Tuesday, December 7.
[Debate on demanding Judgment against Lord Stafford.]
Sir William Jones.] Demanding a Conference with the
Lords, about the place of giving Judgment, will be nothing but delay; it may be, eight days more may be
spent, as we have done already in the Tryal. The Lords
cannot alter the place of Judgment.
Mr Powle.] The business is of great consequence; and
let not your zeal bring you into errors. Admitting this
a Precedent, it will be of great importance. What is
visible is in the Lords Message, "That they have appointed, &c. to give Judgment against Lord Stafford
to-morrow morning," and you demand it; will not that
put you upon a Precedent, that you must send and wait
for their Judgment? I should be loth to stay and wait
here for it. I would not have it in the Lords Power to
stop Judgment. The Precedents are thus, "That the
Lords send you word, they are ready for Judgment, if
you are ready to demand it." I desire, that, at a Conference, the Lords may have such a Message sent them.
Though the Lords will not confer with you about Judicature, yet they cannot deny you to confer about Forms.
I would send up for a Conference, and the Lords will not
deny it you, I am confident.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I would send some Message to adjust
this matter, and a Conference is the easiest way. Im
peachments of capital matters have been rare, and the
methods so dark, that we have little guide. I suppose
you will go down to hear Judgment—You go upon this
notification, and if you make not a demand of Judgment,
they will follow the course of Justice. According to the
Judgment of this day, depends the Plot. Whoever
thinks Lord Stafford not guilty, thinks there is no Plot.
That being the weight, makes the difficulty. If you
will send to the Lords for a Conference, three or
four Gentlemen may withdraw, and show you some soft
way of keeping up your Right, without giving the Lords
occasion of offence.
The Speaker reads out of the Journal, in the Case of Sir
Francis Mitchell's Impeachment, "The Lords sent the Commons word, they were ready to give Judgment, if the Commons
were ready to demand it."
Colonel Birch.] I would consider what I am afraid of.
I am so dull, that I cannot see the danger in demanding
Judgment, &c. But there is vast danger in demanding a
Conference. You would not demand it, till you know
that the Lords are ready for it. If you go now and demand Judgment, and they give it at their own Bar, you
may take notice of their intention of doing it in Westminster-Hall.
Sir John Trevor.] Words and accidents may arise
at a Conference, which may occasion disputes, and it is
not a time for us to dispute. Upon the Evidence, I am
satisfied clearly that this Lord is guilty, and so I would
make no manner of bones to demand Judgment. If you
demand Judgment, you demand your Privilege, and in
that you explain their Message. I would have no more
delay, but go up and demand Judgment.
Sir Francis Winnington.] A little thing is apt to make
a disturbance, when God knows what state our Religion
is in. The Message is, "That the Lords will bring
Lord Stafford, &c. to hear his Judgment, &c." If a
final one, it is strange, before having determined the fact.
I believe there is no Precedent that the Lords have passed
Judgment the same day they find Guilty, or Not guilty.
Similitudinarily, it is like a Verdict; else they will have
nothing to give Judgment upon. If the Lords should
delay Judgment a week, or longer, we may demand
Judgment; therefore it is rational to demand Justice quite
through the cause. But if presently you should go and
demand Judgment, it would look as if some difference
did arise betwixt the two Houses. I am absolutely against
Conference; we must have regard to Religion and substance of things. I do not find that the Commons demand Judgment till the Lords have determined the Fact,
or if it looks like delay.
Mr Paul Foley.] You have vindicated your Right to
demand Judgment before the Lords give it, and the
Order last night does presume that Right. If you stay
till the Lords have found Lord Stafford Guilty, or Not
guilty, they may give Judgment before you demand it.
By their Message, it seems, they intend to give final Judgment to-morrow. Therefore I would pursue your Order
made last night.
