innocence, he would at once be set 
at liberty. If he failed in this, he would be brought 
before a court from which there was scarcely a hope of 
escape." l As a rule he did fail. The privy councillors 
were not apt to waste their time on persons who were 
1 History of England i. 125. 
U 



290 The Popish Plot 

not brought before them as suspect on good grounds, or 
objectionable for reason of state. Innocence moreover 
would be little protection to a prisoner in the latter case, 
for the political grounds against him would be unaffected 
by any scrutiny of evidence. If the accused was com- 
mitted by the council, it was with no bright prospect 
before his eyes. Until the day of his trial he was kept 
close prisoner. He had no notice of the witnesses who 
were to be called against him or of the evidence which 
they would give. Nor was the evidence for the prosecu- 
tion the only point in which the prisoner was at a dis- 
advantage, for he was not allowed to call witnesses to set 
up a case for himself. This at least seems to have been 
the fact ; but even had theory permitted the appearance 
in court of witnesses for the prisoner, in practice the 
difference made would have been trifling, for he certainly 
had no means of procuring their attendance or, supposing 
they came, of ascertaining what they would say. Even at 
the close of the seventeenth century, when witnesses for 
the defence were recognised and encouraged by the courts, 
great difficulty was experienced by prisoners in procuring 
the attendance of the right persons, and, when these came, 
they sometimes gave evidence on the wrong side. 1 The 
accused was brought into court in absolute ignorance of 
what would be produced against him, and was compelled 
to defend himself on the spur of the moment against 
skilled lawyers, who had been preparing their case for 
weeks or perhaps months beforehand. Neither before or 
at the trial was he allowed the aid of counsel or solicitor. 
On being brought to the bar, the prisoner was treated 
in such a way as to rob him almost of the possi- 
bility of escape. During his confinement examinations 
had been made of all other suspected persons, and their 
depositions had been taken. Not only could these now 
be produced in court against him, but the confessions of 
accomplices, when these could be found, were regarded as 
specially cogent evidence. No one, it was said, could have 

1 See the trial of Ireland, Pickering, and Grove. 7 State Trials 
126-129, and 10 State Trials 1087. 



Criminal Procedure 29 1 

so great a knowledge of the crime as the accomplices of 
the criminal a remark, it must be admitted, which, at a 
time when there existed no organised force of police, was 
not without some show of justice. No doubt such men 
were of bad character, but then it was not to be expected 
that one could raise the curtain on scenes of such ill-odour 
without coming into questionable company. The prisoner 
was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses brought 
against him and had not even the right to confront them 
in court face to face. 1 

In a trial of any intricacy the case for the crown was 
usually divided between several counsel. Each worked 
out his part minutely before giving place to the next, 
partly by making direct statements, partly by a string of 
questions addressed to the prisoner. The trial was thus 
resolved into a series of excited altercations between the 
accused and the counsel for the crown. The success with 
which the defence was conducted depended entirely upon 
the skill and readiness displayed by the prisoner himself. 
At his trial for treason in I554 2 Sir Nicolas Throck- 
morton maintained for close upon six hours a wordy con- 
flict with Sergeant Stamford and the Attorney-General, 
and acquitted himself so well that the jury after deliberat- 
ing for two hours returned a verdict of not guilty. 3 The 
Duke of Norfolk, convicted of high treason in 1571, 
was set an even harder task, for he was compelled to 
deal successively with no less than four eminent counsel 
who had undertaken different parts of the case against 
him. 4 

1 See Raleigh's Trial, 2 State Trials 18. Jardine, Crim. Trials 
421, where the court decided unanimously against Raleigh's repeated 
demand for the production of Lord Cobham, not, according to Sir 
James Fitzjames Stephen's opinion, without fair colour of law. Hist. 
'Crim. Law i. 335, 336. 

2 i State Trials 869. 

3 Not indeed without grievous consequences to themselves. Being 
brought to question for their verdict, four of them submitted and 
apologised at once. The remainder were imprisoned by order of the 
Star Chamber and fined heavily. Stephen i. 329. 

4 i State Trials 957-1042. 






292 The Popish Plot 

Apart from the opening speeches of the crown 
lawyers and the summing up of the evidence by the judge 
at the end of the trial, there was little room for any display 
of fine oratory, and practically none for the sentimental 
appeal to the jury which at a later date became so promi- 
nent a feature in the courts. Every point was argued 
by the opposing parties in a close and acrimonious 
conversation, which had at least the merit of throwing 
light from every possible point of view on the subject in 
hand. In this the judges presiding did not take much 
part, nor was the summing up regarded as of special 
importance ; but explanatory remarks, and questions on 
points which seemed to the judges to have been over- 
looked, were occasionally interposed from the bench. 1 

But what weighed most heavily of all against the 
prisoner was the fact that rules of evidence, as they are 
understood at the present time, were practically unknown. 
The only distinction recognised was between the evidence 
of an eye-witness to the actual crime and everything else. 
If other than eye-witnesses were admitted, there seemed to 
be no reason why the most insignificant evidence upon 
hearsay of facts, however remotely connected with 
those alleged in the charge, should not be produced 
against the prisoner. Even the production of the 
originals of documents relied upon as evidence for the 
prosecution was not required. 2 

This was a fault in criminal procedure which persisted 
until at least the end of the seventeenth century and 
exercised a supreme influence upon the course of justice. 
Grave attention and decisive weight was given to evidence 
which in modern times would not be allowed to come into 
court at all. The most irrelevant detail was freely 
admitted against the prisoner. At Raleigh's trial in 1603 
one Dyer, a pilot, swore that when he was at Lisbon he 
had accidentally met a man who said that Cobham and 
Raleigh would cut King James' throat before he could be 
crowned. 3 Evidence of a still more remarkable character 

1 Stephen i. 326. 2 Ibid. 336, 350. 

3 2 State Trials 25. 



Criminal Procedure 293 

was given at the trial of Benjamin Faulconer for perjury 
in 1653. After the charge had been proved, witnesses 
were called to testify to a variety of facts startlingly un- 
connected with the case. They swore that the prisoner 
had been guilty of using bad language, that he had drunk 
the devil's health in the streets of Petersfield, and that he 
had " a common name for a robber on the highway. " a 
All this was allowed as good evidence to raise a presump- 
tion of his guilt. Instances of the lax rules of evidence 
in force might be multiplied. At Hulet's trial for having 
been executioner of Charles I witnesses were admitted for 
the defence to testify that they had heard Brandon, the 
hangman, say that he had himself cut off the king's head, 
On the other hand the evidence for the prosecution 
chiefly consisted of the testimony of persons who swore 
that they had heard Hulet admit the truth of the charge. 2 
The trial of Hawkins for theft before Sir Matthew Hale 
in 1669 is still more notable. Not only was evidence 
allowed to prove for the prosecution that Hawkins had 
committed, and for the defence that he had not committed, 
two other thefts wholly unconnected with the case before 
the court, 3 but the prisoner, who was a country parson, 
was permitted to produce a certificate signed by over a 
hundred of his parishioners, to the effect that the prosecutor 
was " a notorious Anabaptist, an enemy to the Church of 
England, and a perfect hater of all ministers of the same, 
but in particular most inveterate and malicious against 
Robert Hawkins, clerk, late minister of the church 
of Chilton," and going on to express their belief in 
the innocence of Hawkins and the dishonesty of the 
prosecutor. 4 

The trials of Colonel Turner for burglary and of the 
Suffolk witches, who were condemned in the year 1665, 
afford perhaps the strongest instances of the slight extent 
to which the principles of evidence were understood. In 
the former the chief part of the evidence given by Sir 

lx 4 State Trials 354-356. 2 5 State Trials 1 185-1 195. 

3 6 State Trials 932-936. 4 7^.938. 






294 The Popish Plot 

Thomas Aleyn, the principal witness, was concerned with 
what other people had done and said, and would by 
modern methods have certainly been ruled out ; in the 
latter the smallest apprehension of the value of testimony 
would have resulted in an abrupt termination of the case, 
for nothing which by courtesy could be called evidence 
was produced against the wretched old women who were 
being tried for their lives, and their conviction was 
obtained partly on the strength of a statement by Dr. 
Browne of Norwich, author of the Religio Medici^ as to 
the nature of witches and their relations with the devil, 
no single word of which could have been spoken in a 
modern court of justice. 1 It was a state of things, due 
to lack of experience and of scientific vision, which pre- 
vailed until after the Revolution and exerted a powerful 
influence against the accused. In other points however 
criminal procedure in the English courts underwent 
changes of considerable importance. From the reign of 
Queen Mary until the Puritan Revolution it had remained 
almost unaltered, but during the Commonwealth and Pro- 
tectorate several modifications were introduced. An 
apparently spontaneous change, inaugurated by no legis- 
lative enactment, bore witness to the fact that the view in 
which criminal trials were regarded was insensibly shifting 
from the ancient to the modern standpoint. The 
inquisitorial nature of the old trial was gradually dis- 
appearing. Chief among the differences which may be 
noted as having arisen is the fact that the prisoner was no 
longer systematically questioned in court. When he was 
questioned, it was now, if he were innocent, in his favour. 
His examination was no longer what it had been in the 
days of Elizabeth and James I, the very essence of the 
trial. Questions were still put to him, but now they were 
directed by the judges and not by the prosecution. The 
process was of no greater scope than was demanded by the 
necessities of the defence of a prisoner who has not the 
assistance of counsel. It was used as a natural means of 
arriving at the truth of statements made on one side or 

1 6 State Trials 697. 



Criminal Procedure 295 

the other, and served to set in a clear light the strong and 
weak points of the defence. At the trial of the Turners, 
who were guilty, a lengthy examination of the prisoners 
by the court succeeded in shewing the great improbability 
of statements in their story, and tended directly to the 
conviction of the colonel. 1 On the other hand, in the 
case of Sir George Wakeman, who was innocent, the 
triangular series of questions between judge, witness, and 
prisoner had an effect which was by no means unfavourable 
to the accused. 2 The prisoner moreover could, if he 
wished, refuse to answer questions put to him. 3 

Two other results of the changing spirit of the times 
may be found in the criminal courts. Witnesses for the 
prosecution were now always brought face to face with the 
accused, unless reason such as would be valid to-day was 
given to the contrary ; and the prisoner was not only 
allowed to cross-examine the witnesses against him, but to 
call evidence in his own behalf. 4 The value of cross- 
examination to the defence was doubtless an important 
advance in theory ; practically it was greatly impaired by 
the natural difficulties, which to an untrained man are 
almost insuperable, of cross-examining witnesses without 
proper instruction. But the power of calling witnesses for 
the defence was in practice as well a gain of immense 
magnitude. 

With these changes the procedure of Tudor times was 
handed on to the restored monarchy, and was retained 
without alteration until the end of the Stuart dynasty. 
The position of a person on trial, bettered as it was, was 
pitiable. The bench received the prisoner's witnesses with 
the utmost suspicion and treated them as if they were 
proved to be accomplices in his crime. It was pointed 
out to the jury that they were not upon oath. At the 
trial of one of the regicides in 1660 it was even hinted 
that their evidence might be disbelieved on this ground 

1 6 State Trials 605-610. 

2 7 State Trials 591-688. And see below 93 seq. 

8 See Lilburn's Trial. 4 State Trials 1 342. 

4 Stephen i. 358. 



296 The Popish Plot 

alone. 1 Later practice demanded that the jury should be 
directed to notice the fact and warned that witnesses not 
upon oath deserved no less credit for this reason ; but 
opportunity was generally taken to slight their evidence 
in other ways. If the prisoner's witnesses were Roman 
Catholics, it was pointed out that their evidence might be 
tutored. 2 If not, the counsel for the prosecution could 
easily make an opening to call attention to the fact that 
mere words for the prisoner ought not to weigh as heavily 
as sound oaths for the king, and he would not be hastily 
checked by the court. 3 Theoretically, the court was " of 
counsel for the prisoner " in matters of law ; 4 practically, 
as this conflicted with the judges' duty to the king and 
their watch over his life, the prisoner was allowed to shift 
for himself. To justify the denial of counsel to the 
accused, the argument was constantly used that, in order 
to convict him, the proof must be so plain that no counsel 
could contend against it. 5 Honestly enough, no doubt, 

1 Trial of Hulet, who was said to have been the actual executioner 
of Charles I. 5 State Trials 1 185-1 195. In summing up, Sir Orlando 
Bridgeman, L.C.S., said to the jury : " Gentlemen, you hear what has 
been proved on behalf of the prisoner, that is, if you believe the 
witnesses that are not upon oath." Hulet was convicted, but the 
evidence was thought so unsatisfactory that the judges afterwards 
procured a reprieve. 

2 See the Lord Chief Justice's remarks on the witnesses for the 
Five Jesuits. 7 State Trials 41. As to the amount of truth in the 
allegation see below. 

3 At the trial of Colledge : Sergeant Maynard : " It is Mr. Gates' 
saying ; it is Mr. Turbervile's oath." 8 State Trials 638. 

4 See e.g. the statement of Hyde, L.C.J., at Twyn's trial in 1663. 
L.C.J. : "If I did not mistake, you desired to have counsel ; was that 
your request ? " Twyn : " Yes." L.C.J. : " Then I will tell you, we 
are bound to be of counsel with you in point of law ; that is, the 
court, my brethren and myself, are to see that you suffer nothing for 
your want of knowledge in matter of law ; I say we are to be of 
counsel with you. . . . To the matter of fact, whether it be so or no j 
in this case the law does not allow you counsel to plead for you, but in 
matter of law we are of counsel for you, and it shall be our care to 
see that you have no wrong done you." 6 State Trials 516, 517. See 
also the 5th Resolution in the case of Sir Harry Vane. 6 State 
Trials 131. 

5 See e.g. Coleman's trial. 7 State Trials 14. L.C.J.: "The 



Criminal Procedure 297 

this was the theory ; but in practice the slightest com- 
plication of facts or the most awkward piece of perjury 
could not fail to render the prisoner in his eagerness and 
ignorance helpless to unravel the skein which was being 
wound round him. 

In particular matters of law counsel might be assigned 
to argue such points as the court thought fit, but only 
when they had been proposed to the court by the prisoner 
himself. 1 When Colledge at his trial for high treason 
retorted that without the aid of counsel he could not tell 
what points to submit for argument, he was told by the 
Attorney-General that ignorance of the law was an excuse 
for no man. 2 

In countless ways the system worked, in accordance 
with the tradition of many years, in favour of the king 
and in glaring disfavour of the prisoner. Peculiar cruelty 
on the part of the judges has continually been assumed 
as an explanation of this. In reality recourse need be 
had to no such hypothesis. The judges handled the 
means which had come down to them as legitimate, with- 
out necessarily indulging the rare vice of spontaneous in- 
humanity which has been attributed to them by historians. 
They did their work and performed their duty as it came 
in their way ; and the work of a judge in state trials in 
the seventeenth century was to modern eyes neither 
dignified nor pleasant. Nor, although their names are 
linked to no distinction in the annals of the law, were the 
judges, whose patents ran " during the good pleasure " of 
King Charles II, men devoid of talent. Lawyers were 

labour lies upon their hands, . . . therefore you need not have counsel, 
because the proof must be plain upon you." See also Don Pantaleon 
Sa's case. 4 State Trials 466. 

1 See Colledge's trial. L.C.J. North : " Counsel you cannot have, 
unless matter of law arises, and that must be propounded by you ; and 
then if it be a matter debatable, the court will assign you counsel ; 
but it must be upon a matter fit to be argued." 8 State Trials 570. 
Similarly Jones, J., ibid. 571. 

At Sidney's trial Jeffreys, L.C.J. : " If you assign any particular 
point of law, then, if the court think it such a point as may be worth 
the debating, you shall have counsel." 

2 8 State Trials 579. 



2,98 The Popish Plot 

raised to the bench by influence at court, since all offices 
of state were to be obtained by favouritism ; but their 
appointments were seldom devoid of some foundation of 
solid attainments. Some, like Scroggs, were by nature 
brilliant ; others, like North and Pemberton, had grounded 
their fortunes on many years of laborious industry. 1 Such 
men, whose minds were not bent to reverence of the law 
by severe learning in it, were likely to be influenced by 
their position as lawyers less than by that as officers of 
state, and to regard their oaths as constraining them 
rather to the service of the crown than to an absolute 
pursuit of justice. Sometimes the rules under which they 
worked themselves prevented them from doing right to 
prisoners. They were unable, for instance, to summon or 
to protect witnesses for the defence, for their power ended 
with the confines of the court. When Colonel Turner 
on his trial in 1664 told the bench that his witnesses had 
sent him word that they did not dare to come without an 
order, the Chief Justice replied, " When witnesses come 
against the king, we cannot put them to their oaths, much 
less precept them to come." 2 At the trial of Langhorn, 
the Roman Catholic lawyer, for the Popish Plot, Lord 
Castlemaine complained to the court that the prisoner's 
witnesses were being threatened and assaulted by the mob 
outside and dared not " come to give their evidence for 
fear of being" killed." The judges were indignant and 
declaimed loudly against the " very horrid thing," but 
they were powerless to do more than to threaten the 
offenders with severe punishment, if the earl could pro- 
duce or point to them. As this was naturally impossible, 
nothing could be done. 3 

The inability of the court to allow real favour to the 
accused receives constant illustration from the trial of 
Lord Stafford. It might have been expected that a 
venerable peer, standing to be judged by his peers and 
surrounded by his relatives and old acquaintances, would 

1 See Burnet ii. 196, 291. Pepys, Diary January 21, 1667. 
North, Life of Guildford 195, 196, 291. 

2 6 State Trials 570. 3 7 State Trials 463. 



Criminal Procedure 299 

receive an amount of respect and favour which was denied 
to meaner folk. But this was far from being the case. 
In spite of the evident desire of the Lord Chancellor, who 
presided in the capacity of Lord High Steward, to allow 
to the accused every advantage that was consistent with 
his duty, he found it impossible to contest against the 
managers of the prosecution in their demand that the 
rules should be exerted against him in all their usual 
harshness. Time after time the counsel pressed home 
points of procedure which lay in their favour. It roused 
the indignation of Jones and Maynard that the barristers 
retained by Lord Stafford to be his counsel on matters of 
law stood so near him that they might be suspected of 
wishing to prompt him in matters of fact, and they were 
forced to move to a greater distance from the prisoner. 1 
When at the end of the second day of the trial Finch 
urged that before further proceedings a day's rest should 
be given to the prisoner to recover from his great physical 
fatigue, the managers withstood his proposal eagerly. 
The Lord High Steward asked what inconvenience would 
ensue. They could suggest none of consequence, but 
said that the delay would be highly unusual and that it 
was a most unreasonable thing to demand. Jones' zeal 
was such that he exposed himself to a well-deserved snub 
from the court. 2 Without being in the least abashed he 
pursued his speech and finally carried the point triumph- 
antly. 3 A similar violation of the maxim De vita hominis 
nulla est cunctatio longa, which the Lord Chancellor quoted 
on this occasion, occurred during the trial of Lord Russell, 
when Chief Justice Pemberton would have granted a short 
respite to the prisoner but for the opposition of the prose- 
cuting counsel. " Mr. Attorney, why may not this trial 

1 7 State Trials 1339. That the barristers withdrew is evident 
from Winnington's subsequent remark : " We did perceive his counsel 
come up towards the bar and very near him, and therefore we thought 
it our duty to speak before any inconvenience happened." Ibid. 1340. 

2 Sir W. Jones : " My Lords, we do not presume at all to offer our 
consent to what time the court shall be adjourned." L.H.S.: "No, 
we do x not ask your consent." 

3 7 State Trials 1371-1373. 






300 The Popish Plot 

be respited till the afternoon ? " To which the Attorney- 
General rudely replied, " Pray call the jury " ; and 
Pemberton had nothing for it but to say to the prisoner, 
" My Lord, the king's counsel think it not reasonable to 
put off the trial longer, and we cannot put it off without 
their consent." On the last day of Lord Stafford's trial 
the court again displayed its weakness as a protector of 
the accused. Owing to the prisoner's excessive weakness 
and failure to make his voice heard, the Lord High 
Steward ordered a clerk to read the paper from which he 
was struggling to propose certain points of law to be 
argued. The managers immediately objected. It was 
contrary to custom and might be turned into a dangerous 
precedent. Finch was compelled to give way to their 
harsh insistence, and Stafford, tottering with fatigue, to 
make an effort which was almost beyond his strength. 1 

The old criminal trial of the English courts had been 
conducted strictly on the inquisitorial method of pro- 
cedure, a system admirably contrived for the conviction of 
the guilty, but by no means so successful in ensuring the 
acquittal of the innocent. Of this character it was robbed 
by the Puritan Revolution, which rendered the adminis- 
trative methods of continental nations odious to the 
English mind. But in its place nothing so complete or 
logical remained. The changes which were then intro- 
duced, beneficent as they were, did not institute an order 
capable, in the interest of justice and of the state, of 
guaranteeing the discovery of the truth or of safeguarding 
the rights of the individual. The rigorous system of 
preliminary procedure, the denial of counsel to assist the 
accused, the ignorance of the art of cross-examination and 
of the science of sifting evidence, combined to set judge, 
jury, and prisoner alike at the mercy of every man of 
villainy sufficient to swear away a man's life by a false 
oath, and of impudence sufficient to brazen out his 
perjury. 2 Not until greater knowledge of the principles 

1 7 State Trials 1544. 

2 The trial of Hawkins for theft in 1669 is of great interest in this 
connection. It was evidently considered to be an extreme piece of 



Criminal Procedure 301 

of judicial administration was gained by a long and harsh 
experience, and until a more stable state of society pro- 
duced the possibility of treating accused persons with the 
generosity which is characteristic of modern criminal 
procedure, were these evils remedied. 

Society, as it was in the latter half of the seventeenth 
century, could neither afford nor pretend to be generous 
to the prisoner at the bar. In these latter days when a 
man comes to be tried, the jury are told that it is their 
first duty to believe him innocent until he is proved to be 
guilty. The burden of that proof lies heavily upon the 
shoulders of those who conduct the prosecution. What- 
ever doubt may exist is counted to the benefit of the 
accused. He is treated throughout with studied con- 
sideration. But when the fourteen men who died for the 
Popish Plot were brought to the bar, all this was unheard 
of. Then the prisoner came into court already in the 
minds of all men half proved an enemy to the king's 
majesty, and one to whom no more advantage than was 
his strict right could be allowed. To the satisfaction of 
one jury, indeed, he had been actually proved guilty, for 
the grand jurors a for our Lord the King " had presented 
upon their oaths that the prisoner "wilfully, feloniously, 
and of his malice aforethought " had committed the crime 
for which he was arraigned. Why should he be accounted 
innocent, to whose guilt at least twelve good men and 
true had positively sworn ? The presumptive innocence 
of the accused is a modern fiction which has tacitly grown 
up in a society conscious that its strength is too firm to be 
shaken by the misdeeds of single offenders, and therefore 
willing that any individual suspected of offence against its 
laws shall retain all the advantages on his own side. 
Before this stage was reached, men thought otherwise. 
In the seventeenth century society and government were 
unstable and liable to sudden shocks. A comparatively 
trifling event might set the balance against the reign of 

good fortune that the accused was able to prove the conspiracy against 
him, and it was only owing to the folly and clumsiness of the prose- 
cutor that he could clearly prove the perjury. 6 State Trials 922-952. 



302 The Popish Plot 

law and order, and consequently the law meted out hard 
measure to those who came into contact with it. As soon 
as the accused was committed for trial he was sent to 
close confinement, from which he did not emerge until he 
was brought to the bar. Unless by extraordinary favour, 
he was allowed neither counsel nor solicitor to assist in 
the preparation of his defence. He was not allowed to 
see his witnesses before they came into court. 1 All the 
papers which he wrote in prison were taken from him. 2 
The utmost he might claim was that one of his friends 
should visit him in order to summon the proper witnesses 
for his defence. Even these interviews, in any case of 
importance, could be held only in the presence of the 
jailor, that the prisoner might be cut off from all means of 
illicit intercourse with the outer world, 3 a precaution which 
was justified by the fact that, when all possible care had been 
taken, prisoners still found means underhand to receive com- 
munications which would have been prizes of considerable 
value to the government if they had been intercepted. 4 

1 Sometimes this gave rise to great hardship, as in Gates' second 
trial for perjury, where a witness named Sarah Paine was summoned, 
but the wrong Sarah coming, the mistake was not detected until she 
was put in the witness-box. 10 State Trials 1287. 

2 This however was considered rather unfair at the time. See the 
case of Atkins. 6 State Trials 1491. The action of the government 
and the judges in Colledge's case (8 State Trials 570-587) in depriving 
the prisoner of papers which leave had been given him to write, that 
the crown case might be managed accordingly, strained this practice 
still further, and is justly termed by Sir J. F. Stephen "one of the 
most wholly inexcusable transactions that ever occurred in an English 
court." Hist. Crim. Law i. 406. 

3 This was certainly so in Newgate and the other London prisons, 
but Reading's intrigue with the Five Popish Lords seems to shew that 
the rule was relaxed for the Tower. 7 State Trials 301. 

4 See the cases of Coleman and Fitzharris. Mrs. Coleman managed 
to convey letters to her husband in prison after his arrest. House of 
Lords MSS. 8. Mrs. Fitzharris also was used, according to the infor- 
mation received by the government, to convey messages to her husband 
from the leaders of his party. She used, while talking to him in the 
presence of a warder, to lower her voice so that he alone could hear, 
and then repeat the message in the middle of their ordinary conversa- 
tion. Information of Lewis the spy, May 30, 1 68 1. S.P. Dom. 
Charles II 415 : 334. 



Criminal Procedure 303 

The age which knew the penal laws as active measures 
of administration, which was divided from the tragedy 
at Fotheringay by less than a hundred years and 
from the Gunpowder Plot by scarcely more than the span 
of a man's life, which had only recovered from the suc- 
cessive shocks of revolution and restoration to wait 
expectantly for the day when rebellion would have to be 
met once again, and on which within the ten ensuing years 
did burst another rebellion and a second revolution, could 
hardly be expected to rate the safety of society more lightly 
than the life of one who, at the best, was surrounded by 
incriminating circumstances. Even so late and well- 
ordered a man as Paley believed that it was better for the 
innocent to die than for the guilty to go free. 1 

1 Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy ii. 310. 






CHAPTER III 

TRIALS FOR THE PLOT 

SUCH was the state of society and the procedure of the 
English courts when Edward Coleman was brought to 
the bar of the Court of King's Bench on November 27, 
1678 to be tried on the charge of high treason. The 
trial was a test case. In point of importance it was chief 
among the series of trials for treason which arose from the 
Plot, for all the others which followed to some extent de- 
pended from this. If Coleman had been acquitted, there 
could have been no more to come. His letters formed, 
as they still form, the weightiest part of the evidence 
against the Roman Catholic intriguers, 1 and had they not 
secured his conviction, the Jesuits, Mr. Langhorn, Lord 
Stafford, and Archbishop Plunket would have gone uncon- 
victed also. By his condemnation the way was opened by 
which they were sent to the scaffold, the innocent and the 
guilty alike, without favour or discrimination. 

In the words of Sir George Jeffreys, Recorder of 
London, the indictment set forth " that the said Edward 
Coleman, endeavouring to subvert the Protestant religion 
and to change and alter the same, and likewise to stir up 
rebellion and sedition amongst the king's liege people and 
also to kill the king," did hold certain correspondence 

1 That this was recognised at the time is evident from the atten- 
tion which they received in the debates in the Commons on the Duke 
of York. That on the Lords' Provision in the Popery bill exempting 
the duke was carried on amid cries of " Coleman's letters ! Coleman's 
letters ! " 4. Parl. Hist. 104.4. And see the whole of the Debate on 
a Motion for Removing the Duke of York, where they had the greatest 
weight. Ibid. 1026-1034.. 

304 



Trials for the Plot 305 

with " M. la Chaise, then servant and confessor to the 
French king." l In point of fact the indictment lays by 
far the greater stress on the former of these counts. The 
murder of the king is mentioned, but not insisted upon. 
The charges against Coleman are summed up in the accusa- 
tion of a plot " to bring and put our said sovereign lord 
the king to final death and destruction, and to overthrow 
and change the government of the kingdom of England, 
and to alter the sincere and true religion of God in this 
kingdom as by law established ; and wholly to subvert 
and destroy the state of the whole kingdom, being in the 
universal parts thereof well-established and ordained ; and 
to levy war against our said sovereign lord the king 
within his realm of England "; and the letters in which he 
endeavoured to obtain aid and assistance for these objects 
are mentioned in particular. 2 Sergeant Maynard and Sir 
William Jones, Attorney-General, followed and opened 
the evidence for the crown. They too touched on the 
charge of killing the king and the evidence which Oates 
was prepared to give on the subject, but dwelt most 
heavily on Coleman's correspondence with Throckmorton, 
Cardinal Howard, and Pere de la Chaize. " The prisoner 
at the bar," said Maynard, " stands indicted for no less 
than an intention and endeavour to murder the king ; for 
an endeavour and attempt to change the government of 
the nation, so well settled and instituted, . . . and for an 
endeavour to alter the Protestant religion and to introduce 
instead of it the Romish superstition and popery." 3 The 
matter could not be better or more briefly stated. The 
substantial charge against Coleman lay, not in the actual 
attempt of which he was accused to murder the king, but 
in the designs which he had formed to alter the established 
course of government and religion, as settled in the 
kingdom. By the recognised construction of the statute 
of Edward III such an attempt was held to include 
" imagining the king's death," and was as much high 
treason as an assassination plot of the most flagrant 

, i 7 State Trials 6. 2 Ibid. 3, 4. 

