The Crimes And Sentencing Of John Francis Dickison

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This document summarizes the crimes and sentencing of John Francis Dickison. The document was sectioned under Royal and Religious Offences. Dickison was charged for “Offences against the King (Queen)”, more specifically for “Religious Offences” against the Protestant faith. He was accused of being a Catholic priest and openly persuading a prisoner, Martha Cook, to renounce her Protestant faith to Catholicism. This was seen as treasonous against the crown, and Dickison was found guilty and hanged for his crimes April 13th, 1681. It is unclear who the document was written by, but considering there are full details of witnesses and an account of Dickison’s crime, it can be suggested that the writer was very much involved in the court proceedings. …show more content…

Dickison was not sentenced until evidence, such as witnesses and proof of exchange of goods were provided. Granted, the crime was against the current Church of England, after King Henry VIII’s split from Rome, the Crown was given total authority over State and Church issues. Therefore, this “Religious offence” fell under “Offences against the Crown”, and as a result treasonous. Source details showed that Cook seemed sincere in becoming a Catholic and as a result, Dickison promised “… to get her a Pardon, made her renounce the Protestant Religion gave her the Sacrament, confessed her… brought her Money”. It is mentioned that Cook was “… condemned for cliping and coyning”. This was the damaging and possession of counterfeit coins, which was also treasonous. Along with the promised pardon, Cook was given Catholic texts and money to ensure her faithfulness to the Catholicism. Dickison’s exact intent is unknown, but if he broke his promise, Cook may have decided to get retribution by exposing him. Although, Dickison did not confess to the crime, in fact, he “faintly denied the pervertion”, the evidence and witnesses were enough to convict him. It is also important to mention that the justice system during 1681, and before that, did not solely make decisions on evidence and witness accounts. The law focused on appeasing the interests of the Crown. Those who committed crimes against the king or country were noted as traitors, and immediately sentenced to death. Therefore, it is assumed that Dickison was guilty before the case proceedings had started. The conviction of a Churchman is also interesting because pre-reformation, the Church was separate from the Crown and considered the law. During Catholicism England, churchmen were considered as divine beings, the link between humankind and God, and incapable of sin. However, this case shows a strong shift from placing churchmen on a pedestal, to

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