A True, Short, Impartial RELATION Containing the Substance of the PROCEEDINGS At the Assize held the 12th and 13th day of the Moneth called August, 1664. at the Town of Hertford, (Orlando Bridgman being Judge) Chiefly with and against Nine Prisoners called Quakers; as it was then Noted and Observed first in short-writing:

And now made publick; Partly to pre­vent various Reports; And partly to Inform People of the Illegal Proceedings of the said Court against the Prisoners aforesaid: Eight of which were Sentenced to be Transport­ed beyond the Seas, there to Remain for Seven Years. W. S.

And Judgment is turned away backward, and Justice standeth afar off; for Truth is fallen in the street, and Equity cannot enter,

Isa. 59. 14, 15. And see Chap. 10. 1, 2. And Micah 7. 4.

Printed in the Year 1664.

Hertford, August, 12, 13.

ON the 12th day those Nine Prisoners, and many others who are called Quakers, were called over; The others had the Oath of Allegiance read to them, and because they would not kiss the Bible and swear, were Returned to Prison again, where some of them have been Prisoners some years.

Then an Indictment being framed against those Nine Prisoners, for being at an unlawful Meeting, under colour and pretence of Religion, the Witnesses were examined, who agreed in their Evidence, That they were took at such times, at such places, met together above the number of five; and that they heard them say nor speak no words, nor saw them do any thing it their Meeting, but sit still. The Indictment was delivered to the Grand Jury, who did not agree in their Verdict that day, but on the thirteenth day in the morning early, they came into the Court, and brought in their Verdict Ignoramus.

Judge Bridgeman standing up, seemed to be angry with them, and spake to them after this manner: My Masters what do you mean to do? will you make a nose of wax of the Law, and suffer the Law to be baf­led? those that think to deceive the Law, the Law will deceive them: One of the Jury-men said to him, (when he asked them how it could be they did not find the Bill) that it concerned them to beware, and be well satisfied in what they did, for they were upon mens lives, for what they knew: No said the Judge I desire not their lives, but their Reformation; then one of the Justices reflected upon, and upbraided the Jury-man, as not being purged from his old dregs: so the Judge giving them some Directions (drawn as he said from the meaning and intent of the Law) how to find the Bill; his Instructions and Di­rections to this Grand Jury, was like his Instructions to the Petty Ju­ry, which follows at large, therefore may be omitted here; Then he caused them to go forth again, who returned soon, and found the Bill; At which the Court seemed to be well pleased: Then were four of those Nine Prisoners called to the Bar, and their Indictment read, and the Prisoners being asked whether they were Guilty, or not Guilty? they answered, Not Guilty, but Innocent, and that they had transgressed no just Law.

[Page 2] J. B. spake and said, but you have Transgressed this Law, (having the late Act in his hand) and you have been twice Con­victedNot of any evil done, nor yet according to the plain words or letter of the Law, the fact which it reacheth being never yet proved against them, as might be made appear if either reason or truth might be heard in the case. already upon Record, and if you are found Guilty by the Jury this time, I must pass the Sentence of Transportation upon you: Now therefore you shall see that we do not desire to strain the Law to the highest severity, neither do I believe that was the aim of the Law-makers, to be severe; but for Conformity: If you will promise that you will not go, or be at, any more such Meetings, I will shew you this favour, as to acquit you for what is past; How then does he say this Law is not against Conscience, if other Laws be, which enjoyn coming to the Church, as he saith afterwards? this favour you may receive before the Jury is Charged with you, but afterwards I cannot do it: And know also, if the Jury for want of punctual Evidence, should not find you guilty, yet if you are taken again, you will be in the same case you now are in; what say you, Will you promise to meet no more?

Pris.

We can promise no such thing?

J. B.

Call a Jury.

So a Jury was called, sworn, and charged to bring in their Verdict ac­cording toMark, But when the Evidence would not serve his turn, he would prepossess them with his own suppositions against the Prisoners, as after appears. Evidence; And then the Indict­ment was read the second time, the substance of which was, for being at an Unlawful Meeting at such a time and place, the first, second and third time. The Witnesses were called and sworn, whose Testimony agreed in this only, That they took the Prisoners (at the Bar) at such times, at such places, met together above the number of Five, but that they saw any thing theyWhat Law of any Nation punisheth any man if he speak no evil, nor do no evil. did, or heard any thing they said or spake at the Meet­ings, they did not nor could not witness.

Then J. B. spake to the Jury after this man­ner, My Masters the Jury, You hear what Evi­dence the Witnesses give; how they took them at such times at such places, which are places they use to meet in; And that they were above the number of Five besides the persons of the Family where they [Page 3] metAnd what evil have they ever done, or their Meetings produced? it is neither place nor number that in reason can make a Meeting unlaw­ful, where no evil is done, or intended.; And that they are twice Convicted upon Record already; And this is the third Offence, which incurs the Sentence of Transportation, if you finde them Guil­ty.

