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A Jury of Penn's Peers and Jury Nullification *

Thousands of Quakers fill English prisons. In some cells, they are packed cheek to jowl, and the Quakers have refused any comfort. Their crimes are refusing to take oaths and not attending Anglican services. (To be fair, a few of them have been disruptive, but even the worst of them would never rate prison time in the modern day.) In 1668, William Penn (the guy that Pennsylvania will one day be named after) was thrown into the Tower of London for criticizing all the major religions except for the Quakers. Penn is a Quaker. He is finally released and unrepentant. He tests the new London laws against unlawful assembly, and is put on trail with a jury of his peers but Penn is denied a defense and the judge sequesters the jury without food and water until they bring a verdict of "guilty". In an act of jury nullification, the jury finds Penn "not guilty." Nevertheless, Penn is thrown into prison... ALONG WITH THE JURY! The jury is also fined the equivalent of a year's salary. In the end, Penn and the jury are released. William Penn writes another pamphlet that is published this year entitled, The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In a case of jury nullification, a jury should be allowed to rule without fear of government reprisal. Also habeus corpus became a legal precedent... that is... the right of a citizen to report his own unlawful detention before a court of law. The term habeus corpus means "produce the body" which are the first few words of the writ demanding that the plaintiff come before the court. British law, as one would recognize it today, is still coming together and this is how it happens... not with intellectual consideration and careful, reasoned debate but by goofing things up left and right and realizing that we all have to do things better... a lot better. On a different note, if the King seemed distant and unconcerned in this episode, that is because he was too busy whoring... uh.. I mean... tending to his personal business. His subjects were so upset with his public folly that they would protest in the street which may explain why public assembly was outlawed. The Queen actually fainted when King Charles the 2nd introduced her to one of his mistresses. Obviously, he was leaving the administrative and legal details of governing to his ministers. [7]

