« PreviousContinue »
known tongue; and further says, that he gave | think you need not stir from the bar, but do as the Sacrament to seven or eight according to you will. the manner of the Church of Rome in a wafer, The Jury having considered of the Evidence at Mrs. Stamford's house in Wolverhamptou. some time, gave in their Verdict. Jarvis, the other witness, swears that he hath Cl. of Arr. Gentlemen of the jury, are
you been at confession with him, and bath often- agreed of your verdict? times received the Sacrament of him. Here
Jury. Yes. are two other honest men, chat speak very full Cl. of Art. Who shall say for you? as to circumstances ; so that in the whole you Jury. The foreman. cannot have a more clear evidence: and, gen. Cl. of Arr. Gaoler, set up William Atkins. demen, I must tell you, it is to these sorts of (Which was done.) Gentlemen of the jury men we owe all the troubles and hazards we look on the prisoner. Wbat say you, Is he are in, the fear of the king's life, the subversion Guilty of the High-treason whereof he stands of our goveroment, and the loss of our religion. indicted, or Not Guilty? It is notorious by what they have done, that Jury. Guilty. they are departed from the meekness and sim- Cl. of Arr. What lands, goods or tenements plicity of Christ's doctrine, and would bring in had be? a religion of blood and tyranny amongst us. Jury. None to our knowledge. As if God Almighty were some omnipotent Cl. of Arr. Looks to him, Gaoler, he is found mischief, that delighted and would be served Guilty of high-treason. with the sacrifices of buman blood. I need He received the sentence usual in cases of not say more to you, the matter's plain ; I high-treason.
257. The Trial of Francis JOHNSON, a Franciscan, at Worcester,
for High Treason : 31 CHARLES II. A. D. 1679. [Written by
Himself.*] I BEING at London on All Saints-day, when double comfort before God, and the king; bethe proclamation came forth to comunand all fore the king, because I rather chose to stay Catholics to depart from thence by the Friday there, than remove against his command; befollowing, I obeyed, and came to a friend's fore God, because I rather chose to go to prison, house in Worcestershire, not intending to stay than to remove from his law, by taking the there ; but the king's second proclamation being oaths against my conscience, Therefore I was presently published, That no Catholics should taked and put in prison. walk above five miles without being stopt, and carried before a justice to have the oaths ten
The Manner of my being taken was as fol
loweth: dered, I asked counsel of the wisest I could, both of Protestants (whereof one was a lawyer) The Sheriff's deputy came to the house and another a constable, as also of Catholics, where I was with six or eight raen, to arrest a Whether that proclamation did so strongly gentleman in the house for debt: The officers oblige, that it permitted me no longer to go coming into the house in the morning, and not farber? They all concluded it was not secure finding the person they came for, broke down to go, so I resolved to obey, and stay where I all the doors, and among the rest mme, before was, and with good reason.
I was out of bed, and by a mistake arrested me, First, Because all Catholics are obliged to instead of the other gentleman; and although obey the king's commands in all things that are the deputy, coming into my chamber, looking not against our religion and conscience, and on me, told them they were deceived, for I was his commands in this nature are against neither. not the man they came for; yet other soldiers
Secondly, Should I have disobeyed, and have coming into my chamber, one of them said he been taken, in penalty I should have suffered, knew me: It seems he had been a servant in which would not have been so directly for my the house seven years before, therefore he said conscience aod religion sake, as for disobeying he would have me to the justices, and bid his the king's command; because in case I should companions secure me, and so they did, and be taken by staying there in obedience to the would not let ine go out of their sight,until they proclamation, and be carried before the justices carried me before the justice; And this they to have the oaths offered, whatever I was to did, without either constable, or warrant, law suffer for refusing them, I should have this or justice.
When I came before the justice of peace, I From a Pamphlet entitled; “A NARRA- told him the occasion that had brought me to TIVE of the proceedings and trial of Mr. FRANCIS him; and if I would have taken the oaths, I Johnson a Franciscan, at Worcester, last Sum- had' been presently freed: But I told them mer-Assizes, A. D. 1679; Written with his own that persuaded me to take the oaths, That it was band as followeth: To which is annexed his against the faith and religion I professed, and Speech at his Execution, August 22, 1679." against my conscience, and I would never of
fend against either by so complying, whatever I faithful a subject to the king, as any subject suffered for the contrary.
whatsoever, and as faithful as if I should take The justice's wife was compassionate to the oaths now offered by them to me an hunwards me, and desiring to speak privaiely with dred times over ; but as for taking these oaths me, she used her best persuasions to me to offered nie, I could not take them whatever I cumply with what was desired of me concern- suffered, and the reason was, because I undering ibe taking the oathis, for fear of further stood what an oath was, and the conditions trouble or danger. I answered her with thanks, which God has prescribed to us, before any and told her, That I was sorry she had no could call him to witness lawfully in taking of better opinion of me, than to think I had pro- any such oaths. fest such a faith and religion all my life-time, and now upon the trial could be moved with any told them were these.
