The incredible story below appeared in Douglas Jerrold’s Shilling Magazine published in 1847. It claims to be an actual account of the escape of young James Watson to America in 1817 as told by Henry Holl.


In the following narrative, it is not our intention to enter into all the details connected with the Riots of 1816, or to dwell upon the merits of arguments urged for or against the outbreak of the 2nd of December. Such an attempt would far exceed our limits. The object of the present papers is to place before the public such facts as they are unacquainted with, and to give, it is to be hoped, not an uninteresting account of the extraordinary escapes and adventures of that rash but enthusiastic young man, whose name, in connection with the above riots, formed at the time so varied a subject of conjecture and discourse, of popular excitement and unsatisfied curiosity. And the reader must not look upon it as a very vain or hazardous statement, when he is told that all speculation as to what became of Young Watson during the interval of three months, during the time of his rescue from Beckwith’s house on Snow Hill, and his subsequent escape to America, must ever have remained unsatisfied, but for the narrative about to be placed before him.

The intention of these papers is to trace Young Watson through his many escapes and adventures, and to relate the particulars of his concealment, together with the interesting facts connected with his ultimate flight from the kingdom.

To render these details intelligible, and to make use of such material as we have before us, it will be necessary to give a brief outline of the state of the then times, and the oppressive hardships under which the people groaned, and whose many complaints unnoticed, led to such unhappy results. Goaded to desperation by grievances alike intolerable and unredressed, the Ministry wondered that “miserable wretches, reduced to the lowest poverty and distress,” should employ force, where petitions and remonstrance had proved abortive.

The accumulated evils of the time we write of, were sufficiently manifested by the frequent riots in all parts of the country. The Press gave daily accounts of fresh outbreaks in the chief towns of England, Ireland, Scotland , and Wales, whose further violence was alone kept in check by military power.

The Corn-law question then, as now, was a theme of all-engrossing interest, and petitions poured from all quarters into both Houses against its adoption. From the City of London alone one was presented containing the extraordinary number of 40,571 signatures, all obtained within ten hours.

On March 6th, 1815, a series of outbreaks took place upon the question of the Corn Bill. Crowds of people surrounded both Houses of Parliament, who menaced the members on their passage to the House, and their persons were treated roughly or other wise, according as their opinions were for or against the Bill; and an honourable gentleman thought himself fortunate to escape from the rough usage of the mob, with the loss of his coat-tails. In this emergency the military was called out, and the Horse Guards suppressed the tumult.

Driven from Westminster, the mob repaired to other parts of the town, and broke the windows of the houses of such members as were in favour of the Bill; the doors of others were forced, and the furniture destroyed. Lord Castlereagh’s residence was attacked, and the house of Mr. Robinson (the mover of the Corn regulations) was twice assaulted. Here two innocent persons were killed by fire-arms discharged from the windows, and the Horse Guards were again called out to quell the disturbance. Lord Chancellor Eldon’s house in Bedford Square was also broken open by the infuriated mob, when, through the agency of a friend, Lady Eldon, and the Great Seal, “the two things he (Lord Eldon) most valued,” were conveyed over the wall into the gardens of the British Museum.

Incendiary fires, frame-machine breaking, and other outrages, also characterised the period we write of. The distress among the colliers was excessive, and these unhappy men went drawing waggons of coals about the country, in the hopes to obtain relief for their necessities. Willing to work, but none of us will beg,” was the inscription on the placard they carried, and the men, “ who behaved themselves extremely well,” received in many instances the relief they so much needed.


In our last paper, we traced Young Watson and his companion Thistlewood, from their perilous adventures at Highgate, on the night of the 2nd of December, to the house of Hunt in East-street, Manchester-square, where they found a temporary shelter and repose.

We must now make a few inquiries respecting Doctor Watson, who it may also be remembered was conducted by the patrole to Somers Town watch-house, from whence he was removed next day to Bow-street, and after examination before Sir N. Conant, was committed to Cold-bath-fields Prison, on the charge of wounding the two men, Rhodes and Golding, at Highgate.

During the term of Doctor Watson’s imprisonment, several persons belonging to that “Bastille,” as it was then called, pretended the greatest concern for him and for his son, assuring him, “That if he wished to make any communication to him, or to his friends, a letter should be conveyed with the greatest secresy and dispatch.” They came with the professed view of comforting him with assurances of his son’s safety and security, but in reality to gather such information as might lead them to suspect the place of his concealment.

On these and other occasions the Doctor always assumed the utmost indifference, saying, “he was perfectly satisfied respecting the fate of his son, as he knew from arrangements previously made, that he was safe on shipboard, and far away from the reach of harm.” In spite, however, of this pretended indifference, the Doctor was a prey to constant anxiety, and many an hour he had fearfully speculated upon the fate of his son, of whom he had heard nothing since they parted at Highgate, and many a night with an aching heart, he had listened to the newsman’s horn, expecting every breath to hear the sad tidings of his capture and destruction.

On his re-examination at Bow-street, January 3rd, the Doctor complained of the unjust and horrible offences laid against him, and said, “knowing his principles were just, and that he was innocent of those heinous crimes with which his name had been branded, he should feel it a duty he owed not only to society, but to his own character to bear up against his enemies.” A true bill being found against him, he was committed to Newgate to take his trial, charged, with intent to kill, &c.” Put in irons until such time as he should be tried, the weight of his fetters caused him much pain and inconvenience, and he wrote to the Lord Mayor, complaining “that he should be loaded with heavy irons like a felon,” and requesting a lighter pair might be placed upon him. This communication had the desired effect, and at the Lord Mayor’s solicitations he was altogether relieved from the incumbrance. – It may not be out of place to state here that Doctor Watson, after six weeks’ imprisonment, was tried at the Old Bailey, January 22nd, on this pretended charge, and acquitted, without the evidence being entered upon; as the man Rhodes said, the wound — a scratch on the thigh – might have been accidental, as they all fell down. Doctor Watson, was accordingly discharged. Immediately on his acquittal being announced, the people in the court loudly applauded. This out break was, however, instantly checked by Mr. Baron Parke, but on the news reaching the outside of the court, the people in the street shouted, and huzzaed; when Mr. Baron Parke with some temper exclaimed— “This comes of” _but looking towards the reporters’ box, checked himself, and added—“ never mind – I will not say anything.”

In the meantime the search for Young Watson spread far and wide. The City of London had published a reward of 250l. for his apprehension, while a Proclamation issued by Government, December 6th, was placarded in all directions, giving a description of his person, with the offer of a further reward of 500l. from the Secretary of State’s Office. The hue and cry was up, and woe on the devoted head of Young Watson should he be taken; for there is no question he would have been hung, if only upon the plea of forcibly entering a dwelling-house, independently of high treason and shooting Mr. Platt. Ministerial domination was then at its height, and in this rash unthinking squabble of a shouting mob, saw matter fraught with danger to the kingdom and themselves. Every artifice, every plan was put in force to convince the world at large that a formidable conspiracy for the destruction of the king and the overthrow of the Government had been formed. The committee in the House of Lords stated, “they had collected such evidence as leaves no doubt that a traitorous conspiracy had been formed in the metropolis, by means of a general insurrection to effect a general plunder and division of property, and to destroy all reverence for religion!” In the House of Commons it was also stated in committee, that at the political societies, it had been discussed— “That Parliamentary Reform was only a half measure,” and “That the landholder was a monster to be hunted down, and that a still greater evil was the fundholder: these were the rapacious wretches who took fifteen pence out of every quartern loaf! It was also put forth, that the design of the conspiracy “was a sudden rising in the dead of night, to surprise and overpower the soldiers in their different barracks, which were to be set on fire, to possess themselves of the artillery, to seize and destroy the bridges, and to take possession of the Tower and the Bank. That drawings of a machine for clearing the streets of cavalry, and also a plan of various important parts of the Tower have been laid before your committee, and that the news of that fortress being taken, was impatiently expected at Manchester and other places. That the roads were crowded during the night with a number of persons waiting the arrival of the mail coach, and their disappointment was not concealed when they heard that the riot had been suppressed .’

Lord Castlereagh also stated in the House of Commons— “That although the conspirators had not been joined to the extent they had expected, yet the means they had provided were sufficient to enable them to make the attempt with a rational prospect of success,” and “That it would be confining the peril within too narrow limits to consider it sprung from the riots of the 2nd of December alone.”

Such a mighty affair had it suited the convenience of Ministers to create out of the absurd squabble of the 2nd of December! That a treasonable conspiracy should be supposed to exist they were determined, and their spies were spread in all directions, to discover or create plots, as the case might be. They made the giants first, and then, they killed them.” They were in search of a monster, and they congratulated themselves on this happy discovery! Their game was started, and their bloodhounds scented at the heels of Young Watson: all eyes, all speculation was turned on him: the cry was up; and, Young Watson taken, they could deal their tender mercies to all those obnoxious to themselves, or involved with him in the like practices.

The search was ceaseless and untiring. The outlets from London were strictly watched; nor was the continent exempt from the rigour of pursuit. Police officers were despatched to Calais, to Boulogne, and to Holland, in quest of Young Watson; and every port in England, Scotland, or Ireland, had orders to be vigilant. Innumerable houses were searched both in town and country; no two persons could speak together in the streets, or in a house of entertainment, without being watched or questioned; and not a relative, friend, or acquaintance, however distant of their object of pursuit, but was subjected to the lynx-eyed inspection of mercenary spies or Bow-street officers.

