[From Draper The House of Stanley]
The Earl of Derby was now conducted to Chester Castle, and confined as a prisoner, which appears to have been a subject of great congratulation to several of the Lancashire Parliamentary leaders in Lancashire, particularly to Bradshaw, Rigby1 and Birch, who seemed determined to be revenged for some supposed or real ill-treatment. Seacombe states that the malice of Henry Bradshaw, Rigby, and Birch towards the Earl of Derby, originated, as to Bradshaw, in a refusal of the vice-chamberlainship of Chester ; as to Rigby, in his ill-success at Lathom, and as to Birch, in Lord Derby having trailed him under his hay cart, at Manchester, already alluded to. These three, assisted by Sir Richard Hoghton, the son of the loyal and venerable Sir Gilbert Hoghton, of Hoghton Tower, represented to Cromwell the impolicy and danger of suffering the Earl of Derby to be at large, now that he had fallen into their hands, and so, therefore, moved for and obtained a commission to have him tried by a military court of inquiry, or pretended court-martial, consisting of twelve sequestrators and committee-men, packed together by their own appointment.
The Countess of Derby was still at the Isle of Man, and during the Earls confinement and preparation for his trial at Chester, he addressed to his heroic Countess the following touching letter, which gives, in his own words, the particulars of the misfortunes which had recently overtaken him :
"My dear Heart,It hath been my sad hap, since I left you, not to have one line of comfort from you, which hath been most afflictive to me ; and this, and what I further write you, must be a mass of many things in one.
" I will not stay long on particulars, but, in short, inform you that the King is dead, or narrowly escaped in disguise; whether, not yet known. All the nobles of the party killed or taken, save a few, and it matters not much where they be: the common soldiers are dispersed, some in prison, some sent to other nations, and none like to serve any more on the same score. I escaped a great danger at Wigan, but met with a worse at Worcester : being not so fortunate as to meet any that would kill me, and thereby have put me out of the reach of envy and malice. Lord Lauderdale and I having escaped, hired horses, and falling into the enemys hands, were not thought worth killing, but had quarter given us by one Captain Edge, a Lancashire man, and one that was so civil to me, that I, and all that love me, are beholding to him.
" I thought myself happy in being sent prisoner to Chester, where I might have the comfort of seeing my two daughters, and to find means of sending to you ; but I fear my coming here may cost me dear, unless Almighty God, in whom I trust, will please to help me some other way ; but whatsoever come of me, I have peace in my own breast, and no discomfort at all, but the afflictive sense I have of your grief and that of my poor children.
" Colonel Duckinfield, governor of this town, is going, according to his orders from the parliament, general to the Isle of Man, where he will make known to you his business.
" I have considered your condition, and my own, and therefore give you this advice.
" Take it not as from a prisoner, for, if I am never so close confined, my heart is my own, free still as the best, and I scorn to be compelled to your prejudice, though by the severest tortures ; I have procured Baggerley, who was prisoner in this town, to come over to you with my letter; I have told him my reasons, and he will tell you them, which done, may save the spilling of blood in that island, and, it may be, of some here dear to you ; but of that take no care, neither treat at all, for I perceive it will do you more hurt than good.
" Have a care, my dear soul, of yourself~, and of my dear Mall, Ned, and Billy ;2 as for those here, I will give them the best advice I can ; it is not with us as heretofore. My son, with his spouse, and my nephew Stanley, have come to see me ; of them all I will say nothing at this time, excepting that my son shews great affection, and is gone to London, with exceeding concern and passion for my good ; he is changed much for the better, I thank God, and it would have been a greater comfort to me if I could have left him more, or if he had provided better for himself.
" The discourse I have had here of the Isle of Man has produced the inclosed or at least such desires of mine, as I hope Baggerley will deliver to you upon oath to be mine; and truly, as matters go, it will be the best for you to make condition for yourself, children, and friends, in the manner as we have proposed, or as you can further agree with Colonel Duckinfield, who, being so much a gentleman born, will doubtless, for his own honour, deal fairly with you.
" You know how much that place is my darling, but since it is Gods will to dispose in the manner it is, of this nation and Ireland too, there is nothing further to be said of the Isle of Man, but to refer all to the will of God ; and to procure the best conditions you can for yourself, and our poor family and friends there, and those that came over with me ; and so trusting in the assistance and goodness of God, begin the world again, though near to winter, whose cold and piercing blasts are much more tolerable, than the malicious approaches of a poisoned serpent, or an inveterate or malign enemy ; from whose power the Lord of heaven bless you, and preserve you; God Almighty comfort you and my poor children ; and the Son of God, whose blood was shed for our good, preserve your lives ; that by the good-will and mercy of God, we may meet once more upon earth, and last in the kingdom of heaven, where we shall be for ever free from all rapine, plunder, and violence ; and so I rest everlastingly.Yourmost faithful " DERBY.
" September 10, 165l."
The success which had attended the Parliamentarian army gained for Cromwell great glory and favour with his party, and he became absolutely the head of the Commonwealth, even whilst he had only the title of general ; and he received from the Parliament, as an acknowledgment of his services at Worcester, the grant of an estate, with Hampton Court as a place of residence.
The Parliament having responded favourably, of course, to the petition of " the bloody president " Bradshaw, Rigby, Birch, and Sir Richard Hoghton, as already noticed, to have the Earl of Derby tried by a court-martial, his judges were appointed, in pursuance of the Parliamentary commission, with all haste, special care, however, being taken to exclude all Lancashire men from being members of such court-martial, so that all who should be honoured with such judiciary dignity should be known to be the Earls enemies, or the ready tools of his enemies ; So that the condemnation of the noble and loyal prisoner would be a foregone conclusion, and his doom certain.
