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plot to the Duke of Ormonde. Prompt steps were taken to secure the Castle and seize the plotters. The country was alarmed, the ministers who had been active agents of the conspiracy were silenced or arrested and warning sent to London. Many of the plotters were arrested. Staples, Jephson, Warren and Thompson were tried and executed in July. Lecky, after every attempt to save him had failed, was brought to the scaffold in December. Blood escaped, first to the north of Ireland, thence taking refuge in Lancashire. Others, including Colonel Carr, found their way to Holland.93
Thus, while the plots in Ireland and northern England had failed, it was apparent, as the King said, that the danger was not over. The more daring and important leaders had escaped, the conspirators' correspondence had not been discovered, the disaffection everywhere increased. On the strength of the revelations, as we have seen, money was voted and a militia bill enacted. It had been determined that no alteration in the forces should be made without the joint assent of Southampton, Albermarle, Morrice and Bennet,”4 and orders were issued to reorganize the militia under the new act. At the same time and under the same influence the Commons passed a bill to prevent popery and another, the later Conventicle Act, to prevent meetings of the sectaries. These being obstructed in the Lords, they petitioned the King for a proclamation comanding the enforcement of the laws against Protestant and Catholic Dissenters. The disturbed state of affairs was emphasized by the attempt of the Earl of Bristol to impeach the Chancellor of high treason. Ill drawn and extravagantly urged, the impeachment failed. Bristol was disgraced and obliged to flee.96 And, as an unexpected result of his mad attempt, he became a popular hero. The London mob drank openly to his health as the champion of the nation, Catholic though he was, and the keenest interest in his fate was evidenced on every hand. Whatever the motive of Bristol's attack on Clarendon, however futile it proved, it was supported by an extraordinary popular hatred of the Chancellor, a sign of the times not lost on shrewd politicians." With this and the abstrac
43 Carte, Ormonde, VI. 105 ff., VII. 102; Secret Hist., I. 244 ff.; Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, VIII. 500, 502, and App. I. 263, XV. 7, p. 170, and Ormonde, II. 251, III. 71, 124.
94 Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, p. 143.
90 Ibid., and Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, p. 254; Clarendon, Life, Cont., 475 ff. ; Secret Hist., II. 29 ff.
Jusserand, A French Ambassador, pp. 104 ff., 218; Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663– 1664, p. 531, and October to November passim. Foster said he “would make the streets run blood before Lord Bristol should fall”.
tion of a bill for better observance of the Sabbath from the table in the House of Lords, gossip was unusually busy in the last days of the session. The King's speech in proroguing the Houses heightened rather than allayed the uneasiness. He had expected, he said, to have bills against distempers in religion, seditious conventicles and the growth of popery presented to him, but he judged that the Houses had been deterred by fear of reconciling those contradictions in religion in some conspiracy against the public peace. If he lived to meet them again he would present two bills of his own to that end. Meanwhile he asked them to aid the judges in preventing assemblies of Dissenters and in collecting the subsidies. With these words Parliament was prorogued on July 27.98
It was no mere alarmist sentiment which prompted this speech nor was it based wholly on the Dublin revelations. From many directions warning of rapidly approaching trouble had been coming in for some time. The number of arrests and examinations increased, a design to burn the ships was reported, an intercepted letter to Lady Vane hinted mysteriously of “a good time coming ”.99 But it was not until a few days before Parliament was prorogued that the information which inspired the royal speech seems to have come into government hands. The once skeptical governor of York, Sir Thomas Gower, had gradually become convinced that there was real danger and urged the administration to take steps to meet it. His information indicated that a plot had been laid in February, that its leaders had taken an oath of secrecy at Durham in March, and established relations with groups in Yorkshire and London. Meetings were thenceforth held by these men with emissaries from Ireland, from Lancashire and Scotland. In May Dr. Richardson, one of the revolutionary leaders, framed a declaration which was submitted to the various groups for alteration, and two men were chosen from each of the dissenting congregations interested to carry on the design. The Scots were invited to join, and it was decided to take advantage of the assizes at York, the first week in August,100 to seize the city as headquarters of the rebellion. Simultaneous risings were planned in Westmoreland, Durham, Newcastle, Leeds and Berwick, and a ship with arms and ammunition was expected at Shields.101 Unfortunately for the success of
» Parl. Hist., IV. 285-289; Clarendon, Life, Cont., p. 415 ff.
