« ZurückWeiter »
579. Proceedings on the Trial of an Indictment against WILLIAM
WINTERBOTHAM,* for Seditious Words uttered in a Sermon, preached on November 5th, 1792; tried at Exeter, before the Hon. Sir Richard Perryn, one of the Barons of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer, and a Special Jury, on July 25th : 33 GEORGE III. A. D. 1793.1
Counsel for the Crown--Mr. Serjeant Rooke, abused and brought into disuse; and it pare in 1793, one of the Justices C. B.; Mr. Ser- ticularly behoves me to speak of the present jeant Lawrence, afterwards successively one times,"—(meaning thereby that the said laws of the Justices C. B., B. R., and C. B.; Mr. were in the present times abused and brought Morris, Mr. Fanshawe, Mr. Clapp.
into disuse' by his said majesty's govern
ment). Solicitors—Messrs. Elford and Foot, of Ply
In the second Count-of and concerning a mouth Dock.
supposed revolution in the government of Counsel for the Defendant--Mr. Gibbs, in France, whereby the ancient monarchical go1813, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, in vernment of the country was supposed to be 1814, Ch. Just. C. B.; Mr. East; Mr. Dam- subverted, and a republican government estapier, afterwards one of the Justices B. R.
blished in its place: and of and concerning Solicitor--Mr. John Saunders, of Plymouth. the government of this kingdom; these sedi
tious words following: JURY.
“ I” (meaning the said Wm. WinterboWilliam Tucker, of Kilmington, Devon, F. tham) " highly approve of the revolution in Richard Kingdon, of Holsworthy, ditto. France” (meaning the said revolution in the Richard Hawkins, of Dodbrook, ditto. government of France), “ and I” (meaning Charles llayne, of Blackawton, ditto. the said Wm. Winterbotham) “ do not doubt Samụel Walkey, of East Budleigh, ditto. but that it has opened the eyes of the people Thos. Cummings, of Bishops Teignton, do. of England,” (meaning that the people of Charles Row, of Silferton, Ditto.
England saw there was a necessity for a 3. Ing. Fortescue, of Buckland Filleigh, do. similar revolution in the government of this Walker Palk, of Rattery, ditto.
kingdom). Wm. Ponsford, of Drews-Teignton,do.esgrs. In the third Count--of and concerning the
laws and government of this kingdom, these TALESMEN,
seditious words following:Wm. Hallet, clothier, of Thorncombe, ditto. Why are your streets and poor houses" Richard Ware, of Northawton, ditto. (meaning the streets and poor houses of this
kingdom)“ crouded with poor” (meaning the Mr. Clapp. This is a prosecution against poor of this kingdom), and your gaols with the defendant. Wm. Winterbotham, for that thieves” (meaning crowded with thieves) “ but he maliciously and seditiously intending to because of the oppressive laws and taxes?" disquiet, molest and disturb the peace and (meaning that the laws and statutes of this common tranquillity of our lord the king, and realm, and the taxes imposed on the subjects of this kingdom, and to traduce and vilify the of this realm, thereby were oppressive). “I” happy constitution and government of this (meaning the said Wm. Winterbolham) “am kingdom, and to bring the king and his go- astonished that you” (meaning the subjects vernment into hatred and contempt, and to of this kingdom)“ are quiet and contented excite the subjects of the king to sedition under these grievances, and do not stand forth against his government, on the 5th day of in defence of your rights.” November last, did preach, speak, and pub The fourth Count-similar to the third. lish the following words, to wit:
In the fifth Count—of and concerning the In the first Count-of and concerning the laws and government of this kingdom, these revolution in the government of this king- seditious words following :dom, in the year of our Lord 1688, and the “ You fancy you live under a mild governlaws of this kingdom then made, these sediment” (meaning the government of this kingtious words following:
dom)“ and good laws,” (meaning the laws of “ The laws” (meaning the laws of this this kingdom), “ but it is no such thing,” kingdom)“ made at that time” (meaning the (meaning the government of this kingdom time of the Revolution) “ have been since was not mild, and the laws of this realm were
not good). ... Published by the defendant,
In the sixth Count-of and concerning the # See the next Case,
national debt of this kingdom, and certain
monies lately paid and applied in reduction The twelfth Count-similar to the second. thereof by authority of parliament, these se The thirteenth Count--similar to the third, ditious words following :
fourth, fifth, and tenth. “ I” (meaning the said William Winter In the fourteenth Count-of and concerning botham) “speak boldly”—“ I” (meaning the the taxes imposed by the laws and statutes of said William Winterbotham) deny it" this realm upon the subjects thereof, these (meaning that any money had been applied sedițious words followingin reduction of the national debt);“ for it is no “Under these grievances” (meaning the other than a person taking money out of one said taxes) " 'tis time for you” (meaning the pocket, and putting it in the other” (meaning subjects of this kingdom)“ to stand forth in the other pocket).