The following are the names of the individuals forming the Parliamentary court-martial for the trial and condemnation of the Earl of Derby and such of those who surrendered with him as the Parliament thought worthy of extermination or banish-ment :President, Colonel Humphrey Mackworth, of Betton-Strange, Shropshire, a descendant of the Mackworths of Mackworth Castle, in Derbyshire ; Major-General Mitton, of Halston, Shropshire ; Colonel Robert Duckinfield, then governor of Chester ; Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Bradshaw, of Marple and Wyberslegh, Cheshire, who had been attached to one of the Cheshire Parliamentary militia regiments at Worcester, and was father of Henry Bradshaw, who purchased Bradshaw Hall, in Lancashire, in 1693 ; Colonel Thomas Croxton, of Ravenscroft, of one of the Cheshire militia regiments raised in 1650, governor of Chester in 1659, and the representative of an ancient family of Cheshire ; Colonel George Twistleton, of Shropshire ; Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Birkenhead, of Backford, Cheshire, and a magistrate of that county ; Lieutenant-Colonel Finch ; Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Newton, belonging to one of the Cheshire militia regiments commanded in the battle of Worcester by Colonel Henry Bradshaw, of Marple ; and the following captains belonging to the Cheshire regiments of militia, embodied on the occasion of what is called Hamiltons Irruption in 1648, James Stoford, Samuel Smith, John Downes, John Delves, John Griffith, Thomas Portlington, Edward Alcock, Ralph Powell, Richard Grantham, Edward Stolfax, and Vinent Corbett.
The Earl of Derby was arraigned before this court-martial on the 1st of October, and charged with high treason against the Commonwealth to the following effect :" That he, James, Earl of Derby, had traitorously borne arms for Charles Stuart, against the Parliament ; that he was guilty of a breach of an Act of Parliament of the 1 2th August, 1651 , prohibiting all correspondence with Charles Stuart, or any of his party ; that he had fortified his house at Lathom against the Parliament; and that he now held the Isle of Man against the Parliament."
The Earl having heard the charges preferred against him before his judges, he was removed from the court to the apartment allotted to him in the Castle, whence he was again brought for trial before the court-martial on the I ith of October, when he reminded the court that, on the surrendering of himself to Captain Edge as a prisoner, he had " quarter for life " given to him, and therefore ought not to be tried by a court-martial for life ; and pleaded ignorance of the acts of treason set forth in the indictment made by the Parliament. The Earl, in his defence, addressed the court inthe following words :
"Sir,I understand myself to be convened before you, as well by a commission from your general, as by an act of parliament of the twelfth of August last.
" To the articles exhibited against me, I have given a full and ingenuous answer.
" What may present itself for my advantage, I have gained liberty to offer and urge my advice ; and I doubt not, but in a matter of law, the court will be to me instead of council in court.
" Sir,I shall observe to you the nature and general order of a court-martial, and the laws and actions of it, as far as concerns my case, and then shall apply my plea to such orders.
" And therefore I conceive (under favour) that the laws of courts-martial are, as the laws of nature and nations, equally binding on all persons military, and to be observed inviolably.
" And there it is, if a judgment be given in one court-martial, there is no appeal to any other court-martial.
" Of which law martial, the civil law gives a plentiful account, far above what the common law doth. Grotius de jure belli, &c. But because it is one only point of martial law, which I am to insist upon for my life, I shall name it, and debate the just right of it, as quarter for life, given by Captain Edge, which I conceive to be a good bar to a trial for life by a council of war.
" That quarter was given me, if scrupled, I am ready to prove ; and that it is pleadable, is above dispute.
" I shall only remove one objection, which is, that though this be a court-martial, yet, the special nature of it is directed by parliament.
" To this I answer, though the parliament directed the trial as it is, yet, it is to be considered as a court-martial, which cannot divest itself nor is divested of its own nature by any such direction.
" For to appoint a court-martial to proceed by any other laws than a court-martial can, is a repugnancy in natura rei.
" As such a court-martial retains its own proper laws and jurisdiction for the support of itself ; so the pleas and liberties incident to it, cannot be denied the prisoner.
" That quarter, and such quarter as I had given me is a good plea for life to a council of war, I shall not endeavour so much to evince by authors, that being the proper work of the learned in civil law ; but by such way as we call jus gentium, is proved by common practice and strong reasons.
" For the first, I shall not need to bring foreign instances, being before you, whose experience hath made this thing familiar to you.
" And I believe you will agree with me, that I am not only the first peer, but the first man, tried by a court-martial after quarter given ; unless some matter, ex post facto, or subsequent to such quarter, brought them within the examination of such court-martial.
" And (as I am informed) upon the great trial of the Earl of Cambridge, Lord Capel, the Earl of Holland, and others, the plea of quarter being strongly urged, it was only avoided on this ground, that it was no good plea against a civil jurisdiction, there being no colour of dispute tacitly admitted, and concluded that it was a good plea against a military jurisdiction.
" And though the Lord Capel and Lord Gorings quarter seemed to have some advantage, being given by the general as by way of articles ; yet, the quarter given to the Earl of Cambridge, was given him by a particular captain, and that quarter (as such considered) as strong as the other, only both avoided by the civil jurisdiction ; it being a rule in war, that quarter hath as much force (being given in action) as articles in a cessation, both irreversible by any military power.
" And though it be a maxim in politics, that no general or soldiers concession shall prejudice the state interest, yet they shall be bars to their power.
" I confess I love the law of peace more than that of war; yet, in this case, I must adhere to those of war.
