John Grierson.
4th December 1755
Reference Numbert17551204-39
VerdictGuilty
SentenceTransportation

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47. On Thursday the 5th of December, 1755, John Grierson was set to the bar, and indicted, so, that he, after the 25th of March, 1754, to wit, on the 27th of June, in the 29th year of his present majesty , at the Savoy did unlawfully, knowingly, wilfully, and feloniously solemnize matrimony between Joseph Vernham , then a batchelor, and Jane Porteir , a single woman, without first publishing of banns, or without any licence first had or obtain'd of a person having authority to grant the same, in contempt of our Lord the King, and against the statute in that case made and provided.

He challenged all the twelve jurymen who had been trying that sessions, on the Middlesex side, to wit.

Benjamin Barwick

Joseph Banister

Edward Turner

William Hood

George Stamford

Richard Edwards

Joshua Knight

William Spinage

Timothy Carter

William Smith

John Payne

Thomas Huntley

On which occasion his trial was postponed till Friday the 9th, when 59 more freeholders were summon'd. When the following jury were sworn.

James Bagnal

William Frith

John Symonds

Zac. Carlton

Richard Smith

Richard Frosser

Thomas Caygoe

Roger Kitchen

Edward Hunsdon

George Ayliff

John Gascoyne

William Haynes

Michael Death . I live in Greek-Street, Soho.

Q. What are you?

Death. I am an apothecary.

Q. Do you know Joseph Vernham ?

Death. I do.

Q. Do you know Jane Porteir ?

Death. I know her that was Jane Porteir .

Q. When did you first know Joseph Vernham ?

Death. I knew him by sight in June last.

Q. Where did he live ?

Death. He lived in Great Russel-Street, Covent-Garden.

Q. Where did Jane Porteir live?

Death. She lived in Compton-Street, St. Ann's.

Q. Do you know the prisoner?

Death. I do.

Q. Do you know any thing of Vernham and Jane Porteir being married?

Death. I do, I was present at the marriage.

Q. Where?

Death. At the Savoy chapel .

Q. By whom were they married?

Death. By the prisoner at the bar.

Q. Who gave her away?

Death. I did.

Q. How old was she then?

Death. She was in the 20th year of her age.

Q. Had she then a father alive?

Death. She had.

Cross examination.

Q. Was you acquainted with the Savoy before?

Death. I was not.

Council for Prisoner. I hope you thought it a legal one at the time you set about it?

Death. Most certainly. I then did not know any thing to the contrary.

Q. Where was the ceremony solemnized?

Death. In the Savoy chapel.

Q. How long had you known miss Porteir before that?

Death. I knew her some years before.

Q. Did you know whether they had any licence?

Death. I did not know any thing concerning that.

Q. Were you concern'd in any previous steps taken to the marriage?

Death. No, I was only call'd upon that morning.

Q. Do you know whether there was any consent of parents?

Death. There was no farther consent than a written paper sign'd by the mother of the young woman.

Q. Who was that produced to?

Death. It was produced to the prisoner at the bar and his clerk.

Q. Before he married them did he ask them whether there was any consent of the parents.

Death. Yes, he did; and scrupled to marry them without that consent.

Q. Do you remember what that paper purported?

Death. It was to this purport, '' June 14. I do '' hereby declare my daughter Jane Porteir to be at '' free liberty to marry whomsoever she pleases, '' without any farther trouble, sign'd by the mother.''

Q. Did any body ascertain this paper to the prisoner?

Death. Yes, I and Mr. Sevane did, that it was sign'd by the mother.

C. for Crown. Is her father alive now?

Death. He is, and in court.

C. for Crown. Did he approve of the marriage?

Death. No, he did not approve of it.

C. for Crown. Did this pass immediately preceding the marriage, were they married without parting after this paper was produced?

Death. They were.

C. for Crown. Did the prisoner go out of the room to go to any body else after this paper was produced?

Death. No, he did not.

C. for the Crown. How soon did he proceed to marry them after this paper was produced?

Death. It was as soon as possible after that; the paper was produced in the vestry, and they went to solemnizing it immediately.

C. for Prisoner. Did you acquaint Mr. Grierson there was a father?

Death. He knew that very well.

C. for the Prisoner. How do you know that?

Death. We told him so.

C. for the Prisoner. Did you tell him the father was against it?

Death. We did, we told him he would not consent.