defence of your rights." In the seventh Count—of and concerning the granting by the Commons of Great Bri Mr. Serjeant Rooke. I stand forth authotain in parliament assembled of supplies to rized by government to prosecute the defenhis majesty for the public services of this na dant William Winterbotham, a dissenting tion, and the application of such supplies preacher, for having preached'a seditious serwhen granted, these seditious words follow mon.-Before such a jury as I am now ad
dressing, it will scarcely be necessary for me « When there is a demand made to the to go into the subject of government, and I House of Commons,” (meaning the Commons believe there will be little difference between of Great Britain in parliament assembled), me and the gentlemen concerned on the other " for a supply,” (meaning a supply
to our said side, upon that subject.-Without subordinalord the king, for the public service of this tion, there can be no government; and withnation, “ they" (meaning the Commons of out government society cannot exist; and Great Britain in parliament assembled)“ deny those who would produce anarchy, would wish it" (meaning deny granting the said supply) to put us in a worse condition than we should "at first” (meaning on the first demand of be in under the government of Turkey.--It the said supply), “ and on a second demand" has been laid down by divine authority, that (meaning a second demand of the said supply) there is no power but what is derived from * there are two thirds or three fourths' the Supreme Being—therefore to cry out (meaning two thirds or three fourths of the against the government where there is no ocsaid Commons of Great Britain in parliament casion, is a crime. And for a man living assembled)“ will grant it” (meaning the said under mild and equal laws, to preach sedition supply); “ and then they” (meaning the said and discontent, is blasphemy against the matwo thirds or three fourths of the said Com- jesty of Heaven.—Till of late, there has been mons of Great Britain in parliament assem no attempt to deny these principles; but in a bled), “ will share it” (meaning the said sup- neighbouring country, never remarkable for ply), “ among them."
religion, there has been a new light sprung In the ninih Count-of and concerning the up. But if we look to that country we shall said late supposed revolution in the govern- find nothing there to lead us to imitate them; ment of France, and of and concerning the we shall there see a desire of overturning all subjects of this kingdom, these seditious words the old establishments under which we have following
lived so happily for a great number of years, “We” (meaning the subjects of this king- and which till very lately were never thought dom), “ have as much right to stand up as about as subjects of investigation. they did in France for our liberty” (meaning The success of the French had induced their and intending it to be believed that the subo friends in England to stand forth and avow jects of this kingdom ought to stand up to their principles; and one gave encouragement effect a revolution in the government of this to the other, till at last it spoke out little kingdom similar to the late revolution in the short of treason.-In all parts of the country, government of France).
persons were trumpeting forth sedition, till The tenth Count-similar to the third and government found it necessary to interfere. fourth.
The defendant Mr. Winterbotham, a dis In the eleventh Count-of and concerning senting teacher at Plymouth, thought proper our said lord the king, these seditious words on the 5th of November last to preach a serfollowing:
mon of the most inflammatory nature.-You. “ His majesty,” (meaning our sovereign lord have heard the particular passages of what the now king) was placed upon the throne" the witnesses which I shall call can remem, (meaning the throne of this kingdom)“ upon ber of the sermon. It is not to be expected condition of keeping certain laws and rules; that a person could carry off in his memory and if he” (meaning our said lord the king) the whole sermon—it is most likely he would “ does not observe them” (meaning the said take notice of what was particularly grateful laws and rules), “ he” (meaning our said lord or particularly obnoxious;—and it is next to the king), “ has no more right to the throne" impossible if he paid attention, that a hearer (meaning the throne of this kingdom), “ than should not collect the general tenor of the che Stuarts had” (meaning the family of the sermon. With respect to the tendency of the Stuarts heretofore kings of England), words as laid in the indictment, if the wit
nesses I shall call should prove those words, or Do you know the defendant ?-Yes. any thing like them, it is impossible for you Who preached at the chapel on that day! to have a doubt whether they are seditious, or Mr. Winterbotham. whether the defendant intended to excite se What time was it when you went? --About dition by them.
seven o'clock. [The serjeant here enumerated the words
Had Mr. Winterbotham begun his dis
course? -Yes. laid in the several counts of the indictment.]
