FOLLOWERS OF KING JAMES III.
who were tried on Account of the Rebellion in the year 1715.
WHEN in pursuance of the act of settlement, king George the First succeeded to the throne of these realms, the Earl of Mar, a Scottish nobleman, who had been deeply concerned with queen Anne's Tory ministry, was deprived of all the places he held under the government; in revenge for which he retired to Scotland, and meditated a scheme to dethrone the king, and overturn the constitution.
Being assured of the assistance of a number of the Highlanders, he communicated his plan to some noblemen in Scotland and the north of England, who joined with him in sending an invitation to the Pretender to invade these kingdoms: and they also dispatched three men to London, to endeavour to enlist soldiers for the Pretender's service.
The names of these men were Robert Whitty, Felix O'Hara, and Joseph Sullivan; and though the business in which they engaged was of the most dangerous nature, yet they continued it for some time; but were at length apprehended, brought to trial, and being convicted, were executed at Tyburn on the 28th of May, 1715.
ROBERT WHITTY was born in Ireland, and having enlisted for a soldier when young, served in an English regiment in Spain, where being wounded, he was brought to England, and received the bounty of Chelsea-College as an out-pensioner.
FELIX O'HARA, who was about 29 years of age, was likewise an Irishman, and having lived some time in Dublin as a waiter at a tavern, he saved some money, and entered into business for himself; but that not answering as he could have wished, he came to London.
JOSEPH SULLIVAN was a native of Munster in Ireland, and about the same age as O'Hara. He had for some time served in the Irish brigades, but obtaining his discharge, he came to England, and was thought a fit agent to engage in the business which cost him and his companions their lives.
These men denied, at the time of their trial, that they had been guilty of any crime; and even at the place of execution they attempted to defend their conduct. They all died professing the Roman catholic religion.
Hence let us learn to abhor the pernicious doctrines of that church which could encourage subjects in the wish to dethrone their lawful sovereign; and may we be taught the force of the instruction 'Fear God, and honour the king.'
We will now continue the narrative of which this is but the introduction. The earl of Mar had resolved to keep his proceedings an absolute secret; but it is almost impossible for transactions of this nature to remain so; and information of what had passed having been transmitted to court, the king went to the house on the 20th of July, 1715, and having sent for the commons, informed both houses of parliament that he had received authentic intelligence of an intention formed by the Pretender to invade his kingdoms; and that he was apprehensive he had but too many abettors in this country.
Wherefore, that the ends of public justice might be speedily obtained, the king requested that the habeas corpus act might be suspended till the rebellion should be at an end. Accordingly the legislature suspended the said act, in consequence of which several suspected persons were taken into custody. The militia was now raised in different parts of the kingdom, the guards were encamped in Hyde Park; a number of ships were ordered to guard the coasts, and other proper steps taken for the public security.
The earl of Mar was by this time at the head of three thousand men, with whom he marched from town to town in Scotland, proclaiming the Pretender by the title of James the Third. Some of the soldiers in the castle of Edinburgh having been bribed to assist some of the earl of Mar's men in getting over the walls by means of rope- ladders, they were dispatched to surprize the castle: but the lord justice clerk was so much on his guard, that this scheme was frustrated, and some of the parties concerned in it suffered death.
Chagrined by this circumstance, and hearing that the French king was just then dead, many of the rebels were for abandoning their enterprize till the arrival of the Pretender: but this intention did not take place; for on the 6th of October, 1715, Thomas Foster Esq. member of parliament for Northumberland, set up the Pretender's standard in that county, and being joined by several noblemen and gentlemen, they made an attempt to seize Newcastle, but did not succeed. They were afterwards joined by a body of the Scotch at Kelso, and after marching to different places, they came to Preston in Lancashire.
In the mean time the generals Carpenter and Wills marched into the North, but finding the rebels gone southwards, they went to Preston, which place the rebels intended to defend against the king's forces, whom they for some time annoyed by firing from the windows of the houses; but at length the royal troops were victorious, after the loss of about 150 men.
It is uncertain how many of the rebels were killed; but the number of prisoners was about fifteen hundred, among whom were the earl of Derwentwater, lord Widdrington; the earls of Nithisdale, Winton, and Carnwarth; viscount Kenmure, and lord Nairn. The common soldiers among the rebels were imprisoned at Liverpool, and other places in that neighbourhood; but the above-mentioned noblemen, with other persons above the common rank, to the number of near three hundred, were brought to London.
