The History of Leith

January 10, 2012

Henry Neville Payne-Edinburgh Castle

AMONG the many unfortunates who have pined as prisoners of state in the Castle, few suffered more than Henry Neville Payne, an English gentleman, who was accused of being a Jacobite conspirator.
About the time of the battle of the Boyne, when the Earl of Annandale, Lord Ross, Sir Robert Montgomerie of Skelmorlie, Robert Fergusson ” the plotter,” and others, were forming a scheme in Scotland for the restoration of King James, Payne had been sent there in connection with it, but was discovered in Dumfriesshire, seized, and sent to Edinburgh. Lockhart, the Solicitor- General for Scotland, who happened to be in London, coolly wrote to the Earl of Melville, Secretary of State at Edinburgh, saying, ” that there was no doubt that he (Payne) knew as much as would hang a thousand; but except you put him to the torture, he will shame you all. Pray you, put him in such hands as will have no pity on him!” The Council, however, had anticipated these amiable instructions, and Payne had borne torture to extremity, by boot and thumb-screws, without confessing anything. On the loth of December, under express instruction signed by King William,
and countersigned by Lord Melville, the process was to be repeated; and this was done in the presence of the Earl of Crawford, ” with all the severity,” he reported, “that was consistent with
humanity, even unto that pitch that we could not preserve life and have gone further, but without the least success. He was so manly and resolute under his sufferings that such of the Council as were not acquainted with the evidence, were brangled, and began to give him charity that he might be innocent.
It was surprising that flesh and blood could, without fainting, endure the heavy penance he was in for two hours.” This unfortunate Englishman, in. his maimed and shattered condition, was now thrown into a vault of the Castle, where none had access to him save a doctor. Again and again it was represented to the “humane and pious King’William” that to keep Payne in prison ” without trial was contrary to law;” but notwithstanding repeated petitions for trial and mercy, in defiance of the Bill of Rights, William allowed him to languish from year to year for ten years ; until, on the 4th of February, 1701, he was liberated, in broken health, poverty, and premature old age, without the security for reappearance, which was customary in such cases.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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