Do you know where his text was ? - No. . I would ask whether these words tend to What was he preaching about?-He was conciliate the people to the government?- theo speaking of the riots in Birmingham, How it is possible to explain these words where he said there had been a lawless mob; away, or persuade the jury that they had not-that the dissenters there were much opthe tendency of exciting the people to sedition pressed, and that they above all others were I know not.--If ever the trumpet of sedition much oppressed. was sounded in the pulpit, it was done in this Well, what else did he say?-Did he say instance.
any thing about the revolution ?-[To this The defendant said, “ You fancy you live mode of examination an exception was taken under a mild government and good laws, but by the defendant's counsel, but over-ruled by it is no such thing."—What could these words the judge.] --Yes. mean, but that they did not live under a mild What did he say about the revolution? government and good laws ? —Whether the Said the Revolution of 1688 he very much assertion relative to the House of Commons approved of,- he called it a glorious Revolugranting supplies, was founded in ignorance tion;- he said he was very sorry to see the or not, the defendant certainly intended to laws so abused, and brought into disuse. make the people dissatisfied with the House What, did he say the laws were abused ? of Commons. The words laid in the several He said they were not now as they were at other counts are of the same nature. And a the Revolution, and when first instituted. minister of the gospel, who uttered such a Well, and what else did he say?--He then discourse from the pulpit, betrayed his duty spoke of the present times—said he approved with respect to that gospel which he pre- of the revolution in France very much-and tended to preach, the doctrines of which he endeavoured to expose the old despotic breathe nothing but peace; and in opposition government of France ;-—said he did not doubt to that peace for which he pretended to pray, but it had opened the eyes of Britons.--He thereby endeavoured to stir up the minds of then spoke of the method of tax-gathering his audience to mutiny and rage, and to put in England, and said a tax-gatherer will come them into such a state of rebellion as we have into your house, and demand your property seen in a neighbouring country.-If ever a out of your pocket, without satisfying you to country had warning of the pernicious effects what purpose the money is to be applied of sedition and tumult, it is this country; we he said that was not liberty for a Britonhave had warning by what passed in king every man had a right in a land of liberty, to Charles's time--we have had warning by what know how his money was to be applied. He passed in the year 1780, when we knew what then spoke of the expenses of the late armait was to have popular disturbances--and we ments-said he disapproved of three of them, have had warning by what has lately passed -and said they were manæuvres for minisa on the other side of the water.---Our constitu- ters to make up their accounts;—said then, tion has made us happier than any other na- how are your streets crowded with poor, your tion upon earth, and if we are not content, poor houses with vagrants, and your gaols we must deservedly fall;--but if we are thanks with thieves—it is all owing to your oppres ful for its blessings, as we ought to be, we sive taxes.--He then said he had often heard should repress those people who endeavour to people talk what a happy land they lived in, instil a contrary doctrine into the minds of and what a mild government they laboured the public.-When offenders of this sort are under ; but that it was no such thing ;-he brought before us, we should without remorse was much astonished at their quietness; and find them guilty:-If the jury should think added, it is high time you should stand forthe defendant guilty of the offence laid to his ward to defend your rights. He then said he charge, they will say so without regret. was sorry to see justice so abused-said no
I shall now call the witnesses for the crown, magistrate or justice had any right to hold and prove that the defendant spoke these his office, unless he obeyed his trust, not even words; and I have no doubt but you, gen- his majesty, if he did not see the laws duly tlemen of the jury, will find your verdict ac observed, he had no more right to the throne cordingly.
than a Stuart; and he concluded by saying, EVIDENCE FOR THE Crown.
he hoped we should soon see better times. William Paddon sworn.-Examined by Mr.
Cross-examined by Mr. Gibbs.
Mr. Winterbotham, I believe, is a baptist!
