CROMWELL, Oliver (1599–1658). An Act for the Establishing an High Court of Justice. Together with 1. An Act prohibiting the proclaiming of any person to be King over England or Ireland, or the dominions thereof. 2. An Act declaring what Offences shall be adjudged Treason. 3. Another Act declaring what Offences shall be adjudged Treason. 4. An Act for a Seal of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England. London: Printed by John Field, Printer to the Parliament of England, 1653.
Folio (10 2/8 x 6 6/8 inches). 32-pages, numbered 191-204. Woodcut arms of the Commonwealth of England on the cover/title and first page of text, 6-line initial (disbound). ESCT R209424
[BOUND WITH]: An Act for Establishing an High Court of Justice. London: Printed by Edward Husband and John Field, Printers to the Parliament of England. 1650. 8-pages, numbered 755-710 [but 760]. Woodcut arms of the Commonwealth of England on the title, 10-line initial. ESTC R208832
[AND WITH]: An Act Prohibiting the Proclaiming of any Person to be King of England or Ireland, or the Dominions thereof. London: Printed for Edward Husband, Printer to the Honorable House of Commons. 1648. 4-pages. 10-line woodcut initial. ESTC R26098
[AND]: An Act Declaring what Offences shall be adjudged Treason. London: Printed for Edward Husband and John Field, Printers to the Parliament of England, 1649. Woodcut arms of the Commonwealth of England on the title, 10-line initial. This issue the order to print is dated: "Die Lunae, 14 Maii, 1649". ESTC R212457
The High Court of Justice was first convened in January of 1649 to try Charles I for treason. In February 1649, "the High Court was reconvened for the trial of five Royalist leaders of the Second Civil War, of whom three were sentenced to death: the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Holland and Lord Capel. It was summoned again in June 1651 for the trial of the Presbyterian minister Christopher Love, who was sentenced to death for plotting against the Commonwealth. Under Cromwell's Protectorate, the High Court of Justice was summoned in May 1658 following the discovery of a Royalist conspiracy to foment an uprising in England to be synchronised with an invasion by Charles Stuart (Charles II) and a Spanish army. Around 140 magistrates, lawyers, MPs, soldiers and aldermen were appointed as commissioners to judge the ringleaders of the plot, but only around fifty were willing to act, with John Lisle serving as lord president. Despite legal arguments that the plotters should be tried by jury, the trials went ahead and a number of ringleaders were executed" (David Plant, The High Court of Justice, BCW Project online).
With the execution of Charles I at the end of January in 1649, and with the old traitors now in charge of the Commonwealth, new Treason Acts were necessary to replace those that had previously addressed offences against the King, with those that addressed threats that faced the Commonwealth. As with all acts and ordinances passed by Parliament during the Civil War and the Interregnum, which did not have Royal Assent, this Act was made null and void following the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660.