Serjeant Maynard.] It would be wonderfully unreasonable, should we demand a Conference of the Lords,
before we have any thing to ask it upon, in a thing of this
vast consequence. "To demand Judgment"—What is
that? To demand Death, without Precedent. We demand Judgment against Lord Stafford, as a man guilty.
But it is said, "If the Lords delay it, then we should
ask it;" but there has been no delay, but now instantly
to go upon them upon that supposition! If you go and
demand it before they are ready to do it—Upon demand
of Money, I may pay it before he ask it, but I am not
bound to do it.
Colonel Titus.] Consider the matter, and if it be
possible, avoid all difference with the Lords. Suppose
the Lords should say, "It is true the Commons have a
Right to demand Judgment, but it is when we have
found the matter, whether Guilty, or Not guilty, and
then the Commons may demand Judgment." If we
demand it before it be ready, we cannot have it.
The objection is, that the Lords should come and
find him Not guilty, and give Judgment before you demand it.
The Speaker.] The Lords tell you they have appointed
the Prisoner to-morrow to hear Judgment, now are
you debating what Judgment. You are interpreting the
Lords Judgment. If this be taken for a Verdict, then
it is right, but it is a Judgment.
Col. Birch.] By the Message, there is sufficient implication that it is a Judgment, and your Right is, to demand
it; others say, it is unreasonable. I would therefore send
to the Lords, to say, if they be ready to give Judgment, you are ready to demand it.
Mr Harwood.] I believe not that the Lords will take
away our Privilege. What will be the consequence of
taking it away, but to save a person, that any man that
heard the Tryal, who ever found him not guilty, would
have had the King's life taken away? I am not in fear
of the Contest between the Lords and us; let us not be so
timorous of a bug-bear. We need not be so timorous to
justify the Rights of the People. If the Lords be ready
to give Judgment, you come and demand it.
Mr Finch.] By the Arguments and Precedents I have
heard, you must have information from the Lords, whether the person be Guilty, or Not guilty. Till the Lords
have determined any thing in Arrest of Judgment, you
are not ripe for it. We ought to go into the Hall. If
upon Judgment the Lord Steward proceeds to Sentence,
we had better right ourselves afterwards.
Mr Paul Foley.] If you send such a Message to the
Lords, you put them upon altering their own Order. I
see no inconvenience in demanding Judgment presently,
you having had intimation from the Lords, that they are
ready to give it.
Sir Thomas Clarges] Finch has said, "He has heard
that the Lord Steward's direction is, that as soon as the
Lords Verdict is pronounced, he is to give Judgment
upon the Prisoner." Consider where you are. You demand Judgment, upon intimation to the Lords, "That
you are ready to demand it." And it is to be supposed you are present there; else your dignity will be
impaired. Therefore I would have a Message to the
Lords, "That if they are ready to give Judgment, you
are ready to demand it."
Mr Montagu.] Pray put the Question, for the Lords are
just now going into Westminster-Hall.
Sir Robert Carr.] If the Lords will pretend to give
Sentence after the Verdict, before you demand Judgment,
I wish the Managers may quit their Box, and leave the
Lords by themselves.
Mr Powle.] I wave my Motion for a Conference with
the Lords; you ought to presume that the Lords will do
things regularly; if they do not, you may take a course
to right yourselves. If the Lords should proceed to Sentence before Judgment be demanded, the Managers may
have order to interpose, "That the Commons expect that
Sentence should not be given, till it be demanded." If
they will not, the Managers may retire; if they do, you
come upon better advantages afterwards.
Mr Trenchard.] I wonder why the Prosecutors should
demand Judgment before they know whether the Lords
have found the Prisoner Guilty, or Not guilty. But
if the Lords proceed to Judgment before it be demanded,
I would have the Managers retire.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I would warily consider the Message,
before we send to the Lords. I fear that such a Message
was never sent before; no Precedent of it; and the Lords
take exception at it, and where are you then? May not
the Lords take exceptions, when they tell you, they are
ready to give Judgment? I am afraid, if you go this
way, which is quite new, it may create a difference with
Serjeant Maynard.] I like that of the Managers retiring worst of all. It is not Judgment, unless it be demanded. In Lord St Albans's Case, the Lords gave
Judgment upon the proof, and the Commons did not demand it; they did the same in Sir John Bennet's Case.
