Hugh Peters

Hugh Peters, A. M.—This unhappy man was born at Fowey in Cornwall, in the year 1599. His father was a respectable merchant, and his mother of the ancient lainily of. the Trcffys, of Place in that town. At fourteen 3'cars of age he was sent to Cambridge, where he became a member first of Jesus college, then of Trinity college. During his residence at the university, he was greatly addicted to the follies and vain delights of youth; but afierwards, by attending the preaching of Dr. Sibbs, Mr. John Davenport, Mr. Thomas Hooker, and others, he was awakened to a sense of his sins, and turned from the error of his way. It is indeed observed, that when he was at Cambridge, he was so lewd and insolent, as to be whipt in the Regenfs-walk, a punishment scarcely ever inflicted upon any sinee, or perhaps a long time before, and so expelled for ever from the university.+ It is further added, that after this he betook himself to the stage, where he acquired that gesticulation and buffoonery which he practised in the pulpit.t He was admitted into holy orders by Bishop Montaigne of London ;^ and he preached for a considerable time, and with

» Ambrose's Works, p. 764. Edit. 1701.

+ Kennel's Chronicle, p. 277.

t Granger's Biog. Hist. vol. iii. p. 54.

^ Bishop Montaigne was equally zealous for the conformity of his clergy as the rest of his brethren. It is related that, in the year 1622, he lent his servant on a Saturday to the minister who was to preach before him on the following Lord's day, desiring a sight of his sermon. The minister, not cnung as was expected, greatly increased the prelate's jealousy, who tent for him on the sabbath morning about an hour before divine service. When the preacher came his lordship began to give him advice, especially that he should take heed and say nothing unfit for the present times. He inquired n hat was his text; and being told Gal. i. 6—§., I marvel that you are so soon removed, Sfc, the bishop struck his hand upon his breast, and swore the text was not allowable for those times. "No, my lord," said

one of his chaplains, who stood by, " the very mention of the text is not allowable for the present times.'' The bishop said, " Look to thyself; for if thou spenkest any thing that shall not please, I vow to break thy neck and thy back too." The preacher replied, that he had nothing to speak but the truth, and so was dismissed. Though his lordship was exceedingly displeased with the sermon, it contained a faithful account of the awful condition of those who forsake the faith they ouce received : only he observed, that they might expect some application, but he was not ambitious of lying in prison; and thus closed the sermon.—Baker't MS. Collec. vol. xxi. p. 104.

great acceptance and success, at St. Sepulchre's in the city. A certain scurrilous writer says, "he set up the trade of an itinerary preacher, never being constant or fixed to any one place or benefice; and he roved about the world like universal churchmen, called Jesuits."* Mr. Peters, speaking of his labours at Sepulchre's, says, "there were six or seven thousand hearers;" and adds," I believe above one hundred every week were persuaded from sin to Christ."t His great popularity and usefulness, together with his nonconformity, at length awakened the envy and malice of his enemies. He was noticed by the ruling prelates; and having prayed for the queen in Sepulchre's church, "That as she came into the Goshen of safety, so the light of Goshen might shine into her soul, and that she might not perish in the day of Christ;" he was apprehended by Archbishop Laud, silenced from his ministry, and committed close prisoner to New Prison, where he remained for some time before any articles were exhibited against him: and though certain noblemen interceded and offered bail for hi in,it was refused :J and at length, after obtaining Ins release, he was obliged to flee to New England.^

We are aware that several writers of the adverse party have assigned a very different reason for his going into exile. Langbaine insinuates something of " an affair that he had with a butcher's wife of Sepulchre's;" and Granger says, "That being prosecuted for criminal conversation with another man's wife, he fled to RoUerdam."|) Mr. Peters himself appears not to have been insensible of his ill character among his enemies; but he terms it altogether a reproach, and attributes it to his zeal in the cause he espoused. "By my zeal," says he to his daughter, "it seems I have exposed myself to all manner of reproach: but I wish you to know, that, besides your mother, I have had no fellowship that way with any woman since I knew her, having a godly wife before also, I bless God."* It may not be improper further to observe, that when he was afterwards under sentence of death, and only a short time before his execution, an intimate friend waiting upon him, put the question seriously and directly to him, whether he was guilty of the above accusation. To whom he replied, "I bless the Lord, I am wholly clear in that matter, and I never knew any woman but my own wife."+ A man is not, indeed, allowed to be witness in his own cause; nor should the testimony of his adversaries be deemed a full proof. A person loaded with so vile an accusation as Mr. Peters was, and suffering as a traitor in the way that he did, when party spirit ran high, and revenge actuated those who bore mile; tor such a one to be traduced and blackened beyond his deserts, is only what might be naturally expected. What reproach is not envy, malice, and a bigoted party spirit, able to cast upon men of the worthiest character? Mr. Peters's future popularity, and his high esteem among persons of the first rank in the nation, as will appear in the present narrative, certainly render the truth of the above charge at kast extremely doubtful.

* Bates's Lives of the King's Murderers, p. 40. Edit. 1661.

+ Pcters's Dying Legacy, p. 100. Edit. 1660.

t Huntley's Prelates' Usurpations, p. 169.

<i Prynnc's Cant. Doomc, p. 419.