" And I would only know, whether quarter was given me for a benefit or a mischief ? If for a benefit, I am now to have it made good ; if for a mischief, it destroys the faith of all men in arms.
" And I have read this, as a maxim in war, that promises made by kings and state commanders, ought to be observed inviolably, or else there never will be any yielding.
" And I shall lay this before you, as a rule, that quarter given by the meanest soldier (if not forbidden) obliges as far as if the general had done it himself.
" It may be objected, then, that it may rest in the power of any private soldier, by giving quarter, to pardon treason.
"To this I say, I plead it not as an absolute pardon, but as a bar to a court-martial ; and here I shall infer, farther, from conclusion of treasons.
" The profession of a soldier hath danger enough in it, and he need not to add anything to it to destroy the right of arms.
" I am before you as a court-martial ; it may be, some or most of you have in some action or other since the troubles began, received quarter for your lives : then would it not be hard. measure that any court-martial should try you afterwards !
" If this quarter should be foiled or nulled, all the treaties, axtieiâ~ tertns, or conclusions, since the war began, may be examinable by any subsequent court-martial.
" Nay, more than this, the sword, the law of arms, all military interest, and your own safety, are judged and jeoparded as well as mine.
" But I shall not multiply, presuming you will not judge by laws of war, in which capacity only you sit ; and that your religion and common justice allow that plea which is universal and even allowable in all parts of the world.
" If you be dissatisfied, I pray (as an essential to justice) I may have a doctor of the civil law assigned me, or at least have liberty to produce their books of opinions ; and that in the interim you suspend your sentence.
" Touching levying of forces in the Isle of Man, and invading England, I might myself (and that truly) be a stranger to all the acts for treason ; and in particular to the acts of the twelfth of August.
" And that the Isle of Man is not particularly named in any of the acts touching treason ; and not being particularly named, those acts reach it not, nor bind those of that island.
" And especially, that I was not in the Isle of Man when the last act was made ; and the law looks not backward ; and while I was in England, I was under an unlikelihood, and even impossibility of knowing the new acts.
" And in martial law ignorantia juris, is a good plea, which I leave to judgment ; having,as to the matter of fact, confessed and submitted to the mercy of the parliament.
" I do, as to your military power, earnestly plead quarter, as a bar to your further trial of me ; and doubt not, but you will deeply weigh a point so considerable both to your con-sciences and concernments, before you proceed to sentence, and admit my appeal to his Excellency Lord General Cromwell, in this single point."
The Earl having concluded his defence, the court, without deliberating on the points raised, or considering whether his plea against the power of the court-martial, after quarter given by a field officer, was valid according to the axioms of military law, at once overruled the objections raised in arrest ofjudgment ; and, being instigated by the malicious president, John Bradshaw (who was younger brother of Colonel Brad-shaw, one of the members of the sitting court-martial), and his vindictive confederates, summed up the Earls alleged offences and pronounced his sentence of death in the following form
" 1 That James, Earl of Derby, is guilty of the breach of the said Act of the 12th of August last past, entitled An Act prohibiting correspondence with Charles Stuart or his party,3 and so of High Treason against the Common Wealth of England, and is therefore worthy of death.
" 2. Resolved, &c., that the said James, Earl of Derby, is a Traitor to the Common Wealth of England, and an abettor, encourager, and assister of the declared traitors and enemies thereof, and shall be put to death by severing his head from his body at the market place in the town of Boulton, in Lancashire, upon Wednesday, the 15th of this instant October, about the hour of one of the clock of the same day."
In the sentence as given by Whitelock, after the word Bolton, it reads, " where he had killed a man in cold blood," meaning Captain Bootle, who was killed in the assault on Bolton by Prince Rupert. As the incident which gave rise to this implication formed no part of the charges brought against the Earl, it is only reasonable to conclude that the words supplied by Whitelock formed no part of the sentence. In appointing Bolton as the place of execution, however, it would seem that his judges intended such an implication, for we find that Benbow, who was sentenced by the same tribunal, was ordered to be shot at Shrewsbury on a somewhat similar principle, and was executed in the place where he had once scaled the Castle walls in the service of the Parliament, but from which he subsequently deserted and joined himself to the cause of Charles IL at Worcester. Had the Earl been guilty of the act supposed to be implied by the selection of Bolton as the place of execution, it would, doubtless, have formed both a part of the indictment and of the sentence. The Earl, however, as we shall shortly have to notice, disavows, in the most solemn form, that he was guilty of the act thus unjustly cast upon him, and even begs a respite for his life on that issue.
No sooner had the court-martial at Chester condemned its illustrious victim to die at Bolton than endeavours were made by friends about the Earl to save his life ; and, for this object, interest of every kind, consistent with honour, was had recourse to ; and many who had joined themselves to the Parliamentary cause now began to manifest some concernment for a nobleman who had not only risked his personal happiness and vast estates on behalf of the Royal cause, but was now doomed to forfeit his life for the exemplary consistency and sincerity of his loyalty. An appeal, apparently dictated by the Earls friends and advisers, was prepared for Cromwell as Lord-General, a copy of which, as given by contemporary journalists, is here subjoined :..
" To the Right Honourable His Excellency the Lord General Crornwell.The Humble Petition of James, Earl of Derby, a Sentenced Prisoner in Chester, Shewing,That it appeareth by the annexed what plea your Petitioner hath urged for Life, in which the Court Martial here were pleased to overrule him, it being a matter of law, and a point not adjudged nor presidented in all this Warre ; and the plea being only capable of appeale to your Excellency whose wisdom will safely resolve it, and your Petitioner being also a Prisoner to the High Court of Parliament in relation to his rendition of the Isle of Man, in all he most humbly craves your Excellencys Grace, that he may as well obtain your Excellencys judgment on his plea as the Parliaments mercy, with your Excellencies favour to him, and he shall owe his life to your Lordships service, and ever pray, &c. DERBY."