John Sevane . I know Joseph Vernham .

Q. How long have you known him?

Sevane. I never say him before the 13th of June.

Q. Do you know Jane Porteir ?

Sevane. I do, I am very intimate with Mr. Porteir's family.

Q. Do you know any thing of the marriage of Joseph Vernham and Jane Porteir ?

Sevane. I was present at their being married.

Q. When was it?

Sevane. I can't be certain as to the day; as it stands in my remembrance it was in June last.

Q. Where were they married?

Sevane. At the Savoy chapel.

Q. Who married them?

Sevane. I believe it was the prisoner at the bar, by what I can recollect of the man.

Q. Look at him now, and tell us as well as you can?

Sevane. I think it was him.

Q. How old was Miss Porteir at that time?

Sevane. I think she was not twenty-one years of age.

Q. Where did Joseph Vernham live then?

Sevane. He lived in the parish of Covent Garden.

Q. And where did Miss Portier live?

Sevane. She lived in the parish of St. Anns.

Q. Is the Savoy chapel in the parish of Covent Garden?

Sevane. I don't know what parish that is in.

Q. Were any questions asked about consent?

Sevane. Yes, there was. The last evidence and I, the night before the marriage, had heard the mother say her daughter was at liberty to marry whom she pleased. I believe she had made some endeavours to persuade her against the marriage before that; but she said her daughter was at her liberty, and the daughter called the last evidence and I in, to hear her mother say that.

Q. Where was the father?

Sevane. The father and mother did not live together.

Q. Did you know the father's opinion at that time?

Sevane. I never heard the father's opinion before that time.

Q. What have you heard of it since?

Sevane. I have heard since that he disapproves of the marriage. The mother said to us, you may tell the parson that marries them he never will be troubled by any of our family.

Cross examination.

Council. You say you was present at this marriage?

Sevane. I was.

Q. Did the minister refuse to marry them till he heard of the consent?

Sevane. He did. We told him what the mother had said, and he said, he thought that consent was not sufficient, but if we had it signed by the mother, that he took to be sufficient; and upon that he married them.

Q. Was there any thing said by her of having authority from her husband?

Sevane. She said we might assure the parson that married them that none of her family would trouble him.

Q. Did not you understand by that declaration that there was the consent of the father as well as the mother?

Sevane. I imagined there was a kind of an understanding between the mother and father.

Q. How an understanding?

Sevane. That she spoke from what she had heard the father say.

Stephen Brown . I am clerk of the parish of St. Martin's. ( He produced a book.) This is the register book of the births in our parish.

Q. Have you any entry there relating to Jane Porteir ?

Brown. (He opens it.) Here is born June 8, 1736, and baptized the 11th, Jane Henrietta Porteir , daughter of Michael and Claremon.

Q. to Death. What is Jane Porteir 's Father's name?

Death. He is named Michael.

Q. What is her mother's name?

Death. She is named Claremon.

Q. Was there any banns published, or licence for this marriage you speak of?

Death. There was not as I know of.

Q. to Sevane. Was there either, can you tell?

Sevane. There was a kind of a licence, but I don't know what that was; it was something upon parchment, and the vacancies were filled up.

Q. Filled up by whom?

Sevane. I believe by the clerk.

Q. Was the prisoner present ?

Sevane. He was.

Q. Was that licence fetched from the Commons, or the archbishop of Canterbury's office ?

Sevane. It was taken from out of a cupboard or off a table in the chapel.

Prisoner's defence.

I intirely rest upon your lordship's judgment. I did not knowingly do it to offend against the laws, of my country; it is not probable I should do such a thing knowingly when I married my own son there. I never knowingly or wilfully transgressed the laws of my country; I married them by a licence, and that I thought a proper authority.

For the prisoner.

William Forrest . I live in the Savoy.

Q. How long have you lived there ?

Forrest. I have lived there upwards of twenty-five years.

Q. During that time how have you looked upon the Savoy to be under church jurisdiction? Did you look upon it to be in the diocese of London, or what?

Forrest. I am not a judge of that question.

Q. Have you served offices there?

Forrest. I have served overseer of the poor twice, I have never had notice given me for not attending any where else.

Q. Did you ever hear of the bishop of London or any of his officers interfering there?

Forrest. No.