They arrived at Highgate on the 14th of November, where they were met by a party of the foot-guards, and their arms being tied back with cords, their horses were led, each by a grenadier; and in this ignominious manner they were conducted to the metropolis; when the noblemen were committed to the Tower, and the rest to Newgate.
In the mean time a number of the Scotch rebels had marched to Perth, where they proclaimed the Pretender; in consequence of which John Duke of Argyle, who had been commissioned to raise forces, marched against, and came up with them, at Sheriffmuir near Dumblane, on the very day of the other engagement: and the rebellion would have been crushed, but that some of the duke's troops ran away on the first fire, and got to Stirling, about seven miles from the field of battle: however, the duke obtained a partial victory, by forcing the enemies lines with his dragoons.
The earl of Mar retired to Perth on the following day, proposing to cross the Forth, with a view to join the rebels in England: but a fleet lying opposite Edinburgh, prevented this design from being carried into execution.
About this period Sir John M'Kenzie having fortified the town of Inverness for the Pretender, lord Lovat, at the head of his tenants, drove him from that place; a circumstance of great importance to the royal cause, as a communication was thereby opened between the Highlands, and the south of Scotland: and the earl of Seaforth, and the marquis of Huntly laid down their arms, in consequence of the earl of Sutherland having armed his tenants in support of government.
The rebels now went into winter quarters at Perth, and the duke of Argyle at Stirling; and the Pretender having landed at Peterhead, with six attendants only, met his friends at Perth on the 22d of December, and on the ninth of the following month made a public entry into the palace of Scone, and assuming the dignity of a sovereign prince, issued a proclamation for his coronation, and another for the assembling the states.
But this farce continued only for a very short time; for general Cadogan arriving with six thousand Dutch forces to the aid of the duke of Argyle, about the end of January, the latter marched towards Perth, but the rebels fled as soon as they heard he was advancing. For a while they had expectation of aid from France, in the hope of which the Pretender and his adherents went to Dundee, and thence to Montrose; but after waiting awhile, and no aid arriving, they began to despair; and as the king's troops pursued them, the common men dispersed to their own habitations, and the Pretender, with the earl of Mar, and some others of his principal adherents, embarked on board a ship in the harbour of Montrose, and were soon landed in France, after having narrowly escaped an English fleet which lay on the coast of Scotland, through the extreme darkness of the night in which they embarked.
The disturbances in the north being thus at an end, both houses of parliament combined to shew their loyalty to their sovereign, and regard to the public welfare. Mr Foster was expelled from the house of commons, who unanimously agreed to impeach the seven lords, which was accordingly done.
These unhappy noblemen were informed of what had passed; and earl Cowper, lord high chancellor, being appointed lord high steward on the occasion, all the lords pleaded guilty to the indictment, except the earl of Winton: but they offered such pleas in extenuation of their crimes, as they thought might induce the king to extend his royal mercy to them: and the earl of Derwentwater hinted that the proceeding of the house of commons in the impeachment was out of the ordinary course of law.
In consequence of their having pleaded guilty, proclamation was made for silence, and the lord high steward passed sentence of death on them, prefacing the solemn sentence with the following affecting speech:
"James Earl of Derwentwater, William lord Widdrington, William earl of Nithisdale, Robert earl of Carnwarth, William viscount Kenmure, William lord Nairn:
"You stand impeached by the commons of Great-Britain in parliament assembled, of high treason, in traitorously imagining, and compassing the death of his most sacred majesty, and in conspiring for that end to levy a bloody and destructive war against his majesty, in order to depose and murder him; and in levying war accordingly, and proclaiming a Pretender to his crown to be king of these realms.
"Which impeachment, though one of your lordships, in the introduction to his plea, supposes to be out of the ordinary and common course of the law and justice, is yet as much a course of proceeding according to the common law, as any other whatsoever.
"If you had been indicted, the indictment must have been removed and brought before the house of lords, (the parliament sitting). In that case you had ('tis true) been accused only by the grand-jury of one county; in the present, the whole body of the commons of Great- Britain, by their representatives, are your accusers.
