Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

London, part 3

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The tower is built just by ye Thames, thereon many gunns are placed all round, its built of free stone, four towers. In one is ye amunition and powder, Called ye white tower, wch is kept very secure wth 6 keyes wch are kept by six persons. In another part the Coynage is where they refine, melt, form, stamp and Engrave all ye money wch is managed by severall over wch there is ye Comptroler of ye mint. In another part is kept severall Lyons wch are named by ye names of ye kings, and it has been observ'd that when a king has dyed ye Lion of ye name has alsoe dyed.

There are also other strange Creatures kept there, Leopards, Eagles & & wch have been brought from forreign parts. In another place is kept the Crowns and all ye Regalias, as orb, scepters, swords. The Crown that is made on purpose to Crown a prince is pulled to pieces againe and they only reserve an old large Crown of King Harry ye seventh in form of a Ducall Coronet, and ye Crown wch is used for the passing of bills, of wch here after. This hath Large pearles on ye Cross and an Emerauld on ye top of ye head wch Closes the bands wch goes every way of ye sides to ye round frame full of Diamonds and Saphyr's and Rubies wch ye frame at ye bottom is also enchased with. This Large Emerauld is as bigg as an Egg all transparent and well Cut: the Globe is alsoe sett wth diamonds representing ye Lines on the Celestial Globe. The middle or body of ye Tower is full of armour of all sorts and placed in Each roome wth great Curiosity Like a ffurniture on ye walls and kept very bright and fine. And now I shall return to ye Hall att Westminster where are all ye Courts of justice kept. There are severall parts out of ye hall for ye Court of ye Kings Bench for tryal of all Causes by jurys, Grand juryes and petty jurys, to manage wch there is a Lord Chief Justice and three other Judges his assistants, where matters are heard by Councellors, attornys and solicitors to plead ye Cause in the Court. All these formerly were but few in number when buisness was not delayed but brought to a quick jssue and persons had matters decided quicker, but now they are increased extreamely and Consequently buisness Lengthened out for their profit. There is alsoe another Court of ye Common pleas to wch is another Chiefe Justice, the first is Call'd the Lord Chiefe Justice of the Kings Bench Court, ye other the Lord Chiefe Justice of ye Common pleas-he hath alsoe three Judges assistants. This Court is in something the same nature managed as ye former, only that matters of Life and death are not here tryed or determined, that belongs to ye Kings Bench. There is alsoe the Exchequer Chamber which is another Court and managed by a Lord Chiefe Baron and 3 other Barrons assistants, wch are all judges, and all first sergeants and in this manner are fitted, having been Entred at such an age into any of ye jnns of Court of wch there are many in ye town, Lincolns-inn, Grays-inn, Ffurnifulls-inn, Clemens jnn, Cliffords-inn and others. The Temples Likewise are such where they are students in the Law and goe to hear Causes and are trained up in that Learning wch is grounded on our Laws, the Magna Charta Law of the whole kingdom by wch all matters are or may be decided. After soe many yeares studdy and being thus Entred they are Called to ye barr-yt is to plead as Councellors and Barristers in these Courts, and out of such that have been thus Barristers many yeares they Commence serjeants, and are made in this manner the first day of a terme. They walk two and two in their Gowns from ye Temple to Westminster Hall where Each that is designed for serjeants stand with their Back to ye Barr of the Court at a Little distance, ye puny judge on the Bench sayes to the Lord Chief Justice, my Lord I think I spye a Brother; the Lord Chief Justice replies truly Brother I thinke its soe indeed, send and bring him up to be examined whether capable or well quallify'd; wch is done and after severall questions he is sworn and has a Coiffe put on his head, which v is a black satten Cap wth a white Lace or Edge round ye bottom and thus he is received into their number and soe returned. They have a feast and pay their fees which is considerable all to maintain the Court out of such as are sergeants. The king makes judges and gives them salleryes; all the judges doe weare scarlet robes Lined with furr. These twelve judges sitt in the House of Lords on wooll packs, not as peers but as Councellors to informe the house of what is their former Laws, and to decide matters that Come before them if relating to the Law, and soe are only their officers and Cannot put on their Caps without permission of ye Lords. There is alsoe another Court for justice wch is Called the Court of Equity or Chancery. The other Courts properly Judges of the matters of Right by Law this as to the Equitty of it, wch is managed by a Lord Chancellor or a Lord Keeper, wch is not in soe high a station nor at so vast expence, but answers the Ends of the other as to the Buissness-is Called Lord Keeper because he keepes the great seale of England wch makes all authentick that passes it. This sometymes is managed in Commision by three, but many tymes by one single person, he allwayes sitts in the house of Lords alsoe and is ye speaker of ye house of Lords. Under him there is the Master of the Roles wch is his deputy and in the others absence acts in the Court as Chiefe. This Court keeps all the Records and statutes, there are two registers belongs to it with six masters which are alsoe the under justices, and six Clerks wch have all their Respective offices and Enter all things. Under them is the 60 Clerks and other under writers. This formerly was the best Court to relieve the subject but now is as Corrupt as any and as dilatory. The Causes in the Chancery are heard and Refferr'd to some of the masters and they report the matter againe, and soe from the notion of this being a Court of Equitty and so gives Liberty for persons to make all the allegation and reasons in their Cause, which much delayes ye dispatch, which formerly was of a very good advantage to prevent a huddling up a Cause without allowing tyme for ye partys to produce their evidences or Right, but now by that meanes is soe ill managed that it admitts of heareing, Re-heareing over and over on the Least motion of ye Contrary party, that will pretend to offer new reason matter for delaying judgment, that by this it accrues great advantage to ye Lawyers that have all their fees each motion and may be so Continued many yeares to sometyme ye ruin of the Plaintiffs and deffendants. A small gratuiety obteine an order to delay till the next terme and so to another.