Q. Was you ever called upon as the chapel-warden in the bishop's court?

Forrest. No, I never was.

Q. Did you ever know any that was called upon in your time?

Forrest. No, never.

Q. Did you ever hear any acknowledgement of the bishop's jurisdiction there?

Forrest. No Sir.

Q. Did you ever attend any of the bishop's visitations in your time?

Forrest. No, never.

Q. Did you ever hear from any one, that there has been any of the bishop's jurisdiction exercised in that place?

Forrest. No, I never did.

Cross examination.

Q. Is it a parish ?

Forrest. No, it is not, it is a precinct.

Q. When a man dies there, where is his will proved?

Forrest. The wills are proved in the Commons.

Q. And is the administration granted from the Commons?

Forrest. I imagine so.

Q. Did you ever know any marriages by licence before the late act there ?

Forrest. I never saw one in my life.

George Dorman . I live in the Savoy.

Q. How long have you lived there?

Dorman. I have lived there about twenty years.

Q. Did you look upon it to be a jurisdiction of itself with regard to ecclesiastical matters?

Dorman. Yes.

Q. Did you ever know any bishop or archdeacon coming to do any acts there?

Dorman. No, I believe they never did.

Q. Have you ever heard any old people talk of it?

Dorman. No.

Q. Do you look upon it to be a place of exclusive jurisdiction?

Dorman. I always looked upon it as a place peculiar to itself.

Q. Have you ever served any office there?

Dorman. I have, overseer and chapel-warden.

Q. Do you know whether wills are proved there ?

Dorman. They are proved in the Commons I believe.

Q. Did you ever know any body, when all their effects were there, prove a will any where else?

Dorman. No,

Cross examination.

Q. Was there ever a will do you know proved in the precinct of the Savoy?

Dorman. No Sir.

Q. Do you know of any marriage there with a licence before the late act of parliament ?

Dorman. Yes.

Q. When?

Dorman. About twenty-five years ago.

Q. Who granted that licence?

Dorman. The bishop of London.

Q. Where do you baptize your children born there?

Dorman. At the Savoy chapel.

Q. Where do you bury your dead?

Dorman. In the chapel yard.

C. for Prisoner Do you know any licence ever granted by a minister to any under that jurisdiction?

Dorman. No, I don't know that.

Q. Before whom are you sworn chapel warden ?

Dorman. Before a justice of the peace; we assemble in the vestry-room. We are but a few people

Q. Do you take care of the poor?

Dorman. We do.

Q. What is the business of the chapel-warden ?

Dorman. To take care of the things in the chapel, and buy things for the sexton.

Q. From whence is that money?

Dorman. We do it out of the poor's rate.

Q. Where do you account for any of the money raised?

Dorman. In the vestry, amongst one another.

Q. Does not the crown pay most of the money?

Dorman. No. I know of no such thing.

Q. Did you ever see a justice's warrant to the Savoy?

Dorman. No.

Q. What! not to maintain their poor?

Dorman. Yes, I have to maintain their poor.

Q. Who is it directed to?

Dorman. Some times to the church or chapel-warden.

Richard Philips . I am clerk to the chapel in the precinct of the Savoy.

Q. How long have you been clerk?

Philips. About five years.

Q. Do you look upon it to be a peculiar jurisdiction ?

Philips. Yes.

Q. How do you govern yourselves?

Philips. There is a chapel-warden and overseer.

Q. Do they go to qualify themselves at the commons?

Philips. I never heard that they did.

Q. Who repairs the chapel ?

Philips. The minister has done several repairs.

Q. Has Mr. Wilkerson been minister since you came there?

Philips. Yes, he has.

Q. Do you know any thing of his granting licences there?

Philips. I know he did.

Q. Do you know he did before the late act of parliament ?

Philips. Yes, he did; he did so all my time, and they have been register'd in that manner.

Q. Have you known any licences from other courts brought there and rejected, as denying their authority?

Philips. I have several.

Q. Was you ever call'd to an account for rejecting such licences ?

Philips. No, never.

Q. Look upon this book?

Philips. It's the register book (taking it in his hands.)

Q. Is this the oldest you have ?

Philips. It is. There may be older.

Council. Read there.

Philips. July 6. Married Thomas Page and Elizabeth Price by licence, 1687. Here is a great many by publication of banns, and some by licence.