The Conditions which God has prescribed I fear or danger (which God forbid) I told hier it was such a faith, chat in it I deposed my soul, Thou shalt swear the Lord liveth in truth, my confidence, heaven and eternal life, and and in judgment, and in righteousness; só therefore I never did, nor (by God's grace) that in every oath, the life of God, the never would fear to suffer for it what pleased truth of God, the judgment of God and God; For who could fear even death itself of his righteousness, are included by all which the body whose life is momentary, for profes- we swear, and the oath we take is to have sion or that faith wherein he depostth the eter- all these conditions, truth, judgment, and nal life of his soui?
righteousness, Jerem. 4..---Therefore if I should This answer satisfied both her and myself, take these oaths which are concerning dandable for I was resolved to make a public profession doctrines and heresies, I must call God to witof my faith and religion; upon which I return- ness that I no more believe him to be a living ed to the justice, who thought tit I should go God and true God, a just and righteous God, to another justice, who was sir John Packing than I believe these things contained in the ton, whither also be went with me.
vaths to be true, just and righteous, 10 swear When I came to sir John, he asked me who 1o which oaths I do not nor cannot in my conI was? I answered him, I was a gentleinan science believe to be so. For, before I or any sufficiently known for these 20 years in Worces- man else can understand the contents of these tershire to all sorts of people. He asked me of oaths to be true, as w call God to witness that what calling I was? I answered him, of none. I believe them to be as true, just and righteous, He asked me what estate I had? I answered I must be able to define what is faith or heresy I was no landed-man. Then he asked me, If in these contents I swear to, and I must know I would take the oaths? I answered, I under the full extent of all cases of this nature that stood thein not. He replied, Will you take God has left to all temporal priuces and their them, or will you not? I told him if be pleased power; I must also unders and the full extent to let me see them, I should returu him my of all cases of this nature of power spiritual answer.
which God hath left in his church in or over . Now the reason why I desired to see the christian kingdoms of temporal monarchs, oaths, was, because I was resolved to make a which power in these oaths I am to swear on public declaration of my faith, that they were the one side, and forswearing the other. against my conscience, and therefore by de. I told them I was not of capacity nor knowclaring publicly the reasons why I could not ledge to set the confines to each power, or to take them, it should be publicly known, that determine or define the extent given by God to whatsoever I was to suffer for not taking them, all in this nature, so as to swear and call God was for no other cause but for my faith and re- to witness I am as sure of it, as I am sure he ligion, because I would not swear against my is a living God, as I must do if I take these conscience-For, would I have taken them, I oaths, the extent of which I did not understand had been there also freed. ,
in my conscience to be so as to believe them; When the oaths were brought to me, they' Therefore I could not nor would not swear to told me I must read them out aloud, but I toid ibem. I having spoken these things, nobody théin that because it was a public place, and said any more to me, but the justices going out mary there present of several degrees, as well of the hull made my mittimus and sentence for of the householders, a strangers, I feared least Worcester prison, because I would not take the reading them aloud, some that heard me oaths they tendered me. might think I swear what I read, and 60 might I have been since called to the bar at the go and report they heard me take the oaths be sessions, where I spake to the same effect before the justices. But they declared they fore Judge Street, and the justices, as I had would not think so, so I read them over and spoken before to sir John Packington, having over, which when I had done, I said aloud, God first asked their leave to speak, which they gave save the king; and then declared to both the me for a little time, and then bid me return to justices, and all the rest in this manner. the prison. But first they were urgent with me I am ready to swear as followeth : to answer positively, Ay or No, was I jesuitical
priest, or was I not? To which I answered, That I ever all my life-time have been, and it was an easy thiog for me to say No, but by now am, and ever will be to my last breath, as saying No, I might prejudice others, who bere
aster being asked the samne question, if they command they suffer) to release them. And did not answer No, it might be an argument in the mean time they will have this comfort, that they were guiliy, if they did not deny it, as That they give a testimony they fear God, and others before them had done.—Therefore I de honour the king; they fear God, because they sired that what proof could be brought against choose rather to suffer persecution, than swear me, might be produced against me, and I against their consciences; they honour the king, would answer for myself: But I desired I miglit because they are willing to suffer the penalties Dot be urged to answer Ay or No, to any thing, be commands, and yet remain faithful subjects before some witness or argument came against to him, whom God long preserve, with his parme; for, I told them in such cases, neither law liament and people, in all happiness. of God nor man obliged any one (although he was guilty) to bear witness against biinself judge Atkins at Worcester, to have my cause