The situation of Doctor Watson in the mean time was most distressing. He was in ignorance of the real situation of his son, debarred from all communication which could afford him the satisfaction he so much desired, and involved in like danger with hím, in consequence of his imprudence; although it appears the Doctor never joined the mob, and only followed in the hopes of persuading his son from his violent and imprudent course, well knowing “he had to contend with an impetuosity which excited at all times considerable alarm in his mind.” Apprehensive of some evil, he had followed to reclaim him. Thus the father, in the eye of the law, formed a part of the mob, and witnesses could doubtless have been formed to swear to his actual presence, and encouragement of the rioters. Thus, had Young Watson, “the head and front of the offending” been taken, he would, without question, have been placed at the same criminal bar, and been involved in the same doom of guilty. Young Watson’s escape, as before stated, saved the lives of others than himself!

The arrest of Doctor Watson, on the night of the 2nd of Dec, at Highgate, was at first considered by his companions a great evil, and a death-blow to their hopes. It was, on the contrary, the greatest good fortune that could possibly happen to them. Had Young Watson been seized by the patrole, instead of the Doctor, it would have been fatal to himself, his father, and his friends. Had Thistlewood been taken, no refuge could have been found either at Hunt’s, or anywhere else in London, and the father and son would doubtless have proceeded on their journey, to their final destruction.

We will here mention an instance or two in proof of this, and at the same time show what exertions were used for the arrest of this young man. Doctor Watson had at a former period attended professionally a family near Lynn, of the name of King. That gentleman reading in the papers the accounts of the danger and pursuit of Young Watson, and commiserating him, on account of youth and inexperience, observed to a friend, that “he would give him protection, if only out of respect to his father, whom he thought a most amiable man.” This sentence reached the ears of the police. In a day or two officers came with a warrant to examine his premises. After inspecting the house, cellars, and roof, and turning over every scrap of paper, they departed after a very lengthened search, satisfied they were not on the right scent. Early in the month of January, 1817, Vickery and Lavender, two Bow-street officers, arrived at Hull from London, in quest of a young man who had quitted that port for Holland, under rather extraordinary circumstances, and, of course , supposed to be the object of their search. A gentleman hearing of their route through that part of the country, rode off instantly to Mr. Jonathan Watson, a brother of the Doctor’s, a most respectable gentleman and farmer, at Cawthorp, in Lincolnshire; and begged him, if his nephew. were under his protection, or if he knew where he was, to get him out of the way, as there was no question but the officers would soon be on his heels. This caution, however kind, was unnecessary; as Mr. Watson had no knowledge of his nephew’s place of concealment.

The officers shortly arrived: after producing their warrant, they proceeded to examine the premises, picking locks where keys were not readily found, turning over drawers, and throwing their contents about the floor. After inspecting the roof, closets, cellars, &c., they proceeded to the kitchen, where they were exceedingly minute in their investigation, looking into the oven, &c.

Mr. Watson’s servants were put under arrest, and conducted before a magistrate, who questioned them very minutely as to their knowledge of their master’s nephew, and all his relatives and friends, in that part of the country, underwent the same ordeal, including the Rev. Richard Dixon, of the Rectory House, Claxby, who had married a sister of Doctor Watson.

It will be seen from these instances that the arrest of Doctor Watson on the outset of their intended journey, was most fortunate; as no safe asylum could possibly have been afforded to Young-Watson among his relations or known friends to whom he was travelling, or if sheltered by them, his arrest must have been certain. We will now return to Young Watson, whom we left safely housed in East-street, Manchester-square.

During the day, Thistlewood sent Hunt to a friend of his and Young Watson’s, a Mr. Evans, requesting him to let Mrs, Thistlewood know where he was, and to desire her to come to him. She did so the same afternoon. As Hunt had no means of accommodating the Thistlewoods, as well as Young Watson, it was necessary a lodging should be procured for them (the Thistlewoods). After a day or two’s delay, apartments were taken for them in the house of Mr. Carr, an ornamental painter, in Tottenham Court road, and it was arranged they were to go to their new abode at nightfall.

Four days had passed in the interim, and on the 6th, as previously stated, the hue and cry was up, and the walls were placarded with offers of reward for the arrest of Young Watson. The news men were making a great noise in the streets, when Thistlewood sent for a paper, and read aloud the various sums offered for Young Watson’s apprehension. Hunt’s wife seemed much struck by the amount of the reward offered, and made use of some expression, as to “what people might be tempted to do for money.” She probably had no meaning in this, but it caused them great uneasiness and alarm, and as soon as she had left the room, Mrs. Thistlewood insisted on Young Watson’s instant removal to the lodging intended for herself and husband. This generous act – for be it remembered Thistlewood was himself in great danger — was immediately put in practice. They accordingly muffled Young Watson up as well as they could, and he left the house unnoticed by Mrs. Hunt, who was much surprised on her return at finding he had departed. He was conducted by Mr. Evans to Tottenham Court-road, and introduced to Mr. Carr, who received him as a son and friend. It is not our intention to trace Thistlewood through his concealments. Suffice it to say, he and his wife remained in Hunt’s house for a few days, and then removed to the house of a friend in the neighbourhood of the Strand. Upon the proclamation being issued offering a reward for the apprehension of Thistlewood, his friend thought it no longer prudent to let him remain; he accordingly went back to Hunt’s house for a few days longer. A lodging was then taken for him in the house of a stranger, in Woodstock street, Manchester-square. Here he remained under the name of Thompson, until such time as he afterwards proposed leaving the country for America. With his after doings this narrative has little or no connexion.

We will now renew our inquiries after Young Watson, whom we left at the house of Mr. Carr, in Tottenham Court Road. He was provided with an apartment in front of the house, from which he had a full opportunity of observing all that passed, and of being an eye-witness of the activity used by the police for his arrest. An anxious spectator of their zealous but fruitless exertions, he watched their movements, and many a time has he peeped through a loop-hole, and seen the officers on the opposite side of the way surveying every person who passed – young or old, tall or short, lusty or thin: any one who wore a coat of the colour described, or had a mole on his face, as explained in the proclamation, were objects of most jealous scrutiny.

One circumstance caused him much amusement, although placed in such a trying position. A young man, in a brown great-coat, was eyed most attentively by an officer, who stared him full in the face as he passed along, then turned round and looked after him. Not satisfied with this inspection, he ran, and overtook him, and stared in his face again. This second survey seemed to satisfy him, and he returned to his post opposite Carr’s house, once more to watch, and lay in wait for the so much desired “young man in a brown great-coat.”

Not many days elapsed before Mr. Carr’s house seemed literally beset with police officers; prying about, gazing in at the windows, or inspecting any person who might enter, or pass from the house. Persons called under various pretences, of looking at the apartments, (which were stated to be let,) who made particular inquiries as to the number of lodgers, rooms, closets, &c., in a way so prying and inquisitive, as to leave no doubt as to what their purpose was, namely, the discovery of Young Watson, of whom they evidently had obtained some clue.

One man came with the professed object of having a board painted with a device for some charitable institution. During the progress of its painting, he called several times with two or three persons of like stamp, who, while he was giving directions about the execution of the design, busied themselves by prying about the place, asking questions, &c. One thing is not a little strange, the board when finished, was never called for — a sufficient evidence as to the real object of their visit.

Among others who came to make anxious inquiries about the “poor young man,” was a Mr. Pemberton. Mr Carr had known him many years, but always entertained a great dislike to him, and to his principles. Upon these occasions, this man always introduced the subject of Young Watson, at the same time affecting not to have the least wish or desire to be informed of anything connected with him. At other times he pretended to know everything. This assumed knowledge he no doubt conceived would draw forth some word or hint he could turn to his account, but fortunately for the subject of these papers he never succeeded in his intentions.

It is presumed that Mr. Evans in his anxiety for Young Watson’s safety, had probably let fall to this man some unguarded expressions with respect to Mr. Carr. To his house therefore he constantly went, hoping to draw forth some information, by half words, or otherwise, that might lead to some clue as to the whereabouts of Young Watson. Fortunately for Young Watson his artifices fell short of their object.

It is not a little singular, that this man, to whom Thistlewood attributed his betrayal, and we believe from unquestionable proof this very Pemberton, (who before Thistlewood’s arrest was a poor man,) on his way home from the bank, whither he had been to receive his dividends, fell down dead in one of the streets leading to the river, with the money in his pocket! How obtained, we leave our readers to guess. His constant visits to the Secretary of State’s office may perhaps afford some explanation.

Mr. Carr’s house was built partly over a gateway; and that portion of it immediately over it was divided from the house, always being let off separately as a workshop, or for various other purposes. From this room there was no communication whatever with the house, and the only access to it was by means of a ladder placed underneath, and so up a trap door which when the room was untenanted was kept padlocked, and the ladder removed. Such was the case in the present instance, the place not being in use.

