JOHN GRIERSON

Transported for marrying without Banns, or License, December, 1755.

JOHN GRIERSON was indicted, for that he, after the twenty- fifth of March, 1754, to wit, on the twenty-seventh of June, in the twenty-ninth year of his present majesty, at the Savoy, did unlawfully, knowingly, wilfully, & feloniously, solemnize matrimony between JOSEPH VERNON, then a batchelor, & JANE POITIER, a single woman, without first publishing of banns, or any license first had, and obtained of a person having authority to grant the same, in contempt of our Lord the King, and against the Statute, &c.

He challenged all the twelve jurymen, who had been trying that sessions on the Middlesex side.

Upon which his trial was postponed till next day, when fifty-nine freeholders more were summoned, and a jury of twelve sworn.

MICHAEL DEATH: I am an apothecary, and live in Greek- street, Soho. I know JOSEPH VERNON, and her that was JANE POTIER; he lived in Great Russell-street, Covent-garden, and the Compton-street, St. Anne's; and I know the prisoner. I was present at the marriage of VERNON & POITIER at the Savoy chapel; they were married by the prisoner, and I gave her away. She was then in the twentieth year of her age.

Q.: Do you know whether they had any License?

DEATH: I do not know anything concerning it.

Q.: Do you know whether there was any consent of parents?

DEATH: There was no farther consent than a written paper signed by the mother of the young woman, which was produced to the prisoner and the clerk.

Q.: Did he ask them, before they were married, if there was the consent of parents?

DEATH: He did, and scrupled to marry them without that consent.

Q.: What was the purpose of that paper?

DEATH: It was this, "June 14, I do hereby declare my daughter, JANE POITIER, to be at free liberty to marry whomsoever she pleases." Signed by the mother.

Q.: Did any-body ascertain this paper to the prisoner?

DEATH: Yes, I and Mr. SEVANE did, that it was signed by the mother.

Council: Is her father alive?

DEATH: He is, and in court; but he did not approve of the marriage.

Council: Were they married immediately after the paper was produced?

DEATH: They were; neither did the prisoner go out of the room, but proceeded to marry them directly.

Council: Did you acquaint Mr. [John] Grierson there was a father?

DEATH: He knew that very well, for we had told him so; and we likewise told him that the father would not consent.

JOHN SEVANE: I know JOSEPH VERNON, & JANE POITIER, & was present at their marriage in the Savoy chapel, by the prisoner at the bar.

Q.: In the Savoy chapel in the parish of Covent-garden?

SEVANE: I don't know what parish it is in.

Q.: Were any questions asked about consent?

SEVANE: There were. The last evidence & I, the night before the marriage, had heard the mother say her daughter was at liberty to marry whom she pleased. I believe she had made some endeavours to persuade her against the marriage before that; but she said her daughter was at liberty, and her daughter called in the last evidence and me to hear her mother say that. I have heard since that the father disapproved of the marriage. The mother said to us, "You may tell the person that marries them he never will be troubled by any of our family." We told the minister what the mother had said. He replied, he thought that "consent was not sufficient; but if we had it signed by the mother, that he took to be sufficient;" and upon that he married them.

STEPHEN BROWN: I am clerk of the parish of St. Martin's. Here is the register of the births in our parish.

Q.: Have you any entry there relating to JANE POITIER?

BROWN: Yes; here is "Born June 8th, 1736, & baptized the 11th, JANE HENRIETTA POITIER, daughter of MICHAEL & CLAREMON," the father & mother's names.

Q.: Were there any banns published, or license produced?

DEATH: Not as I know of.

SEVANE: There was a kind of license, but I don't know what it was, filled up I believe by the clerk; it was taken from out of a cupboard, or off a table in the chapel.

THE PRISONER'S DEFENCE:

I rest entirely on your lordship's judgement; I did not knowingly do it to offend against the laws of my country; it is not probable I should do such a thing knowingly when I married my own son there. I never knowingly or wilfully transgressed the laws of my country; I married by a license, & that I thought a proper authority.

WILLIAM FORREST: I have lived in the Savoy upwards of 20 years.

Q.: During that time, how have you looked upon the Savoy to be under the church jurisdiction? Did you look upon it to be in diocese of London, or what?

