A DISCOURSE CONCERNING RIOTS. Occasioned by some of the People called QVAKERS, being Imprisoned and Indicted for a RIOT, for only being at a peaceable Meeting to Worship GOD.

Written by one of that People, THOMAS ELLWOOD.

Thou shalt not Wrest Iudgment,

Deut. 16.19.

If thou seest the Oppression of the Poor, and violent Perverting of Iudgment and Iustice in a Province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest, regardeth, and there be higher than they,

Eccl: 5.8.

LONDON, Printed for Thomas Howkins, in George-Yard in Lombard-Street, MDCLXXXIII.

The Occasion of this Discourse.

THE Proceedings of late, in City and Country, against some of the People called Quakers, for Riots, for only Meeting peacea­bly together to serve and worship God, first put me upon in­quiring into the Nature of Riots. What upon that Inquiring I have found I here present to publick view, for common benefit, that none through ignorance may be occasion of bringing an unjust suffering upon an innocent People, and thereby Guilt upon themselves. I do not pretend much skill in Law (a Study and Profession I was never bred to) But having spent some hours on this Occasion, in searching what the Law-Books say in this Case, I hope I may (without incurring the Censure of Presumption) communicate my Gleanings to such of my well-meaning Country-men, as have not leisure or opportunity to inform themselves other­wise. I solemnly declare I have no other end or aim in this Work, than to do Good and prevent Evil: Which Consideration, with men of Can­dour and Ingenuity, will be, I hope, a sufficient Apology for any seem­ing boldness in this Vndertaking.

A Discourse concerning Riots, &c.

THat the Nature of a Riot may be the better understood, I intend to observe this Method.

  • 1. To set down the strict and proper Signification of the word.
  • 2. To Inquire what the Statute Law says concerning it.
  • 3. To observe what the common Acceptation of the word [Riot] is in Common Law.
  • 4. To shew the contrarieties between Riots and peaceable religious Meetings.

1. Then, to begin with the Signification of the word.

Cowell, a Doctor of the Civil Law, and the King's Professor thereof in the University of Cambridge, says, ‘The word Riot (in Latin, Riotum) cometh of the French, Rioter, that is, Rixari (which signifies to Chide, Scold, Brawl, Strive, or Quarrel.) Cowell's Interpreter, verbo Riot.

Lambard says, ‘Riot I think to be derived from the French word Rioter, signifying to Scold (or Brawl) because such manner of Acts be commonly accompanied with words of Brawl. Eirenarcha l. 2. cap. 5.

Blunt says, Riot (in French Riote) is a brawling scolding Contention. Glosso­graph. verbo Riot.

Judge Coke says, Riotum (a Riot) cometh of the French word Riotter, that is, Rixari; which (as I noted before) signifies to scold, brawl, quarrel, &c. Inst. 3. part cap. 79. Tit. Riots.

Keeble says, ‘Riot is of the French Riotter, to scold or brawl, because such manner of Acts be commonly accompanied with words of brawl. Assistance to Justices of the Peace. p. 645.

This is enough to shew how unapplicable the word Riot, in its proper and true signification, is to a peaceable, quiet, religious Meeting, which admits not of any scolding, brawling, quarrelling, or the like.

2. As to Statute-Law, although divers Statutes were antienly made for the sup­pressing of Riots, Routs and unlawful Assemblies, as 13 H. 4.7.—2 H. 5.8. and 19 H. 7.13. Yet none of them define or describe what a Riot is. So that I find nothing in the Statute-Law will add Light to this Inquiry; and therefore we must have recourse to the Common-Law, and observe,

3. What the Common Acceptation of the word [Riot] is in the Common Law.

Cowell says, It signifies in our Common Law, the forcible doing of an unlaw­ful act by three or more Persons assembled together for that purpose.

Cowell's Interpreter, verbo Riot. The same says Lambard in his Eirenarcha l. 2. [Page 4] c. 5. The same says West, Part 2. Symbol. Tit. Indictments. The same says R. Blunt in his Glossograph. verbo Riot. The same says Tho. Blunt in his Law-Dictionary, verbo Riot, The same (in effect) says the Book called Les Termes de le Ley, Tit. Riot, p. 244. And to the same purpose speaks Keeble, in his Assistance to Justices of the Peace. p. 645.

Thus in short the define a Riot: but in the further opening of it, there are seven things I observe the Law-Books make essential to a Riot; which I will set down severally.

1. The first is the Number of Persons engaged in it; which may be any Number above Two.

2. The second is, that there be some fact actually done. For if three Persons or more should assemble together, and with intent to do such an act as would amount to a Riot: yet if they do it not, but depart again without doing any thing, their so assembling is no Riot.

‘A Riot, says Lambard, is thought to be, where three or more persons be disorderly assembled to commit with force any such unlawful act, And do accordingly execute the same. Eirenar [...]ha l. 2. c. 5.

Judge Coke says, ‘Riot in the Common Law signifieth when three or more do any unlawful act, as to beat a Man, &c. Instit. 3. Part. c. 79. Tit. Riots.