One night Mr. Carr was awakened by a rumbling, shuffling noise, proceeding from this unoccupied room, and at the same time his suspicions were aroused as to the cause. Young Watson slept in a room immediately over this workshop, but knowing there was no communication from it to the house, he remained content as to the present safety of his charge, and waited with some anxiety for daylight to make his observations.

Early in the morning he went out to reconnoitre, when he discovered that the sash of the window belonging to the room had been pushed back, which had before been always kept closed! The building on the other side the gateway, and joining the room we have spoken of, was a public house, and it was supposed that some person must have climbed along the iron railing or balcony in front of the public house, and so into the room, but finding no communication from it to the house, no doubt returned much disappointed at the failure of the scheme.

Mr Carr’s situation had now become to the last degree alarming. He consequently went to Mr. Evans, requesting him instantly to remove his friend to some other and more secure place, as it was evident his house was suspected. Mr. Evans was in great trouble at this news, as he was utterly at a loss in what quarter to seek the necessary shelter, as a large reward was not only offered for Young Watson’s arrest, but 500 was also held out for the apprehension of any one concealing him. Difficulties beset them on all sides. Carr’s house was strictly watched, and would no doubt be searched, and how or where to find a refuge for the young man they knew not, as all their friends were more or less connected with the political agitations of the day, and consequently objects of suspicion. Then again, who would receive him at the risk of their own lives? – for any one harbouring him would unquestionably have been dealt with at the utmost rigour of the law. This was indeed a trying position and their solicitude for the preservation of his life was put to a severe trial.

This took place on the 16th of December, and Young Watson had been sheltered by Mr. Carr from the 6th. The next day he was removed to an asylum as unlooked for as the particulars of its being found are singular in detail.

A person named Moggridge – a tailor residing in Somers Town – had been for many years in the habit of making such clothing as Mr. Holl (mentioned in the earlier portion of this narrative) or his family required. Some delay having taken place in the sending home some requisite apparel, Mrs. Holl, on her way to town, called on Moggridge requesting the clothes might be forwarded. After leaving the message with his wife, (Moggridge was out,) their conversation turned upon the all-engrossing subject of Young Watson. Mrs. Holl expressed much concern for his unhappy situation, although regretting the violence that had led to it, and, woman like, dwelt upon the painful anxiety and distress of his parents, under such trying circumstances. His youth and misfortune claimed her sympathy, and she lamented that so young a man as Watson was stated to be, should be hunted from place to place, like a wild beast, with the whole country as it were in arms against him, and a price set upon his head.

After indulging in such expressions of compassion as her sympathy suggested, she exclaimed, “Ah, poor young man, if he were at our house, he would be safe enough!” little dreaming these very words would so soon place herself and family in so trying a position. After some further conversation on the same subject, she left, and pursued her way to the City.

Moggridge during his absence from home, had, it appeared by the merest chance, (for he had not seen that person above three times in the space of seven years), called on Mr. Evans, the before -named friend of Young Watson.

The sight of Moggridge called forth from Mr. Evans an exclamation of joy, and he cried, “By heaven, Moggridge, you are the very man we want. He then explained to him the critical position of Young Watson, and wished to know if he would give him shelter and protection, as he was in great jeopardy in his present abode. Moggridge however declined giving the required asylum, for many reasons, but said he would make inquiries, and let Mr. Evans know in the evening.

On Moggridge’s return home he mentioned to his wife what had passed, and at the same time entered into consultation with her as to whom they could apply for the necessary protection. They found great difficulty in this, as also in the selection of one whom they could confide so important a secret to, as the search for Young Watson was untiring, and officers, or spies, were placed at the corner of almost every street. The large reward too offered for his apprehension, as likewise for his concealer – rendered the task of sheltering him a matter of no small difficulty, as it involved such imminent danger to the person protecting him. Whilst deliberating as to whom they could place confidence in, or of anyone who would incur so great a peril, Moggridge’s wife told her husband that Mrs. Holl had called about one of her son’s clothes not having been sent home, at the same time repeated the words she had uttered to the effect that if “he were in her house he would be safe enough.” Moggridge no sooner heard these words than he immediately resolved to go to Mr. Holl (who on account of his absence from all political agitation, had never crossed his mind), and proposed to him the shelter of this unhappy young man.

Without delay he made his way to Bayham Street, Camden Town, then almost surrounded by fields, where Mr. Holl resided, and after some little preface, he explained the unhappy situation of Young Watson, and asked Mr. Holl if he would give him the shelter and protection he stood so much in need of.

This request was not a little startling, as Mr. Holl had no knowledge of any of the parties mentioned in this narrative, and had only heard their names as given through the medium of the daily prints; and more than all, he deprecated the violence which had led to such unhappy results. The preservation of a fellow creature was however asked at his hands, and, spite of the dangers which might beset him, he at once consented to receive Young Watson under his roof.

It is not our intention to dwell too largely upon the merits of this act, or of the imprudence which hazarded, by devotion for a stranger’s good, the welfare of wife and children. Suffice it, the promise was given, and though the prudent may
condemn, the generous must uphold so strong an instance of high feeling and humanity – for be it understood Mr. Holl took no part -whatever in the political agitation of the day. He looked upon this young man as a rash enthusiast, whose folly might deserve a whipping, but whose indiscretion hardly deserved so black a sentence as that the law held out. Life was at stake, and he at once put all selfish, perhaps prudent, considerations out of his mind, and was governed only by the dictates of his heart. His word was pledged, and he never broke it.

Mrs. Holl had not yet returned – no time was to be lost, and her husband had too much confidence in her good faith and approval of an act of humanity to wait her sanction. Permitting neither difficulties nor danger to influence his better feelings, he proposed: they should go immediately to Mr. Evans and conclude their arrangements at once. Accompanied by Moggridge, be proceeded to Newcastle Street, Strand, where Mr. Evans resided. Not wishing to be seen, Mr. Holl waited in Stanhope Street, while Moggridge went to the house. After some twenty minutes’ delay, he returned, accompanied by Mr. Evans, whom he introduced to Mr. Holl; few words were exchanged; but in that brief discourse it was arranged that Young Watson should be removed to his new abode the following evening. Mr. Evans upon this proceeded to Carr’s house in Tottenham Court Road, and informed him of the shelter proposed for him. This was gratefully accepted, and the friends mutually congratulated each other on so happy an escape from present danger and difficulty, and trusted, that as Mr. Holl, who was an entire stranger to them, was not politically known, that Young Watson under his roof might find a safe and happy refuge from the increasing difficulties of his position.

The next evening Moggridge by appointment again went to Mr. Evans, and was conducted by him to Mr. Carr’s house. Here for the first time he saw Young Watson and Thistlewood. This was between eight and nine o’clock on the 17th of December. After taking an affectionate leave of his friends, and of his generous preserver, Carr, and being disguised in the best way, Young Watson left the house in company with Evans and Moggridge for Mr. Holl’s house at Camden Town.

Another instance of the good fortune which seemed to attend this young man’s steps , and increase the number of his escapes, is evidenced by the following. Some hours previous to his removal, a Mr. Mackenzie, and a Mr. Perring, called upon Mr. Carr, where they remained in conversation until within a short time prior to Young Watson’s departure, although without the slightest knowledge of his being in the house. It will be remembered that Carr’s house was strictly watched, and every person passing to and fro, was an object at once of suspicion and regard. Mr. Mackenzie was the first to depart, and as it appears, was followed by the scouts stationed on the outside, to his own house in the neighbourhood of the New Road, Paddington. It is also supposed that after watching Mr. Mackenzie home, they must have returned to their post, and on Mr. Perring’s leaving some time after, followed him to his residence in Chelsea. It is not a little strange that Mr. Mackenzie’s and Perring’s houses were searched the next day! During the absence of these scouts, as though they had purposely quitted their posts, Young Watson left the house, and was conducted to Bayham Street, Camden Town, where he was received with the greatest kindness by Mr. and Mrs. Holl.

All trace of him was now completely lost; and such was the secresy observed upon the occasion, that even his preserver, Carr, never knew, nor wished to know where Young Watson was conducted; and it was expressly understood, under the most solemn assurances, that neither Moggridge, nor Mr. Evans, should mention his new abode, or the name of his protector! The chain of communication was now broken. The bird had taken wing, and the sharp eyes of the police failed to mark his coming down! Every art, every possible plan had been contrived to ensnare him, and now, when almost within their net, he again escaped.

He arrived at Mr. Holl’s at half-past nine on the night of the 17th of December, 1816, where he remained until the 5th of March, 1817. Another extraordinary instance of Young Watson’s good fortune must here be mentioned — Mr. Carr’s house was searched only two days after Watson’s removal.



