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and bring ruin on his posterity. He then went over all the CHAP. cases supposed to be in point, from that of John de la Pole downwards, showing that, in the worst of times, no man had been convicted of treason except upon a specific charge of having violated one of the express provisions of the Statute of Treasons—a statute made to guard the subject from constructive and undefined offences against the government-a statute which had been the glory of Englishmen - for which respect had been professed by our most arbitrary sovereigns —but which was now to be swept away by those who avowed themselves the champions of freedom, and the reformers of all abuses.

He sat down amidst great applause; and, after a short address from the Recorder on the same side, it being as late as between two and three o'clock in the afternoon, the House adjourned.*

An acquittal was now considered certain; but in the night Commons the parliamentary leaders entirely changed their plan of pro- peachment change imceeding. Instead of praying the judgment of the Lords into a bill of upon the articles of impeachment, they said they intended attainder, not to offer any reply to the argument of law made by Mr. Lane, it being below their dignity to contend with a private lawyer; and, next morning, they put up Sir Arthur Hazelrig,


an absurd, bold man," a pupil of Pym, and employed by the party on any desperate occasion, to prefer a bill in the House of Commons "for the attainder of the Earl of Strafford of high treason."

This bill was opposed by Selden and the more moderate lawyers on the liberal side; and could hardly have been pushed through but for the newly-discovered evidence brought forward by Sir Harry Vane respecting Strafford's declaration in Council, "that the King, having tried the affection of his people, was absolved from all rule of government; and that the army from Ireland might reduce this kingdom to obedience." The effect was heightened by the disgraceful opinion obtained from the trembling Judges, that this charge amounted to high treason.

* 3 St. Tr. 1472. 2 Parl. Hist. 732.


Oliver St.


A. D. 1643.

Lane joins the King

at Oxford.

Law Courts at Oxford.

When the bill came up to the Lords, Lane, having no longer an opportunity of being heard, Oliver St. John, who had accepted and retained the title of "King's Solicitor General," but was the most furious of the prosecutors of Strafford, boldly attempted to answer Lane's argument; and, feeling that he had failed, he unblushingly said, "that in that way of bill, private satisfaction to each man's conscience was sufficient; and why should they take such trouble about law in such a case? It was true we give law to hares and deer, because they are beasts of chase; but it was never accounted either cruelty or foul play to knock foxes and wolves on the head, where they may be found, because they are beasts of prey."

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After Strafford's conviction, Lane remained in London quietly pursuing his profession, and privately advising the Royalists, till the King, by proclamation under the Great Seal, having ordered all the law Courts to be adjourned to Oxford, and the parliament, by an ordinance, having required them to continue sitting at Westminster, the cavalier lawyers thought they could no longer publicly practise in the metropolis without acknowledging the usurped authority of the Roundheads. While some of them took to conveyancing and chamber business, Lane resolved to go to Oxford, where, although there was not likely to be much pabulum for barristers, he should at least testify his respect for the King's proclamation, and his devotion to the royal cause. He had a strict private intimacy with Whitelock, afterwards Keeper of the Great Seal, although they were on opposite sides in politics; and to him he intrusted his books and the furniture in his chambers in the Inner Temple, which, in the disturbed state of the country, he could not carry along with him. On his arrival at Oxford, his loyalty was rewarded with the honour of knighthood.

He found Lord Keeper Littleton, with the Great Seal, sitting in the Philosophy Schools ;- and two or three Judges having joined, they went through the form of holding the Courts to which they respectively belonged. But there was

*3 St. Tr. 1477.


no one to represent the Exchequer, and the office of Chief CHAP. Baron being vacant, it was offered to Lane, who was considered at the head of the Oxford bar. He could not expect his salary to be very regularly paid, but he did not sacrifice a very lucrative practice, and he accepted the offer.

To be regularly installed in this judicial dignity, he was first to be raised to the dignity of the coif; and, accordingly, in the roll of the proceedings under the Great Seal at Oxford, we have the following entry :—

"1643-4. January 25. Md. that Sir Richard Lane, Kt., the Prince's Highness' Attorney, made his appearance the first day of Hilary term at the Chancery bar in the Philosophy Schools at Oxford, and was there sworn a Serjeant-at-law, his writ being returnable Octobis Hillarij before the Right Honble Edward Lord Littleton, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, in open Court, Sir J. Colepeper Master of the Rolls, Doctor Littleton and Sir Thomas Mainwaring, Masters of the Chancery, being present, and the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and the oath of a Serjeant-at-law, were read to him by the Clerk of the Crown."