"And this circumstance is very observable (to exclude all possible supposition of hardship, as to the method of proceeding against you) that however all great assemblies are apt to differ on other points, you were impeached by the unanimous opinion of the house of commons, not one contradicting.
"They found themselves, it seems, so much concerned in the preservation of his most truly sacred majesty, and the Protestant succession (the very life and soul of these kingdoms) that they could not omit the first opportunity of taking their proper part, in order to so signal and necessary an act of his majesty's justice.
"And thus the whole body politic of this free kingdom, has in a manner rose up in its own defence, for the punishment of those crimes, which, it was rightly apprehended, had a direct tendency to the everlasting dissolution of it.
"To this impeachment you have severally pleaded, and acknowledged yourselves guilty of the high treason therein contained.
"Your pleas are accompanied with some variety of matter to mitigate your offences, and to obtain mercy.
"Part of which, as some of the circumstances said to have attended your surrender (seeming to be offered rather as arguments only for mercy, than any thing in mitigation of your preceding guilt) is not proper for me to take notice of.
"But as to the other part which is meant to extenuate the crimes of which you are convicted, it is fit I should take this occasion to make some observations to your lordships upon it, to the end that the judgment to be given against you may clearly appear to be just and righteous, as well as legal; and that you may not remain under any fatal error in respect of a greater judicature, by reflecting with less horror and remorse on the guilt you have contracted, than it really deserves.
"It is alleged by some of your lordships, that you engaged in this rebellion without previous concert or deliberation, and without suitable preparations of men, horses, and arms.
"If this should be supposed true, on some of your lordships averring it, I desire you to consider, that as it exempts you from the circumstance of contriving this treason, so it very much aggravates your guilt in that part you have undoubtedly borne in the execution of it.
"For it shews, that your inclinations to rebel were so well known (which could only be from a continued series of your words and actions) that the contrivers of that horrid design depended upon you, and therein judged rightly; that your zeal to engage in this treason was so strong, as to carry you into it on the least warning, and the very first invitation: that you would not excuse yourselves by want of preparation, as you might have done; and that rather than not have share in the rebellion, you would plunge yourselves into it, almost naked and unprovided for such an enterprize: in short, that your men, horses, and arms, were not so well prepared as they might, and would have been on longer warning; but your minds were.
"It is alleged also as an extenuation of your crimes, that no cruel or harsh action (I suppose is meant no rapine or plunder, or worse) has been committed by you.
"This may, in part only, be true: but then your lordships will at the same time consider, that the laying waste a tract of land, bears but a little proportion in point of guilt, compared with that crime of which you stand convicted; an open attempt to destroy the best of kings, to ruin the whole fabric, and raze the very foundations of a government, the best suited of any in the world, to perfect the happiness, and support the dignity of human nature. The former offence causes but a mischief that is soon recovered, and is usually pretty much confined; the latter, had it succeeded, must have brought a lasting and universal destruction on the whole kingdom.
"Besides, much of this was owing to accident; your march was so hasty, partly to avoid the king's troops, and partly from a vain hope to stir up insurrections in all the counties you passed through, that you had not time to spread devastation, without deviating from your main, and, as I have observed, much worse design.
"Farther: 'Tis very surprizing that any concerned in this rebellion, should lay their engaging in it on the government's doing a necessary and usual act in like cases, for its preservation; the giving orders to confine such as were most likely to join in that treason: 'tis hard to believe that any one should rebel, merely to avoid being restrained from rebelling; or that a gentle confinement would not much better have suited a crazy state of health, than the fatigues and inconveniences of such long and hasty marches in the depth of winter.
"Your lordships rising in arms therefore, has much more justified the prudence and fitness of those orders, than those orders will in any wise serve to mitigate your treason. Alas! happy had it been for all your lordships, had you fallen under so indulgent a restraint!
"When your lordships shall in good earnest apply yourselves to think impartially on your case, surely you will not yourselves believe that it is possible, in the nature of the thing, to be engaged, and continue so long engaged, in such a difficult and laborious enterprize, through rashness, surprize, or inadvertency; or that had the attack at Preston been less sudden (and consequently the rebels better prepared to receive it) your lordships had been reduced the sooner, and with less, if not without any bloodshed.
"No, my lords, these, and such like, are artful colourings proceeding from minds filled with expectation of continuing in this world, and not from such as are preparing for their defence before a tribunal, where the thoughts of the heart, and the true springs and causes of actions must be laid open.