U Historical and Critical Account of Hugh Peters, p. 34. Edit. 17*1.— Granger's. Biog. Hist. vol. iii. p. 64.

Mr. Peters having fled to Rotterdam, there gathered a congregation, and formed a church upon the plan of the independents, to which he was chosen pastor, lie had the celebrated Dr. William Ames for his colleague in the same church; but this excellent divine did not fong survive his removal from Franeker to this place. Mr. Peters continued five or six years, not without the blessing of God upon his ministry, and was succeeded in the pastoral charge by Mr. William Bridge, Mr. Sydrach Sympson, and Mr. Samuel Ward, all famous in their day, and all driven from their native country for nonconformity.t Mr. Peters, during his stay in Holland, appears to have behaved himself so well as to procure great interest and a high degree of reputation in the country: "For, being afterwards in Ireland, and seeing the great distress of the poor protestants, who bad been plundered by the Irish rebels, he went into Holland, and procured about thirty thousand pounds to be sent from thence into Ireland for their relief."^ We hence see how little credit is due to Dr. Nichols, that bold champion for high-church principles, who says, that Mr. Peters, growing into contempt among the people at Rotterdam, was obliged in a little while to leave the place.*

• Peters's Dying Legacy, p. 106.

+ Speeches and Prayers of (he King's Judges, p. 61. Edit. 1660.

| Bailie's Dissnasive, p. 76.

S Ludlow's Memoirs, vol. iii. p. 75. Edit. 1699.

On the resignation of his charge at Rotterdam, in the year 1635, he went to New England, and was chosen pastor of the church at Salem.t There he obtained a high reputation, and was greaily esteemed in the new colony. By an order from the general court of government, dated Boston, March 3, 1636, Mr. Peters, Mr. John Cotton, and Mr. Thomas Shepard, were appointed to assist the governor, deputy-governors, and others, " to make a draught of laws agreeable to the word of God, which might be fundamentals ot the commonwealth, and to present the same to the next general court."j Mr. Peters, after residing there seven years, was sent to England by the government of the new commonwealth to mediate for ease in customs and excise. Upon his arrival in his native country, lie found the nation deeply involved in the horrors of civil war; and being obliged to remain in England, he was not able for some time to accomplish the object of his mission.$ He always intended returning to New England, but one thing or another occurred, in those unsettled times, to prevent him.||

Mr. Peters had not been long arrived in England, before he became a zealous preacher in the parliament's army. In the year 1644, he was with the Earl of Warwick at the siege of Lime, a particular account of which he gave to the house of commons. In 1645, he attended Sir Thomas Fairfax at the taking of Bridgwater; and, bringing letters from the general, he was calied before the house, and gave a circumstantial account of the siege; when the house voted him to receive one hundred pounds, as a reward for his unwearied services. As a preacher he was undoubtedly very serviceable to the cause of the parliament. When it was determined to storm Bridgwater, " Mr. Peters, ia his

• Nichols's Defence of the Church, p. 50. Edit. 1740. + History of New Eng. p. 79.

Peters's Dying Legacy, p. 97—103. ji Mr. Thomas Peters, a minister of puritan principles, went fo New *

England during the civil war; and after staying about three years, be returned to his native country. He was a worthy man, and author of several eicellent pieces; but whether be was any relation to Mr. Hugh Peters, we have not been able to learn.—Mather's llht. of Ntm Eng. b. iil. p. 214.

sermon on the Lord's day before, encouraged the soldiers to the work."* It would certainly have looked much better, and have been much more consistent with his office as a minister of the gospel of peace and love, if, instead of this, he had excited them as much as possible to spare the effusion of human blood. His conduct in this, however, was not singular. This was too much the spirit and infatuation of the times.

During the above year, Mr. Peters was called before the house of commons; when he gave a particular account of the siege of Bristol, and the cause of sitting down before it, to prevent the plunder and cruelties of Prince Rupert in that part of the country. On this occasion,'he pressed the desire of Sir Thomas Fairfax to have more recruits sent him. He afterwards brought letters from Lieutenantgeneral Cromwell, concerning the taking of Winchestercastle; after which, being called before the house, he gave a circumstantial account of it, when the house voted him to . receive fifty pounds. In this year he returned from the army, and gave an account to the house of the storming and taking of Dartmouth; when he spoke of the valour, unity, and affection of the army, and presented letters, papers, and crucifixes, with other popish relics taken in the place. During his stay on this occasion in London, says Mr. Edwards, "he improved the whole of his time in preaching against the presbyterian government, the assembly, uniformity, common council, and the city of London, ami Fob A ToleRation Of All Sects !"i About the same time, having preached in the mnrkef-place at Torrington, and convinced many, it is said, of their errors in adhering to the king's party, he was sent, with Lieutenant-colonel Berry, to Plymouth, to treat with the governor. Towards the close of this year, he was again railed before the house of commons, and, after giving a particular relation of the proceedings of Sir Thomas Fairfax, he signified, that Lord Hopton's army of five thousand men was disbanded; that Hupton was not gone to Oxford, but had taken shipping for Frince; that many ot the commanders had accompanied him, and others were gone to their own homes; that Pendennis-castle was closely besieged; and that the general intended to return towards Exeter. An order, at the same time, passed the house, for one hundred pounds a year to be scttl-d upon Mr. Peters and his heirs, out of the Earl of

• Whiilorke's Memorials, p. 88, 156.

