May Day Execution and Aftermath: John Cam Hobhouse MP for Westminster
The final part gives John Cam Hobhouse’s eyewitness account of the execution of the Cato Street conspirators. The public execution of Arthur Thistlewood, Richard Tidd, James Ings, William Davidson, and John Brunt was held on 1 May 1820. There were concerns that these men would be turned into martyrs and revolution would be sparked anyway, so the Lifeguard was out in full force for the execution. Their sentence was lessened to only hanging and beheading because of this fear. The other five were sent to Australia after pleading guilty to high treason.
- 1 May 1820 – Five conspirators hanged and beheaded for high treason
- 23 February 2020 – 200th anniversary of the Cato St Conspiracy
Background to our William Davidson film:
2020 has also shone the spotlight on Britain’s colonial past and its role in the slave trade. We decided to tell the story of the Cato Street Conspiracy through the eyes of Jamaican conspirator William Davidson. We were able to work with film makers Digital Works and WCRAG volunteer Susi Hilmi to film actor Michael Lyall in role at the Household Cavalry Museum, whose stables stood in for Davidson’s Newgate prison cell. The final part of Davidson’s story, his execution, is told by John Cam Hobhouse, the radical Westminster MP who many believe would have been chosen to lead the Spencean government that conspirators wanted to see if their attempt to take out Lord Liverpool had succeeded.
The words of John Cam Hobhouse are based on they are based mainly on research undertaken by our volunteer Chris Thompson found on the Lancet website
We are delighted to highlight William Davidson, a significant individual in Black British history, whose story deserves to be more widely known.