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but if it did not go as they desired, he promised in verbo sacerdotis, that he would deliver the bonds again. This appeared by letters from the now reverend bishop, but then practical doctor. Mr. Johnson (a moral honest man) perceiving that Mr. Egerton finding no relief, did intend to prefer a petition against my Lord Chancellor, by one Heal's means, took occasion to talk with Mr. Egerton, asking him, why he would prefer such a scandalous petition against my lord? He would have him take the money out of the petition, and then his cause by the mediation and conference of some other judge with my lord, might be brought to a good end ; and for money, if he had lent any, he might be satisfied again. There was, upon a petition to the King by Sir Rowland Egerton, a reference of this matter to my Lord Chancellor, and Mr. Edward Egerton entered into 10,000 marks bond.
He had treated with one Doctor Sharp, that if he would give 11001. he should have his desire : we sent for Sharp, but he denied that he ever contracted with him.
The desire of the committee was, to reform that which was amiss; and they thought fit to give as much expedition as may be, because so great a man's honour is soiled with it, and therefore that further inquisition be made this afternoon, and when it is found, to be sent to the Lords.
Thus I have faithfully related what hath passed, and with as much duty and respect as I might to my Lord Chancellor, I desire it to be carried out of the house with a favourable construction.
Ordered, that this matter be further considered by the committee this afternoon.
[The previous statement is from the Tract, the following from the Journals:]
15th March.—Sir Robert Phillippes reporteth from the committee for Courts of Justice, three parts : Person, against whom : the matter : and opinion of the committee : with desire of further direction.
The person, the Lord Chancellor: a man excellently endued with all parts, of nature and art. Will not speak much, because cannot speak enough.
The matter, corruption : the parties accusing, Awbrey and Egerton.
Upon question, resolved, that the complaints of Awbrey and Egerton against the Lord Chancellor and the Bishop, for corruption, for the 1001. and 4001. and the recognizance, shall be presented to the Lords from this house, without prejudice or opinion.
This to be presented to the Lords upon Monday.
The heads hereof to be set down in writing, for the better information of this house.
The same to be presented by Sir Ro. Phillippes.
The heads to be set down by Sir Edw. Coke, Sir Ro. Phillippes, Mr. Noye, Sir D. Digges.
Sir Tho. Howard. That this message must be, first, for a conference; and then to deliver this complaint at that conference. Agreed.
Awbrey. Awbrey complaineth, that, wearied in his cause in chancery, he was advised by his counsel, to expedite his business, to present the Lord Chancellor with 1001. He got at use 1001. goeth with Sir George Hastings and Mr. Jenkyns to Yorke House : there they two went, and returned to him, with thanks from my lord, and hopes of better success in his cause than formerly.
That Sir George confessed, he consented to the advice; and that he gave my lord the money, but, as from himself, not from the party.
That this confirmed by the copies of Awbrey's letters to my lord; wherein this sum mentioned. That, this notwithstanding, his causé succeeded ill, being still locked
lord with a bason and ewer, of 521. but doubtful, whether this before he was Lord Keeper, or presently after.
That persuaded by Sir George Hastinges, and Sir Richard Yong, to gratify my lord. That he sold tythes ; raised 4001. carried it to Whytehall, to my Lord Chancellor's lodging; called for Sir George and Sir Richard Yong, and by them sent in this gold in a purse; who carried it in to my lord ; who started at it, saying, it was too much. That thanks returned to him from my lord. And Edward Egerton saith, he had a further message ; that my lord said, he not only enriched him, but bound him to do him all lawful favours.
This denied by Sir George and Sir Richard Yong; but the delivery of the money confessed by them.
That it was ordered by the committee, Edward Egerton should have time, to bring in all the petitions, references, bills, answers, injunctions, orders, and writings, concerning this business.
That a circumstance appeared, that some indirect way open in these cases. That Egerton, acquainted with a divine, now a bishop, broke to him his suits : he undertook to broke for him; took from him a recognizance of 10,0001. with a kind of defeazance, that, if his land were decreed him, he should pay 60001. to those honourable persons, by whom he should receive favour. That this was confirmed by Bishop Feild's letters. That this letter had some honesty in it; for, if the business succeeded not, in verbo sacerdotis he should have his recognizance again.