AFTER congratulating Young Watson on his safe arrival, a consultation was held as to the best means of carrying out their plans for his safety and security. With a large family, and in small house, Mr. Holl conceived positive concealment to be impossible. His eldest son, a youth in his eighteenth year, was at once taken into their confidence, as his suspicions, and perhaps imprudent observations, might otherwise have hazarded the safety of their charge. He would not have been so easily blinded, as to the real character of Young Watson, as the younger members of the family. It was also suggested that Watson should pass by another name, and be received into the house as a young man who came as a pupil to Mr. Holl to study engraving. This proposal was readily accepted. But another, and more difficult one

Mr. Holl had at the time two persons in his employ, Mr. Roffe and Mr. Brilly. They had been boys and fellow pupils together. He had the fullest confidence in their honour and integrity, and no consideration, he felt assured, would induce them to a breach of trust. He would have placed his own life in their hands; Young Watson must do the same; since, being all day, and part of the evening in the house, it would have been impossible to have kept Young Watson out of their sight, or knowledge: the particulars of his description would at once have led to that. The notion of the young man passing for Mr. Holl’s pupil, was apt, and likely to succeed, but how to keep that pupil shut up in a room, in secrecy and seclusion, when the study was his proper place, was the natural question forced upon their minds. Their present position was attended with too much danger to hazard speculation as to who, or what this young man might be, and Mr. Holl proposed that both Roffe and Brilly should be confided in, or, that refused, Young Watson had better at once remove to where such speculation was not rendered necessary, as he felt it impossible to receive him into his family without the knowledge of these two gentlemen; their suspicion, as to who he might be, would otherwise lead to the ruin of himself and his protector.

After some little deliberation between Young Watson and his two friends, Evans and Moggridge, Mr. Holl’s proposal was agreed to.

When everything was thus far arranged, Mr. Evans said that his father and a few friends, had set a subscription on foot, for the support of young Watson, as they felt that no one person should be so taxed. To this no objection was made, provided it were done with due caution, and that Moggridge should be the sole agent between Mr. Holl and Mr. Evans. One pound per week was regularly paid up to the 9th of February — a space of some six weeks when Mr. Evans and his son were arrested, and the payment ceased.

The most solemn assurances of secrecy and discretion were now entered into; and it was agreed on the part of Evans and Moggridge, that the strictest silence should be observed, and that Young Watson’s abode should not be disclosed to any one. We regret to say, this pledge was broken on the part of Moggridge, who not only told his wife, but his daughter, a girl of some sixteen years old, and it is a matter of no little wonder, their observations as to “their knowing where Young Watson was, ” &c., did not lead to his detection and death. The clue afterwards obtained, no doubt was the consequence of their imprudence, and his breach of faith. After repeating their assurances of secrecy and discretion, Mr. Evans and Moggridge departed.

The next morning, Roffe and Brilly were made acquainted with the responsibility Mr. Holl had taken upon himself in the cause of humanity, and at once gave the required promise, at the same time expressing their satisfaction at his confidence in their good faith. Their promise was never broken.

Young Watson was now introduced to his new companions, and regularly installed in the study, as a pupil in the art of engraving, to which, as drawing is a necessary step he immediately applied himself.

In the hands of entire strangers, he at first appeared distrustful, and notwithstanding every assurance of their friendly inclination towards him, he exhibited a considerable degree of shyness and uneasiness. This however gradually wore off, and in a few days he became quite reconciled to his novel situation, and new friends.

Another difficulty was, how to delude the children? The name of “Watson,” uttered in their presence, were sure destruction, as they might repeat it; and who could control a child’s prudence or discretion? To avoid this necessity, and to invent a name as familiar as possible; it was agreed to call him Mr Henry Dudley, the brother of a young man whose name was in constant use in the house. And the better to account for his long continuance within doors, the family were told that Mr Dudley’s father was recently dead, and therefore he disliked company, and was quite indifferent, about going out his only pleasure being reading, drawing &c. This artifice succeeded very well, and he soon became a great favourite with them, and to this day, though the remembrance of his person may have ceased, the name of “Mr Dudley” is to them a household word.

The moles upon Young Watson’s face having been accurately described in the Proclamation, became of necessity an object of regard and anxiety. The children too might notice, or even mention them abroad. Trifling in themselves they became formidable in their consequences! Their removal was determined on, and caustic applied, not only for present safety, but future escape, since with those “damned spots,” the eyes of eager recognition would be at fault. Its operation was slow, and the better to conceal its effects his face was muffled up, under the pretence of a violent toothache. This pretended malady called forth the commiseration of Mr Holl’s eldest daughter, who being a fellow sufferer, condoled with him on his assumed trouble and distress.

All exercise by day being of course impossible, Mr. Holl and his charge sometimes rambled out at night across the fields towards Kentish Town, that is, when the night was dark enough on moonlight nights he never stirred abroad. Moggridge too was not neglectful of the health or comfort of the young refugee, and sometimes took him out his darkened walk, for exercise and air. But, strangely inconsistent in his wish to serve, and most unmindful of his promise, he came one night with Thistlewood, that dark mysterious man who, it may be remembered, accompanied Young Watson during his flight on the 2d of December, and was his companion through the eventful days that followed. This was a clear breach of trust, and Mr. Holl commented upon it in strong terms, and at the same time declared he had no fellowship with Thistlewood nor men of his stamp: he but strove to save a life, forfeited (as he conceived) through youthful folly and imprudence, but he would not have his house made the haunt, either of conspiracy or crime. His feeling of annoyance was not lessened, when on Young Watson’s return from his night walk with Thistlewood, he found him much excited, and loud and violent in his speech. Having with some difficulty restrained his impetuosity, he insisted that Thistlewood should never be brought to his house again.

The apparent shyness of Young Watson, and his dislike at meeting strangers, were matters of much speculation among the children, more especially the sudden running up stairs to his room – where he had pistols – if any one knocked at the door, and his only going out at night. These and other circumstances were accounted for as occasion served, and neither the family, nor its visitors, had the remotest thought that the much soughtfor Young Watson had found a home beneath their roof.

The character of pupil he carried out, steadily and well. He made considerable progress in drawing, attempted an etching, &c. and from the skill and readiness he exhibited in his new vocation, there is little doubt, with time and practice, he would have made some stand in that most difficult art – portrait engraving. He also took upon himself the task of schoolmaster to Mr. Holl’s younger sons, and rapt their knuckles for their inattention or blundering, with a proper sense of his new authority.

These incidents will show the confidence he had in his new friends, and his readiness in adapting himself to circumstances.

At night he was provided with a newspaper, and read aloud the busy subjects of the day, and the all-engrossing one of his own immediate self. His captures – his arrests – his flights and his disguises – of his being taken in Holland – at Boulogn, Bordeaux &c. and of his having escaped in the disguise of an old Frenchwoman – of some clue to his retreat being found – or of all trace of him being lost – as likewise the detailed accounts of the “takings up,” and examinations in all parts of the country, of the many young men in “brown great-coats,” whose appearance in any measure tallied with his own. Daily arrests and daily disappointments went the round of the papers, together with the tempting offers of rewards for his apprehension. The perusal of these paragraphs caused him no small amusement, and his laughter found a ready helpmate in the eldest daughter of Mr. Holl, who at every fresh disappointment clapped her hands, and expressed her eager hope that “he would never be taken.” Little did she suspect the object of this search and turmoil was quietly seated by her side, reading his own dangers and escapes.

Early in the month of January, 1817, he read an account of a young man, supposed to be Young Watson, who had sailed from Hull under circumstances of a mysterious nature for some port in Prussia, or Denmark. Officers were immediately dispatched in his pursuit, but returned without meeting with the object of their search. This circumstance suggested the idea of deceiving the police with the belief that this young man was indeed Young Watson To further this deception he wrote a letter detailing many imaginary escapes and other particulars of his fictitious journey from London to Hull of his kind reception by a friend there and final departure from the kingdom. His letter was Written with the intention of being conveyed through the agency of a friend, to Hull, and so by post to London, and was addressed to Mr. Evans, senior. This was inclosed in an envelope of thin paper – so that Mr. Evans’s name could easily be read through the cover — and directed to the “President of the Meetings, at the Cock, in Grafton- street, Soho,” where a Spencean meeting was held.

There was little doubt this letter would fall into the hands of government, and that the particulars of his flight to Hull, &c., in his own handwriting, would confirm the notion that the young man, whom the officers had followed, and lost on the continent, was no other than Young Watson himself. By this means he hoped the news of his escape would spread over the country, and not only put the police on a wrong scent, but cause them to slacken the vigour of their search.

Young Watson was acquainted with the master of a vessel trading between London and Hull, named Banks, in whose friendship he had implicit faith. Through him, he hoped to get this letter conveyed to his uncle, Mr. Knowles, residing near Hull. It was accordingly inclosed in a parcel to his uncle, with a request that he would immediately forward the letter by post to London. The particulars concerning his abode, it need scarcely be said, he carefully avoided

This letter was conveyed to Captain Banks, whose vessel was on the eve of sailing, who promised to deliver it into the hands of Mr. Knowles. The packet had been dispatched some days, when Young Watson received the painful intelligence that Mr. Evans and his son were arrested, and his mortification was increased by the supposition that the letter he had sent had been the cause of his arrest. This was indeed a sad blow, since, independent of his regret at their present danger and imprisonment, he had lost two faithful and valued friends – friends who had proved their friendship in his need, and in whose kindly offices he had the greatest faith.