+ tdwaroYa Gangrama, part i. p. 214. Second edit.

Worcester's estates. And shortly after, an ordinance passed for settling upon him two hundred pounds a year.*

Mr. Peters, about this time, became a kind intercessor in beluilf of a lady of quality who was under confinement This appears from a loiter written with his own hand, dated June, lo'46, and now before me. It begins as follows:— "To my worthy friend Mr. Kushworth, secretary to the general.

"Honoured friend, I understand that the Lady Harlaw is

"put, and the Lady . You may remember that I had

M a promise for my Lady Newport, when you know my "Lord Newport is here with you. I pray therefore let me "entreat you in favour of her enlargement," &C.+

In the year 1649, Mr. Peters accompanied the parlia* ment's army to Ireland, when he is said to have had the command of a brigade against the rebels, and came off with honour and victory. In a letter dated Dublin, September 15, lu49, he irives an account of the bloody slaughter in the taking of Drogheda, which was as follows :J—


"The truth is, Drogheda is taken: 3552 of the "enemy slain, and sixty-four of ours. Colonel Castles and "Colonel Symonds of note. Ashton the governor killed: "none spared. We hive also proceeded to Trym and "Duudalk, and are marching to Kilkenny. I come now "from giving thanks in the great church. We have all "our army well landed.

"I am yours,

"Hugh Peters."

It was the common expression in those days," that the saints should have the praises of God in their mouths, and a twoedged sword in their haiids."^ This was a principle evidently too prominent in the lile of Mr. Piters. However, from the above detail, it appears how much he was in favour with the generals and the parliament, and that he must have made a distinguished figure in the transactions of those times. Nor is it improbable that (he distinction with which he Was treated by them, attached him so firmly to their interest, that in the end it cost him his life.|| From Ireland, says Dr. Walker, he was sent into Wales, with the commission of a colonel,

• WhiUockes Memorial!, p. 157, 165, 169, 195, 200, 203, 204, 223, K8>4I0. ^

+ Sloane's MSS. No. 1519. J Whitlocke'a Memorial*, p. 411.

! Memoirs of Col. llutchimon, vol. i. p. 314. Edit. 1810. Historical Account, p. II.

to raise a regiment: but having misspent his time, and raised only three companies, Cromwell's wife drew up articles against him. Mr. Peters, hearing of this, contrived, with Colonel Philip Jones and one Mr. Sampson Lort, " to settle a congregational church of their own invention;" hoping by this means to make it appear, that, instead of being idle, he had been all the time very well employed. Afterwards lie went to London; and, says our author, being asked his advice, " How to drive on the great design of propagating the gospel in Wales," he briefly delivered it to this effect: " That they must sequester all ministers without exception, and bring the revenues of the church into the public treasury; out of which must be allowed one hundred pounds a year to six itinerant ministers to preach in every county."*

During the wars he had several interviews and conferences with the king; when, says Mr. Peters, " He used me civilly; and 1 offered my poor thoughts three times for his safety."+ Mr. Peters assisted Mr. Challoner in his last moments, being executed for his concern in Waller's plot. t He also assisted Sir John Hot ham, whom he attended upon the scaffold, and from whom he received public thanks.«

When Archbishop Laud was under confinement, it was moved in the house of commons to send him to New England; but the motion was rejected. "The plot," says Laud, " was laid by Peters, and others of that crew, that they might insult over me."|| The archbishop, at the commencement of his trial, delivered a speech in his own defence, in the conclusion of which, he challenged any clergyman to come forth, and give a better account of his zeal for the church, and his conversion of papists to the

fjrotestant religion; when Mr. Peters, standing near his ordship, asked him whether he was not ashamed of making so bold a challenge in so honourable an assembly? adding, that he himself, the unworthiest of many hundred ministers in England, was ready to answer his challenge; and to produce a catalogue, not of twenty-two papists, but of above one hundred and twenty, whom he, through the blessing of God, had converted and brought home to God, making them other kind of converts than any he had recited, who were made neither good protestants nor good christians. He further added, that he, and many other ministers in England, were able to produce hundreds of true converts to Christ, for every one of his pretended ones; some of whom, by his own confession, soon turned apostates, and the rest were little better.* Whatever truth there might be in this reply, it certainly discovered Mr. Peters's too

* Walker's Attempt, part i. p. 141.

+ Whitlocke's Memorials, p. 281, 864.—Peters'* Dying Legacy, p. 103.

t This was a plut of considerable magnitude, with Mr. Waller, a member ef the house of commons, at the head. It was the design of the king, and those concerned in this conspiracy, to compel the parliament to a peace; but the confederacy was soon discovered, and several leading persons were apprehended. Challoner and three others were executed: but Waller saved his life by paying a fine of ten thousand pounds, and was baoilhe* from the kingdom.—Rapin's Hist, of Eng. vol. ii. p. 487,488.

', Whitlocke's Memorials, p. 117.

II Wharton's Troubles of Laud, vol. i. p. 203. i

freat forwardness, while it very much offended the archishop.