** Cf. especially Captain George Elton and Foynes Urry, Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, pp. 193, 196 and passim, 178, 199, and Sir Duncan Campbell's visit to the north of England.
Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, pp. 212, 216. 101 Ibid., p. 284.
the plotters one of their number, a Major Greathead, was or became an informer, and with Colonel Smithson, also privy to the plot, revealed it to Gower. 102
Scarcely had Parliament risen, therefore, when steps were taken to repress the impending disturbance. On August 3 Colonel Freschville was ordered to York with troops of horse and foot.103 The lord lieutenant, the Duke of Buckingham, and his deputies repaired to their posts. The militia was set on foot, warnings sent to the authorities in the other counties and towns, and a hundred “chief designers " seized under pretence of attending illegal meetings (August 5-7).104 These measures averted whatever danger there was and the prisoners were presently released with orders to report any plot or disaffection which came to their notice. Believing their plans unknown they proceeded with their conspiracy.10 On August 18 a letter from Paul Hobson to John Joplin, gaoler of Durham and one of the contrivers of the plot, was intercepted by the government. Hobson's whereabouts were thus discovered and he was at once arrested and sent to the Tower. There he was forced to testify against his fellows, who, though they did not know it, were thenceforth at the mercy of the government.106 They planned a rising for September 3, but the York commissioners of militia with the aid of Gower and the Earl of Derby easily prevented it and made several arrests. Hardly was this done, however, when it was reported that this was merely a feint to cover a real design set for October 12. An attempt was then to be made on White. hall. The King, the Dukes of York and Albemarle, the Treasurer and the Chancellor were to be seized. Newcastle and Tamworth were to be taken as a means of communication with Scotland, Nottingham and Gloucester surprised, the passes over the Severn and Trent thus secured, and Boston fortified as a base of supplies sent from Holland. Ludlow was to command in the west, and there and in the Midlands thousands were enlisted. It was expected that the Guards would be despatched to put down the rising and that the City would revolt on their departure. Agents and allies were reported on the Continent, and Lords Fairfax, Wharton, Manchester,
102 Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, pp. 329-332, rewarded 382.
104 Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, pp. 77, 235, at Exeter and Barnstaple, 231, 282, Devon; Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, XV. 7, p. 96.
106 Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663, p. 245.
Ibid., pp. 263, 278-281. They suspect this, pp. 237, 258; cf. also pp. 225226, 234-236, 289.
and General Waller, with several members of Parliament were said to be implicated.107
The information was too precise and trustworthy to be neglected and as October 12 approached every precaution was taken to prevent or crush the rising. In London, so far from the Guards being sent away, they were reviewed by the king himself on the day set for the insurrection, and no small fault found with their condition 108 Garrison commanders were despatched to their posts, lord lieutenants and local officials warned to be on their guard in all the disaffected districts.109 The Duke of Buckingham, who had hurried to his lord lieutenancy of Yorkshire, called out the militia, set guards at Stamford Bridge and elsewhere, and ordered troops to rendezvous at Pomfret and Ferrybridge.110 The York city train-bands were called out, two regiments left to defend the city and the others sent to the West where the greatest danger was supposed to be.111 Similar measures were taken in Westmoreland, Durham, Hull, Newcastle, Beverly and Leeds.112 The great floods hampered the activity of the authorities, but by October 11 they had several thousand men under arms, and were fully prepared for any ordinary rising. 113 The conspirators, on the other hand, even more hampered by the weather, surrounded and betrayed, were at the mercy of the government. None the less they made three attempts to rise. At Kaberrig in Westmoreland less than a score of men assembled under the lead of Captain Atkinson and Captain Waller. Discouraged by the fewness of their numbers, the apathy of the country and the preparations made against them, they rode to Birkey and dispersed. The same fate overtook a similar body under Captain Jones at Muggleswick Park in Durham. The most formidable gathering meanwhile took place at Farnley Wood near Leeds. There some three hundred men under Captain Rymer and Captain Oates threw up entrenchments and made other preparations for defence. But their numbers did not increase as they hoped, their resolution failed, and they dispersed before morning. 11
104 Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, pp. 257-292 passim. William Stockdale, M.P. for Knaresborough, seems to have been implicated, ibid., p. 621.