The arrest of the Evans’s, however, was not in consequence of this letter. The parcel was safely delivered to Mr. Knowles; but in the interim of its receipt, and such time as he should post the letter, he read an account in the newspaper, of the arrest of Mr. Evans and his son, and not thinking it prudent either to forward or to keep it in his possession, he burnt it. The destruction of this letter was a fortunate circumstance for Mr. Knowles, as police officers came to examine his premises only a day or two afterwards, which they did in a very minute manner, inspecting every scrap of paper they could find, &c. One of them drew a young child of Mr. Knowles’s apart, and giving him cakes, asked him a variety of questions as to whether he had seen his cousin James lately, if any one was in the house, &c.

Failing in their search of Young Watson, or some clue to his retreat, they put Mr. Knowles under arrest, and took him before the magistrates at Hull for examination. A vast deal was here spoken about “offended justice,” “his king and country,” and “that it would be the height of patriotism and virtue to deliver his nephew – if he had him, or knew where he was over to the hangman.” But in this particular Mr. Knowles was as ignorant as even the worshipful magistrates themselves.

During the concealment of Young Watson, the out-door discontent had by no means abated. Provisions were fearfully dear. A quartern loaf was as high as one shilling and eight pence, and the general distress sought far and wide a relief from suffering. – The Prince Regent and the ministry turned a deaf ear to petition and remonstrance, while public clamour was assailing them on every side; and, not content with words, the populace attacked the carriage of the prince on his return from opening parliament, January 28th, 1817. Stones were thrown at the guards, while missiles of every description were hurled at the prince and the royal carriage in its passage between Carlton Gardens and the stable-yard gate. The glasses were broken; and, from the evidence of Lord James Murray, it appeared “that one or two bullets had been fired at the coach.” The next day, a royal proclamation offered a reward of 1000l. for the apprehension of any one who had so offended.

Doctor Watson, Preston, and John Keens were arrested about this time, on the charge of high treason. The Messrs. Evans and Hooper were already in custody on the same charge. Thistlewood and Young Watson were yet to be taken. In the two Houses of Parliament, the proceedings of the 2nd of December, and their enlarged consequences, were not suffered to remain idle; and by way of paving the way for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, the report of the committee of public safety was laid before the house, February 19th, to the effect that your committee are convinced that, notwithstanding the failure of the 2nd of December, a plan was formed for a sudden rising in the dead of night, to surprise the soldiers, to set fire to the barracks, to seize the river, and the bank, and that, to assist in the execution of their project, a formidable machine was invented, by which the streets could be cleared of all opposing force; that placards, bearing the following inscriptions, were exhibited in all parts of London: – “Britons, to arms! the whole country only waits the signal from London. Break open the gunsmiths. Arm yourselves with all sorts of instruments. No rise in the price of bread. No Regent. No Castlereagh – off with their heads. No taxes. No Bishops — they are all useless lumber;” and that nothing less than a revolution, expected and avowed, was the object of the Spencean and other Societies.

This report was followed by Lord Sidmouth proposing in the House of Lords, February 24th, a bill for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act—a bill, “to enable his Majesty to secure and detain such persons as may be suspected of intention against his Majesty’s peace and government, since no doubt was left in the minds of the committee that a traitorous correspondence existed in the metropolis, for the purpose of overthrowing the government;” and he required the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, since “it was not merely the lower orders who had united in the conspiracy: individuals of great activity, resolution, and energy, were engaged in the contest.

On the bill being read a second time, the Duke of Sussex rose and said, “He had been present at the examination of most of the rioters, and the result of all he had heard was, that the subscription amounted to the enormous sum of ten pounds. The ammunition was contained in an old stocking — there were about 50 balls, none of which fitted the pistols, and one pound of powder! Such was this mighty plan of insurrection, and he would not allow molehills to be magnified into mountains. He, therefore, should vote against the second reading.”

It was carried by a majority of 115. On the same date, in the House of Commons, Lord Castlereagh had proposed the suspension of the Habeas Corpus, and other Acts, “for the security of his Majesty’s person. Mr. Bennet rose, and after commenting strongly upon the bad policy of such a measure, said, “that ministers had already imbued their hands in the blood of their country, and had been guilty of the most criminal cruelties.” Upon the second reading of the bill, Sir Francis Burdett, very door moved as an amendment, “That no person detained under this bill should be shut up in a dungeon, or other unwholesome place, or be deprived of air and exercise, loaded with irons,” &c. This proposal was negatived without a division.

The suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act was a fresh theme of discontent, and public murmur. Persons in the least obnoxious in their principles, or supposed to be so, were immured in prison at the will of the Secretary of State, or upon the information of hired spies and ruffians. No man’s home was safe, and, as may easily be supposed, the situation of Young Watson and, his protector, was rendered even more critical and trying. The vigilance of the police and their agents seemed to increase rather than diminish, by their unsuccessful search, while Camden Town seemed literally beset with officers. Nor was the arrest of Doctor Watson and his friends, together with other circumstances just detailed, the only peril Young Watson had to encounter. The danger had, in fact, reached the The search was so untiring, and minute, that all persons, whose age, stature, dress, or person, in any way corresponded with Young Watson, were viewed with eager suspicion, while he himself was scented at the heels.

Officers and their myrmidons seemed to have taken up their station at the corner of every street in Camden Town, and all the avenues leading to, or from it, where they seemed to have their regular system of communication. The public -houses were frequented by them, at all hours in the day, and questions asked of all who came, or went; while, to render the situation of the refugee yet more perilous, Bow – street officers were seen lurking at each end of Bayham street, and a house was searched only four doors off!

It was learned afterwards, that a young man, lately returned from sea, had been followed to the house where he lodged, No. 18, and being mistaken for Young Watson, was immediately arrested, but as his identity could not be sufficiently established, he was discharged the next day. The close surveillance under which Camden Town was placed left no doubt but that some clue had been found to Young Watson’s retreat. But how obtained? A second proclamation had by this time made its appearance, “in the name and behalf of his Majesty,” in which was renewed the promise of a reward of 500l., “offered on the 6th of December for the apprehension of James Watson the younger, charged with having wilfully attempted to kill and murder Richard Platt, by firing, &c.; and whereas a bill of indictment had been found by the grand jury of the City of London against the said James Watson, but that he had not yet been apprehended, and therefore we, (the Prince Regent), in behalf of his Majesty, are pleased to renew the reward of 500l, so made on the 2nd day of December, and renewed on the 22nd of January, for the apprehension of James Watson the younger, that he may be dealt with according to law; and we hereby charge all persons, upon their allegiance, not to receive or harbour him: all persons offending herein will be held guilty of high treason. And we do also promise a like reward of 500l. to any person who shall discover, or cause to be discovered, any person so receiving or harbouring the said James Watson. – Given at our Court of Carlton House, the 18th day of February, 1817.

The above James Watson is a surgeon by profession, and has been employed in that capacity on board a Greenland ship. He is apparently 23 or 24, but in reality only 20 years of age; dark hair, rather pale complexion, five feet four inches high – has a mark or mole with a few hairs on it, on his left cheekbone near the eye — the left eyelid rather drooping over the eye — very faint remains of small-pox in his face – has rather a wide mouth, and shows his teeth (which are very black) when he laughs. He some times wore a brown great-coat, black under-one, black waistcoat,
drab breeches, and long gaiters. And at other times, he wore blue pantaloons, and Hessian boots. This is the official portrait of Young Watson, which, as before stated, was incorrect. He had light brown hair, ruddy complexion, was five feet three inches in height, and had very good teeth, The drooping of the left eyelid was indeed a peculiarity, and many were the experiments tried to remedy the defect — we believe successfully.

Young Watson and his protector were surrounded on all sides by danger, and their anxiety, as may be easily supposed, increased with every fresh movement out of doors. Fortunately for all parties, the plan adopted for their security had the desired effect; no apparent caution was observed, the children were seen going to school or playing about as usual, and the absence of anything like mystery, or departure from the accustomed habits of the family, doubtless blinded the eyes of those who were on the watch. Every house in the street had become an object of inquiry and suspicion, while a second house, immediately opposite, No. 6, was searched.

No question now remained as to the accuracy of the information or the nearness of the pursuit. But how had the clue been obtained? It was conjectured that Mr. Evans, jun., had been watched to Camden Town when he called to see Young Watson, a few days previous to his own arrest — his only visit to Mr. Holl’s house since the night of the 17th of December, or that imprudent observations had guided the pursuit to the immediate neighbourhood of his concealment. The question now was, the removal of Young Watson to an asylum less fraught with danger; bụt who would shelter him? The proclamation presented itself at every turn, and the knowledge of the reward for his betrayal, together with the certain punishment of his concealer, rendered the task too perilous.

Young Watson was the pivot upon which all turned . Once in the power of the ministry, they had sufficient means to bring the charge of “guilty ” home to all whom they wished to connect with him in the riots of the 2nd of December; and a long string of victims would have graced the hangman’s beam, adding another “lot” to that disgraceful and death -dealing period. This young man at large, they felt, as it afterwards proved, that their charge would fall to the ground. Who would shelter him? Who would brave the wrath of government by concealing him? Application was made to several, but all declined— Moggridge among the number. He said, “the risk was too great that ministers, in revenge for being so long baulked; in their search, would visit upon his concealer their cherished vengeance, and involve him, if only as an example, in the general doom of death.”

