Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Execution of Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat

Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat (Scotland, c.1667 – 9 April 1747, London, England)


Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat by William Hogarth
Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat by William Hogarth

Today I have two posts on offer; one is a little piece on the matter of writing and the other is a somewhat more grisly affair. 9th April marks the anniversary of the death of Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat and the last man to be publicly executed in England as he met his maker on Tower Hill.

Lord Lovat lived a life of controversy and was not above double dealing and subterfuge to achieve his ambitions. When the Hanovers and Stuarts went head to head, Lovat played both sides like an expert but when the moment came to choose his colours, he made a fatal mistake and chose the Stuart cause.

A wanted man, Lovat was discovered hiding on an island in Loch Morar  and arrested. With no time wasted the infirm and aged Lord Lovat was moved from Scotland and taken to London to face a trial that lasted less than a week. Age had caught up with the once fearsome character and left him unable to see or hear and barely able to walk or stand. His cunning, which had served him so well throughout his life, was no match for the English law and his conviction on a charge of treason was a forgone conclusion from the day his trial began.

The death sentence was passed on Lovat on 19th March 1747. He languished in prison until the appointed date of 9th April and then, with some difficulty due to his physical condition, he was conveyed from his cell to Tower Hill. At the block he was received by his executioner, John Thrift, and an enthusiastic audience keen to see the death of this notorious character.

An enormous crowd gathered to witness Lovat's execution and such was the scrum to get a good view that a bank of scaffolding collapsed beneath the weight of spectators, killing twenty people. This struck Lovat as singularly hilarious and he laughed uproariously before setting his head on the block, becoming the last man to be beheaded in England.

7 comments:

  1. I am a *huge* fan of the Outlander series! I didn't know Lord Lovat was an actual person!

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    1. He certainly was; somewhat larger than life!

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  2. Accuracy made me a devoted fan of Diana Gabaldon 20 years ago,I own at least at least two copies of every item she's published. One copy signed and one to loan. She has always made sure the facts were exactly correct. Even the discriptions of herbal
    plants, how they smell, look and their use is true. So many people in her books really did live. Of course, there are Some People who did not, but, I've become fond of those as well.

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    1. I love that you have a loan copy and a sign copy, what a treasure!

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    2. Then you are sadly deceived - Gabaldon is NOT accurate. The list of historical mistakes and outright lies is long but it begins and ends with the complete misrepresentation of the character and motives of Charles Edward Stuart. The many accounts of those who actually knew him, including the statement on the scaffold of Lord Balmerino at his execution - which was made to correct the nasty propraganda put about by the Hanoverians at the time. Aside from this horrible slandering of a man of fine character and great courage, she gets so much more wrong. The Rising was financed by the Sobieski diamonds, not some English lord. The heather priests risked their lives to allow the clansmen to worship - they were not drunken, corrupt men. There were no clan tartans in the 18th century! on and on....

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  3. Another case of the English murdering someone who stood against them

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    1. He played every side to gain financial or political advantage - don't paint him as a hero

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