Wednesday 10 October 1660

Office day all the morning. In the afternoon with the upholster seeing him do things to my mind, and to my content he did fit my chamber and my wife’s. At night comes Mr. Moore, and staid late with me to tell me how Sir Hards. Waller (who only pleads guilty), Scott, Coke, Peters, Harrison, &c. were this day arraigned at the bar at the Sessions House, there being upon the bench the Lord Mayor, General Monk, my Lord of Sandwich, &c.; such a bench of noblemen as had not been ever seen in England!

They all seem to be dismayed, and will all be condemned without question. In Sir Orlando Bridgman’s charge, he did wholly rip up the unjustness of the war against the King from the beginning, and so it much reflects upon all the Long Parliament, though the King had pardoned them, yet they must hereby confess that the King do look upon them as traitors.

To-morrow they are to plead what they have to say. At night to bed.

31 Annotations

First Reading

Paul Brewster  •  Link

such a bench of noblemen as hath not been ever seen in England
L&M footnote: "Sir Hardress Waller and 31 other regicides had been indicted before a grand jury of Middlesex on the previous day at Hick's Hall; on this day began their trial at the Session House (Old Bailey) before a commission of oyer and terminer. Two (not one as Pepys states) pleaded guilty -- Waller and George Fleetwood ... The Lord Mayor was Sir Thomas Aleyn."

Paul Brewster  •  Link

In Sir Orland. Brigeman's charge
L&M Footnote: “The charge given to the grand jury on the day before by Sir Orlando Bridgeman, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, … [was intended] to prove that levying war against the King’s authority (as well as against the King himself) was treason. He did not mention the Long Parliament directly.”

Glyn  •  Link

A few months ago, someone remarked that the change in regime appeared to be remarkably peaceful and humane. Perhaps in the wider sense it was, but there was still a butcher's bill to be paid and these people are about to pay it.

Of course, there's no doubt about what the verdicts are going to be - this is more like an old communist show trial and the jurors will vote the way they've been told, i.e. 'guilty'.

I can just about understand the Cavaliers' actions here - especially those who risked their lives fighting for the executed King and then wasted years of their lives in exile. But it sticks in my stomach to see the actions of turncoats such as Monck and Sandwich who will condemn their former colleagues to death for the sake of preferment. They could have tried to avoid sitting in judgment in the trial - no doubt it would have ended their careers but nothing else. Sandwich is not a coward - in a few years he will literally "die fighting" for his king and country against the Dutch - but I am talking about moral courage here.

I think Pepys is genuine when he writes thatthe chief prosecutor: "did wholly rip up the unjustness of the war against the King from the beginning, and so it much reflects upon all the Long Parliament" (after all, why would he lie to his own diary?). But he doesn't seem to me to be deeply political - he doesn't write any deep political thoughts in his diary, and maybe a 27-year-old still in this era tends to believe what his elders and betters tell him, if people with other views keep them to themselves. He is more and more looking like a typical English pragmatist - just getting on with the job.

vincent  •  Link

"jurers " They had to be picked from the Property classes. A Peek ahead It was not until 1668 that a Juror or jurers could disagree with a Judge [ and get away with it], Judge could menace them ,fine them or put them in to the local prison. [see CofE 1603-1714 C. Hill pg 194] and took 'til 1670 to to establish this principle.

Roger Arbor  •  Link

John Evelyn writes on the subject of "... those barbarous Regicides..."
I went to Lond: to be sworn a Commissioner of the Sewers; & this day were those barbarous Regicides, who sat on the life of our late King, brought to their Tryal in the old baily, by a Commission of Oyer & terminer: I return'd at night.