A rather singular manner of escape was at length devised for him. It proved, however, unsuccessful. It appeared that Moggridge was acquainted with a Mr. Casey, the keeper of a private mad-house at Plaistow, and having business in that neighbourhood, had called upon him. Here he met a Mr. Dennison. After dinner, their conversation turned upon the subject of Young Watson, and of his past and present difficulties, which Moggridge dwelt upon at some length; when Mr. Dennison observed: “What a capital hiding-place Mr. Casey’s mad-house would be!” A confidence was at length reposed as to Young Watson’s need of concealment, when it appeared that Dennison had himself come to consult Mr. Casey, as to whether he would afford a shelter to Thistlewood, who was in like jeopardy; a pecuniary offer was made to Mr. Casey, which was accepted, and it was agreed between them, that Watson and Thistlewood would be brought in the course of the week.

Some short time previously, Moggridge, on a visit to Young Watson, had brought with him a mutual friend of theirs, a Mr. Pendrell, a bootmaker in Newgate Street, whose services, in the after escape of this young man, were of so much and essential value. It is rather a curious circumstance that this Pendrell was a descendant from the same family, whose name, in connexion with the concealment of Charles II. in the oak tree, takes so important a place in the romantic history of his dangers and escapes. The family for many years enjoyed a pension of 100l. from the crown, but from some reason not known to the narrator, its present representative was not in receipt of the royal bounty. A meeting had taken place at Pendrell’s, when it was agreed between himself, Moggridge, and Dennison, that Young Watson should be removed to Mr. Casey’s house the Monday following; but by some mistake, Thistlewood was taken in his stead!

He was conducted to Plaistow by Moggridge and Pendrell, and was strangely disappointed at not finding Young Watson there. After the departure of his two friends, he became violent and uneasy; said he was trepanned into a mad-house, and insisted upon leaving it. No objection being made, he left the asylum prepared for him, in the full belief that his wife had conspired with others to confine him in a mad-house.

The sum offered by government for the discovery of Young Watson was in itself large, while the knowledge that any sum might have been obtained from the secretary of state’s office, provided information could be given of his retreat, together with the arrest of his concealer, was enough to make the boldest tremble. The secret, too, of his concealment was already known to several: poor and needy men, whose imprudence, or the temptations of a large sum of money, might at any time betray. And all this risk! for what ? to save the life of a rash, unthinking man, whose folly, rashness, and imprudence, had placed the gallows black before him ; while wife and children, life itself, were staked against the saving of a man, unseen until protected, unknown until be friended. Friendship does much. Humanity did more.

The slightest noise seemed fraught with terrors, while an unexpected knock at the door, or casual survey of the house, caused fresh anxiety. His evening walks were now cut off, but prompted by his curious fear, Young Watson kept a studious watch by day on all who passed. At night, with pistols within his reach, he got what fevered sleep he could. One day, while prying through the window at who might pass, he almost started from his post, as he saw Vickery, the Bow-street officer, watching from the windows of an empty house immediately opposite, and next to the one already searched! The game was up. The police had at last hunted him down! He crept from the window, and remained, as well as he could, sheltered and concealed. It was a dark and dismal night for all. The hopelessness of escape — the certainty that pursuit had traced him to the very door – gave the death-blow to the hope either of Young Watson’s safety in his present shelter, or flight from it. It was an anxious, fearful night; and seated round the fire, while the rest of the household were in bed, Young Watson, his protector, with his wife and son, sat gloomy and mistrustful.

Speculation was busy in their minds, and with half-breathed words, they kept a noiseless conversation. It was near midnight, and their thoughts were full of dread – their words of fear. A knock! a single, loud, and unexpected knock, struck at the door! All started to their feet! Resolute, and determined to sell his life dearly, Young Watson rushed up to his room and seized his pistols, while the son, taught by the example of his some three-months’ companion, and desirous to assist in his escape, armed himself with a dirk, and thus equipped, sallied out at the back of the house into a small garden with Young Watson, who, strong in his determination to kill or be killed, stood waiting the moment to act. All seemed lost. The house was no doubt surrounded – resistance useless. After quieting, as he best could, the fears of his wife, Mr. Holl took a light, and, expecting to be seized the moment he removed the fastenings, he assumed as much indifference as he could, and opened the door.



Two men were on the door-step, and Mr. Holl — in fearful certainty of his arrest – stood, waiting to be seized, when, by the light he held in his hand, he had the grateful satisfaction to recognise in one, Pendrill; the other was a stranger.
The alarm caused by their midnight visit has been described; and the dread, attendant upon the fearful presence of the police officers, having been removed, Young Watson was summoned from the garden, and they once more assembled round the fire. After explaining to the new comers the terror their unexpected knocking caused, they led the conversation to the purpose of their late and startling call.

Pendrill proceeded to state, that he had brought a friend of his – Mr. Poisser – for the purpose of consulting as to the best means of Young Watson’s escape, since his situation had now become so critical as to render a removal not only necessary, but immediate. Another party had by this means become acquainted with the particulars of Young Watson’s concealment; and though the services of Mr. Poisser were of great value in his after escape, it could not but be regretted Pendrill had been induced to entrust so fatal a knowledge to him. His assistance, as before stated, proved of great service in the after movements of Young Watson. Several plans were discussed; but the lateness of the hour, and their uncertainty which to fix upon, rendered another meeting necessary. After naming an early day for his visit, Mr. Poisser left, in company with Pendrill. The rest sought their beds, and in sleep forgot their perils and their fears.

We must now turn to the trial of Dr. Watson, against whom Thistlewood, Preston, and Hooper – true bills were found,
April 29th; and although these facts took place some short time after our present date, the particulars of their occurrence are so intimately connected with the subject of this narrative, as to become too necessary in their detail to be passed over. The arrest of Thistlewood, as before hinted, took place through the agency of the man Pemberton. A proclamation, backed by a reward of 500l., had been issued for his apprehension, in which he was described as “about forty – five years of age, five feet eleven inches in height, sallow complexion, long visage, dark hair, small whiskers, hazel eyes, arched eyebrows, wide mouth, and good set of teeth, walks very uprightly, and has the appearance of a military man – (he had been a lieutenant in the army) —usually wore a French, grey-coloured coat, buff waistcoat, grey Wellington pantaloons, with hessian boots under them.” He had, by the aid of his wife’s family — who were wealthy – obtained money to provide for his escape, and in complete disguise. He embarked on board a vessel bound for America . His disguise and means of escape were known only to Pemberton, who had pretended much anxiety to befriend him, and who was on deck with him, when an officer came on board, and walking up to him, said, “It’s very well done, Thistlewood; but it won’t do.” There is little doubt but Thistlewood was correct when he denounced Pemberton with having betrayed him .

Dr. Watson, Thistlewood, Preston, and Hooper, were tried for high treason, in the Court of King’s Bench, Westminster-hall, Monday, June 9th, 1817. The prisoners were brought from the Tower, under a strong escort; and the Horse Guards had to clear away a passage through the crowd assembled at Palace-yard, previously to their alighting from the carriages. The Doctor was the first placed upon his trial, when, in the evidence for the Crown, several facts related in the narrative were adduced, in the endeavour to involve the father in the rashness and guilt of his “Plans,” it was stated , “were arranged and matured, to subvert the constitution of the realm, and to put to death our lord the King. And further, to fulfil, &c., the said traitors, with a thousand and more unknown subjects of the king, armed with pikes, &c., did, with great noise, march to attack the king’s Tower of London, and did endeavour to seduce certain soldiers to admit them, &c. The evidence of the infamous Castles set forth , among other and various charges, that “they meant to barricade the Bank, and, if the soldiers came, to burn the books, and so do away with the National Debt.” The speech of Dr. Watson, quoted by the Attorney-general, in evidence against him, affords strong evidence of the pressure of the times we write of, and not an inapt illustration of the present state of suffering and distress. The Doctor was reported to have son, said, at the Spa Fields meeting, “He was called on, because His Royal Highness the Prince Regent had refused to give an answer to the petition of the starving thousands, by whom he is surrounded — because four millions of our countrymen are in distress – because so many more are embarrassed – because one million and a half fear distress, while the few only enjoy splendid luxury! It is not this country only that is oppressed: our sister country , Ireland – shares in our misfortunes. There the climax of misery has been brought to a close. There, suffering cannot be extended further! Will men continue thus for months and years to be starved? No! Parliament should have taken into consideration the situation of the dying multitude, and not been deaf to our prayers! Not a day passes in this great metropolis, in which people are not seen starving to death, and yet they will admit no means to relieve them! Arrogance, folly, and crimes, have brought affairs to this dread crisis! Firmness and integrity can alone save the country.”

The speech of Young Watson, also adduced in evidence, carried out the same picture of distress. “The Prince Regent,” said he, “in his great generosity, in consequence of our miseries, has given out of the Funds, which does not touch his own pocket. He plunders you of millions, and then gives you part of the spoil. They rob you of all you possess, and they give you a penny to pay the turnpike! The trial lasted seven days; and his defence gave the first great impulse to the after career of Sir Charles, then Mr. Wetherall. A verdict of “not guilty” was returned, Monday, June 16th. The instant it was given in, “plaudits in the court made it known to others outside, when a general and simultaneous burst of applause, echoed from all parts of the hall.” Lord Ellenborough, who tried the case, expressed his indignation, in no measured terms, at so indecorous a proceeding; but was answered that “the concourse within and without the hall is immense.

