JOHN HALL, ESQ.
Executed at Tyburn, July 18,1716, for High Treason.
JOHN HALL, ESQ, was a justice of the peace for the county of Northumberland, and having been taken prisoner with the other rebels at Preston, was brought to London, and indicted for having joined, aided, and abetted the rebels. Two evidences deposed that be was seen at different places with the rebels; but in his defence he said, that having been to a Meeting of the justices at Plainfield, he had lodged at a friend's house, and that on the following day, while he was stooping on his horse's neck, to screen himself from the tempestuous weather, himself and his servant were surrounded by the rebels, who forced them away; and that he was unarmed, and had only seven shillings and sixpence in his possession.
Though this circumstance was sworn to by Mr. Hall's servant, yet the Court in the charge to the jury observed, that, "If a man was seen with rebels, if it appeared that he had frequent opportunities of escaping, and did not do it, but continued by his presence to abet and comfort them, it was treason within the, meaning of the law."
Now as it appeared in evidence that Mr. Hall had liberty to ride out when he pleased, and did not seem to be restrained, the jury found him guilty; and when the Court passed sentence on him, he said, "God's will be done."
After conviction he was attended by a nonjuring clergyman; and behaved with manly fortitude under his misfortunes: however, he made such interest that he obtained five short reprieves, and might possibly have been pardoned; but that having written the following speech some weeks before his death, the knowledge thereof is supposed to have reached the Court; for when a nobleman made application for pardon, he was answered, "By no means, my good Lord: it were a pity Mr. Hall should lose the opportunity of leaving such a speech behind him, as he gives out will raise the spirits of the whole nation to be of the same mind with him, and will be instrumental in bringing in the person whom he calls his lawful sovereign King James the Third."
Mr. Hall was executed at the same time and place with Mr. Paul; and, a few minutes before he was turned off; he delivered a paper to the sheriff which is as follows:
"Friends, Brethren, and Countrymen,
"I am come here to die, for the sake of God, my king, and my country; and I heartily rejoice that I am counted worthy of so great an honour: for let not any of you think that that I am come to a shameful and ignominious end: the truth and justice of the cause for which I suffer makes my death a duty, a virtue, and an honour. Remember that I lay down my life for asserting the right of my lawful sovereign king James the Third; that I offer myself a victim for the liberties and happiness of my dear country, and my beloved fellow-subjects; that I fall a sacrifice to tyranny, oppression, and usurpation. In short, consider that I suffer in defence of the command of God, and the laws, and hereditary constitution of the land; and then know, and be assured, that I am not a traitor, but a martyr.
"I declare that I die a true and sincere member of the church of England, but not of the revolution schismatical church, whose bishops have so rebelliously abandoned the king, and so shamefully given up the rights of the church, by submitting to the unlawful invalid lay- deprivations of the prince of Orange. The communion I die in, is that of the true catholic nonjuring church of England, and I pray God to prosper and increase it, and to grant (if it be his good pleasure) that it may rise again and flourish..
"I heartily beg pardon of all whom I have in any manner, and at any time, injured and offended. I do particularly implore forgiveness of God and my king, for having so far swerved from my duty, as to comply with the usurpation, in swearing allegiance to it, and acting in public posts by the usurper's commissions, which were void of all power and authority. God knows my heart, I did this at first through ignorance and error, but after I had recollected myself, and informed my judgment better, I repented and drew my sword for the king, and now submit myself to this violent death for his sake. I heartily pray God my patience and my sufferings may atone for my former crime; and this I beg through the merits, mediation, and sufferings, of my dearest Saviour Jesus Christ.
"I do sincerely forgive all my enemies, especially those who have either caused or increased. the destruction in church or state; I pray God have mercy upon them, and spare them, because they are the works of his own hands, and because they are redeemed with his Son's most precious blood. I do, particularly, forgive from the bottom of my heart, the elector of Brunswick, who murders me; my unjust pretended judges and jury, who convicted and condemned me; Mr. Patten and Carnaby, evidences who swore against me at my trial. And I do here declare, upon the words of a dying man (and all my Northumberland fellow prisoners can testify the same) that the evidence they gave was so far from being the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that, in relation to my indictment, they swore not to one true thing against me -- but many absolute falsehoods. I pray God forgive them, for I am sure I do.
"Lastly, I forgive all who had a hand in the surrender of Preston, for they have surrendered away my life; and I would to God that were the only bad consequence of it. But; alas! it is too plain that the surrenderers not only ruined many of his majesty's brave and faithful subjects, but gave up their king and country into the bargain; for it was then in their power to have restored the king with triumph to his throne, and thereby to have made us a happy people. We had repulsed our enemies at every attack, and were ready, willing, and able, to have attacked them.
"On our side, even our common men were brave, courageous, and resolute; on the other hand, theirs were directly the contrary, insomuch, that after they had run away from our first fire, they could never be brought so much as to endeavour to stand a second. This I think myself obliged in justice to mention, that Mr. Wills may not impose upon the world, as if he and his troops had conquered us, and gained the victory, for the truth is, after we had conquered them, our superiors thought fit to capitulate and ruin us; I wish them God's and the king's pardon for it.
May it please God to bless, preserve, and restore our only rightful and lawful sovereign king James the Third; may He direct his counsels, and prosper his arms; may He bring him to his kingdom, and set the crown upon his head.
"May He protect him from the malice of his enemies, and defend him from those who for a reward would slay him innocent! May He grant him in health and wealth long to live; may He strengthen him, that he may vanquish and overcome all his enemies; and finally, when it pleases His infinite wisdom to take him out of this world, may He take him to Himself, and reward him with an everlasting crown of glory in the next.
"These my beloved countrymen are the sincere prayers, these the last words of me who am now a dying person; and if you have any regard to the last breath of one, who is just going out of the world, let me beg of you to be dutiful, obedient, and loyal, to your only sovereign liege lord king James the Third; be ever ready to serve him, and be sure you never fail to use all your endeavours to restore him; and whatever the consequence be, remember that you have a good cause, and a gracious God, and expect a recompence from him.
"To that God, the God of truth, and holiness, the rewarder of all who suffer for righteousness' sake, I commend my soul, beseeching him to have mercy upon it, for the sake of my dear Redeemer, and merciful Saviour, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen, Amen, Amen."
"I might reasonably have expected my life would have been saved, since I had obtained five reprieves; but I find that the Duke of Hanover, and his evil counsellors who guide him, have got so little virtue and honour themselves, that they are resolved not to spare my life, because I would not purchase it upon base and dishonourable terms. I have reason to think, that at first I could have secured my life and fortune, if I would have pleaded guilty; and I doubt not but that I might since have obtained favour, if I would have petitioned in a vile, scandalous manner: but I was resolved to do nothing whereby I should have disowned my king, and denied my principles; and I thank my good God, both for inspiring me with this holy resolution, and for giving me the grace to perform it.