King Henry

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King Henry The first problem was to get judges, or at least a sufficient number of judges, to preside over this irregular court. The initial drafts of the Bill had named the two Chief Justices (of the King's Bench and of Common Pleas), Henry Rolle and Oliver St John as well as Lord Chief Baron Wilde of the Exchequer Court to preside at the King's trial. All had refused to serve. Their names were therefore omitted. Although all of the named judges had lately been appointed by Parliament and were strong opponents of the King, each had long experience in the courts. Clearly each regarded the new "High Court of Justice" as outside the law because of the axiom of English law, universally accepted at that time, that all justice proceeded from the sovereign. In the absence of Lord Chief Justice St John the Commissioners chose for the office of President one John Bradshaw. He had been a judge of the Sheriff's Court in London. He had recently been appointed the Presiding Judge in Chester and a Judge in Wales. Bradshaw protested the insufficiency of his experience for so great a task. But he was eventually persuaded to take the chair. He accepted the title of "Lord President" 13 . Four lawyers were chosen to prosecute the King. The most vigorous of these was the Solicitor-General John Cook, a barrister of Gray's Inn and a man of considerable education. He combined fervent religious faith with convinced republicanism and a considerable interest in moral and social reform. He was assisted by a distinguished scholar from the Netherlands, Dr Isaac Dorislaus, who had once been Professor of Ancient History at Cambridge University where he had expressed views subversive of monarchy. Cook and Dorislaus took great pains, and much time, in ... ... middle of paper ... hanging, drawing and quartering. Cook, the leading prosecutor, was executed. His enthusiastic adviser, Dr Dorislaus, had been murdered in the Hague in 1649 by English royalist soldiers. With the restoration of the monarchy, few in England would associate themselves with the republican cause. Cook, however, died convinced that he had acted justly. Before his death he wrote to his wife: "We are not traitors, nor murderers, nor fanatics, but true Christians and good commonwealth men, fixed and constant to the principles ... which the parliament and army declared and engaged for; and to that noble principle of preferring the universality, before a particularity, that we sought the public good and would have enfranchised the people, and secured the welfare of the whole groaning creation, if the nation had not more delighted in servitude than in freedom" 43 .

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