3 Ibid. 7-13. 
x 






306 The Popish Plot 

character. 1 All that was required was that the intention 
should be proved by an overt act, and the portion of 
Coleman's correspondence which had been seized afforded 
the plainest proof of his designs. This was the real 
offence which lay at his door, and for this he was legally 
and properly condemned to suffer the penalties of high 
treason. " Mr. Coleman," said the Chief Justice after 
the verdict had been delivered, " your own papers are 
enough to condemn you." 2 

The case for the prosecution was opened by the 
evidence of Titus Gates. After an admonition from the 
bench to speak nothing but the truth, permission was 
given him to tell his story in his own way. In the course 
of a long examination by the Chief Justice he reaffirmed 
the startling evidence which he had given before the two 
Houses of Parliament, and which had already become a 
powerful weapon in the Whig armoury. He deposed 
that he had carried treasonable letters from Coleman and 
various Jesuits in London to the Jesuit College at St. 
Omers ; that he had carried to Pere de la Chaize a letter 
written by Coleman in thanks for a promise from the 
confessor of ^10,000 to be employed in procuring Charles 
II's death ; 3 that Coleman had in his hearing expressed 
approval when he was told that the Jesuits had determined 
to kill the king ; 4 and that Coleman had been engaged in 
distributing throughout the kingdom copies of certain 
instructions sent to the Jesuit Ashby concerning the 
assassination of the king, in order to give heart to those 
of their party who were not on the scene of affairs. 5 In 
the medley of wild accusations against the Jesuits and 
other Roman Catholics, which Gates mingled with this 
evidence against Coleman, the main point, as in his previ- 
ous examinations, was the Jesuit consult held, he swore, at 
the White Horse Tavern in the Strand on April 24, 1678, 
to concert means for the death of the king. After the 
consult had broken up into smaller committees, it was at 
that which met at Wild House that Coleman had, according 

1 See above 45-48. 2 7 State Trials 70. 3 Ibid. 16, 17. 

4 Ibid. 1 8. 5 Ibid. 22. 



Trials for the Plot 307 

to Gates, given his formal approval to the project. Later, 
in a letter which Gates professed to have seen, he had 
expressed the desire " that the duke might be trepanned 
into this plot to murder the king." l Bedloe's evidence, 
which followed, was of the same nature, though not so wide 
in scope or so decisive in character. 2 He swore to treason- 
able correspondence between the Jesuits in London and 
Paris, to treasonable words which he had heard Coleman 
speak, to treasonable consults in Paris at which Coleman 
was not present, and on hearsay from Sir Henry Tich- 
bourn bore out Gates' statement that Coleman had received 
a patent to be secretary of state under the new Jesuit 
regime in England. 3 This closed the oral evidence for 
the crown, and it was against this that Coleman directed 
the only part of his case which could be called a defence. 
He objected to Gates that his testimony was entirely 
untrustworthy. At the examination before the privy 
council, Gates had neither known nor accused him person- 
ally ; yet now he pretended to be his intimate and con- 
versant with all his plans. 4 Gates replied quickly that, 
when he was confronted with Coleman at the council 
board, the candles in the room gave so dim a light that 
he was unable to swear positively to his identity. " I 
then said," he declared, " I would not swear I had seen 
him before in my life, because my sight was bad by 
candle-light, and candle-light alters the sight much. . . . 
I cannot see a great way by candle-light." Here the 
monstrous ugliness of Gates' features came to his aid in 
a strange fashion. His eyes were set so deep in the 
sockets that they were universally noted as being out of 
the common. Contemporary descriptions of him all mark 
this feature as striking. 5 There must have been signs of 
something perhaps almost unnatural about them, which 

1 7 State Trials 18, 19. 2 Ibid. 30-33. 

3 Ibid. 23, 31. 4 Ibid. 25. 

5 Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel 646 : " Sunk were his eyes." 
Warner MS. history 104. "Oculi parvi et in occiput retracti." 
L'Estrange, Hue and Cry after Dr. O. " His eyes are very small and 
sunk." 



308 The Popish Plot 

would lend colour to the idea that he needed a strong 
light to see clearly. His reply on the present occasion 
has been universally treated by historians with ridicule, 
but it is difficult to believe that it seemed so to spectators 
and even possible that there was some truth in what he 
said. The answer at all events was taken, and the court 
passed to what was in fact the more important point, 
Coleman's assertion that Gates had not charged him before 
the privy council with what he had since brought forward. 
"The stress of the objection," said the Chief Justice, 
" lieth not upon seeing so much, but how come you that 
you laid no more to Mr. Coleman's charge at that time ? " 
To this the witness had no sufficient answer. His memory 
failed him completely. He declared with many turns and 
qualifications that he had not felt bound " to give in more 
than a general information against Mr. Coleman," and 
that he would have spoken in greater detail had he been 
urged. But he had been so wearied by two sleepless 
nights spent in tramping round the town to take prisoners 
that the king and council were willing to let him go as 
soon as possible. Unfortunately he let slip that he had 
accused Coleman in particular with writing treasonable 
newsletters to inflame the country. 1 Upon this the court 
seized. If he had been able to charge Coleman with this 
malodorous correspondence, why had he not been able to 
accuse him of any of the far graver acts of treason which 
he now laid to his charge ? Gates was thereupon subjected 
to a severe examination by the bench. The questions 
were constantly put to him : " Why did you not accuse 
Mr. Coleman by name ? You were by when the council 
were ready to let Mr. Coleman go almost at large ? Why 
did you not name Mr. Coleman at that time ? How came 
you (Mr. Coleman being so desperate a man as he was, 
endeavouring the killing of the king) to omit your 
information of it to the council and to the king at both 
times ? " 2 Gates' answers were the reverse of satisfactory. 
He became loud in protestation, swore that he had been 

1 7 State Trials 25. 2 Ibid. 25-27. 



Trials for the Plot 309 

so tired that he could scarcely stand, and appealed to the 
king to attest what had passed at his examination ; but 
the Chief Justice kept close to the point and drove him 
from one position to another, until he seemed ready to 
take refuge in silence. The saviour of the nation was 
within an ace of a catastrophe which would have wrecked 
his whole future career when the prisoner restored the 
balance by a false move. Turning from the witness, 
Scroggs asked Coleman if he had any further question to 
put. With maladroitness singular in a man of his experi- 
ence, Coleman reverted to the incident of the candles and 
Gates' inability to recognise him at the council. The 
question was threshed out minutely, for Coleman thought 
that he had found in Sir Thomas Dolman, clerk to the 
privy council, a witness who could prove that Oates had 
not only failed to recognise him, but had denied acquaint- 
ance altogether with the person of Mr. Coleman. This 
however Sir Thomas could not do, and the matter was 
left exactly where it was before : the evidence only shewed 
that Oates had not been able to identify as Coleman the 
man with whom he was confronted. 1 This Oates had 
already admitted and explained. But the examination of 
Dolman naturally led the court to call upon Sir Robert 
Southwell, another of the council clerks, to state his version 
of what had happened. From his evidence it appeared 
that at the examination before the council Oates had 
charged Coleman by name with having in person paid 
5000 out of 15,000 to Sir George Wakeman as a fee 
for poisoning the king. 2 This was a fact which Oates 
had not mentioned in his evidence at the trial, when he 
only swore that Coleman considered 10,000 too small 

1 7 State Trials 27-29. L.C.J. : "What did he (Oates) say?" 
Dolman : "That he did not well know him." L.C.J. : " Mr. Oates, 
you say you were with him (Coleman) at the Savoy and Wild-House ; 
pray, Sir Thomas, did he say he did not know him, or had seen Mr. 
Coleman there ? " Dolman : " He did not know him as he stood 
there." Dolben, J. : " Did he say he did not know Mr. Coleman, or 
that he did not know that man ? " Dolman : " He said he had no 
acquaintance with that man (to the best of my remembrance)." 

2 7 State Trials 29, 30. 






310 The Popish Plot 

a sum for such a great work, and had advised that Sir 
George Wakeman should be paid half as much again. 1 
He had moreover forgotten altogether that he had given 
any evidence of the sort before the council. On this no 
remark was made either by the court or by the prisoner. 
The omission however to point out his lapse of memory 
as of weight against the witness is patent of a genuine 
explanation. Clearly no possible amount of fatigue would 
have justified Oates in the eyes of the judges for having 
failed at his examination by the council to charge Coleman 
with treason of which he afterwards accused him ; but it 
was a very different thing, and perfectly reasonable, to 
consider that the great exertions which he had undergone 
might fairly explain his forgetfulness of the charge which 
he had then actually made. 2 The question had been 
reduced to the issue whether or no Oates had then charged 
Coleman with the high crimes of which he was now giving 

1 7 State Trials 21. 

2 Gates' work had certainly been remarkably hard, and his fatigue 
was no invention of his own. See the evidence of Sir Thomas Dolman 
at Sir George Wakeman's trial. 7 State Trials 656. Oates was con- 
fronted with Coleman, and charged him with high treason on the night 
of Monday, September 30. Dolman : " My Lord, Mr. Oates did appear 
before the king and council, I think on the Saturday before which 
was Michaelmas eve. The council sat long that morning, the council 
sat again in the afternoon, and Mr. Oates was employed that night I 
think to search after some Jesuits, who were then taken, and that was 
the work of that night. The council I think sat again Sunday in 
the afternoon. Mr. Oates was then examined ; the council sat long, 
and at night he was sent abroad again to search the lodgings of several 
priests and to find out their papers, which he did seize upon, and one 
of the nights in that season was a very wet night ; he went either with 
a messenger or with a guard upon him. On Monday morning the 
council sat again, and he was further examined, and went abroad ; 
and Monday night Mr. Oates was in as feeble and weak a condition 
as ever I saw man in my life, and was very willing to have been dis- 
missed for that time, for he seemed to be in very great weakness and 
disorder, so that I believe he was scarce able to give a good answer." 

The whole incident is very similar to that which occurred at Wake- 
man's trial, with the exception that then the evidence went against 
the witness, whereas now it was against the prisoner. The conduct 
of the court on the two occasions was perfectly consistent. Ibid. 651- 
653. See below. 



Trials for the Plot 311 

evidence. This was now indisputably determined in favour 
of the witness and against the prisoner. 

The first reflection upon this scene which occurs to the 
mind of one who comes to study it in the twentieth century 
is that in a modern court it could scarcely have taken place 
at all. It seems as if the elaborate care taken to discuss 
particular omissions and contradictions in Gates' evidence 
was only so much waste of time, for to the modern eye 
the whole bulk was of a character which would now be 
considered wholly inadmissible as good testimony. Writ- 
ing of the evidence of the other informers as well as of 
Oates throughout the trials, Sir James Fitzjames Stephen 
says : " No one accustomed to weighing evidence can 
doubt that he and the subordinate witnesses were quite as 
bad and quite as false as they are usually supposed to have 
been. Their evidence has every mark of perjury about it. 
They never would tie themselves down to anything if they 
could possibly avoid it. As soon as they were challenged 
with a lie by being told that witnesses were coming to 
contradict them, they shuffled and drew back and began 
to forget." l The evidence which Oates gave against the 
accused consisted largely in his swearing that he had 
carried letters from one person to another, which upon a 
mental comparison with yet more letters, he recognised to 
be in the handwriting of a third person, being in this case 
that of Coleman. 2 Or that he had been told by Coleman of 
treasonable letters which he had written into the country 
to encourage the Catholic party. Or again, that he had 
been told by other persons that at a consult, from which he 
himself had been absent, various treasonable designs were 
formed and approved ; or that it was generally understood 
among the conspirators that the accused had done this, 
that, or the other. Even definite facts sworn by the 

1 Hist. Crim. Law i. 385. 

2 Compare the trial of Whitebread, Harcourt, Fenwick, etc. When 
Oates had finished his evidence, Fenwick said : " Pray, my Lord, be 
pleased to take notice that this man's evidence all along is that he saw 
such and such letters from such and such persons. They have no 
evidence but just that, they saw such and such letters." 7 State 
Trials 358. 



312 The Popish Plot 

witness, as for instance when Oates swore that he had seen 
Coleman pay an extra guinea to the messenger who 
carried ^80 to four Irishmen as payment for the king's 
death, and when Bedloe swore that he had heard Coleman 
say that " if there was an hundred heretical kings to be 
deposed, he would see them all destroyed," l were state- 
ments which did not receive and were scarcely susceptible 
of corroboration. Nowadays it is an established principle 
that the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice is not 
to be acted upon, and the direct evidence of witnesses in 
the Popish Plot, even when it was most definite and 
precise, would without exception have fallen under this 
rule. But in the seventeenth century the rule was 
unknown. Practically any statement made on oath in the 
witness box was accepted unconditionally, unless the 
witness was either contradicted by better evidence or else 
proved to be no " good witness." The competence of a 
witness was technically destroyed only by a record of 
perjury proved against him, but the credibility of evidence 
was a question for the judgment of the jury ; and where 
the witness had been convicted of other crimes the jury 
sometimes disbelieved his word. 2 The evidence of accom- 
plices was not only admitted but highly prized. That it 
should be uncorroborated excited no wonder, for it was 
regarded as a remarkable piece of fortune to obtain it at 
all. To our minds the dead weight of an oath seems to 
be of far less account in determining the trustworthiness of 
evidence than its intrinsic probability and the degree to 
which it is corroborated by other circumstances, but in the 
judgment of the seventeenth century an oath carried all 
before it. A remarkable illustration of this is received 
from the trial of the Five Jesuits in 1679. Fen wick 
objected that the evidence against him was wholly 
uncorroborated. " All the evidence that is given," he said, 
" comes but to this, there is but saying and swearing. 
I defy them all to give one probable reason to satisfy any 
reasonable uninterested man's judgment how this could 

1 7 State Trials 21, 32. 
2 As in the case of Dangerfieid. 7 State Trials I no. 



Trials for the Plot 313 

be." " You say there is nothing but saying and swearing," 
answered the Chief Justice, " but you do not consider what 
you say in that matter. All the evidence and all the 
testimony in all trials is by swearing. A man comes and 
swears that he saw such a bond sealed, or heard such 
words spoken ; this is saying and swearing ; but it is that 
proof that we go by, and by which all men's lives and 
fortunes are determined. . . . Mr. Fenwick," he added in 
summing up to the jury, " says to all this : there is nothing 
against us but talking and swearing ; but for that he hath 
been told (if it were possible for him to learn) that all 
testimony is but talking and swearing : for all things, all 
men's lives and fortunes are determined by an oath ; and 
an oath is by talking, by kissing the book, and calling God 
to witness to the truth of what is said." l Fenwick's 
cosmopolitan education here gave him the advantage. By 
the light of experience he is seen to have been in advance of 
the times in England, but for the law and practice of the 
English courts his contention was vain. He was asking 
that the court should in his case lay down a rule which 
half a century later was new to the English mind. 

The ignorance which was thus displayed of the proper 
nature of testimony has constantly been considered as a 
mark of atrocious ferocity and cowardly time-service in 
the judges of the period. Such a view is entirely 
erroneous. The evidence accepted at political trials did 
not differ in character from that acted upon at trials the 
causes of which were remote from politics. Fortunately 
there are means by which this can be proved exactly. It 
is fortunate, for it is improbable that the same type of 
perjured evidence should appear in any other than a 
political trial. Of perjured evidence there was no doubt 
plenty at every assize, as is witnessed by the case of the 
Rev. Mr. Hawkins, 2 where a considerable dose was nearly 
swallowed without being detected. But in this style of lie 
there was not the same boldness, the same play of fancy, 
the same overriding of the limits of likelihood which has 
rendered the acceptance of Oates' evidence unintelligible 

1 7 State Trials 359, 411. 2 See above 293. 






314 The Popish Plot 

to historians except on the supposition of monstrous 
immorality in the judges and juries. "Witnesses," 
writes Fox, " of such a character as not to deserve credit 
in the most trifling cause, upon the most immaterial facts, 
gave evidence so incredible, or, to speak more properly, 
so impossible to be true, that it ought not to have been 
believed if it had come from the mouth of Cato ; and 
upon such evidence, from such witnesses, were innocent 
men condemned to death and executed." l Such a state 
of things, thought Fox and many after him, is not to be 
explained on any supposition other than that of wilfully 
wicked blindness to the truth, and can hardly be paralleled 
in modern history. There is however, if not a parallel, 
at least a very great similarity between the evidence offered 
at the trials for the Popish Plot and that taken at another 
series of trials of almost the same date, to find which no 
one need go further than a different page in the same 
volume of reports. The same tangled farrago of wild 
nonsense with which Oates and his fellow-witnesses filled 
the courts is, on another plane, almost exactly reproduced 
in the witch trials of the seventeenth century. 

In the first half of the century the numbers of women 
who had been condemned and hanged as witches may 
be counted almost by dozens, 2 and in the reign of 
Charles II at least five wretched creatures were put to 
death for practices in the black art. What is here note- 
worthy about their trials is that they exhibit just the 
same characteristics as the trials for the Popish Plot. 
The monstrous evidence offered by the witnesses and the 
credulity displayed by the court at the trials of the 
Suffolk witches in 1665 anc ^ of the Devon witches 
seventeen years later at least equalled, if they did not 
surpass, anything which is recorded of political cases of 
the same age. Two instances will suffice to demonstrate 
the truth of this. At the trial at Bury St. Edmunds, 
Margaret Arnold gave evidence as to the children who 
were said to have been bewitched : "At another time 

1 Fox, History of the Early Parr of the Reign of James II 34. 
2 Gardiner, History of England vii. 323-326. 



Trials for the Plot 315 

the younger child, being out of her fits, went out of 
doors to take a little fresh air, and presently a little 
thing like a bee flew upon her face and would have gone 
into her mouth, whereupon the child ran in all haste 
to the door to get into the house again, screeching out 
in a most terrible manner ; whereupon this deponent 
made haste to come to her, but before she could get to 
her, the child fell into her swooning fit, and at last with 
much pain, straining herself, she vomited up a twopenny 
nail with a broad head ; and after that the child had 
raised up the nail, she came to her understanding and, 
being demanded by this deponent how she came by this 
nail, she answered ' that the bee brought this nail 
and forced it into her mouth.' " l The information of 
Elizabeth Eastchurch against Temperance Lloyd, one 
of the three women condemned in 1682, is a fair specimen 
of the evidence which was, in the words of Fox, " im- 
possible to be true," and which was nevertheless accepted 
and acted upon by the courts. " The said informant 
upon her oath saith, That upon the second day of this 
instant July, the said Grace Thomas, 2 then lodging in 
this informant's said husband's house, and hearing of 
her to complain of great pricking pains in one of her 
knees, she the said informant did see her said knee, and 
observed that she had nine places in her knee which had 
been pricked, and that every one of the said pricks 
were as though it had been the prick of a thorn. Where- 
upon this informant afterwards, upon the same 2nd day 
of July, did demand of the said Temperance Lloyd 
whether she had any wax or clay in the form of a picture 
whereby she had pricked and tormented the said Grace 
Thomas ? Unto which the said Temperance made answer 
that she had no wax or clay, but confessed that she had 
only a piece of leather which she had pricked nine 
times." 3 

When it is .considered that the former of these trials 

1 6 State Trials 693. 

2 One of the women supposed to be bewitched. 
3 8 State Trials 1021. Lives of the Norths u 167. 






316 The Popish Plot 

was conducted by Lord Chief Justice Hale, the most 
famous and according to all testimony the most moderate 
judge of his time, it becomes brilliantly clear that it was 
not only by incompetent judges, as the nature of the 
cases makes it clear that it was not only in political trials, 
that unsound evidence was accepted as genuine, but that 
the common knowledge of the times did not discriminate 
in any appreciable manner between evidence which is, 
and that which ought not to be, sufficient to procure the 
conviction of prisoners. Without adornment the fact 
is that evidence which to modern ears is bad, to those 
of judges and juries of the seventeenth century seemed 
perfectly good. 1 One further point of similarity between 
the evidence given at witch trials and at trials for the 
Plot may be noted. Credence was given to flimsy tales 
of the devil and his practices, if not solely, at least all 
the more readily because such ideas were current in the 
popular mind, and scarcely more than a hint was needed 
for their embodiment as concrete facts. The same may 
be said of the revelations of the Popish Plot. For years 
men had expected nothing more certainly and had feared 
nothing more keenly than a great onslaught of Catholicism 
upon their own religion. What they now heard seemed 
only a just realisation of their prophecies. " They had," 
says Bishop Parker, " so familiarly accustomed themselves 
to these monstrous lies, that at the first opening of Oates' 
Plot they with a ready and easy credulity received all 
his fictions ; for whatsoever he published, they had long 
before expected." 2 

1 An extraordinary instance of the nature of the ideas of the time 
on the subject of evidence appears in an examination before the Lords' 
committee of inquiry. Oates complained that the Bishop of Chichester 
and Justice Bickley had reviled his evidence. A witness named 
Nicholas Covert was examined : " says he was at the public meeting 
at Chichester, but he remembers not that anything was said reflecting 
on Dr. Oates. The discourse was concerning the Narratives, and 
somebody there said that he had contradicted himself twenty-two 
times." House of Lords MSS. 146. If a score of self-contradictions 
were not generally taken as an objection to a witness, it is hard to 
imagine what would have been. 

2 History of his own Time. London, 1727, 386. 



Trials for the Plot 317 

It is necessary to lay stress upon this aspect of the 
evidence given by the witnesses at Coleman's trial, since 
at all those which followed it reappeared with little 
variation ; but to Coleman himself it was not of the first 
importance. Sixteen letters selected from his corre- 
spondence with Roman Catholics abroad were read at 
length, 1 and formed the heaviest part of the case against 
him. From them the nature of his schemes was plainly 
visible. It was of little moment to him that they were 
taken as establishing the reality of the nightmare which 
Gates had sketched. Without anything in common with 
the blood and thunder tales which that miscreant poured 
forth, they contained more than enough of treasonable 
matter to cost the prisoner his head. It was impossible 
for him to deny the letters. All he could do was to say 
that he had meant no harm, and to express the hope 
that they would not be found to bear out the charge of 
high treason. " I deny the conclusion, but the premises," 
he admitted, "are too strong and artificial." 2 Chief 
among the correspondence read were three letters to 
and one from Pere de la Chaize and the declaration 
which Coleman had drawn up to justify the prospective 
dissolution of Parliament. 3 On the subject of these an 
important discussion took place between Scroggs and the 
prisoner. Coleman insisted that there was nothing in 
his letters to justify the accusation that he had planned 
the death of the king ; he might have used extravagant 
expressions ; but if all the letters were considered 
together, surely it would be evident that, so far from 
designing any ill to the king and the Duke of York, 
his sole aim had been to exalt their power as high as 
possible. The Chief Justice pointed out that the letters 
openly declared, almost in so many words, an intention 
to overthrow the religion and government of the country 
by the help of foreign power ; to say that he had 
attempted this for the benefit of the king was merely 
to offer a feeble excuse for his fault ; with that the 

. l Ralph i. 412. 2 7 State Trials 13. 

3 Ibid. 35-53. 



318 The Popish Plot 

court had nothing to do. Coleman again began to 
explain his point of view in a rather muddled fashion. 
People said that he had made use of the duke's name 
without leave in his negotiations ; was it likely that he 
had been so foolish as to imagine that his friends abroad 
would expend their money without the certainty that 
it was for the duke's service ; still more, was it likely 
that the duke would use any sum thus obtained to the 
disservice of the king ? " I take it for granted," he 
continued " (which sure none in the world will deny), 
that the law was ever made immediately subject to the 
king or duke ; and consequently to the duke, I cannot 
think this will ever be expounded by the law of England 
or the jury to be treason." At this point the Chief 
Justice interrupted him impatiently. "These vain in- 
consequential discourses " served but to waste the time 
of the court. The plain truth was that the prisoner 
had formed a design " to bring popery into England, 
and to promote the interest of the French king in this 
place " ; l a fact which Coleman had not even attempted 
to deny. What Scroggs meant, and what, had he been 
a better judge, he would have made clear to the prisoner, 
was that such designs, according to the law which it 
was his duty to administer as it had been handed down 
to him, were technically evidence of high treason, whether 
or no they included an actual plot to kill the king ; 
but he was so much irritated by Coleman's feeble efforts 
to say that this was not or ought not to have been so, 
that he neglected altogether to explain the matter, with 
the result that when Coleman came up for judgment 
on the following day he shewed that he was still in the 
dark about it. 2 

Concerning Coleman's letters a curious point arose at 
the trial. In opening the evidence for the crown Sergeant 

1 7 State Trials 59, 60. 

2 Being asked what he had to say he returned again to the subject : 
"As for my papers I humbly hope . . . that I should not have been 
found guilty of any crime in them but what the act of grace could 
have pardoned." . . . Ibid. 71. 



Trials for the Plot 319 

Maynard had remarked that the correspondence found at 
the prisoner's house extended only " to some part of the 
year 1675 ; from 1675 unto 1678 all lies in the dark; 
we have no certain proof of it, but we apprehend he had 
intelligence until i678." x The Chief Justice took the 
subject up : " Mr. Coleman, I will tell you when you will 
be apt to gain credit in this matter. . . . Can mankind 
be persuaded that you, that had this negotiation in 1674 
and 1675, kft ff j us t then, at that time when your letters 
were found according to their dates ? Do you believe 
there was no negotiation after 1675 because we have not 
found them ? " The prisoner replied, " After that time (as 
I said to the House of Commons) I did give over corre- 
sponding. I did offer to take all the oaths and tests in 
the world that I never had one letter for at least two 
years ; yea (that I may keep myself within compass), I 
think it was for three or four." 2 After he had delivered 
sentence on the next day, Scroggs adjured the condemned 
man to confess that he had continued to correspond with 
agents abroad during the last three years. *' I am sorry, 
Mr. Coleman," he said, " I have not charity enough to 
believe the words of a dying man ; for I will tell you 
what sticks with me very much : I cannot be persuaded, 
and nobody can, but that your correspondence and 
negotiations did continue longer than the letters that we 
have found, that is, after 1675." "Upon the words of a 
dying man and the expectation I have of salvation," was 
Coleman's answer, " I tell your lordship that there is not 
a book or a paper in the world that I have laid aside 
voluntarily." Scroggs urged that he might have burnt 
them. " Not by the living God," returned the prisoner. 3 
Coleman lied. The correspondence which he carried on 
with Paris and Rome, even in the fragmentary state in 
which it has been preserved, extended beyond the end 
of the year 1675. Between December in that year and 
December 1676 he received fifty letters from St. Germain 
at Paris, and a letter from the same quarter, dated October 

1% 7 State Trials 8. 2 Ibid. 15. 3 Ibid. 76. 






32,0 The Popish Plot 

5, 1678, was seized on delivery after Coleman's arrest. 
From January 1676 to January 1678 a correspondence 
was steadily maintained between Coleman and Cardinal 
Howard at Rome either personally or by his secretary 
Leybourn, and a letter from Leybourn seized on its 
arrival bore the date October i, 1678. Shortly before, a 
"very dark, suspicious letter," dated September 28, 1678, 
had been seized on delivery. Coleman even received letters 
from Italy after his arrest by the help of his wife. The 
last doubts on the subject are resolved by the evidence of 
his secretary, Jerome Boatman, taken before the committee 
of the House of Lords : " I was employed to write home 
and foreign news. The correspondence was held on until 
my master was taken. There came letters by post since 
my master was taken. I delivered the letters to my 
mistress to carry to my master after he was under the 
messenger's hands." l Belief in the dying vows of the 
Jesuits and their friends is perhaps scarcely strengthened 
by Coleman's conduct in this matter. It is remarkable 
that the means taken for the preparation of the case were 
so haphazard that the crown lawyers had no knowledge 
of such valuable material as was in the hands of the 
committee of the upper house ; and it is small testimony 
to the capacity of the noble lords who negotiated the 
business of the committee with the Attorney-General 2 
that the latter should have been entirely ignorant of its 
existence. 3 

1 House of Lords MSS. 8, November 6, 1678. 

2 House of Lords MSS. 14. 

3 This misunderstanding is so extraordinary that I was tempted at 
one time to adopt the theory that the prosecution was aware of the 
existence of the later letters, and suppressed the knowledge from 
motives of expedience. Certainly the managers of the prosecutions 
for the plot were guilty of conduct which not only would now be 
thought unprofessional, but was on any consideration highly sus- 
picious, as for instance in the suppression of the forged letters sent 
by Gates and Tonge to Father Bedingfield (see Ralph i. 384. Sir G. 
Sitwell, The First Whig 36), and on a question of honesty simply 
the balance of probability might turn against them. But the supposi- 
tion cannot be maintained. It was suggested at the time that, if the 
letters of the years 1673, 1674, 1675 contained such dangerous matter 



Trials for the Plot 321 

Throughout his trial Coleman was treated neither 
more nor less fairly than any other prisoner in any crown 
case of the period. The practice of the day weighed 
heavily against him. He did not receive nor could 
he expect any favour from it. Neither was he met by 
any special disfavour on political or any other grounds. 
One point of his defence however should undoubtedly 
have received more consideration than it did. Oates 
had charged him with paying a guinea as an extra fee 
for the king's murder, "about the 2ist day of August. 1 
Almost at the end of the trial, after the final speeches for 
the prosecution, Coleman announced that if his diary were 
fetched from his lodgings he could prove that he had been 
out of town from the I oth of August until the last day of 
the month. 2 His servant was called, but was unable to 
do more than say generally that he had been away from 
London during part of August. With the book, said 
the prisoner, he would be able to prove his statement 
exactly ; but the Chief Justice would not allow it to be 
brought, on the ground that even if what he said were 
true, little would be gained to him. 8 This was no doubt 
true. Apart from the evidence of Oates, the testimony 
of Bedloe and his own letters were enough to hang the 
prisoner, and if Oates' word had been shaken in this 
point it would have been but little benefit to Coleman. 
But a great mistake was made by the court. To have 

as appeared from their perusal, those of the three ensuing years must, 
had they been found, have revealed still more horrible schemes. But 
the force of this argument was not sufficient to afford a motive for 
taking the risk of detection (Ralph i. 412). And although the person- 
ality of Shaftesbury, by whom alone such a scheme could have been 
worked out, was of great potency in the committee of the House of 
Lords, he hardly dominated it so completely as to render the manoeuvre 
practicable in the presence of such men as Lord Anglesey, the Marquis 
of Winchester, and the Bishop of Bath and Wells (House of Lords 
MSS. i.). 

1 See above 312. 7 State Trials 59. 2 Ibid. 65. 

3 L.C.J. : " If the cause did turn upon that matter, I would be 
well content to sit until the book were brought ; but I doubt the 
cause will not stand on that foot ; but if that were the case it would 
do you little good." 7 State Trials 65. 

Y 



322 The Popish Plot 

proved a perjury against Gates so early in his career of 
witness would have inflicted a lasting injury on his 
character and redoubled the force of the catastrophe 
which befell him at the trial of Sir George Wakeman 
eight months later. This was not however apparent at 
the time, and the Chief Justice's determination, due to 
the lateness of the hour and the small extent to which 
the prisoner's interest was actually involved, is easy to 
understand. When he came up to receive judgment 
the next day Coleman produced the diary, 1 but it was 
then too late and the chance was gone. 

Scroggs proceeded at once to recapitulate the evidence 
to the jury. What was important in his summing up 
was almost entirely concerned with the meaning and 
weight of Coleman's letters. 2 He pointed out acutely 
that the construction which the prisoner put upon them 
and the feeble explanation which he gave of his designs 
were repugnant to common sense and could not be 
entertained. " For the other part of the evidence," he 
terminated abruptly, "which is by the testimony of the 
present witnesses, you have heard them. I will not 
detain you longer now, for the day is going out." 8 The 
jury went from the bar and returned immediately with 
the verdict of Guilty. On the following day Coleman 
received sentence as usual in cases of high treason, 
and five days after was executed at Tyburn. As the 
cart was about to be drawn away he was heard 
to murmur, " There is no faith in man." A rumour 
spread throughout the town that until the end he 
had expected to receive a pardon promised by the 
Duke of York, and that, finding himself deceived, he 
had died cursing the master whom he had so diligently 
served. 4 

Coleman was not the first man to suffer for the Popish 

1 7 State Trials 71. 