There are four termes in a yeare, one at Easter, another at Midsummer, and at Michael-mas, and Candle-mass, at which tymes these Courts of justice are open for tryal of ye Causes belonging to their Courts, and holds a fortnight or more, one three weekes, another a month, one 5 weekes; but there are sealeing dayes wch hold much Longer and this between Easter and Midsummer terme joyns the tymes. Ye Last terme is the shortest but the seales hold Longer. After this is the Long vacation being the heate of the weather and tyme of harvest in which tyme alsoe are the assizes in all the Countys in England, for at ye End of the Midsummer terme ye Judges takes ye Circuites assigned Each, usual the Lord Chiefe Justice of England wch is of ye Kings Bench Chuses the home Circuit wch is the County adjacent all about London, wch is a Less fatigue and more Easily perform'd. Two judges must goe in Each Circuite and in all places the one sitts on the Bench of Life and Death, ye other on buisness de-nise-prises, and soe they exchange in all the places they Come, ye judge yt was on the Life and death at one County, in the next takes ye barr of the nais prisse and so on. There is one Called the Northern Circuit wch is a Long one and takes in Wales; there is the Western Circuite alsoe: this takes up 6 of ye 12 judges and Barrons.

But all this while there must be two at Least Left in London to heare and attend ye sessions of ye Old Bayly which is kept once a month both of Life and death and Common pleas.

In all these sessions at ye Old Bayly ye Lord Major is the judge and sitts as such, but Leaves the management of the Law to the Chiefe justice or Judges which ought to be two. There is the Recorder of ye Citty also another justice who after ye judge has summon'd the Evidence does alsoe summ it up, and this is in all the tryals at the Kings Bench, alsoe here the sword Bearer is a officer, and Common Cryer, and alsoe the two Sherriffs attends, they impanell the Jury and their office is so necessary yt at the death of a Sherriff as happened Last yeare the Buissness of the terme happening then stood still till another was Chosen and sworne.