"And now, my lords, having thus removed some false colours you have used; to assist you yet farther in that necessary work of thinking on your great offence as you ought, I proceed to touch upon several circumstances that seem greatly to aggravate your crime, and which will deserve your most serious consideration.
"The divine virtues ('tis one of your lordships own epithets) which all the world, as well as your lordships, acknowledge to be in his majesty, and which you now lay claim to, ought certainly to have with-held your hands from endeavouring to depose, to destroy, to murder, that most excellent prince; so the impeachment speaks, and so the law construes your actions: and this is not only true in the notion of law, but almost always so in deed and reason. 'Tis a trite, but very true remark, that there are but few hours between kings being reduced under the power of pretenders to their crown, and their graves. Had you succeeded, his majesty's case would, I fear, have hardly been an exception to that general rule, since 'tis highly improbable that flight should have saved any of that illustrious and valiant family.
"'Tis a further aggravation of your crime, that his majesty, whom your lordships would have dethroned, affected not the crown by force, or by the arts of ambition, but succeeded peaceably and legally to it; and on the decease of her late majesty without issue, became undoubtedly the next in course of descent capable of succeeding to the crown, by the law and constitution of this kingdom, as it stood declared some years before the crown was expressly limited to the house of Hanover. This right was acknowledged, and the descent of the crown limited or confirmed accordingly, by the whole legislature in two successive reigns, and more than once in the latter, which your lordships accomplices are very far from allowing would bias the nation to that side.
"How could it then enter into the heart of man, to think that private persons might with a good conscience endeavour to subvert such a settlement by running to tumultuary arms, and by intoxicating the dregs of the people, with contradictory opinions, and groundless slanders; or that God's providence would ever prosper such wicked, such ruinous attempts? especially if in the next place it be considered, that the most fertile inventions on the side of the rebellion, have not been able to assign the least shadow of a grievance as the cause of it: to such poor shifts have they been reduced on this head, that for want of better colours, it has been objected, in a solemn manner, by your lordship's associates, to his majesty's government, that his people do not enjoy the fruits of peace as our neighbours have done since the last war: thus they first rob us of our peace, and then upbraid us that we have it not. 'Tis a monstrous rebellion that can find no fault with the government it invades, but what is the effect of the rebellion itself.
"Your lordships will likewise do well to consider what an additional burden your treason has made necessary on the people of this kingdom, who wanted, and were about to enjoy some respite: to this end, 'tis well known, that all new, or increase of taxes, were the last year carefully avoided, and his majesty was contented to have no more forces than were just sufficient to attend his person, and shut the gates of a few garrisons.
"But what his majesty thus did for the ease and quiet of his people, you most ungratefully turned to his disadvantage, by taking encouragement from thence, to endanger his and his kingdoms safety, and to bring oppression on your fellow-subjects.
"Your lordships observe, I avoid expatiating on the miseries of a civil war, a very large and copious subject; I shall but barely suggest to you on that head, that whatever those calamities may happen to be in the present case, all who are, at any time, or in any place, partakers in the rebellion (especially persons of figure and distinction) are in some degree responsible for them; and therefore your Lordships must not hold yourselves quite clear from the guilt of those barbarities which have been lately committed, by such as are engaged in the same treason with you, and not yet perfectly reduced, in burning the habitations of their countrymen, and thereby exposing many thousands to cold and hunger in this rigorous season.
"I must be so just to such of your lordships, as profess the religion of the church of Rome, that you had one temptation, and that a great one, to engage you in this treason, which the others had not; in that, 'twas evident, success on your part must for ever have established Popery in this kingdom, and that probably you could never have again so fair an opportunity.
"But then, good God! how must those Protestants be covered with confusion, who entered into the same measures, without so much as capitulating for their religion (that ever I could find from any examination I have seen or heard) or so much as requiring, much less obtaining a frail promise, that it should be preserved, or even tolerated.
"It is my duty to exhort your lordships thus to think of the aggravations as well as the mitigations (if there be any) of your offences: and if I could have the least hopes, that the prejudices of habit and education would not be too strong for the most earnest and charitable entreaties, I would beg you not to rely any longer on those directors of your consciences, by whose conduct you have, very probably, been led into this miserable condition; but that your lordships would be assisted by some of those pious and learned divines of the church of England, who have constantly borne that infallible mark of sincere Christians, universal charity.
