Crime: high treason
Date Of Execution: 15 May 1800
Execution Place: unknown
Tried for shooting at his Majesty George III. at Drury Lane Theatre, on Thursday, 15th of May, 1800
THE trial of James Hadfield, for high treason, came on in the Court of King's Bench on Thursday, the 26th of June. The indictment being read, the prisoner pleaded "Not guilty," and the Attorney-General addressed the jury at considerable length.
Mr Joseph Craig was the first witness examined. He was a musician, and saw Hadfield at Drury Lane Theatre, with a pistol in his hand, pointing it at his Majesty. It was instantly fired and dropped. He helped to drag the prisoner over the rails, into the music-room. Mr Sheridan and the Duke of York came in. Prisoner said: "God bless your Royal Highness, I like you very well; you are a good fellow. This is not the worst that is brewing."
Mr Wright, another witness, was in the first row next the orchestra. He heard the report of a pistol as his Majesty entered his box, turned round, and caught the prisoner by the collar. A young lady, who sat behind, immediately pointed to the ground, where he saw and picked up the pistol, which he produced in court.
Mr Law, one of the counsel for the prosecution, here desired that his Royal Highness the Duke of York might be called; upon which the prisoner, in a paroxysm of enthusiasm, cried out: "God bless the Duke, I love him!" The Court, seeing his agitation, immediately gave directions that he should be permitted to sit down; and Mr Kirby, the keeper of Newgate (who all the time sat next him), told him he had the permission of the Court to sit down, which he did, and remained composed during the remainder of the trial.
The Duke of York said he knew the prisoner, who had been one of his orderly men. The prisoner said he knew his own life was forfeited; he regretted the fate of his wife only: he would be only two days longer from his wife; the worst was not come yet. His Royal Highness said the prisoner appeared to be perfectly collected. After his Majesty had retired, his Royal Highness directed a search to be made in the King's box, where a hole was discovered, evidently made by the impression of a shot, fourteen inches from his Majesty's head. It had perforated the pillar. In searching below, some slugs were found; they had been recently fired off. Mr Erskine asked his Royal Highness if the most loyal and brave men were not usually selected to be the orderly men. His Royal Highness answered that the most tried and trusty men were appointed as orderly men. When the prisoner was asked what could have induced him to commit so atrocious an act, he said he was tired of life, and thought he should have been killed.
The evidence for the prosecution was then closed, and Mr Erskine addressed the jury at considerable length.
Major Ryan, of the 15th Light Dragoons, in which the prisoner was a private; Hercules M'Gill, private in the same regiment, and John Lane, of the Guards, all knew the prisoner, and deposed to different acts of his insanity.
Mr Cline, surgeon; Dr Crichton, physician, and Dr Letherne, surgeon to the 15th Regiment, as professional gentlemen gave testimony to their belief of the prisoner's insanity.
Captain Wilson and Chris. Lawton, of the 15th Light Dragoons; David Hadfield, brother to the prisoner; Mary Gore, sister-in-law to the prisoner; Catharine Harrison and Elizabeth Roberts detailed different acts of insanity, particularly on the day previous to and on which he committed the crime for which he stood indicted.
The prisoner was found to be insane.
NOTE -- Ravaillac, who stabbed King Henry IV. of France while in his coach and surrounded by his guards, was tortured to death in the following manner:-
At the place of execution his right hand, with which he gave the fatal blow, was put into a furnace flaming with fire and brimstone, and there consumed. His flesh was pulled from his bones with red-hot pincers; boiling oil, resin and brimstone were poured upon the wounds, and melted lead upon his navel. To close the scene of horror, four horses were fastened to the four quarters of his body, which were torn asunder.
His parents were banished their country, never more to return, on pain of immediate death; and his whole kindred, nay, all individuals bearing the name, were ordered to renounce it, so that the name of Ravaillac should never more be heard of in France.