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Earl of Dorset, lord chamberlain ; the Earl of Nottingham, secretary of state ; the Earl of Rochester; the Earl of Portland; the Lord Sidney, lord-lieutenant of Ireland; and Sir Edward Seymor.
When I was entered the room, and come to the end of the table, my Lord Nottingham began. But now, for the greater perspicuity of the whole proceedings, and to avoid the too frequent repetition of, said I, or said such an one, or said they, I will henceforth give all the questions and answers, and the rest of the discourses, in the name of every person as they spoke, and by way of dialogue.
Earl of Not. My lord, you cannot but think it must be some extraordinary occasion, wbich has forced us to send for you hither in this manner.
Bishop of Roch. My lord, I submit to the necessities of state in such a time of jealousy and danger as this is.
Earl of Not. My lord, I am to ask you some questions, to which we desire your plain and true answers.
Bishop of Roch. My lords, I assure you mine shall be such; as I hope I have been always taken for a man of simplicity and sincerity:
Earl of Not. Have you composed a declaration for the present intended descent of the late King James into England?
Bishop of Roch. I call God to witness I have not.
Earl of Not. Did you ever draw up any heads, or materials for such a declaration ?
Bishop of Roch: Upon the same solemn asseveration I never did.
Earl of Not. Were you ever sollicited, or applied to, by any person, for the undertaking such a work?
Bishop of Roch. I never was.
Earl of Not. Do you hold any correspondencies abroad in France ?
Bishop of Roch. I do not hold any.
Earl of Not. Have you ever signed any association for restoring the late King James ?
Bishop of Roch. I never signed any.
Earl of Not. Do you know of any such association? Or any persons that have subscribed one?
Bishop of Roch. Upon the word of a christian and a bishop, I know of no such thing; nor of any person who has subscribed any paper of that, nature.
Sir Edw. Seymour. My Lord Bishop of Rochester, we have examined the papers that were seized in your closet at Bromley. We find nothing in them but matters of ordinary and innocent conversation among friends ; only we have one scruple, that there are few or no letters among them written sivce Lady-day last.
Bishop.of Roch. Sir, I suppose there may be some of a date since that time in the bundles. If I had preserved more, they would have been of the same nature with the rest that you have, that is, concerning common intelligence, and the talk of the town:
not any secrets of state, or against the government. My lords, I hold no correspondencies of that kind. When I am in the country I desire some friend or other here to let me know how the world goes, that I may inform myself and the neighbouring gentlemen of the truth of things, and prevent the spreading of false news; and afterwards I file up such letters according to their dates, as you may perceive I did these, that at any time I may have a present recourse to them, to refresh my memory in any past transaction.
My lord, those are all I thought worth keeping of this kind these two last years. And I hope the clerk of the council has done me the justice to acquaint your lordships how I was apprehended out of my house; and how narrowly I myself, and my study, and lodgingchamber, and other rooms, were searched: so that it was impossible for me to have suppressed or smothered any one writiug from you. And really, I believe there was not a note, or least scrip of paper of any consequence in my possession, but they had a view of it.
Earl of Devonshire. But, my lord, it is probable a man of your interest and acquaintance, must have received more letters since, than are here to be found. We see here are many concerning affairs that passed just before that time.
Bishop of Roch. My lords, a little before the conclusion of the last session of parliament, I obtained leave of the house of lords to retire into the country, for the recovery of my health. During my abode there, as long as the parliament continued, I was somewhat curious to learn what passed in both houses, and therefore, as your lordship has observed, letters came thicker to me about that time. But when the parliament was up, very little happening that was remarkable in that interval, I was not so mindful to preserve the letters that came to me, whilst all things, both abroad and at home, were rather in preparation than action.
Besides that, since the time your lordships speak of, I was twice or thrice in town for several days together; once especially, upon a publick occasion, the annual election of Westminster school, which detained me bere about a week. And these are the true reasons why you find so few letters to me since the date of time your lordships have mentioned.
Earl of Not. Will it please your lordships to ask the Bishop of Rochester any more questions?
They being all silent, I said, my lords, I cannot imagine how it comes to pass that I should be thus suspected to be guilty of
any contrivance against the government; I think I may appeal to all that know me, I am sure I may to all my neighbours in the country where I live, that there has no man submitted to it more peaceably and quietly than I have done ever since the revolution, and I must own, I did it both upon a principle of conscience and gratitude. Of conscience, because I cannot see how the church of England and the whole protestant religion can be preserved, but upon this constitution ; since an invasion from France cannot but be destructive to both. And of gratitude, because, as you all know, I happened to be in the late reign ingaged in an affair, which since I have been taught was illegal. And though I may say I stopped betimes, and did no great hurt, but hindered as much as I could whilst I acted; yet I acted so long that I might have expected to be severely punished for what I did. But the king's and queen's part in the general pardon was so gracious and benign in making it their own act, and not excluding me out of it, that their majesties have thereby laid upon me an obligation never to be forgotten.
Upon this I was bid to withdraw; and, about an hour after, the same clerk of the council was sent out to tell me, the lords had ordered I should return to my own house, and be under the same confinement as before, of a messenger and a guard of soldiers : and there I should shortly hear what their lordships would determine concerning me, He likewise told the messenger and the guards, that he had a strict command to them to use me with all respect; only to take care that I should be safely kept and forth-coming. Nor, indeed, had I any thing to object against their behaviour : for, as Mr. Dyve demeaned himself always to me like a gentleman, and the messenger was very civil, so the soldiers themselves were as easy and quiet to the rest of my family, as if they had been a
part of it.