Are you of that persuasion ?-No.
Pray as you are not of that persuasion, what congregation consisted of about two hundred. led you to go on that evening to this place of And though there were two hundred perworship?-I was informed that Mr. Winter sons present, you never could find any one botham was going to preach a political ser that could tell you where the text was? -No; mon, and for that reason went.
though I inquired of many. I inquired of That was your reason for going ?-Yes. Mr. Channens, and he told me part of the
Then you did not go for your instruction?- text was, “I will teach them to thy children No; I did not know what he was going to say. in time to come.”
Pray what are you?-A member of the Did you think that text improper?-No. church of England, and a brush-maker.
Did you think it consistent with the serWere you ever at this meeting before?- mon-Yes: I thought that text consistent Yes, several times.
with what he preached. You don't know the text?-No.
Do you recollect Mr. Winterbotham's say. Pray did you never hear what the text was? ing any thing about the gunpowder plot in I heard some words spread about Plymouth his sermon, or our deliverance from popery? as the text, but did not believe them.
I don't recollect he said any thing about · Did you never tell any one what the text the gunpowder plot; but he spoke of the Rewas?-No; the words spread about the text volution as a crisis when we were delivered were something about binding kings in chains from papal power; and he spoke of the prinand nobles in fetters of iron.
ciples on which the Revolution was founded, Why did you not believe that to be the and said something about king William, but text? I had a better opinion of Mr. Winter- I cannot remember what it was, botham, and thought he knew better than to You don't recollect that any thing was said preach from such a text.
about the gunpowder plot, nor what was said Did you make any minutes of what you about king Willian; but you recollect very heard?-Not before I gave information be- particularly those things you have taken upon fore the mayor.
you to give in evidence? -I made minutes of You have done it then since?-Yes, about what I heard, and which were the same as I & month after.
have now delivered. How long was it after the sermon was Were there no innocent parts in the sermon preached, before you went to the mayor in which you recollect? There were very little order to give an account of what you heard innocent parts in the sermon. preached? - It was soon after-I went and Pray how long was Mr. Winterbotbam in gave a verbal account.
preaching this sermon? About three quarters And is the account you have given now, of an hour. the same with that you gave before the mayor And during all this time, you don't recole of Plymouth-As well as I can recollect, I lect any part of the sermon that was innocent? related to the mayor of Plymouth all the cir- -During the whole time, all he preached cumstances I have given in evidence. from beginning to end was very seditious.
The first part of Mr. Winterbotham's ser How far do you think Mr. Winterbotham mon which you heard was about the riots at had proceeded in his sermon when you first Birmingham-did you look on that as sedi went in?-I cannot tell. tious ?-Mr. Winterbotham introduced his Was the sermon divided into parts? --Yes, sermon with an account of the riots :---when I remember it was divided; but I don't rehe said the dissenters were oppressed, I did member any of the divisions, only the last, not in particular object to that, but thought when he said he should treat of the present it an improper observation.
times : this was all I collected. And then he spoke of the revolution. In Then you do not recollect any passage in what manner, pray, did he speak of it?-He the sermon that was innocent? _There might spoke of the Revolution in an honourable view, have been such, but I cannot recolleet them. call'd it a glorious Revolution—but said it was There has, I believe, been a considerable deviated from since that time.
deal of conversation about this sermon ; did He said it had been deviated from. Did you never hear any persons speak of it in a he say in what instance it had been deviated very different light-have you not heard it from?-I uuderstood that he said the laws spoken of as a discourse very well adapted to were abused and brought into disuse. the occasion for which the day is set apart,
You understood so; are you positive he and as being very innocent ?-Yes; I have said so ?--Yes, I can swear positively to that. often heard persons say so. You heard the introduction to the discourse, In giving your evidence, have yoti given
don't know where the text was; did Mr. Winterbotham's own words ?-Yes; as you never inquire of any of the congregation? nearly as I could. or did you never hear any person say where You have told us Mr. Winterbotham said, the text was?-I never heard what the text his majesty, if he did not see the laws duly was, but I heard people say that the text was observed, had no more right to the throne not consistent with the sermon.
than a Stuart; what did you understand by a How many persons do you think were pre- Stuart ? -I understood he meant by a Stewart, sent when this sermon was preached?The some officer under the crown;-I considered
it in the light of a gentleman's steyard.
