Offence: Royal Offences > treason
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ON Friday the 8th of this instant September, being the 3d Day of this Sessions the Prisoners were brought to the Bar, and were arraigned upon an Indictment of High Treason, for composing, printing and publishing a libellous and traiterous Paper, Entituled, The late King James's Declaration, &c. To which Indictment they both pleaded Not guilty: And then the Jury was call'd over, and the Prisoners having made their Challenge to the number of 26, the Court proceeded upon their Tryal; and the Gentlemen sworn to try the Issue, were these whose Names follow.
Then the Prisoners desired they might have Pen, Ink and Paper allow'd them; which was granted; and then the Indictment was read again, which set forth, That the Prisoners stood indicted by the Names of William Newbolt, and Edward Butler, of the Parish of St. Margarets Westminster , Gentlemen ; for that they not having God before their eyes, but being moved and instigated by the power of the Devil, and being Enemies of our Sovereign Lord and Lady the King and Queen, and minding and intending to raise War and Rebellion in this Kingdom, and the Government of this Kingdom wholly to subvert, alter and change, and a miserable Slaughter amongst Their Majesties Subjects to make; and to depose and put to death Their Most Sacred Majesties; on the 20th Day of May last past, and divers other times as well before as after, they did compose, print and publish, or cause to be compos'd, printed, and publish'd a most false and scandalous, malicious and Traiterous Libel, Entituled, His Majesty's Most Gracious Declaration, &c. which was publickly read at large: And their Majestys Counsel having very fully and learnedly opened the Matter of Fact that would be fully proved by several Witnesses against the said Prisoners.
John Trenchard , where they confess'd the matter; and thirty of them found upon Butler.
Another Evidence swore that the Prisoners had a Printing-Press, and this was kept at one Douglosses at Westminster, and there they printed the Declarations, and that both the Prisoners were concerned equally in the matter, and that they were seen to compose the Press; and the Frame so set by their hands was brought into Court, on which the Declaration had been printed, and proved to be set by the Prisoners, &c. All this was fully and clearly sworn against them by the King's Evidence; and that they once made their escape.
The Prisoners did not deny the Fact, nor that they did Print this Declaration, but alledged that it could not be Treason to Print; for nothing could be accounted Treason but what was contained in the 25th of Ed. 3. And Printing was not in that Statute, therefore Printing could not be an Overt-Act of High-Treason; and that they were but Servants, and hired to work for their Livelihood, the Press not theirs, &c. therefore they hoped that they could not be found guilty of Treason, and that it was never known, that Servants did suffer for their Masters Faults.
But they were answered by the Court, That Servants and Masters too were equally principals; and the Matter contain'd in that Paper was Treason of the highest rate, designing to change the Government, depose Their Majesties, and raise open War in these Nations, of which Design they could not be ignorant, being the Composers and Printers thereof, and all done with setled purpose and intent to be published throughout the Nation, to accomplish and effect the same.
Then the Jury having considered of the Evidence, after about an hours time they brought this Verdict, That they were both Guilty of High-Treason.
When they received Sentence, they desired Mr. Recorder to make a favourable Report of their Circumstances to the Queen; And that they were Poor men, and only work'd for a Living. Who told them, That he would report to their Majesties nothing but what should be just and true, and advised them to repent of their wicked and evil Purposes, and to thank Almighty God that they were prevented, and these Nations blessed in the safety and preservation of the best and most religious King and Queen that ever did rule and govern these Realms.