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I've heard them sweetly sing,
And seen them in a round;
With honey-suckles crowned. Many a youth and many a maiden were probably disappointed of happiness on May-day, 1547; but, as we have already mentioned, the day would probably have passed away with merely suppressed sighs, or perhaps suppressed maledictions, had it not been for a trifling occurrence.
One of the aldermen, on going his rounds, chanced to find two young men playing at “ bucklers” in Cheapside, in the midst of their companions, when he somewhat peremptorily threatened to send them to the Compter Words arose between them, and in the midst of the altercation, the war-cry of the city of London, “Prentices, 'prentices ! clubs, clubs!” disturbed the stillness of the night. In an incredibly short space of time every door was thrown open, and ’prentices, servants, and watermen, joined in the fray. Finding themselves masters of the field of battle, and having beaten every reinforcement which the Lord Mayor sent against them, they proceeded to gut and destroy the house of every foreigner of whom they could find any trace. The work of demolition continued till three o'clock in the morning, when, a great number having retired to their beds, the Lord Mayor seized his opportunity, and captured three hundred of the rioters. Seven days afterwards, one John Lincoln, their reputed leader, and about twelve others, were hanged; while the remainder, many of them women and boys, were re
prieved at the King's mercy; the Queen, and Henry's sisters, the Queens Dowager of France and Scotland, who were then in England, remaining on their knees before the King till he promised to spare their lives.
If we have wandered too long away from the old hall, it was for the purpose of introducing the curious sequel to the riots of “Evil May Day." “ Thursday, the 22nd of May,” says Hall, “the King came into Westminster Hall, for whom, at the upper end, was set a cloth of estate, and the place hanged with arras : with him went the Cardinal, the Duchess of Norfolk and Suffolk, &c. The Mayor and Aldermen were there, in their best livery, by nine of the clock. Then the King commanded that all the prisoners should be brought forth. Then came in the poor younglings and old false knaves, bound in ropes, all along, one after another, in their shirts, and every one a halter about his neck, to the number of four hundred men and eleven women. And when all were come before the King's presence, the Cardinal rose, laid to the Mayor and commonalty their negligence, and to the prisoners he declared they had deserved death for their offence. Then all the prisoners together cried, 'Mercy, gracious lord, mercy!' Then the Lords altogether besought his Grace for mercy, at whose request the King pardoned them all. And then the Cardinal gave unto them a good exhortation, to the great gladness of the hearers. And when the general pardon was pronounced, all the prisoners shouted at once, and altogether
cast up their halters into the ball roof, so that the King might perceive they were none of the discreetest sort." In the crowd were several of the leaders of the riot, who had hitherto contrived to evade justice, but who no sooner ascertained the favourable turn which affairs were taking, than they
suddenly stripped them into their shirts, with halters,” and mingling with the other offenders received pardon with the rest.
On the 13th of May, 1521, Westminster Hall witnessed the trial scene of that once all-powerful subject, Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, Lord High Constable of England, and lineally descended from King Edward the Third. Great preparations were made for the trial, which was conducted in solemn state before the Duke of Norfolk, sitting as Lord High Steward, and twenty-two other peers. Having been found guilty of high treason, and sentence of death having been passed upon him, the Duke, in a calm and dignified man. ner, addressed the court;—“My Lord of Norfolk," he said, “ you liave said as a traitor should be said to; but I was never any. I nothing malign you for what you have now done to me, and may the Eternal God forgive you my death, as I do. I shall never sue to the King for life; howbeit, he is a gracious Prince, and more grace may come from him than I desire. I beseech you, my Lords, and all my fellows, to pray for me."
I have this day received a traitor's judgment,
And, if I have a conscience, let it sink me,
Henry III. Act 2, Scene 1.
The Duke was re-conducted to the Tower, and three days afterwards was beheaded on Tower Hill, where he died with great composure, attended by the lamentations of the people.
In July, 1535, the trial of the wise and witty Sir Thomas More, for denying the King's supremacy, took place in Westminster Hall. Notwithstanding the eloquence of his defence, he was found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered; a sentence which the King afterwards commuted for decapitation, and which was carried into effect on Tower Hill on the sixth of the month. An affecting scene took place as this great man was being led from the bar in Westminster Hall. His son forced his way through the crowd, and, falling
on his knees, in a passion of grief besought the blessing of his condemned father.
Edward the Sixth was crowned in Westminster Abbey, on the 20th of February, 1547, and after the ceremony partook of his coronation feast in the old Hall The young King himself tells us in his journal, that on his entering the Hall“ it was asked the people whether they would have him to be their King, and they answered, “Yea, yea.'
At the conclusion of the banquet we find him dubbing thirty-five “Knights of the Carpet.”
On the 1st of December, 1552, the great Protector, Duke of Somerset, uncle to the King, was brought from the Tower to Westminster Hall, to undergo his memorable trial on charges of treason and felony “ The Lord Treasurer, the Marquis of Winchester," says Hayward, “ sat as High Steward, under a cloth of state, on a bench mounted three degrees; the peers, to the number of twenty-seven, sitting on a bench one step lower.”
He was acquitted of the charge of treason, but being found guilty of the felony, the object of his enemies was fully answered, and he was condemned to death. On the 22nd of the following month, the Duke was led forth to Tower Hill, where he submitted himself to the stroke of the executioner with a dignified fortitude and resignation.
The next trial of any importance which we find taking place in Westminster Hall, was that of Charles, seventh Baron Stourton, who was arraigned here, on the 26th of February, 1557, for the foul