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ing to come to church ;* which went to banish them, if, after three months imprisonment, they refused conformity; and if they did not leave the kingdom within a limited time, or should return, to inflict DEATH without benefit of clergy. In 1664, some of these justices proceeded on this act against ten men and two women, all baptists, who had been apprehended at their meeting in or near Aylesbury: on these persons, because they refused to conform, and to abjure the realm, sentence of death was passed, and immediately their goods also were seized. The other dissenters, who coustituted the majority of inhabitants in the town, alarmed at these proceedings, and anticipating their own doom, shut up their shops: this stop to commerce struck the whole town with horror and surprize. A son of one of the condemned persons immediately took horse for London, and was introduced, by Mr. William Hoiffin, a gentleman of note amongst the baptists, and of interest at court, to chancellor Hyde, who was easily engaged to lay the case before the king. His majesty expressed great surprize, that any of his subjects should be put to death for their religion, and enquired whether any law in force justified such proceedings? Being satisfied on this point, he promised his pardon. But lest any precipitancy in executing the sentence should supersede the benefit of his grace, while the pardon was passing through the usual form, the king, on a renewed application, granted an immediate reprieve. The condemned persons, however, were continued close prisoners till the next assizes, and then the judge brought down his majesty’s pardon, and they were all set at liberty.t This would, undoubtedly, check the disposition of the justices to a similar process. But the virtuous sufferers, besides their other calamities, owed their safety to favor instead of law ; and appeared under the ignominious character of pardoned criminals, when they ought to have enjoyed the security and reputation of peaceable and innocent subjeets. The rage of the people, sanctioned by the conduct of the magistrates and the clergy towards the baptists, rose to such a height as to deny them the benefit of the common burying places. Nay, there wanted not instances of their being taken out of their graves. The inhabitants of Croft in Lincolnshire treated in this manner the corpse of Mr. Robert Shalder, in the year 1666. He had suffered much by imprisonment, and died soon after his release. He was buried amongst his ancestors; and on the same day his grave was opened, and his body taken out, dragged on a sledge to his own gate, and left there. In the year 1670, the baptists of Lewes, and other places in the county of Sussex, suffered in their property by the proceedings of Sir Thomas JW"utt and other justices, on the conventicle act. They were convicted without being admitted to plead in their own defence. They were fined in an arbitrary manner; and those fines were recovered in a way exceedingly oppressive and injurious, by distress and sale of goods. Where the fines amounted, as levied on various persons, to 51. there were enacted, by distraints, 291. 17s. In some instances, four cheeses were seized to recover 10s, five pair of shoes for 5s. a cow for 21. 15s. and a horse for 5s. Cattle worth 271. was sold for 141. 5s, as a distress for 111. 10s. One person, for a meeting held in his house, was fined 201. for which were taken from him six cows, two young bullocks, and a horse, his whole stock. On entering an appeal, they were returned to him ; but, being cast at the sessions, he was fined 60l. which was at last remitted to 231. For non-payment of this sum he was committed to the jailor’s hands, though the vicar of the parish, touched with remorse for his share in the prosecution, offered his bond to pay the whole fine within a quarter of a year.” It was remarked by one who had been bound over to several assizes and sessions, for having religious assemblies held at his house, that the justices, who in criminal matters were often silent, and generally cool and disposed to lenity ; when any person or accusation came before them concerning dissenters, were very forward speakers, and zealously aggravated the charges But nothing more strongly marked the malignant temper of the times against the baptists, than the publication of a pamphlet, in the year 1673, avowedly designed to raise an abhorrence of the sect, and to stand “as an eternal memorial of their cruelty and hatred to all orthodox ministers.”
* See Neal, vol. i. p. 465, of this edition. * * Crosby, vol. ii. p. 180-85.
