Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 24.djvu/33

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liament met in September, and set about the great business of settling the nation. Hale spoke forcibly in favour of subordinating 'the single person' to the parliament. Cromwell silenced opposition by requiring members to subscribe a 'recognition to be true and faithful to the Lord Protector and Commonwealth of England.' The majority complied, and all dissentients, of whom Hale was probably one, were excluded by a subsequent vote. According to Burnet, Hale was required by the council of state to assist at the trial of Penruddock (April 1655), but refused. This, however, is unlikely, as Penruddock's trial took place at Exeter, and Hale belonged to the midland circuit. Burnet also intimates that his seat on the bench was by no means an easy one, his strict impartiality rendering him odious to Major-general Whalley, who commanded on his circuit, and also to the Protector. But this is inconsistent with extrinsic evidence. On 1 Nov. 1655 he was placed by the council of state on the committee of trade; and on 31 March 1655-6 Whalley writes to Cromwell from Warwick requesting the Protector to give more than ordinary thanks to Hale for his behaviour on the bench; and on 9 April tells Thurloe that no judge had a greater hold upon the 'affections of honest men.'

Hale continued to act as justice of the common pleas until the Protector's death, and was offered a renewal of his patent by Richard Cromwell, but refused it, probably because he foresaw that Richard's tenure of power would be of short duration. On 27 Jan. 1658-9 he was returned to parliament for the university of Oxford. He took an active part in the restoration of Charles II, but moved that a treaty should be made with him, and to that end a committee was appointed to search for precedents in the various negotiations had with the late king at the treaty of Newport and on other occasions. The motion was defeated by Monck. In the Convention parliament, which met in April 1660, he sat for Gloucestershire. He was chosen one of the managers of the conference with the lords on the settlement of the nation, and was placed on a committee for purging the statute book of all pretended acts inconsistent with government by king, lords, and commons, and confirming other proceedings which were equitable, although technically void. He was also a member of the grand committee for religion, and advocated the old ecclesiastical polity against presbyterianism. He supported the bill of indemnity, but opposed the inclusion of the regicides. On 22 June he was called to the degree of serjeant-at-law, and in that capacity was included in the commission for the trial of the regicides. On 7 Nov. he was appointed lord chief baron of the exchequer, and afterwards knighted, somewhat against his will, it is said. One of his last acts in the House of Commons was to introduce a bill for the comprehension of presbyterians. It was thrown out on the second reading on 28 Nov. 1660 (Burton, Diary, i. xxxii, iii. 142; Whitelocke, Mem. p. 605; Cal. State Papers, 1655 p. 175, 1655-6 p. 1, 1656-7 p. 81, 1660-1 p. 354; Thurloe State Papers, iv. 663, 686, v. 296; Burnet, Own Time, fol. p. 80, 8vo i. 322 n.; Parl. Hist. iv. 4, 25, 79, 101, 152-4; Comm. Journ. viii. 194; Siderfin, Rep. i. 3, 4).

At the Bury St. Edmunds assizes on 10 March 1661-2 two old women, Rose Cullender and Amy Drury, widows, were indicted before him of witchcraft. They had, it was alleged, caused certain children to be taken with fainting fits, to vomit nails and pins, and to see mysterious mice, ducks, and flies invisible to others. A toad ran out of their bed, and on being thrown into the fire had exploded with a noise like the crack of a pistol. Sir Thomas Browne gave evidence in favour of the prosecution. Serjeant Kelynge thought the evidence insufficient. Hale, in directing the jury, abstained from commenting on the evidence, but 'made no doubt at all' of the existence of witches, as proved by the Scriptures, general consent, and acts of parliament. The prisoners were convicted and executed (Cobbett, State Trials, vi. 687-702).

After the fire of London a special court was constituted by act of parliament (1666), consisting of 'the justices of the courts of king's bench and common pleas and the barons of the coif of the exchequer, or any three of them,' to adjudicate on all questions arising between the owners and tenants of property in the city destroyed by the fire. The commission sat at Clifford's Inn, and disposed of a vast amount of business. Its last sitting was held on 29 Sept. 1672. Besides his part in the strictly judicial business of this tribunal, Hale is said to have advised the corporation on various matters relating to the rebuilding of the city. His portrait, with those of his colleagues, was painted by order of the corporation and hung in the Guildhall. Hale showed a certain tenderness towards the dissenters in his administration of the Conventicle Acts, the severity of which he did his best to mitigate, and also in another attempt which he made in 1668, in concert with Sir Orlando Bridgeman, to bring about the comprehension of the more moderate. On 18 May 1671 he was created chief justice of the king's bench, where he presided for between four and five years with great dis-