You thought Mr. Winterbotham meant Have you ever taken minutes of thein some officer under the crown like a gentle since ?-No, I have never put any thing into man's steward ?--Yes; I took very little no writing tice of it, and did not think much about it. Is the evidence you have giver now the
You took but little notice, and paid but lit same as that you gave before the mayor?-tle attention then to what was meant?--No; Yes, exactly the same. I paid very little attention to what his mean What were the particular words or sening was about the Stewards.
tences in the sermon which you thought ima John King sworn. Examined by Mr. Serjeant lution of this country a glorious Revolution.
proper?--Mr. Winterbotham called the RevoLaurence.
And was that one of the parts you thought Did you go to the meeting in How's-lane, dangerous and improper?--Yes, I thought on the 5th of November last?-Yes.
his speaking of the Revolution in such terms, Did you see the defendant there?-Yes. mischievous, as it introduced the other parts Had he begun his sermon ?-Yes.
of the subject, and therefore very dangerous What was he preaching about?-He was and improper. speaking of the Revolution in 1088, which Well, and what other parts did you object he spoke highly of, and called it a glorious to?–The defendant spoke highly favourable Revolution : he next spoke of the revolution of the revolution in France; and laid a very of France; spoke highly in favour of it; said great stress on its having relieved a number he did not doubt but it had opened the eyes of people from despotic power and the papal of Britons. He then spoke concerning the yoke; and made this the ground of his recorruption in electing members of parliament, joicing: this I thought dangerous and imand the interested views they voted with. -- proper. Concerning taxes, he said every man in a land Were there any other parts you objected of liberty, ought to know how his money was to ?--Speaking of the election of members of applied, and said, why are your streets parliament he spoke of the corruption. crowded with vagrants, your poor houses with Do you remember any particulars of what poor, and your gaols with thieves :—it is was said respecting the election of members owing to the heavy taxes.
of parliament?-No, I don't recollect any parWhat else did he say ? - He spoke concern- ticulars; but I thought his speaking of briing the late armaments; part, he said, he bery and corruption very dangerous and imdisapproved of; and added, it is high time to proper. come forward in defence of your rights. Was there any thing else in the sermon
Did he say any thing else?—This is all I you thought dangerous ?—The general tenor recollect.
of the discourse appeared to be so: speaking Did you make any minutes of what you concerning the taxes, he said every man in a heard ?-No; I took no minutes at the time, land of liberty, had a right to know how his but thought the passages improper.
money was to be applied: this I though! pala
highly dangerous and improper. Cross-examined by Mr. Eust.
Was there any other part you thought in: What are you?-A shoemaker.
proper?-He said, “ Why are your streets • Are you a frequenter of the meeting?- No crowded with vagrants ? your poor houses
Were you ever there before?-Yes. with poor, and your gaols with thieves ? ow
How came you to go there on that evening? ing to the heavy taxes.” these I am positive -Paddon (the first witness) told me there was the identical words; I could not be mis. was to be a constitutional sermon preached taken. at the Baptist meeting, and we agreed to go Did Mr. Winterbotham speak this as a cirthere.
cumstance he lamented, or in what manner What time was it?-We were going out to did he speak of it?-llé lamented those cirsupper; it was before supper time, about cumstances in his sermon, and thought it a seven o'clock.
kind of oppression to the inhabitants. Did you hear the text?-No, I did not hear And you thought that it was very improper the text; I was not there at the beginning of and dangerous for Mr. Winterbotham to lathe sermon.
ment these distressing circumstances did you? When did you first speak of the sermon as -Yes, I did. seditious!—I spoke of it to Paddon after we Was there any other part you disapproved went from meeting, at the house where we of and thought dangerous and improper?-supped, and very much disapproved of it, and He spoke of the late armaments : and said a thought it dangerous.
part he disapproved, and made use of the How long was it before you went to the words, it is time to come forward in defence mayor about it?- It was about a month after of your rights. when we went to the mayor.
Did Mr. Winterhotham use the latter erCould you at a month's distance take upon pressions with reference to the armaments, you to speak with accuracy as to particular or to any other part of his sermou I cannut words? -Yes, I remembered the particular say to what part the words referred, whethes words.
to the armament or any other.