‘A Riot, says Pulion, is where three persons or above do assemble them­selves together to beat or maim a Man, &c. And they do it. Pult. de Pace Regis, fol. 25.

Dalton says, ‘Where three persons or more shall come or assemble them­selves together, to the intent to do any unlawful act, with force or violence, against the Peace, or to the manifest terror of the People,—If they do exe­cute any such thing indeed, then it is a Riot. Country Iustice, c. 85. Tit. Riots. The same says Meriton in his Guide for Constables p. 93.

‘A Riot, says Keeble, is thought to be, where three or more porsons be dis­orderly assembled to commit with force any unlawful act, And do accor­dingly execute the same. Assist. to Just. p. 645.

She herd having shewed what number of Persons, and what kind of un­lawful Act can make a Riot, says, ‘a Riot is, where they do not only begin, and go on, but finish their work, or with unlawful Weapons do such an un­lawful act, Grand Abridgment Part 3. p. 259.

From all which it is evident, that for any number of Persons barely to assem­ble themselves together (thougb it were with a Riotous intention) is no Riot, un­less the same persons being so assembled, do commit some such unlawful act as in construction of Law will amount to a Riot (and of what kind that must be, shall be our next Inquiry.) So that, if in a peaceable manner to preach or pray could legally be interpreted a Riotous Act: yet those Meetings which are wholly silent, wherein there is nothing said, nothing done; or wherein (which is much alike) no proof can be made of anything said or done (and such, it [Page 5] seems was that Meeting, which gave occasion to this discourse) such Meetings to be sure cannot be Riots,

3. A third thing is, that the act or deed done must be not only unlawful, but injurious to another. This appears by the Examples given by the most Eminent Lawyers that have written of this Subject.

Judge Coke says, "A Riot in the Common Law signifieth, when three or more do any unlawful act: then to explain what he means here by an unlawful act, he immediately adds, ‘As to beat any man, or to hunt in his Park, Chase or War­ren, or to enter or take possession of another Man's Land, or to cut or destroy his Corn; Grass or other profit. Instit. 3. p. c. 79. Tit. Riots.

Shepherd, having shewed what number of Persons must be present to make a Riot, adds, ‘A second thing that must be in the Case to make up any de­gree in these Offences, must be, that the Assembly they go with, or their intent and design must be evil, to do some hurt to Men or that which is theirs:’ then in­stances thus, ‘As breach of Inclosures, or Bancks, or Conducts, Parks, Pounds, Houses, Barns, the burning of stacks of Corn, or the like; or to enter into Lands, to beat others, or to carry away their Wives, or the like. Grand Abridg. 3. part p. 259. Tit. Riots.

Fitz-herbert explains the unlawful act which makes a Riot, by these Exam­ples, viz. To beat or to maim another, Fitz-h. Office of Just. of Peace, p. 53.

Lambard uses these Examples viz. To beat a Man, or to enter upon a Possession forcibly. Eirnarcha, lib. 2. c. 5. The same are in the Book called Les Terms de la ley. Tit. Riot. p. 244.

Pulton says, ‘A Riot is where three Persons or more do assemble themselves to­gether to the intent to beat or maim a Man, to pull down a house, wall, pale, hedge, or ditch; wrongfully to claim or take Common or way in a ground, to destroy any Park, Warren, Dove-house, Pond, Pool, Barn, Mill, or stack of Corn; or to do any other unlawful act, with force and violence, and against the Peace, and they do it. Pult. de Pace Regis, fol. 25.

Meriton says, ‘Where three Persons or more shall come and assemble themselves together, to the intent to do any unlawful act, with force or violence, against the Person of another, his Possessions or Goods (then he instances particulars) As to kill, beat, or otherwise to hurt, or to imprison a Man; to pull down a House, Wall, Pale, Hedge, or Ditch; wrongfully to enter upon or into another Man's Possession, House or Lands, &c. Or to cut, or take away Corn, Grass, Wood, or other Goods wrongfully; or to hunt unlawfully in any Park or Warren, or to do any other unlawful act (with force or violence) against the peace, or to the manifest terror of the People,—if they do any such thing in deed, then it is a Riot. Guide for Constables, p. 92.93. For this he cites divers Authors, particularly Dalton, who gives the self-same Examples of an unlawful Rio­tous act, and out of whom he seems to have transcribed this verbatim. So that I need not repeat what Dalton there says; but shall only observe out of him, [Page 6] that one of the Reasons he gives, why, If divers do assemble and gather toge­ther to play at certain unlawful Games and Sports (which he mentions) it is no Riot, is, because These Meetings (says he) usally are not with any intent to of­fer or do violence or hurt to the Person, Possessions or Goods of any other. Dalt. Coun­try Just. c. 85. Tit. Riots.

