A Debate from beyond the Grave: James Annesley was a Villain not a Victim
An't please you, my Lords and Ladies, I am the Spectre of Thomas Egglestone, an ancestor of Brian Eggleston, whose Debate.org Account I have hacked into from the Spirit World in order to relate to you the terrible Injustice that Scribes such as Robert Louis Stevenson, the Author of ‘Kidnapped’, have done to me.
I beg leave to explain.
On Saturday, the first of May in the Year of the Lord Seventeen Hundred and Forty Two, I was going up Staines River, to catch a Dish of Fish in Staines Moor, in the Parish of Staines, with a Casting-Net; I fish'd all the Way up till I came to Mr Samuel Sylvester 's Meadow; I was turning back again, an't please you my Lords and Ladies, in order to go home; I carried the Net upon my Arm, and the String was fastened to my Arm.
By that Time I had got half Way in the Meadow, I saw Joseph Redding and Mr Annesley running, and Joseph Redding out run Mr Annesley, and came up to me.
Redding took me by the Collar, and demanded the Net, and I refused to deliver the Net and I threw it into the River.
After the Net was thrown into the River, Annesley came up with his Gun, and swore God damn your Blood deliver your Net, or you are a dead Man; and he fir'd off before he received any Answer from me. I said, “You Rogue, what have you done, I am a dead Man”, and dropp'd immediately.
Thereafter, from my Ghostly Perch I observed James Annesley and waited nigh on One Year before he stood Trial at the Old Bailey where he was duly indicted for not having God before his Eyes, but being moved and seduced by the Instigation of the Devil, and with Force and Arms, feloniously, wilfully, and with Malice afore-thought, killing and murdering me against the Peace of our (then) Lord the King his Crown and Dignity.
Aghast and outraged but powerless to intervene, I witnessed the shameless Scoundrel, Annesley, respond to the Charges laid against him thus:
“My Lord, I observe that I am indicted by the Name of James Annesley, Labourer, the lowest Addition my Enemies could possibly make Use of; but tho' I claim to be Earl of Anglesey, and a Peer of this Realm, I submit to plead Not guilty to this Indictment, and put myself immediately upon my Country, conscious of my own Innocence, and impatient to be acquitted even of the Imputation of a Crime so unbecoming the Dignity I claim."
However, despite his protestations of Innocence, the Jury of Twelve Men Good and True found Annesley not guilty of Murder, but guilty of Chance-Medley, which in my Day was the Verdict used in Murder Cases where the Killing did not involve premeditated Malice.
Scandalously, despite being found guilty of unlawfully killing me, the Court did not punish Annesley for his Crime and he was released a free Man.
This misguided and unjust Decision afforded James Annesley the opportunity to return to his native Ireland where he summoned his Uncle, Richard Annesley, Lord Altham, the Sixth Earl of Anglesey, to Court and laid Claim to his Estate, using the Pretext that his Uncle had kidnapped him as a Boy and had sent across the Atlantic Ocean where he spent twelve Years as an Indentured Servant in the backwoods of Delaware before he was able to secure a Passage back to Britain.
When Reporting the Procedings, the Press at the time were very sympathetic to Annesley, describing him as a "most remarkable and unfortunate man" who had "engrossed the attentions of three kingdoms more than any private man ever did" and "truly a victim of the avarice, inhumanity and injustice of others".
Annesley's Story inspired at least five Novels, including Robert Louis Stevenson's ‘Kidnapped’ which was also released in the form of a Magic Lantern Projection (which I believe you might refer to as a “film”) but Annesley’s Story would have never come to light and he would not have engendered so much Public Sympathy, had he been duly punished for killing me.
So, let the Records show that James Annesley was a Villain, not a Victim, and my Death at his vile and wicked Hands are Testament to that Fact.
Thank you my Lords and Ladies, an't please you, here be my Sources:
After two hundred and fifty years, I am awoken from my peaceful rest with the dreadful noise of slander. I am the ghost of James Annesley, rightly known as Lord Altham, writing through possession of "ApostateAbe." I receive no joy in the piracy of the body of a gentleman such as he, but I knew that his body could be put to far better use through the command of a defter intellect. I wish to correct the slurs of the ghost of that filthy macer, who has undoubtedly spent the preceding two hundred and fifty years, not at rest in his grave, but amusing himself by frightening his fellow rats in the River Thames and the London sewer passages. This wisp has now chanced on a new method to amuse himself.
While he still had flesh that could be properly beaten, Thomas Egglestone was a thief. The affair of his timely death was instigated by his pilfery of my casting net, only the last of a long series of stolen items. My net sat with the remainder of my fishing belongings, and Mr. Egglestone, per his usual character, decided to claim it for himself while I had my back turned. When I turned toward, I saw Mr. Egglestone carrying it away. I confronted him, I demanded my net back, I bared my pistol, he threw the net into the water, inciting my anger, the same as for any affronted Irishman, and I accidentally shot him. I was found guilty in the county criminal court of chance medley, for that is precisely what it was. The court, seeing that Mr. Egglestone perfectly deserved his exit from life, allowed my freedom.
But, now this mad spirit dares to befowl my name by accusing me of an evil deed well beyond mere murder. He has forgiven my dastardly uncle, and he has accused me of fashioning an elaborate lie about the stealing of my inheritence! By every known account, Uncle Dick is the most sinister and barbaric human life to ever set an infant foot in Ireland. One needs only to consult the cur's own witness, the Guardian newspaper (1), to find confirmation of that point plainly:
"Uncle Dick is the most sinister person I've ever encountered. His chaplain said of him later that no man was more penitent at the time of his death. Frankly, few men had more to be penitent about."
