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Fovrtie articles in the High Court of Parliament against William Lang

London: for Tho. Bates, 1641. - 8p ; 4o.-

transcribed by

J. M. Jolliffe and I. Maxted



of PARLIAMENT against William Lang
who was vicar in the Parish of Bradworthy
in the county of Devon but now prisoner
in the city of LONDON.
a Petition to the Right Honorable

House of Commons, shevving the odiousnesse of
his life and actions, desiring that his triall may
not be prolonged nor his Execution
hindred: being one of the late
Tribe of Lordly Bishops.
[Printer's flowers]
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Printed for Tho. Bates in the Old Bayley.


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norable the Knights, Citizens, and
Burgesses, assembled in the Commons
House this present Parliament

The humble Petition of Robert Judd, for and on the
behalf of himself, and the rest of the Parishioners
of Bradworthie in the County of Devon

Humbly showing to this Honourable Assembly, That one William Lang, Clarke, Vicar of the Parish of Bradworthie aforesaid, having for about 18. yeers last past grievously vexed his parishioners with infinite vexations and causeless suits, to their exceeding great sppression, And to the ruine and undoings of many of them, and lived with great dissention to God, and scandall to the Ministrie. He the said Lang being guiltie of Symonie [Simony], Common Barretrie, Forgerie, practicing to poyson some, and endeavouring to pistoll others of his Parishioners, with many other foule and grosse misdemeanours, particularly set forth, and expressed in the paper hereunto annexed, the consideration whereof is herewith humbly presented to this Honourable Assemblie.



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Fourtie Articles exhibited against
William Lang; humbly presented
unto the High Court of

[1] That the said Lang lived till he was about the age of 30 years, by day labour, and daily hedged, ditched, threshed, and carried sand, in the same Parish and places adjacent, being never admitted of any Vniversitie.

[2] That then he became a Sheriffes Bayliffe, and arrested divers in his own person.

[3] That about 20. yeers since he forged several Warrants, and the Justices of Assizes having notice thereof, gave order for his apprehension, whereupon he fled into Ireland.

[4] That about 4. yeers after he returned, and pretended he had taken Orders in Ireland, and did officiate as a hirelings Reader, untill by Cary Bishop of Exeter he was suspended for foule misdemeanours.

[5] That he procured his Vicarage of Bradworthy for money, by unlawful Symonie, by the meanes of one Robert Tee, who being demanded by some


(2) [4]

how he could make a Common Bayliffe (naming Lang) Vicar of Bradworthy, who answered that he had then such friends, that if his horse head could but speak, he could have made him Vicar of that place.

[6] That the said Lang being desirous to be licensed to preach, and being conscious of his own insufficiencie to undergo examination, procured one Nicholas Hunny to be examined for him by the name of William Lang, and so goes for a preaching Minister.

[7] That ever since he hath been Vicar, he hath taken upon him to be a common Solicitor of causes in the Courts at Westminster, and frequented London Tearmly, and taken money for Solicitations.

[8] That he hath commenced causeless suits against his Parishioners in the Courts of Star Chamber, the Court of High Commission, the Court of Audience, the County Court of Devon, and the Consistory Court at Exeter, all at once, and hath had above fourtie severall Suits at one time, and above eigtxie [eighty] of his Parishioners and others in suite at one time, and having by vexations suits utterly undone divers of them, their wives and children.

[9] That he hath had 4. Bills in the Star-Chamber depending at one time against fourty of his Parishioners, whereof some have depended 12 years, and thereby compelled his Parishioners to travell to London, tearmely from Bradworthie, being two hundred miles distant.

[10] That he never brought any of their Causes to hearing in the Star Chamber, but after they have



been set down (fearing that his soule misdemeanors should there be made manifest, as indeed they are upon depositions) hath procured his own Causes to be dismissed before publication, whereby his misdemeanours have escaped unpunished.

[11] That he usually hath served his Parishioners with paper Tickets, of his own making, into the Court of Star Chamber, and High Commission, and exhibited neither Articles nor Bill against them.

[12] That divers of his Parishioners have severall times been enforced to give compositions to him, whereof some have payed to him fourty pounds, some ten, some foure pounds, some lesse, as his pleasure to redeem them from oppression, and causeless suits.

[13] That he hath prosecuted Nicholas Eliot with unjust and causelesse Suits this 20. yeers and upward, to his damage above 500.l. and hath utterly undone him his wife, and children, and hath kept him excommunicate for these 2. yeers last past.

[14] That he hath of meere malice without any just cause utterly undone Robert Judd, his wife and children, by taking wrongfully from him his lands and goods, to the value of above 300.1. not leaving him worth one mouthfull of bread; And in this his extreme povertie did (in a most unchristian and cruell manner) cast into prison the said Robert Judd, and excommunicated him this 8. yeers last past: and the said Judd doth feel stand unabsolved, notwithstanding there is no cause against him. Nor did his malice cease there, but he hath prosecuted the children of the said Robert Judd most unjustly to their imprisonment and ruine also.

[15] That he having about 6. or 7. yeers since agreed with Anthony Nicholl, one of his Parishioners, for 14.s. per annum, in lieu of the Tithes of his Tenement, did notwithstanding shortly after fine the said Nicholl, and threaten him, that unless he would give him 20.s. per annum, and 5.1. for so quiet a composition he would make him spend more yeerly then the rent of his Tenement, and so forced Nicholl to a new agreement, and gave him a note under his hand, that for 20.s. per annum it was agreed betwixx [between] them from 5. yeers to 5. y ce their lives if Nicholl so pleased: yet 2. yeers after the latter



agreement, he sued the said Nicholls for tithes, and threatened him the second time, that unlesse he would compound with him again, and give him 24.s. per annum and 5.1. for his love, he would yet make him spend more then his Tenement was worth yeerly, whereupon the said Nicholls being unable to travel to Exeter to prevent excommunications, and being threatened with the High Commission Court yeelded to give whatsoever he demanded.