During the archbishop's trial, his library at Lambeth, it is said, was given to Mr. Peters, as a reward for his remarkable services.t The truth of this, however, is rendered rather doubtful, and appears, even from the very words of Laud himself, to have been founded merely on report. "All my books at Lambeth," says he, " were, by order of the house of commons, taken away, and carried I know not whither; but are, as it is commonly said, for the use of Mr. Peters. Before this time," his lordship adds, "some good number of my books were delivered to the use of. the synod," meaning the assembly of divines.}:

In the year 1651, Mr. Peters was one of the committee appointed by the parliament to take into consideration what inconveniencics were in the law, and how the mischiefs that arose from delays, and other irregularities in the proceedings of the law, might be best and soonest prevented. In this committee were Mr. Rushworth and Sir Anthony Ashly Cooper, afterwards the Earl of Shaftsbury and lord chancellor; besides many others of high rank. "But none of them," says Whitlocke, "was more active in this business than Mr. Hugh Peters, who understood little of the law, !ind was very opinionative."^ Mr. Peters, speaking of these transactions, says, "When I was called about mending laws, I was there to pray, rather than to mend laws. But in this, I confess, I might as well have been spared."j| Here, in his own words, his ignorance and inability, in things of this nature, are as frankly acknowledged as they are plainly described by the learned historian. But it is

• Prynne's Cant. Doomc, p. 56.

+ Walton's Life of Hooker, Pref.—Wood's Athene, vol. i. p. 263.

% Wharton'i Troubles of Laud, vol. i. p. 363.

S Waitlocke'i Memorials, p.496,497. |] PcteiVi Dying Legacy, p. 109.

difficult to reconcile his being very opinional'rct and his activity in the cause, with his attending the committee to pray, rather than to mend laws.

It is observed of Mr. Peters, that in the year 1653, he prayed and preached tor peace, and exhorted the people to peace, and zealously warned them against the sins of the times.* The year following, he was appointed one of the fryers of ministers. Dr. Walker intimates that he and Mr. Philip Nye were the most active and busy among them. He brings a foul accusation against Mr. Peters, as

if he were guilty of simony. The charge is founded on no other evidence than that one Mr. Camplin, a clergyman in Somersetshire, applied to Mr. Peters, by means of some other person, to obtain a settlement in the rectory of Kingston in that county; when Mr. Peters said to him, " Hath thy friend any money ?"+ A slender proof is this of so severe an accusation! They who are acquainted with the jocose temper and conversation of Mr. Peters, will not in the least wonder at such an expression from his mouth. Mr. Peters, speaking of himself in the above capacity, makes use of very modest and humble language. "When 1 was a tryer of Others," says he, "I went to hear and gain. experience, rather than to judge."t

In the year 1658, Mr. Peters went to Dunkirk, where he laboured in the capacity of preacher to the English garrison.^ In a letter from Colonel Lockhart to Secretary Thurloe, dated from Dunkirk, July 18, 1658, we have the following account of him! "I could not suffer our worthy "friend, Mr. Peters, to come away from Dunkirk without "a testimony of the great benefits we have all received from "him in this place, where he bath laid himself forth, in "great charity and goodness, in sermons, prayers, and '' exhortations, in visiting and relieving the sick and "wounded; and, in all these, profitably applying the sin« 11 gular talent God hath bestowed upon him to the chief "ends proper for our auditory. l<or he hath not only "shewed the soldiers their duty to God, and pressed it "home upon them, I hope to good advantage, but hath <c likewise acquainted them with their obligations of obediu ence to his highness's government, and affection to his a person. He hath laboured amongst us here with much

• Thurloe's State Papers, vol. i. p. 330.
+ Walker's Attempt, part i. p. 172, 174.
| Petcrs's Dying legacy, p. 109.
S Whillocke's Mem. p. 674. Edit. 173S.

'• good will, and seems to enlarge his heart towards us, and "care of us lor many other things.—Mr. Peters hath been "twice at Bergh, and hath spoke with the cardinal (Maza{' rin) three or four times. I kept myself by, and had a "care that he did not importune him with too long speeches. "He returns loaden with an account of all things here, and "hath undertaken every man's business."*

Mr. Peters returned to England at the above period, bringing an abundant store of intelligence to the government. January 29, 1660, when General Monk was on his march from Scotland towards London, he was appointed to preach before him on a fast-day at St. Alban's; when, it is said, "he troubled the general with a long fast sermon; and at night too he supererogated, and prayed a long prayer in the general's quarters. Our author gives the following account of the sermon on this occasion:—" As to the sermon, he managed it with some dexterity at the first, allowing the cantings of his expressions. His text was Psalm cvii. 7. He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. With his fingers on the cushion he measured the right way from the Red Sea, through the wilderness to Canaan; said it was not forty days march, but God led Israel forty years through the wilderness, before they came thither; yet this was still the Lord's right way, who led his people crindtdum cum crancledum. He particularly descended into the lives of the patriarchs, how they journeyed up and down, though blessings and rest were promised them. Then he reviewed our civil wars, our intervals of peace, and fresh distractions, and hopes of rest. But though the Lord's people," he said, " were not yet come to a city of habitation, he was still leading them on the right way, how dark soever his dispensations might appear to men. '+

May the 16th, in the above year, an order passed tho house, of commons, now modelled in favour of loyalty, "That the books and papers in the hands of John Thurloe and Hugh Peters, heretofore belonging to the library of the late Archbishop of Canterbury, be forthwith secured." But it does not appear from our author whether any such books were found in their possession.J After the king's restoration, Mr. Peters being apprehended and committed to prison, his majesty sent a warrant to Sir John Robinson, lieutenant of the Tower, to obtain information of his

• Thurloe"s Stale Pap«r», tol. tii. p. 223, 249.

