An Authentic History of the Cato-Street Conspiracy

Book/Illustration/Image

Description

English

In May 1820 a daring group of political radicals, led by their revolutionary leader Arthur Thistlewood, plotted an audacious attempt to murder the British Prime Minister Lord Liverpool and members of his cabinet. By destroying the government with violence as they dined in London’s Mayfair the conspirators hoped to prepare the country for national revolution. As their headquarters the group chose a humble stable block in Cato Street in London’s Marylebone from where they planned their moves. Unbeknown to the group, however, a government agent had infiltrated their ranks. With the government well-briefed of the plot, twelve officers from the Bow Street Runners surprised the gang before their deed could be carried out. Several police officers were hurt in the melee and one constable killed. On conviction, several members of the group were transported for life and five of the principal ringleaders executed for High Treason.

The images shown here detail the scene in the Cato Street hayloft where the arrest of the conspirators took place. Also depicted are the subsequent executions at Newgate prison on the morning of 1 May 1820. After the hangings had taken the place the head of each conspirator was ceremoniously removed with a knife by a surgeon and shown to the attending crowd as a ghoulish warning to all those who plotted revolution.

Full title
An authentic History of the Cato-Street Conspiracy; with the trials at large of the conspirators for high treason and murder; a description of their weapons and combustible machines, and every particular connected with ... the horrid plot. With portraits
Published
1820 , London
Format
Book / Illustration / Image
Creator
George Theodore Wilkinson
Held by
British Library
Usage Terms
Free from known copyright restrictions
Shelfmark
6495.aaa.42.

Related articles

The impact of the French Revolution in Britain

Article by
Ruth Mather
Theme: 
Power and politics

Ruth Mather considers how Britain's intellectual, political and creative circles responded to the French Revolution.

William Blake's radical politics

Article by
Andrew Lincoln
Themes: 
Power and politics, Poverty and the working classes, Romanticism

The French Revolution inspired London radicals and reformers to increase their demands for change. Others called for moderation and stability, while the government tried to suppress radical activity. Professor Andrew Lincoln describes the political environment in which William Blake was writing.

Related collection items