It was entitled, “Mr, Baarter baptised in blood.” The story it exhibited was, that Mr. Josiah Baarter, a godly minister of New-England, for no other reason than because he had worsted the baptists in a disputation, had been murdered in his own house, amidst “the howlings, groans. and screechings of his dear relations, lying bound by him;” and it represented this murder as committed with circumstances of peculiar atrocity and cruelty: he being first stripped and severely whipt, and then unbowelled and flead alive. To give it the air of authenticity, the pamphlet was pretended to be published by the mournful brother of the said minister, an inhabitant of Fenchurch street, London : and it was actually licensed by Dr. Samuel Parker. This vile tale had its origin in invention and malice only. For the king’s privy council examined the case and detected the forgery. It appeared on the oaths of the officers in Fenchurch-street, that no such person as Benjamin Baarter, the pretended publisher, had, in their memory, lived there: and on the affidavits of a master of a vessel, and of a merchant who sailed from Boston about twenty days af. ter this murder was said to be committed, it also appeared, that no such fact had taken place, nor had there been such a person as Mr. Josiah Baarter. The whole story was pronounced by an order of council “altogether false and ficticious;” and Dr. Parker confessed his mistake and credulity in licensing the pamphlet, and acknowledged, by a testimonial under his hand, his conviction that the whole was “both false and groundless.” Mr. .1ndrew . Harvel not without intimating a suspicion that Dr. Parker was concerned in the fabrication, says, that “from beginning to end there never was a completer falsehood invented.”* It grieves and shocks a good mind to think that, in any age or party, men can be found to invent and countenance such groundless and malevolent forgeries. Besides this general survey of the persecutions to which the baptists were exposed throughout the kingdom, it may be proper, briefly, to notice two or three particular caess. One is that of Mr. John James, the minister of a congregation of baptists, who observed the seventh day as a sabbath, and assembled in Bulstake-alley. Towards the end of the year 1661, they were interrupted in their worship by a justice and headborough, as Mr. James was preaching, whom they commanded in the king's name to be silent and come down, having spoken treason against the king. As Mr. James proceeded in his discourse, without noticing this summons, it was repeated, with a threat of pulling him down. On this the disturbance grew so great, that Mr. James was obliged to stop ; but still refusing to leave the pulpit, he was pulled down, and halled away; and the hearers were carried, by sevens, before the justices sitting at the Half-moon tavern, and those who refused the oath of allegiance were committed to prison. Mr. James was examined in the meeting-house; insult and threats accompanied the interrogatories, and he was committed on the charge of speaking treasonable words against his majesty. On this charge he was tried, and condemned, and executed. Previously to the execution, his wife delivered to the king a petition, stating his innocence, and the character of the witnesses against him, signifying; who she was, which the king received with a taunt: “Oh ! Mr. James / he is a sweet gentleman;” and when she attempted to follow for some further answer, the door was shut against her. On the next morning, she renewed her attendance and suit: and his majesty replied, “that he was a rogue, and shouid be hanged.” A lord in waiting, asking who was meant, the king answered, “Oh, John James, that rogue; he shall be hanged; yea, he shall be hanged.”* The celebrated Mr. Benjamin Reach had, also, no small share in the sufferings of the times. He was seized, when preaching, and committed to gaol; sometimes bound, sometimes released upon bail, and sometimes his life was threatened. Troopers, who were sent down into Buckinghamshire to suppress the meetings of dissenters, entered into an assembly where he was conducting the worship, with great violence, and swearing that they would kill the preacher. He was accordingly seized, and four of them declared their resolution to trample him to death with their horses. They bound him, laid him on the ground, and were going to spur all their horses at once upon him, when
* Crosby, vol. ii. p. 278–291.
their officer, seeing their design, rode up towards them and prevented its execution. Mr. Reach was taken up, tied beilind one of the troopers, across his horse, and carried to gaol; where he suffered some time great hardships, before he was released. In the year 1644, Mr. Reach printed, at the request of friends, without his name, and with a recommendatory preface by another hand, a little piece entitled “The Child's Instructor; or, a new and easy Primer.” In this book were advanced several principles contrary to the doctrines and ceremonies of the church of England; viz. That infants ought not to be baptized: that laymen having abilities may preach the gospel: that Christ should reign personally upon the earth in the latter day, &c. Soon after this tract was printed, and Mr. It each had received some copies of it, his house was searched for it, all the copies of it they found, were seized, and he was bound over to the assizes in a recognizance of one hundred pounds, and two sureties with him in fifty pounds each. On Oct. 8, Mr. Reach was brought to the bar at Aylesbury, where the assizes were held, before lord chief justice Hide. The judge not only interrogated him, whether he were the author of the Primer, but, by unjust reflections and angry insults, endeavored to incense the jury against him, and to render bim odious. Mr. It each was refused a copy of his indictment till he had pleaded to it. In the course of the trial, abuse and contempt were cast upon him from the bench. The jury were intimidated, when they hesitated on their verdict. Mr. It each was convicted : and the sentence passed was, that he should be committed to gaol for a fortnight, stand in the pillory for two hours on the following Saturday at Aylesbury, with a paper on his head with this inscription: “ for writing, printing, and publishing a schismatical book, intitled The Child’s Instructor; or, a new and easie Primer:” that the same punishment, under like circumstances, should be inflicted on him on the next Thursday at Winslow : that there his book should be openly burnt before his face, in disgrace of him and his doctrine : that he should be fined twenty pounds; and that he should remain in guol until he found sureties for his good behavior and appearance at the next assizes;