Cuffey Found Guilty and Sentenced
Reports of State Trials (New Series), vol. 7,
cols 467-8, 478, 480-2

(Reported in 3 Cox C.C. 517.)
Indictment and evidence, as in the preceding case. - Verdict, "Guilty."
Ruled by PLATT, B., and WILLIAMS, J. -
[.....]2. Evidence. - Treason Felony, where overt act conspiracy.(a)
On an indictment under 11 & 12 Vict. c. 12. for feloniously compassing, &c., where the overt act charged was conspiracy - Held, that, as in other cases of conspiracy, it was competent to go into general evidence of the nature of the conspiracy before showing that the defendants were parties to it, in order to prove the conspiracy; and then to implicate the defendants by the part they took subsequently.
Evidence having been given that, in pursuance of the conspiracy, bodies of armed men were to assemble on a certain night in different parts of London, evidence that a body of armed men assembled on the night in question had admissible, without showing otherwise that they were connected with the conspiracy.
(a) See Reg. v. Mulcahy, L. R. 3. H. L. 306.
The jury having retired in the last case, William Cuffey, Thomas Fay, William Lacy, and George B. Mullins were brought up, and pleaded "Not Guilty" to an indictment in the same terms as in Dowling's case.
Cuffey: I demand a fair trial by a jury of my peers in accordance with Magna Carta.
Counsel for the Crown: The Attorney-General (Jervis),(a) Welsby, Bodkin, and Clerk.
Counsel for the prisoners: Huddleston,(b) Ballantine, and Metcalfe for Cuffey and Lacy; Parry for Fay.

The prisoner Cuffey: My Lords, I say you ought not to sentence me, first, because although this has been a long and important trial, it has not been a fair trial, and my request was not complied with to have a jury of my equals. But the jury as it is I have no fault to find with; I daresay they have acted conscientiously. The next reason that I ought not to be sentenced is on account of the great prejudice that has been raised against me in particular, for months past. Everybody that hears me is convinced that almost the whole press of this country, and even other countries, has been raising a prejudice against me. I have been taunted by the press. and it has tried to smother me with ridicule,(a) and it has done everything in its power to crush me. I crave no pity. I ask no mercy.
The prisoner Fray (with violence): Nor I.
The prisoner Cuffey: Keep yourself cool, my boy. You will never get through your troubles if you do not. [.....]
[in a footnote]
(a) Cf. the lines written after this trial in Thackeray's "Three Christmas Waits" (vol. 18, Ballads and Tales, p. 191), beginning:-
"Ven this bad year began,
The nex man said. saysee,
I vas a journeyman,
A taylor black and free;
And my wife went out and chaired about,
And my name's the bold Cuffee."



That is all I need say at present, except that this is no more than what I have expected for some time. As I certainly have been an important character in the Chartist movement, I laid myself out for something of this sort from the first. I know that a great many men of good moral character are now suffering in prison only for advocating the cause of the Charter; but, however, I do not despair of its being carried out yet. There may be many victims. I am not anxious for martyrdom, but I feel that, after what I have gone through this week, I have the fortitude to endure any punishment your lordship can inflict upon me. I know my cause is good, and I have a self-approving conscience that will bear me up against anything. and that would bear me up even to the scaffold; therefore I think I can endure any punishment proudly. I feel no disgrace at being called a felon.



[Platt, B.] The Jury have come to the only conclusion at which they could have arrived. No reasonable men could doubt for an instant that, after the scene of the 15th of August, on the evening when the ribbons were given out and the order of assemblage for the next night was directed, you and each of you, when the shades of night were descended upon this metropolis, intended that a course of burning, of murder and of robbery, should surround this unfortunate city, if it had been so unfortunate as that your guilty purposes had not been discovered. That was the primary object you had in view; and a secondary, no doubt, was that you might assume the government of this country and govern things in your own way. Is this to be endured? And when men are brought within the law and are about to answer for the breach of it, to defy the law? But your defiance would make no difference in the judgment of the Court, and, if it were possible to extend mercy to any of you, wild and insane as you seem to be, that mercy should be extended.
But I cannot conceive that the Court would be performing its duty to the country if, when such offences as these were brought home to criminals such as yourselves, it should pass on them a slight punishment, and should not make an example, a severe example of all those who are brought within the pale of the law.
The sentence of the Court upon each of you is that for the offence of which you have been respectively convicted, you be transported beyond the seas to such place as her Majesty, by the advice of her Privy Council, shall direct and appoint, for the term of your natural lives.

back to top back to top