REV. WILLIAM PAUL
Executed at Tyburn, July 18, 1716, for High Treason.
MR. PAUL was born of reputable parents, near Lotterworth, in Leicestershire; and having been educated for the pulpit, took the degree of Bachelor of Arts at St. John's College, Cambridge. After officiating as a chaplain for two clergymen, the Bishop of Oxford presented him to the vicarage of Orton, in his native county, to which he was instituted in the year 1709.
The rebels having reached Preston, Mr. Paul began a journey to meet them; but was apprehended on suspicion, and carried before Colonel Noel, a justice of the peace, who, finding no just cause of detention, dismissed him; on which he continued his journey to Preston, where he read prayers to the rebels three days successively, and prayed for the Pretender, by the name of King James, in the parish church.
A short time before the national forces reached Preston, Mr. Paul quitted that place; and, coming to London, disguised himself by wearing coloured clothes, a sword, a laced hat, and a full-bottomed wig.
But he had not been long in this disguise before he was met by Mr. Bird, a justice of the peace for Leicestershire, who caused him to be taken into custody, and carried to the house of the Duke of Devonshire, who sent him to the secretary of state for examination; but, as he refused to make any confession, he was delivered to the custody of one of the king's messengers, with whom he remained about a fortnight, and was then committed to Newgate.
He was arraigned at Westminster on the 31st of May, and pleaded "Not Guilty:" on which he was remanded to Newgate, and had time allowed him to prepare his defence. On his return to prison, he sent for a friend; to whom he said "What must I do? I have been this day arraigned, and pleaded Not Guilty, but that will not avail, for too much will be proved against me." -- To this his friend replied, "I will persuade you to nothing; but, in my opinion; the best way is to confess your fault, ask pardon, and throw yourself on the king's mercy." Mr. Paul said his counsel advised the same, and he was resolved to do so; and when he was again brought again to the bar, he retracted his former plea, and pleaded guilty; in consequence of which sentence of death was passed on him.
Being sent back to prison he made every possible interest for the preservation .of his life; for he seemed to have a singular dread of death, particularly when attended with such disgraceful circumstances as he had reason to apprehend. He wrote a petition to. the king, another to the lord chief Justice, and letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury, with other letters to clergymen; in all of which he acknowledged his crime, and his change of sentiments; and intercedes for mercy, in terms of the most abject humiliation.
In a letter to a female relation, he says, "I am among the number of those who are to suffer next Friday. -- I cannot think of dying the death of a dog, by the hands of a common executioner, with any manner of patience. Transportation, perpetual imprisonment, or any other condition of life, will be infinitely preferable to so barbarous and insupportable a way of ending it; and means must be found for preventing, or I shall anticipate the ignominy of the halter, by laying violent hands on myself. Give Mr. C--r to. understand, that he may promise any thing that he shall think fit in my name; and that his royal highness the Prince, and his council, shall have no cause to repent of their mercy to me."
All Mr. Paul's petitions, however, proved fruitless; he was ordered for execution, and was attended by a nonjuring clergyman, who endeavoured to inspire him with an idea of the justice of the cause for which he was to yield his life; he was, however, dreadfully affected till within a few days of his death; when he began to assume a greater degree of courage.