2 Ibid. 66-68. Besides this he said several other things, of which 
mention will be made later. 

3 Ibid. 70. 

4 Ibid. 78. Luttrell, Brief 'Relation i. 4. Burnet ii. 178. 



Trials for the Plot 323 

Plot. On November 26, the day Coleman was brought 
to trial, William Staley, a Roman Catholic goldsmith, had 
undergone a traitor's death at Tyburn. Staley was accused 
by two scoundrels of having in a public tavern uttered 
words which announced his intention of taking away the 
king's life. The chief witness was a wretch named Car- 
stairs, who had eked out a precarious livelihood by acting 
as a government spy on conventicles in Scotland. 1 Two 
others of the same kidney corroborated his evidence. 
They swore that Staley had entered a cookshop in Covent 
Garden to dine with a French friend named Fromante, 
and had there burst into a rage against the king ; the 
old man, Fromante, his friend, said "that the king of 
England was a tormentor of the people of God, and he 
answered again in a great fury, ' He is a great heretic and 
the greatest rogue in the world ; here is the heart and 
here is the hand that will kill him.' ... In French the 
words were spoken, he making a demonstration stamping 
with his foot : ' I would kill him myself.' " 2 By an act 
passed early in Charles II's reign, " malicious and advised 
speaking " had been made an overt act of high treason, 
and on this Staley was indicted. Over his sentence his- 
torians have gone into ecstasies of horror, on the ground 
that it is impossible to believe that " a great Roman 
Catholic banker " in the position of Staley should have 
spoken such words. 3 Staley however was not the banker, 
but the banker's son, and was not therefore of the same 
highly responsible age and position as has been supposed. 
" Young Staley," as he is called in a letter of the time, 4 is 
identified by Von Schwerin, ambassador of the Great Elector 
to the court of Charles II. On November 19 he writes : 
" Auch ist der Sohn eines sehr reichen Goldschmieds 
gefanglich eingezogen worden, weil er bei einem Gelage 

1 Burnet ii. 113. 

2 Evidence of Carstairs, 6 State Trials 1503. 

3 Macaulay, Hist, of England i. 237. Lingard xiii. 107, 108. 

4 Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. 14. Appendix ii. 361. See also Fairfax 
Correspondence. Civil Wars (ed. R. Bell) ii. 297. James Babington 
to Henry Lord Fairfax, November 20, 1678. " Staley, the goldsmith's 
son, was tried to-day at the King's Bench, and condemned." 



32,4 The Popish Plot 

wiewohl in trunkenem Zustande Reden gefuhrt hat : die 
Conspiration sei noch nicht ganz entdeckt, so habe er noch 
Hande den KOnig zu ermorden." ] But the decisive 
evidence on the point is the fact that William Staley's 
father, the banker, was alive some three weeks after he 
should, according to the received account, have been 
hanged and quartered. On December 18 his clerk and 
cashier were examined before the committee of the House 
of Lords on the subject of a reported connection between 
their master and Sir George Wakeman. The cashier had 
been in his service for seven years. The next day Mr. 
Staley, as ordered, himself attended the committee, 
bringing with him " the books wherein he has kept his 
accounts the last two years." 2 Obviously this man had 
been head of the firm for more than the previous month, 
and the account given by the Brandenburg envoy is 
correct. 3 

To hold that the words attributed to Staley by the 
witnesses at the trial were spoken " advisedly and mali- 
ciously " was undoubtedly to drive the act as far as it 
would go against the prisoner ; but that they were spoken 
seems almost certain. He hardly denied that he had 

1 Schwerin, Briefe aus England 356. On December ^ (n.s.) 
he notes : " Des Goldschmied's Sohn, von dessen unbesonnenen 
Reden ich bereits Mittheilung gemacht, ist gehangen und nachher 
geviertheilt worden. Man hatte sich vorher iiberzeugt, dass er gesagt, 
dass der Konig in England sei der grosste Ketzer und Schelm in der 
Welt. Darauf hat er mit der Hand auf die Brust geschlagen, mit den 
Fiissen ftinf bis sechsmal auf die Erde gestampft, und mit ausgestrecktem 
Arm gesagt, Dies ist die Hand, die ihn hatte umbringen sollen, der Konig 
und das Parlament glaubten, das alles gethan und vorbei sei, allein die 
Schelme waren betrogen." Ibid. 362. Barillon's testimony is on 
the same side : " Le temoin, sur la foi duquel Staley, fils d'un orrevre, 
a etc condamne, a accuse le Due d'Hamilton." December 16/26, 
1678. And Warner (MS. history 40): "Primus, qui Catholico 
sanguine Angliam rigavit, fuit Gulielmus Stalaeus, alterius Gulielmi 
auri fabri et trapazitae Londiniensis civis divitis filius." The act 
under which Staley was condemned is 13 Charles II cap. i. 

2 House of Lords MSS. 77, 78. 

3 Burnet (ii. 171) speaks of Staley as "the popish banker, who had 
been in great credit, but was then under some difficulties " ; but this is 
one of the rare mistakes he makes in point of fact. 



Trials for the Plot 32,5 

called the king a rogue and a heretic. 1 His only explana- 
tion of the words to which Carstairs swore was that instead 
of saying " I would kill him myself," he had said " I 
would kill myself." The difference between the words 
Je le tuerais moi-meme and Je me tuerais moi-meme is small 
enough to account for an easy mistake made by a hearer, 
but it was unfortunate for Staley that, as was pertinently 
remarked by the Attorney-General, the latter would not 
make sense in the context. Still more damning was the 
prisoner's omission to call as a witness for his defence 
Fromante, who had taken part in the conversation, and 
could, if Staley had been innocent, have cleared the point 
in his favour ; but although every facility was given him 
for doing so, he refused either to call his friend or to 
make use of the copy of his previous examination, which 
the Attorney-General offered to lend him. 2 The case was 
not terminated even by Staley's sentence and death. In 
consideration of his exemplary conduct in prison, where 
he " behaved himself very penitently, from the time of his 
conviction until the time of his execution, which was 
attested by the several ministers which visited him during 
that time," leave was given by the king that his body 
should be delivered to his friends after execution for 
private burial. With great want of tact, and " to the 
great indignity and affront of his Majesty's mercy and 

1 He disclaimed all such sentiments and did deny the words, but 
afterwards said that he had "never with intention, or any thought or 
ill-will, spake any word upon this matter." 6 State Trials 1506, 
1508. 

2 6 State Trials 1509. Lingard (xiii. 108) states on the authority 
of Les Conspirations d' Angleterre that Fromante, who is there called 
Firmin, was put into prison to prevent his appearance at the trial ; but 
the work is by no means above suspicion, and is directly contradicted 
on the point. Large extracts from Les Conspirations cT Angleterre, which 
was published in 1681 and is now extremely rare, are quoted by 
Arnauld, (Euvres xiv. 515-535. Arnauld says in a note : "C'est M. 
Rocole, ancien chanoine de S. Benoit a Paris, qui en est 1'auteur ; mais 
1'avertissement qui le fait paraitre Protestant, n'est pas de lui." There 
is among the State Papers an order in council for the arrest of Bar- 
tholeme^w Fermin for high treason on account of the Popish Plot, but 
without date. S.P. Dom. Charles II 408 : i. no. 



326 The Popish Plot 

favour, the friends of the said Staley caused several masses 
to be said over his quarters, . . . and appointed a time for 
his interment, viz. Friday, the 2Qth of November 1678, in 
the evening, from his father's house in Covent Garden, at 
which time there was made a pompous and great funeral, 
many people following the corpse to the church of St. 
Paul's, Covent Garden, where he was buried " : in conse- 
quence of which an order was given for the disinterment 
of the body, and to vindicate the majesty of justice his 
quarters were affixed to the city gates and his head set up 
to rot on London Bridge. 1 

A fortnight after Coleman's execution, Whitebread, 
Fenwick, Ireland, Pickering, and Grove were brought to 
the bar of the Old Bailey. Thomas White or Whitebread, 
alias Harcourt, was a man sixty years of age. He had 
been educated at St. Omers, became a professed father in 
the Society of Jesus in 1652, and was chosen provincial of 
the English province at the beginning of the year i6y8. 2 
It was by his means that Oates had entered the Jesuit 
College at St. Omers after expulsion from Valladolid, and 
it was he who Oates swore had boxed his ears on learning 
that the plot was betrayed. 3 Fenwick, less well known by 
his real name Caldwell, was ten years his junior. He had 
joined the English mission from Flanders in 1675, anc ^ 
was now the London agent for the college at St. Omers. 
Both were noted in the society for their success in the 
missionary field. 4 Ireland, alias Ironmonger, had come 
into England in 1677 as procurator of the province. 5 All 
five were accused by Oates of being principals in the plot 
and privy to the king's death. Pickering, a Benedictine, 
and Grove, a Jesuit lay-brother, were named as the actual 
agents in one of the schemes for his assassination. Oates' 
evidence was long and highly coloured. He had been 
sent over by the Jesuits to murder Doctor Tonge. He 
had seen instructions for the murder of the Bishop of 

1 6 State Trials 1511, 1512. 2 Foley v. 233, 234. 

8 Ibid.v. 12. Lingard xiii. 64. True Narrative of the Horrid Plot 
and Conspiracy , Ixxvii. 

4 Foley v. 233, 244, 245. 5 Ibid. 223. 



Trials for the Plot 327 

Hereford and Dr. Stillingfleet. He had been in the thick 
of a scheme of Fenwick's contrivance to raise rebellion in 
Scotland and Ireland. Whitebread had sealed commissions 
for the popish army under the seal of Johannes Paulus de 
Oliva, general of his order. Fenwick had been present 
when Coleman paid the famous guinea to quicken the 
message which was to be fatal to the king. All the 
prisoners had been present at the consult on April 24, 
1678, when a resolution to kill the king was signed by at 
least forty persons. Pickering was to have thirty thousand 
masses and Grove ^1500 for the deed. They had dogged 
the king in St. James' Park, and had twisted the silver 
bullets of their carbines that the wound made might be 
incurable. Charles would infallibly have been shot had 
not the flint of Pickering's pistol been loose, and Pickering 
had undergone penance of thirty lashes for his carelessness. 
To use their own words, " they did intend to dispose of 
the duke too, in case he did not appear vigorous in pro- 
moting the Catholic religion." 1 To all this there was little 
to be said. The prisoners put some questions to Gates, 
and were in turn slightly questioned by the court. All 
that appeared was that Grove had known Gates more 
intimately than he wished to represent, and that the wit- 
ness had borrowed from both Grove and Fenwick money 
which had naturally never been repaid. 2 Fenwick how- 
ever offered to bring a document from St. Omers, under 
the seal of the college and attested by unimpeachable wit- 
nesses, that Gates had been at the seminary at the time 
when he swore that he was present in London at the 
consult at the White Horse Tavern. This was refused 
by the court without hesitation. Fenwick exclaimed 
bitterly that the judges seemed to think there was no 
justice out of England. 3 But in supposing that a special 
piece of unfairness was directed against himself and his 
friends he was mistaken. It was a regular and unbroken 
rule of the court that no evidence could be brought, if 
such an expression may be used, from outside the trial. 

x l 7 State Trials 91-101. 2 Hid. 101-104. 

3 Ibid. 105. 



318 The Popish Plot 

Such evidence as reports of other trials, the journals of the 
Houses of Parliament, the minutes of the privy council 
was allowed to be used on neither side. It was one of the 
points in which the practice of the day pressed hardly on 
the accused, but the judges could not, as Scroggs truly 
said, " depart from the law or the way of trial." The 
theory of the law was that the evidence at a trial might be 
disproved by the defence, or its value might be destroyed 
if the witness were proved not to be competent ; but 
neither could it be shaken by such a document as Fenwick 
proposed to produce, 1 nor could evidence afterwards be 
called against it to shake the credit of a witness at a 
previous trial. To effect this the witness must be indicted 
and convicted for perjury and the record of his conviction 
proved. Every trial stood by itself, and everything alleged 
at it had to be proved or disproved on the spot, either by 
direct evidence or by judicial records sworn at the trial to 
be correct. 2 

Bedloe was then called. He began by giving evidence 
of the Plot in general, in pursuit of which he had been 
employed, he swore, for the last five years to carry letters 
between Jesuits and monks in England, Ireland, and 
France, and Sir William Godolphin and Lord Bellasis. 3 
But of the prisoners in particular he could only speak to 
Ireland, Pickering, and Grove. Whitebread and Fenwick 
he knew by sight alone. At the trial of Reading he con- 
fessed that this was a lie. 4 There he explained that he 
would have borne witness before against the two Jesuits 
had not Reading been intriguing with him at the time, 

1 7 State Trials 105. L.CJ. : "You must be tried by the laws of 
England, which sends no piece of fact out of the country to be tried." 

2 There is much evidence to show this. The following instances 
are from the same volume of the State Trials : The Attorney-General 
not allowed to read a certificate against the accused 129. Whitebread 
not allowed to use Gates' Narrative 374. Fenwick, Whitebread, and 
Harcourt not allowed to use the report of Ireland's trial. Harcourt 
was, in fact, mistaken on the point for which he wished to refer to the 
report 360, 384-386. Lord Stafford not allowed to use the council 
book as evidence 1440. See also 451, 462, 467, 654. 

3 7 State Trials 106-108. 

4 On April 16, 1679. I bid. 259-310, and see below. 



Trials for the Plot 329 

and that he kept back his evidence in order to lead the 
attorney deeper into the business. 1 Not only was this 
admitted by the court as sufficient justification of his 
conduct, but at their later trial, when Bedloe gave 
decisive evidence against them, Whitebread and Fen- 
wick hardly made any objection to his credibility upon 
this ground. 2 

One witness having failed, the prosecution attempted 
to supply his place by reading a letter written to summon 
a father of the society to the Jesuit congregation which 
the provincial had fixed for April 24. But this the Chief 
Justice would not permit. The letter was from Edward 
Petre, afterwards confessor to James II, to William 
Tunstall. It had been found with Harcourt's papers and 
did not mention Whitebread's name at all. The contents 
might substantiate Oates' evidence as to the date of the 
congregation, but they could not conceivably be construed, 
as the crown lawyers suggested, into evidence touching the 
prisoners. Scroggs' opposition prevented the manoeuvre, 
and after a strong warning to the jury he allowed the 
letter to be read, " to fortify the testimony of Mr. Oates, 
that there is a general plot : it is not applied to any 
particular person." 3 

It was now apparent that the crown had only one wit- 
ness against the two chief of the accused, which in a case 
of high treason was not sufficient to procure a conviction. 
Thereupon Scroggs, with the approval of the other judges, 
discharged the jury of Whitebread and Fenwick and 
recommitted them to prison. 4 Six months later they were 
again tried and executed for the same treason. Whitebread 
then urged that he had been given in charge once, that on 

1 7 State Trials 272, 295. 2 Ibid. 392. 

3 Ibia. 117, 1 1 8. Sergeant Baldwin produced the letter, saying, 
" We do conceive a letter from one of that party, bearing date about 
the same time, concerning Mr. Whitebread's summons, who was then 
master of the company, is very good evidence against them." 

The prosecution was forced to retract, and Mr. Finch, the junior, 
was made to eat his leader's words : " My Lord, it can affect no 
particular person, but we only use it in general." 

4 7 State Trials 120. 



330 The Popish Plot 

the insufficient evidence he should have been acquitted, 
and that he ought not to be tried again ; but the whole 
court held without hesitation that the objection was 
baseless. 1 Afterwards this decision was held up to scorn, 
and has since often been condemned ; 2 but it was grounded 
upon good authority and supported by the general practice 
of the courts. 3 

The three remaining prisoners proceeded to make their 
defence. Beyond repeated assertions of their innocence 
this amounted, as far as Pickering and Grove were con- 
cerned, to little. Ireland made a better effort. Gates had 
sworn that he was in London in August of the year 1678 
and present at a treasonable meeting in Harcourt's rooms. 4 
The prisoner now called evidence to contradict this. His 
mother and his sister testified that he had left town 

1 7 State Trials 315-317. 

2 Cf. Rookwood's case 1696. Powell, J. : " Certainly now the jury 
is charged, they must give a verdict either of acquittal or conviction." 
Sir T. Trevor, Att. Gen. : " I know what has been usually thought 
of Whitebread's case." And the trial of Cook, 1696. Powell, J. : 
" Whitebread's case was indeed held to be an extraordinary case." 
And see 7 State Trials 497-500 n, where many instances and opinions 
adverse to the decision of the court are collected. 

3 Hale, P.C. ii. 294. "By the ancient law, if the jury sworn 
had been once particularly charged with a prisoner, it was commonly 
held they must give up their verdict, and they could not be discharged 
before their verdict was given up. . . . But yet the contrary course 
hath for a long time obtained at Newgate, and nothing is more ordinary 
than after the jury is sworn and charged with a prisoner and evidence 
given, yet if it appears to the court that some of the evidence is kept 
back, or taken off, or that there may be a fuller discovery and the 
offence notorious, as murder or burglary, and that the evidence, though 
not sufficient to convict the prisoner, yet gives the court a great and 
strong suspicion of his guilt, the court may discharge the jury of the 
prisoner, and remit him to the gaol for further evidence ; and accord- 
ingly it has been practised in most circuits of England, for otherwise 
many notorious murders and burglaries may pass unpunished, by the 
acquittal of a person probably guilty, where the full evidence is not 
searched out or given." " The whole law upon this subject," says 
Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, "was elaborately considered a few 
years ago in R. v. Winsor (L.R. I Q.B. 289), when it appeared, 
from many authorities, that the practice had fluctuated." Hist. 
Grim. Law i. 397. 

4 7 State Trials 98. 



Trials for the Plot 331 



on August 3 and did not return until the middle of 
September. Sir John Southcot's coachman swore that he 
had been at various places in Staffordshire and on the way 
thither, in company with his master, from August 5 until 
the third week in that month, and another witness gave 
evidence that he had seen Ireland at Wolverhampton 
shortly after St. Bartholomew's day, and again on the 
yth and the 9th of September. 1 To rebut this the 
prosecution called a woman who belonged to the household 
of Lord Arlington. She had once been in the service of 
Grove, the prisoner, and had at that time seen Ireland 
constantly and waited upon him with letters from her 
master. She now swore positively that she had seen him 
in London at the time when the king went to Windsor 
in August. By the evidence of Sir Thomas Dolman this 
was calculated to be the I3th of the month. 2 Oates again 
took the opportunity to swear that Ireland was in town 
on the ist or 2nd of September. It was an unfortunate 
interruption, for it formed the perjury assigned in the 
indictment upon which he was convicted at his second 
trial six years afterwards. 3 Only one more witness was 
produced. Sir Denny Ashburnham, member of Parliament 
for the borough of Hastings, was called by Ireland to 
testify to Oates' character. Instead however of damaging 
the informer's credit, he came forward to say that, although 
he might have had little respect for Oates' veracity in the 
days of his youth, the manifold circumstances by which 
his testimony was now supported had entirely convinced 
him of the truth of his statements ; " and," said he, " I 
do think truly that nothing can be said against Mr. Oates 
to take off his credibility " ; 4 which was of small value 
from the point of view of the defence. 

The prisoners complained bitterly that they had been 
allowed neither time nor facility to produce their witnesses. 
At Oates' second trial for perjury on May 9, 1685 there 
were called for the prosecution no less than forty-five 
witnesses, who proved conclusively where Ireland had been 

1 7 State Trials 122-126. 2 Ibid. 121, 122. 

3 Ibid. 124. 4 7 Ibid. 128. 






332, The Popish Plot 

on every day but one between August 3 and September 
14, 1678, the dates when he left and when he returned to 
London. 1 Five months after Ireland's execution,White- 
bread, Fenwick, and Harcourt called at their trial, to prove 
the same points, ten witnesses, whose evidence covered a 
considerable part of the time in debate. 2 Had he been able 
himself to call even those ten, not to say the whole number 
afterwards collected, it can scarcely be doubted that their 
evidence must have procured his acquittal and have given 
birth to the reaction against Gates which every additional 
conviction postponed. As it was, there were for the defence 
only four witnesses, two of whom were intensely interested 
in the prisoner's acquittal, against the hitherto unshaken 
credit of Oates himself and the testimony of a disinterested 
person called to support him. Scroggs put the point quite 
fairly to the jury, 3 and the jury chose to disbelieve the 
prisoner's witnesses. The real hardship lay, not in the 
prejudice of the court or the violent speech which the 
Chief Justice appended to his summing up of the evidence, 4 
but in the fact that the accused were kept wholly in the 
dark as to the evidence which was to be produced against 
them. The practice of the law, as it is still the theory, 5 
made it impossible for the accused to defend himself 
with certainty against the evidence which might be 
brought against him. The preparation of his defence 
had to be undertaken in the dark and conducted at 
random. 

On the same day Ireland, Pickering, and Grove 
received sentence of death from Jeffreys, as Recorder of 
London, in a speech which wavered between pure abuse 
and a sermon which would have done credit to the most 
strenuous divine. 6 More than a month later Ireland and 
Grove were executed at Tyburn. Had Ireland's execu- 
tion been postponed, an insurrection was feared. Pickering 
was respited by the king for so long that the indignant Com- 
mons on April 27, 1679 petitioned urgently that the law 

1 10 State Trials 1243-1281. 2 7 State Trials 388-391. 

3 Ibid. 132. 4 Ibid. 133-135. 

5 Stephen i. 399. 6 7 State Trials 138-141. 



Trials for the Plot 333 

might take its course on the man who " did remain as yet 
unexecuted, to the great emboldening of such offenders, 
in case they should escape without due punishment ; " 
and on May 25 Charles sent a message to the House by 
Lord Russell to say that the sentence should have effect. 1 
All three died protesting their innocence to the last. 

Round the dying vows of the fourteen men who were 
executed for the Plot controversy raged hotly. To Roman 
Catholics their solemn denials seemed so conclusive that 
they fancied the effect must be the same on others too. 2 
When it became apparent that such earnest assertion was 
met with frank unbelief, they attributed the fact to the 
black malice and the wicked prejudice of heretical hearts. 
To Protestants, on the other hand, the protestations of 
the Jesuits were clearly the logical result of their immoral 
doctrines. If anything, they afforded a further confirma- 
tion of guilt. Able pamphleteers undertook to prove 
that according to the principles of their order " they not 
only might, but also ought to die after that manner, with 
solemn protestations of their innocency. " 3 Protestant 
pulpits reverberated with demonstrations that the Jesuits 
would not " stick at any sort of falsehood in order to their 
own defence." Good Bishop Burnet was shocked at the 
violence of his brother divines and " looked always on 
this as an opening of their graves, and the putting them 
to a second death." 4 Few however were of his mind, 
and Algernon Sidney expressed the common opinion 
when he wrote to his cousin : " Those who use to extol 
all that relates to Rome admire the constancy of the five 
priests executed the last week ; but we simple people find 
no more in it than that the papists, by arts formerly 
unknown to mankind, have found ways of reconciling 
falsehood in the utmost degree with the hopes of salvation, 
and at the best have no more to brag of than that they 

1 7 State Trials 142-144. Klopp II. 464, app. IV. 2 Foley v. 58. 

3 See "An impartial consideration of these speeches," etc., 1670, 
attributed to John Williams, D.D. "Animadversions on the last 
speeches of the Five Jesuits," etc., 1679. Printed 7 State Trials 543. 

4 Burnet ii. 201. 






334 The Popish Plot 

have made men die with lies in their mouths." x Party 
spirit could not fail to be aroused in its most virulent 
form by the speeches of the condemned men, and to seize 
upon them as evidence on either side. They were, in 
point of fact, evidence for neither one party nor the other. 
Oaths sworn in such a manner were wholly worthless. 

As Bedloe lay on his death-bed in the autumn of 
1680 he reaffirmed with every protestation of truth, and 
as he hoped for salvation, the ghastly mass of perjured 
evidence by which he had sworn away the lives of men. 
His conscience was clear, he said, and " he should appear 
cheerfully before the Lord of Hosts, which he did verily 
believe he must do in a short time." 2 Three years later 
the man who has been held up to posterity as the most 
truthful of his age died, calling God to witness his 
innocence of the treason for which he was condemned. 3 
Yet Lord Russell^ was a member of the Council of Six 
and had engaged actively in the preparation of an 
extensive rebellion. He was an intimate friend of the 
men who hatched the actual Rye House Plot. If he was 
unaware that the king's life was aimed at directly and 
indirectly, it was because he had deliberately shut his eyes 
to the tendency of his own schemes and those of his 
associates. 4 This must be the test of the value of such 
declarations. The unbounded immorality with which the 
politics of the reign of Charles II were stamped so 
clouded the minds of men that truth became for them 
almost indistinguishable from falsehood. They had only 
not reached the point of view of the native of Madras, 
who said of the value of death-bed confessions : " Such 
evidence ought never to be admitted in any case. What 

1 Sidney, Letters 123, 124. The opinion of Ranke, who in his 
writings was neither Catholic nor Protestant, lies midway between 
these views : " Grasslich ist die lange Reihe von Hinrichtungen Solcher, 
die nichts bekannten," v. 235. 

2 " The examination of Captain William Bedloe deceased, taken 
in his last sickness by Sir Francis North, Chief Justice of the Court of 
Common Pleas." Printed 6 State Trials 1493-1498. 

3 See Russell's written Speech, printed at length, Ralph i. 755-757. 

4 Sitwell, First Whig 153-158. And see Stephen i. 408, 409. 



Trials for the Plot 335 

motive for telling the truth can a man possibly have when 
he is at the point of death ? " 1 

Mention has already been made of the trial of Read- 
ing. 2 This was the first of a series of important cases 
which were conducted in the course of the ensuing year. 
Briefly, they were trials of Roman Catholics for fraudulent 
endeavours, in the words of the time, to stifle the Plot. 
Not to speak of the notorious Meal Tub Plot, the most 
determined and unscrupulous effort of the Roman Catholic 
party to remove the accusation of treason from themselves 
to their opponents, 3 there may be noticed four distinct 
attempts to impair by fraudulent and criminal means the 
evidence offered for the crown. As early as February 
1679 information was laid before a committee of the 
privy council that an Englishman named Russell, who 
belonged to the household of the French ambassador, had 
endeavoured to suborn witnesses to invalidate the credit 
of Gates and Bedloe, and had offered the sum of 500 
for the purpose. The council addressed to the ambassador 
a request for the delivery of the accused to stand his trial ; 
but the case did not come into court, probably because 
Russell had either absconded or been shipped abroad. 4 
The incident was kept secret and produced no con- 
sequences. But within twelve months three other 
attempts of the same nature were proved against Roman 
Catholic agents and exercised a considerable influence 
against their party. The trials of Reading for a trespass 
and misdemeanour, of Knox and Lane for a misdemeanour, 
and of Tasborough and Price for subornation of perjury 
must not be overlooked in forming a judgment on the 
events of which the courts of justice were the chief scene. 

Nathaniel Reading was a Protestant attorney of some 
standing in his profession. Thirty years before he had 
been secretary to Massaniello in the insurrection at Naples, 
and was now Jiving in London and enjoying a fair practice. 

1 Stephen i. 449. And see Burnet II. 303, 304. 

2 Above 328. 8 See above 204-209. 

4 Longleat MSS. Coventry Papers zi. 363. Order of the king 
in council, February 5, 1679. 



336 The Popish Plot 

He had been the friend and legal adviser of Lord Stafford 
for several years, numbered other gentlemen of title and 
repute among his acquaintance, and was of a position to 
receive an invitation to dinner from the Lieutenant of 
the Tower when he went to visit his client in prison. 1 
During the Hilary term of 1679 he had been engaged in 
procuring the discharge on bail of several prisoners for the 
Plot, and had gone by leave of the secret committee of 
the House of Lords to advise the lords imprisoned in the 
Tower on the like subjects. In the course of his negotia- 
tions for them he had become acquainted with Gates and 
Bedloe, and acted as counsel for the latter in obtaining 
his pardon from the king. Bedloe was constantly in his 
company, and the two talked frequently of the nature of 
the Plot and the witness' charges against the prisoners. 2 
In public Reading exhorted Bedloe to reveal all his know- 
ledge and bring the guilty to justice, but in private con- 
versation suggested that it might be profitable to reduce 
his evidence against certain of those incriminated. The 
plot was blown to the winds, the king's life out of danger, 
Bedloe would be able to feather his own nest, and no 
harm would be done. Bedloe promised to consider the 
matter and, as earnest of his good intentions, withdrew his 
evidence against Whitebread and Fenwick. 3 At the same 
time he carried the news of the intrigue to the committee 
of secrecy. Prince Rupert, the Earl of Essex, and Mr. 
Speke 4 were informed of the business, and Bedloe was 

1 7 State Trials 259, 287, 296. 2 Ibid. 287-289, 292. 

3 So Bedloe swore 7 State Trials 271. Burnet (ii. 199) says 
that Bedloe made use of Reading's intrigue to cover his omission to 
swear against the Jesuits in the previous December. But Reading 
never denied the fact that Bedloe's account of this part of the trans- 
action was correct. 

4 Presumably, from the absence of any Christian name, Mr. George 
Speke of White Lackington, M.P. for Somersetshire, a more reputable 
person than his sons Hugh and Charles. George Speke had been a 
royalist and after the Restoration lived in retirement for many years, 
but, following the example of his son-in-law, John Trenchard, turned 
against the court and became a leader of the Whig interest in his 
part of the country. In 1680 he entertained Monmouth during his 
western progress. Fea, King Monmouth 96. 



Trials for the Plot 337 

advised to continue his negotiation in the hope of extract- 
ing something of importance. Reading had in the mean- 
time gone to the lords in the Tower and brought from 
them promises of ample reward if Bedloe would consent 
to save them. A meeting was appointed for March 
29, to make the final arrangements. 1 Before Reading 
appeared, Speke and another witness were hidden in the 
room in such a position that they could overhear every 
word which passed between the two men. They heard 
Bedloe ask, " What say my lords in the Tower now ? " 
Reading replied that Lord Stafford had promised to settle 
an estate in Gloucestershire on the informer, and that he 
had orders to draw up a deed to that effect and sign it ten 
days after Lord Stafford's discharge from prison. The 
Earl of Powis, Lord Petre, and Sir Henry Tichbourne 
also promised rewards if Bedloe would procure their 
acquittal. Bedloe then drew up an abstract of his 
evidence against the lords, and Speke saw Reading take 
the paper to deliver to them in the Tower. Two days 
later the attorney met Bedloe by appointment in the 
Painted Chamber at Westminster and gave him in answer 
to this a corrected version of the evidence which the 
accused had drawn up for his actual use at their trials. 
Bedloe without looking at the paper handed it at once to 
Mr. Speke, who carried it to a committee room in the 
House of Lords for examination. 2 This paper was read 
in court, and proved to contain an amended version of 
Bedloe's testimony so vague and slight that it could not 
have possibly been of any use to the prosecution. 3 

Reading's defence was sufficiently feeble. He was 
treated by the bench with the greatest indulgence and 
allowed to make a lengthy and unsupported discourse on 
Bedloe's character. It is noteworthy that he objected to 
the witness not on the ground that he had perjured him- 
self in holding back evidence at the trial of Whitebread, 

1 The date fixed first was March 28, and was afterwards altered. 
7 State Trials 281. 

2 Evidence of Bedloe, Speke, and Wiggins. Ibid. 270-286. 

3 Ibid. 278, 279. 

Z 



338 The Popish Plot 

Fenwick, and Ireland, but on account of treasonable 
practices, which were covered by his pardon. He pro- 
tested that the first proposal of the intrigue came from 
Bedloe, and that he only joined in it to prevent the 
shedding of innocent blood. The estate in Gloucestershire 
spoken of had been promised by Lord Stafford to himself, 
if he obtained his acquittal, and not to Bedloe, though 
hardly it seemed without the understanding that the 
informer was to have some share in it. He would have 
thought it a crime not to engage in the business ; it was 
a duty which he owed to God and his country. By say- 
ing this he practically confessed to the whole indictment, 
and after a concise summing up the jury immediately 
returned a verdict of guilty. Reading was sentenced to 
be pilloried, to pay a fine of 1000, and to imprisonment 
for one year. 1 

The case of Knox and Lane was a still more disreput- 
able affair. Thomas Knox was in the service of Lord 
Dumblane, the Earl of Danby's son. John Lane and one 
William Osborne were servants to Titus Gates. These 
two were discharged by Gates in April 1679, an( ^ Lane, 
who had some acquaintance with Dangerfield, was lodged 
by him and Mrs. Cellier under an assumed name at the 
house of the Countess of Powis. 2 At Dangerfield's 
suggestion they approached Knox on the subject of the 
charges which Gates had made against the Lord Treasurer. 3 
Knox agreed to their suggestion, and together they 
arranged the details of the scheme. Osborne and Knox 
lodged information that Gates had conspired with Bedloe 
to bring false accusations against Lord Danby, while Lane 
charged his master with using obscene language concern- 
ing the king and with the commission of an unnatural 
crime. But under examination Knox and Lane broke 
down, and all three were driven to confess that there was 
not a word of truth in the story which they had concocted. 