In addition to the foregoing, a letter was prepared for the Speaker of the House of Commons, to be read before Parliament. The letter forms the Tanner MS. p. 8l , in the Bodleian Library, and is supposed to have been written throughout by Lord Derby. This important communication reads as under
" Sr,...Being now, by the will of God, for aught I know, brought to the last minutes of my life, I once more most humbly pray the Parliament will be pleased to hear me before my death,
" I plead nothing in vindication of my offences, but humbly cast myselfe downe at the Parliaments feete, begging their mercy.
" I have severall times addrest my humble petitions for life, and now again crave leave to submit myselfe to their mercy, with the assurances that the Isle of Man shall be given up to such hands as the Parliament entrust to receive it : with this further engagement, (which I shall confirm by sureties), that I shall never act or endeavour any thing against the establisht power of this nation ; but end my daies in prison or banisht, as the house shall think fit.
" Sr; it is a greater affliction to me than death itselfe, that I am sentenct to die at Bolton ; so that the nation will look upon me as a sacrifice for that blood wch some have unjustly cast upon me, and from wch I hope I am acquitted in your opinions and the judgment of good men, having cleared my selfe by undeniable evidence.
" Indeed, at my triall it was never mentioned against me, and yet they adjudge me to suffer at Bolton, as if indeed I had bin guilty. I beg a respit for my life on that issue, yt if I doe not acquit my selfe from that imputation, let me die without mercy.
" But, Sr, if the Parliament have not this mercy for me, I humbly pray the place appointed for my death may be altered, and that if the Parliamt thinke it not fit to give me time to live, they will be pleased to give me time to die, in respiting my life for some time whilst I may fit my selfe for death ; since thus long I have bin perswaded by Col Duckinfield the Parlt would give me my life. Sr, I submit my selfe, my family, wife, and children to the mercy of the Parliamt and shall live or die, Sr,
" Your contented and humble Servant,
Octob. 11, 1651. DERBYE."
[On the margin.] " Sr, I humbly beg the favour that the petition of a dyeing man, inclosed, may by your favour be read in the house.
" For the Right Honourable William Lenthall, Esqr, Speaker f the Parliamt of the Common Wealth of England."
The letter is thus endorsed by another and later hand " A lre from ye Earle of Derby of ye 11th of October, 1651, wh ye Peticion of ye said Earle of Derby.Recd 14 Octobr. 1651."
The court-martial having ordered the sentence to be put into execution on the 15th, being only the fourth day after sentence of death had been passed, affords a conclusive proof that it had been predetermined to deprive. the Earl of all possible chance of a successful appeal to the Parliament ; and Lord Strange and the Earls friends knowing this to be the intention of the Earls enemies, lost no time in the preparations for proceeding to convey the foregoing and other documents to their intended destinations. Relays of horses having been provided at different places on the way beforehand, Lord Strange, accompanied by one of the Earls chaplains, the Rev. Ralph Brideoake, proceeded with all haste to London, where, after riding all night, he arrived on the following day (Sunday), probably about noon.
Besides the documents just noticed, it is stated that the good offices of Colonel Henry Bradshaw, a member of the court-martial that condemned the Earl to die, and the elder brother of the infamous President Bradshaw, were solicited and readily obtained, and he also wrote a letter on behalf of the Earl to President Bradshaw ; but the malice of such a monster was not to be overcome even by the influence and entreaties of a brother.
It is stated that the Earl, feeling convinced that the exertions of his son and friends would not have the desired effect with his enemies in London, attempted an escape from the leads of Chester Castle, but was retaken on the Dee bank,4 and was afterwards strictly watched and kept a close prisoner. This attempt to escape probably took place on the evening of Saturday, the 11th October, after the departure of Lord Strange for London.
On Sunday the Earl spent the whole of the day in religious reading and devotional exercises ; and on the following day, Monday, the 13th of October, he wrote his two last letters to his Countess and to the three children with her in the Isle of Man. These letters, being so touchingly expressive of a husbands and a fathers tenderness and anxious solicitude, of a Christian patriots resignation, and of the magnanimity arising from conscious integrity and true and unflinching consistency, will excite and enlist the sympathy of every generous reader and hearer ; but, as it has been appropriately observed, the husband and the father alone can fully appreciate the genuine pathos and melting sensibility of a kindred spirit, breathing its last wishes and prayers for a wife and children so affectionately and deservedly beloved.
The letter to the Countess is as follows :
"Chester, October 13th, 1651.
" My- dear Heart,I have hitherto sent you comfortable lines, but, alas, I have now no word of comfort ; saving to our last and best refuge, which is Almighty God, to whose will we must submit : and when we consider how He has disposed of these nations, and the government thereof, we have no more to do but to lay our hands upon our mouths judging ourselves, and acknowledging our sins, joining with others, to have been the cause of these miseries, and to call on Him with tears for mercy.
" The governor of this place, Colonel Duckinfield, is general of the forces which are now going against the Isle of Man; and however you might do for the present, in time it would be grievous and troublesome to resist, especially those that at this hour command these nations. Wherefore my advice, notwithstanding my great affection to that place, is, that you would make conditions for yourself, children, servants, and people there, and such as came over with me, to the end you may go to some place of rest where you may not be concerned in war ; and taking thought of your poor children, you. may in some sort provide for them ; then prepare yourself to come to your friends above, in that blessed place where bliss is, and no mingling of opinion.
