Anderson, Lionel (DNB00)

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ANDERSON, LIONEL, alias Munson (d. 1680), Roman catholic priest, was tried with seven others for high treason under the statute 27 Eliz. c. 2, which banished from the realm all subjects of her majesty born within her dominions who had received orders from the see of Rome. This statute, which under Elizabeth had been very vigorously administered, became after her death practically a dead letter, and so remained until the panic into which the nation was thrown by the fabrications of Oates and Bedloe led to its resuscitation. The trial was held at the Old Bailey on 17 Jan. 1680, before lord chief justice Sir William Scroggs, lord chief baron Montagu, justices Atkins, Dolben, Ellis, Jones, Pemberton, the recorder Sir G. Jefferies, and a jury. The prisoners were not allowed the benefit of counsel, and indeed the most skilful advocate must have been of little avail before judges who were determined to presume everything against rather than for the accused. Sir J. Keiling and Mr. Serjeant Stroke prosecuted. The witnesses were Oates, Bedloe, Dangerfield, and Praunce. Dangerfield thus proved Anderson a priest: ‘My lord, about the latter end of May of beginning of June, when I was a prisoner for debt in the King's Bench, this person took occasion to speak privately to me, and desired me to go into his room. He told me that he had received a letter from my lady Powis, and that letter was burnt. But the next letter that came from my lady Powis he would show it me. And he did so; and the contents of the letter was, as near as I can remember, just this: “Sir, you must desire Willoughby to scour his kettle,” which was to confess and receive the sacrament to be true to the cause.’ Anderson pleaded that in staying in the realm he was acting under an order from the council, and demanded that the three points necessary to bring him within the statute—viz. (1) that he was born in England, (2) that he had received orders from the see of Rome, (3) that in remaining within the realm he was acting contrary to the statute—should be expressly proved. No evidence was forthcoming to prove any one of them, but the judges presumed them all against him, holding that the mere fact of his having performed mass (which he admitted) was sufficient to make him guilty; and so they held of all the prisoners. One of them, however, Lumsden by name, proving to be a Scotchman, was acquitted, and another, Kemish, who was too ill to defend himself, was remanded. What became of him is not known; all the others were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, and were executed accordingly. In an account of the trial published shortly after its occurrence Anderson is described as ‘an ancient man and seeming to be sick,’ and in the report of the trial itself there occurs a passage which suggests that he was suffering from physical weakness; but his bearing on that trying occasion indicates firmness and courage, and his manner of conducting his defence exhibits no trace of mental decay. In the course of the trial Oates having alleged that Anderson was an Oxfordshire man, he denied it, asserting that he was the son of a gentleman of quality in Lincolnshire, well known to the lord chief baron Montagu, a statement which that judge did not hesitate to corroborate; and this is also borne out by his alias Munson, which is obviously identical with Mounson or Monson, the name of an ancient Lincolnshire family with which the Andersons of that county had often intermarried. Collier, in his ‘Historical Dictionary’ (2nd edition, 1688), notices one Lionel Anderson as lineally descended from the ancient family of the Andersons of Northumberland (afterwards settled in Lincolnshire), assigning Broughton as the chief seat of the family, and mentioning amongst others of their marriage connections the family of the Mounsons.

[Journals of the House of Commons, ix. 369, 370; Sir William Temple's Memoirs, part iii. in Works ed. 1814, ii. 521; Cobbett's State Trials, vii. 811, 823, 833–5, 839, 841, 848, 882; A Brief Account of the Proceedings against the Six Popish Priests, condemned for High Treason the 17th day of this instant January 1679–80, viz.: Lionel Anderson, alias Munson, William Russel, George Parry, Henry Starkey, James Corker and Will. Marshall, two Benedictine Monks formerly tryed with Wakeman, with whom was likewise tryed Alexander Lumsden.]

J. M. R.