By all these Instances it is evident, that those unlawful Acts which the Com­mon Law takes notice of as Riots, are such as are some way or other injurious and hurtful to the Persons or Possessions of others; But quiet and peaceable Meetings, for the Worship of God only, are no ways injurious or hurtful to the Persons or Possessions of any. So that it is not every unlawful Meeting, or Assembly of People forbidden by the Law, that will amount unto a Riot. 'Tis true indeed, every Riot is an unlawful Assembly; but (the Terms are not convertible) every unlawful Assembly is not a Riot. Dalton says, The manner of doing an unlawful Act by an Assembly of People, may be such (and so handled) as that it shall not be punished as a Riot. Country Just. c. 86. p. 221. And both Lambard and Keeble, from Marrow, assure us, that an unlawful thing maybe so done, as that it cannot be made a Riot. Eirenarcha, l. 2. c. 5. Assistannce to Just. p. 645. And so says Shepherd also, Grand Abridgment 3. part. p. 260.

And to manifest yet further, that by an unlawful Act in a riotous sense, the Law Books intend such an Act as is injurious or hurtful to the Person or Pos­sessions of another they tell us that unlawful Act which makes a Riot, must be Malum in se Evil in it self and of its own nature. This Dalt. implies, when he says that to play at Foot-ball, Bucklers, Bear-baitings, Dancings, Bowls, Cards or Dice, or such like Games or Desports (which he confesses are unlawful) is no Riot, because they are not Evil in themselves. Country Just. c. 85. But in the last Edition of Dalton; (printed last year, with many considerable Additions by another hand) it is said expresly, ‘An unlawful Assembly, Riot or Rout, is where three or more shall gather together, come or meet in one place, to do some unlawful Act with violence, and that unlawful act must be Malum in se, that is, evil in it self) and not Malum prohibitum (not evil forbidden, only.)’ See the new Edition of Dalton's Country Justice, c. 136. Now if (according to these) that unlawful act which makes a Riot must be evil in it self; or injurious, then surely it can­not possibly be a Riot for people to assemble peaceably and quietly together to worship God: for certainly no man can harbour a thought, that it is evil in it self for Men and Women to worship God, or to assemble together, in a peace­able manner, for that end. And it is manifest that the statute of the 22. Car. 2. (commonly called the Conventicle Act) which prohibits those Meetings to greater Numbers, doth not take those Meetings to be evil in themselves, be­cause it permits them to lesser Numbers.

4. A fourth thing essential to a Riot is force or violence. So all agree.

Cowell says, It signifies in our Common Law, the forcible doing of an un­lawful Act, &c. Cowell's Interpreter, verbo Riot.

[Page 7] West says, A Riot is the forcible doing of an unlawful act, &c. Symbol. 2 par Tit. Indictments.

R. Blunt says, Riot signifies in our Common Law, the forcible doing of an unlawful act, &c. Glossograph. verbo Riot.

Tho. Blunt says, Riot signifies the forcible doing an unlawful act, &c. Law-Dictionary, verbo Riot.

Keeble says, a Riot is thought to be where three or more persons be disor­derly assembled to commit with force any such unlawful Act, &c. Assist. to Just. p. 645.

Lambard not only defines a Riot to be, where three or more persons be dis­orderly assembled to commit with force, any such unlawful act; but at his entrance upon the Discourse of Riots, having premised that many Contenti­ons may be without any apparent shew of Assembly against the Peace; I will leave them, says he, and resort to those other that the Commission saith to be done vi armata; and thereupon he proceeds to describe Riots, Routs, &c. So that it is plain he lookt upon that act which could make a Riot, to be an act done vi armata, with armed force, or, as the Phrase is, with force and Arms. And therefore, treating of what one Justice may do in the Case of a Riot, he says, He alone (or with his Servant) may go to the place, and such as he findeth riotously assembled and Armed, he may arrest — and may take their Weapons from them. Eirenarcha, l. 2. c. 5. Tit. Riots. Which implies that they must be Armed, they must have Weapons, that commit a Riot.

But Shepherd speaks full and plain: For describing an unlawful Assemby, Rout and Riot, he says, ‘Rout is, where being thus met they move, being weaponed, from the place of their Meeting towards the place where they pre­pose to do this act, in a turbulent way to effect it, &c. But a Rior, he says, is where they not only begin and go on, but with Vnlawful Weapons finish or do such an unlawful Act. Grand Abridgment 3. part. p. 259:

Dalton says expresly, It seemeth it can be no Riot, except there be an intent precedent to do some unlawful Act, and with violence or force, Count, Just. ch. 85. Thus all concur, that that Act which makes, or can be made a Riot, must be a forcible Act, or an Act done with force. So that No Force, No Riot. And therefore, seeing our peaceable, quiet, religious Meetings are wholly free from force and violence, it follows that they are also free from Riot.