Now I have this to say to you (first read­ing that clause in the Act which saith, That if any after the first day of July shall be present at any Conventicles, Assembly or Meeting, &c.) My Masters, you are not to expect a Note, though they were sworn and charged to bring in their Verdict according to Evidence, yet the Judge bids them not expect any plain E­vidence against the Prisoners for any matter of fact they did, but strongly possesseth the Iury with suppositions & ima­ginations of what they might do, though they did it not. plain punctual Evidence against them for any thing they said or did at their Meeting; for they may speak to one another though not with or by Auriculer sound, but by a Cast of the Eye, or a Motion of the Head or Foot, or Gesture of the Body; for dumb men may speak to one another so as they may understand each other by signs;In that they speak the truth as the Scripture witnesseth that God is a Spirit, and is worshipped in the Spirit; the Christians did, and do know one another in spirit, and discern Spirits: Is this now become so high a crime to profess, to deserve the sen­tence of Transportation, even for worshipping God indeed and in truth; and for deny­ing all hypocrisie, colours, and pretence whatsoever? And they themselves say, that the Worship of God is inward, in the Spirit, and that they can discern Spirits, and know one another in Spirit: So that if you find, or believe in your hearts that they were in the Meeting, under colour of Religion in their way, though they saie still onely and looked upon each other, seeing they cannot say what they did there: It was an Unlawful Meeting, and their use and practice not according to the Lyturgie of the Church of England, for it allows and commands when people meet together in the Church, ThatThey that meet to reade and speak, and hear divine words, And do and practise the Devil's works, their worship is indeed under colour and pretence: and does not the Lyturgy allow of the Worship of God in the Spirit? Di­vine Service shall be read, &c. A cruel Imposition. And you must find the Bill, for you must have [Page 4] Respect to theHow many thousands have the Priests and Law­yers destroyed by their mean­ings? meaning and intent of the Law, which the King and Parliament have in wisdom and policy made, not on­ly against Conventicles, but the words As­sembly and Meeting was added, for we have had lateNo experience of any evil contrived by those called Quakers, therefore unjustly urged upon the Jury against them. experience of the danger of such Meetings under colour of Religion; And it is an easie matter at such Meetings to conspire and consult mischief; There­fore the Wisdom and Policy of the King and Parliament, lest they should be under­mined, have made this Law, which is not a Law against Conscience; for it doth not touchIf that Law is not a­gainst practices performed in a conscientious duty to God, then is it highly perverted by the Executors of it. Conscience at all, as I confess some other Laws do, which enjoyns com­ming to Church, and some other things; Why are these Laws then prosecuted against many innocent mens consciences? but this Law leaves mens Consciences free,How doth this Law leave mens Consciences free, when it's their Consciences, to meet apart from those pla­ces called Churches, where Drunkards, Swearers, &c. meet? and how are his for­mer words contradicted here­in? (so they do not meet.) Some­thing more, like as above, he spake to the Jury, forcing, the intent and meaning of the Law, and their own perswasion or be­lief, above and beyond the express Reason of the Law it self, or Evidence of the Wit­nesses; telling them that he was Judge of the Law, as to tell them what it meant and intended; And that they were Judges of the Fact only:How can they then bring in any Verdict upon an Indictment which hath rela­tion both to Law and Fact. Then he commanded the Jury to go forth, and they went forth, the Fore-man taking the Act with him: within the space of an hour the Jury re­turned, and being asked whether they were agreed? they said, Yes, and that their Fore-man should speak for them, who said, that Nicholas Lucas and the other three were guilty.

J. B. reading their names, said to the Prisoners, What can you say for your selves that Judgment of Transportation should not pass or be given against you?

Pris.

We are innocent, and have transgressed no just Law: if we must have that sentence, we give up our Bodies freely into the hands of the Lord, the will of the Lord be done.

Judg. B.
[Page 5]

Have you nothing more to say?

Pris.

Nothing but that we are Innocent.

J. B.

Hearken to your Sentence, the execution of which admits of no long time (reading the words of the late Act, which saith, That the Justices shall forthwith make their Warrant to the Sheriffs of the County, That they shall convey them to the next convenient Port for Transportation.) Have you nothing more to say?

Pris.

We are innocent, and have wronged no man.

J. B.

Hear your Sentence, You shall be Transported beyond the Seas to the Island of Barbadoes, there to remain seven years.