" I conjure you, my dearest heart, by all those graces which God hath given you, that you exercise your patience in this great and strange trial if harm come to you, then I am dead indeed, and, until then, I shall live in you, who are truly the best part of myself. When there is no such thing as I in being, then look upon yourself and my poor children ; then take comfort, and God will bless you.
" I acknowledge the great goodness of God to -have given me such a wife as you : so great an honour to my family ; so excellent a companion to me ; so pious, so much of all that can be said of good, I must cpnfess it impossible to say enough thereof. - I ask God pardon, with all my soúl, that I have not been enough thankful for so great a benefit ; and when I have done anything at any time that might justly òffend you, with joined hands I also ask your pardon.
" I have no more to say to - you, at this time, than my prayers for the Almightys blessing to you, my dear Mall, and Ned, and Billy~ Amen, sweet Jesus !"
The Earls parting letter to his children is as follows :
"Chester, October 13, 1651.
" Dear Mall, my Ned, and Billy,I remember well how sad you were to part with me ; but now, I fear, your sorrow will be greatly increased, to be informed that you can never see me more in this world ; but I charge you all to strive against too great a sorrow : you are all of you of that temper that it would do you much harm ; and my desires and prayers to God are, that you may have a happy life ; let it be as holy a life as you can, and as little sinful as you can avoid or prevent.
" I can well now give you that counsel, having in myself at this time so great a sense of the vanities of my life, which fill my soul with sorrow ; yet, I rejoice to remember, that when I have blessed God with pious devotion it has been -most delightful to my soul, and must be my eternal happmess. -
" Love the archdeacon,5 he will give you good precepts. Obey your mother with cheerfulness and grieve her not, for she is your example, your nurse, your counsellor, your all under God ; there never was, nor never can be a more deserving person.
" I am called away, and this is the last I shall write to you. The Lord my God bless you, and guard you from all evil! So prays your father at this time, whose sorrow is inexorable to part with Mall, Neddy, and Billy. Remember!
On arriving in London, it appears Lord Strange met with little to encourage his expectations of success, so that after presenting the petition and plea of the Earl to Mr. Speaker Lenthall, and extracting from him a promise that they should be read by him before Parliament, Lord Strange determined to return to his father, and leave Brideoake 6 to negociate with Lenthall and others as best he could on behalf of the unfortunate Earl. Having made these arrangements, Lord Strange returned with "incredible speed "8 to Chester, where he appears to have arrived some time in the forenoon of Monday; when he had an interview with the Earl, and acquainted him with the results of the journey, and of the " cruel and bloody resolution of his professed and implacable enemies." The Earl, we are told by Seacombe, embraced his son, Lord Strange, with all the tenderness of natural love and affection, saying, " I thank you for your duty, diligence, and endeavours to save my life ; but since it cannot be obtained, I must submit, and, kneeling down, said, Domine non mea voluntas sed tua."
To what extent Brideoake exerted himself on behalf of the Earl of Derby is not known ; but this is certain that he so conducted himself that he became a favourite with Lenthall, and, subsequently, his chaplain.
In the journals of the House of Commons, the fact of the reading of the letter and petition, conveyed by Lord Strange to Mr. Speaker Lenthall, is merely noted, being the last act of the House on the 14th October, the eve of the Earl of Derbys execution, as the following " Extract from the Journals of the House of Commons, Oct. 14, 1651, containing all the proceedings of that day," clearly shows :
" The house according to former order, was this day resolved into a Grand Committee, upon the Bill for setting a certain Time for sitting of this Parliament and for calling a new Parliament. -
" Mr. Speaker left the chair, Mr. Ellys took the chair, Mr. Speaker resumed the chair.
" Mr. Speaker by way of report, acquaints the House with a letter, which he had received from the Earl of Derby, and the question being put, That the said letter be now read, the House was divided, the Yeas went forth.
Sir Wm. Brereton
Tellers for the Yeas
With the Yeas
Maj. Gen. Harrison
Tellers for the Noes
With the Noes
So it passed with the affirmative.
" A letter from the Earl of Derby of the 11th day of October, 1651, with a Petition therein enclosed, instituted 'The Humble Petition of James Earl of Derby, was this day read."
Beyond the foregoing nothing occurs on the journals of the House upon the subject, and this is accounted for by the fact that Cromwell and Bradshaw had previously so ordered the matter that, when they observed that a majority of the members present were inclined to allow the petition, just as the Speaker was about to put the quesiion, these two Parliamentary worthies basely quitted the House with eight or nine of their confederates, and, with a cold-blooded calculation -and indifference unknown before in the history of the proceedings of the House, reduced the number remaining in the House under forty, so that no question could be put, and thus, as Whitelock observes, they granted the Earl no relief. In the " Marple Papers," Thomas Elcocke swears that a pardon arrived in time to save, but was kept back by OEilonel Duckinfield. No faith, however, is to be placed in the oath of Elcocke, for he has declared that the Earl offered to turn spy, and obtain information for Cromwell of the exiles in France, on condition that his life might be spared. It is scarcely necessary to observe that the testimony of such a depraved hireling of the Bradshaw clique is entirely unworthy of credit. Such a contemptible and worthless creature as Elcocke is unable to dupe the world, for never having had the faintest glimpse of the high and generous impulses by which noble and exalted minds are endowed and actuated, he maliciously coni ures up the being he would malign and vilify from his own base, sordid, and selfish motives. That the Earl of Derby was not so bereft of exalted human sensibility as to crave for death, those who know the dearest family ties which bound him to earth will readily believe ; but that the nobleman, whose righteous soul had been devoted to true honour and disinterested loyaltywhose courage had been approved and endorsed in almost numberless battles -and the most trying difficultiesand whose whole life had been passed in an incessant and worthy determination to emulate the most glorious parts of the lives of his noble ancestors ;that such a man, such a noble example of devoted patriotism and virtue, in one moment, by an inconsistent and blighting piece of treachery, should seek to drag out a few years of an existence he must only have lived to loath, requires the baseness of an Elcocke to believe as well as to conceive.