Immediately the trial was concluded, the Doctor proceeded with Mr. Harmer, his solicitor, through a private passage, into Palace Yard, and so to Hatton Garden, where he dined with Mr. Harmer. On quitting the house, in a hackney-coach, the people took the horses from it, and drew it down Holborn, and so through Fleet Street, until he arrived at a Mr. West’s – one of his bail-in Wych Street, Drury Lane. Here he alighted. On the cry for “Watson, Watson,” being raised, Mr West made his appearance. He was at the first floor window, and said, “Mr. Watson was so fatigued, he was incapable of addressing them.” After repeated cries, the Doctor at length showed himself at the window, and bowed several times, in acknowledgment of the reiterated shouts of the mob. The cry of “Home, Home,” was then raised by the crowd, after which they dispersed quietly, and in good order. The day following the Doctor’s acquittal, Thistlewood, Preston, and Hooper were discharged from custody, “as no evidence could be brought against them.” So ended this much-talked-of trial.

A different result had attended that of Cashman, who was found guilty, and sentenced to death, on a charge of high treason independent of the other count of felony, and stealing from a dwelling-house. His eagerness to effect the escape of Young Watson from the house of Beckwith, brought on himself the judgment of the law, although upon his trial he was reported to have said “he had no intention or wish to steal. He joined the mob because he was starving! He had been sent from office to office without receiving relief. He did not mean to harm, or commit a crime – his object was not riot, but preservation of life.” sentenced to death, without the hope of mercy or reprieve!

The next visit of Poisser to the house of Mr. Holl was attended with the same discussion, though not with the same result, as a plan was proposed by him, and eagerly adopted , for the furtherance of Young Watson’s flight. Mr. Poisser, it appeared, had intimate knowledge, and was in correspondence with, some Quakers residing in America; and it was proposed to disguise Young Watson as a member of that body, in the hope that he would be able to pass unnoticed in a dress so little likely to be suspected. It was agreed that Moggridge should make the clothes; and to further the disguise as much as possible, they were to be wadded, so as to give a breadth and bulk to the otherwise slight figure of the young man. His skin also was to be stained, and his hair dyed. The mole upon his face had already been removed, so it was hoped the proposed dress would effectually conceal him from the eyes of the police. He was also to be provided with letters and papers connected with affairs of business, from some Quakers in England, in correspondence with those abroad; and it was hoped, that even in the event of his being searched, this additional evidence would facilitate his escape, and add conviction to his being what he represented himself – a Quaker, about to go to America, on matters of business.

The particulars of his disguise agreed upon, their execution was to be effected as speedily as possible. It was ascertained that a vessel was about to sail to America, and Mr. Holl’s eldest son was despatched to take a berth. Every possible agency in the furtherance of his escape was, it was hoped, by these means, secured; and they dwelt with eager expectation on the time when Young Watson was to attire himself in his new costume, and try the efficiency of the disguise proposed. His friend, Pendrill, was, in all these matters, an active agent. Anxious for the preservation of the young man, he paid frequent visits to the house, in the carrying out such particulars as he thought necessary for his safety. The present residence of Young Watson was so surrounded by danger, that every day brought it closer to the door, and his removal became an hourly necessity, which each increased. His disguise completed, it was proposed to take him to some other shelter, where he would be less shut in by perils, though where was yet a question, since all refused the shelter, even of a night’s lodging, to this rash and hunted man! None would receive him, yet his removal was imperative, and, his disguise completed, immediate.

As the time for Cashman’s execution drew near, the distress of Young Watson assumed a sadder character — the man was to suffer death who rescued him from the fate he was himself about to undergo, and who had incurred that doom in preserving him from the consequences of his late imprudent act. His own fate was yet uncertain — if taken in his attempted flight, he might hang from the same beam. The execution of Cashman was fixed for Wednesday, March 12th, and immediately opposite Beckwith’s house was selected as the place for the law to launch its victims into eternity. In vain Mr. Beckwith petitioned for the removal of so horrible & spectacle from his door. The Secretary of State was inexorable. There the offence was committed—there it must be expiated.

His disguise complete, Moggridge brought it home; and when dressed, an entire change was wrought in the appearance of Young Watson by the wadded clothing, as well as by the novelty of the attire, and it would have taken a keen eye to have detected in the sleek, quakerly youth, with his dark hair and bronzed complexion, the much-hunted “young man in the brown great coat.” His disguise was so successful, his friends could not but indulge in sanguine hopes of his escape, which with the coming darkness would be at least attempted; the necessary letters to his quakerly friends had not been forgotten, and everything arranged, they waited with impatience the hour for the attempt.

Accompanied by Pendrill, Young Watson left the shelter of Mr. Holl’s house at half-past nine o’clock, March 5th, and with good wishes for his safety, his preserver bade God speed and assist him in his perils. Young Watson was gone, and his protector looked back upon the danger he had run with fear, but not regret. He had sheltered what none others would; he had saved a fellow-creature’s life, and he cared not for reward; it was enough for him that he had done his duty. He had saved the erring and rash-minded youth from the gibbet and the cord, and he was satisfied.

Young Watson and his friend Pendrill started forth to gain a shelter where they best could; for although in part secure in his disguise from the dangers that beset him, it had not lessened the apprehensions of those whose services he asked and needed. On leaving Camden town, they made the best of their way towards Somers Town, to the house of Moggridge, whose counsel and assistance they solicited as to where he could obtain a lodging for the night. This Moggridge said he could not give, “there was too much risk in it,”and where to get one was the question? After some consultation, Pendrill set out in the almost idle search, leaving Watson in the house of Moggridge, where he remained about two hours, much to the alarm of its owner, who was in great terror at the risk he ran for that short time, little thinking of the perils he had imposed on others! His fears were at their height, when about 12 o’clock Pendrill returned, bringing with him a great coat, in which he proposed still further to shield Young Watson from the eye of suspicion or distrust; his return appeased, in some measure, Moggridge’s apprehension, who afterwards said: “God forgive me! I thought he had gone to give us up.” And this spoken of the very man whom he had himself taken to the house of Mr. Holl, in direct violation of his pledge of secresy and silence!

Having wrapt Young Watson in the extra garment, Pendrill and he made their way to the house of a Mr. Dennison, a cutler, in Smithfield, where Young Watson was permitted to sleep, and where he remained in bed during the day, fearful of being seen. The next night, Pendrill took him to a Mr. Clarke, a friend of Young Watson’s, at whose house he slept, and remained concealed during the next few days, and where he made several little additions to his disguise, and also applied some means to remedy the defect of his drooping eyelid. His next removal was to Pendrill’s house in Newgate Street, and but a short distance from Beckwith’s shop, the scene of his mad folly, the cause of so much peril to himself and others, and of death to his ill-starred rescuer. The execution of Cashman was fixed for the next day, and the noise of busy preparation in the erection of his scaffold, reached Watson as he lay. Barriers were thrown up to keep the people back, who were expected in multitudes to witness the execution, and the hammering, or heavy fall of timber, struck upon his ear the dreadful coming of the morrow! The man who saved his life was to suffer death – death for his fault! The thought was maddening, and each fresh sound smote as on his heart.

The outdoor sympathy for the condemned Cashman was great, and fearful of an outbreak, or attempt at rescue, the military had orders to be under arms, in readiness to repel any attempt of the expected multitude . With the dim morning, the people came! The gallows was up! The man was to die! The fearful knell of the dying, and his awful doom, called them forth as with a soft voice from distant home and bed “to see the sight;” and the best view of mortal suffering was bartered from many a window front or house-top.

The grey morn had scarcely mixed with the black night, and seekers for the best places came straggling on, when a door opened, and Young Watson, Pendrill, and Moggridge, passed forth, and made their way through those who came or those who had already made their stand. Passed by the very side of those who had sought him far and wide. Him, whose name uttered on that spot, would have made them spring as at a started deer. He and his companions passed unsuspected on, and meeting still at every turn fresh comers to the scene of death, shaped their way towards Gravesend.

The vessel in which he had secured his berth , “the Venus,” had dropped down the river, from the docks; and once on board, he trusted to escape a doom, the dismal preparations for which he had so lately left behind. On they went, walking with stout limbs and eager hopes to Gravesend. Meanwhile, the game of death went on! The daylight came, and the busy crowd streamed in to see their fellow suffer. The barriers erected kept them in partial check, and aided by numerous police officers and their assistants, the people were held back from pressing too closely on the immediate neighbourhood of the gallows.

The bell had tolled. Newgate gave up its prey, and the cart came on, The multitude was vast. And as the sheriffs advanced with that fearful cart and its death-doomed load, the mob, in expression of their indignation, began to groan and hiss; attempts were made at rescue, and to rush forward, but the barriers prevented their encroachment, and the crowd was beaten back. Cashman alone seemed careless of the fate awaiting him, and on leaving Newgate, had said: “I am going to die, but I shall not shrink. I have done nothing against my king and country, I have always fought for them.” The cart came rolling on – halted — and Cashman mounted the gallows steps with a light and bounding tread. The moment he appeared on the platform, the groans of indignation mingled with hisses, were redoubled. The executioner, to hasten his work, began to draw the cap over his face, when he exclaimed, God’s sake, let me see to the last. ‘ His wish was complied with. The bolt was drawn — the man was dead – dead without a struggle. The street was thronged as for a fair; windows and house tops, filled with eager eyes, gazed on the sickening spectacle! Alone, the house of Beckwith looked with darkened windows on the sight!

