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The Arraignment of. Dr William Parry for High Trea
son, at Westminster, the 25th of February, 1584-5. THE Special Commissioners were, Henry Lord Hunsdon, Governor of Berwick; Sir Francis Knolles, kot, Treasurer of the Queen's Household ; Sir James Crofts, kot, Comptroller of the Household ; Sir Chris'topher Hatton, knt, Vice-Chamberlain to her Majesty; Sir Christopher Wray,* knt, Chief Justice of England; Sir Gilbert Gerard, knt, Master of the Rolls; Sir Edmund Anderson, knt, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas; Sir Roger Manwood, knt, Chief Baron of the Exchequer; and Sir Thomas Henneage, knt, Treasurer of the Chamber.
The Court being sat, and three proclamations for silence having been made, the Lieutenant of the Tower was commanded to return his precept; which he did, and brought the prisoner to the bar, to whom the Clerk of the Crown said, “ William Parry, hold up thy hand ;' and he did so. Then the Clerk of the Crown read the Indictment to him, which stated in substance
* Sir Edward Coke gives the following character of Wray':
• He was a reverend Judge, of profound and judicial knowledge, accompanied with a ready and singular capacity, grave and sensible elocution, and continual and admirable patience.'
Coke's Reports, vol. iii, p. 26. He is also mentioned by Camden as ' a person whose memory was valuable on account of his profound knowledge in the law, and the probity of his life and actions. Some particulars of Sir Christopher Wray are given in Collins's Baronetage, vol. i, p. 242, under the name of Wray of Glentworth, in the county of Lincoln. Sir Roger Manwood was descended from a respectable family in Kent. He was made a Judge of the King's Bench in 1572, and Lord Chief Baron in 1578; he died, Dec. 13, 1592. Sir E. Coke says, he was a reverend Judge, of great and excellent knowledge in the law, accompanied with a ready invention and good elocution.' - Coke's Reports, vol. iii, p. 26.
that he had maliciously and traitorously conspired and compassed not only to deprive and depose the Queen of her royal estate, title, and dignity, but also to bring her to death and final destruction ; and also to make sedition in the realm, and to subvert and alter the government thereof, and the true religion of God therein established. And that by letters sent unto Gregory, Bishop of Rome, he had signified unto him his purposes and intentions aforesaid, and required the sane bishop to give him absolution; that he atterwards traitorously received letters from the Cardinal de Como, whereby the Cardinal did signify that the Bishop of Rome had perused his letters, and allowed of his intent; and had absolved him of all his sins, and by the samne letter did aniinate and stir him to proceed with his enterprise ; and that thereupon he did afterwards traitorously confer with one Edmund Nevill, and move him to assist him in his traitorous devices. Having read the Indictment as above, the Clerk of the Crown said, 'What sayest thou, William Parry, art thou guilty of these treasons whereof thou art here indicted, or not guilty ?'
Then Parry said, Before I plead not guilty, or confess myself guilty, I pray you give me leave to speak a few words;' and with humbling himself, he began in this manner: 'God save Queen Elizabeth, and give me grace to discharge my duty to her, and to send you home in charity! But touching the matters that I am indicted of, some were in one place, and some in another, and done so secretly as none can see into, except that they had eyes like unto God; wherefore I will not lay my blood upon the jury, but do mind to confess the Indictment. I pray you, doth it contain only the parts that have been openly read ?' Whereunto it was answered, that the Indictment contained the parts he had heard read, and no other.'
Then said Parry, 'I do confess that I am guilty of all that is therein contained ; and, further too, I desire not life, but desire to die.' Unto which the Clerk of the Crown said, 'If you confess it, you must confess it in manner and form as it is comprised in the Indictment.' Whereunto he said, 'I do confess it in man-, ner and form as the same is sot down, and all the cir
cumstances thereof.' Then the Confession was recorded, and the Queen's learned Counsel were about to pray judgment upon it; but Mr Vice-Chamberlain (Sir Christopher Hatton) said, “These matters contained in this Indictment, and confessed by this man, are of great importance; they touch the person of the Queen's Majesty in the highest degree, the very state and well-being of the whole Commonwealth, and the truth of God's word established in her Majesty's dominions; and they contain the open demonstration of that capital envy of the Man of Rome, that hath set himself against God and godliness, all good princes, good governments, and good men. Wherefore, I pray you for the satisfaction of this great multitude, let the whole truth appear, that every one may see that the matter of itself is as bad as the Indictment purporteth, and as the Prisoner hath confessed.' To this all the Court agreed as a thing necessary to satisfy the world in particular, of that which was but summarily comprised in the Indictment, though in the law his Confession served sufficiently to have proceeded unto judgment. Whereupon the Lords and others the Commissioners, her Majesty's learned Counsel, and Parry himself agreed, that his Confession, (taken the 11th and 13th of February, 1584-5, before the Lord Hunsdon, Master Vice-Chamberlain, and Master Secretary,) and also Cardinal de Como's Letters, and Parry's Letters to the Lord Treasurer and Lord Steward, should be openly read. And Parry, for the better satisfying of the people and standers-by, offered to read them himself; but being told the order was, that the Clerk of the Crown should read thein, it was so resolved ; and then the Vice-Chamberlain showed to Parry his said Confession, the Cardinal's letter, and his own letter aforesaid ; which after he had particularly viewed every leaf thereof, he acknowledged, and said openly they were the same.