A circumstance, concerning Mr. Johnson, a member of this house, a moral honest man: That, as Egerton saith, Johnson persuaded him to take out of his petition the matter of money, and then his lordship would give way to it; and, if he would go in the afternoon to my lord, with Sir George and Sir Richard Yong, my lord was like to let him have the money he had lent him : but this Johnson denied.
Sir Richard Yong: grieved, to hear, or speak, of this. That he summoned to answer here in a great senate ; therefore will neither deny, nor blanch, truth. That Edward Egerton and he long acquainted : cousins. Beholding to the Lord Chancellor, who had been formerly of his counsel. That Sir George and he dining with my lord at Whytehall, Edward Egerton brought them a bag of gold : that they presented it to my lord, as a thankful remembrance from a client, to buy him a suit of hangings for his house, which then preparing. Mr. Noye: two complainers of wrongs done by them; Awbrew, and Eger
That they accuse the Lord Chancellor of a great crime. We must needs now, either clear, or condemn him.
That strange, there should be witnesses in this case : yet here some. Liketh not, Sir George or Sir Richard should have made any apology. The accusation against one, that hath taken an oath, as a counsellor to the king, and chancellor: if the offence true, wrongeth the king, and the land in general.
It seems to be next to impossible that communication of these proceedings was not immediately made to the Lord Chancellor, and yet it is certain that he sat in the House of Lords on the 17th March, as appears from the following entry on the journals :
Die Sabbati, videlicet, 17° die Martii, Domini tam Spirituales quam Temporales, quorum nomina subscribuntur, præsentes fuerunt:
p. Carolus Princeps Walliæ, &c. Archiepus. Cant.
p. Vicecomes St. Alban,
Magn. Canc. Angliæ.
p. Vicecomes Maundevil,
Mag. Thes. Angliæ.
&c. &c. This was the last time he sat as Chancellor in the House of Lords.
[Sabbati, 17th March, 1620.- 1st. From the Tract.] Sir Robert Phillips made report from the Committee of the abuses in the Courts of Justice.
We met on Thursday in the afternoon : the principal thing wherein I desired to be satisfied was, whether at the time of giving those gifts to the Lord Chancellor, there was any suit depending before him. In Awbrey's case it appeared plainly there was some ng accidentally fell out in this examination, and that is a declaration of Sir George Hastings, who hath been struggling with himself betwixt gratitude and honesty, but public and private goods meeting, he preferred the public, he pitying Awbrey's case, did give in a box of 1001. to the Lord Chancellor in those terms or the like, that it was to help Awbrey in his cause, notwithstanding not long after a very prejudicial and murthering order was made against Awbrey in his cause; whereupon Sir George Hastings moved my Lord Chancellor to rectify this order ; my lord promised to do it, but did it not. The order was put into the hands of one Churchill, (one of the registers of the Chancery) by a servant of the Lord Chancellor's.
There are letters of Awbrey to the Lord Chancellor touching this business.
Now for Mr. Egerton's case : as the matter was of more weight, so the sum was of larger extent, for there was 4001, given then, and a suit then depending in the Star Chamber, about which time Sir Rowland Egerton did prefer a petition to the King for a reference unto the Lord Chancellor; whereupon my lord caused him to enter into 10,000 marks bond to stand to his award, An award was made, which was refused by Edward Egerton; thereupon a suit by the Lord Chancellor's direction was commenced against him, and the bond of 10,000 marks assigned over to Sir Rowland Egerton. About this time Edward Egerton became acquainted with Doctor Field, relating his cause unto him, who pitying him, sent him two worthy gentlemen, Mr. Damport and Sir John Butler (who is now dead ;) he makes known his case to them, and desires them to be a means to put off his cause from hearing, because his witnesses were not here. Whereupon Damport rode to the Marquis of Buckingham to have had his letter to the Lord Chancellor to stop it; but the marquis said he would not write, because the matter was already decreed, and he would not receive it. Mr. Egerton was drawn into a bond of 10,0001. for 6,0001. and Mr, Damport being asked what he and Doctor Field should have had of this money, he said he did not remember what certain sum, but he said it was more than any cause could deserve in any court of justice.