The hours the Earl of Derby had now to pass on earth were but few, of which fact he himself appears to have been fully aware and prepared for. During the forenoon of Monday (October 13), he applied that Captain Humphrey Baggerley,8 who was a prisoner at Chester, might be allowed to attend him during the few hours he had to live, which request was granted ; and it is to that gentlemans pen that we are in-debted for that minute and touching narrative of the incidents connected with the final hours of the Earls life, the character of which, as Lodge observes, " displays one of the purest examples extant of the courage of a soldier, the patience of a philosopher, and the piety of a Christian." The Earl received an intimation from Colonel Duckinfield, the governor of the castle, that he was to prepare himself for his departure for Bolton on the following day (Tuesday), the particulars of which, as well as other affecting points, are given in Captain Baggerleys narrative, which is here subjoined
" On Monday, the 13th of October, 1651, my lord procured me liberty to wait upon him, having then been close prisoner for ten days. He told me the night before, Mr. Slater, Colonel Duckinfields chaplain, had been with him from the governor, to persuade his Lordship that they were confident his life was in no danger. His Lordship told me he patiently heard his discourse, but did not believe him ; for, said he, I was resolved not to be deceived with the vain hopes of this fading world.
" After we had walked a quarter of an hour, and discoursed his commands to me, in order to my journey to the Isle of Man, touching his consent to my Lady, to deliver it up, upon those articles his Lordship had signed for that purpose, with his affectionate -protestations of his honour and respect to my Lady,-both for her high birth and goodness as a wife, and with much tenderness to his children there, especially my Lady Mary ; and was going on, when on a sudden came into the room one Lieutenant Smith, a rude fellow, with his hat on, who told my Lord, he came from Colonel Duckinfield, the governor, to tell him he must make ready for his journey to Bolton. He replied, When would you have me to go I To-morrow morning, by six oclock, said Smith. Well, said my Lord, I thank God I am readier to die than for my journey. However, commend me to the governor, and tell him by that time I will be ready for both.
" Then that insolent rebel Smith said, Does your Lordship know any friend or servant that would do that thing that your Lordship knows of ? It would do well if you had a friend. My Lord replied, What do you mean ; would you have me find one to cut off my own head ? Smith said, My Lord, if you could get a friend. My lord answered, Nay, sir, if those men that will have my head will not find one to cut it oft let it stand where it is ; I thank my God my life hath not been so bad that I should be instrumental to deprive myself of it ; though He hath been so merciful to me as to be well resolved against the worse terrors death can put upon me ; and for me and my servants, our ways have been to prosecute a war by honourable and just means, and not those barbarous ways of blood, which to you is a trade.
" Then Smith went out and called me to him, and repeated his discourse and desires to me. I only told him, that my Lord had given him a final answer on that head.
" Upon my coming in again, my Lord called for pen and ink, and wrote his last letter to my Lady, also to my Lady Mary and his sons, in the Isle of Man.
" In the meantime, Mr. Paul Moreau, a servant to his Lordship, went and brought all the rings he could get, and my Lord wrapped them up in several papers, and writ within them, and desired me to superscribe them to his children, friends, and servants.
" The rest of that day (being Monday), he spent with my Lord Strange, Lady Katherine, and Lady Amelia ; at night, about six oclock, I came to him again, when the Ladies were gone away ; and as we were walking, and my Lord telling me that he would receive the Sacrament the next morning, and on Wednesday morning both, in came the aforesaid Smith, and said, My Lord, the governor desires you would be ready to go in the morning about seven oclock. My Lord replied, Lieutenant, pray tell the governor, I shall not have occasion to go so early ; by nine oclock will serve my turn, and by that time I will be ready. If he has earlier occasion, he may take his own hour.
" That night I stayed supper with my Lord, who was exceedingly cheerful, and well composed ; and drank to Sir Timothy Featherstone (who suffered at Chester a week after in the same cause), and said, Sir, be of good comfort ; I go willingly before you. God hath so strengthened me, that you shall hear, by His assistance, that I shall so submit, both as a Christian and a soldier, as to be both a comfort and an example to you.
" Then he often remembered my Lady, Lady Mary, and the little honourable masters, and drank to me, and once to all his servants, especially to Andrew Broome ; and said, he hoped now that they who loved him would never forsake his wife and children, and he doubted not but God would be a master to them, and provide for them after his death.
" In the morning his Lordship delivered me the letters for the island, and said, Baggerley, deliver these with my most tender affection to my wife and sweet children, who shall continue with my prayers for them to the last minute of my life. I have instructed you as to all things for your journey. But as to that sad part of it with respect to them I can say nothing, but must remain in silence, for your own looks will best tell the message. The great God of heaven direct you, and prosper and comfort them in this their day of deep affliction and distress.
