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The Opening of the Impeachment of Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, June to September 1715: The 'Memorandum' of William Wake, Bishop of Lincoln

Clyve Jones (notes)

Abstract

July 2015 is the tercentenary of the opening of the impeachment of Robert Harley, earl of Oxford, for high treason and criminal misdemeanours together with three other leading figures of Harley's ministry of 1710-14: Bolingbroke, Ormond and Strafford.

William Wake, bishop of Lincoln since 1705, and soon to be promoted to be archbishop of Canterbury in 1716, witnessed most of the opening weeks of the impeachments and wrote a 'memorandum' dealing in some detail with the proceeding in the house of lords after the house of commons had presented their articles of impeachment on 9 July 1715. The 'memorandum' also records the inner thoughts and moral crisis Wake (a whig) endured as a bishop entitled to attend and participate the proceeding up to but not including any vote of guilt or innocence (bishops by the standing orders of the Lords were forbidden to vote upon a man’s guilt if the death penalty was involved).

The Opening of the Impeachment of Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, June to September 1715: The 'Memorandum' of William Wake, Bishop of Lincoln (PDF format) 238KB

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