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his counsel to proceed with the case, reserving the power to himself of occasionally addressing the Court.
Mr. Baron Graham.-You must either leave the duty of conducting your case altogether to your counsel, or take it upon yourself. I shall be happy to hear you: but it is not regular or consistent with the forms of the Court to have you constantly interrupting your Counsel, where he may not exactly meet your ideas.
Dr. Free.-Am I to be silent if persons coming forward, with the most audacious front, to commit perjury.
Mr. Baron Graham.-The rules of the Court are imperative; you will therefore exercise your own discretion in taking the cause into your own hands, or leaving it in those of your Counsel.
Dr. Free. If that is the law, I must abide by it. I have every confidence in the ability of my Counsel.
per month, amounting in the whole to 3801.
Mr. Jamesson said, it became his duty to detail to the Court and Jury the particulars of this case. The plaintiff was Rector of the parish of Sutton, and the defendant was lord of the manor in which the said parish was situated. The action was brought, as stated by his learned friend, to recover penalties under the statute of Elizabeth, for non-attendance at divine worship at his parish church, thereby, and in consequence of his example, spreading contagion around the country in which he resided. It was his wish to abstain altogether from a statement of the circumstances under which this action had been brought; he should, therefore, confine himself to the simple observation, that the plaintiff, in coming forward as the accuser of the defendant, was solely actuated by a desire to enforce the laws for the observance of religious worship. The statute under which this action was brought was the 23d of Eliza beth, by the fifth section of which it was enacted, that all persons in England absenting themselves from divine worship, either at
Mr. Jamesson, Counsel for the plaintiff.—I had much rather Dr. Free would take the business in his own hands; but if he leaves it with me, I shall exert my humble efforts in his behalf. Dr Free. I shall leave my in- their own parish church, or some terests with my Counsel.
Mr. Daniels then proceeded to open the pleadings: he stated, that this was a qui tam action, brought by the Rev. Dr. Free, under the statute of the 23d of Elizabeth, to recover penalties from the defendant, for neglecting to attend divine worship, in the parish church of Sutton, in this county, or any other place of public prayers for 19 months, whereby he became liable to pay a fine of 20l. VOL. LIX.
other place appointed for public prayer, for one month, forfeited a penalty of 201. This penalty was equally divided into three parts, one of which went to the Queen, another to the poor of the parish, and the third to the informer. He should be enabled to prove, in this case, that the defendant had absented himself from his parish church for nineteen months; and having done so, he should be entitled to a verdict for the full
a nount of the penalties, or in all events for twelve months, which was the period within which the statute required the action to be brought. Witnesses were then
called to prove the case.
Mrs. Margarete Johnstone deposed as follows:-I resided at the parish of Sutton on the 2d of April, 1815. I attended the church every Sunday from that day to the first Sunday in April, 1816. I know the person of Sir Montague Burgoyne, and during all that pe riod I never saw him come to church. I am quite sure I attended church every Sunday. I sometimes saw Sir Montague on horseback. In cross-examination she said she was servant to Dr. Free, and had been so for four years.
John Northfield, parish-clerk of Sutton, corroborated the testimony of the last witness. He saw Sir Montague come to church in April, 1816. He sometimes saw him coursing during the year 1815.
Mr. Jamesson here closed his
Mr. Sergeant Blosset said, if this was the plaintiff's case, his client was entitled to a verdict, as no evidence had been offered of Sir Montague Burgoyne living in the parish of Sutton.
Mr. Baron Graham, however, considered this to be a mere oversight, and recalling the witnesses, they proved the fact alluded to.
