The Peoples Ancient and Just Liberties asserted in the trial of William Penn and William Mead


In 1670 the Quaker and future founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn (1664–1718), was arrested on a charge of attending an illegal religious meeting in London. Having been tried at the Old Bailey, Penn was initially acquitted by the jury, whose members were then chastised, fined and imprisoned for having returned a verdict of not guilty. Invoking Magna Carta, an incredulous Penn called from the dock, ‘It is intolerable that my Jury should be thus menaced; Is this according to the fundamental Laws? Are not they my proper Judges by the great Charter of England?’ Penn published this transcript of his trial, representing his cause as a defence of the ancient liberties embodied in Magna Carta, to which was added a lengthy analysis of ‘the Material Parts of the Great Charter of England’.

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The Peoples Ancient and Just Liberties Asserted. In the trial of William Penn, and William Mead, at the session held at the Old Baily ... against the most arbitrary proceedings of that Court.
William Penn, Benjamin Flower
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British Library

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