Now that none may err through misapprehension that the words [vi arma­ta, or with force and Arms] are words of Form only, and not material and es­sential to a Riot; let me add what Lambard saith thereupon. ‘Even as the Civilians do handle two sorts of Force: of which they call the one vim, and vim simplicem, privatam; five quotidianam; and the other vim armatam, atro­cem & publicam, because the first is void of any fearful outrage, and the lat­ter seemeth to kindle the Coals of Sedition it self: So likewise says he, our Law taketh knowledge of two manner of Force, whereof the one is rather in­tellectual [Page 8] than actual, and may therfore be termed, A Force in the Considera­tion of Law, which accounteh all that to be vis, which is contrary to Ius. But the other is apparent by the Act it self, which alwaies carrieth some fearful Shew, and matter of Terror (or trouble) with it. Eirenar. l. 2. c. 4. p. 140. And therefore (l. 2. c. 5. p. 174.) he explains [vis armata] to be that, which doth bring manifest Terror unto the Subject. And as he makes that which he calls an in­tellectual force, or a force in the consideration of Law, to relate to Suits and Actions at Law for Trespasses, &c. So (in his first Book, c. 2. p. 7.) he declares, It is no part of the Justices Office to forbid lawful Suits and Controversies, but to suppress injurious force and violence moved against the Person, his Goods or Possessions And in p. 10. he saies, ‘I conclude that this furious Gesture and beastly force of body or hands (and not every Contention, Suit and disagreement of minds) is the proper subject and matter about which the Office of the Iustices of the Peace is to be exercised. Now since a Riot is the proper Subject and matter about which the Office of Justices of the Peace is to be exercised, it follows that that vis armata, that force and Arms, which is of necessity to the making of a Riot, must needs be this furious Gesture this beastly force of body and hands (as Lambard calls it) which brings terror to the People, and which our Meetings are free from▪ Dalton also, undertaking to shew what the Law accounteth to be force, and what wea­pons be offensive in these and the like cases, saies, ‘To have Harness, Guns, Bows and Arrows, Cross-bows, Halberts, Javelins, Bills, Clubs, Pikes, Pitch­forks, or Swords not usually born by the Parties, shall be said to be vis ar­mata. And so to use casting of Stones, hot Coals, scalding Water or Lead, or, be said to be vis armata; Country Iust. c. 77. p. 203.

5 A Fifth thing is the previous Intent of the Persons assembled. Both Lam­bard and Keeble tell us, The intention and purpose of those that be assembled is wor­thy the weighing. And they instance some Cases of persons that being met at an Ale-house, a Christmas-Dinner, or a Church-Ale, fell together by the Ears and fought, yet this was no Riot (but a sudden Affray only) because they did not come thither with intention to fight; Eiren. l. 2. c. 5. Assist. to Just. Tit. Riots.

Shepherd says, ‘If many come together unarmed, they know not why them­selves; this is no offence punishable, unless it can be known, that they came to some Evil Intent, or that they do miscarry themselves in some Evil Act. Now, since we come together unarmed, not to any Evil Intent, but to a very good Intent, namely, to serve and worship the true God, in a peaceable man­ner, and do not miscarry our selves in any Evil Act in our Meeting: Surely (if Shepherd might be Judge) Our Meetings are not Riots.

Dalton speaks home; It seemeth, says he, it can be no Riot, except there be an intent precedent to do some unlawful Act, and with violence and force; Count. Just. ch. 85. Now the intent of our Meetings being only to serve and worship God, and that not with violence or force, but in peace and quietness, it seemeth such Meetings cannot be Riots.

[Page 9]6. A Sixth thing essential to a Riot is, Breach of the Peace. The Peace must be broken, or it is no Riot. In this all agree. And least any doubt should arise what is intended by, or what will amount to a Breach of the Peace in this Case, the Law-Books will explain it.

Lambard saies, ‘Two special things there are, that be common and must concur, both in the unlawful Assembly, Rout and Riot; the one that three persons (at the least) be gathered together:—the other, that they being together, do breed some apparent disturbance of the Peace, either by significa­tion of Speech, Shew of Armour, turbulent Gesture, or actual and express vio­lence; so that either the peaceable sort of men be unquieted and feared by the fact, or the lighter sort and busie-bodies be imboldened by the Example; Eiren. l. 2. ch. 5.

Cowell, following him saies, ‘Two things are common both to Riot, Rout and unlawful Assembly; the one, that three persons at the least be gathered together: the other that they being together do breed disturbance of the Peace;’ (How?) either by signification of Speech, shew of Armour, Turbulent Gesture, or actual and express Violence; Cowel's Interp. verbo Riot.

Shepherd saies, ‘These two things are common both to the Riot, and the Rout, and unlawful Assembly. There must be three persons at the least gathered together in it: the other, that being together, they do breed disturbance of the Peace, either by signification of Speech, shew of Armour, Turbulent Gesture, or actual and express Violence, &c. Grand Abridgment, p. 3. p. 259.

Dalton saies, ‘As there must necessarily be three persons at the least, assem­bled together, to make a Riot, &c. So there being together, and their demeanour must be such, as shall or may breed some apparent disturbance of the Peace; either by threatning Speeches, Turbulent Gesture, shew of Armour, or actual force or violence (to the terrour and fearing of the peaceable sort of People, or to the emboldening and stirring up of such as are busy-headed, and of evil disposition, by such fact) or else it can be no Riot, &c. Country Iust. c. 87.

