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The Triall of Mr. John Gerhard, Mr. Peter Vowell, and Sommerset Fox.


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Note on the e-text: this Renascence Editions text was transcribed by Sandra Jones from the text of the 1654 tract. This edition is in the public domain. Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 2002 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only. Send comments and corrections to the Publisher.

Mr. John Gerhard, Mr. Peter Vowell, and 
Sommerset Fox, by the HIGH COURT of 
JUSTICE sitting in Westminster Hall on 
Friday 30 June, 1654.

With their Charge, 

A DECLARATION of the particulars 
of the whole P L O T to have murthered His 
Highnesse the Lord Protector, and those of the Coun-
cill, Seized on the Guards, the Lord Mayor, and 
others, and proclaimed Charles Steuart King. 

With the names of each person chief in the Designe, 
and what each of them did act, and were to do therein. 

And the Testimonies of the severall VVit-
nesses upon Oath, which were Mr.Wiseman, Mr. 
Hudson, Robert Dale, John Hipwell, Col. Aldridge,
Charles Gerhard, John Man, Francis Fox, Mr.
Wharton, Mr. Barnes, and Mr. Minors. 
And the severall pleadings and proceedings of their Tryall
Taken in Writing in the Court by one present at their Tryall.
London, Printed by Robert Ibbitson in Smithfield. 

Friday  30 June 1654. 