All we have, is at stake now; our Laws, our Lives, our
Religion. When you sent a Charge against this Lord,
it was in order to Tryal, and the Lords send to you to
demand Judgment: What will the World say, if you
demand it not? I hope the Lords will not give Sentence
before you demand it.
Sir Francis Winnington.] I propose only Substance and
Form; Form, to be aiding to Substance, to have the thing
done. I would preserve the Form, and not have the Substance interrupted. There is no Precedent that ever
Judgment was demanded before the Fact was found; if
that be so, I would not run untimely to demand Judgment. The Commons demand Judgment, either because
they have a Right to it, or because they fear delay. I
would desire Judgment in a Parliamentary way. All I
fear is this, to have Forms entangled to hinder Substance. The Managers may say, they desire, in this Cause,
the way and method of Parliament, that Judgment may
not be given, till it be demanded.
Sir Henry Capel.] I think you are in the dark, because
you know not the Lords Order. If they give Judgment as a Verdict, and pass Judgment immediately, we
are precluded, and the consequence may be great. If
you see we are precluded, the Managers may desire to
[Resolved, That the Committee be impowered, in case the
House of Lords shall proceed, immediately after the Fact found,
to give Judgment, to insist upon it, "That it is not Parliamentary for their Lordships to give Judgment, untill the same be first
demanded by this House.]
The Committee of Commons were present at the Court in
Westminster-Hall, when the Lords found William Viscount Stafford Guilty of the High Treason whereof he stands impeached;
and then the whole House went up with the Speaker to demand
Judgment (fn. 1) .
[December 8. omitted.]
Thursday, December 9.
Colonel Birch reports the matter of the Information given to
the House by Mr Peter Norris
(fn. 2) .
Mr Hyde.] The Letter from my Lord of Essex will
give a clear account of Mr Secretary Jenkins's proceedings
in this matter; but because he is a Peer, your Reporter
was tender in reading it.
Colonel Birch.] I have in my hand a Letter from my
Lord of Essex, where his Lordship has given a Narrative
of so much of this matter as concerns himself, viz.
"There was one Dowdall, a correspondent of Dr Tongue,
an Irish Priest in Flanders, who was one that did manage the Plot in England and Ireland. I have seen several Letters of his, and have had a character of him from
a Merchant, to be an honest man. I sent a Letter to Mr
Hyde for money to bring this person over, that we might
see the reality of this matter. I had twenty pounds, and
my directions were only to bring over this man. Mr Secretary Jenkins sent to have him apprehended at Dover,
where Norris was apprehended that went to fetch him over.
I know nothing of Instructions, Paper, nor Cyphers
found upon Norris; but Dowdall came not over: I suppose brought to his end by the Priests."
Mr Colt.] I would know how the Privy Council came
to have a description of this man. It may be, the French
Ambassador has had some influence in Councils. They
are of two minds, it seems.
Sir Leoline Jenkins.] It is my duty to give you an account of this matter, and I shall do it as near as I can.
A few days before the 29th of May last, Dr Tongue came
to me, and told me, "There was a Person in France, that
knew much of the Plot." I asked his name, or the
Person that knew him; but he said, "He could not do
it." I desired a Description of the Person in writing; he
gave it me (fn. 3) . There being a Committee of Council sitting
next day, it was a caution that became me, to give them
an account of it. I had a verbal Order to seize him. The
first Order refers to this leave to seize this man. I sent a
Letter, to that purpose, not only to Dover but to Rye
(fn. 4) .
