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to convey and deliver into the custody of the said keeper, the body of William Whitham, being charged before us, three of his majesty's justices of the peace in and for the said city and liberties, by the oaths of John Miller, Henry Page, John Topping, and Robert Page, for assaulting and unlawfully imprisoning him the said John Miller, in breach of his said majesty's peace; whom you, the said keeper, are hereby required to receive, and him in your cus tody safely keep, for want of sureties, until he shall be discharged by due course of law; and for your so doing, this shall be to you, and to each of you, a sufficient warrant.
"Given under our hands and seals this 15th day of March, 1771.
"BRASS CROSBY, Mayor, L. s. "JOHN WILKES, L. S.
"RICHARD Oliver, l. s.”.
On perceiving the magistrates determined to commit the messenger of the house of commons, Mr. Clementson, deputy serjeant at arms now interposed, and offered bail for the future appearance of the supposed culprit, which was accepted with seeming reluctance on the part of the lord mayor. After this, he immediately made an official report of what had occurred;
and sir Fletcher Norton, who filled the chair at that period, with great dignity, soon after communicated the particulars. The house was of course astonished at this most unexpected opposition to its orders. The manner in which the warrant of their speaker had been treated, filled the members with indignation: the threat to commit one of their officers, appeared highly offensive; and the humiliation of being obliged to give bail, to prevent him from being imprisoned in Newgate, or the Poultry Compter, proved mortifying in the extreme.
It was an astonishing circumstance indeed, that the commons of England, who had so often punished the ministers of the crown, and but a little more than a century before, had contended with, and overcome, a king of England, should now be braved by three justices of the metropolis! and it would have been still more humiliating, had they known what was really the fact, that the whole had been planned and contrived by a country parson, who had left the mere execution alone to the lord mayor and two aldermen of the city of London.
The following authentic account, extracted from the journals, will convey the best idea of
the proceedings of this branch of the legislature, upon the present occasion.
"House of Commons, 19° die Murtii, 1771. "The house of commons having yesterday received information, that one of the messengers of this house, after he had arrested John Miller, by virtue of the warrant of the speaker of the house of commons, to answer for a contempt of the said house, was carried by a constable, upon a charge made by the said messenger, by the said John Miller, for an assault and false imprisonment made upon the said John Miller, in the said warrant, before Brass Crosby, esq., lord inayor of the city of London, where John Wilkes, esq. and alderman, and Richard Oliver, esq. and alderman, were present.
"When the deputy serjeant at arms, attending this house, acquainted the said magistrates, that the said arrest of the said John Miller was made by the said messenger, under a warrant signed by the speaker of the house of commons; which warrant was then produced, and shown to the said magistrates, and it was demanded of them, that the said messenger should be discharged, and the said John Miller be delivered up to the custody of the said messenger; and that the said lord mayor, John Wilkes, esq.,
and Richard Oliver, esq., after such information and demand as aforesaid, signed a warrant for the commitment of the said messenger to the Compter, for the said supposed assault and false imprisonment of the said John Miller, and obliged the said messenger to enter into a recognizance for his appearance at the next quarter sessions of the peace to be held for the city of London, to answer to such indictments as should then be found against him for the said supposed assault and false imprisonment.
"Ordered, That Brass Crosby esq., lord mayor, do attend in his place to-morow morning.
“Ordered, That John Wilkes, esq., an alderman of the city of London, do attend this house to-morrow morning.
"Ordered, That Richard Oliver, alderman, do attend in his place to-morrow morning.
"J. HATSELL, Cl. Dom. Com."
The lord mayor and Mr. alderman Oliver having obeyed this summons, frankly acknow ledged the accusation against them, but evinced no signs of fear, repentance, or contrition. On this, they were committed by the speaker's war rant, to the Tower of London, the house being
apprehensive lest the other magistrates of the corporation should either liberate or refuse to receive them, had they been sent to Newgate. As to Mr. Wilkes, instead of complying with the summons, he transmitted the following letter.
"TO THE RIGHT HON. SIR FLETCHER NORTON, 66 SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.
"I this morning received an order commanding my attendance this day in the house of 66 commons. I observe, that no notice is taken "of me, in your order, as a member of the "house, and that I am not required to attend in 66 my place. Both these circumstances, according to the settled form, ought to have been "mentioned in my case; and I hold them absolutely indispensable,
"In the name of the freeholders of Middlesex, I again demand my seat in parliament, having the honour of being freely chosen, by " a very great majority, one of the representatives "of the said county. I am ready to take the "oaths prescribed by law, and to give in my qualification as knight of the shire.
"When I have been admitted to my seat, I