Glynne, John (DNB00)
|←Glynn, Robert||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 22
|Glynne, Stephen Richard→|
GLYNNE, Sir JOHN (1603–1666), judge, eldest son of Sir William Glynne, by Jane, daughter of John Griffith of Carnarvon, was born in 1603 at Glynllifon, Carnarvonshire, where his ancestors had been settled from very ancient times, and was educated at Westminster School and Hart Hall, Oxford, since merged in New College, which he entered at Michaelmas 1621, and where he resided three years. He seems to have been early designed for the legal profession, if, as is most probable, he is to be identified with the John Glynne for whom Sir Julius Caesar solicited from the Lord Mayor the reversion of an attorney or clerk sitter's place in the sheriff's court in 1615 (Remembrancia, 302). He was admitted a member of Lincoln's Inn as early as 27 Jan. 1620, but he was not called to the bar until 24 June 1628. He argued his first reported case in Hilary term 1633 (Croke, Rep. Car. I, p. 297). It was probably soon after this, certainly before 1639, that he was appointed steward of Westminster (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1638-9, p. 351). On 7 Aug. 1638 he obtained the reversion of the office of keeper of the writs and rolls in the common pleas (Rymer, Fœdera, Sanderson, xx. 305). He was returned to parliament both for Westminster and for the borough of Carnarvon in March 1639-40, and it is not clear for which constituency he sat. He was re-elected for Westminster in Oct. 1640.
Glynne's abilities were early recognised by the presbyterian party, with which he uniformly acted during the Long parliament. In November 1640 he was placed on a committee of inquiry into the conduct of Sir Henry Spiller, a justice of the peace, suspected of showing undue leniency towards popish priests, and from that date forward he is frequently mentioned in Nalson and Rushworth as sitting on, or reading reports from, committees charged with business of more or less importance, such as ship money; the course of procedure in the exchequer; the administration of the laws against recusants; misdemeanors of lieutenants, deputy-lieutenants, and other county officials; the practice of issuing and executing warrants of commitment signed only by officers of state; the 'new canons' recently framed by convocation, and which the commons had voted to be contrary to the fundamental laws of the realm, and the part played by Archbishop Laud in connection with them; the proceedings taken against Sir John Eliot and other members who had been subjected to fine and imprisonment for resisting the adjournment of the house by the speaker on 25 Feb. 1628-9. On 23 Jan. 1640-1 he was appointed to manage a conference with the lords on the case of Thomas Goodman, a Jesuit, who had been found guilty of high treason, but had been reprieved by the king. He was also one of the managers of the impeachment of Strafford, but took little part in the proceedings until the third article was concluded. He then had the conduct of the case as far as the ninth article, and also spoke on most of the subsequent articles. On 13 April he replied to Strafford's defence in a long and closely reasoned speech, the gist of which was that, though none of the acts alleged might amount to treason per se, yet taken together they were evidence of a treasonable intent, and that the essence of treason was intention not perpetration. He signed the protestation of 3 May in defence of the protestant religion, the power and privileges of parliament, and the rights and liberties of the subject. On 22 July he was added to the committee which was investigating the conspiracy commonly known as 'the army plot,' and he was one of a committee appointed in September to act during the recess with large executive powers. He took part in the debate on the remonstrance (22 Nov.), was a member of the committee on Irish affairs (29 Dec.), and on the commons resolving to impeach the bishops he was chosen to denounce their lordships at the bar of the House of Lords (30 Dec.) He was also one of the committee which sat at Guildhall and Grocers' Hall in January 1641-2 to consider the attempt to arrest the five members, and spoke at length and with much energy in vindication of the privileges of the house. On the 29th he opened the case against the Duke of Richmond in a conference with the House of Lords (Nalson, Impartial Collection, i. 330, 569, 571; Rushworth, Hist. Coll. iv. 