1 7 State Trials 310. 

2 Colonel Mansell's Exact and True Narrative of the late Popish 
Intrigue 64. 

3 See Ralph i. 431. Echard 970, 971. Danby, Memoirs 39, 40. 



Trials for the Plot 339 

Osborne fled the country, and his two accomplices were 
clapped into gaol. News however was brought to Lane 
as he lay in prison that Knox was prepared to stand by 
his original story. He forthwith retracted his confession, 
and on November 19, 1679 an indictment was brought 
against Gates " for an attempt to commit upon him the 
horrid and abominable sin of sodomy." The grand jury 
ignored the bill, and a week later the two miscreants were 
brought to the king's bench bar on the charge of " a 
conspiracy to defame and scandalise Dr. Oates and Mr. 
Bedloe ; thereby to discredit their evidence about the 
horrid Popish Plot." After a long trial, in which the 
defendants were treated with all fairness and in which 
each attempted to throw the blame on the other, the jury 
returned a verdict of guilty without leaving the bar. 
The prisoners were sentenced to fine and imprisonment, 
and Lane in addition to stand for an hour in the pillory. 
The verdict was received with a shout of applause, 
" many noblemen, gentlemen, and eminent citizens," adds 
the account which was drawn up under Oates' direction, 
" coming with great expectations of the issue of this trial, 
which was managed with that justice, impartiality, and 
indifference between the king and the defendants, that 
some have been heard to say they could never believe a 
plot before, but now they were abundantly satisfied." l 

The labyrinthine nature of the intrigues connected 
with the Popish Plot is amply illustrated by these two 
trials. The third case presents less intricacy, but no less 
dishonesty. In January 1680 John Tasborough and 
Anne Price were tried for subornation of perjury in 
having offered a bribe to the informer Dugdale to retract 
the evidence which he had given at the trial of White- 
bread, Harcourt, and Fenwick. Mrs. Price had been a 
fellow -servant with Dugdale in the household of the 
Roman Catholic peer, Lord Aston. On the night before 

1 7 State Trials 763-812. An Exact and True Narrative of the 
Horrid Conspiracy of Thomas Knox, William Osborne, and John 
Lane* to invalidate the testimonies of Dr. Oates and Mr. William 
Bedloe. London 1680. 



34 The Popish Plot 

the trial of the five Jesuits l she came to him and begged 
him not to give evidence against Father Harcourt, who 
was her confessor. When the trial was over she renewed 
her solicitations, offering him the reward of ^1000 and 
the Duke of York's protection if he would recant 
what he had then sworn. Dugdale was introduced to 
Tasborough, a gentleman belonging to the duke's house- 
hold. 2 Meetings were held at the Green Lettice Tavern 
in Brownlow Street and at the Pheasant Inn in Fullers- 
rents. Tasborough confirmed the promises made by 
Mrs. Price. The informer was to sign a declaration that 
all his evidence had been false, to receive 1000 in cash, 
and to be maintained abroad by the Duke of York. The 
name of the Spanish ambassador was also mentioned. 
But Dugdale, as Bedloe before him, had secreted witnesses 
at these interviews. The intriguers were arrested, and 
the whole story was proved beyond the possibility of 
doubt at their trial. 3 Tasborough was sentenced to the 
fine of 100, Price to the fine of twice that sum. 
All parties at the trial were at considerable pains to 
exonerate the Duke of York. There was in fact no 
direct evidence against him ; but it is improbable that 
the culprits had been using his name entirely without 
authority. They must have known that Dugdale would 
not put his name to the recantation without substantial 
guarantee for the reward, and certainly neither was in a 
position to pay any sufficient part of the sum mentioned 
from his own resources. 

The evidence which Dugdale should have retracted 
was considerable. His reputation was still undamaged. 
He had been steward of Lord Aston's estate at Tixhall, 
in Staffordshire, was thought to have enjoyed a fair 
reputation in the county, and to have been imprisoned 
in the first instance for refusing to take the oaths of 
allegiance and supremacy. 4 Although he had laid informa- 

1 See below. 2 Burnet ii. 200. 3 7 State Trials 881-926. 

4 This was contradicted and his reputation much debated at the 
trial of Lord Stafford eighteen months later ; but at the time it was 
believed to be the fact. 



Trials for the Plot 341 

tion before the privy council as early as December 1678, 
it was not until the trial of the Five Jesuits l on June 1 3 
of the year following that he appeared in court. The 
case for the prosecution was opened, as usual, with the 
evidence of Gates. He reaffirmed the story which he had 
told at the trial of Whitebread, Fenwick, and Ireland, 
and gave similar evidence against Harcourt, Gavan, and 
Turner. Dugdale was then called. He swore to treason- 
able consults held at Tixhall in September 1678, where 
Gavan and Turner were present, to treasonable letters 
between Whitebread, Harcourt, and others, and to a 
letter dispatched from London by Harcourt on October 
20, 1678, addressed to Evers, another Jesuit, and con- 
taining the words " This night Sir Edmond Bury Godfrey 
is dispatched." 2 The death of the king was to be laid 
at the door of the Presbyterian party. A general massacre 
of Protestants was to follow, " and if any did escape 
that they could not be sure of were papists, they were to 
have an army to cut them off." 3 Bedloe followed with 
the evidence which he had before suppressed against 
Whitebread and Fenwick, and swore similarly to the 
treason of Harcourt. Some trifling evidence from Prance 

1 Thomas Whitebread, provincial ; William Harcourt, rector of 
the London province ; John Fenwick, procurator for the college at St. 
Omers ; John Gavan, and Anthony Turner. 7 State Trials 311-418. 

2 Ibid. 340, 1455. This was so far confirmed that Dugdale was 
proved to have spoken on Tuesday, October 15, 1678 of the death 
of a justice of the peace in Westminster, which does not go far. 
Dugdale also declared at Lord Stafford's trial that on Coleman's arrest 
the Duke of York sent to Newgate to ask if he had made disclosures 
to anybody, and when Coleman returned that he had done so only 
to Godfrey, the duke gave orders to have Godfrey killed. 7 State 
Trials 1316-1319. Burnet ii. 190, 191. And see above 153, n. 
Burnet says : "The Earl of Essex told me he swore it on his first 
examination, December 24, 1678, but since it was only on hearsay 
from Evers, and so was nothing in law, and yet would heighten the 
fury against the duke, the king charged Dugdale to say nothing of 
it." This is a mistake. Dugdale's first and second examinations, 
December 24 and 29, 1678. S.P. Dom. Charles II 408 : II. 49, 22. 
Dugdale did formally tell the story in his information, but not until 
March 21, 1679. Fitzherbert MSS. 135. 

3 Dugdale's evidence. 7 State Trials 334-342. 



The Popish Plot 

closed the first part of the case for the crown. 1 But 
almost more important than the oral testimony were two 
letters which were read in court. The one was a note 
from Edward Petre, containing a summons to the con- 
gregation fixed for April 24, 1678 ; the other a letter 
from Christopher Anderton, dated from Rome, February 
5, 1679, in which occurred the following sentences : 
" We are all here very glad of the promotion of Mr. 
Thomas Harcourt ; when I writ that the patents were 
sent, although I guess for whom they were, yet I know 
not for certain, because our patrons do not use to dis- 
cover things or resolutions till they know they have 
effect. And therefore in these kind of matters I dare 
not be too hasty, lest some might say, a fool's bolt is 
soon shot." Both had been found among Harcourt's 
papers several days after Gates was examined by the 
privy council. 2 They seemed to confirm his evidence in 
a remarkable manner. He had constantly spoken of the 
Jesuit design ; the former of the letters contained the 
same word and enjoined secrecy on the subject. The 
latter seemed to refer to the patents which Oates had 
declared were sent to the commanders of the popish 
army. The prisoners explained that the " design " of the 
congregation was but to settle the business of their order 
and to choose a procurator to undertake its management 
at Rome. As for the patents, Anderton had meant to 
say Literae Patentes^ and referred only to Harcourt's 
patent as new provincial. Literae Patentes, contended 
the court, when used in reference to one person, meant a 
patent ; but when the phrase was translated patents, it 
necessarily pointed at more than one. Oates, said the 
Chief Justice, interpreted the matter more plainly than 
the accused. 3 

The Jesuits proceeded to make their defence. Sixteen 
witnesses were called to prove that Oates had been at St. 
Omers from December 1677 to June 1678, and had not 

1 7 State Trials 343-349. 

2 Ibid. 119, 355. House of Lords MSS. 15. 

3 7 State Trials, 350-357. 



Trials for the Plot 343 

left the college at the time when he swore that he was 
present at the consult in London. This was the perjury 
upon which he was convicted at his first trial in 1685. 
Five witnesses were called to testify that Gavan had not 
been in town in April 1678 ; ten, that Ireland had been 
in the country in August and September of the same year. 
Very similar evidence to that now given was accepted six 
years later by the court to substantiate the charge against 
Gates, but at the trial of Whitebread, Harcourt, and 
Fenwick it was disbelieved. The witnesses were examined 
in detail and gave an elaborate account of the life at the 
seminary. But the story which they told was not alto- 
gether satisfactory. Under examination they shuffled 
and prevaricated. Sometimes they contradicted one 
another on points of time. They came prepared to speak 
to the date of the consult and the time immediately 
before and after it. When questions were put about 
dates less closely concerned, they seemed unwilling to 
answer. One, who declared that he had left Oates at 
St. Omers on taking leave for England to go to the 
congregation, was confounded when Oates reminded him 
that he had lost his money at Calais and had been com- 
pelled to borrow from a friend. Another confused the 
old and new styles. A third stated that whenever a 
scholar left the college the fact could not but be known 
to all his fellows. He was immediately contradicted by 
Gavan, who said that care was taken that the comings 
and goings of the seminarists should be unnoticed. 1 A 
rumour was spread abroad that witnesses had been tutored, 
and was repeated by Algernon Sidney in a letter to Paris. 2 
For once rumour was not at variance with truth. Sidney's 
information was perfectly correct. Three of the lads 
from St. Omers were arrested on their arrival in London 
by Sir William Waller, and their examinations were 

1 7 State Trials 359-378. 

2 "... Three of them, having been apprehended by Sir Will. 
Waller at their first coming, told him they were come to be witnesses, 
and* being asked what they were to witness, they said they must know 
that from their superiors." Sidney, Letters 101. 






344 The Popish Plot 

forwarded by him to the secret committee of the House 
of Commons. One of these was Christopher Townley, 
alias Madgworth, alias Sands, who had been a student in 
the seminary for six years. He admitted that " his in- 
structions from the superior was to come over and swear 
that Mr. Oates was but once from the college at St. 
Omers, from December 1677 to June following." Of 
his own knowledge he could say no more than that he 
had been in the seminary all the time during which Oates 
was there ; " the said Mr. Oates might be absent from 
St. Omers in that time for several days and at several 
times, but not absent above one week at a time, this 
examinant being lodged in the college where Mr. Oates 
was, but did not see him daily." l At the trial he did 
not scruple to say that he had seen and talked with Oates 
on every day throughout April and May and that, if 
Oates had ever been absent, he must certainly have known 
it. 2 Nor was this all. At his examination he deposed 
that Parry, Palmer, and GifFord were all absent from St. 
Omers while Oates was an inmate of the college. At the 
trial GifFord, Palmer, and Parry were produced to give 
evidence of their personal knowledge that Oates had been 
there the whole of the time. 3 No credence whatever can 
be given to such witnesses. It is worthy of remark that 
they were housed and entertained by no other than Mrs. 
Cellier, who was afterwards deeply concerned both in the 
Meal Tub Plot and in the case of Knox and Lane, and 
was pilloried for an atrocious libel in connection with the 
murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. 4 No doubt can 
exist on the subject of Oates' repeated and astounding 

1 Examination of Christopher Townley, April 28, 1679. Fitz- 
herbert MSS. 151, 152. 

2 7 State Trials 371. At the trial of Langhorn another witness 
was produced to explain this, but his testimony was unconvincing. 

8 Ibid. 361, 364, 366. Information was also given that GifFord 
had admitted in conversation " that his Superior of the College at 
St. Omers had sent him over to swear on behalf of the Lords, and 
that he must obey, and would, right or wrong." Examinations of 
Chamberlayne and Gouddall. Fitzherbert MSS. 149. 

4 Examinations of Coulstcr and Townley. Fitzherbert MSS 
151, 152. 



Trials for the Plot 345 

perjuries. It is as little open to doubt that the witnesses 
who were opposed to him at this trial were almost equally 
untrustworthy. They were in fact very cleverly parroted. 
If his infamy remains undisturbed, the unctuous indigna- 
tion with which it was denounced by the Jesuits, at the 
very moment when they were employing means as un- 
hallowed as his own to controvert his statements, at least 
entitles them to a place by his side in the pillory of 
history. 

Even at this point the false evidence given at this 
terrible trial was not ended. The crown produced seven 
witnesses to prove that Gates had been in London at the 
end of April and the beginning of May 1678. Of these 
the only two who gave evidence of any weight were Smith, 
who had been Oates' master at Merchant Tailors' School, 
and Clay, a disreputable Dominican friar, whom Oates 
had taken out of prison. Both were afterwards proved 
to have been suborned by Oates and to have perjured 
themselves. 1 

The Jesuits concluded their defence with speeches of 
real eloquence. Scroggs summed up the evidence in an 
elaborate speech and strongly in favour of the crown ; and 
after a quarter of an hour's absence the jury returned to 
court with a verdict of guilty against all the prisoners. 2 

On the next day Richard Langhorn was indicted at the 
Old Bailey for practically the same treason as that for 
which the Five Jesuits were convicted. Langhorn was 
a Roman Catholic barrister of considerable eminence. 3 
He was the legal adviser of the Jesuits, and conducted for 
them much business which would now more naturally 
pass through the hands of a solicitor. Oates consequently 
named him as an active agent in the Plot and prospective 

1 7 State Trials 396-403. North, Examen 239, 240. 10 State 
Trials 1183-1188. Smith, Intrigues of the Popish Plot. The evil 
reputation of these men was unknown at the time of the trial. See 
Burnet ii. 226. 

2 7 State Trials 404-418. 

3 At the time of the fire of London, Tillotson told Burnet a story of 
Langhbrn's methods of business which is too ridiculous to be believed. 
Burnet i. 412. 






346 The Popish Plot 

advocate-general under the new government. 1 His trial 
was a continuation of the trial of Whitebread, Harcourt, 
and Fenwick, and exhibited all the same characteristics, of 
perjury on the one side, on the other of prevarication and 
falsehood. The same evidence was developed at length, 
and with the same result. Two fresh points of import- 
ance alone occurred. To Gates' great alarm the hostess 
of the White Horse Tavern in the Strand was called by 
the defence. Gates had sworn that as many as eighteen or 
twenty Jesuits had met together there in one room at the 
congregation of April 24. The woman now declared that 
no room in her house would hold more than a dozen per- 
sons at the same time, and that when a parish jury had once 
met there the jurors had been compelled for want of space 
to separate into three rooms. This would undoubtedly 
have produced an effect, had not three of the spectators 
in court immediately risen to swear that there were two 
rooms in the inn which were large enough to hold from 
twenty to thirty people without crowding them unduly. 
An unfavourable impression concerning the evidence for 
the defence was created, and the king's counsel was able 
to score an effective point. 2 

Of greater weight than this was a portion of Bedloe's 
evidence. He swore that he went one day with Coleman 
to Langhorn's chambers in the Temple, and from the outer 
room saw the lawyer transcribing various treasonable 
letters brought by Coleman into a register at a desk in his 
study within. 3 The nature of cross-examination was so 
imperfectly understood at the time that Langhorn did 
not attempt to question the witness on the shape of his 
rooms or to shake his credit by calling evidence to the 
point. In his memoirs, which were published in the 
course of the same year, he wrote the following comment 
on Bedloe's statement : " Every person who knows my 
said chamber and the situation of my study cannot but 
know that it is impossible to look out of my chamber 
into my study so as to see any one writing there, 

1 True Narrative Ixxxi. 
- 7 State Trials 463-465, 470. 3 Ibid. 439. 



Trials for the Plot 347 

and that I never had at any time any desk in my 
study." l This was supported by other evidence. 
When Gates and Bedloe exhibited in 1680 "articles of 
high misdemeanours " against Scroggs before the privy 
council, they charged him in one that at the previous 
Monmouth assizes he " did say to Mr. William Bedloe 
that he did believe in his conscience that Richard 
Langhorn, whom he condemned, died wrongfully." To 
which the Chief Justice answered " that at Monmouth 
assizes he did tell Mr. Bedloe that he was more unsatisfied 
about Mr. Langhorn's trial than all the rest ; and the 
rather, that he was credibly informed, since the trial, that 
Mr. Langhorn's study was so situated that he that walked 
in his chamber could not see Mr. Langhorn write in his 
study ; which was Mr. Bedloe's evidence." 

This was not the first incident which shook the credit 
of the witnesses in the Chief Justice's mind. He had in 
the meantime received a still more striking proof of their 
worthlessness. On July 18, four days after the execution 
of Langhorn and nearly a month after that of the Five 
Jesuits, Sir George Wakeman, in company with three 
Benedictines, was brought to trial at the Old Bailey. 
Wakeman was accused of having bargained with the Jesuits 
for ^15,000 to poison the king. The other three were 
charged with being concerned in the Plot in various 
degrees. Feeling had run so high after the last two 
trials that the case was postponed from the end of June 
for nearly three weeks, that it might have time to cool. 3 
Interests were at stake which had not been present in the 
previous trials. In November of the year before, Oates 
and Bedloe had accused the queen of high treason, and 
Oates had sworn that Sir George Wakeman, who was her 
physician, had received from her a letter consenting to 
the king's death. 4 The queen was now implicated with 

1 7 State Trials 514. 2 Ibid. 172, 173. 

3 Sidney, Letters 124. " Wakeman's trial is put off, as is believed, 
to avoid the indecency of the discourses that would have been made." 

4 L.J. xiii. 388-392. C.J. November 28, 29, 1678. Ralph i. 
397. James (Or. Mem.) i. 529. 






348 The Popish Plot 

Wakeman, and the trial was regarded as the prelude to an 
attack on herself. 1 

Before the crown lawyers opened the direct attack, wit- 
nesses were, as usual, produced to testify to the reality of 
the plot. Prance and Dugdale reaffirmed their previous 
evidence, and Jennison, himself the brother of a Jesuit, 
swore that he had met Ireland in London on August 19, 
1678, thus proving to the satisfaction of the court that 
Ireland had died with a lie in his mouth. 2 The prosecu- 
tion then came to the prisoners. Gates told again the 
story how he had heard the queen at a meeting at Somer- 
set House consent formally to the plot for murdering the 
king, and swore that he had seen a letter from Wakeman 
to the Jesuit Ashby, which was occupied chiefly with a 
prescription for the latter during his stay at Bath, but 
mentioned incidentally that the queen had given her 
approval to the scheme. He had also seen an entry in 
Langhorn's register of the payment of 5000 made by 
Coleman as a third part of Wakeman's fee and a receipt 
for it signed by Wakeman himself. 3 Bedloe gave evidence 
which would prove equally the guilt of the queen and her 
physician, and both swore to the treasonable practices of 
the other prisoners. 4 To rebut this, Wakeman produced 
evidence to prove that he had not written the letter for 
Ashby himself, but had dictated it to his servant Hunt. 
The letter was addressed to Chapman, an apothecary at 
Bath, who read it and then tore off and kept the part 
containing the prescription. Hunt proved that the letter 
was in his handwriting and was corroborated by another 
servant in Wakeman's household. Chapman proved that 
the body of the letter was in the same handwriting as the 
prescription, that it contained nothing about the queen or 
any plan for the king's murder, and that Gates had given 
an entirely inaccurate account of the prescription, which 
was so far from ordering a milk diet, as Gates had sworn 

1 Burner ii. 231. 2 7 State Trials 602-618. 

3 Ibid. 619-623. 

4 Ibid. 624-641. Bedloe however gave no evidence against the 
prisoner Rumley. 



Trials for the Plot 349 

that milk would have been not far removed from poison 
for a patient who was drinking the waters at Bath. 
Scroggs was afterwards accused of having grossly favoured 
the prisoner in order to curry favour at court ; but the 
manner in which this evidence was received is an absolute 
proof to the contrary. The bench held, in a way that 
now excites surprise, but at the time did not, that Gates 
had meant that the milk diet was prescribed for Ashby 
before he went to Bath, and was therefore not at all in- 
consistent with drinking the waters while he was there ; 
and that Wakeman might easily have written two letters 
on the same subject. No doubt, said the judges, the 
witnesses for the defence spoke the truth. What had 
happened was that Sir George had dictated one letter, 
which consisted of nothing but medical directions, and of 
which the apothecary and the other witnesses spoke ; but 
he must certainly have written another, containing the 
treasonable words to which Gates swore. The court 
treated the matter as if this were beyond a doubt. To 
the prisoner's objection that he was unlikely to have 
written two letters to convey the same instructions, Mr. 
Justice Pemberton replied, " This might be writ to serve 
a turn very well " ; and Scroggs closed the discussion by 
remarking, " This your witnesses say, and you urge, is 
true, but not pertinent." l Shortly before Wakeman 
turned to his fellow-prisoners and said, " There is my 
business done." He knew that in all human probability 
he would be condemned. Suddenly, without any warning, 
there occurred the most unexpected event, which, in a 
dramatic moment unsurpassed by the most famous in 
history, shattered the credit of Gates and produced the 
first acquittal in the trials for the Popish Plot. 2 Sir Philip 
Lloyd, clerk to the privy council, was asked to state with 

1 7 State Trials 644-651. Sir J. F. Stephen has strangely missed 
the bearing of this evidence, and writes as if it had been decisive in 
favour of the prisoners. Hist. Crim. Law i. 391. 

2 The first serious acquittal at least, for the trial of Atkins, after 
the conviction of Green, Berry, and Hill for the murder of Godfrey, 
was hardly more than formal. 



35 The Popish Plot 

what Gates had charged the prisoner at his examination 
before the council. The evidence deserves to be given 
in Sir Philip's own words: "It was upon the 3ist of 
September," he stated ; " Mr. Gates did then say he had 
seen a letter, to the best of his remembrance, from Mr. 
White to Mr. Fenwick at St. Omers, in which letter he 
writ word that Sir George Wakeman had undertaken the 
poisoning of the king, and was to have 15,000 for it ; 
of which 5000 had been paid him by the hands of Cole- 
man. Sir George Wakeman, upon this, was called in 
and told of this accusation ; he utterly denied all, and did 
indeed carry himself as if he were not concerned at the 
accusation, but did tell the king and council he hoped he 
should have reparation and satisfaction for the injury done 
to his honour. His carriage was not well liked of by the 
king and council, and being a matter of such consequence 
as this was, they were willing to know further of it ; and 
because they thought this evidence was not proof enough 
to give them occasion to commit him, being only out of 
a letter of a third person, thereupon they called in Mr. 
Gates again, and my Lord Chancellor desired Mr. Gates 
to tell him if he knew nothing personally of Sir George 
Wakeman, because they were in a matter of moment, and 
desired sufficient proof whereupon to ground an indict- 
ment ; Mr. Gates, when he did come in again and was 
asked the question, did lift up his hands (for I must tell 
the truth, let it be what it will) and said, * No, God for- 
bid that I should say anything against Sir George Wake- 
man, for I know nothing more against him.' And I refer 
myself to the whole council whether it is not so." 

Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane Hill, march- 
ing against Macbeth, or the duke uncloaking to Angelo 
could not create a greater sensation. " My lord," cried 
Sir George Wakeman, " this is a Protestant witness too." 
Gates began to bluster. He remembered nothing of all 
this. He did not believe that any such question was asked 
him at the council board. If there had been, he was in 
such a state of exhaustion after being deprived of his rest 
for two nights in succession that he was not in a condition 



Trials for the Plot 351 

to answer anything. " What," returned Scroggs, " must 
we be amused with I know not what for being up but 
two nights? . . . What, was Mr. Gates just so spent 
that he could not say, I have seen a letter under Sir 
George Wakeman's own hand ? " The informer swore 
that to his best belief he had spoken of the letter ; or if 
he had not, he believed Sir Philip Lloyd was mistaken ; 
or if not that, he was so weak that he was unable to say 
or do anything. Then he completely lost control of him- 
self and broke out recklessly : " To speak the truth, they 
were such a council as would commit nobody." " That 
was not well said," put in Jeffreys quickly. " He reflects 
on the king and all the council," cried Wakeman. At 
this the wrath of the Chief Justice burst out on the per- 
jured miscreant. "You have taken a great confidence," 
he thundered, " I know not by what authority, to say 
anything of anybody " ; and becoming more grave, pointed 
out the decisive importance of what had been proved 
against him. Gates did not open his mouth again during 
the rest of the trial. 1 

The case still dragged on its weary length. Numerous 
other witnesses were called to prove and disprove points 
of varying importance and connection with the matter at 
issue. All the prisoners against whom Gates and Bedloe 
had sworn made long speeches and discoursed on a 
hundred irrelevant topics. Marshal, the Benedictine, 
lectured the court and delivered an impassioned harangue 
on the injustice of the English nation and on the future 
state. He was stopped and, beginning again, drew down 
on himself from Scroggs a violent rebuke in which he 
declared his belief that it was possible for an atheist to be 
a papist, but hardly for a knowing Christian to be a 
Christian and a papist. When the heated wrangle which 
followed was ended, the Chief Justice summed up, setting 
the evidence on both sides in a clear light and pointing 
out where its strength lay against the prisoners, but plainly 
intimating his opinion that the revelation made by Sir 
Philip Lloyd went far to invalidate Gates' testimony. As 
1 7 State Trials 651-653. 






3 5 2, The Popish Plot 

the jury were leaving the box Bedloe broke in : " My 
lord, my evidence is not right summed up." " I know 
not by what authority this man speaks," said Scroggs 
sternly. After the absence of about an hour the jury 
returned. Might they, they asked, find the prisoners 
guilty of misprision of treason ? " No," replied Jeffreys, 
the Recorder, " you must either convict them of high 
treason or acquit them." " Then take a verdict," said 
the foreman ; and returned a verdict of not guilty for all 
the prisoners. 

Scarcely was the trial over when a storm broke upon 
the head of the Lord Chief Justice. He had already 
earned the hatred of the ferocious London mob by 
accepting bail for Mr. Pepys and Sir Anthony Deane, 
who were in prison on account of the Plot. 1 Now the 
feeling against him amounted to positive fury. Sir George 
Wakeman, after visiting the queen at Windsor, fled the 
country to escape the effects of the popular rage. 2 
Scroggs stood his ground. The London presses teemed 
with pamphlets against him. Some observations upon 
the late trials of Sir George Wakeman^ etc., by Tom 
Ticklefoot; The Tickler Tickled; A New Tears Gift 
for the Lord Chief in Justice are among those which 
deserve to be remembered for their especial virulence. 
The Portuguese ambassador had the egregious folly to 
call publicly upon Scroggs the day after the trial and to 
thank him for his conduct of the case. 3 It was immedi- 
ately said that the Chief Justice had been bribed. A 
barrel packed with gold had been sent to him. " Great 
store of money " had been scattered about. The jury had 
been bribed. A good jury had been impanelled, but was 

1 Hatton Correspondence ii. 187. Charles Hatton to Lord Hatton, 
July 10, 1679. "Mr. Pepys and Sir Anthony Deane was bailed 
yesterday, and if my Lord Chief Justice hang five hundred Jesuits, he 
will not regain the opinion he thereby lost with the populace, to court 
whom he will not act against his conscience." Luttrell, Brief Relation 
i. 74. 

2 Verney MSS. 474. 

3 Burnet ii. 232. The Narrative of Segnior Francisco de Faria, 
1680, 17, 1 8. 



Trials for the Plot 353 

never summoned, and a set of rascals was chosen in its 
place. 1 When Scroggs went on circuit for the autumn 
assizes he was met in the provinces with cries of A 
Wakeman, a Wakeman ; and at one place a half-dead 
dog was thrown into his coach. 2 Early in the year 
following Gates and Bedloe exhibited thirteen articles 
against the Chief Justice before the privy council, and 
Gates declared that "he believed he should be able to 
prove that my Lord Chief Justice danced naked." On 
January 2 1 Scroggs justified himself in a set reply of great 
skill and wit, and the informers met with a severe rebuff. 3 
His other traducers were treated with no greater courtesy. 
At the opening of the courts for the Michaelmas term of 
1679 Scroggs made an able speech of eloquence, distinc- 
tion, and almost sobriety, in which he grounded his belief 
in the Plot on the correspondence of Coleman and 
Harcourt and vindicated the integrity of the judicial 
honour ; and on May 20, 1680 one Richard Radley was 
fined 200 for saying that the Chief Justice had " received 
money enough from Dr. Wakeman for his acquittal.'* 4 
In September 1679 he was received with great favour at 
the court at Windsor and in December caused horrid 
embarrassment to Lord Shaftesbury and several other 
Whig noblemen, whom he met at dinner with the Lord 
Mayor, by proposing the health of the Duke of York and 
justifying his own conduct on the bench. 5 In January 
1 68 1 he was impeached by the Commons. When the 
articles of his impeachment were brought up to the House 
of Lords he was treated, to the indignation of the Whig 
party, with great consideration and favour ; but although 
the lords refused even to put the question " whether there 
shall now be an address to the king to suspend Sir William 
Scroggs from the execution of his place until his trial be 
over ? " he was absent from court at the beginning of the 

1 Deposition of F. de Faria, March 24, 1681. S.P. Dom. Charles 
II 415 : 159. Verney MSS. 474. Luttrell, Brief Relation i. 17, 74. 

2 Luttrell, Brief Relation i. 19. 

3 S^State Trials 163-174. Hatton Correspondence ii. 220. 

4 7*State Trials 702-706. 

