William Godwin's Diary


Thomas Hardy, John Horne Tooke, John Thelwall, and around thirty others were arrested from May 1794 onward, and in October were charged with High Treason for their part in the reformist activities of the London Corresponding Society and the Society for Constitutional Information. Godwin’s Cursory Strictures on the Charge delivered by Lord Chief Justice Eyre to the Grand Jury (21 October 1794) attacked the basis for the prosecution. The defendants were each tried in turn, starting with Hardy and moving on to Tooke and then to Thelwall. The acquittals of Hardy and Tooke broke the back of the prosecution's case and proceedings against Thelwall and against others in custody were dropped, first against Bonney, Joyce, Kidd and Holcroft, and on 15 December those against John Richter and John Baxter.

See 'Introduction' in Trials for Treason and Sedition, 1792-1794, ed. by John Barrell and Jon Mee, 8 vols (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2006-07); John Barrell, Imagining the King's Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide 1793–1796 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); Albert Goodwin, The friends of liberty: the English democratic movement in the age of the French Revolution (London: Hutchinson, 1979) and Alan Wharam, The Treason Trials, 1794 (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1992).