On Tuesday, April 15, 1679. I came hefore without some proof were alledged against him, tried at the Sessions, having been committed 5 for, that was no less than to be bis own execu. months before to Worcester-Castle by two jus.' tioner,
tices of the peace, sir John Packington, and The judge answered there were witnesses Mr. Townson, because I refused the oaths of would swear against me. I answered, it witnesses could make out what supremacy and allegiance, and therefore was
suspected to be a Jesuitical Priest. they swear of me, then my life was at the king's mercy : But in the mean iime I told then I re
The manner of my Trial was as followeth: mained guiltless, though I did not answer them Four Witnesses were brought in against me; to their questions Ay or No, because I told them three of them were forced by warrant to come that being my saying No in my own behalf in, whether they would or no, froin several would pot be sufficient testimony to acquit me, towns, and were forced to speak all that they therefore there was no reason why any inau knew, had heard, or seen, concerning me; should be urged to say Ay to accuse one-self neither I, nor any of my friends knowing, that though he was guilty.
any would be compelled so to do, before the Upon this the judge sent me to prison again time of my trial was come. The fourth wilat Worcester, where now I am, which imprison- ness came of his own accord for lucre sake, ment, in these times especially, when none can who, the same day that I was first brought to send to their friends, nor friends coine to thein, Worcester prison, offered himself to swear beis the best means to teach us how to put our fore the mayor of the town, that I was a priest, confidence in God alone in all things ; and before ever he canie to see who I was. then he will make his promise good, That all things shall be added io us, Like 12, which fore the judge, was this:
The Testimony which he gave against me bechapter, if every one would read, and make good use of, a prison would be better than a He swore he had been at confession with me, palace; and a cor.firement for religion, and a and that he had received the Sacrament at my good conscience-sake, more pleasant than all hands about 2 years before at his father's house, the liberties the world could afford. As for iny whilst he was a catholic; and after he became own part, God give me his grace, and all faith a protestant, he said I told him afterward he ful Christians their prayers, I am happy enough; should turn back from whence he had fallen, and as for others, Í besecsh God that the evil else he would be damned. example of those that swear against their con- The other three witnesses that were forced sciences, may not be guides for the rest to fol- to come in against me, when they came before low, nor their deeds a rule to their actions. the grand jury, and were urged to take their We all ought to follow the narrow way, though oaths, to tell that which they never had known there be many difficulies in it: It is an casy nor seen concerning my being a priest, they all thing to run the blind way of liberty, hut God unanimously declared, That they had nothing deliver us all from broad, sweet ways. We to say against me, and that they were by vioknow what Job saith of libertines, They lead lence forced to appear there, and therefore they their lives in the goods of this world, and in a said they would never swear nor say any thing moment they descend into hell. But, as our against ine, for they knew nothing to accuse Saviour saith, What doth it profit a man to me of: which when the jury heard, they called gain the world, and lose bis soul?
for the gaoler to take the party that first denied God gave Job a goodly increase for all the to swear to prison, thinking by this violent way riches he took from him, and blest bis latter end of proceeding so to affright them, that they more than his beginning, and gave him 140 should say something, out of which advantage years of flourishing life for luis short affliction, should be taken agains: me; which the better in which, bis constancy and faith in God was to effect, they made them first lay their hands tried; and our Saviour proiniseth an hundred on the Bible, and then kiss it, which they did. fold to all that leave goods, and every thing wil. | Then the jury told them, that now they were to lingly for his sake. Who well considers this, tell all the truth according as they were asked. will be content to leave both friends and for-| ----First they asked whether any of thein had tunes, and freedom by imprisonment, for their ever heard me read? One answered, yes, the faith and religion-sake, till such time as it shall Bible, and sometimes any other book. Then please God and the king (in obedience to wlose they asked, Whether they had ever seen te pray? It was answered, yes. Then they asked mon's were to them; and as great a gift from what cloaths I had on when I prayed? And God to me, as theirs to them; and therefore whether I used to change my cloaths when I God has laid as great an obligation on me to came to pray? In these and other like questions defend myself and my life, as he had on them they sifted them, to get out any thing that might for theirs, and also had given to every one a do me hurt.
