164 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
the trial of the King, and had been then set aside. Of these 131 Commissioners, however, a large number shrank from the odium and the risk of such a daring act, and never took their seats at all. Such a defection was provided for by making twenty members of the Commission sufficient to form a Court; and the prudence of this step was soon seen. At the first meeting of the Court, in the Painted Chamber, there were only 52 members present; on the second occasion, when the Court entered upon its functions—when the King was arraigned before it, and when every Commissioner present rose to his name, there were 65 present. Upon this critical occasion there was a considerable defection in the ranks of the Sussex members; but six of them, namely, Peregrine Pelham, Gregory Norton, William Goffe, William Cawley, James Temple, and John Downes, answered to their names, and Anthony Stapley and Herbert Morley joined on future occasions. John Fagg rather assisted, we are told, in making preparations for the trial than attending it as a Judge; and his name does not appear in any of the sittings.
The highest number that sat on the Court at any time was 69. But the number of those who actually signed the warrant for the execution of the King was 59; 44 signing their names at once in the Painted Chamber, and 15 afterwards. These 59 were the Regicides: the men who took on themselves the responsibility of an act which struck Europe with dismay and called forth, perhaps, a greater amount of horror than any deed involving the fate of an individual which stands recorded in the history of this country.
Amongst these 59 Regicides seven Sussex Members are to be found, namely, Peregrine Pelham, Anthony Stapley, James Temple, Gregory Norton, William Cawley, William Goffe, and John Downes.
As one of forty counties, and that by no means the largest in extent or population, Sussex thus bore its full proportion of responsibility for the execution of Charles the First,