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Trial of John Lilburne for treason, 1649

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  • Jon Roland
    Before the 1670 trial of Penn and Mead and the resultant Bushell s Case, there was the jury trial of reformer John Lilburne, essentially for his writings. Here
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2012
      Before the  1670 trial of Penn and Mead and the resultant Bushell's Case, there was the jury trial of reformer John Lilburne, essentially for his writings. Here is the end of the trial report:

      At six the court returning, and the prisoner being brought to the bar again, the jury came in with their verdict; and it being demanded, if the prisoner was guilty of the treasons with which he was charged? The foreman answered, Not Guilty of all of them.

      Clerk.— Not of all the treasons, or any of them, that are laid to his charge?

      Foreman.— Not of all, or any of them.

      At which the people unanimously shouted for half an hour without intermission. Notwithstanding the acquittal of the prisoner, the Lieutenant of the Tower was commanded to carry him back to the Tower, and Major General Skippon to guard him; and all others were commanded to assist them, if required. And the mob attended them with loud acclamations to the Tower gates, and made abundance of bonfires in the streets that night. And on the 8th of November, the council of state, finding the people uneasy at their continuing Lilburne a prisoner, directed their warrant to the Lieutenant of the Tower to discharge him: which warrant was signed by John Bradshaw, the president.

      It appears, that some time after the parliament made an ordinance for the banishment of the said John Lilburne; and enacted, that he should be adjudged guilty of felony, if ever he was found in England after such a limited time.

      Upon which act or ordinance the said John Lilburne was taken into custody again, and brought to his trial at the Old Bailey, on Saturday the 20th of August, 1653: and the jury acquitted him of the felony; at which the parliament were so incensed, that they made an order that the jurors should be brought before the council, and give their reasons why they acquitted him of the felon, against plain evidence. But the jurors being separately examined, would give no other answer, but that they looked upon themselves to be judges as well of law as fact; and that they decided according to their consciences: and as to the reasons that induced them to acquit him, they would give none.
      -- Jon
      Constitution Society               http://constitution.org
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