Friday, 15 June 2012

15th June 1812: The final declaration of the condemned man, Joseph Thompson

The prisoner Joseph Thompson was condemned to die, along with John Temples, around noon on Monday the 15th June 1812. In his final hours, the Chaplain of Chester Castle, the Reverend William Fish, took a declaration from Thompson about the supposed extent of the the plans of the underground. It is hard to view it in a way which does not take into account Thompson's knowledge of what was awaiting him, and must represent his clutching at straws.

A copy of a letter written by Fish, presumably to the Home Office, appears in the Home Office papers. Fish seemed to use only extracts of a statement and took 7 full days to write it:
Dear Sir,

What Thompson said to me an answer to some questions I put to him was as follows,

“That there existed a Rebellion in the Kingdom, widely extended, & well organized, that regular Communications were kept up between the parties concerned, all over the Kingdom, including Scotland.”—

“That their object doubtless was to subvert the Constitution, and that he believed it was their wish to have things in the same situation in which they were in Oliver Cromwell's time.”

“That there were vast depôts of arms in various parts of the Kingdom, and he regretted much that he had it not in his power to point out the particular places in which they might be found”

“That he considered it as a certainty that a rising would take place, and he made no doubt that had he not been providentially arrested in his career, he should have been cut off without having a moment to repent.”

These are the principal circumstances of which he informed me, and in relating these to you I have very nearly made use of his own words.

Yours [etc]
Wm Fish.

Monday morning
June 22d: 1812

This letter can be found at HO 40/1/2.

No comments:

Post a comment