Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Floyd, Edward

FLOYD, FLOUD, or LLOYD, EDWARD (d. 1648?), was a catholic barrister who became steward in Shropshire to Lord-chancellor Ellesmere and the Earl of Suffolk. In 1621, when he was a prisoner in the Fleet at the instance of the privy council, he was impeached in the House of Commons for having said: ‘I have heard that Prague is taken; and Goodman Palsgrave and Goodwife Palsgrave have taken their heels; and as I have heard, Goodwife Palsgrave is taken prisoner.’ These words, it was alleged, were spoken by him in a most despiteful and scornful manner, to insult the prince palatine and his wife. The case led to an important constitutional decision. The commons condemned him on 1 May to pay a fine of 1,000l., to stand in the pillory in three different places for two hours each time, and to be carried from place to place upon a horse without a saddle, with his face towards the horse's tail, and holding the tail in his hand. Floyd immediately appealed to the king, who the next morning sent to inquire upon what precedents the commons grounded their claim to act as a judicial body in regard to offences which did not concern their privileges. A debate of several days led to a conference of the two houses, when it was agreed that the accused should be arraigned before the lords, and that a declaration should be entered on the journals that his trial before the commons should not prejudice the just rights of either house. The lords added to the severity of the first judgment. On 26 May Floyd was condemned to be degraded from the estate of a gentleman; his testimony not to be received; he was to be branded, whipped at the cart's tail, to pay 5,000l., and to be imprisoned in Newgate for life. When he was branded in Cheapside he declared that he would have given 1,000l. to be hanged in order that he might be a martyr in so good a cause. Some days afterwards, on the motion of Prince Charles, it was agreed by the lords that the whipping should not be inflicted, and an order was made that in future judgment should not be pronounced, when the sentence was more than imprisonment, on the same day on which it was voted. The remainder of the monstrous sentence on Floyd seems to have been carried into effect. But he was liberated on 16 July 1621, after the new lord keeper Williams had prevailed with Buckingham to recommend to James I a liberal exercise of his prerogative of mercy in the case of political prisoners (Gardiner, Hist. iv. 137). On the petition of Joane, his wife, the lords on 6 Dec. 1621 ordered his trunk and writings to be delivered up to her; the clerk first taking out ‘such popish beads and popish books’ as were therein (Lords' Journals, iii. 183). Perhaps he is the person whose death is thus recorded by Smyth: ‘July 1648, Mr. Fludd (an honest recusant), my old acquaintance, about this time died’ (Obituary, p. 26).

Hallam speaks with great severity of the cruelty of these proceedings. ‘The cold-blooded, deliberate policy of the lords is still more disgusting than the wild fury of the lower house’ (Constitutional Hist., 7th edit. i. 361). A collection, made by Sir Harbottle Grimstone, bart., of the proceedings in Floyd's case in the House of Commons is preserved in the Harleian MS. 6274, art. 2.

[Gardiner's History of England, iv. 119–22; Birch's James I, ii. 252–8; Camden's James I; Campbell's Lord Chief Justices, i. 366, 389, 390; Commons' Journals, i. 596–624; Howell's State Trials, ii. 1153 seq. viii. 92; Lingard's Hist. of England (1849), vii. 223; Lords' Journals, iii. 110–83; Parliamentary Hist. v. 427–47.]

T. C.