They stopped the Person at Dover. If any thing has
been done unjustifiable, I must answer it. The Letter
was written the 29th of May, and arrived at Dover the
8th of June. He was taken and carried before the
Mayor of Dover, who thought it reasonable to commit him, and he took Papers upon him. Legget, the
Messenger, had Order to bring him before the Council,
in Custody, to justify the detention of him. The Papers were ordered to remain in the Council-chest. Upon the whole matter, I never heard of Dowdall till I
saw Norris's Papers. I thought it my duty to do what
I did. I thought it Treason for a Romish Priest to be
upon English ground, and Felony in Norris to receive
him. In my Post, I could do no otherwise than obey
my superiors. I never heard of them till the Papers were
sent over, and Norris was detained at Dover.
Colonel Birch.] Says Jenkins, "The Description of this
man was sent to Dover." He can only know what use
he made of it. The Description does not appear to the
Committee when made, or whether ever sent.
Mr Dubois.] Here appears to me to be foul play in
this matter. If Norris had not disguised himself, he
must have been served as Dowdall was. There was a
Design from the beginning to discover Dowdall.
Mr Harbord.] I do not think that the blame lies upon
Jenkins. He who wrote the Letter (the Under-Secretary,
Cooke) is a good Protestant; but something lies hid still.
I would have Birch asked the Question, "Whether my
Lord of Essex knew the man?" This Dowdall, without
doubt, came to his end with violence. If Birch can tell
you of no Character that my Lord of Essex gave of this
man, I will tell you.
Colonel Birch.] I took Mr Sheridan
(fn. 5) to be a dangerous person, but I had it from the report of others.
Sheridan was driven as far as well the Committee could
Mr Hampden.] Sheridan had the Description of this
man (which he gave Jenkins) from Dr Day
(fn. 5) . But
what need Sheridan to be so officious to discover the
Plot? How came he to intermeddle, since a man
that knows the Plot was gone over to fetch Dowdall?
Sheridan was not examined: What made him so forward?
Colonel Birch.] I wonder why we should go so long
about the bush. Doctor Day tells Mr Sheridan, "That
the whole Plot was laid open, for one was gone for beyond sea, that knows all the Plot." Sheridan acquaints the Secretary, and says, "I am come to tell you
there is one sent over for a Priest, that knows all the
Plot." Now the life of the thing is here. Why should
this man, who discovers the Plot, be described at all? And
why should such care be taken to secure him? There is
the life of it.
Mr Foley.] This matter is of several parts. First, how
Dowdall came to his death, and the Discovery not found
out? And another part of it is, how far Mr Secretary
Jenkins is concerned in this? The Secretary told you,
"He knew nothing of this, but that a man was to
fetch a Priest, and he thought sit to secure that Priest."
This stands thus: Now he was told Norris was sent for
the Priest; but this Priest was to discover the Plot, and
give Evidence. Jenkins tells you of an Order from the
Committee of Council that Dowdall, should have leave to
come over; and I think the Secretary knew this person
to be a Priest, and an Informer. Sheridan was twice with
the Secretary. It must be either the Secretary, or Sheridan, that prevented Dowdall's coming over. Upon
the whole matter it appears plain to me, that it was to
stifle the Plot. Sheridan says, "He heard such a thing,
as that a person was gone over to fetch a Priest that
could discover, &c. but had no legal Information of it."
Mr Garroway.] I think you are in a labyrinth. Here
is an Information, &c. and doubts how it came to the
Secretary. The issue will be, if Sheridan can be immediately brought to give you a full account of this matter,
that there may be no tampering.
Mr Harbord.] When I was in Ireland, this Sheridan
lay under an ill character; my Lord of Essex
(fn. 6) , as far as
he was able (in those times) did support the Protestant
Religion. He has a brother, a Clergyman, so supported here by a great Clergyman, that my Lord was forced
to prove him the worst of men, and was scarce able to
keep him out of Preferment, though he had preached
Atheism and Blasphemy. I would have this man seized
presently; let the matter be answered, and you will come
to the bottom of it.