The following day he was sworn in as Chief Baron in a corner of the Schools called the "Court of Exchequer," the Lord Keeper complimenting him on his loyalty and learning, which had procured him such a special mark of the King's favour, and the new Chief Baron expressing a hope that, notwithstanding the recent successes of the rebels in England, from the assistance of our loyal brethren in Scotland and Ireland*, they would speedily be put down, and his Majesty would be acknowledged as God's Vicegerent throughout his all'his dominions.

Lane made


At this time there was a large batch of promotions at Other law promotions Oxford, Hyde being sworn in Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Oxford. Cottington Lord Treasurer, Breuwood a Justice of the

King's Bench, Colepeper Master of the Rolls and a Peer,
Gardiner Solicitor General, to say nothing of several
Masters extraordinary in the High Court of Chancery †; --

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* Alluding to Montrose and Glamorgan.
† Doquets of patents at Oxon. Temp. Car. I.



Dec. 1644. Lane one

of the King's commis

sioners at

and, I dare say, on the first day of the following Term, (although I do not find the fact recorded, and therefore do not venture to assert it,) there was a grand levée at the Lord Keeper's rooms in Christ Church, and a procession from thence to the Philosophy Schools, where the Courts were opened in due form, the Counsel were asked if they had any thing to move, and the Judges rose early-having at least this consolation, that they could not be reproached with the accumulation of


But Lane was soon after employed in real and very serious business. After the battle of Marston Moor, the surrender of Newcastle, and the third battle of Newbury, the Royalists were so much disheartened that a negotiation for peace was Uxbridge. proposed to the parliament, and Charles, instead of styling them as hitherto "the Lords and Commons of Parliament assembled at Westminster," was induced to address them as "the Lords and Commons assembled in the parliament of England at Westminster." The proposal could not be refused without incurring popular odium, and Uxbridge, then within the parliamentary lines, was named as the place of conference.

The King sent a list of his commissioners,-"Sir Richard Lane, Knight, Chief Baron of his Exchequer, Hyde, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gardiner, Solicitor General," and the others with the dignities lately conferred upon them. The parliament took offence, having declared on Littleton's flight to York with the Great Seal, that all patents afterwards passing under it should be void, and they were particularly hurt that any one should be denominated "Solicitor General" except their beloved St. John, who under that title had been directing all their movements, and whom they intended to employ as their chief commissioner in this very treaty. They insisted therefore that Lane and the rest of the King's commissioners should be mentioned in the pass and in the full powers conferring authority upon them to negotiate for the King, simply by their names, without any office or dignity as belonging to them. This concession was made, and the royal ambassadors arrived at Uxbridge with a commission Uxbridge. under the Great Seal, which was rejected, and another under the

Jan. 1645. Negotia tions at


King's sign-manual, which was recognised as sufficient. The CHAP. great bone of contention was still the militia, and Lane proved very clearly that by the ancient constitution of England the power of the sword belonged exclusively to the Sovereign, and that there could be no military force lawfully in the kingdom except under his warrant. The parliamentary commissioners did not much combat his law, but peremptorily insisted that the command both of the army and the navy should be in the two Houses, a precaution indispensably necesssary for the safety of those who had been standing out for the liberties of the nation. Twenty days were ineffectually consumed in such discusssions when the conference broke up. The pass was to expire next day, and as Lane and his colleagues might require two days to perform their journey to Oxford, they having spent two days in coming thence to Uxbridge, they were told by the parliamentary commissioners that they might safely make use of another day, of which no advantage should be taken; but they were unwilling to run any hazard, and they were in their coaches so early in the morning that they reached Oxford that night and kissed the hand of the King,

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who received them very graciously, and thanked them for the pains they had taken in his cause. His Majesty was particularly pleased with the zeal and ability manifested by the Chief Baron in supporting his constitutional right to the power of the sword, and marked him for farther promotion.

Lane remained at Oxford with the sinecure office of Head of the Court of Exchequer during the disastrous campaign of 1645. The gleam of hope from Montrose's victories in Scotland was extinguished by the news of the fatal field at Naseby, the surrender of Bristol by Prince Rupert, and the defeat of the royalists at Chester and Sherburn. In the Aug. 27. midst of these disasters Lord Keeper Littleton had been suddenly carried off, while making an effort to provide for the safety of Oxford, now threatened on every side.

The Great Seal was little thought of till the King made good his retreat from Newark, and took up his winter quarters in this city. He still displayed unshaken firmness; the growing difference between the Presbyterians and Independents held out a prospect of his being able to obtain fa


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