Thistlewood, Arthur

Thistlewood, Arthur,

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, ThomasSpence, Thomas,
1750–1814, English agrarian socialist. A forerunner of the single taxers (see single tax), he devised a scheme by which the parishes would assume ownership of the land and rent paid to the parish corporation would be the sole tax.
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) 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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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Thistlewood, Arthur


Born 1774 in Tupholme, near Lincoln; died May 1, 1820, in London. English revolutionary democrat.

Thistlewood was strongly influenced by the ideas of the French Revolution. In 1814 he helped organize a society of followers of T. Spence. He advocated the overthrow of the government by force and favored conspiratorial tactics. He was repeatedly arrested. After Peterloo (1819), Thistlewood organized a new conspiracy to assassinate members of the government. Lacking mass support, the Thistlewood plot was doomed to failure. It was discovered by the authorities with the aid of an agent provocateur, G. Edwards, and Thistlewood and four of his associates were hanged.


Cherniak, E. B. Demokraticheskoe dvizhenie v Anglii, 1816–1820. Moscow, 1957.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.