Q. Do you still continue putting them down in this manner?

Philips. We do, but do it more perfectly.

Q. Did you ever see in any register any alteration, where it was by a different licence?

Philips. I think I have seen two instances, one by licence from the archbishop of Canterbury, and the other from the bishop of London; all the other licences are by the minister of the Savoy.

Q. Whether you thought you was aiding and assisting in any fact contrary to act of parliament, when you assisted in these marriages?

Philips. No, I did not. I thought them good licences.

Q. Whether you ever knew any jurisdiction as to the bishops of London or Canterbury to be exercised in this chapel ?

Philips. No, I never.

Q. Did you ever look upon yourselves to be under any visitation ?

Philips. No, I never did.

Q. In what light did you look upon it?

Philips. I look'd upon it that the minister himself was ordinary, and sufficient to grant licences.

Q. What is the form of your licences?

Philips. The form of them is this '' That whereas '' such and such persons, aged so and so, are desirous '' to live in the holy state of matrimony, without '' publication of banns, &c. therefore he consents '' that the same be solemaized in St. John Baptist's '' chapel; and signs his name John Wilkerson , '' ordinary and minister.'' (He produced a licence on parchment.)

C. for Crown. What is that?

Philips. This is the licence the pair were married with.

C. for Crown. Was that fill'd up before they were married ?

Philips. It was.

C. for Crown. Was it sign'd by Wilkerson before it was fill'd up, or after ?

Philips. It was before it was fill'd up.

Q. Do you remember any thing of the marriage of Vernham ?

Philips. I do. I remember it was very remarkable. Vernham and miss Porteir came three or four days running, and desired to be married; they were refused because she was something under age. They could not be married unless she had her friends consent.

Q. Who refused it?

Philips. Mr. Grierson and I did. The last day they came, they brought two gentlemen along with them (who have been sworn ) to facilitate the marriage. She said she had a father, but her father and mother had been parted several years; but she said, as for me my father does not care if I go to the devil. We said you must have the consent of them, or else you must not be married. Then Mr. Death and the other gentleman went to the mother with a paper; for miss said she would never go home till they were married; and upon this the two gentlemen returned, and produced the mother's consent, and they both testified it, and said they saw the mother sign it; and we made them sign their names and places of abode. Then we fill'd up the licence, and they assented to every part contain'd there. The one declared himself a batchelor, the other a single woman.

Q. Whether you don't think Mr. Grierson used such caution for fear of offending against an act of parliament?

Philips. He was very cautious.

Q. Did not you beleive that to be a good licence?

Philips. I did believe it to be as good a licence as any from the archbishop of Canterbury.

Q. Did he use such caution in general?

Philips. He did. There is the utmost care taken not to break into the law.

Q. Upon the whole, whether Mr. Grierson did not appear as a person that took the greatest caution not to offend against this act of parliament?

Philips. He acted with great caution, rather to excess.

Q. How many couples have been married in the Savoy chapel since the commencement of the act?

Philips. I reckon about 1400 couple

Q. How many hundreds of them lived in the precinct?

Philips. There were many came distress'd from out of the country, big with child.

Q. How many families live in the precinct?

Philips. Really I can't tell.

Q. Tell to the best of your knowledge.

Philips. There may be thirty or forty families.

Q. How many couples do you judge might come distressed out of the country?

Philips. There might be 900 come big with child, some who could not be married any where else.

C. for Crown. Was you appointed surrogate ?

Philips. I was appointed clerk, not surrogate?

C. for Crown. Did you take your oath to do your duty as a surrogate under the bishop?

Philips. No, I did not. I did not apprehend I had any thing to do with the bishop.

C. for Crown. Where might Mr. Wilkerson himself be at the time of this marriage?

Philips. I believe he was not far off.

C. for Crown. Did he appear publickly then?

Philips. No, he did not.

Q. What might be the occasion that he did not appear?

Philips. There were bills of indictment and warrants against him, and he thought proper to go away.

Q. What might these bills of indictment be for?

Philips. They charged him with clandestine marriages.

Q. What time did he go away on the account of these bills?

Philips. He went away some time towards the la tter end of May.

Q. When was the time that he applied to this honest innocent gentleman to solemnized marriages in his stead?

Philips. In May.

Q. Was it before the bills of indictment or after?

Philips. It was after. Mr. Grierson married his own son at that chapel.

