The Unfortunate Colonel Despard




The story of the last man sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered for high treason. Set against the background of Caribbean slave revolts and naval mutinies, the Napoleonic Wars and the Irish Rebellion, Edward Despard brings to life the bitter struggle between the democratic ideals of Tom Paine’s Rights of Man and the political clampdown of William Pitt’s ‘Reign of Terror’.





“A riveting account of the life and times of Britain’s first terrorist”
Independent on Sunday, Books of the Year

“Compelling, absorbing and wide-ranging…recent history and changing political views have brought Despard back into focus, most sharply with this pointedly titled account.” Sunday Times

“Thrilling… it doesn’t let up for a minute.” Guardian

“This fine book is a gripping and salutary tale, well told, and popular history at its best.” Times

“A gem of a book” Sunday Telegraph


For the story of Despard’s mixed race marriage, see Edward and Catherine Despard