Of the University of Oxford. Convicted and punished for Sedition, 28 th of November, 1748
SOON after the Rebellion was crushed, great discontent was discovered in several private meetings, which, being of little import to the commonweal, was passed over, under the hopes that time would reconcile jarring opinions to the family on the throne. But it was little expected that the smallest spark of sedition should be fanned into a flame among students at a university, among men half grown in body and still weaker in mind.
That such was actually the case we shall show; and to this end give verbatim the proclamation of the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford. At a meeting of the Vice-Chancellor, Heads of Houses, and Proctors of the University of Oxford, on Monday, 11th of April, 1748: --
"Whereas there have been lately some very tumultuous disturbances and outrages committed in the public streets of Oxford, by young scholars of the University, particularly on the 23rd of February last past, amounting to a notorious insult on his Majesty's crown and government, and in utter contempt of the wholesome laws and discipline of this University and the Governors thereof; we, the Vice-Chancellor, Heads of Houses, and Proctors, this day assembled, think it incumbent on us to make this public declaration of our sincere abhorrence and detestation of such factions and seditious practices, as also of our firm resolution to punish all offenders (of what state or quality soever they are) who shall be duly convicted thereof, according to the uttermost severity and rigour of our statutes.
"And whereas many of the disorders complained of have been chiefly and immediately owing to scholars having private entertainments and company at their chambers, which are generally attended with great intemperance and excess, and always with expense, that are both needless and hurtful: we therefore earnestly recommend it to all bursars, deans, censors and tutors to prevent, as much as in their power, this unstatutable and mischievous practice, and to oblige all persons to attend in the common hall at the usual hours of dinner and supper.
"And as these irregularities are too frequently practised (as we have reason to believe) at coffee-houses, cook-shops and victualling-houses, all proctors and magistrates of the University are strictly required to be vigilant and careful in visiting all such public-houses and places of entertainment and idleness, and in duly punishing all young scholars whom they shall at any time find at such places; and likewise laying a mulct on the masters or mistresses of such houses for receiving and entertaining such scholars, contrary to the known rules, orders and statutes of the University. Given under our hand the day and year above mentioned.
In consequence of this proclamation several of these beardless striplings of sedition were apprehended, and removed to the Court of King's Bench at Westminster, to take their trial before a jury of their country, and John Whitmore and Jeremiah Dawes were found guilty. Charles Luxmore, after a trial of eight hours, was acquitted.
On Monday, 28th of November, 1748, these two scholars were brought up to the bar of the Court of King's Bench to receive sentence, which was, "To be fined five nobles each, to suffer two years' imprisonment in the King's Bench Prison, and to find two sureties for their good behaviour for seven years, themselves to be bound in five hundred pounds and their securities in two hundred and fifty pounds each; and that they immediately walk round Westminster Hall, with a label affixed to their foreheads, denoting their crime and sentence, and to ask pardon of the several Courts."
They accordingly were each labelled on the forehead and led round the Hall, stopping at each Court to solicit pardon, and then sent to prison.