Mr. Sergeant Blossett now addressed the jury on the part of the defendant. He said, that however unwilling he might be to trespass on the Court by any very extended observations on this case, yet he could not help remarking,
that the assertion made by Dr. Free, that he had stood forward as the champion of the Church of England and of the clergy, was not borne out by the facts. When a reverend gentleman came forward into a Court of Justice in his canonicals, and in the character of an informer, to support a qui tam action upon a statute which, although unrepealed, had been in disuse for upwards of one hundred and fifty years, he rather apprehended he would not be hailed by those whose interests he professed to represent, as a person likely to reflect much credit upon their sacred character. That such conduct was consistent with the true spirit of the Christian religion, he believed no man of liberal feelings would allow. With regard to the statute on which this action was brought, he was willing to admit that it remained unrepealed; but, at the same time, it was proper to remark, that it originated in causes of a political nature, and was by no means applicable to times like the present. Its operations were meant only to apply to Roman Catholics and Dissenters, at a period when the Church of England might be considered as in danger. The principles of toleration which had since been disseminated, however, and the firm foundation upon which the Church of England had been established, were such, that no man possessing the slightest claims to liberality would venture to put the construction upon the statute which it had received from the reverend plaintiff in this case. Without entering on the construction of the statute, however, he should be enabled to meet the plaintiff
plaintiff in the most conclusive manner: for, in the first instance, he should be enabled to prove, that for several months of that period during which the servant of the reverend plaintiff had so positively sworn that she had regularly attended Sutton church, no divine service had been performed in the church at all: he meant the months of June, July, August, and part of September; during which months the plaintiff had so shamefully neglected his duties, that he had received a monition from the bishop of the diocese. He should also prove, that at other periods, the reverend plaintiff was so inattentive to the performance of the religious service of his church, that his parishioners were constantly in a state of uncertainty as to the hour at which service was to commence, or whether it would be performed at all. Independent of this, it was no very pleasant thing for the defendant, when he did go to church, to hear a sermon delivered, which, instead of inculcating divine truths, was made the vehicle of personal abuse to himself. With these facts before them, the jury would be able to form a pretty correct judgment of the motives of this action. The next ground on which he rested with confidence, on the goodness of his own cause, he derived from the statute of Elizabeth itself; for by the statute of the 1st of Elizabeth, which was embraced by the 23d, it was enacted, that where the defendant in a qui tam action, such as that now before the Court, could assign a reasonable excuse for absenting himself from public worship, and should afterwards conform to
his religious duties, the action should be quashed. On this head of defence he should be enabled to prove that Sir Montague Burgoyne, who was a general in the British service, had returned from Gibraltar in 1814, in a most precarious state of health, and had continued thus afflicted down to the present day, a circumstance which he hoped, in addition to the uncertainty of the performance of church service at Sutton, would be considered a sufficient excuse for his non-attendance. With regard to his sentiments on the subject of religion, those would be best proved by the evidence he would adduce of its being his invariable practice to read the church prayers to his family every Sunday, when capable from the state of his health so to do; and if unable himself to perform that duty, to call upon Lady Burgoyne to read for him. He should also prove, that prayers were frequently read in his house by the Rev. Dr. Hughes, in his occasional visits to his family. There was another ground on which he was still more decidedly entitled to a verdict. This was to be found in the statute of the 1st James II. c. 4, whereby it was enacted, that any person offending against the statute of Elizabeth, by a non-attendance of divine worship, became exonerated from all consequences, by conforming to the rules of his church before judgment was obtained, and declaring himself publicly to be a faithful son of the Church of England. This Sir M. Burgoyne had done in the presence of the bishop of the diocese himself, and was there ready again to declare openly in court his high veneration for, and accordance
accordance in, all the principles of the Christian religion.
Evidence was then called to support the defendant's case.
Lawrence Coxall, churchwarden of the parish of Sutton, proved, that Sutton church had been shut up from the 25th of June to the 3d of September.
Thomas Brown, the other churchwarden, corroborated the testimony of the last witness, and proved that the church had been farther shut from the 15th of September to the 5th of November, no service having been performed.
Dr. M'Garth, a medical gentleman, proved the precarious state of Sir Montague Burgoyne's health from his return from Gibraltar to the present moment, and the danger of his going to church at particular stages of his disorder.
Lucy Carrington, nurse in Sir Montague's family, bore testimony to her master or mistress invariably reading prayers to the family on the Sunday when they did not go to church.