[16] That for three pence (which was all he demanded and which was tendered to him) he sued Richard Snowe in the Consistorie at Exeter and put him to 4. or 5.1. charge about it.

[17] That he caused Samuel Chappell to be arrested at the suit of Andrew Speed, who disavowed the Suit.

[18] That he used the name of Gabriel Williams of Torriton in the Court of High Commission to inform against his Parishioners, and gave money to the said Williams to countenance the said Articles.

[19] That William Lang served letters massive upon William Cann, John Bishop, Richard Lile, Lewis Dennis, Robert Terdrew, John Tee, and when he could not prevail with them to give him composition for to cease the suit, he used means to the Examiner Greenhill, that upon their appearance they could not be examined for 7 weeks, and at last foure of them were forced to give 30.s. a peece to be examined. Which cause lay dead almost a yeer, then they moving to be dismist with costs, Vicar Lang served them with Processe never seen in Court to bring in their Answers: whereupon they came, and produced the Processe, which were Langs own handwriting, whereupon the Examiner being Clark, confessed he did it at Langs persvasion. So the Court fined Greenhill 20.s. But Lang escaped unpunished, or reproved.

[20] That he hath lately got himself made an Officer (by some unjust way as is conceived) of purpose to vex and oppress his Parishioners, with causeless Suits in the Stannery Court and hath already done so.

[21] That he hath affirmed, that if his Chancell were full of gold and silver, he would spend it all to be revenged of his extremes, and that he would never give over his Parishioners with suits, until he lay down like the Hare before the hounds.

22 That


[22] That during his suits with his Parishioners he dealt with one Christopher Pugsley to poyson 4. of his Parishioners, viz. Thomas Vigurs, Richard Facye, Robert Bishop and Thomas Boundye[?] and did give 20.s 6 d. to the said Pugsley to buy Ratsbane with promise of a certain sum of money upon the last communal, which Pugsley attempted three times. And besides there is more then suspicion that he poysoned his predeceased wife, whose estate he had, and was tied to maintain her for the same during her life.

[23] That the said Lang did conspire the death of his predecessor Mr. Twiggs and in all probability poysoned his widow dying suddenly, whose estate he had, and was bound to maintain her during his life, for to that purpose the said Lang procured a Potion as can be proved.

[24] That he carried a Pistoll to kill Mr. Thomas Vigurs, one of his Parishioners, and there in suit with him, and did threaten Thomas Woodruffe a Minister, who revealed the same to the said Thomas Vigurs, that unless he would deny before a Justice the words that he had told Thomas Vigurs, he would lay Felonie to his charge, and his man Jewell should sweare it.

[25] That he dealt with the aforenamed Pugsley to burne the Barn and Corn mowes of Samuel Chappell one of his Parishioners, and at that time in suit with him.

[26] That he hath committed divers forgeries since he hath been Vicar of Bradworthie.

[27] That he farmeth the Tythes of two Parishes to the great oppression of the Inhabitants, in forcing them to pay much more then formerly they did, for fear of Lawsuits, and London journeys.

[28] That he hath left his Care to follow Suits, whereby there hath been neither Sermons nor Service in the Parish Church, many time for a moneth together, And in his absence above 7. yeers since, he left Matthew Lile a Miller, and using that Trade, and no Minister to read prayers in the Church, who hath several times by his appointment publiquely read Divine Service in the Church there; And since that Philip Narr [Natt] a Taylor hath by the appointment of Lang and in his absence publiquely read Divine Service as well on the Sabbath as other holy dayes.

[29] That he causeth Dorothy Lang his daughter to catechise



the Parishioners publiquely in the Church, which she has done several Sundayes together by the appointment of the said William Lang.

[30] That he being required to baptize a childe, bade the woman that required him to cast a dish of water in the face of it, and call it John or Joane (as it was) in the name of the Father, &c. and that would be well enough. Which childe lived nine or ten weeks after, and died unbaptized.

[31] That he obtained a license to sell wine, and hath kept a Tavern in the Vicarage house for 4. yeers last past.

[32] That a child being at the Font to be baptized, the woman that held the child softly and modestly asking the said Lang whether she should put back the child's head-clothes, he answered, Go thy ways home, and teach thy maid to whip her Cat.

[33] That the said Lang being requested by one of his Parishioners to christen his childe, answered him thus, What wilt thou have me to christen thy old Sow.

[34] That the said Lang caused the Body of Roger Neile of his Parish deceased to be kept unjustly ten dayes unburied, and the same to stand open two Sabbath days to the great annoyance and grief of his Parishioners.

[35] That the said Lang doth affirm that the Book of Canticles in the Old Testament was but a kind of bawdy Song, My Love, my Dove, my fair one, &c.

[36] That the said Lang said in a Sermon, that the Holy Ghost was a created corporall substance, or words to that effect.

[37] That the said Lang went up to the Pulpit, and told them he was not able to discharge the Office of a Minister amongst them, because the people were to sinful, and that God had sent him for a scourge amongst them.

[38] That the said Lang doth make infamous Libels against his Parishioners, to their great scandall and unjust vexations.

[39] That he never preacheth or catechiseth in the afternoon on Sabbath dayes, but goes constantly to the Alehouse, and makes himself so drunk, that he could not go nor stand.

[40] That the said Lang doth usually serve Writs and Citations upon his Parishioners upon the dayes of Easter, and other general Commissions, which he might conveniently do on the week day with less breach of charitie.