Then Jeremiah Herne and Thomas Wood were called to the Bar, their Indictment read, to which they pleaded Not Guilty, but Innocent; and Jeremiah Herne said he was no such person as the Act mentions, for plotting and contriving Insurrections,Note, that this their Plea of Innocency might not be accepted of, though no­thing contrary thereto could be proved against them, according to the Reason of the Law here pleaded by the Pri­soners, though altogether per­verted and waved by their Persecutors. &c. Then J. B. interrupted him, saying, You are a forward man, you have an estate, and caused him to be set by; but J. B. said, Thomas VVood I hear a good report of you, consider what you do; I am sorry, seeing you have a good report among your neigh­bours, that you should be found Guilty, which I fear you will if you put your self upon Tryal; I am willing to shew you fa­vour, and it may be one man may fare the better for another [meaning that J. H. who was included in the same Indictment, but had been basely and falsly represented to the Judge, by a wicked man, on John King of great Haddum, who was Witness against Jeremiah Herne, and excepted against in point of Testimony, as a person of a false tongue and malicious spi­rit, as was manifested and made appear by the said J. H. to the Magi­strates formerly, and was then offered again to the Court, if he might have been heard.] But though there was great enmity against the said Jer. Herne, the Judge said they should both partake of this his favour if they would but desire it; which was, that he would wave the pro­ceedings of the Court, and give them till the next Assizes to consider better with themselves, which he said he could not shew them af­ter the Jury was charged with them; What say you, will you have it [Page 6] deferred till the next Assizes? For if the Jury find the Bill,Could he expect any o­ther but that the Jury would find the Bill, when before he put them upon it? you will be sent to Jamaico, you must not go all to one place.

Pris.

VVe have transgressed no Law of God, nor wronged any man, we leave it to the Court, we desire it not.

J. B.

If you will not desire it, I cannot, nor will not do it; [but he often urged that they would desire it.]

Then were Three more brought to the Bar; one was taken coming out or from the Meeting, viz. John Reynolds, the Witnesses said within a yard of the door, with his face from-wards the Meeting-place, the other in the Meeting: Their Indictment was all of one form; the Jury was called, sworn and charged, as before, to bring in their Verdict accord­ing to Evidence; the Indictment read; the Witnesses gave in their Evidence, That they only took them at such times, and at such places, say­ing nothing, nor doing nothing, but sitting still. The Judge took occasion when one of the Prisoners was at the Bar, to speak on this wise, God forbid that I should do any thing that is not right and just, against my Conscience, there is that which is written upon the Wall before me, which puts me in mind that I should not judge for man, but for God,Mark that, And where then does God command him so severely to sentence inno­cent persons for meeting peaceably together? Nay, hath he not plainly judged for man, and against God in this matter, whenas the per­sons he sentenced, did meet in the Worship of God to wait upon him? and if he judged for God, why did he not shew some Law of God for what he did? and I. H. afterward put him in mind thereof, saying, If I have transgressed any just Law, let me suffer; and if not, he that judgeth for God will not condemn me (or words to that purpose.) But the Judge gave him a slight Answer, saying, You do well to put me in mind of my duty, pray think of your own. Then in his direction to the Jury concerning the five Prisoners at the Bar, he made a long speech to the same purpose, and in like manner as before. And concerning him that was taken, but not in the Meeting, he endeavoured much to perswade the Jury that he might very probably be guilty, gi­ving them this instance; Suppose, said he, a man be killed in a house, and no body saw him killed, but a man is met coming out of the house with a bloody knife in his hand, it is a very probable Evidence that he is [Page 7] guilty of the Murder.Could this be either Justice or Reasonable, thus to go about to prepossess the Ju­ry against an innocent man, beyond their Evidence, and with such an unfit instance? or could this be a fit parallel in a matter of Conscience or Worship, wherein they were concerned, let all that be but rational judge? So though the Witnesses do not say that they saw and took him in the Meeting, yet they swore he was within a yard of the door with his face from-wards the place where they usu­ally met; and he hath been taken twice al­ready, and Convicted upon Record: my Masters I leave it to you, go forth. A Bai­liff was called, sworn, and charged to pro­vide the Jury a Room, and to let none speak with them, nor to let them have ei­ther Bread, Drink, or Candle, till they brought in their Verdict.

In the space of about half an hour the Jury returned, and being asked for their Verdict, they said four of the five Prisoners above-mentioned were Guilty, and that the other which was taken in the yard was Not Guilty, so he was acquitted.

J. B.

Put Thomas Wood, Jeremiah Herne, and the other two to the Bar; so reading their names, he asked them what they could say why Judgment of Transportation should not be given against them?

Pris.

We are Innocent, and have not offended any just Law of God or man to deserve that sentence; we leave it to the Witness of God in thy and your Consciences.

I. B.

You have offended against this Law (having the late Act be­fore him) which is made by the King and Parliament, and executed by us their subordinate Ministers: if it be not Righteous and Just we must answer for that. Have you any more to say?

Pris.

Nothing but that we are Innocent.

