Speech of James Bradeshaw, November 28, 1746

James Bradshaw was a captain in the Manchester Regiment. He left that regiment at Carlisle, joining the Lifeguards under the command of Lord Elcho. Taken prisoner at Culloden, he was executed at the orders of the Elector Georg II of Hanover on November 28, 1746, at Kennington Common. Before his execution he gave the following speech.

A printed version of the text can be found on pages 48 to 50 of volume 1 of The Lyon in Mourning, edited by Henry Paton (Edinburgh: Scottish Historical Society, 1895).

It would be a breach of duty in me to omit the last opportunity of doing justice to those who stood in need of it. I think it incumbent upon me the rather because I am the only Englishman in this part of the world who had the honour to attend His Royal Higness in Scotland.

When I first joined the King's forces I was induced by a principle of duty only, and I never saw any reason since to convince me that I was in the least mistaken. But, on the contrary, every day's experience has strengthened my opinion that what I did was right and necessary. That duty I discharged to the best of my power; and as I did not seek the reward of my service in this world, I have no doubt of receiving it in the next.

Under an opinion that I could do more good by marching with the army into Scotland than by remaining with the Manchester Regiment at Carlisle, I obtained leave to be in my Lord Elcho's corps, for I was willing to be in action.

After the battle of Culloden I had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the most ungenerous enemy that I believe ever assumed the name of a soldier, I mean the pretended Duke of Cumberland, and those under his command, whose inhumanity exceeded anything I could have imagined in a country where the bare mention of a God is allowed of. I was put into one of the Scotch kirks together with a great number of wounded prisoners who were stripped naked and then left to die of their wounds without the least assistance; and though we had a surgeon of our own, a prisoner in the same place, yet he was not permitted to dress their wounds, but his instruments were taken from him on purpose to prevent it; and in consequence of this many expired in the utmost agonies. Several of the wounded were put on board the Jean, of Leith, and there died in lingering tortures. Our general allowance while we were prisoners there was half a pound of meal a day, which was sometimes increased to a pound, but never exceeded it; and I myself was an eye-witness that great numbers were starved to death. Their barbarity extended so far as not to suffer the men who were put on board the Jean to lie down even upon planks, but they were obliged to sit on large stones, by which means their legs swelled as big almost as their bodies.

These are some few of the cruelties exercised, which being almost incredible in a Christian country, I am obliged to add an asservation to the truth of them; and I do assure you upon the word of a dying man, as I hope for mercy at the day of judgment, I assert nothing but what I know to be true.

The injustice of these proceedings is aggravated by the ingratitude of them, for the Elector of Hanover's people had been often obliged by the prince, who ordered his prisoners the same allowance of meal as his own troops, and always made it his particular concern that all the wounded should be carefully dressed and used with the utmost tenderness. His extreme caution to avoid the effusion of blood, even with regard to spies when his own safety made it almost necessary, and his surprising generosity to all his enemies without distinction certainly demanded different treatment. And I cannot think that an English army under English direction could possibly behave with such unprovoked barbarity.

With regard to the report of His Royal Highness having ordered that no quarters should be given to the enemy I am persuaded in my conscience it is a wicked malicious lie, raised by the friends of usurpation in hopes of an excuse for the cruelties committed in Scotland, which were many more and greater than I have time to describe. For I firmly believe that Prince would not consent to such orders even if it were to gain the three kingdoms.

I would gladly enter the particulars of His Royal Highness's character if I was able; but his qualifications are above description. All I can say is, he is everything that I could imagine, great and excellent, fully deserving what he was born for - to rule over a free people.

I die a member of the Church of England, which I am satisfied would flourish more under the reign of a Stewart than it does now, or has done for many years. The friends of the House of Hanover say they keep out Popery. But do they not let in Infidelity, which is almost become (if I may so say) the religion established?

I think it everyman's business by all lawful means to live as long as he can; and with this view I made a defence upon my trial which I thought might possibly do me service. All that the witnesses swore on my behalf was strictly true, for I would much rather die than be the occasion of perjury. After sentence my friends petitioned for my life, and if it had been granted I should have been thankful for it. But as it otherwise happens I patiently submit, and have confident hopes, that upon the whole, it will be better for me for I suffer for having done my duty.

As I expected, so it happened upon my trial, Mr Maddox perjured himself, and I am afraid he is so immersed in wickedness that it would be difficult for him to forbear it. Lieutenant Moore swore he was acquainted with me at Manchester, but I declare I was never in his company before we met at Inverness. I should think it a great reflection upon the honour of any government to encourage officers to lay by their swords and become informers. I forgive both these and all my enemies.

I am convinced that these nations are inevitably ruined unless the Royal Family be restored, which I hope will soon happen. For I love my country, and with my parting breath I pray God to bless it. I also beseech Him to bless and preserve my lawful sovereign, King James the Third, the Prince of Wales, and Duke of York, to prosper all my friends, and have mercy on me!

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