5 Hatton Correspondence ii. 191, 195, 207-210. 

2 A 






354 The Popish Plot 

Hilary term, and did not take his place upon the bench 
during the rest of the term. 1 Three days after the 
opening of the Oxford parliament Scroggs put in his 
answer to the impeachment. He denied the truth of the 
articles exhibited against him severally, and insisted that 
the nature of the facts alleged in them was not such as 
could legally be made the ground for a charge of high 
treason. He prayed the king for a speedy trial. 2 Copies 
of his answer and petition were sent to the House of 
Commons, but before further proceedings could be taken 
Parliament was dissolved on March 28, and the impeach- 
ment was blown to the winds in company with other Whig 
measures of greater importance and still less good repute. 
The Chief Justice was not left long in the enjoyment of 
his triumph. In April 1681 Charles removed him from 
the bench and appointed Sir Francis Pemberton to be 
Chief Justice in his place. The move was no doubt 
directed by the approaching trial of Fitzharris. For this 
was undertaken in the teeth of the bitter opposition of 
the Whig party, and it was expedient that a man who 
was already odious to Shaftesbury's adherents should not 
endanger the success of the crown by his presence on the 
bench on so important an occasion. The late Chief Justice 
was compensated by an annual pension of ^ 1500 and the 
appointment of his son to be one of " his Majesty's counsel 
learned in the law." 3 

Sir William Scroggs, Chief Justice of the court of 
king's bench, was a man of a type not uncommon in the 
seventeenth century. He was vulgar and profligate, a 
great winebibber, stained by coarse habits and the ignorant 
prejudices common to all of his day but the most temperate 
and learned, but a man of wit, shrewdness, strong character, 
and master of the talents which were necessary to secure 
success in the legal profession as it then was. 4 The promi- 

1 C.J. ix. 66 1, 688-692. L.J. xiii. 736-739. Luttrell, Brief 
Relation i. 64. 

2 L.J. xiii. 752. 3 Luttrell, Brief Relation i. 74, 75. 

4 See Burnet ii. 196. North, Examen 567, 568. Lives of the 
Norths i. 195, 196. Hatton Correspondence, passim. 



Trials for the Plot 355 

nent position into which he was brought by the trials for 
the Popish Plot has earned for him a reputation for evil 
second in the history of the English law courts only to 
that of Jeffreys. He has been accused of cowardice, 
cruelty, time-service, of allowing his actions on the bench 
to be swayed by party spirit, and of using his position 
with gross injustice to secure the conviction of men who 
were obnoxious to the popular sentiment. These charges 
cannot be substantiated. When the evidence, of interested 
partisans by whom he was lauded or abused is stripped 
away, they rest on two grounds : the fact that he presided 
at trials where men were condemned for the Popish Plot, 
and at one where men were acquitted of similar charges ; 
and the nature of his speeches in court at those trials. It 
was said that he obtained the acquittal of Sir George 
Wakeman because he realised that the king " had an ill 
opinion " of the Plot, and because he had been told that 
the popular leaders had no support at court ; and that he 
had taken an opposite course at the previous trials because 
he believed the contrary to be true. 1 These statements 
have passed for truth ever since they were made, and have 
been repeated by one writer after another. They were in 
fact feeble attempts to explain what their authors did not 
understand. They arc contradicted not only by the 
statements of other contemporaries, which are of small 
weight, but by the whole course of the Lord Chief Justice's 
action and the circumstances by which he was surrounded. 
From the very outbreak of the Popish Plot it was notorious 
in official circles that the king discredited the evidence 
offered by the informers. 2 It is absurd to suppose that 

1 Burnet ii. 196. North, Examen 568. 

2 Reresby, Memoirs 146. " Being with the king at the Duchess 
of Portsmouth's lodgings, my Lord Treasurer being also present, the 
king told me he took it (Gates' story) to be some artifice, and that he 
did not believe one word of the Plot." Reresby, though always well- 
informed, was never at this time in possession of real secrets. 

Barillon, October l/io, 1678. "Le Roi de la Grande Bretagne 

m'a dit^ qu'il ne croyait pas que cette accusation cut un veritable 
fondement." 

Shaftesbury, The present state of the Kingdom at the opening of 



356 The Popish Plot 

Scroggs was ignorant of the fact. If anything, Charles 
was rather more inclined to believe in the Plot in the 
spring of 1679 tnan on Oates' first revelations. 1 No 
judge could possibly have expected to gain favour at 
court by an exhibition on the bench of zeal which was 
directed against the court. Still more absurd is it to 
suppose that a man in the position of the Lord Chief 
Justice should have imagined that the Earl of Shaftesbury 
exercised a favoured influence over the king's mind. Nor 
does Scroggs' conduct on the bench afford good ground 
for these accusations. His behaviour in the test case, the 
trial of Sir George Wakeman, was exactly the same as it 
had been in all the previous trials, and exactly the same 
as it was at the later trials over which he presided, whether 
they were of priests charged with treason on account of 
their orders, of persons charged with treason in the Plot, 
or for offences of a less high character. 2 It is scarcely 
surprising to hear that after the attack made on him by 
Oates and Bedloe, " whensoever either of them have 
appeared before him, he has frowned upon them, spoke 
very frowardly to them and reflected much upon them." 3 
Nevertheless he treated their evidence quite fairly. The 
rule was that only a conviction of perjury could disqualify 

the Parliament, March 6, 1679. "As concerning the plot and the 
murder of Godfrey, the king's discourses and managing are new and 
extraordinary. No man can judge by them but that he is in the plot 
against his own life ; and no man doubts but he is so far in as concerns 
us all." Printed Christie ii. 309. 

1 Barillon, January 16/26, 1679. "Le Roi d'Angleterre ne me 
parle plus comme il a parle jusqu'a present. II me dit hier que la 
deposition d'un dernier temoin nomme Ducdale lui parassait si peu 
concertee et si pleine de faits vraisemblables qu'il ne pouvait plus 
s'empecher de croire a une conspiration contre sa personne. Ce 
Prince me redit toutes les raisons qui lui ont fait croire qu'Oats et 
Benloi sont des parjures et des imposteurs, mais en meme temps il me 
fit connaitre que ce qu'ils avaient dit de faux n'empechait pas qu'il 
n'y cut quelque chose de vrai qui servait pour fondement a tout ce 
qu'ils avaient pu inventer d'eux memes." 

2 See the trials of Andrew Bromwich, 7 State Trials 715-726, 
Lionel Anderson and others, ibid. 729-750, Knox and Lane, ibid. 
763-812, Lord Castlemaine, ibid. 1067-1112. 

8 Luttrell, Brief Relation i. 34. 



Trials for the Plot 357 

a witness, and Scroggs enforced it without prejudice. 1 
Throughout he had the entire support of the other 
judges, and not least that of Chief Justice North. 2 His 
mind was filled, equally with theirs, with the fear and 
horror of popery, and as the chief part of the speaking 
fell to his lot he expressed this more often and more 
emphatically than his brethren. But he made up his 
mind on the merits of each case in accordance with the 
evidence which was then given and with the stringent and 
unjust rules of procedure which had been handed down 
to him. Scroggs was neither a judge of remarkable merit 
nor a lawyer of learning, but on the evidence which was 
brought before him, and which was not then, as it would 
be now, rendered incredible by its own character, he did 
in a rough manner sound justice. 

For the violence and brutality of his speeches there can 
be no more excuse than for the coarseness and violence of 
all speech and action in the age in which he lived. But his 
words must not be judged alone, nor must his manner of 
speech be considered peculiar. Language in the latter half 
of the seventeenth century was harsh and exaggerated to 
a degree hardly comprehended to-day. Scroggs constantly 
launched forth into tirades against the Roman Catholic 
religion, full of heated abuse. Sometimes he attributed to 
the Jesuits, at others to all papists, the bloody, inhuman, 
abominable doctrine that murder, regicide, and massacre 
were lawful in the cause of religion. " Such courses as 
these," he declared, " we have not known in England till 
it was brought out of their Catholic countries ; what 
belongs to secret stranglings and poisonings are strange 
to us, though common in Italy." 3 He told Coleman, 
" No man of understanding, but for by-ends, would have 
left his religion to be a papist. . . . Such are the wicked 

1 See e.g. his summing up at Lord Castlemaine's trial. 7 State 
Trials 1408-1412. 

2 In spite of his own and his brother's assertions there cannot be 
the least doubt of this. North afterwards declared in his memoirs 
that he never believed in the Popish Plot, a statement which is belied 
by evry action and word of his on the bench. 

3 7 State Trials 218, at the trial of Green, Berry, and Hill. 



358 The Popish Plot 

solecisms in their religion, that they seem to have left 
them neither natural sense nor natural conscience : not 
natural sense, by their absurdity in so unreasonable a 
belief as of the wine turned into blood ; not conscience, by 
their cruelty, who make the Protestants' blood as wine, 
and these priests thirst after it ; Tantum religio potuit 
suadere malorum ? " l The onslaught on Ireland, Picker- 
ing, and Grove was still more virulent : "I would not 
asperse a profession of men, as priests are, with hard 
words, if they were not very true, and if at this time it 
were not very necessary. If they had not murdered kings, 
I would not say they would have done ours. But when 
it hath been their practice so to do ; when they have 
debauched men's understandings, overturned all morals, 
and destroyed all divinity, what shall I say of them ? 
When their humility is such that they tread upon the 
necks of emperors ; their charity such as to kill 
princes, and their vow of poverty such as to covet 
kingdoms, what shall I say to them ? . . . This is a 
religion that quite unhinges all piety, all morality, and all 
conversation, and to be abominated by all mankind." 2 
Yet Scroggs' language was no stronger than that of his 
brothers on the bench. Jeffreys in sentencing Ireland, 
Wild in sentencing Green, Jones in sentencing Tasborough 
attained an exactly similar style. At the trial of Penn and 
Mead in 1670 the court was at least equally ill-mouthed, 
and nothing ever heard in a court of justice surpassed the 
torrents of venomous abuse which Coke, as Attorney- 
General, poured upon the head of Raleigh at his trial in 
1 603. One fact in judicial procedure exercised an immense 
influence on the nature of speeches from the bench. 
The judges took no notes. 3 In summing up the evidence 
they relied solely upon memories developed for this 

1 7 State Trials 69. 2 Ibid. 133, 134. 

3 //</. 218, 411, 642, 1 102. 10 State Trials 1170. L.C.J. : "You 
may assure yourselves, I will remember whatsoever has been said on 
the one side and on t'other as well as I can ; the gentlemen of 
the jury are men of understanding, and I see they take notes, and I'll 
give them what assistance I can." Instances might be multiplied. See 
Stephen i. 377, 566, 567. 



Trials for the Plot 359 

purpose to an extent which seems almost marvellous. But 
another result besides this remarkable mental training was 
that in his summing up the judge had no set form by 
which to direct himself. There was not the constraint 
which comes from the necessity of following a definite 
guide on prosaic slips of paper. It followed that the 
whole of this part of his work was far more loose and 
undefined than it has come to be since the additional 
burden of taking notes has been imposed. Not only 
could he, but it was natural that he should, break off from 
the course of the evidence to interpose comments more or 
less connected with it ; and in the days of little learning 
and violent religious prejudice, the judge's comment was 
likely to take the form of abuse of the creed which he did 
not profess. 

Men of the seventeenth century habitually expressed 
their thoughts with a coarseness which is disgusting to the 
modern mind. A man named Keach, who had taught 
that infants ought not to be baptized, was indicted for 
" maliciously writing and publishing a seditious and venom- 
ous book, wherein are contained damnable positions contrary 
to the book of common prayer." l At his speech at the 
opening of Parliament in 1679 Lord Chancellor Finch 
likened the Roman Catholic priests and their pupils to 
a the Sons of Darkness," and declared that " the very 
shame and reproach which attends such abominable 
practices hath covered so many faces with new and strange 
confusions, that it hath proved a powerful argument for 
their conversion ; nor is it to be wondered at that they 
could no longer believe all that to be Gospel which their 
priests taught them, when they saw the way and means 
of introducing it was so far from being Evangelical." l 
Other parties were equally violent ; and on two separate 
occasions Shaftesbury swore that he would have the lives of 
the men who had advised the king to measures obnoxious to 
his party. The most notorious of all Scroggs' utterances, 
an acrid sneer at the doctrine of transubstantiation : 

1 6 State Trials 701-710. His trial was in 1665. 
2 Par/. Hist. iv. 1088. 






360 The Popish Plot 

" They eat their God, they kill their king, and saint the 
murderer," is paralleled almost exactly by Dryden's 
couplet : 

Such savoury deities must needs be good, 
As served at once for worship and for food ; l 

and Dryden, who at this time belonged to the court and 
high church party, became within five years himself a Roman 
Catholic. The whole literature of the time bears witness 
to the fact that such language was scarcely beyond the 
ordinary. It was a convention of the age and must be 
accepted as such. There would be no greater mistake 
than to attribute to words of the sort too great an in- 
fluence on action. The results which attended them were 
unimportant. Of all Chief Justice Scroggs' harangues 
the most consistently brutal and offensive was that 
directed at Marshal, at the trial of Sir George Wakeman. 2 
Yet it was followed immediately by a fair summing up and 
the acquittal of the prisoners. 

Only one other case demands attention in this review 
of the trials for the Popish Plot. The trial of Elizabeth 
Cellier for high treason belongs rather to the history 
of the Meal Tub Plot ; those of Sir Thomas Gascoigne, 
Sir Miles Stapleton, Thwing, and Pressicks to the 
provincial history of the Plot ; that of Archbishop 
Plunket to its history in Ireland. The acquittal of Lord 
Castlemaine is chiefly important as an episode in the 
infamous career of Dangerfield, the informer. The 
proceedings against Fitzharris belong rather to the 
history of Whig conspiracy against the crown, the 
transition to which they mark. 3 But the trial of Lord 
Stafford calls for more lengthy notice. It was the 

1 7 State Trials 134. Absalom and Achitophel 120. 

2 7 State Trials 678-680. This is another fair specimen. " Never 
brag of your religion, for it is a foul one, and so contrary to Christ ; it 
is easier to believe anything than to believe that an understanding man 
may be a papist." 

8 These trials in their order of mention will be found : 7 State 
Trials 1043. Ibid. 959. 8 State Trials 502. 7 State Trials 1162. 
8 State Trials 447. 7 State Trials 1067. 8 State Trials 243. 



Trials for the Plot 361 

last of the treason trials for the main Popish Plot, and 
ranks in importance with the weightiest of those which 
went before. More than two years had now elapsed since 
the beginning of the ferment caused by the Plot. 
During that time it had exercised a magic over men's 
minds. This influence was now suffering a decline. The 
acquittals of Wakeman, Lord Castlemaine, and Sir 
Thomas Gascoigne had wrought the mob to fury 
against the court and the Roman Catholics, but they 
had also sown doubts in the judgment of intelligent 
persons as to the credit of the informers and the truth 
of the facts to which they swore. At the end of 
the year 1680 it was doubtful, said Sir John Reresby, 
" whether there were more who believed there was any 
plot by the papists against the king's life than not." 1 
The situation of the Whig party was critical. Their 
violent espousal of the Plot and the concentration of all 
their efforts upon the propagation of ultra -Protestant 
designs had brought about the result that, should the 
Plot be discredited before they had gained their object 
in excluding the Duke of York from the succession to 
the throne, their power would vanish into thin air. To 
stave off a day of such evil and to re-establish on its 
former firm footing the general belief in " the bloody 
designs of papists," the trial of Giles for the bogus 
attempt on Captain Arnold's life had been undertaken. 2 
With the same object Lord Stafford was brought to 
trial. His imprisonment had already lasted for two 
years and two months. 3 He was now brought to the 
bar in preference to any of the other four noblemen who 
had been imprisoned with him because, as was believed 
at court, his advanced age and bodily infirmity rendered 
him a more easy prey to the rancour of the House of 
Commons. 4 On all sides the case was regarded as of the 

1 Reresby, Memoirs 194. 

2 See Appendix E. 

3 The proceedings in Parliament against the five popish lords are 
collected in 7 State Trials 1218-1292. 

4 Reresby, Memoirs 193, 194. North, Examen 218. 



362 The Popish Plot 

utmost importance. If the prisoner were condemned the 
Whigs would gain a great advantage. If he were 
acquitted, the prosecution of the Plot, which was their 
sole weapon, would suffer a disastrous check. 1 cvaroi-, 

Stafford's trial was conducted upon a scale befitting 
its consequence. Seven days were occupied in its process, 
a length which was at the time unprecedented. As 
many as sixty-one witnesses were called on the one side 
and on the other. For those who appeared for the 
prosecution the cost of summons and entertainment 
amounted to a hundred pounds. 2 The court of the Lord 
High Steward was held in Westminster Hall. Round 
the hall were arranged galleries, from which privileged 
persons watched the proceedings with the keenest interest. 
From her seat in a private box the Duchess of Portsmouth 
exerted her charms upon the members of the House of 
Commons stationed near her, distributing " sweetmeats 
and gracious looks." Another box was reserved for the 
queen. In a third sat the king, a constant attendant 
during every day of the trial. 3 Opposite the bar was 
the seat of the Lord High Steward, and near by were 
placed the managers of the prosecution, Sir William Jones, 
Sergeant Maynard, Winnington, Treby, Trevor, Powle, 
the most distinguished lawyers of the House of Commons. 

On November 30, 1680, his sixty-ninth birthday, 
Thomas Howard, Lord Viscount Stafford, was brought 
to the bar. That nothing might be omitted against 
the prisoner, the managers called witnesses to prove 
the reality and general designs of the Popish Plot. 
The whole story was gone into at immense length. 
Oates, Dugdale, Jennison, a secular priest named John 
Smith, and Bernard Dennis, a Dominican friar, gave a 
volume of evidence to the point. The records of the 

1 Barillon, November 31 /December 9, 1680. "Ce qui se passera 
dans ce proces est de grande consequence. Si le comte de Stafford 
etait absous, la conjuration recevrait une grande atteinte, et quoique le 
peuple soit prevenu, il est neantmoins assujetti aux regies et aux lois, 
et ne s'en depart pas aisement." 

2 Secret Services of Charles II and James II 24. 

3 Barillon, December 6/16, 9/19, 1680. James i. 640. 



Trials for the Plot 363 

conviction of nineteen persons for treason and other 
charges connected with the Plot, beginning with Coleman 
and ending with Giles, were proved and the record of 
Coleman's attainder was read. Thus the whole of one 
day was occupied. 1 On the following morning the 
managers proceeded to call witnesses to the treason of 
Lord Stafford. The mass of evidence which they gave 
may be reduced to three points. Dugdale swore that 
at a certain meeting held at Tixhall, in Staffordshire, 
about the end of August or the beginning of September 
1678, the accused had given his full assent to the plot 
for taking away the king's life, and in September had 
offered him the sum of ^500 to be the actual murderer. 2 
Oates swore that he had seen letters to various Jesuits, 
signed Stafford, containing assurances of his zeal and 
fidelity to the design ; that the prisoner had in his 
presence received from Fenwick a commission constituting 
him paymaster-general of the forces ; and that, in con- 
versation with Fenwick, Lord Stafford had said he did 
not doubt that " Grove should do the business," adding 
with reference to the king, " he hath deceived us a 
great while, and we can bear no longer." Lastly 
Turbervile, a new witness, swore that after a fortnight's 
acquaintance with the prisoner in Paris, in the year 1675, 
he had directly proposed to him to kill the king of 
England, who was a heretic and a rebel against Almighty 
God. 4 Round these charges the contest was waged 
hotly, Lord Stafford and his witnesses doing battle against 
the managers and theirs. On the third day the attack 
was directed on Dugdale. A servant of Lord Aston 
proved that the informer had lived in bad repute at 
Tixhall, that he was discharged from his post of steward, 
that he ran away to escape his creditors, was caught and 
imprisoned for debt, and that he had sworn by God 
that he knew nothing of any plot. 5 The last was con- 

1 7 State Trials 1298-1339. 

2 x Dugdale's evidence. 7 State Trials 1341-1347. 

3 Gates' evidence. Ibid. 1347-1350. 

4 Turbervile's evidence. Ibid. 1351-1355. 5 Ibid. 1394, 1395. 






364 The Popish Plot 

firmed by the magistrates who had arrested Dugdale 
for debt. He had then been examined about the Plot 
and denied all knowledge of it. Only two days later 
he made a full confession. 1 Two servants of the accused 
were called to prove the nature of the interview in which 
Dugdale swore that Lord Stafford offered him ^500 to 
kill the king. Every circumstance of it was fully 
explained. The witnesses had been in the room the 
whole time, and deposed that the conversation had 
turned upon nothing more serious than the chances of 
a horse-race in the neighbourhood. 2 Other Staffordshire 
men testified to Dugdale's evil reputation, and two 
artisans of Tixhall stated that Dugdale had offered them 
separately money to swear against Lord Stafford. 8 

Of Gates' evidence little could be made for the 
defence, but Stafford was able to point out that after 
having solemnly declared to the House of Lords that 
he could accuse no other persons " of whatsoever quality 
they be," he had proceeded to charge the queen herself 
with high treason. 4 

Again Dugdale was called and cross-examined on 
his deposition of December 24, 1678, which was read 
from the journal of the House of Lords. In that he 
had said " that presently after one Howard, almoner to 
the queen, went beyond seas, he was told by George 
Hobson (servant to the said Lord Aston) that there was 
a design then intended for the reformation of the govern- 
ment of the Romish religion." He now swore that he 
did not know Hobson before the latter came into Lord 
Aston's service in 1678. Stafford seized upon this 
as evidence either that Dugdale was lying, or that his 
information, sworn two years before, was false. Dugdale 
contended that the meaning of the clause "was that 
Hobson told me that presently after almoner Howard 
went over, there was such a design carrying on." It is 
a testimony to the obscurity of the style of ordinary 
English prose at the end of the seventeenth century 

1 7 State Trials 1397-1400. 2 Ibid. 1388-1393. 

3 Ibid. 1396-1406. 4 Ibid. 1407-1415. 



Trials for the Plot 365 

that the court held, in apparent opposition to common 
sense and common justice, that the construction which 
Dugdale gave to the sentence was not only possible, but 
the more probable. 1 

Turbervile, the third of the informers, was met in 
his evidence by numerous contradictions. It was proved 
that in his original deposition he had altered two dates 
the day after having sworn to their accuracy. Both in 
his deposition of November 9, 1680 and at the trial in 
the course of examination he had sworn that he had 
constantly seen Lord Stafford in Paris during a fortnight 
in 1675 when Stafford was ill with gout, and that the 
prisoner then pressed him to undertake the murder of 
the king. Two of Lord Stafford's servants who had 
been with him in Paris now proved that they had never 
once seen Turbervile during that time, and that their 
master had not been ill or lame with gout for at least 
seven years. 2 Material evidence was brought against 
the witness on other points. He had sworn that at the 
end of 1675 Lord Stafford had returned to England by 
Calais, sending him by Dieppe. The contrary was now 
proved by an independent witness. It was also proved 
by a French servant belonging to the household of Lord 
Powis that Turbervile had lodged with him in Lord 
Powis' house in Paris at a time when he professed to 
be in fear for his life of the earl himself, and by his 
brother, John Turbervile, that whereas he had sworn 
that Lord Powis threatened to have him disinherited, he 
had not at any time had even a remote chance of any 
inheritance whatsoever. 3 

On the fourth day of this ponderous trial Lord 
Stafford closed his main defence. He pointed to the 
turpitude of Oates' character, and spoke with emotion 
of his abhorrence that a man guilty of such immorality 
as to profess a change of religion which he did not 

1 7 State Trials 1415-1419. 

2 Stafford admitted afterwards that in recent years he had con- 
stantly used a walking stick, " being lame with weariness." Ibid. 1478. 
3 Ibid. 1419-1434. 






366 The Popish Plot 

experience should be allowed to give evidence against 
a peer among his peers. " I appeal to your lordships," 
he cried, " whether such ... is not a perjured fellow, 
and no competent witness ? No Christian, but a devil, 
and a witness for the devil." Even Gates himself was 
flustered and had to be restrained by the managers from 
breaking into excesses. 1 

The prosecuting Commons however were undismayed. 
They called a swarm of witnesses to set up the character 
of the informers and to destroy that of witnesses for 
the defence. It was proved by word of mouth and the 
production of letters that servants of Lord Aston, Lord 
Bellasis, and Mr. Heveningham had attempted to 
suborn persons to give false evidence against Dugdale. 2 
The new witnesses were in turn contradicted by the 
defence, and this wonderful series of contradictions was 
carried still one step further when fresh evidence was 
called to corroborate them. 3 

On the fifth day Lord Stafford summed up his 
defence. He laid special stress on the infamous character 
of his accusers and his own clean record, the points in 
which the witnesses had been contradicted, and the 
general improbability of the charge. His speech was 
badly received. The opportunity of a slight pause was 
seized by Lord Lovelace to spring to his feet and 
denounce with indignation the presence in court of a 
well-known Roman Catholic. 4 Moreover the prisoner 
made a grave tactical mistake in proposing for argument 
a number of points of law, of which some were frivolous 
and others had already been authoritatively determined. 
Of these the only one which could be considered material 
was the question whether or no in a case of high treason 
two witnesses were necessary to prove each overt act 
alleged, since the witnesses against Lord Stafford had 
sworn separately, and never together, to the commission 
of several acts. This had in fact been determined in the 
case of Sir Harry Vane, 6 but now with remarkable 

1 7 State Trials 1437-1447. 2 Ibid. 14.62, 1463. 

8 Ibid. 1485-1492. 4 Ibid. 1486-1491. 5 6 State Trials 119. 



Trials for the Plot 367 

consideration for the prisoner the opinion of the assembled 
judges was taken : it was unanimous to the effect that 
the evidence of two separate witnesses to two distinct acts 
constituted a proof of high treason. The other points 
were easily disposed of by Jones and Winnington. 1 

In a speech of great ability Sir William Jones 
answered the accused. Here especially the professional 
training of the managers had weight. With the ease 
and decision of a practised lawyer the leader ran over 
the trial, setting the strong points of the prosecution in 
a clear light and minimising the value of the defence. 
His zeal was evident, but hardly unfair. If here and 
there a statement overshot the mark of strict accuracy, 
the effect of his speech was only enhanced by the patience 
with which he submitted to correction from the prisoner. 
Concluding with a short but powerful address, he de- 
manded that the court should do " that justice to your 
king and country as to give judgment against these 
offenders, which will not only be a security to us against 
them, but a terror to all others against committing the 
like offences." 2 On the night of Saturday, December 4, 
Stafford petitioned to be heard again in his defence. 
His request was granted, but the rambling speech to 
which the court listened on the Monday following was 
calculated to produce any effect rather than that of 
advancing his cause. The managers only found it 
necessary to reply very briefly before the court adjourned 
to consider its verdict. 8 

At eleven o'clock on the next morning the votes were 
taken. Thirty-one peers pronounced Lord Stafford inno- 
cent, fifty-five guilty. The verdict was not unexpected. 
Stafford had conducted his defence so feebly as to make his 
acquittal improbable. 4 Physical weakness accounted largely 
for this ; but he had made the mistake of speaking as 

1 7 State Trials 1519-1529. 2 Ibid. 1493-1515. 

8 Ibid. 1544-1551. 

4 Reresby thought that he acquitted himself well, but James said 
" it was always his misfortune to play his game worst when he had the 
best cards." James i. 637. 






368 The Popish Plot 

much as possible, and his remarks were halting, nebulous, 
indecisive. On the night before the verdict was delivered 
Barillon wrote that there was every appearance that it 
would be adverse to the accused. 1 Sir John Reresby was 
staggered by the evidence for the prosecution, and only 
maintained his belief in Stafford's innocence by fixing his 
mind firmly on the depravity of the witnesses. 2 Anglesey, 
Lord Privy Seal, afterwards pressed hard for Lord 
Stafford's pardon, but at the trial he felt constrained 
to vote against him, " secundum allegata et probata." 3 
Even Charles, although he knew that Gates and his crew 
were liars and publicly called them rascals, thought that 
the evidence against the accused was strong, and that he 
might well be guilty ; 4 and the Countess of Manchester, 
who was present at the whole trial, wrote to Lady Hatton 
before the verdict was known, that the charge " was so 
well proved that I believe not many was unsatisfied, except 
those that were out of favour with the party might wish it 
other ways." 5 Charles was present in Westminster Hall 
while the peers delivered their verdict, and took notes of 
the sides on which they voted. When it became evident 
that the majority were for condemnation, his face to those 
who were near him shewed profound disappointment. 6 
Whether or no he believed in Stafford's innocence, the 
conviction was a blow to the king's cause. But the votes 
were not directed by political considerations alone. These 
would probably have ensured an acquittal. If Charles 
had exerted his personal influence on the court, an 
acquittal would have been certain. 7 The peers gave 
judgment on what seemed to them the merits of the case. 
Three eminent members of Lord Stafford's family voted for 

1 Barillon, December 16/26 1680. 

2 Reresby, Memoirs 194. 3 Anglesey, Memoirs 9. 

4 Barillon, November 21 /December I, 1680. "Ce Prince prend 
souvent la liberte de se moquer la conjuration, et ne se constraint pas 
d'appeller tout haut Oatz et Bedlow des coquins. II a dit cependant 
que les preuves centre le Vicomte de Stafford etaienc fortes, et qu'il 
pouvait bien n'etre pas innocent." 

5 Hatton Correspondence ii. 241. 

6 Barillon, December 9/19 1680. 7 Ibidem. 



Trials for the Plot 369 

the death. 1 The same verdict was delivered by the Lord 
Chancellor, the Lord Privy Seal, the Earl of Oxford, Lord 
Maynard, and the Duke of Lauderdale. Among the 
thirty-one who found for the accused were such staunch 
Whigs as Lord Holies, Lord Lucas, and the Earl of 
Clarendon. All these, had party spirit directed the votes, 
must have determined to the contrary. The fact must be 
faced that so late as December of the year 1680, more 
than two years after Gates' first revelations, and after the 
disclosure at Wakeman's trial had rendered certain the 
fact of his perjury, many of the most honourable and 
intelligent men in the kingdom sincerely accepted as 
credible the evidence offered against Lord Stafford, and as 
earnest of their belief sent to the scaffold one of their own 
number, a man bowed down with years and infirmity, the 
victim of miscreants supported by the enemies of the king, 
for the false plot against whose life he was now to die. It 
was a memorial to all time of the ignorance of the 
principles of evidence and the nature of true justice which 
characterised their age. 

Sentence as usual in cases of high treason was 
pronounced on the condemned man, but at the request of 
the peers the king commuted the penalty to beheading 
alone. Efforts were made to obtain a pardon, but without 
avail. Charles was determined to let the law take its 
course that he might not be said to balk the ends of 
justice. 2 

The sheriffs disputed the validity of the warrant for 
Stafford's decapitation and requested the advice of the 
House of Commons on the following questions : " Can 
the king, being neither party nor judge, order the 
execution ? Can the lords award the execution ? Can the 
king dispense with any part of the execution ? If he can 

1 The Earls of Carlisle, Berkshire, and Suffolk. The appearance of 
Lord Howard of Escrick on the same side is of no importance on 
account of his bad character. 

2 Anglesey, Memoirs 9. James to Hyde. Clarendon Cor. i. 50. 
James ta Col. Legge, Dartmouth MSS. 54. Barillon, December 19/29, 
1680. 

2 B 



370 The Popish Plot 

dispense with a part, why not with all ? " To the 
ingenuity of Sir William Jones was due the studied insult 
offered to Charles in the answer of the House : " The 
house is content that the sheriffs should execute William, 
late Viscount Stafford, by severing his head from his 
body." 1 The excitement which prevailed in London was 
intense. Throughout the trial Stafford had been hooted 
in the streets on his way to and from the Tower. Angry 
brawls arose between the witnesses and the crowd at the 
doors of Westminster Hall. When Dugdale swore that 
the prisoner had offered him ^500 to kill the king, a 
savage hum arose in the precincts of the court itself and 
drew a severe rebuke from the Lord High Steward. 2 On 
December 29, 1680 Stafford was led to the scaffold. From 
the place of execution he read a lengthy speech, which was 
published in print on the same afternoon, asserting his 
innocence and vindicating his religion. 3 His words fell on 
deaf ears. A vast crowd was assembled to witness his 
death. Almost all historians have repeated the assertion 
that the spectators were touched and answered with cries 
of, " We believe you, my Lord ; God bless you, my 
Lord." 4 The story is a mere fable. Lord Stafford died 
with howls of execration of the bigoted London mob 
ringing in his ears. The cries with which he was met 
testify relentlessly that the belief in his guilt was firmly 
fixed in the mind of the nation. 5 The Popish Plot was 
not yet a thing of the past. But the result of Lord 
Stafford's trial was not altogether what was expected. 