I. B.

Hear your Sentence; You shall be Transported beyond the Seas to the Island of Iamaico, being one of his Majesties Plantations Forreign, there to remain seven years.Now Judge Bridgman thou hast discovered thy Spi­rit, and what was in the bot­tom, and all sober people may take notice of thy proceed­ings.

I. B.

Now I have this one thing to ac­quaint you with, That if you and either of you will pay down here into the Court an hundred pounds before the Court riseth, you and every of you shall be discharged and clearly acquitted for what is past: And I will shew you this fa­vour, [Page 8] as not to discharge the Court at this present, but shall adjourn it till two in the afternoon.

[It being then within one quarter of an hour of two] The Cryer made Proclamation, the Court was adjourned and met again about three, and the Judge sent to the Prisoners con­demned, to know if they would pay down the hundreds of pounds, but answering Nay, the Court was soon discharged.

The Names of the Prisoners under their Sentence are

Francis Pryor, Nicholas Lucas, Henry Feast, Henry Marshall, Jere­miah Herne, Thomas Wood, Iohn Blindale, Samuel Traherne.

Now let all People weigh and consider the manner and intent of these proceedings, and to what purpose Law and Justice is pretended in their proceedings against these Innocent Persons, who have been carried as Lambs dumb before the Shearers; having Innocency on their sides, and nothing contrary thereunto proved against them, who when their plea of Innocency might not be received, have committed their Cause to the Lord, and so far acquiesced in their Spirits as not to say much for themselves, seeing the Judges intent against them, both by his evading the Reason of the Law, and proceeding in his own will, contrary to the very words and form of the Law pretended against them, concerning the colour or pretence of Religious Exercise, &c. which plainly implies some evil intended, as Sedition, Plotting, or Contriving Insur­rections, according to the very plain words of the Preamble of the Act, which could not at all be proved against them; as also by his endeavou­ring to instigate and prejudice the Jury against the Prisoners, by going about to prepossess them with his own suppositions or imaginations of Gestures, which there was no proof of, which had either Christianity, Law or Justice, or his Oath enjoyning thereto, or Reason or Equity; or if so much as Humanity had but any place in his heart, there would not have been such proceedings against an innocent and harmless People, for waiting together in silence upon the Lord God in his Spiritual Wor­ship, as it is well known for no other end we meet; And there hath been long experience of us in that Case, and had you of the Jury that brought them in Guilty, had any regard to your Oaths, or to the help of God, or your own Salvation, or the good of the Country, you would not have been so byassed and prejudiced meerly upon a mans own suppositions against such your Innocent Neigbours and Country-men, for which assuredly God will call both you and him to Judgment, for your proceedings, who have shewed your selves so silly as to please [Page 9] men more than God; and to gratifie mans perverse will, and the Covert Design of the Court, more than to regard the Countries good: And what do Jurors signifie if a Judge must be both Judge, Accuser, and Jury in effect also?

And now let all Sober and Moderate people consider such proceedings and the end of them, and where ever there was such a President, espe­cially among professed Christians, as that Innocent People or Persons should be sentenced for Transportation or Banishment for innocently sitting together in silence (waiting upon the Lord) when no evil or injury against any mans person, nor any unlawful Act could in the least be evidenced against them, so as they are Sufferers for Worshipping of God without any colour or pretence for any evil design whatsoever: In which Case we must only appeal to the LORD GOD of Heaven and Earth (by whom mens actions are weighed) for Justice and Right which we cannot have from man.

G. VV.

POSTSCRIPT.

In the second Page the Judge saith the Prisoners had transgressed the late Act. At the third Page he affirmeth the Meetting at which the Prisoners were taken, to be that which they call their Worship. And at the fourth Page he saith the Law (meaning the said Act) is not a Law against Conscience, nor toucheth Conscience at all; by which it may be seen how this Judge is ac­quainted either with Worship or Conscience: for in what is Conscience con­cerned, if not about Worship, yea though mistaken? else Bp. Gauden said not true in saying, Conscientia errans obligat. But no marvel if this Judge mistake in Divinity, while he misseth the Law in an approved Maxim, A verbo legis in criminibus & paenis non est recedendum, (i. e.) In criminal Cases the letter of the Law is to be kept unto, as in Dr. Bonams Case, speaking of the Law, saith, It shall be taken strictly because against the Liberty of the Subject: But this Judge enforceth an intent and meaning of the Law upon the Jury, not keeping to the Letter, which in a case of this nature, as Transporting men out of their Native Country (only for sitting still) without any overt Act by them, either of word or deed, let the Wise judge: for it hath been said, that Penal Laws can admit of no construction or inferen­ces, for Penalties are to perswade the keeping of known Laws; not Laws conjectural, ambiguous and by consequence; for Judges and Justices are Mini­sters, not Makers of Laws.

THE END.

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