Meanwhile, Watson and his companions journeyed on their way to Gravesend. Hoping, but fearful in their hope, they passed along, and covered the long miles with willing feet. The town was gained; the vessel was in sight. Yes, there it lay upon the waters, to him, at least, a thing of life, of hope, and liberty. As it was not thought advisable to Young Watson’s companions that they should accompany him on board, with a “God bless you!” they parted with the flying man, and after resting from their lengthened walk, they journeyed back as best they could, and left Young Watson to the accomplishment of his flight.

On deck, and mid the murmur of a hundred tongues, he dwelt alone upon the thought of freedom – of escape from danger and pursuit. Yet up and down he walked and felt each eye was on his, eager and suspicious! Fearful himself, he conjured up a thousand and a thousand foes, who crossed him as he walked! Who shall know the thoughts of that young man, who fled from death, yet feared its peril still at every turn? Alone, he walked the deck, away from friends, from kindred, all he valued – alone, and with but one thought – life! The time had come, and the vessel was to sail.
Fond eyes were stretching to the distant shore, while others looked with sadness on their own, and wondered if they ever should see it more! The vessel was to sail, the goods were shipped, the passengers on board. The sails were spread, and swelling in the wind, the ready ship obeyed their impulse, and with eager leap ploughed up the tide! All looked with curious eyes upon the seaman’s craft, as sail on sail came swaying down, and caught the willing breeze — all looked — but there was still & pair of eyes, that looked intense, and burning!

The anchor weighed, and all was ready for a start, when a Bomb! was fired from the shore, the signal to lie to. Had the shot struck his brain, it would scarce have pained him less. Young Watson sank upon a seat, sick, and powerless. With straining eyes, he saw a boat put from the shore – near and nearer it came to the stayed ship, and seated in the fatal craft, he recognised Vickery and Lavender, two Bow Street officers. “Fancy,” he said when writing from a distant land. “Fancy my feeling of despair, when as the boat neared the vessel’s side, I saw my old enemies — Vickery and Lavender, seated in the stern. They had some clue to my method of escape – they had tracked me, and I gave myself up for lost.” The boat reached the gangway – was fastened to it, and the two officers, attended by a magistrate, mounted the ship’s side. They were followed -Young Watson could scarce believe the evidence of his sight -by an old and bosom friend of his—a Mr. Whittaker, a clerk in Somerset House. Escape was hopeless – he was in their grasp!

It afterwards appeared, this young man had been pressed into the aid of the police (who had evidently obtained some clue to Young Watson’s means of escape) in the hopes some sudden look, or exclamation, would betray him to their sight. For there is no reason to suppose Mr. Whittaker ever would have played so false a part as to turn bloodhound in the service of the law, and scent his early friend unto his death. Whether or not he recognised Young Watson, and had sufficient command over his names countenance not to betray him, must ever remain a mystery, though the young man’s appearance was so changed, that even his old friend might pass him by, unheeded, and unknown.

Once on board, the officers eyed round them with a keen and searching look. “They came,” they said, “in search of some person who had committed murder.” Every one was subject to the strictest scrutiny, and fearful of detection, Young Watson was about to go below, and so to find a hiding-place, among the many recesses of the vessel ’twas well that he did not – for a list of passengers was demanded by the officers, who told them off by their The crew was subject to the like inspection and the vessel strictly searched. The officers were evidently at fault; all were on deck, and one by one they were made to “run the gauntlet,” and to pass between the officers, the magistrate, and Young Watson’s friend .

A lynx-eyed watch was kept, not only on his countenance, but on that of each who passed; when, strange to state, and affording another proof of the singularity of Young Watson’s escapes, & young woman who was about to pass between the officers, fainted; whether from fear or what, we know not — she was about joining a brother in America, and had lately come on board; fearful as it was supposed of detention or some hindrance to her passage, she fainted as she was about to pass, and drew upon herself the greedy eyes of the police, who looked with much suspicion and distrust upon her fainting form. Young Watson, with a quickness, and readiness of wit, only met with in trying circumstances, immediately proffered his assistance to “support the young lady while they pursued their search.” The offer was accepted, and the search went on. Passengers, crew , all passed; and, one by one, they underwent the keen and searching inspection of the police.

In the meantime, Watson placed the fainting woman on a seat, and moved between the officers as they stood – less perhaps an object of suspicion, from his recent ready aid, than those who but obeyed the call, and went through the ordeal with indifference or complaint. He walked between them, and his heart in his anxiety beat with such a heavy pulse, he feared “the officer must have heard it as he passed.” The peril of his situation, and fear of his detection, made it distinct, at least to him. He passed, and his joy may be conceived, when he heard one officer whisper to the other, “He is not here.”

These were indeed the charmed words on which life had hung. The least indiscretion on his part, the least failing of his nerves, had ruined him. The accidental fainting of the young woman, and his ready wit in offering his aid, took from himself some part of the suspicion with which they looked on all — and aided by the strictness of his disguise, his stained face, and darkened hair, he walked unknown between the very men who had hunted for him far and wide. The search was ended, and the officers, in evident chagrin and disappointment, descended to their boat, and as it pulled towards the shore, Young Watson’s heart beat high — but it was with hope – not fear. Again he had escaped when almost in their arms! Life was the one absorbing thought, in which all centered — that life lay now before him, freed from the hazard of pursuit, and as the boat grew less upon the sight, he thanked his God, and prayed in thankfulness!

The spreading sails again were loosened to the winds, and the glad vessel straining to be gone, broke like a live thing through the free and bounding waters! The busy shore was left behind, and with a glad and buoyant spirit, he saw the river passed, while the bold sea lay wide and wild before him. The vessel breasted the strong waves, and shaped its course, for his new home- America! And thus Young Watson escaped. Some months had passed after the adventure just detailed, when the officers, Lavender and Vickery, were told by Pendrell of Young Watson’s actual presence on board the searched ship. They were at first incredulous, but upon the particulars of his disguise being described, they were wrathful to a degree, and always heard with much annoyance any allusion to his escape.

A few days had passed after Young Watson’s removal, when Mr. Holl’s house, in which he had remained so long concealed, was searched, and himself put under arrest, on the charge of his concealment. His papers were also seized, and in Cold Bath Fields, he remained a prisoner for more than six weeks. He was examined upon the charge of high treason, and the harbouring Young Watson, before Lord Sidmouth, at the Secretary of State’s office, and underwent not only a most rigid questioning, but was reminded of the extreme danger of his position, as it was stated they had “proofs of Young Watson’s concealment in his house.” These were fresh trials for Mr. Holl and his family, who were left in great distress and fear as to his safety.

Mean while the fruitless search went on! Young Watson’s escape having no doubt reached the ears of government, Mr. Holl was liberated, after enduring much anxiety of mind and body. Young Watson reached America in safety, and strange as it may appear, Mr. Holl never heard from him but once, and that “his best remembrance” conveyed to him in some letter to a friend. He lived but a few years, and died in exile, and we believe in distress. His family — who ever testified the greatest gratitude for his preservation – remained some years in England, but the Doctor’s patient industry in the carrying out his schemes for political freedom, and Parliamentary Reform, removed him in a great measure from the practice of his profession, in consequence of which he made but a scanty living. After some years of hardship and endurance, he left with his family for America, and no communication has ever been received to tell if
they are dead or living.

The good genius that seemed to wait upon Young Watson’s steps is evidenced by the number and singularity of his escapes. That he had great presence of mind, and strength of nerves, is instanced by the readiness with which he availed himself of the young woman’s fainting on board the vessel, as a means to take suspicion off himself, and it is still more worthy of remark, that of the many persons in whose power his life was trusted, none betrayed him, although tempted by a heavy reward – a fortune to a poor man — and nearly all were poor. In the midst of poverty and distress, he found fast friends, who sheltered – aided – and finally assisted him in his escape.

There is no fable mixed with this narrative. It is homely truth, and a sense of duty, and a justice to the dead, has alone imposed the task. The agitation of the times in which these occurrences took place has passed away. The ends for which so many toiled, in later days have been achieved; and we are now reaping the full harvest of what was sowed by patient toil in struggle with misrule, which viewed with jealous eye encroachments on its policy and power. The times are gone when agitation for political reform was met with cord and scaffold. Quietly and steadily it has kept its march, and the still growing murmur of a people’s discontent, has carried out its purpose and its will.

And we now look back, almost with distrust, to times so little passed, when treason could be gathered from a household gossip, and a man’s hearth be no security from a minister’s suspicion, or a spy’s mistrust. And without wishing to uphold the rashness and intemperance which brought upon this young man, whose adventures have been detailed, so much sad consequence, we must still make some allowance for oppression then endured, and the necessities which in part led to the nine days’ wonder of “Young Watson, and the Riots of 1816.”