Tho. Blunt saies, ‘Two things are common both to Rout, Riot and unlawful Assembly; The one, that three persons at least be gathered together: The other, that they being together do disturb the Peace, either by words, shew of Arms, Turbulent Gesture, or actual violence; Law-Diction. verbo Rout.’

Keeble saies, ‘Two special things there are that be common, and must con­cur both in the unlawful Assembly, Rout and Riot. 1. That three persons at the least be gathered together;—2. That there being together, do breed some apparent disturbance of the Peace, either by signification of Speech, shew of Armour, Turbulent Gesture, or actual and express violence. So that either the peaceable sort of men be unquieted and feared by the Fact, or the lighter sort and busie-bodies be imboldened by the Example; Assist. to Iust. p. 645.’And saies he, p. 646. (And so saies Lambard also, Eiren. l. 2. c. 5.) if many do [Page 10] meet to play at Bowls, Tables, or Cards (which yet are unlawful Games forbidden by the Statute of 33 H. 8.9.) and do use no misbehaviour against the Peace, they are not punishable in this degree. How much less then are they punishable in this degree, (viz. of Riot) who meet together for a good and godly end only, to worship God, and use no misbehaviour against the Peace!

By all these Testimonies it appears, both that to the making of a Riot there must of necessity be a breach of the Peace; and also wherein that Breach of the Peace consists, namely, in threatning Speeches, shew of Armour, turbu­lent Gesture, or actual violence. And that this is indeed the true and proper meaning of the words [Breach of the Peace] might be further confirmed by other evidences out of Lambard's Eiren. l. 1. c. 2. and l. 2. c. 3. But most plain­ly out of Dalton, who having defined Peace (in a legal sense) to be An Absti­nence from actual and injurious force and offer of violence, saies, The breach of this Peace seemeth to be any injurious force or violence moved against the person of another, his Goods, Lands, or other possessions, whether it be by threatning words, or by furious Gesture, or force of the body, or any other force used in terrorem; Count. Iust. c. 3. But well known it is to all, that know our Meetings, that no injurious force or violence is moved by us in our Meetings against the Per­son, Goods, Lands, or Possessions of any: So that the Peace is not broken by us in our Meetings, and consequently our Meetings are not Riots.

7. The Seventh and last thing essential to a Riot is, Terrour to the People; that is, That the thing done be either of it self, and in its own nature so dread­ful, or performed in such a formidable and affrighting manner, that the Peo­ple are thereby struck with terrour.

Lambard, proceeding to speak particularly of Riots, Routs, &c. saies, ‘I will leave those contentions which may be without any apparent shew of Assembly against the Peace, and resort to those other that the Commission saith to be done vi armata, and that do bring manifest Terrour unto the Sub­ject. And a little after, he mentious the use of Har [...]ss on Midsummer-night in London, or on May-day in the Country, `Which (being for sport only) is, saies he, ‘no such offence (that is, no Riot) seeing no Terrour followeth of it:’And, saies he, the words In terrorem populi seem to be material in an In­dictment of this kind; Eiren. l. 2. c. 5.

Dalton saies, ‘An Assembly of an hundred persons or more (yea though they be in Armour) yet if it be not in terrorem populi, and were assembled without any intent to break the Peace, it is not prohibited by any of these Statues (viz. which were made against Riots, &c.) nor unlawful. And he gives the same instance Lambard gave of the Assembly of People, and their use of Har­ness upon Midsummer-night in London, ‘Which (saies he) being only for dis­port, is lawful; and though it be with a great Assembly of People, and in Ar­mour, yet it being neither in terrorem populi, nor to do any Act with force and violence against the Peace, it is lawful,saith Dalton, Coun. Just. c. 85. And he [Page 11] shews further (ch. 87.) ‘That if divers in a Company shall go, on a lawful occasion, armed and in harness, to the terrour of the people, though they have no intent to fight, or to commit a Riot, yet this is a Rout by the manner of their going. But on the other hand, if they had gone in privy Coats of Plate, Shirts of Mail, or the like, to the intent to defend themselves from some Ad­versary, This (saies he) seems not punishable within these Statutes; and the Reason he gives is, For that there is nothing openly done in terrorem populi, to the terrour of the People

Keeble (treating of Riots, and reciting the words of Lambard though he cites Crompton for the Author) saies,‘to use Horns on Midsummer-night in London, or on May-day in the Country, for sport only, is no such offence (that is, is no Riot) seeing no terrour followeth it; and the words [in terrorem populi] seem, saies he to be material in an Indictment of this kind. Assist. to Just. p. 646. With Keeble's Judgment I chuse to close this point, both as he is the last (so far as I know) that hath written on this Subject, and for that his Book hath the Approbation of all the twelve Judges

Many other Authors I could have quoted on this Subject, & some too of great Name, as Marrow, Kitchin, Brook, Crompton, &c. whom I find cited by others to this purpose; but not having read these Authors my self, I forbear using them, that I might not rely on any authority taken up at second hand.