In Awbrey's case this is to be added, that Sir George Hastings being at Hackney, where he dwelt, was sent for by the Lord Chancellor, and came unto him, and found him in bed, who bid him come near him, and willed the rest to depart the room, and then said to him, Sir George, I am sure you love me, and I know that you are not willing that any thing done by you shall reflect any dishonour upon me.
I hear that one Awbrey pretends to petition against me; he is a man that you have some interest in, you may take him off if you please. Sir George Hastings afterwards met with Awbrey, and asked whether he intended any such thing, and desired to see it to show the Lord Chancellor, which Sir George accordingly did, and desired my lord to do the poor man justice. My lord promised to do it, and bad him bring his counsel; they did so, but could have no remedy; so the petition went on, Sir George Hastings sometimes since had conference with my Lord Chancellor; he told him, he must lay it upon his lordship. If you do, George, said he, I must deny it upon my honour.
Thus you see the relation of what hath passed. Now for our proceedings in it.
It is a cause of great weight, it concerns every man here ; for if the fountains be muddy, what will the streams be? If the great dispenser of the king's conscience be corrupt, who can have any courage to plead before him? I will present one thing to you, and then make a request.
That which I move is, that we present this business singly to the Lords, and deliver it without exasperation. One precedent is for it in the like case, for a chancellor in a cause of corruption. Secondly, because the party accused is a peer of the kingdom, sitting in the bigher house, whom we cannot meddle with. Thirdly, because we have no power to give an oath. That which I request is, that those people which have been fettered with much calamity by these courses may by petition to his majesty, or otherwise, have their causes revived and revised.
Sir Edward Sackvil. This noble lord stands but yet suspected ; and I hold not those gentlemen that have testified against him competent witnesses. 1. Because they speak to discharge themselves. 2. Because, if he be guilty, they were those who tempted him. But yet, if notwithstanding you resolve to send it up to the Lords, let it be presented without any prejudicial opinion, to be weighed in the balance of their lordships' judgments. And if they think fit to examine these witnesses, let them.
Sir George Hastings. This adds to my grief ; but this is my resolution, I had rather perish wită a just sentence here than escape with a guilty conscience.
Some moved, that Sir George Hastings and Sir Richard Young should be separated till the matter were ended, but nothing ordered therein.
Mr. Nevil. After some reluctation within me, I am resolved to speak what my conscience moves me unto; I speak for the good of my country, the honour of my king, and advancement of justice. Justice is the fountain, the king the head thereof, clear as the waters of Siloah, pure as the river of Damascus; but there is a derivative justice brought unto us by channels; those are often muddy, and more bitter than the waters of Marah; such waters flow abundantly in Chancery. I will not touch upon the person of him that sits in court, for he is the dispenser of the king's conscience ; but because some motions are made against the testimony of those gentlemen, I will say this, I think them fit to sit here, because they are neither delinquents nor accused. My lord means to deny it upon his honour; but I would not have that serve his turn, for he himself hath made the nobility, swear in Chancery: therefore I would have their lordships informed what privileges they have lost. Next I would have them note the luxuriant authority of that court, and how it is an inextricable labyrinth, wherein resideth such a minotaur, as gormandizeth the liberty of all subjects whatsoever.
Mr. Recorder Finch. If we shall make but a presentation of this, we do in a sort accuse him, nay, judge him, if the gentlemen be admitted to give testimony; before it shall condemn another, it must agree with itself.
First, I heard him say, he gave it as a present from himself, yet afterwards he saith, he told my Lord Chancellor he had it from Awbrey. Again, Awbrey speaks not of any delivery of money himself to my Lord Chancellor. Then again it is urged, that a discontented suitor wrote letters to my lord, the letters are rejected, not hearkened unto : what doth this but free him?
In the other case; if Egerton, out of a desire to congratulate him at his coming to the seal for his kindnesses and pains in former business, what wrong hath he done, if he hath received a present? And if there were a suit depending, who keeps a register in his heart of all causes, nay, who can amongst such a multitude? And for the 6,0001. there is no colour that ever he should have had any part thereof.
For taking away the privilege of the nobility in requiring an oath, he found the court possessed of it before be came there ; so that we have no sufficient grounds to accuse so great a lord ; but if we shall present articles to the lords, what do we (as I said before) but accuse him?