FORREST: I am not a judge of that question.

Q.: Have you served offices there?

FORREST: I have served overseer of the poor twice; I have never had notice given me, for not attending any where else. I never heard of the bishop of London, or any of his officers interfering there; neither was I ever called upon as chapel-warden, in the bishop's court; nor ever heard that any was called upon in my time; nor did I attend any of the bishop's visitations; nor did I ever hear that there has been any of the bishop's jurisdiction exercised there.

Q.: Is it a parish?

FORREST: No, it's a precinct.

Q.: If a man dies there, where is his Will proved?

FORREST: In the Commons, where I suppose the administration is granted.

Q.: Did you ever know any marriage by license there before the late act?

FORREST: I never did see one.

GEORGE DORMAN: I have lived in Savoy about 20 years; and look it to be a jurisdiction of itself with regard to ecclesiastical affairs; and I believe no bishop or archdeacon ever came to do any acts there. I always looked upon it as a place peculiar to itself. I have served overseer and chapel-warden. Wills are proved in the Commons.

Q.: Do you know of any marriage there with a license before the last act of parliament?

DORMAN: Yes, about 25 years ago; it was granted by the bishop of London.

Q.: Where do you baptize your children born there?

DORMAN: At the Savoy chapel; and in the chapel-yard we bury our dead.

Q.: for the Prisoner: Do you know of any license ever granted by a minister to any under that jurisdiction?

DORMAN: No, I don't know that.

Q.: Before whom are your sworn chapel-warden?

DORMAN: Before a justice of the peace; we assemble in the vestry-room; we are but a few people. The money raised for the poor, & other charges, is accounted for in the vestry among ourselves.

Q.: Does not the crown pay most of the money?

DORMAN: No; I know of no such thing.

Q.: Did you ever see a justice's warrant to the Savoy?

DORMAN: Only to maintain the poor; which is directed to the church or chapel-warden.

RICHARD PHILIPS: I am clerk to the chapel in the precinct of the Savoy, & have been for about five years; and I look upon it to be a peculiar jurisdiction.

Q.: How do you govern yourselves?

PHILIPS: There is a chapel-warden & overseer, but they do not qualify themselves at the Commons.

Q.: Who repairs the chapel?

PHILIPS: The minister has done several repairs.

Q.: Has Mr. Wilkinson been minister since you came there?

PHILIPS: Yes; & I know he has granted licenses; he did so before the late act of parliament, and all my time, & they have been registered in that manner.

Q.: Have you known any licenses brought there from other courts & rejected, as denying their authority?

PHILIPS: I have several & was never called to account for it.

Q.: Look upon that book.

PHILIPS: It's the register book, and the oldest we have.

Council: Read there.

PHILIPS: July 6th, married THOMAS PAGE & ELIZABETH PRICE by license, 1687. Here are a great many by publication of banns, and some by License; we still do it in the same manner, but more perfectly.

Q.: Did you ever see in any register any alterations, where it was by a different license?

PHILIPS: I think I have seen two instances, one by license from the archbishop of Canterbury, & the other from the bishop of London; all the other licenses are by the minister of the Savoy; & I thought them good licenses. I never knew any jurisdiction as to the bishop of London or Canterbury, to be exercised in this chapel; nor never looked on ourselves as under any visitation. I looked upon it that the minister himself was ordinary, and sufficient to grant licenses.

Q.: What is the form of your licenses?

PHILIPS: The form of them is this: That whereas such & such persons, aged so & so, are desirous to live in the holy state of matrimony, without publication of banns, &c. therefore he consents that the same may be solemnized in St. John Baptist's chapel; and signs his name JOHN WILKINSON, ordinary & minister. (He produces a license on parchment). This is the License the pair were married with. It was filled up before they were married, and signed by WILKINSON before it was filled up.

Q.: Do you remember anything of the marriage of VERNON?

PHILIPS: I do; I remember it was very remarkable. VERNON & Miss POITIER came three or four days running, and desired to be married; they were refused, because she was something under age. They could not be married unless she had her friend's consent.

Q.: Who refused it?

