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meeting of Friends, and having put the case in form, he carried a memorial of their grievances to his friend the Duke of Ormonde. Arran, Lane, and others who remembered him at Carrickfergus in his plume and corslet, helped him to procure a hearing. A commissioner was directed to report on the Quaker prisoners who had been committed by local justices, and in the following summer an order was signed by Ormonde for the free discharge of every one who was in prison for opinion's sake.
Penn stayed at Shangarry Castle nearly ten months; until, in fact, his father's plans began to change. The Lowthers found a good estate, some twenty miles from Maske, which he was now disposed to purchase; and he told his son to try if he could sell the Irish lands. It not being easy to procure a customer for Shangarry Castle, the Admiral bade him ask if any of the tenants were disposed to buy their lots. These tenants were too poor. 'I wish you had well done all your business there,' the Admiral wrote to his son, 'for I find myself to decline. Penn took the hint, and gathering up his papers started for his father's house, where he was quickly reconciled to his father's heart.
Penn was soon disturbed by new persecutions. Liberty of Conscience with its consequence, Free Worship—was the question of that day; a question of much practical difficulty even to those who could admit that it was right in principle. The Duke of York, presumptive heir to the throne, was an avowed Catholic. Charles was suspected of leaning towards the ritual followed by his wife, his brother, his brother's wife, and his own favourite mistress. Some of the courtiers were apostatising; others were supposed to be only waiting a more favourable moment to desert their Church. If Popery threatened from above, Puritanism was no less terrible below. The country swarmed with the disbanded hosts of Cromwell-men as hostile to the establishment as to the monarchy. Sects were daily multiplying in number. In the midst of all these causes of dismay, a power which Parliament had given the Church for her defence against the non-conforming bodies was renewed. The Conventicle Act declared it seditious and unlawful for more than five persons, exclusive of the family, to meet together for religious worship according to any other than the national rite; and every person above the age of sixteen years attending any such meeting, was liable, for the first offence to be fined five pounds or imprisoned during three months; for the second offence, to be fined ten pounds, or imprisoned six months; for the third offence to be fined a hundred pounds or transported beyond the seas for seven years; and for every additional offence to a hundred pounds of fine, This Act was renewed in April, 1670.
Penn soon became a victim of this enactment. Taking no notice of attempts to interfere with their modes of worship, some of the Quakers went on Sunday, the 14th of August, to their meetinghouse in Gracechurch Street. They found the house closed the doors guarded by soldiers. Penn took off his hat and began to preach. The constables came forward and arrested him. At the same time, but in another part of the crowd, they arrested Captain William Mead an old soldier of the Commonwealth now a draper in the city. Penn demanded their authority for his arrest; the officers produced a warrant, signed by Sir Samuel Starling Lord Mayor. Penn and Mead were taken from the place of meeting to the City magistrates. When Penn refused to doff his hat, Sir Samuel threatened to send him to Bridewell and have him flogged, though he was the son of a Commonwealth admirall On being reminded that the law would not allow him, he committed Penn and Mead to the Black Dog. a sponging-house in Newgate Market, to await their trial at the Old Bailey. From this place of durance Penn wrote to his father, glorying in his sufferings for a great principle, but expressing his deep regret at being dragged away from home at such a time.
On Thursday, September 1st, 1670, the prisoners, William Penn the Younger, and Captain William Mead, were placed in the dock. Penn stood before his judges, less as a Quaker pleading for the rights of conscience than an Englishman contending for the ancient liberties of his race. That he had violated the Conventicle Act he knew; that he meant to violate that Act he also knew. Penn held that the new Act was equally hostile to the Bible and the Great Charter. This was the point at issue-Does an edict possess the virtue and force of law even when passed by Crown and Parliament, which abolishes any one of our fundamental rights? A most important point; and very dear to England were the issues to be tried. Penn raised the constitutional question, 'If we now plead guilty to the facts alleged against us -as in common cases we should do—this Act will acquire additional force : if we deny our guilt, as we may do, and throw the burden of proof on the court, we shall show to all the world the evil animus of our persecutors; we shall also be able to raise the question whether this new and oppressive law be in harmony with the Great Charter, and other fundamental laws.'
Both Penn and Mead resolved to plead not guilty to the charge, and throw the burden of proof on the other side. They thought it well to hire no counsel, and conduct the case themselves; the rather that they meant the trial to be taken as a civil inquisition, not as a simple form of ascertaining whether they were guilty of the fact or not.
Sir Thomas Howell, Recorder of London, tried the case. Around him sat Sir Samuel Starling, Lord Mayor; Alderman Sir Thomas Bludworth, Alderman Sir William Peake, Alderman Sir Richard Ford, and Alderman Sir Joseph Sheldon; the two sheriffs, John Smith, and James Edwards. Sir John Robinson, Lieutenant of the Tower, was present as Alderman of Dowgate; also Sir Richard Brown the Lord Mayor of the Restoration year. In all ten justices occupied the bench. When the clerk of the court bade the crier call the jury, twelve citizens of London answered to their names:
Thomas Vere, Edward Bushel, John Hammond, Charles Milson, Gregory Walklet, John Brightman, William Plumstead, Henry Henley, Thomas Damask, Henry Michel William Lever, and John Baily. These good men and true were sworn to try the prisoners at the bar and find according to the evidence adduced. The indictment, charging the two prisoners with holding a tumultuous assembly, ran :
That William Penn, gentleman, and William Mead, late of London, linen-draper, with divers other persons to the jury unknown to the number of three hundred, the 15th day of August, in the twenty-second year of the King, about eleven of the clock in the forenoon of the same day, with force and arms, &c., in the parish of St. Bennet, Gracechurch, in Bridge Ward, London, in the street called Gracechurch Street, unlawfully and tumultuously did assemble and congregate themselves together to the disturbance of the peace of the said lord the King: And the aforesaid William Penn and William Mead, together with other persons to the jury aforesaid unknown, then and there assembled and congregated together; the aforesaid William Penn, by agreement between him and William Mead, before made and by abetment of the aforesaid William Mead, then and there in the open street, did take upon himself to preach and speak, and then and there did preach and speak unto the aforesaid William Mead and other persons there in the street aforesaid, being assembled and congregated together, by reason whereof of a great concourse and tumult of people in the street aforesaid, then and there, a long time did remain and continue in contempt of the said lord the King and his law; to the great disturbance of his peace, to the great terror and