Petition of Stephen Sayre and Others, Natives of America, Presented by Lord Wycombe

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The Lord Wycombe presented to the House, the following Petition of Stephen Sayer, and others, Natives of America;

The same was read by the Clerk, as follows:

To the Right Honorable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, the humble Petition of several Natives of America, showeth:

That your Petitioners, being Natives of his Majesty' s Dominions in America, are deeply interested in every proceeding of this right honorable House, which touches the life, liberty, or property, of any person or persons in the said Dominions.

That your Petitioners conceive themselves and their fellow subjects to be entitled to the rights of natural justice, and to the common law of England, as their unalienable birthright; that they apprehend it to be an invariable rule of natural justice, that no man shall be condemned unheard; and that, according to law, no person or persons can be judged without being called upon to answer, and being permitted to hear the evidence against them, and to make their defence.

That it is therefore with the deepest concern, they understand that there is now before this right honorable House, a Bill of Pains and Penalties, to be inflicted on the

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town of Boston, for a trespass, committed by some persons unknown, upon the property of the East India Company, without the said town having been apprized of any accusation being brought against them, or permitted to hear the evidence, if there be any, and to make their defence.

That the Bill takes away immediately from the inhabitants of the town, the use of property, to the amount of several hundred thousand pounds, vested in quays, wharfs, stores, &c. That it will restrain many thousands of his Majesty' s subjects from subsisting themselves and their families, by their usual employments; that it will punish the innocent for the guilty; and even should all the reparation required by the Bill be made, the restoration of that property, or any part of it, is suffered to depend solely upon the will of the Crown.

Your Petitioners conceive such proceeding to be directly repugnant to every principle of law and justice; and that under such a precedent, no man, or body of men, could enjoy a moment' s security; for if judgment be immediately to follow an accusation, the accused, unacquainted with the charge, and debarred from defending themselves, every fence against false accusation will be pulled down, justice will no longer be a shield, nor innocence an exemption from punishment.

Your Petitioners beg leave to represent, that the law in America, ministers redress for any injury sustained there; and they can most truly affirm, that it is administered in that country with as much impartiality, as in any other part of his Majesty' s Dominions. In proof of this, they appeal to an instance of great notoriety, in which, under every circumstance that could exasperate the People, and disturb the course of justice, Captain Preston and his soldiers had a fair trial, and a favourable verdict. The due course of law thus manifestly holding out redress, they cannot but consider the interposition of Parliamentary power to be as unnecessary, as it is arbitrary and unjust.

Your Petitioners conceive, that this right honorable House, being the supreme judicature of this Nation, are too well acquainted with the inviolable rules of justice, to require any further objections to the Bill against the town of Boston, now under consideration.

They therefore trust and pray, that this right honorable House will not pass a Bill. which is to condemn and punish persons unheard, and therefore deprived of that privilege, which every principle of justice, and every practice of law, allows to the meanest individual: the privilege of hearing and controverting the evidence against him, and maintaining his innocence.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray.

Signed,
Stephen Sayer,
John Peronneau,
William Lee,
Peeke Fuller,
Benjamin Franklin,
Edward Fenwicke,
William Middleton,
William Middleton, Jun˙,
Henry Laurence,
Thomas Pinckney,
Ralph Izard,
William Hasel Gibbs,
Isaac Motte,
Thomas Bromfield,
John Ellis,
Joshua Johnston,
Hugh Williamson,
John Hobson,
Thomas Barker,
Daniel Bowley,
John Boylston,
John Alleyne,
Arthur Lee,
William Blake,
Thomas Ruston,
John Ballendine,
Philip Neyle,
J˙ Williams,
Edward Bancroft,

Ordered, That the said Petition do lie on the table.