Ordered, That Doctor Day and Mr Sheridan be forthwith
brought, in custody of the Serjeant at Arms, to the Bar of this
Sir Nicholas Carew.] I am informed that Sheridan
stands in Coleman's Post. I would have his Papers
A Committee, consisting of Lord Annesley, and others, were
sent to search his Chambers for Papers, who report, That they
found a Paper, in effect thus: "The Duke depends upon his Brother's resolutions—What shocks me most is, that the Duke
mistakes himself in men, Sunderland, Godolphin, and Hyde—
One to retrieve his Fortune, the other to make Romances—But
he should have Persons that love Honour—I see no room for the
Duke to be served in this occasion— "which is to ask Pears from an
Elm Tree," according to the Spanish Proverb."—No Name nor
Place to the Paper; the Date, October the 1st, 1680. There
were other Papers, as a Reference about Lord Inchiquin, relating to Tangier.
[Mr Sheridan at the Bar.]
The Speaker.] Did you ever see that Paper?
Mr Sheridan.] I saw it just now. I do not know whose
hand-writing it is, nor whose the Paper is: I am sure it is
not mine; whether it be a Copy, or an Original, I know
not, nor how it came thither. I think it some foul Paper,
thrown in by chance. I read the Paper last night, and know not
when I first read it. I read it alone, and never, that I remember, did I read it to any person. I own two lines at the bottom
to be of my own hand-writing. About the beginning of October, at the beginning of the Parliament, I lodged in York Buildings.
I was about a night or two from my lodgings. Afterwards I lodged at Brunetti's, and was not out of Town, to my knowlege, in
October. When the Court was at Newmarket, I was not a night
out of Town, only one day at Windsor, and came home at
night, the beginning of October. I believe it was before the Parliament met, because I was at the same lodging I am in now.
The Papers in his pockets were ordered to be searched, and
the Serjeant to stand by.
The Speaker.] You have not answered clearly. You
have the character of a cunning man. It is expected that
you should answer clearly.
Mr Sheridan.] When Lord Annesley asked me "how I came
by that Paper," I told him, "I would give the House an answer."
I know not how I came by that Paper. Had I thought it material, I could have put it under lock and key. I believe I did read
it before last night; but I cannot tell when.
Colonel Titus.] When Sir William Roberts asked him
"Whether this Paper was of his own hand-writing,"
he said, "He had it from somebody else."
The Speaker interrogated Sheridan concerning Dowdall
the Priest, &c.
Mr Sheridan.] I know not nor ever heard of Dowdall the
Priest, before I was examined at the Committee, and I never
saw Peter Norris till at the Committee. I heard of Norris about
May: Doctor Day told me his name two or three days before
I spoke with Secretary Jenkins. I asked him what news? He
said, "There was one Norris did tell him of a Priest that he was
to fetch over, that knew as much as any man of the Plot." I
thereupon went and told Secretary Jenkins. Day said, "Norris
was to go into France to fetch the Priest." I cannot tell whether he said "He was gone," or "going." I never heard any discourse about Dowdall, but about Norris. I believe Norris
went to fetch somebody over: I suppose so, because Day told me.
I only told Jenkins that he might enquire of Norris what he knew
of the Plot. He withdrew.
The Speaker.] The Description of the Person of Dowdall must be from the Committee of the Council, or
the Secretary, or the Commissioners of the Treasury.
Dr Day, at the Bar.] I never heard of Dowdall, nor do I
know him to be a Popish Priest. I have had discourse with
Sheridan, of a Priest that would discover the Plot. It may be,
I might have heard of him. In May last, about the 8th or 9th,
I was in Sheridan's Chamber. I asked him what news? He
told me, "There was one Norris was to go into Flanders for
a Priest that could tell more of the Plot, and that the Plot now
would be brought to an end." Says Sheridan, " Enquire what
kind of man Norris is." He described him by one John But
ler, and Butler gave me a Description of Norris. Butler sold
brandy and tobacco. Butler died about the 14th of August.
