Richard Baxter's Trial (1685)

In 1685 Charles II died and his Catholic brother James II became King. On his accession, there was renewed persecution against Nonconformists. Baxter, by this time a very sick and decrepit 70 year old, was the chosen target to make an example of. He was arrested under the warrant of Judge Jeffries for publishing a seditious book called, ‘Paraphrase of the New Testament’; a ludicrous charge. Jeffries was Lord Chief Justice and a vile, merciless man who sent many innocent people to Australia, many of whom died on the way or at their place of destination. Baxter’s trial is famous in legal history for its injustice. In the Appendix of his Autobiography, there are eye-witness accounts of the proceedings. He was fined and had to stay in prison until it was paid, but Baxter refused to pay it.