16* Ibid., pp. 257-279 ; Pepys, October 12, 1663. 106 Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, pp. 294, 297.
110 Ibid., p. 296; Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, XII. 2, p. 144 (Duke of Buckingham at Pomfret with 1500 men).
111 Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, p. 294. 113. Ibid., pp. 284, 294, 298–299, 301, 305. 113 Ibid., p. 296. 114 This account is based largely on the unpublished reports of Sir T. Gower, Record Office Papers, 1663, vol. LXXXI., no. 77 (noted in Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663– 1664, p. 298). Cf. also Reresby, Memoirs, August 2, 1663 ; Surtees Society Publications, XL, xix ff., 102 ff., for depositions ; Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, XIII. 2, pp. 7, 93 ; Secret Hist., II. 55 ff. ; Clarendon, Life, Cont., p. 503 ff. ; Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, pp. 299, 301, 312, 346-347.
Thus ended in almost pitiable failure the much heralded plot of 1663. There remained but little for the government to do but to hunt down and punish the conspirators.116 Many were seized and held for trial at York and Appleby. Some committed suicide, some treated for pardon. Many of the leaders, including Jones, Richardson, the two Atkinsons and Mason, escaped to Scotland, to Ireland, to Holland, to London, or remained hidden in the North.116 Captain Robert Atkinson who had been imprisoned at Appleby escaped and planned the rescue of his fellow-prisoners, but the train-bands were called out, his plan failed and he was presently recaptured.117 Mason was taken, escaped and was retaken, but the whereabouts of his associate, the Irish conspirator Blood, who was suspected of a hand in this new business, remained unknown.118 The government spared no efforts to unravel the plot and punish the plotters.119 The trial of the conspirators in January resulted in the execution of eighteen at York, three at Leeds and four at Appleby. Many others were sentenced to imprisonment, and a hundred or more released on security.120 Later in the year some further executions raised the number of victims to about thirty. Strong efforts were made to connect greater names with the design. On the first alarm Colonel Hutchinson, Colonel Neville and Major Salway had been arrested. But neither from them nor from any one else could evidence be obtained against men of rank or fortune. Atkinson's confession which purported to reach the inner secrets of the design was like many such, stimulating alarm and curiosity but containing little the government did not already know, and that little incapable of proof. The plan, he said, was laid in the south. Dr. Richardson, John Joplin and Paul Hobson were among the original leaders but
115 Cal. St. P. Dom., October to December, 1663, passim.
118 Ibid., pp. 331, 371-376, 405, 441 ; Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, Heathcote, p. 145.
117 Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, pp. 332–336, 340; Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, XII. 7, p. 31.
118 Cal, St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, pp. 323-465 passim. 119 Ibid., pp. 360--389 passim.
120 Ibid., pp. 431, 523-524; Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, Ormonde, III. 140; Surtees Society Pubs., XL. xix ff., 102 ff.
121 Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663–1664, pp. 63, 301 ff., 314-324, (the Duke of Buckingham was suspected and his request for more troops refused, 301); Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, XV. 7, p. 96.