View down lane towards Brinsley Hall Farm (Photo: A Nicholson, 2004).
View down lane towards Brinsley Hall Farm (Photo: A Nicholson, 2004).

This last named member of the de Brunnesley family is the Gervas who sold the Trowell property to John Hacker, and the demesne and capital messuage of Brinsley he sold to Patrick Cocke and others; and the tenements to Gilbert Millington the plunderer of ministers in the civil wars, and one of the Committee who signed the death warrant of Charles I. As already said, Millington was of Felley, which (that is the reversion of the house and site of the Priory of Felley) was on the 7th of June of the 1st year of James I. granted to Anthony Millington and his heirs, and so had come to Gilbert, who from his acquisition of part of the Brinsley property, was treated as a Parishioner of Greasley. From this arose an erroneous subsequent idea that Felley was an extra parochial part of the Parish of Greasley, while it really belongs to that of Annesley. The Millingtons nevertheless have claimed burial rights at Greasley, and have not been hindered therein. Is the memory of men short? or is their loyalty an empty name? The Grant of Felley by James I was ill rewarded on the benefactor’s son; but then, Gilbert Millington had ere then earned for himself a character of doubtful worth and repute. His first wife, as we learn from Lady Hutchinson’s memoirs, was a gentlewoman ; but after her demise, and from the loose associations in which he moved, while by his politics rising to the position of a representative in Parliament, &c., he degenerated, and in the end failed so sadly as at last to exhibit a mean and abject spirit. One of his companions in debauchery was Charles White of Newthorpe. Though he was a man of fractious disposition and lack of character, his father Charles stands honorably in the Parish Registers as a gentleman. The son became a captain in the parliamentary army, and as a companion of Millington’s, was if anything, the worse of the two in fallen morals. Lady Hutchinson writes: How lamentable it was to behold how those wretched men fell away, not only from public spiritedness, but from sobriety and honour and moral conversation, not only conniving at and permitting wickedness in others, but themselves conversing in taverns and . . . (houses of ill repute), till at last Millington and White were so enamoured that they married a couple of ale house wenches, &c., &c.: a man of sixty, professing religion, and having but lately buried a religious matronly gentlewoman, &c., and then to go to an alehouse to take a flirtish girl of sixteen. Gilbert Millington was one of those who signed the death warrant of the King, and it may interest some of our readers to know what became of him after the accession of Charles II.

We take the following from the trial of the regicides, published in 1724, in our possession, i.e.:

“In the County of Middlesex, the proceedings at Hick’s Hall, Tuesday the 9th of October, 1660, in order to the trial of the pretended judges of his late sacred Majesty.

The Court being set, the Commission of Oyer and Terminer, under the Great Seal of England, was first read, and was directed to the Lords and others. (The long list of whose names, together with that of the Grand Jury sworn, we need not insert here).

After proclamation for silence was made, Sir Orlando Bridgman, Lord Chief Baron of his Majesty’s High Court of Exchequer, addressed the Jury, which being ended, Thomas Lee, of the Middle Temple, London, Gentleman, was called to give in the names of the witnesses, which were 42 in number, and the Grand Jury returned the indictment: Billa vera.

The Court then adjourned to the Old Bailey for the 10th October.

On the 10th of October, 1660.

Sir John Robinson, Knight, Lieutenant of his Majesty’s Tower of London, according to the warrant received, delivered to Mr. Sheriff the prisoners who were (in several coaches) with a strong guard of horse and foot conveyed to Newgate, and about 9 of the clock in the morning delivered to the keeper of the prison, and thence brought to the Session House in the Old Bailey, London, where the Commissioners of Oyer and Terminer were in Court assembled, and where their indictment was publicly read by Edward Shelton, Esq., Clerk of the Crown.

Sessions House in the Old Bailey, October 10th, 1660.

The Court being assembled and silence commanded, the Commissioner of Oyer and Terminer was again read, after which the prisoners were brought to the Bar and commanded to hold up their hands.

(We need not go through the whole of them, having for the purposes of this book to do with Millington only).

Clerk: Gilbert Millington, hold up your hand. How sayest thou? Art thou guilty of the Treason whereof thou standest indicted, and art now arraigned, or not guilty?

Gilbert Millington: My Lord, I am an ancient man and deaf; I humbly crave your Lordship’s pardon to hear me a few words; I will promise it shall be pertinent enough.

Mr. Solicitor-General: Impertinent enough he means.

Court: You must plead either guilty, and so confess it, or not guilty, and then you shall be heard anything for your justification.

Clerk: Are you guilty, or not guilty?

Gilbert Millington: I desire I may

Court: There is nothing you can say, but guilty or not guilty, all other discourses turn upon yourself.

Clerk: Are you guilty or not guilty?

Gilbert Millington: You might enlighten me in some scruples. Does my pause trouble you much? I shall not be long.

Court: Your particular case cannot differ from others.

Clerk: Are you guilty or not guilty?

Gilbert Millington: There are some things in the indictment that I can say not guilty to, there are others that I must deal ingeniously, and confess them.

Clerk: Art thou guilty in manner and form as you are indicted, or not guilty?

Gilbert Millington: Not guilty.

Clerk: How will you be tried?

Gilbert Millington: By God and the country.

Clerk: God send you good deliverance.

The final trial took place six days later.

October 16th, 1660.—Session House, Old Baily.

Proclamation of the Court.

Clerk of the Crown: Set Isaac Penington, Henry Marten, Gilbert Millington, Robert Tichburn, Owen Roe, Robert Leiburn, Henry Smith, &c. (in all 15) to the Bar (which being done)

Gilbert Millington: I desire you to hear me. I come not hither to dispute but to acknowledge; I will not trouble you with long discourses. My Lord, it is not fit for wise men to hear them; I am not able to express them. I will not justify myself; I will acknowledge myself guilty. My Lord, the reason why I said the last day, not guilty, was in respect of being upon the scaffold, and murthering the King and those things; but I will wave all things, if your Lordship will give me leave, and will go unto the lowest strain that possibly can be; I will confess myself guilty every way; I was awed by the powers then in being. This I leave with you, and lay myself at your feet, and have no more at all to say, but a few words in a petition, which I desire you will please to accept, and so I conclude.

Council: We do accept this honest and humble confession . . . and shall give no evidence against him to aggravate the matter.

Lord Chief Baron: Your petition is accepted and shall be read.

Thus abjectly did Gilbert Millington demean himself at his trial to be excepted out of the bill of pains and penalties. The Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 37, relates that sentence of death was pronounced on the day following the Millington trial, but that it was commuted into imprisonment for life, his name having been inserted in the clause of suspending execution in case of attainder (Common’s Journals, vol. viii., 61, 139). Gilbert Millington died at Jersey in September or October 1666, and was buried (Calendar of State Papers, Dom. 1666—67, p. 192), in common ground. Some of his letters are among the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Library. His property was seized by the Crown.

We make no comments on Millington. History has spoken, let its voice be heard.