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Answer 120. The Cato Street Conspiracy. Inspired by the French Revolution, the conspirators intended to overthrow Parliament and set up a new, provisional government at the Mansion House in the City of London.

The ring leaders were found guilty of high treason. They were sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The sentences were later commuted to hanging and beheading.

IMG_5033 NewgateArthur Thistlewood, John Brunt, James Ings, Richard Tidd and William Davidson (a black Jamaican) were duly executed outside Newgate prison (right, foreground) on 1 May 1820. A large crowd gathered to enjoy the fun.

After the bodies had hung for half an hour, they were lowered to the ground and decapitated one by one. Soldiers of the Grenadier Guards were concealed nearby in case the executions provoked a riot.

According to one account, the Grenadier officers were having breakfast with Newgate’s governor when a servant came in to borrow the carving knife. The executioner needed it to finish his work!


MansionHouse1This is the Mansion House in the City of London, the official residence of the Lord Mayor. The Cato Street conspirators planned to make it their headquarters after the revolution.

On 3 July 1838, a legendary French general came to the Mansion House to pay a courtesy call on the mayor before going on to a reception at the Guildhall. The general was in England to attend the coronation of Queen Victoria.

A crowd mobbed him when he arrived. The general had fought the British at Waterloo, breakfasting with Napoleon before the battle. Wherever he went in London, his British enemies gathered to cheer him on and shake his hand if they could get close enough.

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 121. A French general popular with the British! What was his name?

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