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VENNER'S MEETING-HOUSE, SWAN-ALLEY, COLEMAN-STREET.
some compasses before he come to his designed journey's end; yet he makes it pleasant too by such variety, and will thereby pay the reader for his pains and patience in following of him.” We shall shut up our account of Mr. Goodwin with the eulogium pronounced upon him by the late excellent Mr. Job Orton, “ I do not like many of his sentiments ; but his great learning, good sense, and extraordinary style for that time of day, render his works worth reading."*
VENNER'S MEETING-HOUSE, IN SWAN-ALLEY,
Thomas VENNER.- In some preceding pages, we have given an account of the rise of the Fifth Monarchy Men, and of the distinguishing tenet that characterized the sect. Que of the most active and zealous of these enthusiasts was Thomas Venner, of whom but little account is to be obtained. He appears to have resided sometime in · NewEngland; and before his understandmg was bewildered with enthusiasm, was reputed a man of sense and religion. During the civil wars be followed the profession of a winecooper, and acquired a competent estate. Afterwards, commencing preacher, he had a meeting-house in Swanalley, Coleman-street, where he warmed his admirers with passionate expectations of a fitih universal monarchy, under the personal reign of King Jesus, who would put the saints in possession of the kingdom, and cause all other human governments immediately to cease. Cromwell, and Charles II. he looked upon as no better than usurpers upon Christ's dominion; he therefore persuaded His deluded followers that
• Nonconformist's Memorial, vol. i. p. 198. VOL. II.
VENNER'S MEETING.HOUSE, SWAN.ALLEY, COLEMAN-STREET. .
it was their duty to rise and take the kingdom themselves, and that they were to manage the government in his name. Their first attempt of this kind was soon after Cromwell assumed the Protectorship. At this time they held their chief cabal at a house in Shoreditch, where Secretary Thurlow, who spared neither pains nor money to ensure his master's safety, contrived to introduce a spy, who acquainted him with their intrigues in sufficient time to prevent their execution. He seized their arms and ammunition, with a standard of a lion couchant, as of the tribe of Judah, with this motto, Who shall rouze him up? Also several copies of a printed declaration, with this title, “ The Principle of the Remnant, &c. The conspirators taken were Venner, Gray, Gowler, Hopkins, Ashton, and others, who were spared to create further disturbance, and their own destruction at a future period.* These men, as it appears, had formed the mad design of blowing up the chapel at Whitehall, when the Protector Oliver was present; and they afterwards plotted the destruction of his son Richard.+
Charles the Second had not been restored long to the throne of these kingdoms, before Venner and his associates, vexed to see the government fall again to the enemies of the saints, some of whom krad been seized and imprisoned upon suspicion, determined upon another attempt to take it into their own hands. He, accordingly, prepared their minds by a sermon which he preached on the morning of the day in which the insurrection took place, which was Sunday the 6th of January, 1661. The immediate occasion of their rising is ascribed to the imposition of the oaths of allegiance and supremacy; they being inimical to all oaths in general. I “ The madness of these men (says Bishop Kennett) extended so far as to believe they, and the rest of their judgment, were called by God to reform the world,
* Complete Hist. of England, vol, iii. p. 206. + Kennett's Chronicle, p. 384. Ibid. p. 354.
VENNER'S MEETING-HOUSE, SWAN.ALLEY, COLEMAN-STREET.
and make all the earthly powers, which they called Babylon, subservient to the kingdom of King Jesus; and in order thereunto, never to sheath their sword till the carnal powers of the world become a hissing and a curse ; and by a misguided, zeal, they were so confident in their undertaking, that they were taught, and believed, that one should subdue a thousand, making account when they had led captive captivity in England, to go into France, Spain, Germany, and other parts of the world, there to prosecute their holy design."