1 L.J. xiii. 724. C.J. December 23, 1680. Par/. Hist. iv. 1261. 
7 State Trials 1562. 

2 7 State Trials 1544, 1440-1447, 1342, 1343. 

3 Ibid. 1564-1567. 

4 Echard 997. Lingard xiii. 247-249. 

5 Dispatch of Sarotti-Bignola, January 10, 1681. "Tanta e la 
impressione de' popoli della verita della congiura e della reita del 
conte (Stafford), che da pochi e stato compatito e mold lo hanno 
ingiurato con infami parole." Quoted Brosch 451. Dispatch of 
Thun, January 10, 1681. "Der Henker hat den kopf auf der Biihne 
herumgetragen und dem Volke gezeigt, welches daruber ein unausprech- 
liches Freuden- und frohlockendes Geschrei hat erschallen lassen." 
Quoted Klopp II 473, app. XXII. 



Trials for the Plot 371 

Shaftesbury and his party indeed gained a temporary 
victory, but the ultimate triumph was to the king. His 
steadiness, restraint, and readiness for compromise con- 
trasted favourably with the intolerance and unconciliating 
attitude of the Whigs. Their game was played for the 
crown and, when their rejection of all offers short of that 
made their motive plain to the nation, Charles had the 
nation at his back. The violence with which they 
attempted to force the king's hand alienated public feeling. 
He was able to dissolve the Oxford Parliament in 
safety, and the Whigs were driven to plan open rebellion 
and the treason of the Rye House Plot. 



APPENDICES 






APPENDIX A 



LONGLEAT MSS. COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 393 

April 29, 1679. Dover. Francis Bastwick to Henry 
Coventry. 

THIS day I received advice of one Col. Scott coming from 
Folkestone to take horse here for London, and on his arrival I 
seized him and sent for the Comm. of the passage. His examina- 
tion I send you enclosed, upon which we found cause to commit 
him (which was accordingly done by the deputy mayor) into safe 
custody until we had further orders from one of his Majesty's 
principal secretaries what to do with him. He owns himself to be 
the same person we have had orders for several months past to 
seize at his landing. Col. Strode, deputy formerly, had an order 
to seize Col. Scott as I remember from Mr. Secretary Coventry, 
but I am not certain but Col. Strode or his deputy are at present 
in the place. 

I am your most humble servant Fran. Bastwick. I desire 
your speedy answer when you have acquainted my L d . Sunderland. 
Col. Scott has been found in many contrary tales, and went at his 
landing by the name of John Johnson. 



COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 396 

From the examination of Colonel Scott at Dover, April 29, 
1679. That he is a pensioner to the prince of Condi, and hath 
formerly commanded the prince of Condi's regiment of horse in 
the French service. And that the said prince of Condi sent him 
over in September last in order for the surveying of several parcels 
of lands and woods in Burgandie and Picardie was the occasion 
of his going over. 

That the occasion of his return is to see his native country, 
and his profession is a soldier. The said Colonel offered to take 
the oaths of allegiance and supremacy and the test. 

375 






376 The Popish Plot 

COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 397 

Undated. Paper headed : An account of what the Earl of 
Barkeshire desired Colonel John Scot to communicate to 
His MaT. with what passed before the discourse. (En- 
dorsed by Coventry in the same words.) 

The Earl of Barkeshire, that had lain long of a languishing 
sickness in Paris, was pleased to let me know he desired to advise 
with me about a physician. This was in March last. I told his 
lordship I was acquainted with an able man of our own nation, 
and one of the college of physicians in London, but I was of 
opinion his Lordship's Roman Catholic friends would not approve 
of him because he was not only a strict protestant, but one that 
did publicly defend the doctrine of the church of England, and as 
publicly declare the English Roman Catholics were prosecuted on 
just grounds. His Lordship said that mattered not, he should not 
dispute that point with him, nor did he value any man the worse 
for differing from him in judgment, and that he was not so strait- 
laced as others of his opinion, and did commit himself to the 
charge of the said Doctor Budgeon ; but it did prove too late, for 
this gentleman soon told his Lordship what condition he was in, 
and he came to my lodgings and signified to me his Lordship's 
great desire to speak with me, telling me his Lordship in all 
human probability could not live long ; and I waited upon his 
Lordship the morning following, and he having commanded his 
servants out of the chamber, and to suffer nobody to come in till 
he called, spake to me as I remember these very words : 

Colonel Scot, you are my friend ; I must commit a secret to 
you ; there has been a foolish and an ill design carried on in 
England : I don't tell you the Roman Catholic religion is a 
foolish business, for it is the faith I will die in, but 'tis the giddy 
madness of some of that religion I blame. I knew nothing on't 
till my Lord Arundel, Mr. Coleman, and others told me the 
business could not miscarry, and that I should be looked upon as 
an ill man if I came not in in time, and truly I believed them. I 
was none of the contrivers, I was not consulted with till towards 
the latter end of the day, nor did I ever hear anything mentioned 
about killing the king ; if I had, I would have discovered it, and 
so indeed I ought to have done what I did know, as well for the 
personal obligations I had to his Majesty as that which my allegi- 
ance obliges me to, and every man too ; for my Lord Bellasis is 
an ill man ; he and others were accustomed to speak ill of the king, 
indeed very irreverently. 

Then I asked his Lordship who those others were ; but he 



Appendix A 377 

answered, prithee, good Colonel, ask me no questions ; if I had 
known of approaching dangers to the king, I should have told 
him. He then fetched a great sigh and wept, but presently said, 
Friend, I see things will go as you will ; for God's sake promise 
me you will find some way to tell the king every word I say, and 
that though some passages in letters of mine may look a little 
oddly, I would have run any hazard rather than have suffered any 
injury to have been done to his Majesty's person: 'tis true I 
would have been glad to have seen all England Catholic, but not 
by the way of some ill men. My Lord Stafford was all along a 
moving agent, and was here in France about the business ; the 
man of himself is not very malicious. My Lord Powis his covet- 
ousness drew him in further than he would have gone. I believe 
and hope there will hardly be found matter against them to take 
away their lives, but pray the king from a poor dying man not to 
have to do with any of those four Lords I have named, for they 
love not his person. 

My Lord Peeter has always had a great love and reverence for 
the king's person ; 'tis true this last wife of his is foolishly 
governed by priests and influences him ; but he was ever averse 
to all things of intrigue in this matter. I need not desire 
you to be secret, your own safety will oblige you. My Lord 
Cardigan and others being at the door and calling to this Lord, 
the servants were ordered to let them in, and before them he said, 
pray don't forget the hundredth we spake of, nor the business 
at Rohan. I was there once more with the Doctor, but he grew 
exceeding deaf; he said only then to me : Colonel, don't forget 
what I said to you for God's sake. This is the very manner he 
spake it. JOHN SCOT. 



COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 171 

December 23, 1676. Hague. A letter, unsigned. Note 
by Coventry at head To one Johnson : at foot 
shewed his Maj. 23rd of Dec. 76. 

In my last I made some observations to you of the working of 
the old spirit in the Popish party : at this time will now only add 
that the same seemeth not to be restrained to England. . . . The 
popish humour beginneth to spread itself over the English regi- 
ments, especially the regiment lately Col. Tanwicke. One Wisely 
is made Col., being Lieut. Col. before. Archer the major is made 
Lieut;. Col., both Irish Papists, and the rest of the officers are 
generally papists and mad Irish, and for aught we know for 
the most part recommended by the Duke of York. Now albeit 






378 The Popish Plot 

this be true that this congregating of Papists together in a body 
be in the dominion of another state, yet it is true they are subjects 
of England and in regard to the . . . circumstances of England 
in my poor opinion worthy the public notice. 

COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 506 

Undated. Letter without address or signature ; deciphered 
from numbers written in very light ink in place of all 
important words, so that all those in the decipher stand 
between the lines. 

Col. Scot doth send his letters by way of Mons. Gourville, in 
whose chamber he writes them, so that I see little hopes of doing 
what you know, though the undertaker doth still insist for the 
contrary. I am ready for the journey, hoping Mr. Secretary will 
be so just as to spare naming me till that service is done, for I 
should be sorry to trust any other who I do know to have con- 
trived my being disliked in this court. A lady of quality, my 
good friend, returned yesterday from Bretagne and assures a great 
arming upon those coasts and an army of forty thousand men 
ready to ship at Nantes, Brest, etc., whenever commanded to 
sea, to save (as they report) the K. of England from destruction. 
The lady, if there were no disguise in the outward state of things 
in England (which many do think there is), might I think be 
brought to use her knowledge for his Majesty's service, but my 
hands are tied, and you know how things stand with you. 

COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 313 

May 21 1678. St. Malo. Thomas Kelly to Mr. William 
Talbot in Corn Market, Dublin. 

I pray you to pay to Mr. John Plunket the sum of 89 pounds 
sterling by the review of this letter : in doing so you will satisfy 
your creditor. Made the 2ist of May at St. Malo, 1678. 

THOMAS KELLY. 

[The above is in plain dark ink. What follows is light and 
indistinct ; the characters were evidently written in milk or lemon- 
juice, and made visible by being held to the fire.] 

When I came from Paris to St. Germaine where I stayed 
some time and among other speeches I heard in dophin [sic] 
Chamber from some which were there that if the English should 
make war against them they should easily excite a rebellion both 



Appendix A 379 

in Scotland and Ireland, and sending by some Marshal of France 
10 men of war with all things necessary for to make up 2000 
soldiers in Ireland and that, by the help of some skillful Irishmen, 
and under their conduct all the Irish should be, they may easily 
overcome all Ireland. This was the discourse of those gentlemen 
in Dorphin [sic] Chamber, but whether it comes to effect or not I 
cannot tell. . . . [Goes on to give particulars of the numbers and 
strength of the French navy on the north coast. 1 



COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 310 

July 6, 1678. Kimper. David Neal to John Plunket at 
sign of the Ship in the Corn Market in Dublin. 

[Of the same character as the last. The letter, in black ink, 
is frivolous. Interlined in light writing as follows.] 

I have been over all places where I was bound, but the fairest 
places is Brest, and afterwards Havre and St. Malos for merchants. 
The names of them that are capable to serve I did send long since. 
All other places are nothing after these places neither is there any 
man of war in them other places unless they should stay for a day 
or two expecting to convoy others. . . . [Gives other particulars 
of ships and a list of names of captains of French men of war. 
Concludes ] 

If you please I intend to go home since the time is past when- 
ever I was engaged, neither will my friends have me to apply 
myself to it. Your resolution hereupon I will willingly see as 
soon as possible, for I have not much money to stay long in ... 
country as dear as this is. 

COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 317 

June 17, 1678. Rochford. Walter B a Monsieur Patric 

Roch a la place au ble a Dublin. (Endorsed in 
Coventry's hand) : Mr. Burke. 

[Of the same nature as the last two, and in the same hand- 
writing.] There is nothing here worthy of relation only that all 
the people of this country is very desirous to have war against you, 
and specially all the seamen desire no other thing but it. ... 
[Further particukrs of French ships, mostly merchant vessels. 
One, passage in the black ink deserves to be noted.] This is the 
fourth letter which I did write to your honour without receiving 
any answer. 



380 The Popish Plot 



COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 204 

April 14, 1678. St. Omers. Sam Morgan to his^father. 
(Copy of same 205.) 

(Endorsed in Coventry's hand.) Send to Doc*. Lloyd to learn 
where Morgan the father liveth, and how I may write to him. 
Mr. Morgan the father lives at Kilkin in Flintshire near the 
Bp. of Bangor. 

Honoured Father ! These are next to my humble duty unto 
yourself and my mother to acquaint you with my present condition. 
I am here entered in a College called Flamstead amongst good 
gentlemen, and am well beloved of them all. The place is very 
good for meat and drink and other necessaries, but my fear is and 
am in good measure satisfied that my uncle intends me for a priest. 
He spoke nothing unto me as yet, but I partly understand that he 
is of that opinion, which when I considered on is clean against 
my conscience. I daily see and know what they are, and am 
utterly dissatisfied with and condemn the principles and practices 
of their diabolical opinions, for I dare not call it religion. If you 
would be pleased to call for me home I think I should be very 
well ; for now (I thank God) I got more learning here since I 
came than I should have gotten anywhere in Wales in 7 or 8 
years. I have competent skill in Greek and Latin, and can write 
a little of both : if you would be pleased to take me home, I 
should thank my uncle for my learning, and let him take whom 
he thinks fit for his priest. 

I must stay here 18 years yet, and God knows who would be 
alive then ; and for all that, if I were like to be a comfort to my 
friends, I would stay with all my heart, though I utterly abhor 
their ways. If you intend to take me home it must be done 
within this two years at furthest ; otherwise it will be too late ; 
and if you be of that resolution put two strokes in the bottom of 
your letter ; be sure you mention it not publicly in my letter, 
for then the Reader, which is the master of the house, will come 
to know it ; for there is not a letter that comes in or goes out of 
the house but he has the perusal of it, but now I write this and 
deliver it privately to an honest man that set out this day hence ; 
so that the master knows nothing of it. No more but that you 
would use some means to redeem me from this great captivity, 
who am in extraordinary haste. Your dutiful son, 

SAM MORGAN. 
JOSEPH LANE. 



Appendix A 381 



P.R.O. ROMAN TRANSCRIPTS. VAT. ARCH. NUNT. 

DI FRANCIA 332 
December 2, 1678. L'Abte G. B. Lauri a S. Em". 

Ancor che lo stato presente d'Inghilterra, e la risposta datami 
la settimania passata dal Sig r di Pomponne non mi facessero sperare 
cos' alcuna di buono intorno all' assistenza richiesta a favore del 
Sig r Duca di Yorch ; nondimeno a proporzione della premura di 
N.S. e dell' importanza dell' affare, ne rimovai le instanze al 
suddetto ministro Martedi passato, nel qual giorno per questi e per 
altri negozii pendenti mi portai a Varsaglia ; egli soggiunsi che 
il credito talvolta e 1'assistenza del Re di Francia avrebbe potuto 
ristabilire il partito del Sig r Duca di Yorch e de' Catholici di quel 
regno, quando S. M ta si fosse dichiarata per loro. Rispose tuttevia 
il Sig r di Pomponne che tutti i Catholici d'Inghilterra b erano 
imprigionati b erano stati discacciati di Londra. II med mo Sig r 
Duca di Yorch restava escluso dall' essercizio delle sue cariche, e 
tutti indifferemente venivano osservati in maniera che il dichiararsi 
nello stato presente per loro altre non sarebbe stato che un accres- 
cergli le persecuzioni, e finir di ruinare il partito Catholico di quel 
regno ; per queste ragioni avere stimato S. M ta che non sia tempo 
di prestar 1'assistenza richiesta, mentre il cambiamento delle cose 
faceva ogni conoscere che tal consiglio non era piu utile, come 
ragionevolmente avra per altro potuto stimarsi prima che succedes- 
sero le mutazioni accennati. lo dunque essendo cosi cambiate di 
faccia le cose d'Inghilterra, ed incontrando que le scritte difficolta, 
tralasciero di fare altre istanza per quest' affare finche da V.S., 
informata che sia delle cose che passano, mi vengano nuovi 
comandamenti. 






APPENDIX B 

LONGLEAT MSS. COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 237 

October 28, 1678. Copy of the letter sent to Mr. Sec. 
Coventry subscribed T. G. Concerning the murder of 
Sir Edmond Bury Godfrey. 

This is to certify you that upon his Majesty's Declaration I 
have been both at Whitehall and at your own house these three 
days together, and never can be admitted to come to the speech of 
your worship. Whereupon I thought fit to give you an account 
what it is I can declare, which is as follows : Being on Tuesday 
the 1 5th, of this instant October, in a victualling house in White 
Friars I chanced to hear two persons a discoursing, the one saying 
to the other that if he would go down to Billingsgate he would 
treat him there with wine and oysters, whereupon the other replied 
and said : " What you are uppish then are you ? " Upon which 
words he swore, God dampe him (sic\ he had money enough, and 
draws a bag out of his pocket and says, There were fifty pounds. 
Whereupon the other party was very inquisitive to know how he 
came by it, and did importune him very much, and at the last he 
told him that if he would swear to be true to him and never dis- 
cover, he would tell him. Whereupon he did make all the impre- 
cations and vows that could possibly be that he would never 
discover, whereupon he told him that the last night he with three 
men did murder Sir Edward Bury Godfrey and he had that ^50 
for his pains, and said that he believed he could help him to some 
money if he would go along with him on the morrow night 
following. Upon these words the other asked him where it was 
done and who the other three was that was with him, and he told 
him that he murdered him at Wild House, and the other three 
that was concerned with him was gentlemen. Two belonged to 
my Lord Bellasis, and the other to my Lord Petres, but of the 
Monday before, there was a court held at Wildhouse and there 
they tried him, and there was a man like a priest who passed 
sentence of death upon him ; and likewise he asked him how he 

382 



Appendix B 383 

came to be concerned in it, and he told him that there was a 
broker that lodged in Eagle Court in the Strand that spoke to him 
of it : so this is all I can testify of, but only that I can give some 
account in what a barbarous manner they murdered him. This 
man's name is Hogshead, he liveth (?) at the Temple and White- 
friars very much. So, Sir, if you please to give orders to your 
servant, and let me come to the speech of you, I will come and 
make oath of it, and with this proviso that I may have the liberty 
to make a fuller discovery of it, I not being anything out of pocket 
myself ; I desire your answer to-morrow morning to be left at the 
place mentioned in my former letter, and withal desire it may be 
more private than the last. 

Your humble servant to command, 

T. G. 

From the Temple this 
28th instant 1678. 



COVENTRY PAPERS xi. p. 235. Coventry's answer to this. 
October 28, 1678. To his very loving friend T. G. these. 

(Note added by Coventry below the address) : This letter 
was sent to the Rainbow Coffee House, but never called for, and 
was brought back by Col. Vernon. 

I have yours, and am abundantly satisfied with it, but know not 
how to answer it at large. Will you tell me by what name I 
shall subscribe it to you ; whether your own or another it matters 
not so you are sure to receive it. If you enquire for one Mr. 
Evans at my house to-morrow or any morning he shall bring you 
to me, when I will give you my best advice and assistance in what 
you desire. 

I am, 

Your humble servant, 

HENRY COVENTRY. 



BRIT. Mus. ADD. MSS. 11058: 244 

Nov. 7, 1678. Mr. Bedloe's confession before his Majesty of 
the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. 

He saith that the Saturday Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey was 
missing, about two in the afternoon as he (Godfrey) was going 
home, two or three gentlemen met him and said they could dis- 
cover some persons near the Strand Bridge that were agitators in 
the Plot, upon which Sir E. Godfrey showed great readiness, but 






384 The Popish Plot 

they desired him to walk into a houseyard till a constable was got 
ready ; but Sir E. Godfrey had scarce made two or three turns 
but several people rushed out upon him and stopped his mouth ; 
two friars and some of Lord Bellasis' servants executing the same, 
and having carried him into an inner chamber demanded of him 
Mr. Gates his deposition, promising they would save his life if he 
would render it to them ; yet their design was to have taken 
away his life though he had given them that satisfaction. Sir 
Edmund Berry told them that the king and council had them, 
and therefore he could not possibly do what they desired. Upon 
which expression they began to use him inhumanly and barbar- 
ously, kneeling upon his breast till they thought he was dead j 
but they opened his bosom and found his heart panted ; then they 
took a cravat and tied it hard about his neck, and so ended his 
life. He says further that he came too late to be assistant in the 
murder, for he found him strangled and lying dead on the floor, 
but presently received an account from the actors in what manner 
it was performed. His corpse was laid at the high altar of the 
Queen's chapel, and continued there till they had consulted a way 
for removing the same secretly from thence. 

He further saith that two guineas were the reward promised 
among the undertakers, and on Wednesday following the corpse 
was conveyed in a sedan to Lord Bellasis' house, and from thence 
carried in a coach to the place where it was found. He also 
acquainted the Lords that he had several things to communicate 
to them which related to the Plot, and that he was able to confirm 
several passages which Mr. Oates had discovered concerning the 
plot, but he desired leave to give his testimony in writing, that so 
he might make no other discovery than what he could be able to 
testify. 

Actors : Mr. Eveley, Mr. Leferry, Jesuits ; Penchard and 
Atkins, laymen ; the keeper of the Queen's chapel and a vally de 
chambre to the Lord Bellasis. 



P.R.O. S.P. DOM. CHARLES II 407 : ii. 29. LONGLEAT 
MSS. COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 272-274. 

7th Nov. 1678. Before his Majesty. 

Mr. Bedloe informs, 

A contrivance between Charles Wintour and the governour of 
Chepstow Castle, and Mr. Charles Milbourn and Mr. Vaughan of 
Cont . . . and his son, to be in arms when my Lord Powis 
would in Cardiganshire, to give up the castle to Mr. Charles 
Wintour and army of 2O m men. 



Appendix B 385 

Mr. Thimbleby in Lincoln : under Lord Bellasis was to have 
2O m men. 2O m religious men were to meet at S l - Jago to come 
over into Wales from the Groin, and meet Lord Powis and the 
aforesaid gentlemen in arms. 

2O m out of Flanders to meet Lord Bellasis and Mr. Thimbleby : 
to land at Burlington Bay. Has known this by being four years 
among them. 

Qu. What proofs. 

Resp. Has lived among the Jesuits four years, and had all he 
had from them, etc. 

Has been in Spain. Employed from five Jesuits to Sir W. 
Godolphin, Stapleton, Latham, Le Fere, Cave and Sheldon. 

Cave and Le Fere sent him to Doway last summer 12 months. 
20 months since, and thence by Paris, etc., to Madrid. 

Le Fere told him of this design. 

Lodges where Captain Atkins lodges, where Walsh the priest 
lodges, near Wild House. 

Mr. Selvyns at the back door of the Palgrave's Head will show 
where Captain Atkins lodges, and consequently where Le Fere. 

Le Fere is an Englishman, calls himself a Frenchman. The 
passage of the 20 m men from Flanders was to be from Newport. 

As to Sir Edmond Godfrey ; was promised 2000 guineas to be 
in it by Le Fere, my Lord Bellasis' gentleman, and the youngest 
of the waiters in the Queene's chapel, in a purple gown and to 
make the people orderly. They did not tell him at first who was 
to be killed nor till he was killed. 

They murdered him in Somerset House in the corner room, 
the left hand as you come in, near Madame Macdonnel's lodgings, 
and near the room where the duke of Albemarle lay in state. 

Stifled him with a pillow, then he struggling they tied a cravat 
about his neck and so strangled him. 

Le Fere told him so, having sent for him by a footman in a 
blue livery to Somerset House in the walk under the dial. 'Twas 
done in hopes the examinations he had taken would never come 
to light. 

Obj. The King. The parties were still alive to give the 
informations. 

Resp. In hopes the second informations taken from the parties 
would not have agreed with the first, and so the thing would have 
been disproved and made it not be believed. For this reason the 
Lord Bellasis advised it. Coleman and my Lord Bellasis advised 
to destroy him. 

The informant was born at Chepstow, bred up an indifferent 
scholar. His friends all protestant since the world began. Went 
into the Prince of Orange's army, where finding the religious 

2 C 






386 The Popish Plot 

houses kind and obliging, he hearkened to their arguments, etc., 
and so was persuaded. 

Was never an officer in the Prince of Orange's army. Was 
designed to be lieutenant to Vaudepert, a captain. Employed 
some time to make levies in England from Holland, etc. 

My Lord Bellasis' gentleman is he that waits on him in his 
chamber, and none other dresses him but he. Middle stature. 
Little whiskers like a Frenchman. 

The Trappan. They persuaded Godfrey that if he would go a 
little way into the Strand they would make out a great discovery 
to him. He called a constable and appointed him to meet him at 
Strand bridge with power, in the interim of which they persuaded 
him, Godfrey, to walk into Somerset House, where walking with 
two of them, the Lord Bellasis' gentleman and a certain Jesuit 
whom he knows not, others came and with gloves stopped his 
mouth and hurried him into the room. 

The Informant escaped yesterday fortnight by the coach from 
the Talbot in the Strand to Bristol. Coming to Bristol sent for 
his mother, and upon her blessing she charged him to discover 
whatever he knew. Will take his oath and the Sacrament of all 
this. Has had racks of all this for a year in his conscience. 
Would have gotten from them three months ago when the king 
was at Windsor, they about the time whispering something, but 
not so as to let him know it. 

Conyers is a Jesuit, and Pridgeot, and Lewis. Sir John 
Warner was in the Plot. Le Fere, Keimes, Welsh, Lewis, 
Pridgeot. 

Keimes is in the north of Scotland or beyond the sea. Went 
two months ago into the north ; was with Le Fere the night before. 
He went to Ernham to Mr. Thimbleby and so northwards. 

Mr. Welsh, the chapel - keeper, Le Fere, my Lord Bellasis' 
servant, strangled him. 

The Chapel keeper carried him off. They carried him off in a 
chair about Piccadilly and so on to the fields. 

He did not see him after he was dead. 

Le Fere sent to him by a foot-boy immediately afterwards to 
tell him of it. 

Wintour told him two years ago that if he would keep private 
so great a design, he should be governour to Chepstow Castle, etc. 
My Lord of Worcester has kept a very ingenious gunsmith, one 
David Winkett, in his house for many years to make arms. Mr. 
Charles Price, steward to my Lord of Worcester, took them off 
from time to time and disposed of them to my Lord Powis. Mr. 
Christall, my Lord Powis' servant, told him my lord had the finest 
arms of that man's making, etc. 



Appendix B 387 

Mr. Jones, a sugar baker on College Hill, can tell where his 
the informant's brother is. His brother was with him in Spain, 
and wondered how he could live as he did. 

Le Fere. 

Lord Bellasis' gentleman. 

The usher of the Queen's chapel, etc. 



LORDS JOURNALS xiii. 343 

Bedloe's statement at the bar of the House of Lords. Die 
Veneris 8 die Novembris. 

The Lord Treasurer reported by his Majesty's directions, 
" That yesterday one William Bedlowe was examined at White- 
hall concerning the discovery of the murder of Sir Edmond Bury 
Godfrey, and that his Majesty had given order he should be 
brought to give this house an account thereof." 

Who being brought to the Bar and had his oath given him, 
made a large narrative to this effect. 

" That he was born in Monmouthshire and was of the Church 
of England till within these two years, that by Persuasion and 
Promises from the Jesuits he was drawn over to them : that he is 
not in orders. He knows that Sir E. B. Godfrey was murdered 
in Somerset House, on the Saturday, by Charles Walsh and Le 
Fere Jesuits, and two laymen, one a gentleman that waits on the 
Lord Bellasis, the other an underwaiter in the Queen's Chapel. 
That he saw the body of Sir E. B. Godfrey, after he was murdered, 
before he was carried out, and Le Fere told him c He was stifled 
between two pillows,' and he was offered 2000 guineas to be one 
of the three to carry out the body, which was kept either in the 
room or the next where the D. of Albemarle lay in state : That 
the Chairmen who carried out the body on Monday night at nine 
of the clock are retainers to Somerset House ; but he knows them 
not." 

He saith " That Walsh and Le Fere and Pritchard told him 
4 that the Lord Bellasis employed them in this business.' " 

He said further " That Walsh and Le Fere informed him 
c That the Lord Bellasis had a commission to command Forces 
in the North, the Earl of Powis in S. Wales, and the Lord 
Arundell of Warder had a commission from the Pope to grant 
commissions to whom he pleased ' : That Coleman had been a 
great agitator in the design against the King ; And that he, asking 
the Jesuits 'Why they had not formerly told him what they had 
designed concerning the king's death ? ' they answered him 
' That none but whom the Lord Bellasis gave directions for were 






388 The Popish Plot 

to know of it.' He desired he might have time to put the whole 
narrative into writing (which he had begun). 

And being asked if he knew Titus Gates, he denied it." 



P.R.O. S.P. DOM. CHARLES II 408: ii. 47 

Prance's examination before the Council. The notes are in 
Sir Joseph Williamson's handwriting. Dec. 24, 78. 
Prance called in, etc. 

On a certain Monday with a twisted handkerchief in the 
corner near the stables. Carried him into a house in the dark 
entry, leading up out of the lower court into the upper. Left at 
that house where Hill lived then, two days, in the dark entry by 
the water-gate. There Hill and Gerald and the cushion-man 
(Green) carried him away. About ten Hill told this informant 
to go to the other side of the house. Green told him that he 
thought he had broke his neck before he was carried into Hill's 
house. After that, 4 days after, Hill carried him and shewed him 
the place where he lay with a dark lanthorn about Q o'clock and 
Hill brought him back to his house. Green and Gerald were 
there and not having conveniency for keeping him in his own 
house, conveyed him into another house, on the other side. Hill 
procured a sedan, and had him carried in a sedan from Hill's out 
at the end gate of the upper court. This was Wednesday night. 
Was carried as far as the Greyhound in the Soho. He was one 
that carried him, Green and Gerald and Irishman who lay over 
the stables in certain lodgings that Green has there. From Hill's 
house first he was carried somewhere to the other side of the 
house, towards the garden, and Hill met them about the new 
church with a horse, and he was set upon that horse and carried 
away, and the sedan was left in one of the new houses when they 
came back. He came back to his house, and Hill went with the 
body. Green, Gerald, and the Irishman went also with the body. 
Gerald said to him that my Lord Bellasis engaged them to the 
thing, and said there would be a reward, not yet. Does not know 
my Lord Bellasis. Killed him because he loved not the Queen 
or her servants, therefore Green and Hill, etc. One Owen in 
Bloomsbury was in the shop where he changed 100. Two or 
three went to his house to ask after him, the maid answered he 
was not within, etc. They found him out and dogged him, till 
he came over against the water-gate, came from St. Clement's, 
about 9 o'clock, etc. Hill, etc., dogged him. He was not there. 
Two feigned a quarrel in the gate, and he was called in to 
appease the quarrel. He knew Gerald a year and a half. Hill 



Appendix B 389 

upon five years. Green about a year, etc. Hill was without and 
prayed Godfrey to walk in to quiet the quarrel. He walks within 
the gate (?) and the upper Court. Knows not if any guard at the 
gate. Knows not if any company. About 9 at night He was 
strangled in the upper court on the stable side in a corner that is 
railed (?). He struggled. Carried in at the water-gate. He had 
the jioo in gold from Owens in Bloomsbury. Being to go out 
of town as a papist he got this informant to get it for him. It 
was nothing to this ... [a line very indistinct]. He stood 
at the water-gate while he was strangled. Bury the porter stood 
the other way, he watched also there. Hill dwells in Stanhope 
Street, keeps a victualling house. 

