Archive for Treason

29 November 1603 – William Clark

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged, drawn & quartered with tags , , , , , on November 29 by Last Writes

Catholic priest William Clarke lost his head for being in cahoots with another priest to try to kidnap King James I.

The plan was to hold the king until he agreed to relax his stance on anti-Catholic laws, in what became known as the Bye Plot.

Bearing in mind James had only just got his hands on the throne, the scheming priests were nothing if not keen.

But other Jesuits got cold feet, fearing that if the plot was discovered the law would come down hard on the already beleaguered Catholics. So they outed the two priests to the authorities and they were promptly dealt with.

Although some sources state that Clark was done as a job-lot alongside fellow priestly plotter William Watson, he was apparently executed on his tod at Winchester on this day in 1603 – the first of three to be strung up, according to RC Bald in his book ‘The Chronology of Middleton’s Plays’.

Watch out for the others in December.

As for the Jesuits, their hope for leniency backfired – James threw all the Catholic priests out in 1604, so they’d shopped the plotters for no reason.

Also on this day

29 November 1920 – James Riley

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22 November 1780 – Mary Gardner

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , , on November 22 by Old Sparky

Mary Gardner obviously didn’t know her own strength after she was hanged alongside eight men for literally bringing a house down during the Gordon riots of 1780.

Gardner was hanged at Tyburn for helping to level a house during a four-day riot in opposition to the controversial Catholic Relief Act of 1778. The Act allowed Roman Catholics in the UK to own property, inherit land, and join the army.

Needless to say, there was a backlash in the mainly Protestant nation to what was view suspiciously as the growth of Papism provoked unremarkably by a person named Gordon – Lord George Gordon to be exact. He encouraged his activists to rise up and challenge the Act as the Scots had the year before.

Sadly the riots killed around 850 people. And of those, 285 were rioters killed by the army. There were many arrests too and roughly 20 to 30 were executed, of whom Mary Gardner was one.

Unbelievably Gordon was also arrested and charged with high treason, but found not guilty.

Also on this day

22 November 1910 – Johan Alfred Andersson Ander

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29 October 1618 – Walter Raleigh

Posted in Beheaded, Death penalty with tags , , , , , on October 29 by Last Writes

Walter Raleigh

Walter Raleigh

El Dorado. By that, we don’t mean the really cringey soap from the ‘90s, but the destination that caused the ultimate downfall of our next subject.

The fall from grace was nothing short of spectacular for the writer, poet, sailor, pioneer, discoverer and queen’s favourite Sir Walter Raleigh (or Ralegh).

Spanning two monarchs’ reigns, his was a jam-packed life full of adventures. Not least were his expeditions to the Americas in search of wealth and territory.

This kind of swashbuckling heroism was to earn him a place in the sun at Queen Elizabeth’s court. It was here that his first fall from grace was to occur.

Walt frisky

He was a good looking bloke and able to charm the pants off the Virgin Queen Elizabeth. But he met and secretly fell in love with one of Lizzie’s ladies-in-waiting – Elizabeth Throckmorton (or Throgmorton depending on the source).

The torrid and illicit affair eventually wound up with a shotgun wedding, which covertly took place in 1591.

News of the marriage leaked out and old Queenie lost it completely, dumping her former favourite in the slammer.

Raleigh languished in jail for a while, but eventually charmed his way out of incarceration and led an expedition to what’s now known as Venezuela. His somewhat exaggerated findings made their way into one of his many books.

During this time, he also had it in for the Spanish and was busy capturing Cadiz or travelling to the Azores.

But then his ‘Get out of jail free card’ expired with the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. For the incoming king – James I of the House of Stuart – was not really a big fan, according to the ‘History Channel’.

Main man

It wasn’t long before James had him locked up on charges of treason. He was tried after he’d been implicated in the Main Plot – a bid to oust James in favour of her cousin Arabella, in cahoots with the Spanish. It failed needless to say and this time things didn’t look too good for Raleigh.

