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THE LATE WICKED CONTRIVANCE
STEPHEN BLACKHEAD AND ROBERT YOUNG, Against the Lives of several Persons, by forging an Association
under their Hands.
WRITTEN BY THE BISHOP OF ROCHESTER.
IN TWO PARTS.
The first part being a relation of what passed at the three ex
aminations of the said Bishop by a Committee of Lords of the Privy-Council. The second being an account of the two abovementioned authors of the forgery. In the Savoy : printed by Edward Jones, 1692. Quarto, containing seventy-six pages.
THINK it becomes me, as a duty which I owe to my country' and to the character I have the undeserved honour to bear in the church, to give the world some account how my innocency was cleared from the late wicked contrivance against me, in hopes that this example of a false plot, so manifestly detected, may be, in some sort, beneficial to the whole nation on the like occasions for the future. However, that the enemies of the church may have no reason to cast any blemish upon it, from the least suspicion of my guilt, and that this faithful memorial may remain as
a poor monument of my own gratitude to Almighty God; to whose immediate protection I cannot but attribute this extraordinary preservation.
Perhaps my reader, at first view, will look on this relation as too much loaded with small particulars, such as he may judge scarce worth my remembering or his knowing; but he will pardon
me, if I presume that nothing in this whole affair ought to appear little or inconsiderable to me, at least, who was so nearly concerned in the event of it.
I have therefore made no scruple to discharge my weak memory of all it could retain of this matter; nor have I willingly omitted any thing, though ever so minute, which I thought might serve to fix this wonderful mercy of God the more on my own mind, or did any way conduce to the saving of divers other innocent persons' lives, as well as mine.
I cannot indeed promise, that I shall accurately repeat every word or expression that fell from all the parties here mentioned: or that I shall put all down in the very same order as it was spoken, having not had the opportunity to take notes of every thing as it passed; but this I will say, if I shall not be able to relate all the truth, yet I will omit nothing that is material : I will, as carefully as if I were upon iny oath, give in all the truth I can remember, and nothing but the truth.
What I write I intend shall consist of two parts: the first to be a narrative of the plain matter of fact, from my first being taken into custody, May the 7th, to the time of my last dismission, June the 13th. The second to contain some account of the two perjured wretches that were pleased, for what reasons they know best, to bring me into this danger.
For the truth of the substance of what I shall recollect on the first head, I am bold to appeal to the memories of those honourable lords of the council, by whom I was thrice examined. And, touching the second, I have by me so many original papers, or copies of unquestionable authority, (which I am ready to shew any worthy persons who shall desire the satisfaction) as are abundantly sufficient to justify all that I shall think fit for me to say against Blackhead and Young, especially against Young.
It was on Saturday the 7th of May, of this present year 1692, in the evening, as I was walking in the orchard at Bromley, meditating on something I designed to preach the next day, that I saw a coach and four horses stop at the outer gate, out of which two persons alighted. Immediately I went towards them, believing they were some of my friends, coming to give me a visit. By that time I was got to the gate, they were entered into the hall: but, seeing me hastening to them, they turned, and met me about the middle of the court. The chief of them, perceiving me to look wistly on them, as being altogether strangers to me, said, My Lord, perhaps you do not know me. My name is Dyve, I am clerk of the council, and here is one of the king's messengers. I am sorry I am sent on this errand. But I am come to arrest you upon suspicion of high treason.
Sir, said I, I suppose you have a warrant for so doing; I pray let me see it. He shewed it me. I read it ; and the first name I lighted on being the Earl of Nottingham's; I said, Sir, I believe this is my Lord Nottingham's own hand, and I submit. What are our orders how to dispose of me? My lord, said he, I must first
search your person, and demand the keys you have about you. My keys I presently gave him. He searched my pockets, and found no papers, but some poor notes of a sermon, and a letter from Mr. B. Fairfax, about ordinary business.
Now, says he, my lord, I must require to see the rooms to which these keys belong, and all the places in the house, where you have any papers or books. I straight conducted him up stairs into my study. This, sir, said I, is the only chamber where I keep all the books and papers I have in the house. They began to search, and with great readiness turned over every thing in the room, closets, and presses, shaking every book by the cover, and opening every part of a chest of drawers, where were many papers, particularly some bundles of sermons; which I told them were my proper tools: and that all, that knew me, could vouch for me, it was not my custom to have any treason in them. They read several of the texts, and left them where they found them. But, in one corner of a press, wbich was half open, they met with a great number of letters filed up. I assured them they were only matters of usual friendly correspondence, and most of them were of last year's date. Mr. Dyve, looking on some of them, found them to be so; and said, if he had time to view them all, he might, perhaps, see reason to leave them behind: but, being expressly commanded to bring all letters, he must carry them with him. I left him to do as he pleased; so they sealed them up.
Then they went into my bed-chamber and the closets adjoining, doing as they had done in my study, feeling about my bed and hangings, knocking the wainscot in several places, to see if there were any private hole or secret conveyance.
After that they came down stairs and searched the parlour and drawing-room on that side of the house, with the like exactness. In all these rooms, I observed, they very carefully pried into every part of the chimnies; the messenger putting his hand into every flower-pot, which I then somewhat smiled at; but since I found he bad but too much reason so to do.
When they had done searching in all those rooms and in the hall, as they were going out, and had taken with them what papers they thought fit, they carried me away in the coach that brought them. By the way, we met my servant Mr. Moor coming from London. I called out to him, have you any letters for me? He gave me three or four, which I delivered to Mr. Dyve to open, who found nothing in tbem but matters of private concernment, or ordinary news. And so, between ten and eleven at night, we arrived at Whitehall, and I was brought to my Lord Nottingham, whom I found alone in his office.
My lord, said I, I am come upon your warrant; but certainly there must be some great mistake, or black villainy in this business. for I declare, as in the presence of God, I am absolutely free from any just accusation relating to the government. His lordship told me, he himself was much surprised when he heard my name men