Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 April 2022
Thistlewood’s mental instabilities were exposed when he was imprisoned for a year in Horsham gaol for breach of the peace after challenging the home secretary Sidmouth to a duel. He emerged a broken man. Watson assumed the leadership of London’s ultra-radicals. He persuaded Henry 'Orator' Hunt to address a great reform meeting in Smithfield market in July 1819, in whose success Thistlewood participated. Deserted by moderate Spencians like Thomas Evans, however, he and Watson again began to plan insurrection, and to fund the manufacture of weapons for future use.