Thanks largely to old Walt’s consummate gift of the gab though, he was let off. James commuted his death penalty and Raleigh was chucked in the Tower for 12 years instead.

He got his second golden ticket to freedom in 1616 in order to hit Venezuela again in search of the now infamously tantalising El Dorado.

He obliged naturally, but this time his men attacked a post, which in turn incurred the wrath of the Spanish.

Well, the ambassador had stern words with James, who didn’t need much persuasion to lift the dormant death sentence.

Chop chop

The execution was scheduled to take place at Whitehall and the method, as was usual for landed gentry in those day, was beheading. When the day came, 66-year-old Raleigh didn’t want the whole thing drawn out: ‘Let us dispatch’ he said.

And if you were wondering if they really talked like that in Shakespeare’s day, get a load of this for a parting speech:
‘At this hour my ague comes upon me. I would not have my enemies think I quaked from fear’, while the axe he referred to as ‘sharp medicine’ but a ‘ sharp medicine for all diseases and miseries’. And with that, one of the greatest brains of the age was severed clean off.

Head case

The corpse was interred in a church in Beddington, but the head’s journey didn’t end there. It was embalmed and handed over to his wife Elizabeth who apparently carried it around with her in its own little bag, until the stench got too much.

Only when she died 29 years later, was the head reunited with his bod and both came to rest at St Margaret’s Church in Westminster.

Also on this day…

29 October 1901 – Leon Frank Czolgosz
29 October 1927 – Baldomero Rodrigues

29 October 1935 – Allen Grierson
Allen Grierson was hanged on this day in 1935 for killing a woman.
He’d been found guilty of murdering Louise Berthe Gann and was sent to the gallows at Pentonville, aged 27.

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27 October 1441 – Margery Jordemaine

Posted in Burned at the stake, Death penalty with tags , , , , , , on October 27 by Last Writes

With four days to go before Hallowe’en, it seems fitting that we’ve unearthed someone who was slow roasted for being a witch.

Margery Jordemaine (or Jourdemaine or Jourdemayne) was flung on the barbecue at Smithfield after she was found guilty of witchcraft in the 15th century. But not just any old witchcraft – she’d apparently used her sorcery skills in an attempt to bring about the death of Henry VI.

Double trouble

Known as the ‘Witch of Eye’ she was reknowned for her aptitude in divination, and she’d already had her first brush with the law not nine years before, after she’d been arrested alongside two priests. But no charges stuck and she was released.

However she fell foul of the law again after she became embroiled in an apparent plot to overthrow the king, together with Roger Bolingbroke (aka Roger Whiche), John Hunn and Thomas Southwell, headed up by Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester.

Hunn (or Hume as some sources refer to him) is said to have shopped the lot of them.


While the duchess was exiled to the Isle of Man, Bolingbroke was hanged, drawn and quartered (more of him on 18 November) and Southwell died in prison, but not so Jordemaine.

Indeed, Jordemaine’s death bucked the trend. Most witches were hanged in those days, however, Jordemaine was burned at the stake as a heretic, because her crime was tantamount to treason.

In case you were wondering, the plot failed and Henry lived to the ripe-ish old age of 49, however he (and this episode) was immortalised in the trilogy by Shakespeare.

Also on this day…

27 October 2001 – Abdul Haq

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14 October 1767 – William Guest

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , on October 14 by Old Sparky

William Guest, known as “Flinky” to his friends was found guilty of treason for trying to debase coins in the 18th century.

As a bank employee he’d take guineas and file them down, then melt the shavings and make ingots out of them, which he’d sell on to brokers. His offence, known as coining, was for ‘filing, impairing, lightening, and diminishing a guinea and a half guinea, the current coin of this kingdom, against the form of the statute’.

Considered treason as it was a crime against the crown, the penalty for his misdemeanour was death.

