by ehistoryadmin on August 6, 2016

Leinster Leader 12 August 1916


Executed at Pentonville

Faced Death Courageously

Brutal London Hooligan Crowd

Solicitor and “Monstrous Act of Indecency.”


The death sentence on Sir Roger Casement was carried out on Thursday t 9 o’clock in the morning in Pentonville Prison.  A large crowd had assembled in the vicinity, and outside the main gate was posted the following notice:

“The sentence of the law passed upon Roger David Casement, found guilty of high treason will be carried into execution at 9 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday) – Signed A. S. Ruston, Under-Sheriff of London; R. Kynaston Metcalfe, Under-Sheriff of Middlesex; O.E.M Davis, Governor.

At eight minutes past nine the prison bell tolled once, and immediately the members of the crowd exclaimed, “There is the bell; he is gone.”

A second or two later the bell pealed again, and a cheer went up.  A third toll and a fourth peal soon afterwards, raised some more cheers, mostly from the throats of children.  By this time the main road was crowded, and a large force of police was required to keep the populace back.

Ellis was the executioner.  Rev. James M. Carroll, of the Catholic Church, at Eden Grove, was present at the execution, and afterwards told a Press Association representative that Casement went to his death strong and erect, like the man he was.  The priest said a prayer, and Casement replied, “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I command my spirit.”  Later the condemned man said, “Lord Jesus, receive my soul.”

Three official notices were posted on the prison doors.  The first was in the following terms: –

Declaration of the Sheriff and Others.  (31 Vic., Cap. 24)

We, the undersigned, hereby declare that judgement of death was this day executed on Roger David Casement, in his Majesty’s Prison of Pentonville in our presence.  Dated this 3rd day of August, 1916.

Kynaston Metcalfe, Under-Sheriff for London, Justice of the Peace.

O.E.M. Davis, Governor of said prison.

A second message was similarly expressed but instead of the signature R. K. Metcalfe bore the signature A.K. Preston, Under-Sheriff of Middlesex.

A further notice states: –

I, P. R. Mauder, Surgeon of his Majesty’s Prison of Pentonville, hereby certify I this day examined the body of Roger Casement on whom judgement of death was this day executed in said prison, and that on the examination I found that the said Roger David Casement was dead.  Dated this 3rd day of August, 1916.  P.R. Mauder.

An inquest on the body of Casement was held in Pentonville Prison.

Mr. Gavan Duffy formally identified the body, and said the deceased’s age was between 50 and 60.

Witness gave evidence as to Casement’s occupation, and on being asked what was his last known address in this country, said he preferred not to make it public.  He, therefore, wrote it down and handed it to the Coroner.

In reply to Mr. Duffy, the Coroner said the order for burial was issued by him, and handed to the Governor of the prison.  As to any matter in reference to the burial beyond that any application must be made to the authorities.

Mr. Duffy said he had applied to the Home Office for permission to have the body.  He considered it a monstrous act of indecency to refuse it.

The Coroner remarked that upon this he could not express any opinion.

Mr. Davis, the Governor of the prison deposed that there was no hitch in carrying out the execution, and death was instantaneous.  More than one Catholic priest was present, and they performed the rites according to the Catholic faith.

Mr. Mauder, senior medical officer said death was instantaneous.  Casement was six feet one and three quarter inches in height, and the drop was six feet three inches.

Mr. Duffy stated he understood that the doctor had had the prisoner under observation for a month, and he (Mr. Duffy) wanted him to say as result of the observation whether there was any truth in the suggestion which had been made in the Press.

The doctor replied that he saw no evidence of insanity.

A formal verdict of death due to execution was then returned by the jury.

One who saw Roger Casement on the eve of his execution says: – “He faced death like a gallant Irish gentleman, with the added courage and confidence of a good Catholic.  He talked freely of his death, and was looking forward to his Confession to-night and his first Holy Communion to-morrow morning.  He sent grateful messages to all who prayed for him and loved him that he died for Ireland and that he wished them to know that he had no bitterness in his heart for anyone, and that he felt he was being put to death, not because of the principles he held, but because he was Roger Casement.  He was wonderful in the peace, in the tranquility, the courage with which he faced death and talked of it.”

Mr Gavan Duffy asked the Home Secretary for leave to attend the execution as a last tribute to his friend and client.  Leave was refused.

The body was buried like a murderer’s, in quicklime within the prison.


Re-typed by Jennifer O’Connor


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