1848 Chartist Treason Trial

The Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday 23 January 1849

[The Chartists were sentenced in London's Central Criminal Court, on 30th September 1848.]

THE CHARTISTS' SENTENCES.–Mr. Baron Platt, in passing sentence on the prisoners, said: William Dowling, William Lacey, Thomas Fay, and William Cuffey, you have been tried by two juries of your country, you William Dowling by one, and the other prisoners by another, and they have arrived at the only conclusion that could be come to by twelve upright and reasonable gentlemen upon the evidence that had been adduced before them. That you were guilty of the offence with which you were charged, there can be no doubt. It is quite clear that you intended to levy war against the Queen to compel her by force of arms to alter her counsels, and with regard to you, William Dowling, it is evident that your object in joining with the others was to dismember the empire and separate Ireland by force of arms from this country. What right had you to set up your understanding against the experience of mankind and the result of ancient wisdom? You have chosen to call that which the constitution of the country has branded, as felony, patriotism. Was it patriotism for a number of people to conspire in secret and to endeavour to carry out the misery, wretchedness, and spoil, projected by them at their meeting on the 15th of August? Could it be said that devoting a peaceful city to flames, destroying innocent citizens, taking possession of the government by force and bloodshed, was patriotism ? The law said that such acts were acts of felony, and nothing  could be more clear than that they were so. It is lamentable to find that persons of education, apparently possessing feelings of manly energy and independence, should have lent themselves to such proceedings with such a desperate object. The jury have found that you were guilty of the crime laid to your charge ; and no one who has heard the evidence can doubt, after the proceedings at the meeting on the 15th of August, that you intended, an the following day, when the shades of night descended upon this unfortunate metropolis, that a scene of murder, firing, and robbery, should have filled this unhappy city, and that you intended to have assumed the government of the country, and have governed it as you pleased. You have been convicted of this most daring defiance of the law, and the Court would not be doing its duty, either to the law or to the country, if, when such an offence was clearly established, it did not make a most severe example of all those who were brought within the pale of the law. I, therefore, feel it my duty to order that you be severally transported beyond the seas to such place as her Majesty, by thc advice of her Privy Council, shall direct and appoint, for the term of your natural lives. When the sentence was pronounced, Fay exclaimed in a loud voice "This is the baptism of felony in England," and he then looked up to the gallery, and called "Good bye, my flowers: good bye, fellow-countrymen." The other prisoners made no observation.