I desire I may be permitted to go about my business, and I will
wait upon you again.
Ordered, That Sheridan and Day do severally continue in
Custody of the Serjeant at Arms, during the pleasure of this
House; [and that no Person be admitted to come to them, but
such as shall have occasion to bring them necessaries.]
Friday, December 10.
Mr Papillon reports Sheridan's Papers.] There was one
Letter signed "Peterborough," without date, supposed to be
written the day Sheridan was at the Committee, of what passed. Some other Papers, of no consequence. The Letter
Lord Annesley brought, &c. viz. "If I could do the Duke
service, I would do more than I will say. His safety depends
upon his Brother's resolutions. Every one knows his constancy and steadiness, but his mistakes in men shock me. As
for Sunderland and Godolphin, no man thinks but they will sacrifice him; they are men of Court Education. They do not
depend on Love and Honour, and are not acquainted with Philosophy. One is for retrieving his Fortune, and the other for
making Plays. No room for the Duke to be secured, unless
from his Brother, from whom I never expect any thing, no
more than from an Elm, Pears."
Mr Paul Foley.] I would know, Whether that Letter be Doctor Day's hand? I would have him called
Mr Hampden.] Your true punishment is imprisonment; not as in other Courts, where it is but for custody. Bringing a man upon his knees is but a Ceremony; your true punishment is Custody. Now you
have given your Opinion of the Fact, it will appear no
more than that he has offended against your Vote, and
is discharged. Pray let the Punishment follow the
The Speaker thus spoke to Doctor Day.] By a Letter
there appears a correspondence betwixt you and Mr
Sheridan. If by writing, how often? If by message,
by whom? What familiarity had you with the person
said to be dead? And if you had correspondence by Letters, show some of those Letters—Look on that Paper,
wherein the Duke is mentioned, to know whether you
know that hand-writing.
Dr Day.] My acquaintance began with Sheridan, in Leicester-fields, at my Lord Chancellor of Ireland's son's Chamber, he not being well. I had seen him in Flanders, at
Brussels, in July and August last was twelve-month. I had
not a word of correspondence but what I showed Colonel
Birch. I never in my life did write to him from Flanders. I
know not the hand-writing wherein the Duke is mentioned.
As for Dowdall and Norris, &c. I had the Description from
Butler, when I was with him about a distemper. He complained, "That the Plot beat down all trade, but, he said, he
hoped it would be now discovered, for Peter Norris knew one
that could discover all the Plot." I went home, and wrote
this in a Paper, and gave it to Sheridan. He employed me to
get the Description of Norris, and as a common thing I gave
Mr Sheridan.] I take the Paper, wherein the Duke is
mentioned, to be the hand-writing of one Mr Wilson, who
lived formerly with me. I saw him yesterday at my own
lodging. He lodges in the same house. The Paper with the
figures is a computation of the People of England, by Sir Peter
Pett, two years ago, and is of my own hand-writing, and
that taken ten years ago by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury. (And gave account of some other Papers.)
Mr Harbord.] I would know, from whom this Description of Dowdall came?
After Sheridan had repeated what he had said before, relating
to Norris, &c.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] Now the matter comes home to
the Secretary. I desire he may be heard.
Sir Leoline Jenkins.] I have nothing to say, but to repeat what I said yesterday. Sheridan came to me, and
told me of this Norris, who knew one that could discover much of the Plot. I asked Sheridan, "Whether he
would make Oath of it?" which I thought a proper
Question. He said, "He had the information from another;" but whether from Dr Day, I do not remember.
