THE WHOLE PROCEEDINGS ON THE TRIALS OF COL. DESPARD, AND THE OTHER STATE PRISONERS, BEFORE A SPECIAL COMMISSION, AT THE NEW SESSIONS HOUSE, HORSEMONGER LANE, SOUTHWARK, FEB. 7 AND 9, 1803 ; INCLUDING THE INDICTMENT, THE EVIDENCE ON BOTH SIDES, AND THE SPE

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London : Printed by W. Flint, Old Bailey, for R. Bent ; Coventry Street ; & John Mudie … Hanover Square ; sold by Jones … &c. 4th ed., N.D. (1803). Iv + 80 pp. Re-bound (20th century) in half-calf ; gilt lettering to spine ; marbled boards & endpapers. 23 x 14cm. An exceptionally FINE copy. Bookplate. Edward Marcus Despard (1751-1803) was an army officer who struck up a friendship with Captain Horatio Nelson in the jungle of Central America. Unfortunately Despard went on to become a revolutionary and was tried for High Treason, found guilty and he and his co-conspirators received the following chilling sentence : “… to be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, there to be hanged by the neck, but not till you are quite dead ; then to be cut down, your bowels taken out and cast into the fire before your faces ; your heads to be taken off, and your bodies quartered, which are then to be at his Majesty’s disposal and the Lord have Mercy on your Souls.” In the event the King showed mercy and Despard and his companions were hung until dead, left for half-an-hour, taken down, their heads severed, and their bodies returned to their family and friends. It was the last time anyone received the barbaric sentence of being ‘hung, drawn and quartered’. The trial is also notable because Lord Nelson stood as a character witness for Despard who, as a captain of the ‘Liverpool Blues’, accompanied Nelson up the San Juan river in Nicaragua to attack the Spanish fort in 1780. Despard felt let down by authority during the 1790s and his grievances drove him into the hands of both the London Corresponding Society and the overtly revolutionary United Irishmen (Despard was an Irishman himself). He became involved with the United Irishmen and French secret agent William Duckett and planned uprisings both in London and in Ireland in 1798 and was duly arrested. He was released in 1801 and returned to his family’s estate in Ireland but once again became involved in politics and back in London he was arrested once more, this time on charges of High Treason. Despard was executed before a crowd of some 20,000 and gave a rousing speech from the scaffold before being hung along with six co-conspirators. This fourth edition contains an additional appendix with details of the fate of the unfortunate criminals from the passing of sentence to their execution.


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