Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 31 July 2014), December 1674, trial of William Burnet (t16741212-1).

William Burnet, Royal Offences > religious offences, Royal Offences > religious offences, 12th December 1674.

AT this Sessions of Oier and Terminer for the City of London, and County of Middlesex, holden at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bayly, begun the Ninth, and continued till the 12th. of this Instant December, 1674. Several Bills being found by the Grand Jury, or Inquest. Amongst many others, two Indictments were exhibited against one William Burnet , by birth (as is said a Scotchman but educated at St. Omers, Dorway, or some other forraign Seminary) by the first he was charged to be a Romish Priest , having received orders beyond the Seas, and that contrary to the statute (in that case made and provided) he had presumed to come into England, and so incurred the Penalties of High Treason . By the second, he was indicted for perverting and seducing several of his Majesties good subjects, and reconciling them to the Church and See of Rome .

The prosecution being grounded upon several statutes, as those of the 23. Eliz Cap.I. 3. Jac. Cap. 4. &c. whereby it is enacted.

" That to absolve, persuade, or withdraw any subject

"from their obedience to the King, or to reconcile

"them to the Pope; or to draw them to the

"Popish Religion, or move them to promise obedience

"to any other state, or procure, Counsel, or aid them

"that do it, shall be connted and punished as High

"Treason. Vide. Lamb.220.226.4I2. and Dalt.232.

Upon the first of these Indictments no sufficient Evidence being produced, the Jury could not thereupon bring him in Guilty ; as the second there was full proof that he had often endeavoured to reconcile divers of his Majesties Protestant subjects to the Romish Church, and had actually perverted several to embrace the Roman Catholique Religion, and assert and maintain the Popes supremacy in matters Ecclesiastical, &c.

To all which he had very little to object, only alleadged, that if it were a Crime so Capital him to persuade People to the Roman Catholique Religion, (which he was verily persuaded was the onely true one) then it must be the same offence in Quakers and other different persuasions, since they as well as he made it their endeavour to draw people from the Church of England to their particular party. But to this was easily answered, that the very Words of the Law had expressed the Roman Catholique religion or Popery, but no such thing of any other Faction, and that Recriminations were no excuse, much less Justification; Whereupon after a full hearing, Debating, and weighing of the matter, the Jury brought him in guilty of High Treason upon the last Indictment , and accordingly on Saturday he received sentence, To be Hang'd, Drawn, and Quartered ; which he received with a modest Generosity, saying these words, Gloria in Excelsisdeo. &c.