♦ Kvnnct'i Ckraotclr, p. 36. J Ibid. p. 150.

royal father's library; when Mr. Peters underwent an examination, and declared upo.i his oath, "That, in the year 1648, he preserved the hbrary in St. James's against the violence and rapine of the soldiers; that the same continued three or four months in his custody; that he did not take any thing away, but left it uuviolated as he found it; artd that he delivered up the key and custody of all to Major General Ireton."*

Mr. Peters was thought to have been deeply concerned in the king's death, on which account his name has been treated with much severity. It was supposed that the warrant for the king's execution was directed to him and Colonel Hacker, and that they were the two persons who were in mask upon the scaffold when his majesty was beheaded. There was some demur in the house of commons whether he should be excepted from the act.of oblivion.f But, in the conclusion, it was declared against him, and he was apprehended, committed to the Tower, and tried with the rest of the regicides, in all twenty-nine. Bishop Kennet in one place says, that for a while he had been sculking up and down in secret, but was at length apprehended in Southwark; and in another, that he was discovered by one of those confidents whom he brought from New England, and seized upon in bed with another man's wife.f This vile calumny is cast upon him on the slender evidence of a bigoted and abusive piece, entitled, "Regicides no Saints, nor Martyrs."

Mr. Peters was brought to the bar, October 13, 1660; when he was indicted for high treason, to which he pleaded. not guilty. "After the indictment was read," says Bishop Kennet, " he saw a whole congregation of witnesses against him, who upon their oaths testified him guilty of the most horrid crimes that any man could be guilty of." These crimes are next enumerated as follows :—" That he not only took arms, but was himself actually a colonel, and gave out commissions.—That he met in private consultation, near the time of the king's trial, at the Star in Coleman-street, with Cromwell, Pride, and others of the bloody plot.—That in December, 1648, the head-quarters were at Windsor, where Cromwell, Ireton, Rich and Peters, usually sat in consultation, till two or three o'clock in the morning, with strict guard about them; soon after which the king was brought to trial.—That during this consultation at Windsor, Peters

• Biog. Uriian. tol. i. p. 230. Edit. 1747.

+ Ludlow'i Mcm.p.394.. Edit. 1771. | Kennel's Chron. p. 169, 278,

commonly called Lis majesty tyrant and fool, saying, «he was unfit to be a king, and that the kingly office itself"was dangerous, chargeable, and useless.'—That an aged gentleman having said, ' God save the king, and preserve him out of the hands of his enemies,' he was offended, and said,' Old genlleman, your idol will not stand long.'—That at Margaret's, Westminster, he preached upon these words, Not this man, but Barabbas, comparing all along his majesty to Barabbas, and bloodily inciting his auditory to kill the king; inimating that God would bring every tyrant to justice, signifying that there was no exception for king, or prince, or any of that rabble.—That he rode ne\t betbie the king when he was brought from Windsor to his trial.— That in the painted chamber, the first day the high court of justice sat, Hugh Peters and John Goodwin were with them, when all others, except the judges and officers of the court, were kept out. That he was present at making proclamation in Westminster-hall for the high court of justice, and did there openly say to Sergeant Dendy, 'All this you have done is worth nothing, unless you proclaim it in Cheapside and the Old Exchange.'

"That the said Hugh Peters was marshalling and encouraging the soldiers who guarded the king in Si. James's Park, a little betbre his trial.—That he was constantly in private consultations at Bradshaw's house during the trial, with them who sat upon the king.—That he bid Stubbs command his soldiers, when the king came near the high court, to cry out justice! justice!—That being at the high court of justice on the twentieth of January, he was heard to say, ' This is a most glorious beginning of the work.'— That on Sunday the twenty-first of January, he preached at Whitehall, from Psalm clix. 8., To bind their kings rcith chains, SfC, applying his text and sermon to the late king, and highly applauding the proceedings of the army, saying, 4 This is a joyful day, and I hope to see such another day to-morrow.'—That the Sunday after his majesty was sentenced to die, he preached again upon the same text at St. James's, saying, 'He intended to have preached upon another text before the poor wretch; but that the poor wretch refused to hear him.'—That in the afternoon of the same day, he preached at Sepulchre's, and repeated all his parallel between his late majesty and Barabbas, crying out, that none but Jews would let Barabbas go.—That in this sermon, he said, ' Those soldiers who assisted in this great work had Kmanuel written on their bridles.'

