The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset
(3rd Edition published 1868)
Transcribed by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester - May 2010
THE TOWN AND BOROUGH OF DORCHESTER.
Judge Jeffries - Dorchester Assizes 1685
George Jeffreys (1645-1689)
Monday Septtember 7th & Sunday 13th 1685, were executed here; among these were Mr. Smith, constable of Chardstock; Mr. Matthew Bragg, attorney, of Thorncomb ; and Joseph Speed, of Culliton.
The following is another account, extracted from Toulmin's History of Taunton : (page 146)—" The prisoners were removed from Salisbury and Winchester gaols to Dorchester for trial, where Jeffreys arrived on Thursday, September 3. After an excellent sermon on Friday morning, inculcating mercy, at which, as well as in the prayers, the Chief Justice was seen to laugh, he repaired to the court, which, by his direction, was hung with red cloth. Having delivered a charge, fraught with severe sentiments, and pronounced with a passionate vehemence, he adjourned till eight o'clock the next morning, and a bill was found against 30 persons. They put themselves on their trials, notwithstanding his lordship's threatenings, that, if any did put themselves on their trial, and the country found them guilty, they should have but little time to live. At the same time he insinuated, 'that it were better to plead guilty, if they expected any favour.' Twenty-nine were found guilty. They were all immediately condemned, and no intercession or influence could procure even a respite of the execution, which, with respect to 13, was fixed for the Monday following, when they accordingly suffered at Dorchester. Among them were Mr. George Stewart, of Culliton; Mr. Joseph Speed, of the same place, a person of unblemished reputation; Mr. Smith, of Chardstock, who, having some militia money in his hands, had been compelled to deliver it to a party of the Duke of Monmouth's men; and Mr. Bragge, a gentleman of ancient family, and an attorney at Chardstock, who had reluctantly been constrained, as he was returning home from keeping a court, to direct some of the Duke's men to the house of a Roman Catholic, where they expected to meet with some arms. This harsh proceeding was intended to shorten business, and to tempt others to a confession, without which not a tenth part could have been proved guilty. To entrap the ignorant and unwary, two officers were sent to the gaol to call over the names of the prisoners, with a promise of mercy if they confessed, which many did; but this step was so artfully managed, that the officers themselves, if they pleaded not guilty, were to ground an evidence against them on their own confessions. The remainder, except a very few, were thus disposed to plead guilty. This manoeuvre put an end to the trials. In this concise way 292 were at once sentenced to death, about 80 of whom were executed. One Mr. Thomas Lawrence, by an application to the judge's favourites, purchased his life, but was obliged to pay down £200. and to give a bond for £200 more, though the only charge that lay against him was, that he had recovered but one horse out of three which a party of the Duke's men had taken out of a barn belonging to an estate in the parish of Lyme, of which he was the steward.
John Tutchin(1 & 2), who wrote the Observator, and some vile verses,a in Queen Anne's time, was sentenced to be whipped through every town in the county once a year, to be imprisoned seven years, and fined 100 marks. He petitioned to be hanged, on which he was reprieved, and afterwards pardoned.
William Wiseman, of Weymouth, was ordered to be whipped in all the market towns in the county, which sentence was only executed here and at Weymouth."
(1). John TUTCHIN (c1660-1707) was born in either 1660 or 1664 and according to 'The Trial of John Tutchin, Author of the 'Observator', by Lee Sonsteng Horsley published in 1973' was probably the grandson of the Reverend Robert TUTCHIN of Newport on the Isle of Wight who was, ejected in 1662. This is almost certainly correct as Robert Tutchin was curate of Fordington church for the years 1628 to 1634 serving under the non conformist minister the Rev Edward Pele. Robert's three sons (and hence John's father) were all educated at the 'Free School' in Dorchester. His life is covered by the Dictionary of National Biography which informs us that his father, grandfather and uncles were all non conformist ministers. In the summer of 1685 when still in his early twenties he joined the Duke of Monmouth's Rebellion under the assumed name of Thomas PITTS. He was captured and charged with the offence of spreading false news and tried by Judge Jeffreys at the ‘bloody assizes’ held in Dorchester in the autumn of 1685. According to Tutchin's own account he was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment, to pay a fine of 100 marks, and to find surety for his good behaviour for the rest of his life. As a final touch Jeffreys also sentenced him to be whipped through all the market towns of Dorset once a year. Tutchin petitioned to be hanged instead and as stated above was reprieved. Among other insults Jeffreys apparently remarked upon Tutchin's poetical aspirations. ‘They tell me that you are a poet’, Jeffreys observed. ‘I'll cap verses with you’. Tutchin, alas, was no poet, but before taking part in Monmouth's rebellion he had published Poems on several occasions.
(2). John Hutchins has a footnote:- Mr. Pope has noticed John Tutchin and his whippings in the Dunciad: "And Tutchin flagrant from the scourge below."
(3). On page 378 of John Hutchins account for Dorchester he refers under Burials for All Saints Parish to sixteen prisoners listed as 'Monmouth's followers'. Link to names of sixteen prisoners executed by Jeffreys that lived in Dorchester for their part in the Monmouth Rebellion. Others were returned to their home parish for burials.