Q. Did Mr. Wilkerson keep a curate before these bills of indictment were found?

Philips. He has had some.

Q. Does Mr. Grierson officiate in the church in reading prayers, or preach?

Philips. No, there is one Mr. Brooks does that; he neither reads prayers nor preaches.

Q. Had Mr. Wilkerson a curate to solemnize marriages before?

Philips. No, he always did that himself.

Q. How was it possible he should think of Mr. Grierson ? how did he find him out? is he a settled minister ?

Philips. I really can't tell; he used to appear in his gown as a clergyman.

Q. Did he ever marry other people before; because I think Mr. Wilkerson would look out for an expert hand ?

Philips. He did not look out for him at all; as he was obliged to abscond, application was made for a person to fill up that part. People would come to be married, and we must have somebody to do it, or they would think themselves very ill used.

Q. Who made this application ?

Philips. He was sent for by Mr. Wilkerson's order.

Q. How came they to think of Mr. Grierson?

Philips. Because a little before he married his own son there.

Q. Where does the licence of the marriage of Vernham and his wife set forth that they lived?

Philips. It sets forth that he lived in the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden, and she in St. Ann's, Soho.

Q. Do you ever take down where they come from?

Philips. Always, that is put down in the minute book.

Q. Then you married them let them come from what parish they would?

Philips. We did, let them come from what parish they would in England and Scotland. We married one couple that came from Dumfreis, and another from Dunbar in Scotland.

Q. Do you ever prove wills?

Philips. No.

Q. Do you ever grant letters of administration?

Philips. No.

Q. How long have you been there?

Philips. Only about five years.

Q. How long has Mr. Wilkerson's salary been stopped by the lords of the treasury?

Philips. About two years before I came, as I have heard.

Q. Did Mr. Grierson know the reason of Mr. Wilkerson's not being able to do the duty himself?

Philips. I believe not.

Q. How did they conceal it from him?

Philips. I don't know.

Q. Who applied to him for this licence?

Philips. I did myself.

Q. Do you ever take an oath concerning persons under age?

Philips. Yes.

Q. Do you fill up the licence without an affidavit?

Philips. When he is absent I fill them up.

Q. Did these two gentlemen make affidavit?

Philips. No they were willing to do it.

Q. Who takes the affidavit when Wilkerson is absent ?

Philips. The minister that marries them does.

Q. Did you ever know an instance where Wilkerson or Grierson took an affidavit?

Philips. There have been some; I never took any.

Q. How many out of the 1400 ?

Philips. I can't say.

Q. You were saying something of banns, were they that were married by banns people of your own precinct, or of other parishes ?

Philips. They were of other parishes.

Q. Did you ever know Mr. Wilkerson or Grierson proceed against any of these 900 women, that came big with child, for fornication ?

Philips. No, never.

Q. Do you know whether Grierson did officiate any where else before?

Philips. I can't tell.

Q. Did you never hear he married people before he came to the Savoy?

Philips. I have heard say he did marry people at May-Fair chapel.

Q. Did you ever hear himself say so?

Philips. I can't recollect I ever did.

The licence read to this purport.

'' Whereas Joseph Vernham , 22 years of age, of '' St. Paul's, Covent-Garden, Westminster, batchelor, '' and Jane Pottier , 20 ditto, of St. Ann's, '' Westminster, spinster, are very desirous to enter '' into the holy state of matrimony, without publication '' of banns, they solemnly declare there '' is no lawful cause to the contrary, &c.

'' I do hereby consent the said marriage may '' be solemnized in St. John Baptist's chappel, '' in the Savoy.

'' Given under my hand, the 14th day of June, '' 1755.

'' John Wilkerson , ordinary and minister.''

Q. for Crown. Was you by when this was sign'd and fill'd up?

Philips. I was.

Q. for Crown. Have you often banns published for people that do not live in the precinct ?

Philips. We often have.

Q. for Crown. Did you ever read the rubrick in the common prayer book before the order of matrimony ?

Philips. I cannot say.

Guilty .

See him tried in Sir William Calt 's mayoralty, at Guildhall, for marrying Jonathan Brooks to Miss Mary Redding, spinster, in an empty house, against her will.

To be had of Mrs. Cooper, at the globe, in Paternoster-Row.

[Transportation. See summary.]


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