Roger Arbor  •  Link

... And don't forget, this is a quartering offence, so Glyn's 'butcher's bill', is exactly right. And one of those in the dock was, yes, a butcher. As Dicken's has Jerry Cruncher say in 'Tale of two cities': "Barbarous, to see a man wasted"

Mary  •  Link

The lot of the juror in any trial

was not always a happy one. (see Picard, p232ff.) Jurors were shut up without rest, food or water until they reached a verdict. If a judge disagreed with the verdict, he could send them back, still without sustenance, until they cmae to the right verdict. One judge (in a trial of certain Quakers for unlawful assembly) fined his jurymen and sent them to Newgate Prison when they refused to convict.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Coke - John Cook
Wheatley: "a member of Gray's Inn, appointed Solicitor-General for the Commonwealth, and ordered to prepare the charge against Charles I. Owing to the illness of the Attorney-General, the conduct of the prosecution fell chiefly upon him. He was rewarded for his services by being made Master of the Hospital of St. Cross. In 1655 appointed Justice of the Court of Upper Bench in Ireland. He was excluded by name from the Act of Indemnity, and executed October 16, 1660. He wrote several pamphlets, some of which were very scurrilous in language."

helena murphy  •  Link

And who exactly did the regicides represent when they tried and sentenced to death Charles I? The Irish and the Scots over whom he ruled did not want his death ,along with the Levellers,the Presbyterians and most of those who fought against him.Sir Thomas Fairfax,the army's commander, would have nothing to do with it and Cromwell used the trial to detract from urgent social problems which needed reform.On the morning of his death Charles said to Sir Thomas Herbert,"I fear not death.Death is not terrible to me.I bless my God I am Prepared."Physically small and frail, the King died nobly having forgiven his enemies and in no doubt that the throne would be settled upon his son which indeed did come to pass.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

such a bench of noblemen as had not been ever seen in England! They all seem to be dismayed, and will all be condemned without question
The looseness of the word "all" in this connection seems appropriate. The "noblemen" at the dock and the noblemen at the bench were probably all dismayed though for different reasons: the former in the direct sense and the latter for the near misses that save them from appearing at the dock (especially with regard Monck and Sandwich). They will probably all be condemned: the former by those at the bench and those at the bench in the critical eyes of some historians.

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

Glyn writes

"Of course, there's no doubt about what the verdicts are going to be - this is more like an old communist show trial and the jurors will vote the way they've been told, i.e. 'guilty'.”

If I recall, this is just about the same “justice” which Charles I. had received at _his_ trial.

vincent  •  Link

List of heads that will be separated from their bodies:
Major-General Harrison, Mr. John Carew, Chief Justice Coke, Mr. Hugh Peters, Mr. Thomas Scot, Mr. Gregory Clement, Colonel Adrian Scroop, Colonel John Jones, Colonel Francis Hacker, and Colonel Daniel Axtel

vincent  •  Link

Glyn: don't forget that feller that gave the name to the street for the first ministers. Just recently another Lord did get rid of all those be-seated lairds. He Changed History very quietly with a well versed tongue not his own (Lord G. Williams) and not one drop of blood was spilt or wasted. The National health system is so in need of some blood too.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"he did wholly rip up the unjustness of the war"
When Charles I was executed -- a traumatic event without precedent in English history -- Sam was 14, an impressionable age. Since then he will have heard little but Royalist propaganda. Now he comes to power via personal encounters with the returning king and his fawning court. Perhaps we should cut the lad a little slack in his historical perspective ...

Jackie  •  Link

This was a time when the whole concept of treason was changing. Until then, treason was considered to be solely about people betraying their King. Yet Charles I had effectively declared war on his own nation - those who he had sworn to protect in his coronation oath.

In effect, Charles I was done for treason against his Country. Not a legal concept which his son would agree with, yet it was a very important step.

Kenneth  •  Link

(in a trial of certain Quakers for unlawful assembly)

One of them being William Penn, the son of Sam's colleague.

Second Reading

Dick Wilson  •  Link

Besides their fratricidal aspects, Civil Wars are particularly nasty in the way they end. The Restoration was gentle. The American Revolution, which exiled people from the US to Canada and vice versa, was gentle. In less than 30 years from todays diary entry, England will undergo the Bloody Assize, with hundreds executed and thousands enslaved in Barbados. The American Civil war ended gently; not that Reconstruction was easy but it could have been so much worse. The Killing Fields of Cambodia are a horrible example, and horrors impend in Africa and possibly, in Sri Lanka. History is fun to read, but it is also instructive, and often the instruction is cautionary.