His information was imperfect. On the twenty-ninth of
May, he brought it more perfect. Thereupon I thought
it my duty to inform the Committee of Council, in order
to prove it; and I had a verbal Order from the Clerk of
the Council. My part was not to make the Information
better or worse: My part was to do my duty. The
Committee of Council, to take Informations of the Plot,
sat one Day in a Week, and I thought it my duty to
give them information of what I had heard, and they
commanded me to stop Norris at Dover. The Letter
was written by my Substitute. I thought it incumbent
on me, when I was informed of one that knew of the
Plot, and was gone out of England without the Council's
knowlege—On consideration of the whole matter, Norris
was thought fit to be seized, and was so accordingly; and
my Lord of Essex was present, who said, "Possibly, it
may be one employed by Dr Tongue." Upon examining Norris, he was dismissed, and it was declared, there
was no farther cause of detaining him. As to the Murder of the Priest, Dowdall, and the Description of him,
and that he came to a violent Death, there is nothing of
it in Norris's Papers.
Lord Russel.] Norris went over, because he knew
one beyond sea, that could discover the Plot. At
this rate, any man may suffer imprisonment, upon
Mr Papillon.] Norris went over, and did not acquaint
the Lords of the Council. I would be satisfied why it
was Jenkins's duty to stop this man, because he had not
acquainted the Lords of the Council?
Sir Leoline Jenkins.] I was but ministerial in this.
My duty was to acquaint the Lords, &c. and to receive
their direction, or advice at least, to command the Mayor
of Dover to stop him. My business was to carry the
Mr Papillon.] This Description was near costing Norris his life. Several Descriptions were given of Norris.
To the first Description, Jenkins is clear. To the second,
he is charged by Sheridan. I do not know what stopping
a man on the way, or road is, if ordered to be immediately sent up to the Council by a Mayor, or Officer,
upon verbal Order, &c. But here is something lies hid
(not to be discovered) from the eyes of the World—
Without, they are Protestants; within, they carry on the
Plot. (I speak not of Jenkins)—The manner of penning
this Letter, to take Norris, looks like disguise. Consider the nature of it, how this Letter is penned. It sends
a Description of Norris, &c. If he went to discover the
Plot, the service was not great, to stop him. The Officer was to tender him the Oaths, &c. which if he refused,
to stop him. "Let all the World know that; but if
not, find a handsome way to detain him." Stop him,
and not stop him; imprison him, and not imprison him.
It looks with a Popish face upon a Protestant Business. I
know not what it is.
Sir Francis Winnington.] This matter is of mighty Importance, disheartening Witnesses. Every one of us may
be, at this rate, in the Case of Dowdall. I shall not impute this matter to the Secretary, if he be not guilty of it,
but I think he should withdraw, during the Debate.
That Letter is the strangest—to discover the Plot!—but
methinks it is to stifle it. The Under-Secretary is no
more to answer for the Letter; then respondeat superior.
Read the Letter to the Mayor of Dover, &c. and you
will find it thus: "The Secretary commanded me thus
and thus." It may be, it was too venturous for the
Under-Secretary to do it of himself. I know nothing
of a verbal Order of Council. If the Secretary can
produce an Order from the Council, it will go a great
way in the Case. He is too learned and wife, to do
a thing that may burn any man's fingers. As for Mr Sheridan, he is a second Coleman, and has been in great
Transactions. But I will do the Secretary justice; he
gave account to the House of what he did communicate to the Lords of the Council, and what Order they
gave upon it.
Colonel Birch.] I will rectify a mistake. The time of
Dowdall's Death was long before this Description. The
Certificate of Dowdall's Death was "the 25th May, 1680,
between Dunkirk and Paris." There was a first and a second Description. It looks to me like a strange suppression of the Plot. He had Secretary Coventry's Pass
for Dowdall's stay at London for a month—A Pass for
Gilbert Spence—He was to fetch over Dowdall. He finds
himself described, but yet went to Dowdall, and came
back; and in two or three months Dowdall died, not
without suspicion of violent death. My Lord of Essex told me, "He did acquaint the Committee of
Council with it, and they, by Mr Hyde, ordered Norris
twenty pounds to bring over Dowdall." But here lies the
stress. Day tells Sheridan the News; Norris goes over,
and Sheridan confessed to Jenkins, "That a Person was
gone over to fetch a Priest that knew all the Plot."
