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contradict, especially since he had the precaution not only to send four other judges as his assistants along with him, but Mr. Pollexfen likewise, in quality of his solicitor, who being a known favourer of the presbyterian party, he hoped would moderate the chief justice's heat, so that after all this care and foresight his majesty had reason to acquiesce to what had been done, though it was a great disservice to him at the bottom; but my lord chief justice making it pass for an excess of zeal, hindered not his majesty from conferring the title of a baron upon him as a reward for his former merit.” *
The progress of Jefferies through the western counties might have been tracked by the blood which he so lavishly shed; and some anecdotes of his cruelties have been preserved which strike the reader with indignant horror. When the sisters of one of the prisoners who had been convicted stopped his coach, to the wheels of which they clung, begging mercy for their brother, he ordered his coachman to cut their arms and hands with his whip. † And upon another occasion, when a lady interceded for the life of one of the prisoners, to whom she was betrothed, he answered her with a jest so cruel, so coarse, and so unmanly, that the very relation of it rouses the feelings almost like a present insult. $ The avarice of Jefferies is alluded to by the king, and there is no doubt that, in many instances, persons who had been implicated in the rebellion purchased their lives from him with money. From Mr. Prideaux, a gentleman of Devonshire, he received so large a sum as £15,000 for not bringing him to trial. §
One of the most barbarous of the many cruel executions which took place at this time was that of Mrs. Lisle, a gentlewoman of upwards of seventy years of age, who had been, in fact, guilty of no offence whatever. She had harboured two men who had escaped from the rout at Sedgmoor; but it did not appear that she was acquainted with their participation in the rebellion. One + Life of James II., vol. ii. p. 113.
+ Granger, vol. ii. p. 543. I See Dalrymple and Ralph.
Dalrymple's Mem. p. 140.
of the witnesses for the prosecution was a person of the name of Dunne, a presbyterian, whom Jefferies suspecting to be an unwilling witness, attacked with a coarseness of language and violence of demeanour which appear almost to have deprived the man of his senses. A few passages will sufficiently illustrate the temper of the chief justice. « Why, thou vile wretch ! dost thou think, because thou prevaricatest with the court here, that thou canst do so with God above, who knows thy thoughts? And it is infinite mercy that with those falsehoods of thine he does not strike thee into hell ! Jesus God! there is no sort of conversation or human society to be kept with such people as these are, who have no religion, but only in pretence.” Soon afterwards, addressing himself to the jury, he said, “I hope, gentlemen of the jury, you take notice of the strange and horrible carriage of this fellow, and withal you cannot but observe the spirit of that sort of people, what a villanous and devilish one it is. Good God ! that ever the thing called religion (a word that people have so much abused) should ever wind up persons to such a height of ime piety, that it should make them lose the belief that there is a God of truth in heaven! *** A Turk is a saint to such a fellow as this; nay, a pagan would be ashamed to be thought to have no more truth in him.” Colonel Penruddock having stated that Dunne, the witness, had asserted that he apprehended the persons who had taken refuge with Mrs. Lisle to be rebels, the following exa mination took place:
“ Jefferies. What do you say to that, Dunne? It seems you told Barton that you apprehended them to be rebels.
“Dunne. I apprehended them for rebels, my lord !
“Jefferies. No, no! you did not apprehend them for rebels ; but you hid them for rebels. But did you say to Barton that you took them for rebels ?
“Dunne. I take them to be rebels !
“Jefferies. You blockhead! I ask you did you tell him so ?
“ Dunne. I tell Barton so !
“Dunne. I am quite cluttered out of my senses ; I do not know what I say.