THE High Court of Justice met this day in the Painted Chamber. 
   Mr.Bond prayed with them about half an hour. 
   The Court then sat, and presently adjourned to the Court of Chancery prepared for their sitting; The Lord Commissioner Liste was President, Mr.Phelps Clerk, Serjeant Glyn, Mr.Prideaux,and Mr. Ellis Council for the Commonwealth. 
  The Court was called (each member by name) and the Ordinance im- powring them read. The Prisoners to be tryed were. 
          Mr.John Gerheard Gentleman. 
          Mr. Peter Vowel, Schoolmaster of Islington. 
          And Summerset Fox. 
   Summerset Fox was first called to the Bar, and an Indictment of High Treason read against him, for joyning in a traiterous Design to have murdered his Highness the Lord Protector and divers of his Council, Proclaimed Charls Stuart King, seized on the present Guards and Forces, involved the Nation in a bloody war,&c.
   Summerset Fox did ingenuously confess the Charge against him upon the main, to be true, and that he is guilty. 
   Then Mr.John Gerhard, and Mr.Peter Vowel were brought to the Bar and an Indictment to the same purpose as that against Summerset Fox,read against them. 
   They pleaded not guilty, and denyed every thing.
   Vowel said that he required a Jury of Twelve of his equals, it being a Law confirmed by Magna Charta; and according to the fixt Article of the Government by the Lord Protector also, that Law being not repealed, and therefore that he might be tryed by his Peers. 
   The Lord President told him, That the Members of the Court were his Peers, not his Superiors but his Equals, and that they were present near twice twelve as he saw; And that they are to proceed by the power of an Ordinance before them. 
   It was also told him by Serjeant Glyn that he had owned the Jurisdiction of the Court, in pleading not guilty. 
   Vowel said, he was a man ignorant in the Law, and desired advantage might not be taken of his weakness. 
   The Attorney General Prideaux said none desired to take any advantage of any thing, wished they had not brought themselves into these troubles; that they were there in the name of the Lord Protector and the Commonwealth of England to accuse the Prisoners at the Bar, and to bring in their proof, and the prisoners were to defend themselves as well as they could, And when both sides were heard, it was to be left to the Court to determine, and to judge between them. 
   And it was declared that the plot was to this effect. 
   That the Plot was to seize on the Lord Protector and murder him, and some of the Council and others, and Proclaim and bring in Charls Stuart, Son of the late King, to be King, which bloody design was to be effected thus. 
   That the first hatching of the Plot was in England by Mr. Hinshaw, who was one of the cheife plotters, and others; Mr. Hinshaw went over from England to France, to acquaint Charls Stuart (whom they called their King) with the Design, and Mr.John Gerhard about that time went over to France also, who had told Mr.Hinshaw that he would do nothing in it until he had first had approbation from Charls Stuart, Mr.Wiseman was also then in France with them. 
   Address was made to Prince Rupert, and the Design made known to him, desiring him to communicate it to (him they called) the King, who accordingly did, and brought Mr. Hinshaw to him, But Charls Stuart at the first delivered his Judgement in the thing, that he was at present unsatisfied at that time to go on in that design for three reasons. 
   1 Because it would be dishonourable to him in the esteem of other Princes, in case such a thing should be known, and should not be effected, to come in in such a way. 
   2 Because it did not seem to him to be feasable, but unlikely to be effected. 
   3 Because it was not at that time seasonable. 
   But Prince Rupert afterwards did much encourage and perswade, That the design might be carried on, and promised all assistance. 
   Mr. Hinshaw and Mr. Wiseman returned into England, Mr. Gerhard staied there a while longer, but some weeks after came back also; Mr. Hinshaw declared to his confederates here in England what overtures had been with Charls Stuart and that Prince Rupert had engaged to send ten thousand Scots, English, and French, and the Duke of York to come with them to land in Sussex, and other places, and that there would be Forces enough ready to assist and joyn with them.