The Recorder of the Citty is allwayes knighted and soe is the Chamberlaine of the Citty. Now in the assizes in all the Countyes of England the sherriff of the County Comes to the Edge of the County and Receives ye judges from the hand of the serriff of ye next County and Conducts him to ye County town attended wth the Gentry, and there is a Large house in the town hired for that tyme for the judge, and all the sherriffs officers attends him and he in person; alsoe he sends the judge a present ye first night of meate and wine and gives him one dinner. Its usual that the Judges are Entertained most of the tyme by the Bishop Major and best Gentlemen, its seldom they stay more than a weeke in a place unless they have a great deale of Buisness or that one of the judges should be sick so yt ye other must supply both barrs one after another. There are Lawyers that allwayes do follow the judges, some serjeant which people make use of in their Causes and joyne wth them some of their own Country Lawyers. There are two of these assizes in a year, the other is in the winter, besides which in Each County they have quarterly sessions to wch all Constables of that precinct repaires, and the titheing men wth their presentments and Complaints to punish and relieve in petty matters wch the Justice of the peace are judges off, and if they have a matter before them beyond their decision they bind them over to the asizes and there to prosecute them. The manner of Criminalls punishment after Condemnation, wch if it be for fellony or treason their Condemnation of the first is to be hanged, and they are drawn in a Cart from their prisons where they had been Confined all the tyme after they were taken, I say they are drawn in a Cart with their Coffin tyed to them and halters about their necks, there is alsoe a Divine with them that is allwayes appointed to be with them in the prison to prepare them for their death by makeing them sencible of their Crimes and all their sins, and to Confess and repent of them. These do accompany them to the place of Execution wch is generally through the Citty to a place appoynted for it Called Tijburn. there after they have prayed and spoken to the people the minister does Exhort them to repent and to forgive all the world, the Executioner then - desires him to pardon him and so the halter is put on and he is Cast off, being hung on a Gibbet till dead, then Cut down and buried unless it be for murder; then usually his body is hung v up in Chaines at a Cross high road in view of all, to deterre others. For high treason they are drawn in a sledge to their Execution without any Coffin, for their Condemnation when hang'd to be taken down before quite dead and to be opened. They take out their heart and say this is the heart of a traytor, and so his body is Cutt in quarters. and hung up on the top of the Great gates of the Citty which are the places of their prison, some gate houses for debters, others for fellons and traytors. In Case its a woman which is a traytor then she is Condemned to be burnt. All at their Execution have Liberty to speake, and in Case they are sencible of and repent of their Crimes they do declare it and bewaile it and warne others from doing the Like, but if they are hard'nd they persist in denying it to the Last. Now as I said ye Law Condemns all thus to be Executed, but if it be great persons they obtaine Leave of ye king they may be beheaded, which is done on a scaffold Erected on purpose v in manner of a stage, and the persons brought in Coaches with Ministers do as the former; then when they have ended their prayers and speech they Lay down their head on a block and stretch out their bodies. The Executioner strikes off their heads with an ax or sword made on purpose and if it be for treason take the head and hold it up saying this is the head of a traytor; and such Great persons, Especially those that Can pay well for it, have their heads sewed on againe and so buried. The prison in London for great persons is the Tower where are appartments for yt purpose. There is in all the County towns Jailes maintained at the publick Charge, besides which there are houses for Correction of Lesser faults, as Bridewell, to Correct Lazy and Idle persons and to set them to work, and alsoe stocks and pillorys to punish them for their Lesser faults. The Pilory jndeed is to punish perjur'd persons, which is a greate Crime. There is alsoe whipping, v some at a Carts taile, and for some Crimes they are burnt in the hand or Cheeke as a brand of their Evil, and if found againe to transgress, yt marke serves as a greater witness to their Condemnation. Some alsoe are Banish'd out of ye kings dominions dureing Life v and should such return they must be executed without any other tryal; under which we may speake of out Laweryes; a person for treason or fellony absconding into another kingdom, after a process at Law by which he is Summon'd to Come and take his tryal, and he refuses then he is outlaw'd and all his Estate forfeited to the king, and if Ever he be taken in ye Kings dominions he is Immediately Executed wth out any farther tryal, and its usual if such a one be known to be in a kingdom of our allies to make a Demand of him by the ambassadour, and such a state takes Care Either to deliver him up or Else to Expel him their Dominions by proclamation, that none harbour such a one but deliver up to the government.

Here is noe wracks or tortures nor noe slaves made, only such as are banish'd sometymes into our forreign plantations there to worke, we have also prisons for debtors and some of which are privilidge places, as ye Kings Bench the Marshalsea and Fleete which persons Entring themselves prisoners there Cannot further be prosecuted, but Continue there prisoners dureing Life, and out of the term tymes hire a keeper of the prison to go allwayes with him as a jaylor; but the Chief Master must have good security to produce him Every term Else he will be Lyable to pay his debts, so its only for such as are debtors, and Indeed its a sad thing they should be so suffer'd and that there should be places of refuge for such. There is one good act to relieve persons that are Confined it may be out of Malice and spleen to keep them allwayes so, but by this act any such Can sue out his habeas Corpus and soe be brought the first day of the terme Either to a tryal or give bail and soe be Let out.