"And now, my lords, nothing remains, but that I pronounce upon you (and sorry I am that it falls to my lot to do it) that terrible sentence of the law, which must be the same that is usually given against the meanest offender in the like kind.
"The most ignominious and painful parts of it are usually remitted by the grace of the crown to persons of your quality; but the law, in this case, being deaf to all distinctions of persons, requires I should pronounce, and accordingly it is adjudged by this court;
"That you, James Earl of Derwentwater, William Lord Widdrington, William Earl of Nithisdale, Robert Earl of Carnwarth, William Viscount Kenmure, and William Lord Nairn, and every one of you, return to the prison of the Tower from whence you came; from thence you must be drawn to the place of execution; when you come there, you must be hanged by the neck, but not till you be dead; for you must be cut down alive, then your bowels must be taken out, and burnt before your faces; then your heads must be severed from your bodies, and your bodies divided each into four quarters; and these must be at the king's disposal. And God Almighty be merciful to your souls."
After sentence thus passed, the lords were remanded back to the Tower, and on the 18th of February orders were sent to the lieutenant of the Tower and sheriffs for their execution; and great solicitations were made in favour of them, which did not only reach the court, but came down to the two houses of parliament, and petitions were delivered in both, which being backed by some, occasioned debates: that in the house of commons arose no higher than to occasion a motion for adjournment, thereby to prevent any further interposition there; but the matter in the house of peers was carried on with more success, where their petitions were delivered and spoke to, and it was carried by nine or ten voices, that the same should be received and read. And the question was put, whether the king had power to reprieve in case of impeachment? which being carried in the affirmative, a motion was made to address his majesty to desire him to grant a reprieve to the lords under sentence; but the movers thereof only obtained this clause, viz. "To reprieve such of the condemned lords as deserve his mercy; and that the time of the respite should be left to his majesty's discretion."
To which address his majesty replied,
"That on this, and other occasions, he would do what he thought most consistent with the dignity of his crown, and the safety of his people."
The great parties they had made, as was said, by the means of money, and also the rash expressions too common in the mouths of many of their friends, as if the government did not dare to execute them, did not a little contribute to the hastening their execution: for on the same day the address was presented, the 23rd of February, it was resolved in council, that the earl of Derwentwater, and the lord Kenmure should be beheaded; and the earl of Nithisdale apprehending he should be included in the warrant, made his escape the evening before, in a woman's riding-hood, supposed to have been conveyed to him by his mother on a visit.
In the morning of the 24th of February three detachments of the life guards went from Whitehall to Tower-Hill, and having taken their stations round the scaffold, the two lords were brought from the Tower at ten o'clock, and being received by the sheriffs at the bar, were conducted to the Transport-Office on Tower-Hill; and at the expiration of about an hour, the earl of Derwentwater sent word that he was ready; on which Sir John Fryer, one of the sheriffs, walked before him to the scaffold, and when there, told him he might have what time he pleased to prepare himself for death.
His lordship desired to read a paper which he had written, the substance of which was, that he was sorry for having pleaded guilty; that he acknowledged no king but James the Third, for whom he had an inviolable affection, and that these kingdoms would never be happy till the antient constitution was restored; and he wished his death might contribute to that desirable end. His lordship professed to die a Roman catholic, and in the postscript to his speech, said, "If that prince, who now governs, had given me life, I should have thought myself obliged never more to have taken up arms against him."
Sir John Fryer desiring to have the paper, he said he had sent a copy of it to his friends, and then delivered it. He then read some prayers out of two small books, and kneeled down to try how the block would fit his neck. This being done, he had again recourse to his devotions, and having told the executioner that he forgave him, and likewise forgave all his enemies, he directed him to strike when he should repeat the words "sweet Jesus" the third time.
He then kneeled down, and said "sweet Jesus! receive my spirit; sweet Jesus! be merciful to me; sweet Jesus" -- and appeared to be proceeding in his prayer, when his head was struck off at one blow; and the executioner taking it up, exhibited it at the four corners of the scaffold, saying, "Behold the head of a traitor: -- God save king George."