   Mr.Hudson the Minister was thought on, to have Letters of Credence from Charls Stuart, who sent a Letter to him, and that which he desired in case the Plot had taken, was to be made the Master of Suttons Hospitall, which Mr.Hinshaw promised him. 
   One Master Phillips also, and others were treated with about it, and Master Gerhard returning from France, the Plot was resolved to be carried on, which was to be effected thus. 
   1 They were to seize on the Lord Protector, and Murder him, to do this work they should take the opportunity of his going to Hampton Court, which he used to do every Saterday, with a smal number slenderly armed; and those that were to do this were Master Hinshaw, and Mr. John Gerhard with thirty Horse. Mr.John Gerhard to bring twenty five Horse and Mr. Hinshaw five, which either of them were to engage; Mr.Gerhard was something cautious, not to discover who they were he engaged, be-fore an Oath of secrecie was given, but twenty five hee had undertaken for. 
   Mr.Hinshaws five were himself, Mr.Tuedore the Apothecary, Mr.Wise-man, Col. Aldridge, and another, and then to seize on the Tower of London, and to go on with their work. 
   2 If that failed, To seize on all the Guards about Westminster, which they thought two thousand five hundred sufficient to do, and carry on their work here about London; and for that purpose Mr.Hinshaw, Mr.Gerhard and others viewed the Mews and the rest, and was heard to say, What a pitty it was that so slender Guards should not be seized on, and that when the Souldiers were at Nine-pins in the Mews, it was but shooting off a Pistol, and presently to fall on. 
   3 The last way to have it effected to be thus, That when the Foot Re-giments that are for the Guards about London were Mustering in Tuttle Fields, as they use several times to do, to come into Tuttle-Fields and meet them there as of their own party, and when they have laid down their Arms to seize upon them, and have others to be ready at the same time every where to perfect the work. And for this purpose, if they acted this way, 
   Col. Finch with a party of two hundred was to fall into London, and do the work in the City. 
   Major John Gerhard to fall on White-Hall
   Col. Hinshaw to fall on the Mews
   Col. Daniel with two hundred to fall on Iamsses
   Another to fall into Southwark
   And one Billingsly, a Butcher at Smithfield barres, with a Party to fall upon Islington; and it was pressed that the opportunity might not be neglected. 
   And that the work might be the more feasable, they considered how as many of the Souldiery as might be, might be engaged in the businesse. And the Papists (who had a great hand in the design) gave information of two Souldiers of the Army, that used sometimes to come and hear Masse, and these two they sent a Papist Woman to, who engaged them, and their direction was, To give intelligence at Mr. Hudsons house, whither Mr.Hinshaw and others of them frequented. 
   Master Vowel was cautious being a solid man, for his work was not to bear Arms but as a Privie Counsellor to them, and he was to engage Mr.Billingsly the Butcher with a Party to seize the Lord Protectors Horse at Islington, and him Mr.Vowel recommended to be a very fit man for that work.
   And they had this Art, to endeavour to make the Lord Protector odious to the people, in turning the design upon him by a Libel, which was scattered up and down London, that his Highness and the Army had a design to Massacre all but their Friends in all parts of England, and this Libel was written by Mr. Fenshaw, which was got printed by one in Newgate-Market, and Mr.Vowel had one of them. 
   When the design was discovered, and Mr. Gerhard and some others apprehended, Mr.Vowel being at Mr. Hudsons house, it was said by him That the design might still go on, though some were discovered; Mr. Hinshaw and Mr.Wiseman came to him to Islington to his House, from whence they went to drink their morning draught, Mr. Vowel said, There were enough to do the work still; Mr.Wiseman said, There were many Horse to fall on; Mr.Vowel said, It might be easily done. 
   One Wharton in Black Friers was to proclaim Charls Stuart King, and Col.Finch was to seize on the Lord Mayor, and make him to proclaime him; Somerset Fox and others were to raise Prentices to joyn in the design, but the Lord Protector going by Water dis-appointed them. 
   Mr.Vowel then said to the Court, That they were not his Peers because they were his Judges, and therefore desired a Jury of twelve of his equals. 