The same evening, Mr. Dyve came home to me, and brought me all my papers, telling me, that the lords had heard him read them over; and, having no exception against them, had sent him to return them all safe to me again.
Thus guarded, I continued from that day till the 18th of May under the custody of a messenger and of four centinels, who watched day and night, and were relieved every eight and forty hours,
But then, having heard nothing in the mean time from the lords, I wrote this letter to the Earl of Nottingham.
MY LORD, AS
s I have all this while, according to my duty to their ma
jesties' government, with patience and humility submitted to my confinement under a guard of soldiers and a messenger; so now, fearing that my longer silence may be interpreted as a mis'trust of my innocency, I think it becomes me to make this appli
cation to your lordship, earnestly intreating you to represent my • condition and request to the most honourable board, where I was • examined. I intirely rely on their justice and honour, that, if they ' find nothing real against me, as God knows I am conscious to . myself they cannot, they would be pleased to order my enlarge• ment. I am forced to be the more importunate with your lordship in this business, because it is very well known in what a dangerous condition of health I went out of town towards the latter end of the session of parliament: and I find my distemper very much increased by this close restraint, in a time when I was just enter*ing upon a course of physick in the country.
I am your lordship’s most humble May 18, Westm.
and most obedient servant,
THOS. ROFFEN. To the Right Honourable the
Earl of Nottingham, Principal Secretary of State.
This letter was read in the cabinet council that day, and it had the desired effect; for, thereupon, I was ordered to be discharged that evening; which accordingly was done about ten at night, by Mr. Shorter, a messenger of the chamber, coming to my house, and dismissing the messenger, and taking off the guard.
The next morning, being May 19th, to prevent any concourse or congratulations, usual upon such occasions, I retired early to Bromley, where I remained quiet till June the 9th, little dreaming of a worse mischief hanging over my head.
But that day, being Thursday, as I was upon the road coming to Westminster, to the meeting of Dr. Busby's preachers, who assemble once a term at my house there, I was stopped by a gentleman that brought me this letter from my Lord Nottingham. MY LORD,
Whitehall, June 8, 92. I
MUST desire your lordship to be at my office on Friday morning by ten of the clock.
I am your lordship’s
NOTTINGHAM. For the Right Reverend the
Lord Bishop of Rochester, at Bromley.
I asked the bearer whether he had any farther orders concerning me; he answered no, but was forthwith to return. I desired him, to acquaint bis lord, that I was now going to town upon other business, but that I would presently wait on him at Whitehall. ACcordingly, from Lambeth I went to his office. When my lord, came to me, I told him, that having met with his lordship’s letter accidentally in my way to Westminster, I thought it best to come presently to know his pleasure.
Earl of Not. My lord, there is a mistake, I gave you notice to be here to-morrow morning: and that is the time you are appointed to appear before the committee of the council.
Bishop of Roch. However, my lord, being in towu occasionally, I thought it became me to present myself to you as soon as I could. And I now make it my request, if your lordships have any thing farther to say to me, I may be convened before you
Earl of Not. I fear you cannot be so, for there is much business to be this afternoon, both at the great council and the committee: but I will send you word to the deanery, if you can be called this evening. In the meantime you have your full liberty to go where you please.
Thus I went home ; but having no'notice from my lord that night, the next day, being June the 10th, about ten of the clock, I came to his lordship's office, where were met the same lords as before ; only I think the Earl of Portland was not there, and the Earl of Pembroke, lord privy seal, was.
When I was called in, besides the privy councellors that sat about the table, there was standing against the wall a very ill-favoured man, who afterwards proved to be Blackhead; with whom I strait perceived I was sent for to be confronted.
For, as soon as I was in the room, my Lord Nottingham said, My lord, do you know that person?
Bishop of Roch. My lord, I have seen this man’s face, but I cannot immediately recollect where.
Earl of Not. I pray view him well. Has he never brought you any letters from one Mr. Young?
Bishop of Roch. I do call to mind, he has brought me a letter. I cannot in a moment remember from whom it was.
Earl of Not. He says it was from one Young.
Bishop of Roch. I think it was at my house at Bromley, that he delivered it me; but I verily believe it was not from any
of the name of Young
Blackhead. I was with the Bishop of Rochester at Bromley: I brought him a letter from Mr. Young, and I received an answer to Mr. Young back again from the bishop.
Thus far, during the beginning of this examination, I stood with my face against the window, and my eyes being so very tender and feeble as they are, I had not a perfect view of Blackhead; but he so confidently affirming, that he had of late carried letters between me and one Young, I changed my station, and got the light on my back; and then immediately, having a true sight of his very remarkable countenance and habit, and whole person, and being also much assisted by his voice, which is very loud and rude, I did, by God's blessing, perfectly call him to mind; and said, now, my lords, by the advantage of this light, I do exactly remember this fellow, and part of his business with me at Bromley. What he says of Young cannot be true. I know not for what purpose he affirms this; but, upon my reputation, it is utterly false, that he ever brought me a letter from one Young.
Earl of Not. My lord, he says particularly, it was upon a fastday.
Bishop of Roch. My lords, I do remember this fellow was with me at Bromley on a fast-day: by the same token, I told him he should stay till after evening-prayers, and must expect only a fasting kind of meal. But then I would return an answer to his business,