As to the Plot. Was in Ireland's chamber. Groves, Fenwick 
were there. Ireland said there would be 5O m men in arms. So 
Fenwick. Two or three days after Groves came to his house to 
buy two swords. Said my Lords Powis, Bellasis, Peters, Arundell 
should become councillors. That Bellasis, Powis, Arundell were 
to govern the army. . . . [Some words indistinct]. 

One Le Fere came to his shop to ask for a silver sword hilt. 
Knows not who he is more than that he is. Knows not Walsh, 
Pritchard, nor Le Fere not by the names. 50 men. They 
hoped Cath. Rel. would be established in a little time, etc. 
Heard nothing of the killing of the King, etc. Godfrey was kept 
from the time of his being killed in a sitting posture, etc. One 
Mr. Moore, servant to the D. of Norfolk, being on a great horse, 
etc., would we had io m of them, etc. His ill-will to Godfrey 
(that the Queen could not protect her servants) Knows nothing 
of the plot nor of any person in it. That one a Messenger 
belonging to Lord Arundell said He hoped the R. C. Rel. would 
before long flourish in England. 

Has declared everything he knows, everything, etc. Green, 
Hill, etc., said Godfrey had used some Irishman ill Owen knows 
nothing of all this that he learns (?). Saw Ireland last at Will's 
coffee house in Covent Garden and Dr. Southwell were drink- 
ing with him in his own house the night before Pickering was 
taken, etc. 



S 



APPENDIX C 

LONGLEAT MSS. COVENTRY PAPERS xi. 148 
Lord Windsor to Henry Coventry. July 8, 1676. 

I WAS yesterday at the trial of Studesbury of Broadly at 
Worcester assizes, where Judge Atkyns sat upon the bench. The 
treason was fully proved against him according to that information 
I did send you. The judge took occasion by advice of those 
justices which were upon the bench to make the trial long, the 
better to discover whether he were distracted or not : upon the 
whole examination and by the answers he made to the many 
questions that were asked him, it was the opinion of all that sat 
upon the bench (which were many) that he was very sensible and 
in no way mad, but in justifying Venner's action and holding the 
worst of the fanatic opinions, and often using their ranting way of 
talking ; he said he held a halberd at the trial of the late King, and 
repeated some of his words with Bradshaw's answers to them, and 
said the putting of Venner and his associates to death was murder. 
The chief witness against him (besides his own confession) was 
one Harrington, an anabaptist mentioned in the first examination, 
which Harrington being asked if he did judge Studesbury mad 
upon the first discourse he had with him (which held near an 
hour) when he would have advised him to take arms against the 
King, he declared he found nothing of that mind in him, but 
thought he designed to ensnare him ; yet notwithstanding all this 
the jury found him a madman. Upon that the judge told them 
that he and all that sat with him were of a contrary opinion and 
desired them to withdraw and consider better oft, which they 
did do and came in again of the same opinion, one of them saying 
that if he were not mad he would not have said what he did. 

BRIT. Mus. ADD. MSS. 28042 : 19 

Memorandum by the Marquis of Danby. (Endorsed) 
Mem d - (7f.) 

To put forth a declaration. To examine the present state of the 
revenue : to consider about stop of payment and when : what is 

390 



Appendix C 391 



yet to come in upon the accounts and at what times : To know 
what is due to the ships abroad : at what times those ships are 
expected : in what state the victualling is. In what hands the 
militia : the justices of the peace : the judges. When the dis- 
solution ought to be : what preparation for a new Parliament and 
when : About the sheriffs : the next Lord Mayor : the Cinque 
Ports : the Port towns by the commissioners of the customs, of 
treasury, of Navy : who have a particular interest in Borrows. 
To consider what grateful things may be done in this interval of 
Parliament : what should be said in the declaration upon the 
dissolution : for these q e Sir R. W. (Weston) and let the journals 
of the Commons be searched for their proceedings in this last 
session : To consider wherein they have exceeded all the due 
limits of their own power as in imprisonment of men who are not 
their members, etc., and meddling with the King's prerogatives 
and private accounts, etc. : To keep Lord Roberts by some en- 
couragement : About another Attorney-General, viz.: Sir R. W. 
(Weston) (which is of main importance) : what change of 
Councillors. In what condition all the garrisons are as to their 
fortifications : what number of forces and where placed after the 
disbanding : to inquire into the riots at the last elections. How 
conventicles should be inquired after, and what penal laws should 
be put in execution : who to be in the Treasury and in the 
treasury of the Navy : what can be done for the suppressing of 
seditious prints and papers : About directing somebody to write 
both about the present state of things to give the world a better 
impression of them than they are now possessed with and to give 
constant weekly accounts of what is done at any time which may 
be for the satisfaction of men's minds. Q. Whether the Plot not 
triable out of Parliament. O. About securing the arms of all 
who have been officers in the late Rebellion. To take their 
names and abodes in all counties. Q': how for to take notice of 
them and dissenters from the Church how busy they have ap- 
peared of late and what reasonable cause of danger to the govern- 
ment from them. Parliament to be called to some other place : 
the King to reside out of London : Tower to be well secured : 
L d Ossory sent to the Navy : that to be officered so as to have 
influence upon their men : To have a control to know justly 
when the army is all disbanded and whether there be any remains. 
About the Tower in case of insurrection : To take some course 
about the reasons of the Commons which are printed, (?) to sup- 
press them and to have something writ to satisfy the people. 






The Popish Plot 



BRIT. Mus. A^DD. MSS. 32095 : 196 

(Paper endorsed) Popish Plot. This paper was presented 
to the King by the D. of York, Oct. 2O th 1679. 

That in or about May or June last Col. Fitzpatrick delivered 
to the Pope's internuncio at Brussels a letter or paper subscribed 
by four R. C. bishops, two of which were Plunket archbp. of 
Armagh, and Tyrel bp. of Clogher, recommending the said Fitz- 
patrick for the only person fit to be entrusted general of an army 
for establishing the R. C. religion in Ireland under the French 
sovereignty, which paper after coming to the intern uncio's hands 
was seen by several clergy and laymen, known to Father Daly, 
procurator, F. O'Neill, commissary. F. Macshone, guardian of 
the Irish Franciscans, and F. Macmahone alias Matthews, Prior of 
the Dominicans in Lovain, among whom 'tis also said that Fitz- 
patrick carried such another instrument into France, where he 
first arrived from Ireland and whence he went into Flanders, 
where he resolved to settle at Brussels. But he was forced to 
remove thence by his R.H. commands, which he obeyed not 
without much regret and murmuring. 



P.R.O. ROMAN TRANSCRIPTS. VAT. ARCH. NUNT. DI 
FIANDRA 66 

Di Brusselles dal Sigr Internuncio, May 24/June 3, 1679. 

In Ibernia, dove il numero de' Cattolici e molto maggiore 
che quello de' Protestanti, ha gran seguito e autorita il Colonello 
Fitzpatrice, onde il Duca d'Jorch a mostrato haverlo veduto mal- 
volontieri venire a Brusselles, per dubbio che il Parlamento pigli- 
ando gelosia del ricorso di lui a S. A. Reale prenda motivo di 
maggiormente inasprirsi contro la medesima, contro di essa, e 
contro il Duca d'Ormond. N'e percio egli partito per Olanda a 
titolo di veder quel paese, ma precedentemente ha tenuta una 
segreta conferenza col Sig r Duca d'Jorch, dopo la quale mi ha 
lasciato intendere sofFrirsi troppo patientemente da S. A. Reale 
1'audacia de' Parlamentarii, e doversi di gia pensare almeno a modi 
di respingerla quando la temerita loro e la debolezza del Re 
d'Inghilterra passasse a porre in esecutione il projetto della sua 
diseredatione. Toccante 1'Ibernia ha detto chiaramente essere 
insofferibile il giogo sotto 1'oppressione del quale gemono quei 
Cattolici, e ha aggiunto che apprendendosi per massima naturale 



Appendix C 393 

il difendersi in qualsivoglia maniera, non dubita egli che non 
fussero per commoversi tutti concordemente, non solo se il Sig r 
Duca d'Jorch ma se qualunque barbaro Principe con qualque 
denaro, e con assistenza di pochi vascelli si accostasse alle spiaggie 
dell' Isola, e portasse armi e munitioni da guerra a quelli habitanti. 



APPENDIX D 

" THE trial of John Giles at the Old Bailey, for assaulting and 
attempting to murder John Arnold, Esq.," is a case which presents 
some difficulty. 1 

Arnold's character for activity against the Roman Catholics 
has already been mentioned. The way in which this trial is re- 
garded materially affects the answer to the question whether or 
no he exceeded the legitimate bounds of his magisterial duty. If 
Giles was rightly convicted, the excess was not great ; if wrongly 
and the attempt on Arnold's life was a sham, not only did Arnold 
lend himself to a criminal and most disreputable intrigue, but all 
his other actions must be more severely judged. The case was 
as follows. Arnold had accused Mr. Herbert, a Roman Catholic 
gentleman of Staffordshire, of speaking seditious words against 
the king and government. 2 They were both ordered to appear 
before the privy council on April 16, i68o. 3 On the day before 
that date it was alleged that Giles, who was a friend of Herbert, 4 
attempted to murder Captain Arnold. For this Giles was tried 
on July 7, before Jeffreys, the Recorder of London, and convicted 
after what seemed to be a singularly fair trial. The case for the 
prosecution was that, as Arnold was going between ten and eleven 
o'clock on the night of April 15 to see his solicitor, he was 
assaulted in Bell-yard, Fleet Street, by the accused and one or two 
other persons, and but for the appearance of the neighbours would 
have been murdered. Giles had spoken disrespectfully of the Plot 
and the Protestant religion, had been seen to dip handkerchiefs in 
the blood of the Jesuit Lewis who was executed the year before at 
Usk, 5 and was supposed to have attacked Arnold in revenge for the 
part he had played in the capture of Evans. Arnold himself gave 
evidence of the fact. He swore that he had been dogged by two 
or three men into Bell-yard. One of these went by him and then 
stood still while the magistrate passed. By the light of a candle 
which a woman was holding at the door of a neighbouring house 

1 7 State Trials 1129-1162. 2 Ibid. 1162. 

* Ibid. 1133. 4 Ibid. 1161. 

5 Evidence of Richmond and Bridges. Ibid. 1140, 1142. 

394 



Appendix D 395 

Arnold saw the man whom he afterwards recognised to be the 
prisoner. As he crossed a lane which ran into the yard, a cloak was 
thrown over his head and he was knocked down into the gutter, 
though not before he had time to draw his sword. As he lay on 
the ground the men stabbed at him with their swords. He was 
cut in the face, the arm, and the stomach, but the men were unable 
to pierce the bodice of whalebone which he wore under his coat. 
One of them cried, " Damme, he has armour on ; cut his throat." 
A light in Sir Timothy Baldwin's house, hard by, and a boy 
coming into the yard with a link disturbed the murderers and 
they made off. As the cloak was pulled from his head, Arnold 
again recognised the prisoner by the light of the link. The men 
swaggered away and one turned back to call, " Now, you dog, 
pray for, or pray again for the soul of Captain Evans." l 

The evidence called to support and to oppose this was very 
contradictory. It was sworn that, talking about the affray at a 
tavern next day, Giles said, " God damn him, God rot him, he 
had armour on " ; but the witness admitted that he might have 
said, " God rot him, he had armour on, they say." 2 The prisoner 
declared that he merely told it as a common piece of news that 
Arnold would have been killed had he not worn armour, and 
called a witness who affirmed that this was so, that Giles had 
called the attempt " a cruel assassination " of which he was sorry 
to hear, and had made use of no oaths at all. 3 Evidence was given 
for the crown that Giles had hurried through Usk on May 5, 
saying that he was afraid of being arrested for the assault on 
Arnold, and at a cutler's shop where he went to have a sword 
mended said he had been fighting " with damned Arnold." 4 This 
was contradicted by the Mayor of Monmouth, who proved that 
Giles had not hurried through Usk, but stayed there several hours ; 
and by the cutler's apprentice, who proved that when the prisoner 
was asked, " How came your sword broke ? Have you been fight- 
ing with the devil ? " so far from speaking the words alleged, he 
had answered, "No, for I never met with Arnold." 5 A great 
deal of evidence was given concerning the prisoner's movements 
on the night of April 15. He had passed the evening in company 
at various taverns, and had finally gone to sleep at the King's 
Arms in St. Martin's Lane ; but as the witnesses arrived at the 
times o'clock to which they deposed by guess-work alone, their 
evidence was naturally contradictory ; and it seems now quite im- 
possible to know certainly whether Giles was, as the prosecution 

1 Evidence of Arnold. 7 State Trials 1135-1137. 
2 Evidence of Phillips. Ibid. 1138. 

3 Evidence of Philpot. Ibid. 1145,1146. 

4 Evidence of Watkins, Richmond, and Powel. Ibid. 1139. 

5 Evidence of H. Jones and J. Jones. Hid. 1146, 1147. 



396 The Popish Plot 

contended, seen last at ten o'clock and did not go to bed till one 
in the morning, or, as the witnesses for the defence stated, had been 
in company till the hour of eleven or twelve. 1 According to the 
evidence therefore, which Jeffreys summed up at length and with 
moderation, 2 it was open to the jury to find either for or against 
the prisoner, and after deliberating for half an hour they returned 
a verdict of guilty. Giles was sentenced to the fine of ^500 and 
to be pilloried three times. On July 26 he was pilloried in 
Lincoln's Inn Fields and was pelted so severely that his life was in 
danger ; and when the remainder of the sentence was carried out 
in Holborn and the Strand, he had to be protected from the mob 
by a guard of constables and watchmen. 3 

The real case against Arnold and in favour of the prisoner did 
not come into court. Sir Leoline Jenkins, secretary of state, 
employed an agent to draw up a report on the subject. The 
report was confined entirely to the assault itself and did not discuss 
the movements of either Arnold or Giles before or afterwards. It 
is notable that Arnold himself was the only witness as to the 
manner of the attack and the incidents connected with it, and 
that the important part of his evidence was wholly uncorroborated. 
Although he wished to deny the fact, he was well acquainted with 
Giles, who had been his chief constable, and probably knew 
enough of his movements to lay a false charge against him with- 
out running too great a risk of detection. 4 Jenkins' information 
throws a curious light upon his evidence. It does not afford proof 
that Arnold lent himself to a bogus attempt on his life, but it raises 
strong suspicion that this was the case. There was no motive 
for the reporter not to tell the truth in points of fact. His 
deductions are lucid and apparently sound. The government 
probably refrained from bringing forward the new material owing 
to the intense opposition which the effort to obtain Giles' 
acquittal would have raised. I quote the most important portion 
of the minute at length from the S.P. Dom. Charles II 414 : 245. 
The paper is undated, but from internal evidence is seen to have 
been composed before the trial. It is without title, but is endorsed 
by Jenkins : " Mr. Arnold and about his being assassinated." 6 

" i. Mr. Arnold was found near two at night April I5th, 
1680 sitting in the dirt, wounded, leaning his head against the 

1 Evidence of W. Richmond. 7 State Trials 1140, 1141, and evidence for the 
defence. Ibid. 1 148-1 151. 

2 Ibid. 1152-1159. 

3 Ibid. 1160. Luttrell, Brief Relation i. 53, 55. S.P. Dom. Charles II 414: 79. 
Petition of John Giles. Read in Council, 6 August 1680. 

4 7 State Trials 1138, 1146. 

5 It is evident that the writer was an agent employed by Jenkins for the purpose. 
Otherwise the secretary would certainly have noted from whom and the date on which 
he received the information. The style of the report is also evidence of this. 



Appendix D 397 



wall, some four yards within Jackanapes Lane, and immediately 
upon crying out, Murther. 

" 2. Quaere : the manner of the assault. When and 
where he received his wounds : whether before his crying out 
or just at the time : what words passed on the one side and on 
the other, and concerning their going away laughing and 
triumphing. 

"3. He was struck down, muffled in a cloak, and they 
stamped upon his breast ; and yet he was found with a white hat 
on his head, no dirt upon it, and his clothes only dirty where he 
sat ; though the land was fouler at that time than ordinary. 

"4. Two pricks in his arm, the one so just against the other, 
that it seemed to be one wound ; and yet hard to imagine how it 
should pass, for the bone. 

"5. Upon his crying out, a woman held a candle from a 
window just over him, and two of the neighbours' servants went 
immediately to him ; but neither could see nor hear of anybody 
near him. 

" 6. If wounded before he cried out, 'tis a wonder that one 
of these boys should not hear either the blows or the scuffle ; 
especially standing within 6 or 7 yards of him in the street, and 
having a duskish view of his body so long before he cried out, 
till upon his knocking at the door of the Sugar-loaf for drink, a 
servant of the house came downstairs, took his errand, went down 
for drink and came up again, in the meantime. 

" 7. Or if before this boy knocked, 'tis a wonder that upon 
that knocking he did not immediately cry out for succour, hear- 
ing people within distance of relieving him. 

" 8. If he was stunded when they left him, how could he take 
notice of what they said, and that they went laughing and 
triumphing away ? Beside the danger of being heard into Sir 
Timothy Baldwin's house, on the one side, and Mrs. Camden's on 
the other, that looked just on to the place. 

"9. If he could not be heard to cry out because he was 
muffled, how should he hear what the ruffians said ? For they 
durst not speak so loud as he might cry ; neither with a cloak 
over him could they well come at his throat. 

" 10. If they meant to kill him, they might have stabbed the 
knife into his throat ; as well as have cut him ; or having him 
down they might well have thrust him into his belly when they 
found the sword would not enter his bodice. 

" 1 1. There was no blood seen upon the ground neither where 
he lay, or thereabouts." 

The balance of probability seems to be undoubtedly that 
no attempt whatever was made on Arnold's life, and that he 



398 The Popish Plot 

deliberately engaged in a worse than dishonest scheme to inflame 
popular prejudice against the Catholics. 

This result supports the evidence received from other quarters. 
The opinion at court and of the king himself was that the attack 
on Arnold was a part of the Whig political machinery. Barillon, 
writing on April 26/May 6, 1680, says: "Ce prince (Charles 
II) n'est sans inquietude, il voit bien par ce qu'il s'est fait sur le 
pretendu assassinat de Arnold que ses ennemis ne se rebuttent pas 
et qu'ils veulent de temps a temps faire renaitre quelque occasion 
d'animer le peuple contre les Catholiques." 

In his manuscript history of the Plot (118) Warner gives the 
following account of the affair : " Supra dictum nihil magis com- 
movisse plebem quam Godefridae eirenarchae caedes. Tentandam 
alterius caedem visum, eundem ad finem et aptus visus Arnoldus 
. . . qui personam in ista tragicomica fabula sustineret, et Londini 
turn versabatur. Omnibus ad earn exhibendam paratis, designata 
hora ix vespertina, nocte illumi. Cum ergo biberet cum sociis 
in taberna publica, monitus a famulo instare tempus, quod ad 
causidicum condixerat, se statim inde proripit et conjicit in 
obscurissimam [sic] angiportum, destinatam scenam. Illic magnis 
clamoribus civium opem implorat ; a papistis sibi structas insidias, 
sicarios ibi expectasse, jugulum haurire voluisse, sed errante ictu 
mentum vulnerasse ; eos fuga elapsos, ubi cives convenire vidissent ; 
eorum neminem sibi notum sed unum in tibia laesum j hunc ex 
vulnere, reliquos ejus indicio comprehendi posse. Hoc xix 
Aprilis contigit. Hinc tragice debacchant in Catholicos factiosi, 
Oate praeeunte : legum beneficio juste privari qui leges susque 
deque haberent : gladio utendum in publicos sicarios, internecione 
delendos, ut ne catulus quidem reliquatur ; averruncandam semel 
pestem omnium vitae imminentem. Inventae una nocte omnes 
Catholicorum domus cruce cretacea signatae, percussoribus 
indiciae, ubi hospitarentur. Nihil deesse visum quam qui signum 
daret : hoc saluti fuit Catholicis sub cruce militantibus, cruce 
signatis. Brevi motus ipsi subsiderunt, dum constitit leniter 
tantum perstrictam cutem ; nee constare a se, an ab alio id factum ; 
nemo vero Catholicus erat, in quem facinoris invidia derivaretur. 
Testati chirurgi neminem in tota civitate vulnus in tibia habere. 
Unus tandem inventus in familia Powisii qui attritam lapsu tibiam 
oleo lenibat. Hie tentatae caedis arcessitur coram consilio regio 
inde ad Arnoldum deducitur. Sed cum hie eum non accusaret, et 
ipse probaret se navem conscendisse Brillae xix Aprilis (id est, 
eodem die quo tentatum facinus) et tantum tertio post die 
Londinum appulisse, et ipse demissus est, et Arnoldi fictae queri- 
moniae cum risu transmissae." 

Strangely enough, Warner seems to have known nothing about 



Appendix D 399 

the arrest and trial of Giles. Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, judg- 
ing from the report of the trial, regards the attempt to murder 
Arnold as an act of revenge for the magistrate's energy against the 
Roman Catholics, and quotes it in support of Macaulay's suggestion 
that Sir Edmund Godfrey was murdered by some Catholic zealot 
for a similar motive. 1 In the face of the probability that no real 
attack was made on Arnold, this support falls to the ground. It 
is far more likely that the rumours at court that Gates had 
murdered Godfrey to gain credit for the plot suggested to Arnold 
or his wire-pullers the method of continuing the credit of the 
Whig party by the shameful means of a bogus attempt on his 
own life. 

1 Stephen i. 393. Macaulay i. 234. 



APPENDIX E 

PENAL LAWS IN FORCE AGAINST ROMAN CATHOLICS, 1678 

1. i Eliz. cap. i (Act of Supremacy), 1559. 

No foreign potentate shall exercise ecclesiastical power 
in the Queen's dominions. 

All the Queen's servants, all temporal and eccles. 
officers, all with degrees in the universities shall take the 
oath of supremacy. 

None shall maintain the jurisdiction of any foreign 
potentate in the Queen's dominions under penalty of fine 
and imprisonment for the first offence, for the second of 
Praemunire (i.e. to be put out of the King's protection 
and forfeit all goods and chattels to the crown), for the 
third of high treason. 

2. 5 Eliz. cap. i, 1562. 

None shall maintain the jurisdiction of the Bishop of 
Rome within the Queen's dominions under penalty of 
Praemunire. 

Two judges of assize or justices of the peace in sessions 
have power to hear and determine this offence. 

All members of Parliament, schoolmasters, attorneys, 
officers of the courts, etc., shall take the oath of supremacy 
on penalty of Praemunire for the first and high treason 
for the second offence of refusal. 

3. 13 Eliz. cap. i, 1571. 

All obtaining or putting in use any Bull of absolution 
or reconciliation from the church of Rome shall be guilty 
of high treason, their concealers of misprision of treason, 
their comforters of Praemunire. All bringing into the 
Queen's dominions crosses, beads, etc., shall be guilty of 
Praemunire. 

400 



Appendix E 401 



4. 23 Eliz. cap. i, 1581. 

All persons pretending to have power to absolve the 
Queen's subjects from their natural obedience and con- 
verting them to the church of Rome shall be guilty of 
high treason, and their aiders and maintainers of misprision 
of treason. None shall say mass under penalty of two 
hundred marks' fine and a year's imprisonment, or hear 
mass under penalty of one hundred marks' fine and a year's 
imprisonment. 

Every person above sixteen years of age who forbears to 
attend church regularly (according to the Act of Uniformity 
i Eliz. c. 2 3) shall forfeit to the Queen the sum of 
20 monthly. 

5. 27 Eliz. cap. 2, 1584. 

All Jesuits, seminary priests, or priests in orders from 
the see of Rome, being born within the Queen's dominions 
and returning into or remaining in them, shall be guilty 
of high treason. 

All others educated in Roman Catholic seminaries and 
not yet having received orders shall be guilty of high 
treason, unless they return within six months after pro- 
clamation made in London and take the oath of 
supremacy. Penalty for concealing a priest or Jesuit 
for more than twelve days, fine and imprisonment during 
pleasure. 

6. 29 Eliz. cap. 9, 1587. 

All Popish recusants shall, on conviction, pay into the 
exchequer twenty pounds a month : in default, two-thirds 
of their goods and two-thirds of their lands shall be for- 
feited to the Queen. 

7. 35 Eliz. cap. 2, 1592. 

All Popish recusants above sixteen years of age shall, 
on conviction, repair to their usual dwellings and not 
remove thence more than five miles, on pain of forfeiting 
all goods, lands, and annuities. 

A Popish recusant, not having land worth twenty marks 
and goods worth forty pounds yearly, and not complying 
with this, shall abjure the kingdom, or not abjuring the 
kingdom, shall be adjudged a felon. 

A Jesuit or priest refusing to answer shall be committed 
to prison until he do answer. 
2 D 



402 The Popish Plot 



All married women shall be bound by this act, save only 
in the case of abjuration. 

8. I Jac. 7, cap. 4, 1603. 

All statutes of Queen Elizabeth confirmed and ap- 
pointed to be put in execution. The heir of a Popish 
ancestor, not conforming before the age of sixteen years, 
shall suffer the penalties of the above statutes and forfeit 
two-thirds of his land to the King to answer the arrears of 
twenty pounds a month, according to the act of 23 Eliz. 
cap. i. 

None shall send a child beyond seas to be instructed in 
the Roman Catholic religion, on pain of the fine of one 
hundred pounds. 

9. 3 Jac. 7, cap. 4, 1606. 

The recusant that conforms shall receive the sacrament 
within one year of his conforming and once in every year, 
on pain to forfeit for the first offence twenty pounds, for 
the second forty, and so on. In forementioned cases the 
King may at will refuse the twenty pounds a month from 
a Popish recusant and take the two-thirds of his lands, 
saving only the recusant's mansion-house. 

The Bishop of the diocese or the justices of the peace 
may tender the oath of allegiance to any persons (except 
noblemen), being eighteen years of age and being con- 
victed or indicted for recusancy. 

Penalty for refusal to take the oath, Praemunire. 

To withdraw the King's subjects from their natural 
obedience, to reconcile them to the church of Rome, or to 
move them to promise it, is high treason. 

None shall be punished for his wife's offence. 

10. 3 Jac. 7, cap. 5, 1606. 

Informers discovering any harbouring Popish priests or 
hearing mass shall have a third of the forfeiture due for the 
said offences, or if the whole exceeds ^150, then ^50. 

No Popish recusant shall come to court on pain of the 
fine of a hundred pounds, or to London or within ten 
miles of it, unless a tradesman, on pain of the same fine, 
half to the King, half to the informer. 

No Popish recusant shall practise law, medicine, or hold 
office in any court, ship, castle, or fort on pain of the same 
fine. 

None whose wife is such shall hold any office in the 



Appendix E 403 

commonwealth unless he educates his children as Pro- 
testants and takes them to church. 

A married woman, being a Popish recusant, must con- 
form a year before her husband's death, or forfeit two-thirds 
of her jointure and be incapable of administering her 
husband's estate. 

Popish recusants must be married in open church by an 
Anglican minister, and must cause their children to be 
similarly baptised on pain of the fine of one hundred 
pounds, to be divided between the King, the prosecutor, 
and in the latter case the poor of the parish. 

Popish recusants must be buried in the Anglican church- 
yard, on pain of a fine of twenty pounds from the executors. 

Popish recusants are disabled from presenting to bene- 
fices, and from being executors, administrators, or 
guardians. 

Two justices of the peace have power to search the 
houses of all Popish recusants, and of all whose wives are 
such, for Roman Catholic books and relics, to burn and 
deface them. 

By warrant from four justices all arms, gunpowder, and 
ammunition belonging to Popish recusants may be seized. 

11. 7 Jac. I. cap. 6, 1609. 

Popish recusants may be required by justices of the peace 
(or if barons and baronesses by three privy councillors) to 
take the oath of allegiance. Penalty for refusing, Prae- 
munire and imprisonment until the oath is taken. Those 
refusing shall be incapable of holding any office and of 
practising law, medicine, surgery, or any liberal science for 
gain. 

A married woman, being a Popish recusant, and not 
conforming within three months after conviction, may be 
imprisoned by warrant of two justices of the peace (or if a 
baroness, of a privy councillor or bishop) until she conform, 
unless the husband pay ^10 monthly, or forfeit a third of 
all his lands. 

12. 3 Car. /, cap. 2, 1627. 

None of the King's subjects shall go, or send, or cause 
to be sent any one to be trained beyond seas in the Roman 
Catholic religion, or pay any money for the maintenance 
of others for that purpose, on pain of forfeiting all his 
goods, lands, and chattels, and being disabled from pro- 
secuting any suit at law. 

2 D 2 



404 The Popish Plot 



13. 1 6 Car. 77, cap. 4, 1664. (The Conventicle Act, 

directed against all Nonconformists.) 

All meetings, other than those of the family, of more 
than five persons declared to be unlawful and seditious con- 
venticles. 

Penalty for first offence, a fine of ^5 or imprisonment 
for 3 months ; for second, a fine of ^10 or imprisonment 
for 6 months ; for third, transportation for 7 years, or a 
fine of jioo. 

14. 17 Car. 77, cap. 2, 1665. (The Five Mile Act, directed 

against all Nonconformists.) 

No person preaching in an unlawful conventicle or 
meeting to approach within 5 miles of any corporation 
sending members to Parliament, without having taken an 
oath " that it is not lawful upon any pretence whatsoever 
to take arms against the King." 

No such person shall teach in any public or private 
school. 

Penalty for not complying, a fine of ^40. 

15. 25 Car. 77, cap. 2, 1673. 

All persons holding office, civil or military, or having 
command, or receiving pay in whatever capacity in the 
service or household of the King or the Duke of York, 
shall before a specified date appear in the court of Chancery 
or King's Bench or of their respective counties openly to 
take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. 

And the said officers shall receive the sacrament of the 
Lord's Supper according to the usage of the church of 
England on or before August I, 1673 in some parish 
church upon some Lord's Day. 

Penalty for refusing to take the oaths, incapacity to hold 
any office or position of trust either civil or military, and 
for executing office after refusal, incapacity to prosecute 
any suit at law and fine of /Jsoo. 

16. 30 Car. 77, cap. i, 1678. 

No peer or member of the House of Commons shall sit 
or vote until he has taken the oaths of allegiance and 
supremacy and subscribed to a declaration that the worship 
of the church of Rome is idolatrous. 

Penalty for peers and members offending, disability to 
hold office and a fine of 7^500. 

Provided that this does not extend to the Duke of York. 



MATERIALS FOR THE HISTORY OF 
THE POPISH PLOT 

I. Manuscripts. 

Public Record Office. 

State Papers Domestic, Charles II 407-416. The 
state papers of the period have not been calendared and 
are preserved in loose bundles, some of which are ill 
arranged. Thus in referring to the S.P. Dom. Charles 
II 407, I have been compelled to add e.g. i. 285, ii. 23, 
as there are two sets of papers in the bundle bearing the 
same numbers. 

State Papers, Ireland 339. 

Transcripts from Paris : dispatches of the French 
ambassadors. 

Transcripts from the Vatican archives in Rome. 

British Museum. 

Additional MSS. : 11,058, 17,018, 24,136, 28,042, 
28,053, 28,054, 28,093, 34,195. 
Had. MSS. : 3790, 4888, 6284. 
Land. MSS. : 1235. 
Stowe MSS. : 144, 180, 186, 302. 

Longleat. 