   Mr. Predeaux answered, that so a Jury are the Judges, though they be the prisoners Peers. The Witnesses against the Prisoners at the Bar were called for. 
   John Wiseman was sworn, and being required to give evidence what hee had to say touching the Prisoners at the Bar, avouched the Charge against them, and said, 
   That he was with Mr. Hinshaw in France, who did communicate by Prince Rupert to Charls Stuart the design, as is before exprest. 
   That he saw Mr.John Gerhard often-times with Mr. Hinshaw while he was in France, and that he told him in England, That there was a Plot to fall on the Lord Protector, and to bring in Charls Stuartto be King, and to the rest of that design as is before exprest. And about three weeks after he met Mr Hinshaw, and Mr. John Gerhard, and they went to Jamses, and the Mews, White Hall, and other places. 
   That Mr. John Gerhard told one Mr. Minors of the businesse, and how they were to fall on my Lord Protector, and so as before is exprest. 
   Then Mr.Gerhard interrupted him, saying, How could this be done with a company of Geese. To whom Mr. Predeaux answered, That he knew best how it should be done, and wisht he had ne're known it, nor gone about it. 
   Mr. Wiseman went on in his Evidence, and said, That Mr. John Gerhard being at Mr. Hudsons house, did there speak about the Plot to fall on the Lord Protector, &c. 
   That he had dispute with Mr. Hinshaw (whom the said Wiseman calleth Brother by some relation) That such a time, and so, and so, would be seasonable (mentioning some particulars.) 
   That another day he heard Mr. John Gerhard say, That he was to command the Party, and had a Pistol that would discharge three several times, Mr. Hinshaw, and several other persons being then by;and that he doubted not but it would be seasonable, That there were to be about 30 persons to fall on the Lord Protector, that his brother Hinshaw said he was to bring five, and Mr Gerhard 25 to do the work, and named the five aforesaid that his Brother Hinshaw was to bring, and that his Brother Hinshaw told him that Mr.John Gerhard was to surprize the Lord Protectors person. 
   And when the Plot was discovered, he heard his brother Hinshaw say, that they that were taken were all of Gerhards party and none of his, and that there was a Libel printed to turn the plot on the Lord Protector as is before exprest: and that his Brother Hinshaw and Mr. Vowel had some of the Papers. 
   That on Wednesday after it was discovered he was at Mr. Vowels house at Islington, and his brother Hinshaw was there, and they went to the Kings head to drink, and there his Brother Hinshaw said, that the business might go on for all it was discovered, many Regiments in several parts being ready rise, enough to carry on the work.
   Mr. John Gerhard, and Mr.Peter Vowel the Prisoners at the Bar still denyed all, and said it was not true that he said. 
   Then Mr. Edward Hudson, a Minister that is blind was sworn, who said that Mr. Hinshaw desired him to write two or three words to the Scots King, and that Mr. Hinshaw related all the business to him of the design, and the three Objections by Charls Stuart, and P. Ruperts answer afterwards, and the three waies to effect it, very much agreeing with the particulars afore-mentioned; (which need not be here repeated again, because it was the same as before)
   When he came to particulars touching the Prisoners at the Bar, he said that Mr. Vowel was his intimate friend, one that he had been much beholden to, and might have perished had not he relieved him. That Mr. Hinshaw sought to engage Mr. Vowel, but hee answered that hee thought himself to be unfit, That he said he did not relish. What Mr. Hinshaw and he did agree he knowes not, What hee heard was from Mr Hinshaw, That they did meet accidentally, That he did suspect Mr.Vowel to act, but was not sure of it, That he did suppose they had concluded, but was not sure of any thing. That Mr.Vowel said he was himself unfit to engage, but he would engage a friend if he could, That M.Vowel said there were a great many horses at Islington which might be surprized, that he would try what he could doe, but whether he did any thing or not, he knows not.
   Mr.Hudson denyed some things he confessed upon oath before Col.Goff Justice of the Peace. 
   Col.Goff was sworn, He testified that the Examination (which was pro-duced in the Court) was all written from Mr. Hudsons own mouth, and after it was written, it was read to him, to the end that if there had been any mistake it might be altered, and was all by him owned upon his oath, that it was freely testified, and nothing in it extorted from him.
   Mr.Hudson said that he was pressed, and that he then said these words, Do not thus afflict an old distressed man, that hath nothing but afflictions upon him. 
   To which Col.Goff answered, That at first Mr.Hudson denyed all, and would confess nothing until he heard the whole business confessed by another, and that all that was pressed to him was to discharge his conscience in speaking the truth, and that when he heard another to confess the Plot so fully, he desired to be heard again, and then did freely confess according to the Examination.
   In the said Examination Mr.Hudson declareth the whole Plot, and the proceedings in France,Charls Stuarts objections, P.Ruperts encouragement, the three ways to effect it, and all the particulars of the design as aforesaid &c. 
   And how M.Vowel spake with M. Hinshaw, M. Wiseman and the 2 Soldiers, that Mr. Hinshaw said there were many Cavaliers in Town in the Plot, but would never speak two together, that some relished it well, others doubted. But in some, that it was agreed to seize on the Lord Protector and the Guards, go with Drums and Cullour to Whitehal, and the rest of the particulars for bringing in Charls Stuart, for all the witnesses do much agree &c. 
   In the said Examination he also said, that Mr.Hinshaw said that they would set up Major Gen. Brown to be in the head of them, by a Letter which they hoped to get from Charls Stuart, and beleeved that he would accept of it, he being a friend to the King, as they called him. 
