William Anderton, Royal Offences > treason, 31st May 1693.

Reference Number: t16930531-58
Offence: Royal Offences > treason
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

ON Thursday in the Afternoon, William Anderton , Printer , was brought to the Bar, and an Indictment of High-Treason was read against him; for that he did Compose, Print and publish Two Malicious, Scandalous and Traiterous Libels, The first Entitled, Remarks upon the present Confederacy, and late Revolution in England. The second Entitled, A French Conquest neither desirable, nor practicable . After the Indictment was read, The Prisoner pleaded Not guilty; And the Court upon his Request ordered him a Copy of the Pannel, and gave him time till Saturday to prepare for his Trial. Accordingly, on Saturday morning about Nine a Clock he was again brought to the Bar; and the Gentlemen that were summoned to appear to try the Issue were called over, and their Appearances recorded; and the Prisoner had liberty to make his Exceptions, according to the Prescription of Law, which he did to the number of 35, being the full number, &c.

The Jurors sworn were these Gentlemen whose names follow, viz.

Crisp Grainge .

Joseph Blissett .

Joseph Bowler .

John Hynde .

Robert Hinde .

Simon Smith .

Thomas Rumidge .

Robert Longland .

Ralph Hutchinson .

John Outing .

Samuel Freebody .

Moses Colwell .

Then the King's Council opened the nature of the matter of Fact contained in the Indictment, telling them, That the Offence that was contained in it, was High-Treason in the highest degree, (viz.) The compassing and designing the death of the King and Queen; and that there must be some Overt Act to discover the Intention of the man; and that which made the Overt Act in this Case, was in Composing, Printing, Publishing and dispersing of two Treasonable Libels, as they had heard read to them; in which there was contained, the Rankest, Vilest, and most malicious Treasons that ever could be imagined by any man to be put into Paper; for he had no other name for the King, but the Prince of Orange; and the design of it was merely to incite all the King's Subjects to stir up, and raise War and Rebellion against him, and to restore the Late King James. After which the Evidence for the King were called and sworn, the first of which was Mr. Robert Stephens , Messenger of the Press, who declared, That he had known the Prisoner for above these two years to be an Offender against the Government in printing Seditious Libels, but never could tell where he worked till on the 2d day of May last spying two Journey-men Printers, who he had missed from the publick Printing-houses this half year, he followed them, and saw them go exactly into the House of one Skudamore (where the Prisoner was found) and where he suspected they worked privately: So having got the Beadle, and another person or two with him, to assist him, he went to the Door, leaving the other a little way off, to avoid any suspicion, &c. When he came to the Door, he first asked what Lodgers they had, then turning his head aside, he saw the Prisoner's Mother in the Yard, and she well knowing Mr. Stephens, she immediately cry d out Thieves, and came up to him, (her Daughter, the Prisoner's Wife, being with her) fell upon him, and tore his hair off his Head, crying out Murther; at which time the Prisoner came out of the House, and fell upon him, and abused him in a very uncivil manner, telling him he scorned to be a Subject to Hook-Nose; then the Beadle and the other person came to his assistance, and took the Prisoner, but not without a great deal of trouble: Mr. Stephens, and, the other who were with him made a particular search, and in a Chamber, which the Landlady said was the Prisoner's Lodgings, and that he went by the name of Williams, and a Lapidary by Trade, and where he owned he had been asleep. There they saw him shoving a Bed, which run upon Wheels, close up against a Wall, which gave suspicion to Mr. Stephens to remove it, which having done, there he found a Door which opened with a Latch, and entring a Room, where he found a Printing press, Letters, and all other Materials fit for the Trade; and searching farther, he found in an old Trunk a great quantity of Libels, and Li

bellous Pamphlets; one Entitled, A Caution to the Navy; another, Historical Remarks upon the Wars; another, A Second Letter to the Bishop of Salisbury; and there was an Errata, and an &c. found set in the Press, the very same that were in the Book called, Remarks upon the Confederacy: And in the Chamber where he lay, there was a Desk (which Mr. Stephens knew well to be the Prisoners, because he had seized it before); in which Desk there was found the two Libels (as in the beginning of the Trial) and divers others of the same sort, which Desk the Prisoner owned to be his; these they seized and secured, having first put their private Marks upon the Libels, that they might know them to be the same, and conveyed them with the Prisoner, to the Lord Chief Justice Hole's Chamber in a Coach; and being alighted at the Door, whilst Mr. Stephens was looking for Money to pay the Coachman, the Prisoner made his escape through Serjeant's Inn, but was soon overtaken by the Porter: He was examined by my Lord, and committed to Newgate, for High-Treason; This was fully and clearly proved against him on the King's side, and the Libels were some part of them read in Court, in which were found abundance of Base, Vile, Scandalous and Traiterous Expressions, enough to make any honest Englishman to hate and abominate all such Traiterous and disaffected Principles. That Libel called, A Caution to the Navy, which was taken in the Printing-room, was proved to be corrected by the hand of the Prisoner; and those Letters that were in the Form, upon which the Caution to the Navy was printed, was also proved to be printed with one and the same Letter, and Character, &c. as the Libels he was Indicted for. Then the Prisoner made his Defence; telling the Court, That the matter that was given in Evidence against him was not sufficient to make it an Overt-Act, therefore could not be adjudged High-Treason, praying that he might have Counsel allowed him to plead it, being a matter of Law. To which he was answered by the Court, that the question was Whether he printed those Treasonable Books, which plainly answered that he did, for they were all found (with the Press also) upon him, and his so printing of them was an Overt-Act in the Judgment of the Law; therefore the Person so offending must be guilty of High Treason, desiring him, if he had any Witnesses, to call them; to which he replied, That he had none, but desired that he might have leave to put the Jury in mind of two or three things, which in the general was, the Opinion of my Lord Cook, as to Matter of Law in his Case; who says, That it must be done with the Intention of the mind, and that it must be some injury done to the King's person, by buying a Gun or Gunpowder, or Poyson, or the like, before it can be accounted an Overt-Act, and there was no such thing proved against him: To which the Court replied, That in Primitive Times, before Printing was Invented, writing was found to be an Overt-Act, and made High-Treason; therefore Printing was more manifestly an Overt-Act: And there was no room for any Counsel to be assigned to him, for there was no matter of Law for them to plead to; and therefore desired him not to give the Court any unnecessary trouble; adding, That it was the Opinion of the whole Court, that he had no grounds for such a Plea; but if he had any thing to offer that might be any way advantageous to him; they would very patiently hear it.

Then the Lord Chief Justice Treby summ'd up the Evidence to the Gentlemen of the Jury, Telling them what dangerous Consequences such Treasonable Libels were of; and that it was as great, and as malicious a Treason as ever could be imagined; but especially when considered to be done against so good a Prince, who had done so much for this Nation, with so great a mind, and so good an intent: This was done only to exasperate, and to stir up Sedition and Rebellion amongst us; therefore if they did believe what the Witness for the King had sworn, to be sufficient Evidence that he printed the Libels, then they must find him guilty, otherwise acquit him.

Then the Jury having withdrawn for about three hours time, they brought a Verdict, That the Prisoner, Mr. William Anderton, was guilty of High-Treason.

The last day of the Sessions he was brought to the Bar, and asked what he had to say why Sentence should not pass upon him according to Law: He read a Petition, wherein he desired the Court would please to allow him Counsel, to plead to a point of Law; the Court told him there was no matter of Law did arise. Then he desired that he might have a longer time than the rest; to which he was answered, That it was in the power of the Queen to do that and not the Court.

[Death. See summary.]


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