Sir Edward Coke. It is objected, that we have but one single witness, therefore no sufficient proof. I answer, that in the 37 Eliz. in a complaint against soldier-sellers, i.e. such as having warrants to take up soldiers for the wars, if they pressed a rich man's son, for money they would discharge him, there was no more but singularis testis in one matter, but though they were single witnesses in several matters, yet agreeing in one and the same third person, it was held sufficient to prove a work of darkness, for in such works it is a marvel there are any. But some object that these men are culpable, and therefore no competent witnesses. I answer, they came not to accuse, but were interro. gated : if I be interrogated, I had rather speak truth than respect any man; and you will make bribery to be unpunished, if he who carrieth the bribe shall not be a witness. In this one witness is sufficient. He that accuseth himself by accusing another, is more than three witnesses, and this was wrought out of them.
It was ordered that the complaint of Awbrey and Egerton against the Lord Chancellor and the bishop for corruption for the 1001. and 4001, and the recognizance should be drawn up by Sir Robert Philips, Sir Edward Coke, Mr. Noy, and Sir Dudley Diggs, and be related to the Lords without prejudice or opinion at a conference, and a message to be sent for this purpose on Monday. Adjourned, &c.
[2ndly. From the Journals.—17th March.] Sir R. Phillips reported : that, in Egerton's case, it now appeared, by view of orders, that, at the time of the presenting my lord with the 4001. before, and after, a suit in chancery depending. An order made 28th Maii, another 3rd Junii, and another of July: mean between these, this 4001. given. The same time some suits in chancery.
That Robert Egerton petitioned the king, who referred it to my Lord Chancellor. Bonds of 10,000 marks apiece, to stand to his award. An award made : refused by Edward Egerton. A suit, by Lord Chancellor's direction, commenced in chancery; and the bonds of 10,000 marks assigned over to Sir Row. Egerton.
The recognizance of 10,0001. to Field and Damport, as in the notes at the committee, for the motion, and answer, of, and to, my lord of Buck'. That Field was to have a great share ; and Damport, as he said, a share also, so great, as, he thought, no suit in any court would have afforded. Sir George Hastinges : that, out of commisseration of the poor man's
person and estate, he gave way to this by-way; for which sorry, and craveth pardon.
Sir George Hastinges required to deliver the truth, upon his credit.
That, about three weeks, he was sent for, by one of my lord's men, from Hackney : that my lord, in his bed, putting away his servants out of the chamber, told him, he hoped, he loved him so well, he hoped, nothing, passing by him, should reflect upon my lord ; and required him to take off Awbrey. And took Awbrey his petition, carrying it to my lord, desired him to do the party that right, as might keep this off from his lordship, and him: which his lordship promised, wishing his counsel to come : which was done ; but could not be heard : and therefore this pursued.
Mr. Noye: that my Lord Chancellor returned an answer to Egerton, of thankfulness; which could not do, if he had received it of them, as from themselves.
Mr. Finch : that, sithence these are to be sworn, not to have that set down in writing ; and that, if it be set down in writing, it may be done apart.
Sir D. Digges and Dr. Gouch to do this apart.
Sir Robert Phillippes craveth pardon, if, through shortness of time, and his own wants, shall fail: and that he may add, in the end, that, if any thing else, of this
kind, appear, they may appear. Sir Ro. Phillippes reporteth from the committee for courts of justice, that it plainly appeared, in Awbrey his case, that he had a suit depending, before, at, and long after, the presenting of the 1001. to the Lord Chancellor. That Sir George Hastings had striven between gratefulness to my Lord Chancellor, and publick honesty. That he said, that, hoping it would have plained Awbrey his way in his suit, received from Awbrey 1001. which he delivered my lord, as from himself, to further Awbrey his suit. That Sir George, in summer last, acquainted Sir Charles Mount, that he had given this 1001. for this purpose, to my Lord Chancellor. That, a killing order made in Awbrey his prejudice, Sir George acquainted my lord with it, praying his help of it; who promised it, but performed it not. That this order drawn by Churchill, upon notes deli-, vered him by a servant or secretary of my Lord Chancellor.