"That iu the iiainted chamber, on one qf the days of the king's trial, Peters kneeled down and prayed for a blessing; and amongst other things, he said, ' O Lord, what a mercy is it to see this great city fall down before us!'—That he was upon the scaffold a little before the execution, and then whispered to Tench, the carpenter, who thereupon did there knock and fasten four staples, pulling a cord out of hit pocket.—That after the king was murdered, Peters said, * Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.'—That a while after the execution, he said, 'I rejoice to think of that day; for to me it seemed like the great and last day of judgment, when the saints shall judge the world.' "*

This is a full account of all the charges which even his enemies bring against him; but whether these things prove "him guilty of the most horrid crimes that any man could be guilty of," is left with the reader to judge. Most of the foregoing particulars, as every reader will easily perceive, fell far short of high treason. Though it is said, that to all these particulars he made not one word of answer, except in cant and impertinence;+ yet, when the witnesses were produced to find him guilty of having been one of the king's judges, their evidence completely failed, and they could only prove that he was present on the occasion, when he used some indiscreet language. When the court attempted to prove that he was upon ihe scaffold the day on which the king suffered, he produced witness deposing that he was sick on that day, and confined to his own house. What Mr. Peters observed in his own defence, was little more than a proieslation of his own innocence. He said that the war commenced before he came to England; that since his arrival, he hud endeavoured to promote sound religion, good learning,-and the employment of the poor; and that, for the beiier attainment of these ends, he had espoused the interest of the parliament, fie then added, " 1 had neither malice nor mischief in my heart against the king. I had so much respect to his majesty, particularly at Windsor, that I propounded to him my thoughts thre*: ways, to preserve him from danger, which were good, as he was pleased to signify, though they did not succeed. As for malice, I had none in me."f Whitlocke observes, that, "upon a conference between the king and Mr. Peters, the king desiring one of his own chaplains might be permitted to come to

♦ Kennel's Chronicle, p. 277, 278. + Ibid.

% Trial of Regicides, p. 30, 153--183. Edit. 1660.

him, for his satisfaction in some scruples of conscience, Dr. Juxton, bishop of London, was ordered to go to hit majesty."* "-And Sir John Denham being entrusted by the queen to deliver a message to his majcsly, who at that time was in the hands of the arm}', by the assistance of Hugh Peters he got admittance to the king."t

These were certainly very considerable services, and could hardly have been expected from a man, who, according to Burnet, "was outrageous in pressing the king's death, with the cruelty and rudeness of an inquisitor. "$ As to the vile insinuation of many writers, that he was supposed to have been one of the masked executioners, besides the deposition at his trial, that he was then confined by sickness, no stress was laid by the king's counsel on any suspicions or repoits on this head. So that in all good reason, i)r. Berwick, Mr. Granger, and others, should have foreborne saying, " that he was upon no slight grounds accused to have been one of the king's murderers."$

Mr. Peters, in further protestation of his own innocence, says, " I thought the act of indemnity would have included me; but the hard character upon me excluded me. 1 have not had my hand in any man's blood, but saved many in life and estate."! All that was proved against him consisted merely in words; but words, it must be acknowledged, unfit to be uttered. Yet, when it is recollected that many greater offenders than Mr. Peters escaped capital punishment, we shall be led to suspect that he met with some unkind and hard usage. When he was asked why sentence should not be passed upon him, to die according to law, he. only said, "I will submit myself to God; and if I have spoken anything against the gospel of Christ, I am heartily sorry for it."* The sentence of death was then passed upon him; when he was confined in Newgate only three days and then executed. According to Ludlow, it was of no use to plead in his own defence: the court was fully resolved on his execution. "It was not expected," observes this author, " that any thing he could say should save him from the revenge of the court; and, therefore, he was without hesitation brought in guilty.""

Mr. Peters, the day after his condemnation, preached to his friends and fellow-prisoners in Newgate. His text wai Psalm xlii. 11. Why art thou cast down, O my soul f And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God. The subject was particularly appropriate. For, during his imprisonment, he was exercised with a painful conflict in his own spirit, tearing, as he often said, that he should not go through his sufferings with courage and comfort. To his friends he said he was somewhat unprepared for death; and therefore he felt in some degree unwilling to die. Some things, he observed, he had committed, and others he had omitted, which troubh d him; but he believed the light of God's countenance would at lust break forth. And the favour of God did at length appear. For a little time before he went to the place of execution, his mind became perfectly composed; and with the utmost cheerfulness he said, " I thank God, now I can die. I can look death in the face, and not be afraid." To the truth of this many could bear witness.*

• Whillorke's Memorials, p. 364. + Historical Account, p. 24.

t Hist, of his Time, vol. i. p. 162.

ij Historical Account, p. 25.—Granger's Biog, Hist. vol. iii. p.65.

| | Peters's Dying Legacy, p. 104, 106.

