New-York: Printed by George F. Hopkins, at Washington’s-Head, 1803. First edition. Removed pamphlet, 8.25 x 5 inches, 56 pages. Traces of the old calf spine. Somewhat soiled, stained and a bit foxed; a very good copy. Item #19534
The Anglo-Irish soldier-turned-revolutionary Despard had been the colonial administrator of the British Honduras from 1786 until 1790, when he returned to Britain with his African-Caribbean wife, Catherine; once home, “In pursuit of compensation he grew increasingly irascible, while the combination of enforced idleness and grievance against authority led him to both the London Corresponding Society and the overtly revolutionary United Irishmen. . . . He quickly became an intimate of the leading United Irishman and French secret agent William Duckett and in 1797 was reported to be co-ordinator of a proposed rising in London planned to coincide with one in Ireland and a French landing there. In 1798 Despard was pivotal in negotiations between the United Irishmen and a broader conspiratorial group, the United Britons, to foment simultaneous English and Irish risings to assist a French invasion. When O’Connor and O’Coighley, the principal leaders of the conspiracy, were apprehended in February, while hiring a boat to take them to France, habeas corpus was suspended and further arrests followed. Despard’s was predictably among them” (OUDNB). Despard was eventually released, but taken up again on suspicion of plotting a coup in conjunction with the opening of Parliament and executed. This extensive account of Despard’s trial does not appear to be taken from Gurney’s separately-published London edition; whether there was a separate London edition in addition to the Morning Chronicle account is not entirely clear. American Imprints 4076; Cohen 14127.