London: Printed by Henry Hills, 1649. 4to. [iv], 166,  pp., including the intial leaf with Lilburne’s statement authorizing the publication. FIRST EDITION. Engraved portrait of Lilburne at the trial. Contemporary half-calf and marbled boards, rebacked and recornered, title in gilt on spine, marbled paste-downs and endpapers; a few leaves fragile on the edges. From the reference library of the Blackburn Public Libraries with a bookplate and small stamp on the fly-leaf, ownership signature on title. Item #17457
First edition of the account of Lilburne’s trial. Lilburne (1614–1657) supported Parliament and Cromwell during the English Civil War. However, he grew disillusioned with Cromwell and his politics, suspecting him of tyrannical aspirations, after he rose to power. Lilburne was imprisoned time and again for his writings and suffered public beatings and torture. He was arrested in 1646 for slander and treason, incited by his long-time foe, the Royalist William Prynne.
This work details the specific events of the three-day trial. During the proceedings, Lilburne used the opportunity as political protest. He refused to accept the judge’s authority and called on the jury of his peers to acquit him, which they did. Perhaps for this reason, Lilburne included the names of the jury members alongside his engraved portrait.
Lilburne was a vocal leader of the Levellers political movement, a populist protest against the tyranical designs of Cromwell and the House of Lords. Multiple regiments in the army supported the movement, and Lilburne addressed his many pamphlets and tracts specifically to this audience. Apparently this work was published by Clement Walker (d. 1651), an ally of William Prynne, who used the pseudonym Theodorum Verax.