Guest was hanged at Tyburn on this day in 1767.

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24 September 1652 – Captain James Hind

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged, drawn & quartered with tags , , , on September 24 by Old Sparky

Captain James Hind

Captain James Hind

Life may have panned out very differently if our next man’s plan had worked. But it didn’t. Instead the notorious highwayman by the name of Captain James Hind was strung up for robbery.

What’s so special about that you’re probably thinking? Well, during his criminal career, he came close to killing Oliver Cromwell and if he’d have been successful, maybe we wouldn’t have had parliament as we know it today.

Of course, Hind wasn’t always a felon. Life had started off comfortably enough until He moved from Oxford to London. Unfortunately, there he soon got caught up with a highwayman by the name of Thomas Allen and together their lives of crime unfolded, according to ‘Newgate Calendar, Volume I’.

In Hind’s sight

The backdrop to this story was the Civil War and Hind’s illicit activities came amid the deposition of England’s king – Charles I. The king was caught following a war with the opposing Roundheads and once captured, he was beheaded.

Hind was a committed royalist and completely anti the execution, so it was uncanny that soon after this had happened, Hind came across the very man behind the execution – Cromwell himself – on the highway.

Well, not one to pass up an opportunity, Hind and Allen teamed up to try and bump him off. But Cromwell came with seven men in tow and they made short shrift of the two have-a-go antiheroes.

Allen was taken there and then and was eventually executed. Hind however lived to see another victim, but it is unbelievable how close he came to changing the face of British history.

Without his mate, Hind had to go it alone. And the big problem he faced was that Allen had been the pro of the team. Without Allen, Hind had to be even more careful.

Indeed he had even lost his ride. He’d ‘rode so hard to get out of danger after this adventure with Cromwell that he killed his horse’, according to a report in the Newgate chronicles.

Homing device

But robbing was a nice little earner for our feisty felon and he continued his one-man crime wave. In fact, he had an inordinate talent for homing in on regicides. As well as Cromwell, he happened upon Hugh Peters (watch out for him on 16 October).

Naturally Peters wasn’t one to just sit back and let himself be fleeced. He valiantly tried to put the fear of God into Captain Hind, quoting the Commandment ‘Thou shalt not steal’.

As if Hind was interested in anything remotely Godly. Instead, the highwayman came back with the swift retort: ‘deliver thy money presently, or else I shall send thee out of the world to thy master in an instant.’ With that the tables were turned and the money duly handed over.

Regicidal revenge

Uncannily, he met a third regicide – Sergeant John Bradshaw – who become Lord President and cast the death sentence on King Charles I.

When Hind happened upon him on the road, the highwayman announced ‘I fear neither you nor any king-killing son of a whore alive. I have now as much power over you as you lately had over the King, and I should do God and my country good service if I made the same use of it ; but live, villain, to suffer the pangs of thine own conscience’.

You’ve got to admit, he’s got quite a way with words…

Of course Hind got the money, but rather than scarper, he rubbed the sergeant’s nose in it, berating him for his role in the King’s death. He then apparently shot the six horses pulling Bradshaw’s carriage and made off with his newly acquired bounty.


Such was Hind’s notoriety that soon, few had not heard of him and he was eventually apprehended after his landlord in Fleet Street shopped him. The 34-year-old was duly found guilty of treason (among other crimes) and the penalty was to be hanged, drawn and quartered in Worcester.

Fittingly, as he about to be done, Hind admitted he was a keen royalist and had targeted Republicans out of sheer hatred, and with that he was excruciatingly dispatched and his head skewered onto the bridge over the River Severn, while the rest of him was displayed around the city.

Also on this day

24 September 1943 – Charles Gauthier

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20 September 1586 – Anthony Babington

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged, drawn & quartered with tags , , , , , , on September 20 by Old Sparky

Anthony Babington

Anthony Babington

It’s about time we had a bit of Elizabethan intrigue to spice up September. Who better to beef things up than Anthony Babington, who brings subterfuge along in spades.