Thus having gone through the several parts of a Riot, according to the Di­stribution premised, I take a Riot, in short to be this. When three persons, or more, are assembled together in Arms, with a fore-intent and purpose to do such an unlawful act, as is both evil in it self, and hurtful to another, either in person, or estate; and do it in a forcible manner, to the apparent Breach or di­sturbance of the Peace, either by threatning words, shew of Armour, turbulent Gesture, or open violence, and to the manifest terrour of the People.

4. Now because (according to the Rule, Contra [...]ia juxta se posita magis elu­cescunt, i e.) when Contraries are set one by another, their Contrarieties do the more manifestly appear, I will briefly set forth the Contrarieties between Riots and peaceable Religious Meetings, by opposing our Meetings to Riots, through the several particulars before mentioned.

And first as to number of Persons. In a Riot (if the fact be such as the Law accounts Riotous) any number of Persons above two is sufficient to commit a Riot.

But in those Meetings for the exercise of Religion which are forbidden by the Conventicle-act, it is not unlawful even by that Act for four persons besides the Family (how numerous so ever that be) to assemble together. So that even in point of numbers there is a material difference between Riots and Religious Meetings: which shews, the Parliament that gave liberty to four persons besides the family to meet, did not understand those Meetings to be Riots. Th-Conventicle-act doth not permit Riots: But the Conventicle-act doth permie [Page 12] Religious Meetings to such Numbers as (as if those Meetings were of a Riotous nature) are sufficient to mak a Riot; Therefore such Meetings are not Riots.

2. In a Riot there must of necessity be some overt act, some deed done, some fact committed by the persons assembled (which may come under the Cogni­zance of outward evidence) more than their bare assembling together, else it cannot be a Riot.

But (as in none of our Meetings there is any Riotous act, (so) in such of our Meetings as are wholly silent, there is no overt act at all, no deed done, no fact committed by any of the persons assembled (which may come under the Cog­nizance of outward evidence) more than their bare assembling: therefore such Meetings cannot be Riots.

3. In Riots, the fact done must be not only unlawful, but injurious or hurtful to another, either in person or estate.

But our Meetings (if at all unlawful) are no way injurious or hurtful to any, either in person or estate: therefore our Meetings are no Riots.

4. That Act which makes a Riot must be done vi armata, with force and arms, or in a forcible manner.

But our Meetings are not held, nor is there any thing done by us in them, vi armata, with force and arms, or in a forcible manner: therefore our Meet­ings are not Riots.

5. To make a Riot, there must be a previous intent in the persons assembled, to do some such unlawful act as is evil in it self and hurtful to others, and that with force.

But in our Meetings, we have no previous intent to do any such unlawful act, as is evil in it self and hurtful to others; nor have we any other intent at all, than sincerely and really to serve and worship God, and that without force or violence: therefore our Meetings are not Riots.

6. It is not a Riot, unless the Peace be broken or disturbed by the persons as­sembled, either by threatning speeches, shew of Armour, Turbulent Gesture, or open violence.

But in our Meetings, the Peace is never broken nor disturbed by us, we give no threatning speeches; we shew no armour (nor have any to shew) we use no Turbulent Gestures; nor do we offer violence to any: therefore our Meetings are not Riots.

7. It is not a Riot, except it be done with Terrour to the People. But our Meet­ings are not held with Terrour to the People: therefore our Meetings are not Riots.

How truly I have stated the Case, on the one hand, with respect to Riots, the many Quotations in the fore-going Discourse will shew. How true an ac­count, on the other hand, I have given of our Meetings, the whole Nation (and all Nations wherein we have Meetings) may judg. Upon the whole, my request is, that all, both Justices and Jurors, who are or shall be concerned in this or the like Case, will seriously weigh the matter, and not strain the Law [Page 13] beyond its due Extent. To oppress any by colour of Law, is the greatest abuse of Law. I intreat Grand-Juries therefore to regard Iustice, to regard their Oath. They are sworn expresly to examine diligently, and true presentment mabe, &c. They are sworn expresly, to present the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth, to the best of their knowledge. Now that they may not break their Oath, but that they may true Presentment make, that they may pre­sent nothing but the Truth, that they may not present a Falshood for Truth, I intreat them again and again to examine diligently both what Riots are, and what our Meetings are. And if upon such diligent Examination they find any of those material and essential Differences between our Meetings and Riots (which I have before observed) that then they will, like just Men and Christians, keep themselves clear from making false Presentments instead of True, from writing Billa vera (a true Bill) upon that Bill (and delivering it in as such up­on their Oaths) which perhaps in three parts of four is utterly and apparently false: The like request I make to petit Juries in the like Case, who are sworn well and truly to try, and true deliverance make, &c. according to their Evidence. Which Evidence ought to be of good fame: for it's a Maxim, Iustitia non potest cum Scelerato Commercium habere; Justice can have no Commerce with a wicked graceless person: And Turpes a tribunalibus arcentur. Vile persons ought to be rejected by Courts of Judicature. And therefore witnesses are required to be not only Legales, Lawful men, but Probi, virtuous and good men, men of approved honesty, from such Witnesses the Jury may expect (and ought to have before they find any man guilty) a plain, full and clear evidence of eve­ry material part of the charge laid against him; and let me add, of all such Circumstances also, as may any way aggravate the Offence: for nothing that may endamage the accused party should be taken upon Presumption or sup­position, nor without plain and clear proof. The witnesses deposition is there­fore called evidence, because it makes the Truth and falsehood of the charge evident and plain: and saies Coke, Probationes debent esse evidentes & perspicuae, proofs ought to be evident and clear. O that all men concerned in these and such like Cases, would so conscienciously and considerately discharge the duty of their Offices, that with comfort they might give account thereof to the Great Judge at the last day! For why should any draw upon their own heads the guilt of Perjury, and the vindictive cry of oppressed Innocents;