These deluded men, having provided standards and colours, with suitable devices, and furnished themselves with good arms, marched out of their meeting-house, to the number of about fifty or sixty, with a resolution to subvert the government, or die in the attenipt. Having published a declaration of the design of their rising, and placed centinels at proper places, they marched first to St. Thomas Apostle, to call in more of their party, and from thence to Bishopsgate, and afterwards to Whitecross-street. During their progress, they killed several people, vociferating through the streets, No King but Christ, who, they thought, would come down and head them. Sir Richard Brown, the Lord Mayor, receiving notice of their proceedings, collected some files of the trained bands. But these were repulsed by Venner's party, who fought with incredible fury, being infatuated to believe that one should chase a thousand, and no weapon formed against them should prosper. Under cover of the evening, they retired to Cane-wood, between Highgate and Hampstead. By this time the alarm reached Whitehall, where General Monk drew up his regiment, and, accompanied by the Duke of York, the Earl of Oxford, and others, marched into London; but being informed that the rebels had retired, Sir Thomas Sandys, with some of the guards, and a company of foot, was dispatched in pursuit of
VENNER'S MEETING-HOUSE, SWAN.ALLEY, COLEMAN-STREET.
them. But escaping through the darkness of the night, they returned to London on Wednesday morning, and dividing themselves into two parties, one appeared about Leadenhall, and from thence marched into Little Eastcheap, where they fought obstinately, but were dispersed by the trained bands. Venner, with another party, went to the Lord Mayor's house, with a view of taking him prisoner, but missing him, marched into Wood-street, where they were met by Colonel Corbet, and about twenty horse. These, with the as-istance of the trained bands, soon dispersed and pursued the insurgents, who fought, says Bishop Keunett, “ with a courage more brutish and devilish, than was ever seen in
men ; and if their numbers had been equal to their spirits, they would have overturned the city, and the nation, and the world."*
Venner, and upwards of twenty more of his party, being taken prisoners, they were arraigned for high treason on the 17ih of January, at Justice Hall, in the Old Bailey. Venper being first called, and asked whether he was guilty, or not guilty, began an extravagant and bottomless discourse, says Bishop Kennett, about the Fifth Monarchy, and his having had a testiinony above twenty years in New-England. He could not deny he was guilty of the late rising, but not of treasun, intending not to levy war against the King. Afterwards he confessed he was partly guilty, and partly not ; but being pressed by the court to give a positive answer, whether he was guilty in manner and form of the indictment, he answered Not Guilty; and at last submitted to a trial by God and his country. The jury being sworn, and the witnesses produced, they made it appear “ that Venner, and two others who had been slain in the rebellion, bad several times persuaded their congregation to take up arms for King
• Complete History of England, vol. iii. p. 995.-Kennett's Chronicle,
VENNER'S MEETING.JUUSE, SWAN-4LLEY, COLEMAN STREET.
Jesus, against the powers of the earth ; that they were to kill all who opposed them; that they had been praying and preaching, but not acting for God; that divers armed themselves at the meeting-house in Coleman-street, with muskets, blunderbusses, pistols ; back, breast, and head-pieces, with powder and bullet, and other warlike weapons; that in the streets they cried out against the King, and said they would fetch out the Lord Mayor of London; that Venner and Pritchard were the chief that led them in their engagement; that on Sunday, January 6, they went to St. Paul's, where they broke open a door, but not thinking it a place of safety, they went thence; that they fled to St. John's Wood, where they reported that they had made an uproar in London, and came thither for safety; that thence they went to Cane-wood; that on Wednesday, January 9, Venner was at the head of a party in Wood-street, with an halbert in his hand; that Venner went with a party to the Counter-gate, and demanded of them to turn out the prisoners, or they were all dead men.” Venner being called upon for his defence, confessed himself in the insurrection, but said, “he did not lead them.” When the witnesses, however, positively swore it, he excused himself by saying, “ it was not he, but Jesus that led them; that he could not deny but that most of the things witnessed against him were true, yet pleaded, that he could not commit treason, because the King was not yet crowned. But being told by the court, that every English man knows the King never dies, and that his objection had been formerly started by Watson the popish priest, but overruled, and long since condemned, he pressed it no further. After the trials of the other prisoners were gone through, sixteen of them were found guilty, and ordered to be executed. Venner and Hodgskin were hanged before the meeting-house door, in Coleman-street, January 19, and afterwards quartered, their quarters being fixed upon the four gates of the city; the remainder