The body was now wrapped up in black bays, and being carried to a coach, was delivered to the friends of the deceased: and the scaffold having been cleared, fresh bays put on the block, and straw-dust strewed, that none of the blood might appear, lord Kenmure was conducted to the scaffold.
His lordship, who was a Protestant, was attended by two clergymen; but he declined saying much, telling one of them that he had prudential reasons for not delivering his sentiments; which were supposed to arise from his regard to lord Carnwarth, who was his brother in law, and was then interceding for the royal mercy; as his talking in the way that lord Derwentwater had done, might be supposed to injure his lordship with those most likely to serve him.
Lord Kenmure having finished his devotions, declared that he forgave the executioner, to whom he made a present of eight guineas. He was attended by a surgeon, who drew his finger over that part of the neck where the blow was to be struck; and being executed as lord Derwentwater had been, his body was delivered to the care of an undertaker.
George earl of Winton, not having pleaded guilty with the other lords, was brought to his trial on the 18th of March, when the principal matter urged in his favour was, that he had surrendered at Preston in consequence of a promise from general Wills to grant him his life: in answer to which it was sworn, that no promise of mercy was made, but that the rebels surrendered at discretion.
The earl of Winton having left his house, with fourteen or fifteen of his servants, well mounted and armed; -- his joining the earl Carnwarth and lord Kenmure; his proceeding with the rebels through the various stages of their march, and his surrendering with the rest, were circumstances fully proved: notwithstanding which his council moved in arrest of judgment: but the plea on which this motion was founded being thought insufficient, his peers unanimously found him guilty; and then the lord high steward pronounced sentence on him, after having addressed him in the following forcible terms:
"George Earl of Winton, I have acquainted you, that your peers have found you guilty; that is, in the terms of the law, convicted you of the high treason whereof you stand impeached; after your lordship has moved in arrest of judgment, and their lordships have disallowed that motion, their next step is to proceed to judgment.
"The melancholy part I am to bear, in pronouncing that judgment upon you, since it is his majesty's pleasure to appoint me to that office, I dutifully submit to it; far, very far, from taking any satisfaction in it.
"Till conviction, your lordship has been spoke to without the least prejudice, or supposition of your guilt; but now it must be taken for granted, that your lordship is guilty of the high treason whereof you stand impeached.
"My lord, this your crime is the greatest known to the law of this kingdom, or of any other country whatsoever, and it is of the blackest and most odious species of that crime; a conspiracy and attempt, manifested by an open rebellion, to depose and murder that sacred person, who sustains, and is the majesty of the whole; and from whom, as from a fountain of warmth and glory, are dispersed all the honours, all the dignity of the state; indeed the lasting and operative life and vigour of the laws, which plainly subsist by a due administration of the executive power.
"So that attempting this precious life, is really striking at the most noble part, the seat of life, and spring of all motion in this government; and may therefore properly be called a design to murder not only the king, but also the body politick of this kingdom.
"And this is most evidently true in your lordship's case, considering that success in your treason must infallibly have established Popery, and that never fails to bring with it a civil as well as ecclesiastick tyranny: which is quite another sort of constitution than that of this kingdom, and cannot take place till the present is annihilated.
"This your crime (so I must call it) is the more aggravated, in that where it proceeds so far as to take arms openly, and to make an offensive war against lawful authority, 'tis generally (as in your case) complicated with the horrid and crying sin of murdering many, who are not only innocent, but meritorious: and if pity be due (as I admit it is in some degree) to such as suffer for their own crimes; it must be admitted a much greater share of compassion is owing to them, who have lost their lives merely by the crimes of other men.
"As many as have so done in the late rebellion, so many murders have they to answer for, who promoted it; and your lordship in examining your conscience, will be under a great delusion, if you look on those who fell at Preston, Dumblain, or elsewhere, on the side of the laws, and defence of settled order and government, as slain in lawful war, even judging of this matter by the law of nations.
"Alas! my lord, your crime of high treason is yet made redder, by shedding a great deal of the best blood in the kingdom; I include in this expression the brave common soldiers, as well as those gallant and heroic officers, who continued faithful to death, in defence of the laws: for sure but little blood can be better than that, which is shed while it is warm, in the cause of the true religion, and the liberties of its native country.