But if there be any that are eager and desirous in their minds to have our Meetings punished as Riots; Let me intreat them also to consider, How disho­nourable a Reflection it would be both to the Government, and to the Religion established thereby, If peaceable, quiet, Religious Meetings, conscienciously holden, only and alone for the Worship and Service of God (wherein no Evil is either acted or intended, no violence or force used, no breach of the peace made, no terrour given: but an innocent, meek, passive, and truly Christian beha­viour and deportment shewn) should be judicially declared Riots, and puni­shed [Page 14] as such: when at the same time our Law-Books assures us, that not only playing at Bowls, Dice, Cards, &c. But even the Numerous Assemblies that frequent those more Clamorous, Rude, Impetuous and Boisterous sports of Dancings, Foot-ball-playing, Bear-baitings, Bucklers or Fencings, and such like, are not Riots, Routs, nor unlawful Assemblies, shall such vain and Russianly sports wherein so much Rudeness, disorder and Prophaneness is committed (and which seem to be so near of Complexion to Riots) be declared to be no Riots: and shall peaceable and Religious Meetings, wherein only God is worshipped (and which have no shew nor appearance of Riots in them) be condemned for Ri­ots! God forbid.

If any should think our Meetings may be Riots, because we sometimes meet in the open Streets or in the High-way; Let such consider, that we do not meet in the Streets or High-waies by Choice, but by Constraint. We come not with intent to meet in the Streets or High-waies, but in our Meeting-houses. But where we are shut out and kept out of our Meeting-Houses, we are necessitated to meet abroad. And yet there also we demean out selves peaceably and quiet­ly, not offering violence or injury to any, nor coming with any Intent so to do. And if any should apprehend, that our not departing immediately upon a Constable's making Proclamation, doth make our Meetings Riots, it may not be amiss for such to enquire, whether there be any Statute in force, that doth impower Constables, and other inferiour Officers, to make such Proclamati­on, and requires the persons assembled forthwith to depart thereupon. The Act made in the first year of Q. Mary, c. 12 (which appointed the making of Proclamation in some Cases of another nature, though not by a Constable, so far as I observe) being but a temporary Act continued by Q. Eliz. (in the first year of her Reign, c. 16.) to the end of the next Parliament after her death is long since expired, or discontinued, as Pulton, Dalton and Keeble de­clares. However if it were in force, it would not reach us or our Meetings, which are not guilty of any of those Offences, against which that Act was made.

Lastly, I desire the Reader to observe, that the difference between a Riot, Rout and unlawful Assembly, is only in the execution or Non-Execution of that Act, which, being done, makes a Riot. In all things else they are alike, there must be the same number of Persons to make an unlawful Assembly, as to make a Riot. There must be the same previous intent in the one as in the other; the fact intended to be done in an unlawful Assembly, must be of the same na­ture with that which is done in a Riot, that is, it must be evil in it self and inju­rious to another, as well in the one as in the other. There must be vis arma­ta, force and arms to the making of an unlawful Assembly, as well as to the making of a Riot. There must be breach of the peace to make an unlawful Assem­bly, as well as to make a Riot. There must be Terrour to the people to make an unlawful Assembly, as well as to make a Riot. All the odds is, that if the Persons [Page 15] so assembled, in such forcible manner, to the Breach of the Peace and terrour of the People, do not actually perform that unlawful act, which is evil in it self and injurious to the person, or Possessions of another, but depart again without proceeding to do it, then it is only an unlawful Assembly; whereas if they indeed do it, then it is a Riot. And a Rout is a degree between both, when after the Persons are so assembled, there is some Progress made, they ride, go, or move forward, towards the Execution of such unlawful and injurious Act, and yet do not actually execute it.


SInce I have undertaken to discourse of the Nature of Riots, and there is some mention in Holy Scripture of Rioting, &c. it will not be amiss to shew what Rioting is in Scripture-sence also.

