Serjeant Yelverton’s Speech

First he began to open the evidence, and showed the effect of the indictment, and held it in his hand and said as followeth:

May it please your Grace (speaking to the Lord High Steward) about the eighth of February last my Lord of Essex (here prisoner at the Bar) went about with armed men very rebelliously to disinherit the Queen of her Crown and Dignity, which when it came to Her Majesty’s ear, she of her abounding mercy sent to see if it were possible to stop the rebellion. And who did she send? She sent, my lord, no worse persons than my Lord Keeper [Sir Thomas Egerton], my Lord Chief Justice of England [Edward Popham], the Earl of Worcester, and Sir William Knollys, all which went in Her Majesty’s name, and commanded the Earls and their adherents very strictly to dissolve their assemblies, and to lay down their arms; but he knowing it very treacherously imprisoned the said lords and councilors by her Majesty sent and altogether refused her Majesty’s Authority, and divers of their confederates cried out "Kill them! Kill them!" thereby putting her Majesty’s Council in fear of their Lives. And withal, left them with Sir John Davis to keep safe, lest they themselves should miscarry in the City.

But my Lord, I must tell you this by the way, that my Lord of Essex can no way excuse nor shadow this, his rebellious purpose, nor turn actions to any other intent, for the sending of Temple his secretary into London the night before manifesteth his determination, without scruple or question. For by that means he was in hopes to have help of the citizens her Majesty’s most loyal and loving subjects; and he used not only his best endeavors to strengthen himself abroad, but also fortified his house at home with strong defense and communication, all which were tokens of his inclinations to a sudden and unexpected rebellion and well confirmed in the opinion of all the world, he withstood divers of Her Majesty’s subjects standing in Her Highness’s right, and defense of her peace against him and his confederates.

Good my lord, I beseech your Grace, and you my lords that are the peers, to understand that if any man do but intend the death of the king, it is death by the law, for he is the head of the Commonwealth and all his subjects as members [of that body] ought to be and stand with him. But as for this rebellion being duly considered, [it] contains in it many branches of Treason, which are and will be directly proved; which being found to be so, my lords, who are their peers, are to find them guilty; hereof need to be made no doubt, for it is more manifest than the sedition of Cataline to the city of Rome, and consequently England is in no less danger. For as Cataline entertained the most seditious persons about all Rome to join with him in his conspiracy, so the Earl of Essex had none but Papists, recusants, and atheists for her adjutors and abettors in their capital rebellion against the whole estate of England.

My lord, I much wonder that his heart could forget all the princely advancements given him by her Majesty, and be so suddenly bestinted as to turn them all to Rebellious ends. But it seems this overweighing a man’s own conceit and an aspiring mind to wished honour, is like the crocodile, which is ever growing as long as he liveth. Your lordships know in what fort [strength] they went into the City, with armour and weapons, and how they returned to Essex House again, as you my Lord Admiral and my Lord of Cumberland, with others of their honourable peers do know. Which makes me wonder they do not blush to be so forward to stand upon their trials without confession, when their intended treasons are in all men’s judgements palpable.

For my part, my Lord, I can conjecture nothing hereby, and it will not easily out of my conceit, but that there is some further matter in it than as yet appears, but my hope is that God of his mercy hath revealed their treasons, will not suffer the rest of his or any others to the hurt of the state, or prejudice to her Majesty’s most royal person, whom I pray God long to preserve from the hands of her enemies.

Amen, cried the Earls of Essex and Southampton, and God confound their souls that ever wished otherwise to her sacred person.

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1 May 1999 pkm