PHILIPS: Mr. [John] Grierson & I did. The last day they came, they brought two gentlemen along with them (who have been sworn) to facilitate the matter. She said she had a father, but her father & mother had been parted several years. But she said, as for me, my father don't care if I go to the devil. We said, you must have the consent of them, or else you must not be married. Then Mr. DEATH, and the other gentleman, went to her mother with a paper; for Miss [POITIER] said she would never go home till they were married; and upon this the two gentlemen returned, and produced the mother's consent, and they both testified it, and said they saw the mother sign it; and we made them sign their names and placed of abode. Then we filled up the license, and they assented to every part contained therein. The one declared himself a batchelor, the other a single woman.

Q.: Do you think Mr. [John] Grierson used such caution for fear of offending against the act of parliament?

PHILIPS: He was very cautious always in these cases.

Q.: How many couples have you married in the chapel since the commencement of the act?

PHILIPS: I reckon about 1,400 couples.

Q.: How many hundreds of them lived in the precinct?

PHILIPS: There were many came distressed out of the country, big with child.

Q.: How many families live in the precinct?

PHILIPS: There may be 30 to 40 families.

Q.: How many couples might come distressed out of the country?

PHILIPS: There might come 900 big with child, some who could not be married any where else.

Council: Was you appointed surrogate?

PHILIPS: I was appointed clerk, not surrogate; for I did not apprehend I had any-thing to do with the bishop.

Q.: Where might Mr. WILKINSON himself be at the time of this marriage?

PHILIPS: I believe he was not far off. There were at that time bills of indictment and warrants against him, which obliged him to abscond. In these indictments he was charged with clandestine marriages.

Q.: When did he absent himself?

PHILIPS: Sometime the latter end of May; & in May he applied to this gentleman to officiate for him; this was after the bills of indictment.

Q.: Did Mr. WILKINSON keep a curate before these bills of indictment were found?

PHILIPS: He has had some.

Q.: Does Mr. [John] Grierson officiate in reading prayers, or preaching?

PHILIPS: No; there is one Mr. BROOKS does that.

Q.: Had Mr. WILKINSON a curate to solemnize marriages before?

PHILIPS: No, he always did that himself.

Q.: How is it possible he should think of Mr. [John] Grierson? How did he find him out? Is he a settled minister?

PHILIPS: Really I can't tell; he used to appear in his gown as a clergyman. Mr. WILKINSON being obliged to abscond, sent for him to fill up that part. People would come to be married, and we must have someone to do it, or they would think themselves very ill used.

Q.: How came Mr. [John] Grierson to be thought of?

PHILIPS: Because a little before he married his own son there.

Q.: Do you ever take down where they come from?

PHILIPS: Always; that is put down in the minute book.

Q.: Then you married them, let them come from what parish they would.

PHILIPS: We did, either in England or Scotland. We married one couple that came from Dumfries, and another from Dunbar in Scotland.

Q.: How long has Mr. WILKINSON'S salary been stopped by the lords of the treasury?

PHILIPS: About two years before I came, as I heard.

Q.: Did Mr. [John] Grierson know the reason of Mr. WILKINSON'S not being able to do the duty himself?

PHILIPS: I believe not.

Q.: Who applied to him for this license?

PHILIPS: I did myself.

Q.: Did you ever take an oath concerning persons under age?

PHILIPS: Yes.

Q.: Do you fill up the license without an affidavit?

PHILIPS: When he is absent I fill them up.

Q.: Who takes the affidavit when WILKINSON is absent?

PHILIPS: The minister that marries them.

Q.: Did you ever know an instance where WILKINSON or [John] GRIERSON took an affidavit?

PHILIPS: There have been some, but how many I can't say.

Q.: Did you ever know [John] Grierson or WILKINSON proceed against any of the 900 women that came big with child, for fornication?

PHILIPS: No, never.

Q.: Do you know whether [John] GRIERSON did officiate any- where else before?

PHILIPS: I can't tell; but have heard he married people at May-Fair chapel.

* Here the license was read for the marriage of VERNON & POITIER.

Council: Was you by when this was signed & filled up?

PHILIPS: I was.

Council: Have you often banns published for people that do not live in the precinct?

PHILIPS: We often have.

Council: Do you ever read the rubrick in the common prayer- book, before the order of matrimony?

PHILIPS: I can't say.

GUILTY: "To be transported for 14 years."

This page kindly donated by Grierson World Project

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