" His Lordship then took leave of Sir Timothy Featherstone, much in the same manner as the night before. Mr. Crossen and three other gentlemen who were condemned came out of the dungeon (at my Lords request to the Marshal), and kissed his hand, and wept at taking leave. My Lord said, Gentlemen, God bless and keep you. I hope now my blood will satisfy for all that were with me ; and now you will in a short time be at liberty. But if the cruelty of these men will not end there, be of good comfort, God will strengthen you to endure to the last, as He hath done me; for you shall hear I die like a Christian, a man, a soldier and an obedient subject to the most just and virtuous of princes." After we were out of town about half a mile, my Lord, meeting his two daughters, Ladies Katherine and Amelia, alighted from his horse, and with an humble behaviour and noble carriage kneeled down by the boot of the coach, and prayed for them ; then rising up, took his leave, and so parted. This was the deepest scene of sorrow my eies ever beheld; so much grief and so much concern and tender affection on both sides, I never was witness of before.
" That night, Tuesday, the 14th of October, 1651, we came to Leigh, near Winwick ; and in our way thither, his Lordship called me to him, and bid me when I arrived at the Isle of Man, to commend him to the Archdeacon there, and tell him he well remembered the several discourses that passed between them concerning death, and the manner of it ; that he had often said the thoughts of death could not trouble him in fight, or with a sword in his hand ; but that he feared it would somewhat startle him tamely to submit to a blow upon the scaffold. But, said he, tell the archdeacon from nie, that I do find in myself an absolute change as to that opinion; and I bless my God for it, who hath put these comforts and courage into my soul. I can, with resignation to His Almighty will, as willingly lay down my head upon a block as ever I did upon a pillow!
" My Lord, at supper, made a competent meal, saying, he would imitate his Saviour : a supper should be his last act in this world, as it was his Saviours own supper before he came to the cross, which he said he should do to-morrow. That night he spent upon his bed, from betwixt ten and eleven until six next morning. As he laid down upon his right side with his hand under his face, he said, Methinks I lie like a monument in a church ; and to morrow I shall really be so. As soon as he rose, and after prayer, he shirted himself, and said, This shall be my winding sheet. He then said to Mr. Paul, See that it be not taken from me ; for I will be buried in it,.
" Then he called on my Lord Strange, and said, Put on my order9 once this day, and I will send it to you again by Baggerley ; and pray return it to my gracious sovereign, when you shall be so happy as to see him, and say I sent it with all humility and gratitude, as I received it, spotless and free from any stain, according to the honourable example of my loyal ancestors.
" Then he went to prayer ; and my Lord commanded Mr. Greenhaigh to read the Decalogue, and at the end of every commandment made his confession, and received absolution and the Sacrament ; after which he called for pen and ink, and wrote his last speech, and a note to Sir E. S.10 When we were ready to go he drank a cup of beer to my Lady, Lady Mary, and little masters, and Mr. Archdeacon, and all his friends in the Island, and charged me to remember him to them all. He then would have walked into the church to have seen Sir T. T.s grave11 but was not permitted ; nor even to ride that day upon his own horse, but set him upon a little galloway, fearing, as they said, the people would rescue him." As we were going about the middle way to Bolton, the wind came easterly, which my Lord observing, called me, and said Baggerley, there is a great difference betwixt you and me now, for my thoughts are fixed, and I know where I shall rest to-night, but you dont ; for every little alteration of wind or weather moves you of this world from one point to another. You must leave me, and go to my wife and children in the Isle of Man. But, in the meantime, do not leave me, if possible, but stay and see me buried as I told you, and acquaint my dear wife and family with our parting."
Having remained all night at Leigh, the following morning, being Wednesday, October 15th, the day appointed for the execution, the Earl was conveyed to Bolton on a small galloway, under an escort or guard of sixty foot and eighty horse. The guard arrived at Bolton with their noble victim between twelve and one oclock, where, somewhat contrary to the fond expectations of the Earls enemies, the sympathy of the public was strongly manifested in his favour, as indeed it had been throughout the solemn journey, " the people everywhere praying and weeping as he went even from the Castle of Chester his prison, to his scaffold at Bolton."
With the diabolical view of casting further indignity upon the person of the Earl, it had been determined that the scaffold upon which he was doomed to suffer execution should be formed, for the most part, of timber conveyed from the ruins of Lathom House, which resolution was actually carried into effect. The dismal structure was erected in front of the Man and Scythe Inn, in Churchgate, near the Market Cross.
On arriving at the site of the scaffold, it was found that the erection was not completed, " because the people of the town refused to strike a nail or give any assistance to it ; many of them saying that since the war began they. had suffered many great losses, but never so great as this. This was the greatest that ever befel them, that the Earl of Derby, their lord and patriot, should lose his life there, and in that barbarous manner." Thus finding the arrangements for the sad event in a confused state of unpreparedness, the Earl was allowed to pass the time till three oclock in the afternoon with his son, Lord Strange, and some of his friends and servants in a chamber of the Man and Scythe Inn.12 This time was spent by the Earl in prayer, and in relating to his friends and attendants " how he had prepared for his death, and how the Lord had strengthened him against the terrors of it." He then desired them to pray with him again, and after giving some affectionate counsel and instructions to Lord Strange, he expressed his desire to be left alone, when he went down on his knees, and continued in private prayer for some time. He then called Lord Strange and his friends te him again into the chamber, and entered into conversation with them, assuring them, with a sublime and touching Christian cheerfulness how contented he was to part with this world, and that the fear of death was no trouble to him since his imprisonment, though he had had two or three soldiers with naked swords night and day in his chamber." To the last, the Earl evinced "great trouble and concern for his dear wife and children, and what might become of them after his death ;" but " he was satisfied that God would be a father and husband to them, into whose hands and Almighty protection he committed them ;" and thus the noble Earl, in his last moments, was supported and comforted by the inward possession of that Christian assurance which is the result of faithful resignation to the will of God, whose Holy Spirit creates and nourishes that patient and abiding looking-for of a glorious immortality in heaven, where, ransomed by the blood of Jesus, kindred spirits meet to be no more separated.