“Jefferies. But to tell the truth would rob thee of none of thy senses, if ever thou hadst any; but it should seem that neither thou nor thy mistress the prisoner had any, for she knew nothing of it neither, though she had sent for them thither.” • At length the case went to the jury, who manifested a desire to retire, “ upon which the Lord Jefferies expressed a great deal of impatience, and said he wondered that in so plain a case they would go from the bar.” Having retired, “he would have sent to them with an intimation, that if they did not come quickly, he would adjourn, and let them lie by it all night." The jury in about half an hour appeared, but it was only to express a doubt as to the sufficiency of the evidence. Jefferies told them that the fact they referred to had been proved. The foreman replied that they did not remember it. Jefferies repeated his assertion, and added, that “if there were no proof, the circumstances and management of the thing were as full proof as need be." Upon this the jury, after some deliberation, brought in a verdict of guilty. It is stated by many historians, that the jury, three several times, brought in a verdict of acquittal, which, by the threats of the chief justice, they were induced to retract; but this fact does not appear from the report in the State Trials. * · Mrs. Lisle was convicted on the 27th of August. “ Look you, Mrs. Lisle,” said Jefferies; “when I left his majesty, he was pleased to remit the time of all executions to me, that, wherever I found any obstinacy or impenitence, I might order the executions with what speed I thought best. Therefore, Mr. Sheriff, take notice, you are to prepare for the execution of this gentlewoman this afternoon ; but withal I give you, the prisoner, this intimation : we that are the judges shall stay in town an hour or two; you shall have pen, ink, and paper brought you; and if, in the mean time, you employ that pen, ink, and paper, and this hour or two well (you understand what I mean), you may hear further from us in a deferring the execution,”
* Vol xi. p. 371.
At the intercession of several divines, a respite was granted till the 2d of September, and in the mean time an application was made to the king, by Lady St. John and Lady Abergavenny, for mercy; and a petition was presented from the prisoner herself, praying for a commutation of the punishment, from burning to beheading.
To the appeal for mercy, James replied, “that he would do nothing in it, having left all to the chief justice," to the petition, “that he would not reprieve her one day; but, for altering the sentence, he would do it, if there were any precedents for it."* Here, at all events, was an opportunity afforded to the king of extending mercy, and as he chose to reject it, the grievous odium of this unjust and cruel punishment must rest with him; yet, with a meanness proportioned to the cruelty of the act itself, he endeavours in his own memoirs to affix the stigma wholly upon Jefferies. +
During his “western campaign,” Jefferies discovered a gross abuse which had prevailed for some time at Bristol, but to which he put a very speedy termination. The affair is thus related by Roger North :-“ There is one branch of that chief's expedition in the west, which is his visitation of the city of Bristol, that hath some singularities, of a nature so strange, that I think them worth my time to relate. There had been an usage among the aldermen and justices of the city (where all persons, even common shopkeepers, more or less, trade to the American plantations), to carry over criminals, who were pardoned with condition of transportation, and to sell them for money. This was found to be a good trade; but not being content to take such felons as were convict at their assizes and sessions, which pro
* State Trials, vol. xi. p. 376.
+ Life of James II., vol. ii. p. 43,
duced but a few, they found out a shorter way, which yielded a greater plenty of the commodity. And that was this: the mayor and justices, or some of them, usually met at their tolsey (a court-house by their exchequer) about noon, which was the meeting of the merchants, as at the exchange at London; and there they sat and did justice-business, that was brought before them. When small rogues and pilferers were taken and brought there, and, upon examination, put under the terror of being hanged, in order to which, mittimuses were making, some of the diligent officers attending, instructed them to pray transportation, as the only way to save them; and for the most part they did so. Then, no more was done; but the next alderman in course took one and another, as their turns came; sometimes quarrelling whose the last was, and sent them over and sold them. This trade had been driven for many years, and no notice taken of it. Some of the wealthier aldermen, although they sat in the court and connived, as Sir Robert Cann, for instance, never had a man; but yet they were all involved in the guilt when the charge came over them. It appears not how this outrageous practice came to the knowledge of the lord chief justice ; but when he had hold of the end he made thoroughstitch work with them; for he delighted in such fair opportunities to rant. He came to the city, and told some that he had brought a broom to sweep them. The city of Bristol is a proud body, and their head, the mayor, in the assize commission, is put before the judge of assize; though, perhaps, it was not so in this extraordinary commission of oyer and terminer. But for certain, when his lordship came upon the bench and examined this matter, he found all the aldermen and justices concerned in this kidnapping trade, more or less, and the mayor himself as bad as any. He therefore turns to the mayor, accoutred with his scarlet and furs, and gave him all the ill names that scolding eloquence could supply; and so, with rating and staring, as his way was, never left till he made him quit the bench,