54, 63, 68, 98, 142, 153, 229, 244, 387, 466-7, viii. 10, 21, 40, 45, 47, 76, 706-33; Comm. Journ. ii. 41, 52, iv. 497; Verney, Notes of Long Parliament, Camd. Soc. 60, 84, 110, 125; Cobbett, State Trials, iii. 1421, 1428, 1431, 1468, iv. 112; Parl. Hist. ii. 1023, 1062). After the militia ordinance in May 1642, he accepted the office of deputy-lieutenant of one of the counties, probably Carnarvonshire, and in the following June he engaged to contribute 100l. and maintain a horse for the defence of the parliament (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 358). In May 1643 he was appointed recorder of the city of London, and in that capacity was busily occupied for some weeks in unravelling a plot to deliver the city into the hands of the king which had recently come to the knowledge of parliament, and the principal agents in which, Tompkins and Chaloner [q. v.], were executed on 5 July (Rushworth, Hist. Coll. v. 322-326). He subscribed the solemn league and covenant on 22 Sept. (ib. p. 480). In the following November he did good service by a speech deprecating the consideration of the question whether presbyterianism was jure divino, which had been forced on the consideration of the House of Commons by the assembly of divines. Glynne spoke for an hour, 'during which,' says Whitelocke, who followed him, 'the house filled apace.' In the end the question was shelved (Whitelocke, Mem. pp. 110-11). Clarendon (Rebellion, v. 89) says that he was opposed to the self-denying ordinance, but it does not appear that he spoke on the question. On 14 March 1645 he was appointed prothonotary and clerk of the crown for the counties of Flint, Denbigh, and Montgomery (Comm. Journ. iv. 474). He became in 1647 very suspicious of the army, and was one of a junto of eleven members who were most active in attempting to disband it. In order to destroy their influence, Fairfax, on 15 June, presented to the House of Commons a 'remonstrance,' praying that the house might be speedily purged of delinquents, which he followed up on the 24th by charging the eleven with designing 'the abuse and dishonour of the parliament, the insufferable injury of the army,' and so forth. Much debate followed, but the house on 12 July passed a resolution which excluded the eleven members. Soon afterwards much offence was occasioned in the city of London by an ordinance vesting the command of the city militia in a new committee, and on 26 July a rabble of apprentices and 'rude boys' entered the house and compelled the rescission of the ordinance. The house adjourned in confusion till the 30th, and on its reassembling the speaker did not attend. Pelham of Lincoln's Inn was chosen speaker for the occasion, the eleven were readmitted, and a committee of safety was appointed, of which Glynne and others of the eleven were members. This gave rise to a suspicion that the tumult of the 20th was the work of the eleven, and on 4 Sept. Glynne was charged with having been accessory to it, and ordered to attend at the bar of the house. He attended the next day, and made 'a large defence in a very well composed and devised speech,' which occasioned a prolonged debate. On the 7th, however, the house voted his expulsion, and committed him to the Tower. A resolution to impeach him of high crimes and misdemeanors was passed on the 16th. No active steps, however, were taken to carry this into effect. On 29 Jan. the house requested the Earl of Pembroke to deprive him of his office of steward of Westminster; but it is not clear whether this was actually; done. On 23 May 1648 he was released, and all proceedings in the impeachment were stayed. On 7 June he was readmitted on the petition of the electors of Westminster to the House of Commons; in September he was nominated one of the commissioners to treat with the king in the Isle of Wight; on 12 Oct. he was created serjeant-at-law. When, however, the independent party regained its ascendency, the order readmitting him to the house was rescinded (12 Dec.) (Comm. Journ. v. 305, 570, 588; Whitelocke, Mem. 248, 253, 258, 334; Rushworth, Hist. Coll. vi. 634, 640, 646, 652, viii. 800; Parl. Hist. iii. 1247; Comm. Journ. v. 294, 450; Hist, MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. 6a, 6b, l5b, 22b). This was immediately before Colonel Pride applied his purge, and accounts for the fact that Glynne's name is not to be found in the lists of the secluded and imprisoned members.
