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they meant the trial to be taken as a civil inquisition, not as a simple form of ascertaining whether they were guilty of the fact or not.
Sir Thomas Howell, Recorder of London, tried the case. Around him sat Sir Samuel Starling, Lord Mayor; Alderman Sir Thomas Bludworth, Alderman Sir William Peake, Alderman Sir Richard Ford, and Alderman Sir Joseph Sheldon; the two sherifls, John Smith, and James Edwards. Sir John Robinson, Lieutenant of the Tower, was present as Alderman of Dowgate; also Sir Richard Brown, the Lord Mayor of the Restoration year. In all ten justices occupied the bench When the clerk of the court bade the crier call the jury, twelve citizens of London answered to their names: Thomas Vere, Edward Bushel, John Hammond, Charles Milson, Gregory Walklet, John Brightman, William Plumstead, Henry Henley, Thomas Damask, Henry Michel, William Lever, and John Baily. These good men and true were sworn to try the prisoners at the bar and find according to the evidence adduced. The indictment, charging the two prisoners with holding a tumultuous assembly, ran :—
'That William Penn, gentleman, and - William Mead, late of London, linen-draper, with divers other persons to the jury unknown, to the number of three hundred, the 15th day of August, in the twenty-second year of the King, about eleven of the clock in the forenoon of the same day, with force and arms, &c, in the parish of St. Bennet, Gracechurch, in Bridge Ward, London, in the street called Gracechurch Street, unlawfully and tumultuously did assemble and congregate themselves together, to the disturbance of the peace of the said lord the Bang: And the aforesaid William Penn and William Mead, together with other persons to the jury aforesaid unknown, then and there assembled and congregated together; the aforesaid William Penn, by agreement between him and William Mead, before made and by abetment of the aforesaid William Mead, then and there in the open street, did take upon himself to preach and speak, and then and there did preach and speak unto the aforesaid William Mead and other persons there in the street aforesaid, being assembled and congregated together, by reason whereof a great concourse and tumult of people in the street aforesaid, then and there, a long time did remain and continue in contempt of the said lord the King and his law; to the great disturbance of his peace, to the great terror and disturbance of many of his liege people and subjects, to the ill-example of all others in the like case offenders, and against the peace of the said lord the King, his crown and dignity'
Such was the form and matter of a charge which was to be a memorable fact in the development of our civic liberties. No other verdict than acquittal could have been expected by a man with eyes to see and sense to understand. The very date assigned to the offence was wrong, for Penn was taken on Sunday, August 14, and the indictment charged him with addressing a tumultuous and disorderly assembly in Gracechurch Street, on Monday, August 15, when he was living at the Black Dog. Penn and Mead were indicted for ' conspiring together by agreement, before made between them.' They had never met, never spoken, never written to each other; they were perfect strangers till they found themselves in custody on a common charge. They were accused of being armed. Both Penn and Mead had long ago laid down their swords; and both were men of peace, in that extreme degree that they would not have raised a weapon even in self-defence.
'What say you, William Penn and William Mead, are you guilty as you stand indicted, in manner and form as aforesaid, or not guilty V
Penn: 'It is impossible that we should be able to remember the indictment verbatim, and therefore we desire a copy of it, as is customary on the like occasions.'
Howell: 'You must first plead to the indictment before you can have a copy of it.'
Penn: 'I am unacquainted with the formality of the law, and before I shall answer, I request two things of the court:—first, that no advantage be taken against me, nor I be deprived of any benefit I might otherwise have received; secondly, that you will promise me a fair hearing and liberty of making my defence.'
Court: 'No advantage shall be taken against you. You shall have liberty; you shall be heard.'
Penn: 'Then I plead not guilty in manner and form.'
Like questions being put to Captain Mead, and the same assurances being given to him, he also pleaded not guilty in manner and form; on which the court adjourned for dinner until three o'clock. Assembling after dinner, the court commanded Penn and Mead to be placed at the bar. They took their places; but the judges changed their minds; and Howell, the Recorder, called the ordinary felons on his list. Penn, Mead, and the twelve jurymen were detained till eight o'clock at night, when they were told the court would take their case on Saturday.
OLD BAILEY (1670).
On Saturday, September 3, the court assembled for the case of Captain Mead and William Penn.
The prisoners were coming into court with their hats on; a too zealous officer knocked them off; on which Sir Samuel Starling bellowed from the bench, 'Sirrah! Who bade you put off their hats? Put them on again.' As neither Mead nor Penn resisted, the officer picked their hats from the floor and set them on the prisoners' heads. When they had thus been covered by command of the court, Recorder Howell asked them if they knew where they were, to which Penn answered that they knew.
Howell: 'Do you know it is the King's court V
Penn: 'I know it to be a court, and I suppose it to be the King's court.'
Howell: 'Do you know there is respect due to the court V
Howell: 'Why do you not pay it then V
Penn: 'I do so.'