   That it was propounded to Mr. Vowel, who did consent to do something in it, and did afterwards meet some six times at Mr.Hudsons house. That Mr. Vowel engaged Billingsly the Butcher aforesaid to be a consi-derable man, discoursed with him of the number of horse, and Billingsly said to him that the horses at grass might be easily seized. 
   That Hinshaw told him and Vowel, after Gerhard was taken, that none of his party was taken, and that the plot might go on, that the French, English and Irish from P. Rupert were to land at Rye and other places in Sussex. 
   The Lord President asked Mr.Hudson whether he did own it, to whom he answered, that they were together, and such and such things were spoken, but how far Mr. Vowel consented, he knows not. 
   Then Mr. Robert Dale was sworn, who declared against Mr. Vowel the Prisoner at the Bar, that Mr. Vowel came to his house, and asked him what Arms he had, he told him two Pistols, he said he would buy them of him, he asked for what use, he said that he would tel him hereafter. 
   That he came with Mr. Hinshaw and Mr. Wiseman severall times to his house, who did declare that they had a design to fall on the Lord Protector (and so in all the particulars agreeing with the rest touching the whole business of the design how it should have been done, as hath been before exprest.) 
   And that Sir Gilbert Pickering,Mr. Strickland, and two or three more of the Council were named that should be cut off. 
   That they invited him to assist them, and would have ingaged me to fall on in the seizing of them at Islington, and they said there was one to head them, which they should know afterwards, and he said that Mr. Vowel heard these things, And that at another time Mr. Hinshaw, Mr Wiseman, and Mr. Plunket met with Mr.Vowel. 
   And his Examination was read. 
   That Mr. Vowel asked him whether he had any Arms to accommodate friends, he said two Pistols (and the rest of the discourse as now he had spoken before the Court) only the Examination mentioned a third person of the Council, viz.Maj.Gen.Lambert also to be cut off. That they were provided of an Head, and bad him therefore be sure to rise when he had notice. Then Mr.Hinshawseeing two men passing along by where he was, supposing them to be Souldiers said, they should be killed, and he said that Plunket would give notice when they should be ready upon the design to fall on, And that he was ingaged to get as many as he could to assist in the work, That Vowel brought Hinshaw to his house.
   Iohn Hipwel, one of the two Souldiers in the Plot being sworn, said, That a Papist Woman brought him to Mr. Hudsons house, where he met with them, and one told him, That he had something to discover to him if he could joyn in it. That he was examined how strong the Guards were, and that Regiment of which he was, and said, the Regiment were 1200; Hee was asked what Ammunition, and other such like questions, to all which he gave answer. 
   After some discourse he told him, That it was to fall on the Lord Protector, and on the Guards &c. and so told him the whole design, which he related to the same purpose as those before. 
   That he was bid to enquire what Cavaliers were in the Regiment, and among the Souldiery, and drink with them, and do what he could to divide the Souldiery, and to make what Party he could for this work, and that when the time should be for action, the Word should bee, F A L L  O N. 
   The next morning hearing some were taken Prisoners, there was much sorrow.
   Yee see the Papists sate at the Helm of this Plot, and they directed where to finde help. 
   Then Col.Aldridge was sworn, who said, That Mr. Hinshaw revealed there was a design to have fallen on the Lord Protector, and brought in Charls Stuart to be King, and related the particulars much to the pur-pose as is before exprest, and that ,Hinshaw asked him if he would be one; That he made some queries about it, but Mr. Hinshaw told him, They had great hopes of accomplishing it, and that there was an Officer of their own in the Tower that should free the Prisoners, and put Swords in their hands, and that all should be done upon an instant, and that then they should have mony enough.
   Had all mens estates become their prey, they indeed would have had much, but what a sad condition would England then have been in? 
   Then Mr. John Gerhard was caused to with-draw a while.
   Mr.Charls Gerhard was next called for, to see what he could say touching the Plot, who declared, That Mr.Hinshaw had been in France with Charls Stuart, and his Brother Iohn also, and Mr. Wiseman had been there, and made a Narrative of all the proceedings there, agreeing with the rest before; and spake also of several meetings at Ludgate-hil, and Covent Garden; how he met Col. Finch at the Piatzo, who told him of the design to kill the Lord Protector, seize on the Guards, the Lord Mayor, &c. proclaime Charls Stuart King; and the rest of that story of their design, in which he agreed with the former. And that he declared to him, That they were Listing apace, and they had many joyned hereabout. That Col. Deane had listed all that day, that he himself had listed some; That Col. Finch had a Party to joyn with him in the City. That another time he had further discourse again with him about it, that they were to meet the next day, and then it was also said, That Finch was to command a Party, and that his Brother Iohn Gerhard also was to command a Party, and that his Brother John was then by, and heard this discourse; and that it was said there was ready about London to seize on several parts in all, about two or three thousand, That Col. Finch was to seize on the Lord Mayor, Col. Dean on Jameses, Col. Haines on Col Ingolabie in Southwark (and so named other particulars like what is mentioned before) Told him also the management of the design in France (agreeing with what is mentioned before) and said, He had a Commission from the King (as he called him) And he spake also of their meeting at Belsavage at Ludgate-hil, where mention was made of his Brother John Gerhard, and that Somerset Foxwas there, and engaged in the design, and his was to get in all the Apprentices he could to joyn in it. That at another time Hinshaw said, they had listed two or three thousand. 