Jackie  •  Link

This all goes to show just how extraordinary the events of the previous 20 years had been. Kings had been killed often enough – in battle, in their beds, starved to death in a prison cell etc., but there’d always been a sense of deniability about the process. What happened to Charles I was part of a political discussion which had been a live issue for Centuries in England – the question of whether or not a crowned King was subject to the law of the land, or whether the sacrament of coronation put tem above the law. A question which was behind Magna Carta. Charles I believed that as King he could not be bound by his word to any mere subject, the only oaths which bound him were ones he made to God via his coronation vows. Many of his predecessors believed that, but the ones which regularly tried to act on that basis ended up in the unexpectedly dead category. Charles was different in that he’d been killed following a trial which clearly set a precedent that the King was subject to the law of the land and could experience the same penalties of any subject if he broke those laws. No wonder Charles II, though canny enough not to act too far above the law for most of his reign (he tried to do without Parliament for much of it but kept the show on the road) wanted to expunge that legal precedent and make it clear that those involved in actually putting a King on trial would suffer the consequences. The future James II wasn’t able to juggle the contradictions and got deposed and his successors were presented with a gotcha by Parliament making it clear that they now held their thrones by permission of Parliament and were thus subject to the law from hereon in. 1688 – the year Parliament actually finally won the Civil War.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

I agree with Jackie that the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which produced the constitutional settlement under which we live happily today, is where all this is leading to:

‘ . . The events of 1688 are known as the "Glorious Revolution" but since an intensified historical interest due to the third centennial of the event, some academics have portrayed the "revolution" as a Dutch invasion of Britain.

The "Glorious Revolution" fulfils the criterion for revolution, being an internal change of constitution and also the criterion for invasion, because it involved the landing of large numbers of foreign troops. The events were unusual because the establishment of a constitutional monarchy (a de facto republic, see Coronation Oath Act 1688) and English Bill of Rights meant that the apparently invading monarchs, legitimate heirs to the throne, were prepared to govern with the English Parliamentt.

It is difficult to classify the entire proceedings of 1687–89 but it can be seen that the events occurred in three phases: conspiracy, invasion by Dutch forces and "Glorious Revolution". It has been argued that the invasion aspect had been downplayed as a result of a combination of British pride and successful Dutch propaganda, trying to depict the course of events as a largely internal English affair . . ‘…

Jackie  •  Link

The “Dutch invasion” was a unique event. Very few invading armies get greeted by brass bands as they sail on past. Also, due to defections (particularly John Churchill on the eve of what would have been the battle, the only time an English General has defected on the battlefield), no battle was fought at the time. In fact, what was noticeable was that James II’s authority had drained away. His other daughter Ann defected in the middle of this and James II remains the only King in British history to have effectively been deposed by his daughter. James even made a botch of escaping, and it’s clear that William (not wishing to have to kill his own Father-In-Law) then had to organise his successful escape himself! When it did come to a battle, the speed with which James II left the scene was noted at the time. (On the docks at Dublin, James II’s exchange with an Irish Noblewoman “Madam, your countrymen all ran away!” “Sire, it seems you have won the race…”). The overall outcome, however was one which the early supporters of Parliament during the Civil War would have recognised as pretty much what they started out fighting for.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"But it sticks in my stomach to see the actions of turncoats such as Monck and Sandwich who will condemn their former colleagues to death for the sake of preferment."

On 16 March, 1660 Gen. Monck forced the Long Parliament to vote for its own dissolution and call for new elections. At the same time, Charles II made the Declaration of Breda, and when the Convention Parliament met on 25 April, 1660 (Matthew Hale MP represented Gloucestershire) it immediately began negotiations with Charles II.

Judge Matthew Hale MP moved in the Commons that "a committee might be appointed to look into the overtures that had been made, and the concessions that had been offered, by [King Charles]" and "from thence to digest such propositions, as they should think fit to be sent over to [Charles II]" who was still in Breda.

On 1 May, 1660 Parliament restored the monarchy, and Charles II landed in Dover 3 weeks later.

