Trial of Dr. Henry Sacheverell
Henry Sacheverell (1674-1724) was a popular preacher at Oxford University. His controversial printed sermons attracted attention in London. In 1709 he became chaplain at St Saviour's in Southwark. In November of that year he made his most contentious speech to date, attacking Catholics and dissenters by comparing the Gunpowder Plot to the execution of Charles I. Despite an order banning the printing of the sermon by the Lord Mayor he independently published it prompting the Whig government to take action. Articles of impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanours were drawn up, to which Sacheverell gave an uncompromising reply.
The trial began in Westminster Hall on 27 February 1710. As the case began there were riots on the streets and several chapels were attacked, confirming the Government's viewpoint that Sacheverell had encouraged violence. Despite a well executed defence, Sacheverell was found guilty although his sentence was lenient; he was prevented from preaching for three years.
Black Rod would have attended trials in Westminster Hall, such as that of Henry Sacherevell.