Besides this there are in most Lordships, Courts kept which are Courts Banns and was at first the only jurisdiction by Each gentleman held, all misdemeanours punished, and by them Informed up to the higher courts of Kings Bench or Chancery, and alsoe had all their own privelidges maintained amongst their tennants and neighbours, and Consisted of a Court Life also which ran in ye same nature with their session Courts. These our Laws are Esteemed the best in ye world, we haveing two distinct parts, one Co-on Law which is singular to our nation and are managed in these sessions, assizes, Kings Bench, and Common pleas, and Exchequor, the other is the Civil Law which is the only sort of Law in any other Kingdom, of which the Chancery, the Arches wch is under the archbishop and by his appoyntmt to the severall Judges of that Court that are all Civillians, matters of Equitty, all probats of wills, wch in the Arches are made and recorded. This is in a place in the Citty the Doctors Commons where is this v Court of Arches and prorogative Court which Consists of Doctors, Chancelours, Proctors, Suragats wch do ye offices of Councellours attorney and Solicitours at Common Law. There are registers also from this at London. All the Bishops courts are kept in each Citty, managed by Chancelours which are Lay men, and the suragats, also the Bishops deputyes, the proctors' and parolers, which summons all to it, and there are four in a year in Each County. From hence are given out Licenses for marriages, here are ye Cannon Laws of the Church explain'd and defended, all Church officers punish'd and examin'd, here are proceeding on Information all persons that infringe the Church Rites, and formerly all that were vitious and Corrupt in their practices, even of ye Clergy also, and receiv'd suspension or some punishmt due to the Crime, as Excommunication, but evil men and governours corrupt and Change wholesome Laws to Evil, so of Late these Laws have been put in Execution against tender Consciences that could not Comply to some forms prescrib'd in the Litturgy of the Church of England, and they have been Excommunicated, after which they are turned over to the Lay Chancellour and so prosecuted at Common Law because the spiritual Courts and men will not pretend to use the sword of punishment, but while they have turned its Edge thus against ye tender Consciences scrupleing the forms of worship in the Church of England, they have Left punishing the enormous Crimes of their parishoners nay of their Clergy also, to the scandal of Protestants. Indeed blessed be God that since King William and Queen Mary of happy memory Weilded the scepter, and Liberty for such descenters have been Establish'd by an act of Parliamt, of which houses shall now speake of. Our Kingdom is governed by Laws made and Establish'd pursuant to the first Constitutions and Magna-Charta, from which is derived all the Charters full of priviledges to each Corporation in the Kingdom, suiteable to their Customs and well being of each; these Laws are made and are not truely authentick if not Enacted and pass'd by our three states which is King, Lords and Commons, which Can make Laws for all Cases provided they are for the good of the whole and do not tend to subvert our originall Contract grounded on our Magna Charta or ffundamental Laws of the Land, which Constitution is by all the world esteemed the best if kept on each ones Basis, a tripple foundation, and when ye King Exerts not his prorogative beyond its Limitts to the oppressing his peoples priviledges, nor the people exorbitant and tumultuous in the standing or running up their power and priviledges to Cloud and bind up the hands of the prince. But if it goes in an Equal and just footeing, the people whose is the purse and strength will maintaine the King and his Councellours, and they will do the best offices to the King from the people, and so the King might allwayes reigne in his peoples hearts by Love as well as over them, and they yeild duty and obedience to him, and securely repose in him that should so studdy to preserve them in all their privilidges and trade, which would procure us honour and admiration to the whole world, and Continue us too greate for Enemyes to invade or molest us and so great as to have all seeke to be our allies, and those that were so would find a secure trust and faithfull friends in us, but alas ! its too sadly to be bemoaned ye best and sweetest wine turns soonest sour, some by folly faction and wickedness have endeavour'd our own ruin, and were it not for Gods providentiall Care and miraculous works we should at this day been a people Left to utter dispaire haveing only the agraveteing thoughts of our once happy Constitution to Lament its Losse the more.

Celia Fiennes, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press, 1888)

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