MSS. belonging to the Marquis of Bath. Coventry 
Papers xi. xx. Ix. By the generous permission of the 
Marquis of Bath and the courtesy of the authorities at the 
British Museum I have been enabled to use these important 
papers (of which an unsatisfactory account will be found in 
the appendix to the 4th report of the Hist. MSS. Com.) in 
the Manuscript department of the Museum. I am greatly 
indebted to Mr. S. Arthur Strong, librarian of the House 
of Lords, for his kind offices in obtaining access to the 
papers for me. 

405 



406 The Popish Plot 



I have also to express my thanks to Mr. Warner and 
Mr. Bickley of the British Museum, and to Mr. Hubert 
Hall and Mr. Salisbury of the Record Office for much 
kind help and courtesy shewn to me during my work in 
their departments. The manuscripts in the Vatican 
archives of which I have made use were copied for me by 
Mr. Bliss, who most generously interrupted his other work 
to make the transcripts. 

Cambridge University Library : " Persecutionis Anglicanae 
et Conjurationis Presbiterianae Historia." Autore P. 
Warner, S.J., Regi Jacobo II do a sacris. 181 pp. fol. 
Letter-book of John Warner, S.J. 

These manuscripts, of which the former is the more 
important, have, I believe, never been used before. They 
were seen by Henry Foley, compiler of the Records of the 
English Province, S.J., but do not appear to have been used 
by him. A notice of them is so deeply buried in his 
laborious and unordered work (v. 289) that it has escaped 
the notice of the author of Warner's life in the Dictionary 
of National Biography. Foley left inside the cover of 
Warner's History a note, which I quote below. Few are 
likely to agree with him that it is " probably the best, the 
fullest, and the most truthful ever recorded." The account 
of the Jesuit father is naturally prejudiced in favour of his 
society and partakes of the nature of a martyrology. 
There are nevertheless points of considerable interest con- 
tained in it. The euphuistic style of Warner's writing 
marks him as a man of learning and culture. 

Note by Henry Foley. 13 Nov. 1876 

" The original draft of this valuable MS. in the hand 
of the Rev. Father John Warner, S.J., is in the British 
Museum, Harlean MSS. 880. 

It is closely written, divided into 8 chapters f.c. 4* 
[j/V]. The writing is so bad that it is difficult to make it 
out. 

Father Warner succeeded Father Thomas Whitbread, 
who suffered at Tyburn 30 June 1679, as Provincial of 
the English Province, S.J., and remained in that office for 
three years. 

In 1686 he was appointed confessor to King James II. 
He died at the court of St. Germains the 2nd of Nov. 
1692, act. 64. He was a very learned man and wrote 
several controversial works. HENRY FOLEY. 



Materials for History 407 

The history of these terrible times is probably the 
best, fullest, and most truthful ever recorded. The learned 
author was upon the spot and had his own personal share 
in the sufferings. 

The facts recorded are fully borne out by the Litterae 
Annuae^ Prov. Angl. S.J. of the time, and likewise by con- 
temporary writers. Vide Echard, Hist. Engl.^ etc. 

One new fact is ascertained that the meeting of the 
Fathers in London (upon the affairs of their body) was 
not held, as sworn by Oates and his associates, at the 
White Horse Tavern, Strand, but at St. James' Palace, the 
residence of the Duke of York. The Fathers who were 
tried and suffered death could have proved this upon the 
trial, but were silent, preferring death to the danger of 
compromising the Duke." 

2. Printed Documents and Sources. 

Historical Manuscripts Commission : appendices to ist 
Report (Lefroy MSS.) ; 4th Report (Bath MSS.) ; ;th 
Report, Part II. (Verney MSS.); nth Report, Part II. 
(House of Lords MSS. 1678-1688) ; i ith Report, Part V. 
(Dartmouth MSS.) ; i2th Report, Part VII. (Le Fleming 
MSS.); i2th Report, Part IX. (Beaufort MSS.); I4th 
Report, Part VI. (Fitzherbert MSS.) ; I4th Report, Part 
IX. (LindseyMSS.) ; 1 5th Report, Part II. (Elliot Hodgkin 
MSS.) ; 1 5th Report, Part V. (Savile Foljambe MSS.). 

Ailesbury (Thomas, Earl of) : Memoirs. Written by him- 
self. Ed. W. E. Buckley. Roxburgh Club. 1890. 

Arnauld (Antoine) : CEuvres, 42 tomes. T. xiv. Apologie 
pour les Catholiques. Paris et Lausanne. 1775-1783. 

Avrigny (Hyacinthe Robillard d'), de la campagnie de Jesus : 
Memoires pour servir a 1'histoire universelle de 1'Europe. 
Paris. 1757. 

Anglesey (Earl of) : Memoirs. London. 1693. 

Bedloe (William) : Narrative and Impartial Discovery of the 
horrid Popish Plot. London. 1679. 

Calamy (Edmund) : An Historical Account of my own Life. 
Ed. J. T. Rutt, London. 1829. 

Campana de Cavelli (Marquise de) : Les Derniers Stuarts a 
St. Germain en Laye. Paris. 1871. 

Clarke (Rev. J. S.) : Life of King James the Second. 
London. 1816. 

Dalrymple (Sir John) : Memoirs of Great Britain and 
Ireland. Edinburgh. 1771. 



40 8 The Popish Plot 



Danby (Earl of) : Impartial State of the Case of the Earl of 

Danby. London. 1679. 
Copies and extracts of some letters written to and from 

the Earl of Danby (now Duke of Leeds) in the years 

1676, 1677, and 1678, with some particular remarks upon 

them. Published by his Grace's direction. London. 

1710. 
Memoirs relating to the Impeachment of Thomas, Earl 

of Danby (now Duke of Leeds) in the year 1678. 

London. 1710. 

Evelyn (John) : Memoirs. London. 1827. 
Grey (Hon. A.) : Debates of the House of Commons. 

London. 1 769. 

Florus Anglo- Bavaricus. Liege. 1685. 
Groen van Prinsterer : Archives de la Maison d'Orange 

Nasau. 2nd serie. T. v. Utrecht. 1861. 
Hale (Sir Matthew) : Historia Placitorum Coronae. London. 

1736. 
Halstead (Robert): Succintes Genealogies. London. 

1685. 

Hatton Correspondence. Camden Society. Ed. M. Thomp- 
son. 1878. 

Journals of the House of Lords. 
Journals of the House of Commons. 

Jurieu (Pierre) : La Politique du Clerge de France. 1681. 
L'Estrange (Roger) : Brief History of the Times. London. 

1687, 1688. 
Luttrell (Narcissus): Brief Historical Relation of State 

Affairs. Oxford. 1857. 
Kirkby (Christopher) : A Complete and True Narrative of 

the Manner of the Discovery of the Popish Plot to his 

Majesty. London. 1679. 
North (Roger) : Examen. London. 1740. 

Lives of the Norths. Ed. Jessopp. London. 1890. 

Gates (Titus) : True Narrative of the Horrid Plot and 

Conspiracy. London. 1679. 
Orleans (Pierre Joseph d') : History of the Revolutions in 

England under the family of the Stuarts. London. 

1722.' 
Palmer (Roger), Earl of Castlemaine [ascribed to; see 

Wheatley's note to Pepys' Diary, Dec. I, 1666] : The 

Catholique Apology, with a reply to the answer. . . . 

By a person of honour. 3rd Edition, much augmented. 

1674. 
Parliamentary History iv. London. 1808. 



Materials for History 409 

Pomponne (Marquis de) : Memoires. Ed. Mavidal. Paris. 

1860, 1861. 
Prance (Miles) : True Narrative and Discovery. London. 

1679. 
Reresby (Sir John) : Memoirs. Ed. Cartwright. London. 

1875. 
Sidney (Algernon) : Letters to the Honourable Henry 

Savile, ambassador in Paris in the year 1679. London. 

1742. 

Sidney's Charles II. Ed. Blencowe. London. 1843. 
Smith (William): Intrigues of the Popish Plot. London. 

1685. 
Schwerin (O. von) : Briefe aus England iiber die Zeit von 

1674 bis 1678. Berlin. 1837. 
Secret Service Expenses of Charles II and James II. Camden 

Society. Ed. J. Y. Akerman. 1851. 
Somers Tracts vii. viii. London. 1812. 
State Trials 6, 7, 8, 10. Cobbett's Collection. London. 

1809. 

Treby (Sir George): A collection of letters. London. 1681. 
The second part of the collection of letters. London. 

1681. 

Temple (Sir William) : Works. Edinburgh. 1754. 
Welwood (James) : Memoirs. London. 1718. 
Wood (Anthony a) : Life and Times. Oxford. 1892. 

3. Histories and Biographies^ etc. 

Acton (Lord) : The Secret History of Charles II. Home 

and Foreign Review i. 146. 
Airy (Osmund) : The English Restoration and Louis XIV. 

London. 1888. 

Charles II. London. 1901. 

Boero (Giuseppe) : Istoria della Conversione alia Chiesa 

Catholica di Carlo II, Re d'Inghilterra. Roma. 1863. 
Brosch (Moritz) : Geschichte von England. Gotha. 1892. 
Burnet (Gilbert) : History of My Own Time. Ed. Airy. 

Part I. Oxford. 1897, 1 9 QO - 
Campbell (Lord) : Lives of the Lord Chancellors of England. 

London. 1856-1857. 
Lives of the Chief Justices of England. London. 

1849-1857. 
Carte (Thomas) : An History of the Life of James, Duke of 

Ormond. London. 1736. 
Chantelauze (Regis de) : Le Pere de la Chaize. Paris. 

1859- 



410 The Popish Plot 



Christie (W. D.) : Life of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of 

Shaftesbury. London. 1871. 

Cooke (G. W.) : History of Party. London. 1836. 
Courtenay (T. P.) : Life of Sir William Temple. London. 

1836. 
Cretineau Joly (J.) : Histoire politique, religieuse, et literaire 

de la compagnie de Jesus. Paris. 1844. 
Douglas (R. K.) : Article on Titus Gates in Blackwood's 

Magazine. February. 1889. 
Echard (Laurence) : History of England. London. 

1707. 
Foley (Henry) : Records of the English Province of the 

Society of Jesus. London. 1879. 

Forneron (H.) : Louise de Keroualle, Duchesse de Ports- 
mouth. Paris. 1886. 
Fox (Charles James) : History of the Early Part of the 

Reign of James II. London. 1808. 
Foxcroft (H. C.): Life and Letters of Halifax. London. 

1898. 
Gentleman's Magazine : January 1 866. Article on the 

conversion of Charles II. 

July 1848. Notes on Sir E. B. Godfrey. 

September 1849. Notes on the Popish Plot. 

Gneist (Rudolf) : History of the English Constitution. 

Trans. Ashworth. London. 1891. 
Hallam (Henry) : Constitutional History of England. 

London. 1884. 
Hargrave (Francis) : Opinion and Argument in support of 

Lady A. S. Howard's right to the new Barony of 

Stafford. 1807. 
Harris (Dr. William) : Historical and Critical Account of 

the Life of Charles II. London. 1814. 
Irving (H. B.) : Life of Judge Jeffreys. London. 1898. 
Jesse (J. H.) : The Court of England under the Stuarts. 

London. 1855. 
Kennet (Dr. White) : A Complete History of England. 

London. 1706. 
Klopp(Onno): Der Fall des Hauses Stuart. Wien. 1875- 

1888. 

Lingard (John) : History of England. London. 1831. 
Macpherson (James) : History of Great Britain. London. 

J775- 

Macaulay (Lord) : History of England. London. 1849. 
Madden (R. R.) : History of the Penal Laws enacted 

against Roman Catholics. London. 1847. 



Materials for History 411 

Oldmixon (John) : History of England during the Reigns of 

the House of Stuart. London. 1730. 
Parker (Samuel) : History of his Own Time. London. 

1727. 
Parkinson (Father) : The Yorkshire Branch of the Popish 

Plot. The Month xviii. 393. 

Ralph (James ): History of England. London. 1736. 
Rapin Thoyras (Paul de) : Histoire d'Angleterre. La Haye. 

1724-1736. 

Ranke (L. von) : Englische Geschichte. Leipzig. 1877. 
Russell (Lord John) : Life of William Lord Russell. 

London. 1853. 
Shaw (W. A.) : The Beginnings of the National Debt. 

Owens College, Manchester, Historical Essays. Ed. 

J. F. Tout and J. Tait. London. 1902. 
Sitwell (Sir George Reresby) : The First Whig. Privately 

printed. 1894. 
Seccombe (T.) : Titus Oates in Twelve Bad Men. London. 

1894. 
Spillmann (Joseph) S. J. : Die Blutzeugen aus den Tagen 

der Titus Oates-Verschworung. Freiburg i. B. 1901. 
Stephen (Sir J. F.) : History of the Criminal Law in 

England. London. 1883. 
Traill (H. D.) : Shaftesbury. London. 1888. 
Wilson (Walter) : Life and Times of Defoe. London. 

1830. 



INDEX 



INDEX 



Albani, papal internuncio, 33, 38, 39 

Alexander VII, Pope, 25 

Aleyn, Sir Thomas, 269-270, 294 

Anderton, Christopher, S.J., 342 

Anglesey, Lord Privy Seal, 368, 369 

Anne, Princess, 50 

Arlington, Lord, 27, 35 

Armstrong, Sir Thomas, 241 

Arnold, Captain, 273, 361 

Arnold, Margaret, 314 

Amndel of Wardour, Baron, 12, 27, 50, 

54,61,67, 77, 205, 209 
Ashburnham, Sir Denny, 331 
Ashby, 348, 349 
Atkins, Captain Charles, 106, 108, 113, 

116, 157, 158 
Atkins, Samuel, 106-116 passim, 144, 

158 

Atkyns, Sir Robert, 286 
Aubigny, Abb6 d', 25 

Bacon, Francis, 276-277 

Barillon, 31, 179, 183, 188, 256, 260 

note, 368 

Barker, Sir Richard, 4, 10, 12, 13 
Bedford, Duke of, 239 
Bedingfield, Father, S.J., 74, 150 
Bedloe, William, 63, 67, 109-148 passim, 

157-160, 170, 229, 312, 321, 328, 329, 

334, 33 6 337, 34', 347, 353, 35 6 i his 

character, in, 113 
Bellasis, Lord, 12, 62, 67, 77, in, 122, 

205, 328 

Sellings, Sir Richard, 25, 27 
Berkeley, Lord, 28 
Berkshire, Earl of, 33, 54, 60, 61, 62, 63, 

64, 69 
Berry, porter of Somerset House, 123, 124, 

126, 130, 131, 132, 140 
Boatman, Jerome, 320 
Bobbing, Kent, 4 
Bolron, Robert, 199 
Boyce, William, 135 
Breda, Declaration of, 18, 21 



Bristol, Earl of, 54, 65 

Broadstreet, Mrs., 124, 129 

Browne, Dr., 294 

Buckingham, Duke of, in, 121, 224,225, 

232, 238 

Bulstrode, Sir Richard, 207 
Burnet, Gilbert, 80, 95, 103, 156, 163, 

333 

Busby, George, S.J., 271-273 

Cardigan, Earl of, 54 

Carlisle, Earl of, 64 

Carr, trial of, 285 

Castlemaine, Earl of, 198, 205, 213, 298, 

360, 361 
Catherine, wife of Charles II, 159, 160, 

229-231,246,347-348, 362 
Cavendish, Lord, 236, 247, 258 
Cellier, Elizabeth, 137-138, 205-21 3 /WMW, 

24, 33 8 344, 3 6 
Chaize, Pere de la, S.J., 34, 35, 39, 42, 51, 

68, 77, 3S, 3 6 , 3 1 7 

Chapman, 348 

Charles II, 10, 13, 15, 18, 26, 36, 42, 56, 
59, 88, 103, 122, 125, 169, 172, 184, 
189, 195, 216, 218, 223-260 passim, 282, 
333, 3 6 2, 368 i his policy, 23-25, 29-30, 
232 

Chepstow, 112 

Chetwyn, Mr., 271 

Child, 107, 109, 116 

Clarendon, Earl of, 20, 22, 232, 278, 

369 

Clayton, Sir Robert, 209 
Clement X, Pope, 38, 50 
Clifford, Lord, 27 

Cloche, James de la (James Stuart), 26 
Coffee-houses, suppression of, 284 
Coke, Lord Chief Justice, 46, 276-277, 

358 

Colbert, 27 

Coleman Correspondence, 34-36 and note, 
40 note, 42, 44 and note, 47, 49, 51, 55, 
58 note, 175, 317, 320 note, 353 



415 



The Popish Plot 



Colcman, Edward, n, 12, 17, 32 and note, 

3 8 39 59- 6o 6r > 62, 68 > 78, 327, 346 ; 

his trial, 91, 120, 149, 151, 170, 304- 

322 fassim, 363 
Colledge, trial of, 297 
Colombiere, Pere de la, S.J., 66 
Compton, Bishop of London, 174 
Con way, Earl of, 173 
Cooper, Charles, 134-135 
Corral, Francis, 137 
Cotton, Sir John, 171 
Courtin, 31,51 
Coventry, Henry, 106, 109, 169 and note, 

I73 175. 207, 208 
Criminal procedure, 288-303 
Croissy, Colbert, quoted, 226 
Curtis, Elizabeth, 128 

Danby, Earl of, Lord Treasurer, 29, 71-75 

passim, 78, 173, 176-181 fassim, 186, 

190, 195,215,224,225, 253; his policy, 

41,42 
Dangerfield, Thomas (Willoughby), 164, 

204, 21 3 fassim, 338, 360 
De Quincey, on murder of Godfrey, 3 
Deane, Sir Anthony, 352 and note 
Declaration of Indulgence, 21, 28, 29, 30, 

223 

Dennis, Bernard, 362 
Devon witches, trial of, 314 
Devonshire, Duke of, 239 
Dolman, Sir Thomas, 309 and note, 331 
Dover, Treaty of, 27, 28, 30, 48, 59, 224, 

260 
Dryden, John, quoted, 7, 85 note, 222, 

360 
Dugdale, 67, 275, 339, 340-341 and note, 

348, 362, 363, 364, 370 
Duras, Lord, 33 

Eastchurch, Elizabeth, 315 

Elliot, Mrs., 229 

Essex, Earl of, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 

236,241,251,254, 336 
Este, Prince Rinaldo d', 50, 51 
Evans, Philip, S.J., 274 
Evelyn, John, 10 
Everard, Edmund, 174 
Evers, S.J., 341 and note 
Exclusion Bill, 153, 182, 190, 216, 218, 

*33 2 44, 251. 2 5 2 > 257-258, 260 

Faulconer, Benjamin, 293 

Fenwick (Caldwell), S.J., agent at St. 

Omers,76, 125,312-313,326,327,328, 

329, 332, 363 
Ferguson, Robert, 238, 253 
Ferrier, Pere, 33, 34, 35 
Finch, Sir John, 279, 286, 299, 300, 359) 
Fiquet, Olivier du, 66 



Fitzharris, trial of, 354, 360 
Fitzpatrick, Colonel, 65, 218-219 
Fletcher, W. M., 100 note 
Forset, Robert, 98 
Fox, quoted on witnesses, 314, 315 
Frazier, Sir Alexander, 88 
Fromante, 323, 325 

Gadbury, astrologer, 205, 240 
Gardiner, Dr., and Gunpowder Plot, 86 
Gascoigne, Sir Thomas, 66, 199, 200, 360, 

361 

Gauden, Dr., 122, 124, 129 
Gavan, John, S.J., 201, 202, 341, 343 
Gerald, Father, 122, 123, 124, 129, 

140 

Gerard, Lady, of Bromley, 229 
Gerard, Lord, 236, 246 
Gerard, Sir Gilbert, 246 
Gilbert, Henry, 271-273 
Giles, John, 274 
Godfrey, Benjamin, 92, 95 
Godfrey, Sir Edmund Berry, 3, n, 80, 83- 

166 passim; his secret, 153, 155 
Godfrey, Michael, 92, 95 
Godolphin, Sydney, 10 
Godolphin, Sir William, 12, 328 
Goodrick, Sir Henry, 16 
Green, 122, 123-124, 126, 130, 131, 132, 

140, 147 

Green Ribbon Club, 237-238, 239,254 
Gregory, Serjeant, 185 
Grey of Werke, Lord, 236, 239, 247 
Grove, W., lay-brother, S.J., 70, 73, 121, 

125, 326, 327, 328, 330, 332 

Habeas Corpus Act, 191 

Habernfeld's Plot, n 

Hale, Sir Matthew, 46, 47, 281, 282, 

316 
Halifax, Viscount, 17, 44, 55, 183, 189, 

190, 232, 233, 241, 251, 252, 253, 

255 

Hamilton, Duke of, 235 
Harbord, Sir Charles, 16 
Harbord, William, 249 
Harcourt, William, Rector of the London 

College, S.J., 197, 329, 332 ; his trial, 

340-345 

Harris, trial of, 285 
Hastings, 4 
Hatton, Charles, 242 
Hatton, Lady, 368 
Hawkins, Robert, trial of, 293, 300 note, 

3 1 ? 

Henrietta of Orleans, 27 

High Treason, 45-48 

Hill, Lawrence, 122, 123-126, 131-132 

140 
Hobson, George, 363, 364 



Index 



Holies, Lord, 233, 238, 245, 369 
Howard, Cardinal (Norfolk), 34 and note, 

5<>> 5> 3S 320 
Howard, Sir Philip, 106 
Hulet, trial of, 293, 296 note 
Huntingdon, Earl of, 247 
Hyde Laurence, 255, 256 

Innocent XI, Pope, 50 

Ireland (Ironmonger), Father, S.J., 76, 

120, 125, 326, 328, 330-332 
Ireton, Lieut. -Col., 238, 239 

James I., 276 
effreyi, Sir George, 3, 7, 304, 332, 351, 

352 

Jenkins, Sir Leoline, 173, 250 
[ennison, informer, 204, 362 
Jennison, Thomas, S.J., 204 note 
Jesuit congregation at St. James' Palace, 

152, 166 

John of Austria, Don, 77 
Jones, Sir William, 116, 172, 251, 252, 

25 8 > 35 3 6 2, 3 6 7, 37 
Justices of the peace, 269-287 

Kelly, Father, 124, 140 

Keynes, John, S.J., 140, 220 

Kirkby, Christopher, 12, 13, 70-75 /><MM, 

89 
Knox, Thomas, 335, 338-339 

Lane, John, 335, 338-339 

Langhorn, Richard, trial of, 298, 304, 

345-347 
Lauderdale, Duke of, 28, 233, 235, 236, 

245, 369 
L 'Estrange, Sir Roger, 13 note, 92 and note, 

IOO, IO2 note, 121 note, 133, 134, 147, 

149 
Le Fevre, Father, S.J., 117-119, 127, 140, 

M-i. 155. 157. IS 8 
Legge, Colonel, 252 
Leopold I, Emperor, 38, 220 
Lewis, David Henry, S.J., 274 
Lloyd, Dr., 72, 87, 89, 104, 135, 136, 

138, 163 

Lloyd, Sir Philip, 349-351 
Lloyd, Temperance, 315 
Locke, John, 223 
Louis XIV, 24, 27, 255-257 
Lovelace, Lord, 366 
Lucas, Lord, 369 
Luzancy, 16, 17 

Manchester, Countess of, 368 
Mansell, Colonel, 208,209, 2I 
Marshal, O.S.B., 351, 360 
Mar veil, Andrew, 225 
Maynard, Sergeant, 305, 319, 362 



Mazarin, Duchesse, 198 

Meal Tub Plot, 204 seyf., 335, 344, 360 

Medburne, Matthew, 5 

Meres, Sir Thomas, 184 

Monmouth, Duke of, 25, 122, 123-124, 
127, 129, 160,227,232,233,234, 236, 
238, 240, 241, 242, 245, 254 

Montagu, Ralph, 178-181 

Morley, Dr., Bishop of Winchester, 176 

Morris, Father David, 202 

Mowbray, Laurence, 199 

Mulgrave, Marquis of, 239 

Non-Resistance Bill, 42 

Norfolk, Duke of, 6, 202 

Norfolk, Duke of (1571), his trial, 291 

North, Chief Justice, 357 

North, Roger, 89, 104, 150 

Nymeguen, Peace of, 225 

Oates, Samuel, 4 

Gates, Titus, 3-13 passim, 63, 64, 66, 70- 
80 passim, 89-91, 112, 150, 151, 164, 
170, 225-231 passim, 237, 239, 247, 
306-3 14 passim, 321, 327, 329, 331, 342- 
353 passim, 356, 362-369 passim 

Ogle, Lord, 224 

Oliva, Johannes Paulus de, General, S.J., 
26, 327 

Orange, Mary, Princess of, 50, 225 

Orange, William, Prince of, 29, 217, 220, 
225, 233 

Ormonde, Duke of, 194 

Osborne, William, 338 

Ossory, Earl of, 122, 123-124, 127, 160, 
172 

Oxford, Earl of, 369 



Parsons, Robert, S.J., 56 

ief Justice, 
300, 354 



Pemberton, Chie 



102, 298, 299, 



Penal statutes against Romanists, 19, 41, 

53, 196, 244 

Penn and Meade, trial of, 283, 358 
Pepys, Samuel, 106, 107-109, 173, 352 

and note 

Peterborough, Earl of, 207, 209, 210, 212 
Petre, Edward, S.J., 329, 342 
Petre, Lord, 12, 54, 62, 205, 337 
Peyton, Sir Robert, 207, 238, 240 
Pickering, lay-brother, O.S.B., 70, 73, 76, 

326, 327, 328, 330, 332 
Plucknet, Mr., 96, 99 
Plunket, Archbishop, 304, 360 
Pomponne, Marquis de, 37, 52, 58 
Portsmouth, Duchess of, 27, 242, 247, 

250, 362 
Powis, Countess of, 205, 207, 209, 212, 

213 
Powis, Earl of, 12, 62, 205, 337 



4i 8 The Popish Plot 



Pracid, John, S.J., 66 

Prance, Miles, 120-148 passim, 155, 158- 

166 fassim, 348 
Preston, Lord, 47 
Price, Anne, 335, 339-34 
Prison life in seventeenth century, 136 
Pritchard, Charles, S.J., 119, 120, 140, 

155 
Pugh, Father, S.J., 273 

Radley, Richard, 353 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 292, 358 

Rawson, John, 95, 96, 99 

Reading, Nathaniel, trial of, 328, 335- 

338 
Reresby, Sir John, 152 and note, 164, 179, 

186, 227, 253,270, 361, 368 
Rich, Sir Edward, 171 
Richardson, Captain, 125, 134, 205 
Roman Catholics, persecution of, 196- 

221 

Rupert, Prince, 336 

Russell, Lord, 16, 182, 183, 189, 235, 

238, 247, 252, 258, 299, 333, 334 
Ruvigny, 31, 36, 38, 43, 52 
Rye House Plot, 212, 237, 239, 260, 270, 

334, 371 

St. Germain, Father (Dr. Burnet), S.J., 
16, 17, 34, 52, 64, 80, 201, 319 

St. James' Palace, Jesuit meeting at, 152, 
166 

St. Omers, 8, 9, 10, 67, 326, 342, 343 

Salamanca, 8 

Salisbury, Earl of, 225 

Sarotti, quoted, 18 note 

Savile, Henry, quoted, 239 

Scott, Colonel John, 61-64 "^ note i 69 

Scroggs, Chief Justice, 286, 298, 309, 317- 
319, 321, 322, 328, 329, 332, 342, 345, 

347, 349, 35 2 -359 /"* 
Sergeant, Dr. John, 53, 201, 202 note 
Seymour, Edward, 184 
Shad well, poet laureate, 239 
Shaftesbury, Earl of, 22, 29, 42, 85, 103, 

108, 142, 182, 183, 188, 189, 191, 223- 

260 passim 

Sheldon, Father, S.J., 33, 37, 38 
Ship-money, 279 
Sidney, Algernon, 234, 238, 239, 333, 

343 

Sidney, Henry, 202 
Sitwell, Sir George, 13 note, 85 note, 

228 

Smith, Aaron, 237, 239 
Smith, John, 362 
Smith, William, 5 
Somerset House, 156, 159, 161 
Southwell, Sir Robert, 124 note, 129, 

130 



Southwell, Sir Thomas, 309 

Speke, George, 336 and note, 337 

Speke, Hugh, 238, 253 

Stafford, Lord, 12, 54, 62, 64, 65, 67, 205, 

337 ; his trial, 153 note, 275, 280, 286, 

298-300, 360-371 passim 
Staley, William, his trial, 323-326 
Stapleton, Sir Miles, 199, 360 
Stephen, Sir James Fitzjames, 46, 83, 146 

note, 311 

Strange, Richard, Provincial, S.J., 6, 8 
Stuart, James (De la Cloche), 26 
Suffolk witches, trial of, 293-294, 314 
Sunderland, Earl of, 187, 189, 241 

Tasborough, John, 335, 339-340 

Tempest, Lady, 199 

Temple, Sir William, 173, 179, 186, 187, 

190, 192, 218, 232, 239 
Test Act, 29, 35, 42 
Thomas, Grace, 315 
Thompson, Pain, and Farwell, trial of, 98, 

102 

Throckmorton, Sir Nicolas, 29 1 
Throckmorton, Sir William, 33, 35, 37, 

38, 60, 305 

Thwing, Father, 199, 360 
Thynne, Mr., 236, 270 
Tichbourne, Sir Henry, 337 
Tilden, Mary, 129 
Titus, Colonel, 251 
Tonge, Dr. Ezrael, 3, 9, 12, 70-80 passim, 

89-90, 177, 227, 326 
Tonge, Simpson, 10, 13 note 
Tory, origin of name, 244 
Townley, Christopher, 344 
Trade riot, 284 
Trelawny, Sir Jonathan, 181 
Trenchard, Sir John, 238, 239 
Tuke, Colonel, 20 
Tunstall, William, S.J., 329 
Turbervile, John, 365 
Turner, Anthony, S.J., 341 and note 
Turner, Colonel, 269-270, 293, 298 
Twyn, printer, sentence on, 285 

Valladolid, 6, 8, 67, 112, 326 
Vane, Sir Harry, 366 
Verdier, Francois, 66 
Vernatt, 128, 140 
Vittells, Captain, 114-115, 116 

Wakeman, Sir George, 12, 70, 295, 309, 
322, 324 ; his trial, 347'35 2 , 355, 35 6 , 
361 

Waller, Sir William, 143, 183, 209, 238, 

249, 2 7i, 343 
Walsh, Charles, S.J., 117, 140, 141, 155, 

157, 158 
Walters, Lucy, 246, 247 



Index 



419 



Warcup, Justice, 271 

Warner, John, S.J., 164, 165, 198 

Warner, James, 130 

Watchmen, 268 

Welden, George, 151 

Wemyss, Countess of, 247 

Wharton, Lord, 224, 225 

White, Mrs., 205 

Whitebread (White or Harcourt), Thomas, 

Provincial, S.J., 73, 78 j his trial, 326- 

330, 340-345 



Williamson, Sir Joseph, 1 6, 109, 173, 178, 
187 

York Castle, 199 

York, Duchess of, 31, 49, 50, 79, 198, 
205, 215 

York, James, Duke of, 17, 27, 30, 35, 38, 
39, 41, 42, 44, 57, 69, 75, 152, 164, 
166, 181, 186, 198, 203, 207, 213-221 
passim, 224, 226, 234, 240, 241, 245, 
251, 322, 341 note 









THE END 



Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh. 



POLLOCK, JOHN DA 

u* 

.P64 
The Popish plot