strict command not to iropair or prejudice me But how charitable or Christian-like these in the least, no more than the greatest potenproceedings of the jury, were, let the world tate. Therefore being I was now brought be judge now, as God will hereafter; for, if this before him in a case, where the world as much as a charitable way of proceeding among Chris- concerns me, lay at stake, and my life, and my tians, that our neighbours sliould by such credit, I did humbly beseech his lordship to prostrange violence, as by warrant and oath be ceed accordingly with me, as I presumed acbrought against their wills from any part of cording to his prudence and worth he would. Eoglard, to swear whatever they have seen, He assented to what I petitioned, and did bid heard, or known of their neighbours, what hor- me speak for myself. rid confusions and odiums must this make In answer therefore to the first voluntary among all sorts of people both friends and foes? witness against me, I told his lordship it was But I do not blame those three witnesses, true, I had been at such a night at his father's after they had been inconsiderately induced to house, and accordingly, as I was desired by birn, lay their hands upon the Bible, and kiss it ; II staid all night.—But as for this witness, I was suppose they judged themselves bound to say a stranger to him, and he to me, as he confest what they did.
himself. Then the judge asked him, whether After this, when the jury had gnt out of them he knen me before or no? For he declared what they could, the four witnesses and I were publicly, that he never knew me, por saw me called before the judge. The first witness that before or since, till he saw me at Worcester, came to swear against me, as the custom is, re- and yet he said the next morning he made his peated his testimony over again before the conte-sion to me, and I gave him the communion judge, and so did the other three that were at inass as he supposed in my chanber; but forced ; which when I heard how absurd and he said that none of all the family was present insignificant some of their testimonies were, I at that time, only he and I alone; whereupon inconsiderately smiled, at which he judge being I desired the judge to consider what possible offended, I hambly begged his pardon, and told likelihood could be of the truth in this his afhim I was sorry for it.—Bui forasmuch as firmation, that I should come to a house where laughing or smiling were passions of nature, I was acquainted with them all, father, mother, over which no mau bad a free course or power, and children, with all but this witness who as I hoped and beseeched him not to impute it to be declared knew me not, nor ever had seen me me; he told me he would not be displeased at before, what likehood is there I should say me for it. Then he asking me, whether I was mass before him alone, bear his confession, and guilty, or not guilty of my accusations? and I give him the sacrament, and so go away withanswering, Not Guilty, he bad me shew it, by out any one of the family (with whom I was answering for myself ; I cold him I was ready so well acquainted) bearing, seeing, or know. to do it ; but told him first, I had an hunble ing the least of this that past between bin and petition to bis lordship, which was, that I deine. I therefore desired my lord to ask him, sired a full and free liberty without hindrance whether I spake of confession or communion? to answer to every objection, and plead for my. or what I said to him when I gave it him ? or self; I also desired he would reflect in my be whether I told him I would give hin the sacrahalf, that as he was to be iny judge, so he was meut? which when the judge had asked him, to be my advocate. And forasmuch as all be answered, that indeed I never had spoken earthly judges were to initate the heavenly to him either about confession or communion judge, who as advocate ten thousand times miti- to come to either ; neither did he know what I gates the severity of a judge, whilst his hand of said to him, when I gave him bread like a inercy is infinitely stretched forth beyond the wafer; but he of his own accord did desire hand of judyment. Aod therefore I begged of me to hear his confession, and give him the his lordship, that I might find the favour of an wafer which he took. Whereupon the judge advocate from him, rather than the rigour of a asked how it came to pass that he, never harjudge, especially in those things which according known nor seen me before, nor I spoke with ing to law may be advantageous or disad- him about confession or communion, how could vantageous to me, which I understanding not he now tell who I was, or how could he desire how to make the best use of them, desired his such a thing of me who was a mere stranger lordship would vouchsafe to do it for me; which to hiin, neither of us knowing any thing of one that the better he might be moved to do, I de another's condition ; sure, said the judge, we do sired he would be pleased to consider that this not give the commuinon on sach terms.-To my life and concerns were (in comparison of which he answered, that his fatber had told him others greater) not so much considerable, I that if he would be might confess to me, and being but a private person, yet my little was to that I would give him the communion.-Śo alme much, because iny little was my all; and though he had sworn before, that none in the my life to me were as much as Cæsair's or Solo- house was witness or saw him confess or re
ceive, yet rather than be confounded, he would days not consecrated as the communion, but bring his father into coofusion, and accuse him only blessed as holy water by the word and as guilty of being the cause of what he did, which prayer, and so distributed to men, women, and might be the ruin of his family.