The Derbyshire gent headed up a seditious plot to overthrow the then Queen of England in favour of his Catholic benefactor, Mary Stuart.

We are of course talking about Elizabeth I and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots, of whom the former was wary throughout her ‘glorious’ reign.

But it was not glorious for some – namely the Catholics, who’d be ousted in favour of the newly formed Church of England.

Scary Mary

During the period known as the English Reformation, the Catholics were left out in the cold. Despite a valiant attempt to reinstate the Pope as the head of all things ecclesiastical by Lizzie’s sister, Mary I had singularly failed, earning herself instead the title of Bloody Mary, which served only to heighten people’s distrust of Catholicism.

So the beleaguered Catholics turned to Mary Queen of Scots as their one hope for the Pope’s restitution, headed up by the ever-so ballsy Babington.

The fact that he was seriously loaded helped and the plotters were well connected, in so far as they were even able to entice the French Embassy to become embroiled in the too-ing and fro-ing of correspondence.

But it was this very correspondence that was to wind up being a serious chink in an otherwise iron-clad plan. You see, a bloke got caught and the letters were intercepted.

Double agent

Elizabeth didn’t become a great leader just by sitting idly by and letting them try to do her in. Nope, she surrounded herself with some dead loyal subjects.

Take Walsingham for example – Sir Frank headed up her law-enforcement arm. He was the MI6 of the day and with those kinds of skills, it’s no wonder he was soon on the case as Babington brewed up trouble.

With the letters intercepted, the would-be plotter who’d been caught was persuaded to turn double agent in return for his life.

The snitch’s name was Gilbert Gifford and he was a known insurgent. Well, they got him firmly by the short and very curlies and he wound up feeding the crown juicily damning titbits as the plot unfolded, all in return for his life.


How much of this plot was engineered to dispose of one of Elizabeth’s most serious of challengers to the throne, or merely a well…erm… executed bid to overthrow Elizabeth, is the subject of much conjecture. Whatever the story, Walsingham was not to be messed with.

As soon as they’d amassed enough incriminating evidence against the posse of plotters, Walsingham’s men pounced and trounced any vestige of treasonous activity.

Babington, along with other sympathisers, such as Tichborne and John Ballard were tried by the authorities.

Cashed and burned

No-one fancied their chances much, least of all the men themselves. Of course, that’s where Babington’s stash of cash should have come in handy. Facing a certain death by hanging, drawing and quartering, Babs hoped to see himself right by buying his way to freedom, offering to stump up £1,000 to bail himself out.

Well, that would never do – examples had to made of these desperados and the Tudors were not adverse to a bit of quartering to pacify the punters. So, just two days after they were hauled in under arrest, the unfortunates were dragged from the Tower to their place of execution at St Giles.

The men were then strung up until barely conscious, cut down before being rudely relieved of key nether region equipment, which was then thrust onto a fire and burned before their very eyes.

Innards and dangly bits despatched, the beleaguered men would have possibly still be conscious when their heads were cut off and the remaining corpses quartered.

However, the Queen got wind of the semi-conscious bowel extraction and ordered the remaining conspirators, who were due to be done the following day, to be hanged until dead before the quartering took place.

As for Babs et al, their bits were then carted off round the country to be exhibited as a lesson to all would-be insurgents.

Cuz, I can

You may be wondering what happened to Mary in all this. Well her threat was confirmed, if ever Elizabeth had had any doubts.

The fact that this plot could have so nearly been successful meant Liz had no choice but to have her cousin’s head on the block, so her execution took place at Fotheringhay Castle the following year. If you’re wondering what the deal was there, check out Mary Queen of Scots’ story on 8 February 1587.

Also on this day

20 September 2006 – Clarence Hill
20 September 1586 – Chidiock (Charles) Tichborne

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