1 Trial of Regicides, p. 132—184. •• Ludlow's Memoirs, p. 40T.

Bishop Kennet observes, that " alter the trial and condemnation of the regicides, Dr. Barwick and Dr. Dolben were sent to persuade them to repentance, and to confess their impious deeds." It is also added, "that they might employ their pious endeavours to better purpose with others, their first care was to solicit Hugh Peters, the principal and ring-leader of all the rest. The wild prophecies uttered by his impure mouth were still received by the people with the same veneration as if they had been oracles, though he was known to be infamous for more than one kind of wickedness. He was accused, upon no slight grounds, to have been one of the masked executioners hired to murder the king, but it could not be sufficiently proved against him." To all that these divines could say to him, says our author, "Peters answered with much surliness, negligence, and stupidity, and slopped his ears against all admonitions. He had so perfectly shook off all sense of piety and religion, if ever he had any, that his accomplices earnestly requested these divines to intercede with his majesty that a person so deaf to advice, and so impenetrable to their sacred ministrations, might not be hurried into another world till he were brought, if possible, to a better sense of his condition."t

To this account, too evidently designed to reproach hi*

* Speeches and Prayers of the King's Judges, p. 58. + Kennet's Chronicle, p. 281, 285.

memory, we shall only observe, from other authority, that the two doctors used their utmost endeavours to persuade him to a recantation of his former activity in the cause of the parliament, with promises of pardon from the king if he would comply. Though he was then much afflicted in spirit, he was enabled to resist their insinuations. He told them, " he had not the least cause to repent of his adherence to the parliament; but only that, in the prosecution of that cause, he had done no more for God and his people." And thus, with civility, he dismissed his visitants.

The day on which he suffered he was carried on a sledge from Newgate to Charing-cross, the place of execution; where he was made io behold the execution of Mr. Cook, another of the regicides. Here a person came to him, and upbraided him with the death of the king, bidding him now repent: to whom Mr. Peters said, "Jriend, you do not well to trample upon the feelings of a dying man. You are greatly mistaken. I had nothing to do in the death of the king." When Mr. Cook was cut down, and brought to be

Juartcred, the hangman was commanded to bring Mr. 'eters near, that he might behold the mangled remains of bis fcllow-suflerer. As the hangman approached him, being all over besmeared with blood, and rubbing his bloody hands together, he said, "How do you like this, Mr. Peters? how do you like this work I To whom Mr. Peters replied, " I thank God, I am not terrified at it. You may do your worst." As he was going to be executed, he gave a piece of gold to a friend, requesting him to carry it to his daughter as a token of respect from her dying father; and to let her know, "Tliat his heart was as full of comfort as it could be; and that before that piece should come into her hands, he should be with God in glory." When he was upon the ladder, he said to the sheriff "Sir, you have here slain one of the servants of God before mine eyes, and have made me behold it, on purpose to terrify and discourage me; but God hath ordered it for my strengthening and encouragement." "If Peters said this," a learned doctor observes, "it is plain he died as he lived, and went out of the world with a notorious lie in his mouth;" then insinuates, that he had taken a large potion; that he behaved himself like an idiot; that he was stupidly drunk, and therefore was not in a condition to make such a reflection. This surely needs no comment.* When he was going off, he

• Grey'i Examination, vol. iii. p. 286.

said, u What, Jiesh! art thou unwilling to go to God through the fire and jaios of death .* Oh,' said he, " this is a good day. He is come whom 1 hare long looked for, and I shall be with him in glory ,-" and went off with a smile on 1iis countenance.* He suffered October 16, l660, aged sixty-one years; and his head was set upon a pole on London-bridge.

Mr. Peters, if is allowed by all, intermeddled too much irr state matters, and Wps too much the tool of the ruling party, which evidently brought him to this disgraceful end. Few men have suffer d great< r infamy and reproach. He is accused of many enormous crimes, but whether justly or not, we leave it with God to judge. Bishop Burnet,.speaking of the triumphant death of (he regicides, says, " It was indeed remarkable that Peters, a sort of enthusiastical buffoon preacher, though a veriy vicious man, who had been of great use to Cromwell, and had been outrageous in pressing the king's death with the cruelty and rudeness of an inquisitor, was the man of them all that was the most sunk in his spirit, and could not in any sort bear his punishment. He had neither , the honesty to repent of il,nor the strength of mind to suffer for it as all the rest of them did. He," our author adds, "• was observed all the while to be drinking some cordial liquors to keep him from fainting, "+

Kennet styles him a virulent incendiary in the king's death, and says he was not fit to die, and was unable to beaT up under the prospect of it. "And," he adds, "without any reflection on the wickedness of the man, there never was a person suffered death so unpitied; and, which is more, whose ex cut ion was the delight of the people, which they expressed by several shouts and acclamations, when they saw him go up the ladder, and again when the halter was putting about his neck; but when his head was cut off, and held up aloft on the end of a spear, there was such a shout as if the people of Englmd had acquired a victory."* Such was their loyal infatuation, brutality, and outrage!

Granger snys ihat Mr. Peters, together with his brethren, went to his execution with an air of triumph, rejoicing that he was to suffer in so good a cause. But, he adds, it appears from this instance, and many others, that the presumption of an enthusiast is much greater than that of a saint. He

» Speeches ami Prayers, p. 59—62.

+ Burnet's Hist, of his Time, vol. i. p. 162.

