THE DYING SPEECH OF Robert Frances OF GRAYS-INN, Esq July 24. 1685.
Delivered by his own Hand to the Ordinary, at the Place of Execution, desiring the same might be pu­blished.

I Am here by the Divine permission and Providence of God become a spectacle to God, Angels and men, for a rash, Extravagant and imprudent Act, wherein I do confess, I have not only offended a­gainst the Government and Courts of Justice, but against Christianity, and even the Rules of Morality it self: Nevertheless, (I hope) not only the Court, but all unbiased Men, from the several Circumstances of the Fact, are satisfied that I had no Malicious intent of doing what fell out, nor had any Grudge or personal Prejudice to him upon any account whatsoever, more than what all Honest and Good Men could not but have, that Love the King and the Government. The solemn Truth of all which, I have declared not only upon the Holy Sacrament I received from Mr. Master, but also that I never knew nor saw him before that unhappy moment, save once at a distance in the Pillory at Westminster; and do now as a dying Man solemnly avow and protest the same: And therefore I hope I may boldly say I am not conscious of any Guilt before God as to the malice: How­ever God in his great Wisdom has been pleased to suffer this great [Page 2] Calamity to fall upon me: And I hope this his severe Chastisement, is in order to bring me to himself, when softer means had not suffi­ciently done it. All them that know me (I am sure) will do me that Justice, as to believe I am far from having done it either will­fully or mercenarily (as most untruly is reported.) And that these Honourable Persons are above the thoughts of such unworthy things, for which they have been as maliciously as falsly traduced upon my score; I beg their Pardon for the Scandal I have unhappily been the occasion of, and desire this Acknowledgment may be by them accepted as a Reparation since to disown it at this time of my death, is all the Satisfaction I am able to make them.

As to my Religion (however I have been represented) there are Peo­ple that knew me at the University, and since that can be my Witnesses, how obedient and zealous a Son of the Church of England (by Law established) I have been.

And these worthy Divines that did me the favour to visit me in affli­ction, will give the World an account (as occasion serves) of my inte­grity therein: And if I had been as zealous in the Service of God, as my Prince, he would not have left me so much to my self, as to have per­mitted me to have fallen into this unexpected Extremity.

And as for my Morals, the Honourable Society of Grays-Inn will answer for me, that in above these twelve years time, I have had the Honour of being admitted a Member of that Society, I never had any Quarrel or Controversie with any Member thereof; and all Persons with whom I have had Conversation, I question not will give a good Character of my innocent and peaceable behaviour.

I pray God Almighty Preserve and Bless His Most Sacred Majesty, His Royal Consort Queen Mary, Katherine the Queen Dowager, their Royal Highnesses, and all the Royal Family; and grant that there may never want one of that Royal Line to sway the Scepters of these King­doms as long as Sun and Moon endure. In the Union and Love of his Subjects, strengthen him that he may vanquish and overcome all his Enemies, which I am glad to have seen so much prospect of, and am only sorry I am cut off from seeing my so much desired satisfa­ction of those happy days all his good Subjects will enjoy under his Auspicious Government. I pray God forgive me my Sins that have made me unworthy of that Blessing.

[Page 3] Blessed be the Lord that I have lived so as not to be ashamed to live, or afraid to dye; though I cannot but regret my being made a Sacri­fice to the Faction, who I am satisfied are the only People that will re­joyce in my ruine, for there is no man that loves his Prince, but will lament that nothing less than the Blood of an inoffensive man (save in this single Extravagance) can satisfie them for the sudden intemperate transport of Zeal and Passion against one so notoriously wicked and Infamous; for I do protest before Almighty God, (before whom I shall immediately appear) that when I went to the Coach-side, I did not intend so much as to speak to him, or believe I could have had opportunity of so doing, much less of doing him any harm. Neither is it probable I should with a small Bambow Cane, no bigger than a Man's little Finger, without any Iron upon it, much less a Dart in it, as it was most industriously spread abroad to prejudice me in the opi­nion of the World: For if I had had such a wicked design intentio­nally, I had a little short Sword by my side much more proper for such a purpose. And further, if I had believed or known that I had done any harm to him, I had opportunity enough of escaping after­wards, which I never endeavoured. Now all these things being duly weighed with their several Circumstances, I leave my sad Case to the Consideration of all sober and charitable Men. However I would not have this to be interpreted as a Reflection upon the Court, who I doubt not are by this time satisfied, (and Mr. Recorder did in open Court declare) that in their Consciences they did not believe I mali­ciously designed him the mischief that happened, but that it was pure­ly accidental. But in the strict Construction of Law I was found Guilty of Murder.

But that which most sensibly afflicts me, and is worse to me than death, that I cannot suffer alone, but that they have not only raised Scandals upon me in particular Preparatory to it, but upon my poor innocent Wife, as if my jealousie of her had been the reason of my animosity to Dangerfield; when I am morally certain she never saw him in her whole life, save that fatal Moment; and no couple (as hundreds can witness) have lived in better Correspondence. And be­sides that, she is as vertuous a Woman as lives, and born of so good and Loyal a Family, that if she had been so enclined, she would have scorned to have prostituted her self to such a profligate Person: But on the contrary (God is my witness) I never had any such thoughts of her, and do as verily believe as there is a God in Heaven, I never had any reason, she having always been the most indulgent, kind [Page 4] and loving Wife that ever Man had, and in my Conscience one of the best of Women; nay, I am so far from suspecting her Vertue, that she is the only loss I regret on Earth, and can freely part with every thing else here below without repining, which in all my trou­ble I have owned before all People, and particularly Mr. Master, Mr. Ordinary, and Mr. Smithies of Cripple-gate, who can all testifie those Tears and endeared Expressions that have passed between us, when any of them did me the kindness to visit me in my distress.

And I do from the bottom of my heart freely forgive the Witnesses that Swore against me those words I never spoke, for as I shall answer at the great Tribunal, I said no other or more words than these, How now Friend, have you had your Heat this Morning? For all the ill they have done me, give them Repentance Good God, even for these that have contributed to the shedding of my Blood, I pray thee shed thy Bowels of Mercy.

I do heartily thank those Noble and Honourable Persons, and all other my Friends, that have so charitably interposed with His Majesty on my behalf (though it hath proved unsuccessful) I pray God ne­vertheless to return their kind endeavours a thousand Fold into their own Bosoms: Lord return it to them and theirs.

Lord Jesus receive my Soul, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Hea­ven. Amen, Amen, Amen.

Robert Frances.


July 24. 1685.
Ro. L'Estrange.

London, Printed by George Croom, at the Blue-Ball in Thames-street, over against Baynard's Castle, 1685.

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