Betrayers: King’s Evidence men

George Edwards betryed his fellow Cato Street conspirators
Westminster Archives

The prosecution used one paid informer, George Edwards, and three conspirators who were persuaded to betray their comrades by turning King’s evidence.

George Edwards was born in Clerkenwell in 1788. His mother was an alcoholic and for a while he lived with his father in Bristol. After returning to London he was apprenticed to a statue maker in Smithfield. According to people who knew him from this period, Edwards was very poor and often went about barefoot. In the 1790s Edwards was making plaster of Paris busts of famous people and selling them on street-corners. Edwards moved to Windsor where he rented a small shop in Eton High Street. As this clipping shows he made money making statues of the Eton headmaster as targets for the students.  It was at this time that one of his customers, Major-General Sir Herbert Taylor, recruited him as a Home Office spy. In 1818 Edwards moved back to London where he made friends with John Brunt, a member of the Spencean Philanthropists.  He was soon feeding information back to the Home Office and moved from being a spy to an Agent provocateur.  He left England during the trial for Guernsey and later moved to south Africa.

John Monument and Robert Adams The police offered to drop charges against certain members of the gang if they were willing to give evidence against the rest of the conspirators. Two of these men, Robert Adams and John Monument, agreed and they provided the evidence needed to convict the rest of the gang.  Monument, like many of his fellow conspirators was a shoe maker. Adams, a former soldier in the Royal Horse Guards, was an accomplished swordsman and was selected to dispatch the cabinet officers at Grosvenor Square.

Thomas Hiden/Hyden was a 33-year-old dairyman living at Manchester Mews in Marylebone. He had been initiated into the conspiracy by James Wilson but had a last-minute change of heart and alerted Lord Harrowby by passing a note to him whilst he was out in Hyde Park to the plot (which they already knew about).  He was later rewarded with a job in the government patent office and rehoused in Fulham under an assumed name of Green.  Years later he would take his own life in extraordinary circumstances.

Thomas Dwyer Irishmen bricklayer who lived in the notorious St Giles Irish Rookery.  Thistlewood entrusted him with the details of their plot in the hope he would be able to encourage London’s Irish community to join in their revolution.  However, Dwyer was a criminal with a track record of blackmail (He entrapped wealthy customers of prostitutes in central London-very close to what Castlereagh experienced).  Perhaps sensing he would be rewarded Dwyer approached the cabinet who already knew all the details from their other spies.  The prosecution was wary of using him for evidence because they believed the defence would exploit his reputation as in the case of the Spa Fields riots trial.

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