The Prodigal Son (in the Parable, Luke 15.13,) is said to have wasted his substance with Ri­otous living [ [...]] living Profusely and dissolutely, as Pasor explains it. The same word (in the substantive) is used, Ephes. 5.18. and rendred, Excess; which Baeza expounds to be, Omnis Profusio, eaque summa cum Turpitudine conjuncta; All manner of Profuseness, and that joyned with the greatest Filthiness. It is used again, Tit. 1.6. where it is required that the Children of such as were to be ordained Elders, should be [ [...]] not accused of Riot, that is, of leading a dissolute and profuse life. The same word is used again, 1 Pet. 4.4. and very well explained by the verse foregoing. For the Apostle having said (verse 3.) The time past of our lives may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in Lasciviousness, Lusts, Excess of Wine, Revellings, Banquetings and abominable Idolatries; adds verse 4.) Wherein they (the Gentiles, who yet walked in such things) think it strange, that you ran not with them to the same Ex­cess of Riot, viz. to walk in Lasciviousness, Lusts, Excess of Wine, Revellings, Banquetings, &c. So that it is clear, that by Riot here (ver. 4.) he means the Lasciviousness, Lusts, Excess of Wine, Revel­lings, Banquetings and abominable Idolatries (which he had newly mentioned Verse 3.) and which the Christians, it seems, before Conversion, having walked with the Gentiles in, were now after their Conversion to Christianity, thought strangely of, and blasphemed but the Gentiles, for not running on still in the same. These are of the Places (so far as I observe) wherein [...] is Read in the New Testament; ‘It signifies, saies Leigh, Two Things: 1. Excess in Expences, opposite to Fruga­lity. 2. Excess in Delights (whether it be in Meats or Drinks, or the like) opposite unto Tempe­rance: and it signifieth these Vices in an Extremity. Or (as he gives it from another) [...] that is, Prodigality, is taken in a twofold sence: either properly, and then it signifies that Vice, where­by any one keeps not his Estate, Wealth, or Money; bu [...] squanders it away lightly and uprofita­bly upon any thing, without any apparent advantage to himself or others. Or Improperly, and then it signifies Luxury, by which we lavishly waste our Estates upon our Pleasures and Lusts, upon Playes. Feasts, Excess of Apparel, &c.’

Carmel. a Lapide saies, [...] signifies, 1. Surfeiting by too much Eating and Drinking, Excess, Lasciviousness. 2. Luxury and Lust. Zanchy saies, It signifies Riotous Excess and Profuseness joyn'd with the greatest Villany. This, and more of this kind, see in Leigh's Crit. Sacra. which suffici­ently shews what kind of thing Riot was in the Apostles daies.

[Page 16]Mention also we have of Rioting, in Rom. 13.13. Let us (saies the Apostle) walk honestly (or decently, [...]) as in the day; not in Rioting and Drunkenness, not in Chambering and [...], not in strife and envying. Rioting here may well be understood by its Companions it is asso­ciated with, viz. Drunkenness, Chambering, Wantonness, Strife. The word here used for Rioting is [...], which in Gal. 5, 21. And 1 Pet. 4.3. is rendred Revelling. Nor is it elsewhere u­sed in the New Testament, that I remember. In Latin it is turned Commessatio, which (saies Leigh) signifies Excess of Belly-chear in Riotous Feasting. And, he saies, St. Ambrose expounds it, Luxurious Feasting and Banqueting, wherein (saies he) men take liberty to all Lascivious and Riotous [...]; Crit. sacra.

There is one place more in the New Testament, where we read the word Riot, and that is in 2 Pet. 2.13. where the Apostle speaks of some, who counted it pleasure to Riot in the day time. The Greek word there used is [ [...]] which signifies Excess of Pleasures and effeminating Deli­cacies. It is used in the same sense, Luke 7.25. and Iames 5.5. in which last place it is joyned with a word that signifies to live wantonly. (Ye have lived in Pleasure on the Earth, and been wan­ton [ [...]] ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter; ye have condemned and killed the Iust, saith the Apostle Iames) a word not elsewhere used in the New Testament, save in 1 Tim. 5.6. where we read, She that liveth in Pleasure [ [...]] is dead while she liveth. These are the Pleasures the Apostle Peter called Riot. And this is all I remember to have read of Riot and Rioting in the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, I meet with it but twice, Prov. 23.20. Be not among Wine-bibbers; amongst Riotous Eaters of Flesh. Chap. 28.7. He that is a Companion of Riotous persons, shameth his Father. In the Margin, He that feedeth Gluttons, &c. There is also a Marginal Reference to Chap. 29.3. where it is said, He that keepeth Company with Harlots spendeth his substance. In Latin these Texts are turned by Hierom, Pagnine, Montanus, Tremellius and Iunius, by the words Commessatio, Commessator, and Comedo (an old obsolete word) all signifying Gluttonous Gourman­dizing, or inordinate Eating and Drinking, whereby men do Riotously waste and consume their Estates. Let this suffice, without particular Application, to shew what Rioting and Rioters are in Scripture-sense.


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