Judge Hale's first task in the new regime was as part of the Special Commission of 37 judges who tried the 29 regicides not included in the Declaration of Breda, between 9 and 19 October, 1660.

All were found guilty of treason, and 10 of them were hanged, drawn and quartered.

Sitting as a judge in this trial led to some viewing Chief Justice Hale as hypocritical, with F.A. Inderwick later writing "I confess to a feeling of pain at finding [Hale] in October 1660, sitting as a judge at the Old Bailey, trying and condemning to death batches of the regicides, men under whose orders he had himself acted, who had been his colleagues in Parliament, with whom he had sat on committees to alter the law".[58]
58 Sainty, John (1993). The Judges of England 1272 -1990: a list of judges of the superior courts. Oxford: Selden Society. OCLC 29670782. p.96

Perhaps as reward, Judge Hale became Chief Baron of the Exchequer on 7 November, 1660. He had no wish for the knighthood that accompanied this appointment and avoided being near Charles II. So Chancellor Edward Hyde invited him to his house, where the King was present. Hale was knighted on the spot.[60]
60 Hostettler, John (2002). The Red Gown: The Life and Works of Sir Matthew Hale. Chichester: Barry Rose Law Publishers. ISBN 1-902681-28-2. p.84

For more about Hale's life, see…

Richard Bachmann  •  Link

For those who wish to revisit the trial of Charles I and the motivations of the regicides, most especially John Cook(e), I would recommend "The Tyrannicide Brief" by Geoffrey Robertson (2005).

Kent in Phoenix  •  Link

I would recommend a more recent book (2022) “The Restless Republic” by Anna Keay which is a fine reportage on the trial of Charles and the subsequent Interregnum up to the Restoration.

Chrissie  •  Link

I second the recommendation for The Restless Republic. I would add one for Clare Jackson’s “Devil-Land, England, under siege 1588 to 1688” which includes views and commentaries from the perspective of our neighbours. A Times reviewer is quoted as saying
“ England was once a failed state. Foreign observers called it devil land. In the 17th century it suffered Civil War, incompetent rule, bankruptcy, plague and fire. Clare Jackson offers an impressive narrative of a time when the English seemed suddenly to have lost their minds.”
Some parallels to more recent events may be noted…

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Shall we talk about the weather, a topic unrelated to upholstery or treason but which does recur and has such relevance to Sam's job as to perhaps deserve an Encyclopedia entry: Capt. Bowen of the Success writes today to My Lord, on how "the extreme bad weather has driven [me] about", to Milford Haven where he shelters with "four other frigates, and hardly any supply. The weather has caused more shipwreck in these seas than has been known for many ages" (State Papers, October 10). The latter matching the scatter of other reports we had already noted this summer, on how rain and storms seem a bit worse than average. Milford Haven is windy enough that it will, in the far future, be graced by vast projects for wind farms.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"At night comes Mr. Moore, and staid late with me to tell me how Sir Hards. Waller (who only pleads guilty), Scott, Coke, Peters, Harrison, &c. were this day arraigned at the bar at the Sessions House, there being upon the bench the Lord Mayor, General Monk, my Lord of Sandwich, &c.; such a bench of noblemen as had not been ever seen in England!"

Pepys FINALLY mentions these momentus events -- Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, wrote about them to the Doge and Senate days ago:

Oct. 15. 1660 N.S. -- 5 Oct. O.S.
Senato, Secreta.
Dispacci, Inghilterra.
Venetian Archives.

"Parliament having condemned the regicides, all those in the hands of justice will receive sentence next week from the ordinary judges, to whom they were committed by parliament so that the fundamental laws might have play and there is no doubt they will receive the punishment their crime merits, as rebels and traitors.
"As they have been unable to lay hands on some of them and it is known that after leaving the country they have gone about under false names, contriving disturbances with their partisans, orders have recently been issued to take them, alive or dead, putting considerable sums on their heads and promising other advantages to those who serve the crown well by taking them."

Citation: BHO Chicago MLA
'Venice: October 1660', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 32, 1659-1661, ed. Allen B Hinds (London, 1931), pp. 199-211. British History Online…

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.