"Indeed, Ekirch is now more or less sure that Richard, a serial bigamist, did Altham in. 'I've become progressively convinced he poisoned his brother,' the historian says. 'He had the motive. The symptoms Altham displayed strongly suggest poisoning. And from later court documents we know that Richard visited the butcher Purcell just three weeks before Altham's death - plainly to find out whether Jemmy was ever likely to claim his title. The butcher told him he hoped Jemmy would be reunited with his father: the last thing Richard wanted to hear.'"
"And after seven years spent with trial transcripts, family documents, newspaper reports, House of Lords records and a treasure trove of nearly 400 legal depositions unearthed in Dublin and at the National Archives in Kew, it is now clear to Ekirch that those Memoirs are, essentially, true."
Those true Memoirs being: "Return'd from Thirteen years Slavery in America, where he had been sent by a Wicked Contrivance of his Cruel Uncle; A Story founded on Truth, and address'd equally to the Head and Heart"
Before Mr. Eggleston's ghoul proceeds further with his defamation, I will grant him an opportunity to provide some veneer of credibility to his greater accusation, not of murdering him, but of weaving an elaborate falsehood about my uncle, which, by all seeming, assuming the improbable truth of Mr. Eggleton's slander, must have thoroughly fooled the best historians of the 21st century. Does he wish to propose that I forged the trial transcripts? The diary of the Somerset rector? The family documents? The newspaper reports? The House of Lords records? The legal depositions?
Or perhaps this evil sprite should pursue the nobler activity of haunting an orphanage.
May the Angels and Ministers of Grace preserve us from this felonious Phantom; this ghoulish Gunman; this Afterlife Assassin: James Annesley who has possessed the Account of the noble Apostate Abe in a Vain Attempt to defend his Name and Honour.
An’t please you, my Lords and Ladies, I intend to comprehensively rebut his Assertions and demonstrate that he was, indeed, a Villain, not a Victim.
Forsooth! The debate is afoot.
While it is true that I was no Paragon of Virtue before my Opponent killed me, I was no Thief and I did not steal any Net. I made an Honest Living as a Carpenter and merely supplemented my meagre Income by a-poaching of Fish, which is a Crime that hath no Victims, at least not of the Human Kind.
I beg leave to explain.
Even today, My Lords and Ladies, Riparian Landowners own the Right to Fish in a River that flows through, or next to, their Property and to also deny Others the Right to Fish in that Stretch of the River, an’t please you, my Lords and Ladies, Joseph Redding was the Game-Keeper to Sir John Dolben, Lord of the Manour of Yeoveney, whose Duty it was to prevent poaching on his Master’s Land, although my Son and I were on the Property of Mr Sylvester when I Mr Annesley shot me, and the Court declared that Redding and Annesley were Trespassers by coming into it, and therefore answerable for the Consequences.
That as to Mr Annesley, there was not only implied, but express Malice proved upon him, for that after he had killed me, and he was for beating out my Son's Brains, only because he would not let him and Mr Redding run away with my Net.
That as to Mr Annesley’s claim to his suppos’d claim to the Title and Estate of Lord Altham. Earl of Anglesey, he may or may not have been deceived and disinherited at the behest of his Uncle, but either Way, he was not morally entitled to it.
The Land the Great Estates of the British Isles were once Common Land, where any British Citizen was free to Roam with Impunity and to graze their Livestock without Let or Hindrance.
However, following the Norman Conquest of 1066, William the Bastard of France, gifted large Parcels of Common Land to trusted Norman Barons and treacherous Members of the Anglo-Saxon Establishment who were prepared to commit their fellow Citizens to a life of miserable Serfdom by propping up William’s Regime in the Provinces.
This is how the Great Estates were Established: they are founded on Property stolen from the People of Britain and have been Handed down from one Generation of treacherous Bounders and Cads to the Next: if Mr Annesley’s Uncle did Stitch him up like a Kipper, as he claims, then it was because Treachery is in the Blood of his Kith and Kin: the very same Blood which flowed his own Veins, and which caused him to shoot me Dead without any Pity or Mercy in order to get his murdering Hands on my Fishing-Net, and is why he has never shown any Remorse for his heinous Crime.
An’t to please you, my Lords and Ladies, I will conclude by stating that this ghastly Ghost wants to be remembered as an ill-treated Aristocrat when the Reality is he was a Cold-Blooded Killer.
Thank you my Lords and Ladies, an’t to please you, here be my Source:
An unpleasant surprise of error would occur if anyone were to expect that the ghost of Mr. Eggleston would apologize for his slander. Happily, it is vastly improbable for such an error to have been born, because nobody beyond the wit of a Frenchman should expect such an absurdity.
Mr. Eggleston included among his favorite poxed words the slur that my Uncle had kidnapped me and sold me into servitude. "Pretext" he hollered! The fib must have seemed palpable still to 21st century peasantry, and now he tells only a half of a fib, that my evil Uncle "may or may not" have bound me up and sent me to the Americas.
Mr. Eggleston is like a flea on an alley dog's tail. When he bests a small hatchling flea, he declares himself the king of all fleas. When he crawls on to the other side of the tail, he meets bigger and burlier fleas, and then he crawls back and thence declares himself to be the king of fleas within the territory of the underside of the tail, as though that is what he has always declared.
His piteously paltry defense, that his trespassing and poaching was justified by the principle of the gentry not properly deserving of their inheritance--what a sniveling wreck of case. I suppose he would also claim that it is justified to release a gentleman's Negro bondsmen from their labors because of historical unfairness of ancestry! Is that the sort of infantile moral ideal this wretch wishes to affirm?
Now that the demon of Mr. Egglestone has yowled his last, I can return the body of ApostateAbe to his rightful mind.
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