X Krtmat's Chronicle, p. 169,282.

was a great pretender to the saintly character, a Tenement declaimer against Charles I., and one of the foremost to encourage and justify the rebellion.* Dr. Barwick says, "he was known to be infamous tor more kinds of wickedness than one."+ Wood denominates him '♦ a theological and pulpit buffoon, and a diabolical villain."j Dr. Grey says, "he was a juggling, scandalous, and inlanious villain, and that he got the mother and daughter with child." He styles him, "the gingerbread prophet, the late pastor of a hunger-starved flock at Salem in New England, that mongrel minister, that military priest, that modern Simon Magus, that disguised executioner, that bloody butcher of the king."*:

These are, indeed, very heavy charges. They require good evidence for their support. On the one hand, it is easy for an historian to assert what he wishes to be true, though he cannot prove it; and on the other, it is often extremely difficult to disprove what is asserted, though it may in fact rest on no good evidence. Though we would by no means connive at sin, or attempt to lessen the guilt of any man, the truth of the above charges appears extremely doubtful. Some of these accusations are unquestionably the language of scurrility, misrepresentation, and abuse; and they all come from known enemies, those who hated the cause in which he was engaged, and looked upon it as detestable. We do not find, that they knew of any of those things of Mr. Peters themselves; and, therefore, what they have published must be considered only as common fame, which in those times, when malice, bigotry, and revengs ran so high, might easily have been propagated without even the shadow of proof. Mr. Peters suffering as a traitor, they were probably too forward to believe those reports; the truth of which was at best extremely uncertain. Indeed, the times in which Mr. Peters was on the stage, were far enough from favouring such vices in the ministerial character. He must be a novice in the history of those times, who knows not what a precise and demure kind of :nen were the preachers among the parliamentarians. They were careful, not only of their actions, but of their words, and even their looks and gestures. Drunkenness, whore, dom, swearing, and such like vices, were quite out of

• Granger's Biog. Hist. vol. tti. p. 85, S39.
+ Historical Account, p. S3,
t Wood's Athens Oion. vol. ii. p. IIS, 739.
<j Grey's Examination, vol. ii. p. 368. iii. 287.

vogue among them. It was their sobriety and strictness of behaviour, joined wilh their popular talents in the pulpit, -which cuised them to be so much rever.-d and esteemed. It"Mr. Peters had ben so vicious, so infamous for wickedness, and so scandalous and diabolical a villain, as he is represented, he c ,uld certainly have had no influence over the people, nor would he have been treated in the manner that he was by some of the principal men in the nation. They must have parted with him even for their own sakes, unless they wished to have been looked upon as enemies to religion.

Besides, if it be recollected who were the patrons of Mr. Peters, the truth of his accusations will appear very , doubtful. We have seen how he was entertained by the Earl of Warwick, Sir Thomas Fairfax, and Oliver Cromwell, and how much he was can ssed and rewarded by the parliament. How improbable then is it that he was infamous for wickedness! His patrons, it is observed, were never accused of personal vices. They were men who at least made high pretensions to religion; and the cause for which they.fought, they avowed to be the cause of God. With what face could they have done this, if their chaplain, their confident, their tool, had been known to be so vicious, so infamous lor wickedness, and so scandalous and diabolical a villain? Or, how could they have said and done so much against scandulous ministers, who employed one of the most scandalous? In short, how could they publicly reward Mr. Peters, when they always professed great zeal for godhness, and endeavoured to promote it in the highest degree? Men of their wisdom, courage, and zeal, can hardly be thought to have acted so inconsistent a part.*

Mr. Edwards observes of Mr. Peters, that he was a great agent for the sectaries; and that by preaching, writing, and conference, he greatly promoted the cause of independency. + In addition to the thirty thousand pounds which he collected for the persecuted protestants in Ireland, as already noticed, he was a diligent and earnest solicitor for the distressed protestants in the vallics of Piedmont, who, by the tyrannical oppressions of the Duke of Savoy, had been most inhumanly persecuted and reduced to the utmost extremity. Also, in gratitude to the Hollanders for the sanctuary he had found among them, during his persecutions under Archbishop Laud, he was of signal service to

• Historical Account, p. 85—39. .<

+ Sdtrarda'i (iangreua, part iii. p. 120.

.them in composing their differences with England, in the time of Cromwell.*

Mr. Peters, during his imprisonment, wrote certain papers, as a legacy to his daughter, which were afterwards published, from which some parts of this memoir have been extracted. Though a comfortable annual maintenance was conferred upon him by the parliament, he was deprived of all at Ihe restoration; and Mrs. Peters, who lived many years alter his death, was wholly dependent upon her friends for support.+

His Works.—1. God's Doings, and Man's Duty, opened in a Sermon preached before the I louse of Commons, the Lord Mayor, and the Assembly of Divines, 1646.—2. Petcrs's Last Report of the English Wars, occasioned by the Importunity of a I'rieud, pressing an Answer to some Queries, 1646.—3. A Word for the Army, and two Words for the Kingdom, to clear the one and cure the other, forced in much Plainness and Brevity from iheir faithful Servant, Hugh Peters, 1C47.—4. Good Work for a Good Magistrate, or a short Cut to a great Quiet, 1651—5. Some Notes of a Sermon preached the 14th of October, lr<60, in the Prison of Newgate, after his Condemnation, 1660.—6. A Dying Father's Last Legacy to an only Child; or, Mr. Hugh Peters's Advice to his Daughter, written by his own hand, during his late imprisonment in the Tower of London, and given her a little before his death, 1660.—The portrait of Mr. Peters is prefixed to this little work.

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