"I believe it, notwithstanding the unfair arts and industry used, to stir up a pernicious excess of commiseration toward such as have fallen by the sword of justice (few, if compared with the numbers of good subjects, murdered from doors and windows at Preston only) the life of one honest loyal subject is more precious in the eye of God, and all considering men, than the lives of many rebels and parricides.
"This puts me in mind to observe to your lordship, that there is another malignity in your lordship's crime (open rebellion) which consists in this, that it is always sure of doing hurt to a government, in one respect, though it be defeated; (I will not say, it does so on the whole matter).
"For if the offence is too notorious to be let pass unobserved, by any connivance; then is government reduced to this dilemma: if it be not punished, the state is endangered by suffering examples to appear, that it may be attacked with impunity; if it be punished, they who are publickly or privately favourers of the treason (and perhaps some out of mere folly) raise undeserved clamours of cruelty against those in power; or the lowest their malice flies, is to make unseasonable, unlimited, and injudicious encomiums, upon mercy and forgiveness (things rightly used, certainly of the greatest excellence).
"And this proceeding, it must be admitted, does harm, with silly and undistinguishing people. So that the rebels have the satisfaction of thinking they hurt the government a little even by their fall.
"The only, but true consolation, every wise government has, in such a case (after it has tempered justice with mercy, in such proportion as sound discretion directs, having always a care of the public safety above all things) is this; that such like seeds of unreasonable discontents, take root on very shallow soil only; and that therefore after they have made a weak shoot, they soon wither and come to nothing.
"It is well your lordship has given an opportunity of doing the government right, on the subject of your surrender at Preston.
"How confidently had it been given out by the faction, that the surrender was made on assurances, at least hopes, insinuated of pardon. Whereas the truth appears to be, that fear was the only motive to it: the evil day was deferred; and the rebels rightly depended, fewer would die at last by the measures they elected, than if they had stood an assault. They were awed by the experienced courage, discipline, and steadiness of the king's troops, and by the superior genius and spirit of his majesty's commanders, over those of the rebels: so that in truth, they were never flattered with any other terms, than to surrender as rebels and traitors; their lives only to be spared till his majesty's pleasure should be known.
"It was indeed a debt due to those brave commanders and soldiers (to whom their king and country owe more than can be well expressed) that their victory should be vindicated to the present and future ages, from untrue detraction, and kept from being sullied by the tongues of rebels and their accomplices, when their arms could no longer hinder it.
"'Tis hard to leave this subject without shortly observing, that this engine which sets the world on fire, a lying tongue, has been of prodigious use to the party of the rebels, not only since, and during the rebellion, but before, while it was forming, and the rebels preparing for it.
"False facts, false hopes, and false characters, have been the greater half of the scheme they set out with, and yet seem to depend upon.
"It has been rightly observed, your lordship's answer does not so much as insist, with any clearness, on that which only could excuse your being taken in open rebellion; that is, you was forced into it, remained so under a force, and would have escaped from it, but could not.
"If you had so insisted, it has been clearly proved that that had not been true; for your lordship was active and forward in many instances, and so considerable in military capacity among your fellow-soldiers, as to command a squadron. These, and other particulars, have been observed by the managers of the house of commons, and therefore I shall not pursue them further, but conclude this introduction to the sentence, by exhorting your lordship with perfect charity, and much earnestness, to consider that now the time is come, when the veil of partiality should be taken from your eyes (it must be so when you come to die) and that your lordship should henceforward think with clearness and indifference (if possible) which must produce in you a hearty detestation of the high crime you have committed; and, being a Protestant, be very likely to make you a sincere penitent, for your having engaged in a design that must have destroyed the holy religion you profess, had it taken effect.
"Nothing now remains, but that I pronounce upon you that sentence which the law ordains, and which sufficiently shews, what thoughts our ancestors had of the crime of which your lordship is now convicted, viz. "That you George Earl of Winton, &c."'
Soon after the passing this sentence the earls of Winton and Nithisdale found means to escape out of the Tower; and Messrs Foster and M'Intosh escaped from Newgate: but it was supposed that motives of mercy and tenderness in the prince of Wales, afterwards George the second, favoured the escape of all these gentlemen.
This rebellion occasioned the untimely death of many other persons. Five were executed at Manchester, six at Wigan, and eleven at Preston; but a considerable number were brought to London, and being arraigned in the court of exchequer, most of them pleaded guilty, and suffered the utmost rigour of the law.