An attempt was made in January 1647-8 to compel or induce him to resign his recordership (Comm. Journ. v. 450) in favour of the independent William Steele [q. v.] Glynne, however, stuck tenaciously to his place until July 1649, when he retired, receiving 300l. from the corporation as a small douceur (Whitelocke, Mem. p. 412). In the parliament of 1654 he sat for Carnarvonshire. In June of this year he was engaged as counsel for the Commonwealth in the prosecution of the conspirators against the life of the protector, John Gerard [q. v.], Vowell, and Somerset Fox. About the same time he was appointed serjeant to the Protector, and commissioned as justice of assize for the Oxford circuit. He sat at Exeter in April 1655 with Recorder Steele to try Colonel Penruddock for his part in the late rebellion, and passed sentence upon him as for treason. He was rewarded on 15 June by the place of chief justice of the upper bench, vacant by the retirement of Rolle (Thurloe, State Papers, iii. 332, iv. 171; Cobbett, State Trials, v. 767; Style, Rep. 450; Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. App. 173). In November he was placed on the committee of trade, and also added to that appointed to consider the proposals of Manasseh ben Israel concerning the Jews. He was also a member of the committee for collecting funds for the relief of the persecuted protestants of Piedmont in January 1655-6 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655, p. 90, 1655-6, pp. 1, 23, 100). At the general election in October he was returned to parliament for both Flint and Carnarvonshire, electing to sit for Flint. In February 1655-6 he tried Miles Lindercombe, a plotter against the life of the Protector, who was found guilty and sentenced to a traitor's death, but anticipated justice by poisoning himself in the Tower (Cobbett, State Trials, v. 842). Glynne appears to have shared Hobbes's belief in the necessity of monarchy, while caring little for the hereditary principle. He accordingly supported Alderman Packe's 'petition and advice' that Cromwell should assume the title of king, and was one of the committee appointed on 9 April to receive his 'doubts and scruples' in regard to that matter and endeavour to remove them, to which end, on 21 April, he made a long address to the Protector, which he printed on the Restoration as evidence that he had always been at heart a monarchist. He was continued in office by Richard Cromwell, and presided in the upper bench until Trinity term 1659, when, in view of the approaching revolution, he resigned. He sat for Carnarvonshire in the Convention parliament which met on 25 April 1660, was created serjeant-at-law on 1 June, and on 8 Nov. king's Serjeant, in which character he acted for the crown in the prosecution of Sir Henry Vane for high treason in June 1662 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. App. 63, 153, 154, 168, 196; Wynne, Miscellany, p. 295; Siderfin, Rep. pt.ii. 161-2; Burton, Diary, iii. 175, 182). On 16 Nov. 1660 he was knighted by the title of Sir John Glynne of Henley Park, in Surrey, of which manor he was lord.
He rode in the coronation procession of 23 April 1661, and was thrown from his horse and all but killed by the animal falling upon him. Pepys, regarding him as a rogue and a turncoat, saw the hand of God in this event. Of Glynne's immense ability as an advocate there has never been any question, nor could have been after his speech on the impeachment of Strafford. He was equally distinguished as a judge, his judgments being much admired for their lucidity and method, which, says Siderfin (Rep. pt. ii. 189) brought an intricate case down to the apprehension of every student. His reputation for political honesty suffered severely at the hands of Anthony à Wood, who bore him a special grudge for his part in the suppression of Penruddock's rising. His accuracy, however, may be gauged by the fact that, quoting, as from the 1674 edition of 'Hudibras,' the following couplet:
Did not the learned Glynne and Maynard
To make good subjects traitors strain hard ?
he says that it was written by Butler on the occasion of Penruddock's trial, but not allowed to stand in the 1663 edition, because Glynne and Maynard were then living. In fact, however, Maynard had nothing to do with Penruddock's trial, and was living in 1674. Moreover, the couplet is not to be found in the edition of 1674, or in any subsequent edition, or in the list of various readings appended to Gilfillan's edition. That it was not written by Wood is clear, for it plainly refers to the impeachment of Strafford, which Glynne and Maynard practically managed between them. That Glynne was not particularly scrupulous either as an advocate or as a politician is probable, but neither was he a mere time-server. Only prejudice would doubt his honesty so long as he acted with the presbyterian party. He appears to have been equally opposed to arbitrary government and to anarchy, and to have seen in the monarchical principle, duly limited, the only hope of reconciling stable and strong government with individual liberty. Thus he was equally consistent in urging the crown upon Cromwell and in taking office under Charles II. 'He and Maynard,' says Foss, 'divided the shame of appearing against Sir Harry Vane, their old coadjutor and friend.' In fact, however, Vane, as the head of the independent party, can hardly be described as a coadjutor of Glynne, though he may have been a personal friend; and, in any case, Glynne in appearing on the prosecution was merely discharging his professional duty as king's serjeant, nor does he appear to have taken more than a formal part in the proceedings. Glynne died on 15 Nov. 1666 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1666-7, p. 263). He married first, Frances, daughter of Arthur Squib (subsequently through Glynne's influence, Clarenceux herald and teller of the exchequer); secondly, Anne, daughter of John Manning of Cralle, Sussex, and relict of Sir Thomas Lawley, bart., by both of whom he had issue. His eldest son, William, was created a baronet in 1661.
Besides the speeches delivered on the impeachment of Strafford, printed in Rushworth's eighth volume, Glynne published: 1. 'Speech on the presenting of the Sheriffs of London, in Oct. 1644.' 2. 'A Speech to the point of Jus Divinum and the Presbyterian Governments.' 3. 'Monarchy asserted to be the best, most ancient, and legal Form of Government, in a Conference at Whitehall with Oliver, Lord Protector, and a Committee of Parliament, in April, 1658, and made good by several arguments.'London, 1660, 8vo.
[Lists of Members of Parliament (Official Return of); Wotton's Baronetage, iii. pt. i. 290; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 752; Foss's Lives of the Judges.]