William Davidson and the West End Job: Part 5

William Davidson is led by the Yoeman Warders to his cell above Traitor's Gate imprisoned at the Tower of London after his arrest at Cato Street on February 23rd 1820
Kate Morton
William Davidson and the West Job: Part 5 Imprisoned in the Tower/Newgate and Tried at the Old Bailey
William Davidson after his capture by the Bow Street Runners at Cato Street.  This includes his imprisonment at the Tower of London and Newgate prison and trial at the Old Bailey in April 1820.

Imprisoned in the Tower/Newgate and Tried at the Old Bailey

Davidson was imprisoned in the Tower of London above Traitor’s Gate. Like Guy Fawkes, the planned execution was hanging, followed by drawing and quartering. Three conspirators turned on the others for a lesser sentence. Thistlewood used the trial to remind the government that the conspirators acted justly in their attempt to remove them by quoting the Magna Carta, as did Davidson. All conspirators were moved to Newgate prison because of its proximity to Old Bailey. Five conspirators, including Davidson, were condemned to death by hanging on 1 May 1820.

  • 17 April 1820 – Conspirators trial begins at Old Bailey
  • 1 May 1820 – William Davidson hanged and beheaded for treason

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.

Although the words of the story that follow are not those of William Davidson, they are based mainly on research undertaken by our volunteers Rebecca Simons and Amber Hederer from contemporary sources. Our key source has been: An Authentic History of the Cato-Street Conspiracy,’(1820) and the transcripts of the trial that are available from the Old Bailey Online website www.oldbaileyonline.org. Both of which have provided contemporary accounts of Davidson’s story that we have been able to adapt as if written by Davidson himself. Full transcripts of the Cato Street Conspirators trial can be found here:


We are delighted to highlight William Davidson, a significant individual in Black British history, whose story deserves to be more widely known.



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