Arthur Thistlewood

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Arthur Thistlewood, 1770–1820, British conspirator. He acquired revolutionary views while traveling in France and America and, after his return to England, joined the revolutionary Spencean Society (see Spence, Thomas) in London. In 1816 he organized a public meeting at Spa Fields, at which a revolution was to be started. However, the meeting was easily dispersed, and Thistlewood was arrested and narrowly escaped conviction for treason. A year later he was imprisoned for challenging Lord Sidmouth, the home secretary, to a duel. Upon his release (1819) Thistlewood, dissatisfied with the milder efforts of his colleagues, plotted the assassination of cabinet members at a cabinet dinner. The government, apprised of the conspiracy, surprised the plotters at their arsenal in a Cato Street loft. Thistlewood was subsequently convicted of treason and executed for his part in what is known as the Cato Street Conspiracy.

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Cato Street conspiracy. A plot to murder Lord Liverpool's cabinet at dinner at Lord Harrowby's house in February 1820 was led by Arthur Thistlewood, a former army officer and a follower of the agrarian communist Thomas Spence. It was the culmination of a series of conspiracies to overthrow the government and achieve democratic reform in the period after 1816. The plotters were betrayed by a government spy and arrested as they assembled in a stable in Cato Street. Thistlewood and four fellow-conspirators were executed on May Day, 1820.

E. A. Smith

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Cato Street Conspiracy a plot by a group of conspirators led by Arthur Thistlewood (1770–1820) to assassinate participants at a cabinet dinner given by Lord Harrowby in February 1820, as a preliminary to revolution. The attempt failed, and Thistlewood and four of his accomplices were hanged.

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Cato Street Conspiracy: see Thistlewood, Arthur.