Making a Grab for the Family Jewels

Thomas Blood is the first to attempt to steal the Crown Jewels of England. The Crown Jewels are on display in the Tower of London and can be viewed for a small fee. Thomas disguises himself as a parson and with his accomplice (a woman pretending to be his wife) visit the Jewels. His "wife" fakes an illness, and while finding a place for her to lay down, Thomas Blood ingratiates himself to the Keeper of the Jewels. After some time, Thomas makes arrangements for the Keeper's daughter to marry Thomas's nonexistent son. At a dinner to settle the details, Thomas hits the Keeper over the head with a mallet and ties him up. Then he grabs the crown and wacks it with the same mallet so that it will fit under his cloak. Meanwhile, the Keeper gets loose and cries for help. Blood and his accomplices run... crying for help to catch the thieves! Thomas drops the crown and keeps on running. Eventually he is caught. For reasons lost to history, King Charles the 2nd pardons him and grants him land in Ireland. [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The people really hated Cromwell, and gave up the dream of a republic for King Charles the 2nd. They are regretting it, but they will wish for the return of King Charles after his brother, James, takes the throne in 1685. James was Catholic and you can bet that went over like a lead balloon. Regarding the actual theft of the Jewels, I was told by a private detective that the best thing to shout when you want people to come to your aid is "Fire!" People will look your way and react more sensibly than if you shout "Stop Thief!" or "Help me!" [9]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1671, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Age of Louix XIV: a History of European Civilization in the Period of Pascal, Molière, Cromwell, Milton, Peter the Great, Newton, and Spinoza: 1648-1715, The, The Story Of Civilization. Simon and Schuster. “His trial in 1669 played a role in the history of English law. The jury acquitted him; the judge fined and imprisoned the jury for contumacy; the jurors appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, which, by unanimously declaring that they had been unlawfully arrested, vindicated the right and power of juries in England. However, Penn was jailed for refusing to remove his hat in court.” 
  2. Bushel's Case - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 November 2015. “Vaughan ruled that a jury could not be punished simply on account of the verdict it returned, but that individual jurors could still be punished if it could be demonstrated that they had acted improperly.”
  3. William Penn - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 November 2015. “Despite heavy pressure from the Lord Mayor to convict Penn, the jury returned a verdict of 'not guilty'. When invited by the judge to reconsider their verdict and to select a new foreman, they refused and were sent to a cell over several nights to mull over their decision. The Lord Mayor then told the jury, 'You shall go together and bring in another verdict, or you shall starve', and not only had Penn sent to jail in loathsome Newgate Prison (on a charge of contempt of court), but the full jury followed him, and they were additionally fined the equivalent of a year's wages each.”
  4. William Penn – Liberty of Conscience — The Freedom Kids. thefreedomkids.com (2015). Retrieved on 3 November 2015. “In one of these cases, Penn pleaded for his right to see a copy of the charges laid against him and the laws he had supposedly broken, but the judge, the Lord Mayor of London, refused — even though this right was guaranteed by the law. Eventually, he was let out.”
  5. The Political Writings of William Penn. oll.libertyfund.org (2015). Retrieved on 3 November 2015. “That William Penn, Gent. and William Mead, late of London, Linnen-Draper, with divers other Persons, to the Jurors unknown, to the Number of Three [{6}] Hundred, the 15th Day of August, in the 22th Year of the King,1 about Eleven of the Clock in the Forenoon the same Day, with Force and Arms, &c. in the Parish of St. Bennet Grace-Church, in Bridge-Ward, London, in the Street called Grace-Church-Street, Unlawfully and Tumultuously did Assemble and Congregate themselves together, to the Disturbance of the Peace of the said Lord the King: And the aforesaid William Penn and William Mead, together with other Persons, to the Jurors aforesaid unknown, then and there so Assembled and Congregated together; the aforesaid William Penn, by Agreement between him and William Mead, before made, and by Abetment of the aforesaid William Mead, then and there in the open Street, did take upon himself to Preach and Speak, and then, and there, did Preach and Speak, unto the aforesaid William Mead, and other Persons there, in the Street aforesaid, being Assembled and Congregated together, by Reason whereof a great Concourse and Tumult of People in the Street aforesaid, then and there, a long Time did remain and continue, in Contempt of the said Lord the King, and of his Law; to the great Disturbance of his Peace, to the great Terror and Disturbance of many of his Liege People and Subjects, to the ill Example of all others in the like Case Offenders, and against the Peace of the said Lord the King, his Crown and Dignity.”
  6. THE Great CASE of Liberty of Conscience Once more briefly Debated and Defended, by the Authority of Reason, Scripture, and Antiquity: Which may serve the Place of a General Reply to such late Discourses; as have Oppos’d a Toleration (1670) The Author W. ucs.louisiana.edu (2008). Retrieved on 3 November 2015. “THE great case of Liberty of Conscience, so often debated and defended . . is once more brought to public view, by a late Act against Dissenters, and Bill, or an additional one, that we all hoped the wisdom of our rulers had long since laid aside, as what was fitter to be passed into an act of perpetual oblivion. The kingdoms are alarmed at this procedure, and thousands greatly at a stand, wondering what should be the meaning of such hasty resolutions, that seem as fatal as they were unexpected. Some ask what wrong they have done? Others, what peace they have broken? And all, what plots they have formed to prejudice the present government, or occasions given to hatch new jealousies of them and their proceedings? being not conscious to themselves of guilt in any such respect.”
  7. Habeas corpus - definition of habeas corpus (2015). Retrieved on 3 November 2015. “A writ that a person may seek from a court to obtain immediate release from an unlawful confinement, as when the confinement has occurred through a means that violated the person's constitutional rights.”
  8. Thomas Blood - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 November 2015. “In 1670, despite his status as a wanted man, Blood returned to England and is believed to have taken the name Ayloffe and practised as a doctor or an apothecary in Romford Market, east of London.[4] A second attempt, this time on the life of the Duke of Ormonde, followed.”
  9. James II of England - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 November 2015. “The second surviving son of Charles I, he ascended the throne upon the death of his brother, Charles II. Members of Britain's Protestant political elite increasingly suspected him of being pro-French and pro-Catholic and of having designs on becoming an absolute monarch. When he produced a Catholic heir, the tension exploded, and leading nobles called on his Protestant son-in-law and nephew William of Orange, to land an invasion army from the Netherlands, which he did in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.”

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