Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grand Jury appointed for Wesley's trial

Tue. 16 Aug 1737. Mrs. Williamson swore to and signed an affidavit, insinuating much more than it asserted; but asserting that Mr. Wesley had many times proposed marriage to her, all which proposals she had rejected. Of this I desired a copy. Mr. Causton replied, ‘Sir, you may have one from any of the newspapers in America.’
On Thursday or Friday was delivered out a list of twenty-six men who were to meet as a grand jury on Monday the 22nd. But this list was called in the next day, and twenty-four names added to it. Of this grand jury (forty-four of whom only met), one was a Frenchman who did not understand English, one a Papist, one a professed infidel, three Baptists, sixteen or seventeen others, dissenters, and several others who had personal quarrels against me, and had openly vowed revenge.
To this grand jury, on Monday the 22nd, Mr. Causton gave a long and earnest charge ‘to beware of spiritual tyranny, and to oppose the new illegal authority which was usurped over their consciences’. Then Mrs. Williamson’s affidavit was read; after which Mr. Causton delivered to the grand jury a paper entitled, ‘A List of Grievances, presented by the Grand Jury for Savannah this ---- day of Aug. 1737.’ This the majority of the grand jury altered in some particulars and on Thursday, September 1, delivered it again to the court, under the form of two presentments, containing ten bills, which were then read to the people.
Herein they asserted, upon oath,
That John Wesley, Clerk, had ‘broken the laws of the realm, contrary to the peace of our sovereign lord the King, his crown and dignity’,
1. By speaking and writing to Mrs. Williamson, against her husband’s consent;
2. By repelling her from the Holy Communion;
3. By not declaring his adherence to the Church of England;
4. By dividing the morning service on Sundays;
5. By refusing to baptize Mr. Parker’s child otherwise than by dipping, except the parents would certify it was weak, and not able to bear it;
6. By repelling Wm. Gough from the Holy Communion;
7. By refusing to read the Burial Service over the body of Nathanael Polhill;
8. By calling himself ‘Ordinary’ of Savannah;
9. By refusing to receive Wm. Aglionby as a godfather, only because he was not a communicant;
10. By refusing Jacob Matthews for the same reason; and baptizing an Indian trader’s child with only two sponsors.
(This, I own, was wrong; for I ought at all hazards to have refused baptizing it till he had procured a third.)

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