Now what reason was there, that the Person that went
should be thus described? But whether this single Information of Sheridan may be a ground for all this, is
Sir Leoline Jenkins.] I have had little acquaintance
or commerce with Sheridan, but about the State of Ireland. He gave me this Information, without an Oath
of it. It was necessary, being a Priest, and to come into
England, and such a Description of him—I had a verbal
Order from the Lords, and nothing final, but to bring
him to examination. When this Norris came on shore,
the Lords sent to the Mayor of Dover to commit him, and
the Messenger to take him into custody. The first Order
is verbal; "To stop Norris, till their Lordships pleasure
be known." When that was done, there were two other
Orders from the Council to the Mayor of Dover, to stop
and deliver him to a Messenger. The verbal Order from
the Council was before Mr Cooke did write the Letter to
the Mayor, &c. Sheridan did not declare this man a Witness to me, upon the Faith of a Christian. I humbly take
leave to aver, that that is a verbal Order in a Committee
of Council, where it is not entered into the Minutes of the
Council. I may err in Forms, being but newly come
into my Office.
Mr Harbord.] I think this is not so slight a matter (fn. 7) as
that Jenkins should not withdraw. I believe it will appear
otherwise upon the Debate.
Sir Leoline Jenkins withdrew.
Colonel Titus.] If Debates had not been free, if Clarges
had said out of the House what he has said in, he would
deserve as great a punishment as the Secretary. He looks
upon this as no fault, unless through malice. Suppose
the King's Farrier should give the King physic, if he
were sick, would that be no crime? "In cases of necessity to commit illegal actions"—These are strange assertions for what has been done, or what may be done. Now
to the matter itself. I am sorry for Jenkins, but not
much surprized. The thing is all of a piece, for some
great Persons are concerned in it, that we should not
come to any light of the Plot. Here is a Description;
and the Priest who would discover made away. What
way is there for them, but to suppress the Plot? Suppose a Hue and Cry should go out for Thieves, and I
that am Justice will grant no Warrant for the Thieves:
Will the Justice get the Thieves, with describing the Witnesses against them, to have them knocked on the head?
How many thousand Priests are there! But when one
comes over to make Discovery, then all the pains in the
world are taken to secure him! But suppose there be no
malignity;—yet, though he will take the Oaths, still
he must be clapped up. Let Gentlemen make it their
own case. I see not who is to blame, but he that signs
the Warrant; nothing appears to you else; therefore put
a brand upon it, by voting it "illegal and arbitrary,
and tending to stifle the Evidence of the Plot."
Mr Harbord.] Jenkins was unhappy at making the
Peace at Nimeguen, when the Parliament was for an actual War, that very Day the Prince of Orange was fighting for his own. The King's Revenue was never greater,
which they have pawned to the Bankers, and yet they
starve the King's Family, and pay no money to Servants,
and all this to keep off the Parliament. A parcel of men
there is, who abuse the King, and still you must be tender of them, and these men must still be about the
King. Pray put the Question.
Mr Hyde.] I understand not how "pawning the King's
Revenue to the Bankers, and the Prince of Orange," come
into this Debate.
Resolved, That the late Imprisonment of Peter Norris, at
Dover, was illegal; and that the Proceedings of Sir Leoline
Jenkins, Knight, one of the Principal Secretaries of State,
by describing the Person of the said Norris, and directing such
his Imprisonment, was illegal, and arbitrary, and an obstruction
to the Evidence for the Discovery of the horrid Popish Plot.
(See the Case of Peter Norris at large, printed by Order of
[The farther consideration of this Debate was adjourned till,