   Then Mr.John Gerhard was called to the Bar again where he appeared with the other two. 
   Mr. Charls Gerhard was then sworne, and upon his oath gave in evidence, after his Brother was brought to the Bar, That the design was to fal on the Lord Protector, &c. (he gave a short Narrative as before) and further said that his Brother John Gerhard had been in France
   John Gerhard Prisoner at the Bar said he confest it, that he was in France, when they were there, and was sometimes in their company, but denied that he knew any thing of any plot.
   Mr. Charles Gerhard being desired to go on further, said, That Mr. Hinshaw was severall times at his lodgings, and his Brother with him, and talked with him of the design, which his Brother scrupled, but he told him that if it could be accomplished the King (as he called him) would like well of it, That his Brother met Mr Hinshaw at Covent Garden, who had pen and Inke before him, and talked of the numbers and other particulars, his Brother John then in the Room (and he named the particulars as before) But his Brother did not relish it, and was pressed by them, nor did he know that he consented to act. 
   Mr. Prideaux told Mr. Charls Gerhard that he did well to bee as sparing as he could against a Brother, only be carefull to speak the truth, though with the fairest interpretation, because Conscience is neerer than a Brother. 
   The Lord President also said, that he was not to look upon either the greatnesse of men, or the relation of a Brother in this thing, but to look upon his Conscience, and to look up to his God.
   John Man was sworn, who declared the Design in generall, (as the rest, all agreeing) and that Mr. John Gerhard and others had consulted about it. 
   That being asked if he would engage in it, he answered yes: That afterwards he went to Belsavidge, but when he came there, there were Somerset Fox and others, and they said he could not have admission, for several were apprehended about it, and they knew not what to do, 
   William Dod was sworn, who gave in evidence, that on Thursday morning in Whitson week, Somerset Fox told him that there was a design (as a-foresaid, giving him an account of the whole, still all agreeing) But he told him that it was to be kept secret. And that they were to meet about two a clock in the morning about it. That at Bellsavidge he met with Somerset Fox, and his cousin Fox the next day again, and had the like discourse. 
   Francis Fox being sworn, gave in the like evidence against his Cousin Somerset Fox, and that hee was invited to joyn with them, but could not tell what to do.
   John Wharton was sworn, who said, he keeps a Victualling house in Black Fryers, and that a Gentleman, a stranger, came to him, and asked him if hee would serve the King, and fell in discourse about his calling; that he told him he had marryed a poor widow: And that the Gentleman told him that if the Design went on, he might have money enough, and said that hee would find him better imployment. The Gentlemans name, hee said, was Hinshaw, as hee heard afterward. And that hee told him hee would not bee long before he came again. Hee said that hee did beleeve they had designed to seize on the Lord Protector, and all the Horse guards. But for his part hee was, when they should give him notice of it, only to proclaime the King, that was all that hee was to do.
   Mr.Barnes was sworn, who spake of the Designe in generall, much after the same manner as those before. Mr. Minors was the last Witnesse sworn, who gave evidence, that Major Hinshaw told him of the Designe neer Covent Garden and one Mr. Harison, Tuedor, and others, were mentioned. That he asked him if hee would joyn in it. That afterward hee met with Hinshaw in the Pallace yard at Westminster, who told him of the Designe, as before. And that Major John Gerhard was to command a party, and that the businesse was then in good forward-nesse, but Major John Gerhard thought it could not yet be accomplished. 
   And that when Mr.Hinshaw heard that Mr.John Gerhard was taken, hee said that hee might thank himself, for had not he delayed it, the businesse might have been done two days before. 
   The Prisoners at the Bar were then asked what they had to say for themselves? 
   Mr. John Gerhard said that he was falsly accused, and that the Witnesses did not speak truth, and denied that he had any thing to do in the Plot, or knew of it. 
   Mr. Vowel did require of the Court to bee allowed pen, Inke and paper, the Copy of his Charge, and Councill to advise him what defence to make for himself. And pleaded Magna Charta again, as before, and the fixt Article of the Government of the Lord Protector. 
   Sergeant Glyn declared, that an Ordinance being declared Law untill the Parliament shall repeal it, is to give the same authority to it which is to an Act of Parliament, every Act being a Law no longer. That the Laws of old of Treason against the King are of force (were this new Ordinance not in being) For it means the Supream Governour; though it names only a King, it hath been made use of for Treason against a Queen, and so is to bee touching a Lord Protector, or any other Supream Governour. 
   Mr. Ellis Councill of the Commonwealth, produced in Court the Government of the Lord Protector, in which that very Arti-cle in the conclusion of it, hath a proviso to the 30th Article. 
   The Atturney Generall Prideaux declared, that the Charge having been so fully proved against them, yet they could not but take notice of the ingenuous confession of Sommerset Fox; but were sorry to see such obstinacy in the other two, after such barbarous and bloody designe; that they should shew no signes of Repentance: And therefore in behalf of the Commonwealth prayed for Justice from the Court against them. 
   The Court adjourned into the Painted Chamber, and Ordered that they should have pen, Inke and paper, and any friend to come to them that they should desire in the presence of the Lieutenant of the Tower. 
   The Court adjourned untill Tuesday next in the afternoon. 

F I N I S.

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