The Earl having taken a last and affectionate farewell of Lord Strange, now called for an officer, whom he apprized that he was ready. On proceeding from the inn to the scene of the tragedy, the people were found praying and weeping on every side, which perceiving, the Earl, with a courteous humility, observed" Good people, I thank you all, I beseech you pray for me to the last. The God of heaven bless you; the Son of God bless you ; and God the Holy Ghost fill you with all comfort !" On reaching the scaffold, which was now ready for him to ascend, the Earl laid his hands upon the ladder, saying, " I am thus requited for my love." He then kissed the ladder, saying, " I am not afraid to go up here, though to my death. I do submit myself to the mercy of God." Having ascended the ladder, he walked a while upon the scaffold, and then seated himself upon a chair at the east end of it. He then rose and addressed himself to the spectators, who were in number about one hundred, exclusive of the military, the latter of whom were for the most part cavalry, and occupied a position round the scaffold as a guard with drawn swords.
1 It is said of Alexander Rigby, of Burgh, that he was of mean parentage, and doubtful reputation. He deserted the profession of the law, and taking up that of arips, displayed a union of qualities rarely to be met with in the same person. He was insolent, yet abounding in courage, full of energy, though not deficient in patience, the possessor of commanding talents, yet Commonly working hi~ way by the lowest artifices ; and it is observed of him that " neither education nor intercourse with the world could efface the original meanness of his dispositions ; and the unrelenting hatred with which, in every passage of life he pursued Lord Derby, amply justifies the treatment he has received from the Cavaliers." Rigby married the sister of Colonel Birch. -
2 The children prisoners at Chester were the Ladies Katherine and Amelia Sophia.
3 *The title of the Act cited in the sentence of the Earl reads thus :
"Correspondence with Charles Stuart or his party prohibited, under pain of High Treason, and to be proceeded against by a Council of War," &c. The Act, which was passed on the 12th of August, 1651, was to continue in force till the 1st of December of the same year.
4 a Whitelock says that Lord Derby escaped from the Castle, but was again taken on the Boo Dee.
5 Archdeacon Rutter.
6 Ralph Brideoake, P.D., was born at Chetham Hill, near Manchester, and was educated at the school there, and afterwards went to Brazenose College, Oxford. He was afterwards appointed high master of Manchester School, and was a chaplain with the garrison during the first siege at Lathom. After the martyrdom of the Lan of Derby, we are informed that b.c turned Presbyterian, and preached and prayed with all the antics of the worst followers of the day of that faith. After the Restoration, by bribing King Charles IIs mistresses, through the interest of the Duchess of Portsmouth, the doctor was appointed Bishop of Chichester.Evelyn, in his Diary, speaks of Brideoake with little respect ; and in Athenæ Oxoniensis, a memoir of his eventful but not very creditable career will be found. -
7 Seacombe says that Lord Strange rode post to London in one day and night, and got the Earls petition read in the junto (parliament) by Mr. Lenthall, and with " incredible speed" returned to his father before the hour of execution. The petition was not read in the House before late in the evening of the 14th, and yet Seacombe speaks of Lord Strange being present with the Earl at Chester during the morning of Monday, the 15th October. The probability seems to be as stated above,that Lord Strange left Chester for London on Saturday evening. and again, after seeing Lenthall, left London on Sunday evening, arriving in Chester sometime during the forenoon of Monday, which might be accomplished by the relays of horses already noticed ; and this view of the movements of Lord Strange is most in consonance with the narrative of Baggerley, also quoted by Seacombe, riotwithstanding the irreconcilableness of the two conflicting statements. Travelling appears to have been conducted in these critical times with extraordinary speed by relays of horses, as, for instance, when Charles I., was at York despatches were frequently forwarded to him from Hyde in London, late on Saturday night, aisd the answers were returned in town by ten oclock on Monday morning. These journeys of nearly four hundred miles, performed in little more than thirty-four hours, were accompliehed by Royalist gentlemen, who voluntarily proffered their services.
8 Ormerod, in his Tracts relating to Military Proceedings, observes that Collins had access to the manuscript of this memoir when in possession of James, tenth Earl of Derby, who died in 1736, and Seacombe also had it or a copy of it ; and yet the latter calls its author, the chaplain, the Reverend Humphrey Baggerley. Captain Humphrey Baggerley surrendered at Appleby, along with Colonel Sir T. Tyldesley ; he was employed in directing the Earl of Derbys embarkation in the Isle of Man, August 12th, 1651, and in 1654 was imprisoned in London for assisting in what was called " Gerards conspiracy." " John Seacombe, of Liverpool, gent.," speaks of himself as having had " the honour to serve" William, ninth Earl of Derby, " several years as household steward," and it is clear that he had Baggerleys papers, which he calls " my collection, Baggerley," as well as the papers of Bishop Rutter, as he quotes " Bp. Rutter, in his MS., now by me." Much is due to Seacombe for preserving what he has given ; and he disarms criticism, by describiug his education as narrow and scanty, " having made me so much scholar as to know my want of learning, yet I have learned what duty and gratitude mean."
9 Order of the Garter.
10 Sir Edward Stanley, who was taken prisoner in the fight near Ormskirk, on the 20th August, 1644.
11 The grave here alluded to was that of his late faithful friend and fellow-soldier, Colonel Sir Thomas Tyldesley.
12 It appears that this house had then been erected twelve years, and was then kept by James Cockerill, who leased a large quantity of land in Bolton. He lived to be 106 years old, and was buried on the south side of the Old Parish Church, on the 7th March, 1700.See Briscocs Handbook old Bolton. ~
Any comments, errors or omissions
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