The Rev. Dr. Hughes occasionally visited Sir Montague's family for weeks together, and always read prayers to the family when they did not go to church.
Mr. Baron Graham being of opinion that a reasonable excuse for the non-attendance of the defendant at his parish church had been proved, Mr. Serjeant Blos sett did not call any more wit
Mr. Baron Graham summed up the evidence. His I ordship abstained from making any remark upon the motives by which the plaintiff had been actuated in this action; but at the same time remarked, that no liberal mind could have construed the statute of Eli
zabeth in the manner in which it had been construed by him. He left it for the Jury to say, whether a reasonable excuse had not been proved for the non-attendance of the defendant at church, and whether, in other respects, the case of the plaintiff had not received a complete answer.
The Jury without hesitation found the defendant-Not Guilty.
BEDFORDSHIRE LENT ASSIZES.
The King, on the prosecution of James Harris, v. the Rev. Robert Woodward, Clerk, and Susannah Woodward and Sarah Woodward, Spinsters.-This case has produced an uncoinmon degree of interest in all parts of the county of Bedford, from the peculiar character of the crime imputed to the defendants. The court was crowded at an early hour with persons of all ranks; but, from the nature of the evidence and remarks about to be submitted to the Jury, it was deemed proper that the ladies should be ordered to withdraw. The defendants having taken their places in court, the clerk of the arraigns read the indictment, which charged them with having foully and maliciously conspired together, falsely to accuse one James Harris of having committed a rape on the person of Susannah Woodward; in furtherance of which conspiracy the said parties appeared before the Reverend W. Hooper, one of the magistrates of the county, and preferred their charge, in consequence whereof a warrant was issued for the apprehension of James Harris: he was committed to gaol, and at the last
assizes was prosecuted for the offence, but was acquitted. To this indictment the defendants pleaded Not guilty.
Mr. Serjeant Blossett addressed the Jury. The case demanded serious attention, not alone from its peculiarity, but from its importance, because it involved the character of a clergyman of the Church of England, and of his two daughters, who stood charged with having conspired to take the life of an innocent man, for a rape alleged to have been committed on one of them. The defendant, Mr. Woodward, was the vicar of the parish of Harrold, in this county, and his daughters lived with him in the vicarage-house. The present prosecutor, James Harris, was the son of a respectable saddler in the same town; and the charge imputed to him by the defendants was such, that it only required to be stated to convince every man that it was false. In fact, such was the nature of the evidence given by the young woman who represented herself to have been violated, that the jury before whom the trial took place, upon her testimony alone, pronounced young Harris Not guilty. That Miss Susannah Woodward had had intercourse with some one, whereby she was likely to become a mother, was beyond a doubt: but why it was thought proper to fix upon the present prosecutor must remain a mystery. In the testimony given by the prosecutrix on the indictment against Mr. Harris, she stated, that he had, in the month of July 1814, attempted some violence on her person: but that she had resisted him, and on his promise never to repeat similar conduct, undertook not to mention
the circumstance to her father. The more formidable part of the charge, however, she did not fix till the 18th of October, in the same year; when, according to her statement, she was coming from the privy in her father's garden, within a few yards of the house, the garden being overlooked by cottages, and her sister and a servant being at home, this very man, who attacked her in the July preceding, again assailed her, and at an early hour of the evening, in spite of all her resistance and cries, again violated her person. Her sister Sarah at length came to her assistance, when the ravisher got up, and after threatening both their lives if they attempted to disclose what had happened, went away. Whether it was possible to have committed a violation under such circumstances the jury would, after a disclosure of the other facts, be able to determine. From that period down to July in the following year, this young lady, according to her own tale, never disclosed to any person, except to her sister, what had happened, and then the disclosure came of necessity, for she proved to be eight months gone with child. During all this period she lived in her father's house, and under her father's eye. She, however, kept herself excluded from public view, and when she did go abroad, always wore a large cloak. He believed it was barely possible, under the description which she had given of the violence committed, that she should have proved preg nant; but even allowing the possibility, it was not a little extraordinary, that, living in her father's house so many months, she had not made a disclosure of the viola