Then said the Vice-Chamberlain to Parry, "Before we proceed, what say you, is that which you have confessed here true ? and did you confess it freely and willingly of yourself, or was there any extortion or unfair means used to draw it from you?'
'Surely,' said Parry, 'I made that Confession freely
withont any constraint, and that is all true, and more too; for there is no treason that hath been, since the first year of the Queen, any way touching religion, but I have offended in it. And I have also delivered mine opinion in writing, who ought to be successor to the Crown, which is said to be treason also.'
Then his Confession of the 11th and 13th of February was openly and distinctly read by the Clerk of the Crown, as follows:
"The voluntary Confession of William Parry, Doctor of the Laws, (now prisoner in the Tower,) and accused of treason by Edmund Nevill, Esq. : ' before the Lord Hunsdon, Lord Governor of Berwick; Sir Christopher Hatton, knight, Vice-Chamberlain ; Sir Francis Walsingham, knight, principal Secretary ; the 13th February, 1584-5.
• In the year 1570, I was sworn her Majesty's servant, from which time until the year 1580, I served, honoured, and loved her with as great readiness, devotion and assurance, as any poor subject in England. In the end of that year, and until Midsummer 1582, I had some trouble for the hurting of a gentleman of the Temple. In which action I was so disgraced and oppressed by two great men (to whom I have of late been beholden) that I never had contented thought since. There began my misfortune, and here followeth my woful fall.
'In July after, I laboured for license to travel for three years, which (upon some consideration) was easily obtained. And so, in August, I went over with doubtful mind of return; for that being suspected in religion, and not having received the communion in twenty-two years, I began to mistrust my advancement in England. In September I came to Paris, where I was reconciled to the Church, and advised to live without scandal; the rather for that it was mistrusted by the English Catholics that I'had intelligence with the greatest councillor of England.* I stayed not long there, but removed to Lyons, where I was also suspected. To put all men out of doubt of me, and for some other cause, I went to Milan; from whence, as
* Lord Burleigh.
a place of some danger (though I found favour there), after I had cleared my conscience, and justified myself in religion before the Inquisitor, I went to Venice. There I came acquainted with Father Benedicto Palmio, a grave and learned Jesuit. By conference with him of the hard state of the Catholics in England, and by reading of the book, “ De Persecutione Anglicana," and other discourses of like argument, I conceived a possible mean to relieve the afflicted state of our Catholics, if the same might be well warranted in religion and conscience by the Pope, or some other divines. I asked his opinion ; he made it clear, commended my devotion, comforted me in it, and after a while made me known to the Nuncio Campeggio, Resident there for his lloliness. By his means I wrote to the Pope, presented my service, and sued for a passport to go to Rome, and to return safely into France. Answer came from Cardinal Como that I might come, and should be welcome. I misliked the warrant, and sued for a letter, which I was promised; but it came not before my departure to Lyons, where I promised to stay some time for it; and being indeed desirous to go to Rome, and loth to go without countenance, I desired the Secretary to the Catholic King in Venice, who had some understanding, by conference, of my devotion to the afflicted Catholics at horne and abroad, to commend me to the Governor of Milan, and to the Resident for the King of Spain in Rome, which he promised to do effectually for the one, and did for the other; and so I took my journey towards Lyons, wbither came for me an ample passport (but somewhat too late), that, “on the word of his Holiness, I might come and go, without hindrance, through all the jurisdictions of the church."
In October I came to Paris, where (upon better opinion conceived of me amongst my Catholic countrymen) I found my credit well settled, and such as mistrusted me before ready to trust and embrace me. And being one day at the chamber of Thomas Morgan, a Catholic gentleman (greatly beloved and trusted on that side), amongst other gentlemen, talking of England, I was desired by Morgan to go up with him to