THE REV. MR JACKSON
Convicted of Treason, in Dublin, 23rd of April, 1793, but who died of Poison at the Bar of the Court, at the Moment Death would have been pronounced upon him
THE Rev. Mr Jackson was a native of Ireland, and a minister of the Church of England. Early in life he was a preacher at Tavistock Chapel, and resided for several years in chambers in London.
The emoluments of his clerical occupation not affording him a sufficient subsistence, he applied his talents to literature, and was for a considerable time editor of a newspaper, in which situation he made himself very conspicuous. He took a decided part in the quarrel between the Duchess of Kingston and Mr Foote, and is blamed for having treated the latter with too much asperity. He was a sharer in the romantic scheme of the Royalty Theatre, and was obliged to abscond for a considerable time on account of the pecuniary difficulties in which it involved him.
Afterwards he entered into a criminal conspiracy, and was tried at Dublin for high treason on the 23rd of April, 1795, at eleven o'clock. The indictment charged the prisoner with two species of treason -- namely, compassing the King's death, and adhering to his enemies -- and stated fourteen overt acts. The Attorney-General opened the prosecution on the part of the Crown, and called Mr Cockayne, an attorney of London, who deposed that he had been for a series of years the law agent and intimate friend of Mr Jackson, who, a few years before, went to France (as the witness understood) to transact some private business for Mr Pitt, where he resided a considerable time. Soon after his return Mr Cockayne said he called on Jackson, who told him in confidence that he had formed a design of going to Ireland, to sound the people, for the purpose of procuring a supply of provisions, etc., from them for the French, and requested him (the witness) to accompany him. Having accepted the invitation, witness immediately waited on Mr Pitt, and discovered to him the whole of Mr Jackson's plans. The Minister thanked him for the information, and hinted that, as the matter was to become a subject of legal investigation, it would be necessary for him to substantiate the allegations; but this Mr Cockayne wished to decline, on the principle that if the prisoner were convicted of high treason he should lose by it three hundred pounds, in which sum he then was indebted to him. This objection was soon removed by Mr Pitt agreeing to pay him the money, provided he would prosecute to conviction; and the witness accompanied Mr Jackson to Ireland for the purpose of making himself acquainted with his proceedings.
Shortly after their arrival in Dublin, where they lived together, the prisoner expressed a wish to be introduced to Mr Hamilton Rowan, who was then confined in Newgate; and at length, through the interference of a friend, he obtained an interview, at which Mr Cockayne was present. In the course of conversation the prisoner delivered two papers to Mr Rowan, for the purpose of convincing him that he was a person in whom he might confide. From that time an intimacy took place between them; the witness always accompanied Mr Jackson on his visits to Mr Rowan, and constantly took a part in their conversation.
They agreed, he said, that a person should be sent to France to procure a force to make a descent on Ireland, and Counsellor Wolfe Tone was mentioned as a fit person for that purpose, who at first appeared to acquiesce, but afterwards declined the office. Dr Reynolds was then proposed by Mr Rowan, but objected to by the prisoner, as he did not understand the French language. It was, however, at length agreed that the Doctor should take the embassy; but in a short time he also refused to enter into the business. On this it was agreed that Mr Jackson should write several letters, which were directed to a Mr Stone, of the firm of Lawrence & Co., London. These contained enclosures for houses at Hamburg and Amsterdam; and some of them, to the French agents, described the situation of Ireland at the time, invited an invasion, and pointed out the proper places to land. These letters being sent to the post office, the witness then went to the secretary and informed him of the subject of them, on which they were detained. The plot matured thus far; having been discovered, the prisoner was taken into custody.
The jury found him guilty; but on his being brought into court to receive judgment it was intimated to the Court that the prisoner appeared to be in a very dangerous situation, in point of bodily weakness, having for some time -- even from his first being brought into court -- appeared to be uncommonly agitated. Dr Waite, who was in the county jury-box, went down to the dock, and, after examining the prisoner, reported that he was in a sinking situation, and had every appearance of immediate dissolution. Mr Kingsley, druggist, who said he had been bred an apothecary, also examined the prisoner, and reported that he was dying. On this the Court ordered that the prisoner should be remanded until further orders; but in a few moments the unfortunate man expired in the dock. The Court immediately adjourned. The coroner's inquest was held the next day, when Surgeons Hume and Adrian opened the body, and deposed he died in consequence of having taken some acrid substance, but what they could not tell.