little children, of two or three years old; and But the judge taking no notice of what he such like ballowed bread thousands of men, had accused his father, spake to me, and told women and children, take, and may carry ine, by this it might appear, that I had taken about them, and keep in their houses, and eat upon me what belonged to the priests office, it at any time, and give it when, and to whom by hearing his confession, and giving him the they would, to children, or others; and for my wafer. To which I replied, that with bis leare, i part, I have many times in my life taken it I would make it appear, that all which this from others at any time; when I had it, or was witness bad said against me, did not at all in any private house where I found it, I have prove me to be a priest, or to have taken the taken it to eat myself, and given it to any man, office of a priest upon ine : for all he said I had woman, or child, sometime they desiring it, done, I might do it lawfully though no priest, sometime of my own accord I gave it, and so so might other men that never were nor would possibly I have given it to the man that witnesbe priests do the same, as many thousands had seth here against me; end if he know the condone and did do through the world. He asked trary, but that it was as I said, I desire that me how I could prove that? I answered, as to he would speak: But he had nothing to say of bis confession he spoke of, in the nature he de- me to the contrary. clared it, it was only an act of charity for me I appealed to my lord to judge whether this to do as I did, and every christian's duty obli- testimony, or any other testimony this witness ges every inan to do the same that he said I brought against me, were of any force or value had done for him, and the same was practised to make me guilty in this inatter, which no ways by all sects whatsoever, that never knew what could be made out against me. belonged to priesthood; For, if our neighbour I proceeded therefore to answer his third achave any thing that perplexed his mind, there cusation against, ne, which was, that I should is no better way to ease it, than by speaking have told him, that if he did not return to of it to any whom he supposed might know the faith from whence he had fallen, he would how to take away or mitigate his grievances by be damned. To this my answer to my lord counsel or advice; And therefore this witness was, that I had all my life time been so fearful having understood something from his father, of such rash judgment, that I do declare it in that might move him to confide in me, came of the presence of God, as I did before him, that his own accord, as he said he did, to impart I had rather dye, than presume to pronounce bis mind to me, and therefore I should not the sentence of damnation against any man ; have fulfilled christian duty, if I should have but I told his lordship, that if he pleased to slighted his trouble, and not have given bim give me leave, I would relate what I had said leave to ease his mind to me, and, in the best to him, and others, upon the like occasion, way I could, endeavour to assist him, and di- which the judge being willing to hear, I told vert his trouble, though I was a stranger, being him, that I being at this man's mother in law's that he of his own accord, as he said, came to house, who was of no religion, no more than me for that intent, and therefore I desired the this witness, and the mother desiring to hear judge to ask hiin, if it were otherwise than what catholics beld, and the reasons for which what I had told his lordship?
we believe such points of faith, I told ber what The judge replied that I went further; for, we held, and shewed ber the proofs for what as he says, I give bim the wafer or communion. we held in her owu Bible, and when she made I answered, that suppose I had given him the any difficulty whether such texts of scripture wafer or communion (which whether I did or were to be understood as we understood them, or no I was not certain) yet according to his own in any other sense, I shewed her out of the Proword, this could no way prove that I gave him testant Practice of Piety,and outofthe Protestant the sacrament; for, let him speak if I told him Common Prayer Book, that not only catholics, it was so; or let him declare if I said any thing but all protestaņts understood them in such a to him concerning the communion, or what sense; and she having those books by her, I I said; he could not say I did, only I gave him turned those places to her to read in ber own something ; therefore I told the judge, that if books, and so she did, and yet neither the Bible, be pleased to give me leave, I would tell his nor Common Prayer Books, nor Practice of Piety lordship what practice ever had been, and is could satisfy, or make her believe; whereupon constantly used in the catholic church through. I told her, that if she were a christian, she out the world, in giving hallowed bread or wa- must believe something; for, as she believed, ter, which is nothing belonging to the commu- so she should be saved:- I told her also what nion or sacrament; for I told my lord, as there the Bible declared to her, that without faith it was holy water kept in all private houses, as was impossible to please God, and I bade her well as in the chapels, and places of prayer, consider the text that saith, whatsoever is not so there was also holy bread, and, someliines of faith is sin; as also the txet that saith, the of the same nature as the wafer or the com- just man liveth by faith, and desired her to munion, and of this as well as of the other sort read those words of our Saviour, where he saith of bread, was on Sundays, and other certain he that believeth shall be saved, but he that VOL. VII.