An account of the interrogation and murder of Capt. Henry Manning in the wood near Cologne
from Covent Garden, December 15. 1696
In my last I gave you an account of the Capt. Manning’s intelligence, in particular his reference to Lady Lucy Walter in Cologne. Now I shall describe his final days and murder at the hands of the Scotch King. Although, in these days of Kingship many will call his killing, justice. For he was by his own confession and through clear evidence, a spy for the Lord Protector.
After his arrest on the December 5th, he was held in Cologne prison on the orders of the city magistrates. It was in those cells on December 7th that Sir Edward Nicholas, Lord Culpeper, Earl of Ormond and others did start their interrogation. On that first evening he confessed to his deeds and wrote his first statement. This was information that another agent saw and passed on to London in the next post. Then over the next three days, Manning yielded up all his knowledge and methods but did not disclose any other agent in the court.
Each day the Scotch King would be read the statements by his secretary of state, Nicholas. Then the news of Manning’s deeds rippled out from the court across Europe. Those around him called for his blood, yet some like the Col. Massey and the Earl of Norwich, even Nicholas had dinned on his money, passing him the intelligence to read his news from London. Others around Manning where now arrested by the King’s blades, amongst them was Capt. Griffith in Antwerp and Manning’s Uncle Dr Jay in Brussels. All these men were released for lack of evidence, but still banished from the Scotch King’s service.
It was from the cells in Cologne, that Manning wrote his first letter to the King on the 11th. In this he asked for the Kings mercy. Then each day thereafter, his letters to the King became increasingly humble and desperate. In one, Manning offered to turn double agent and provide false intelligence. Unfortunately, that ship had sailed, for by now every court in Europe had becoming aware of his arrest and actions. In his last letter dated the Manning openly begged for mercy, but to no avail, for they never reached the King, for Secretary Nicholas did not forward them on to their destination. The King had already decided his fate but the city magistrates would not allow Manning to be executed.
So, the Scotch King turned to the Duke of Neuburg and it was to the woods near Dusseldorf, in that Duke’s land, that the pleading Manning was taken on Wednesday, December 15th. At first, Manning may have thought he was being released but Major William Armourer and Sir James Hamilton were the King’s bloody blades. These men of cold hearts, took Manning to that place for his execution. These men then blindfolded the poor Capt. Manning, who was now begging for his life, and shot him with pistols. Leaving his body in the woods for wolves and beasts to devour. It is not clear if the Scotch King was with them, but he was with the Duke of Neuburg on that day.
It is clear Capt. Manning was an agent for Mr Thurloe. He did without any question, expose the plot to assassinate the Lord Protector, together with giving the location and names of the leaders of the ’55 uprising. Even then the magistrates of Cologne could not, in all justice, agree to his death. Manning was killed without trial, without being blessed or offered his last rights. So, was this murder or an execution? If he was put on trial, then he would have been executed like a traitor but with the chance to give his last words and receive his last rights. So, is a King above the law and allowed to kill a man without a fair trial?
My lord, I give the case that killing outside the law is murder, if the order that takes that life is from a King, then he shall be called a bloody tyrant. Therefore, I give you that if no one man is above the law, then with this act the late King Charles the second does demonstrate his willingness and belief to unhindered by the law. In my next, I shall start to give you an account of the risings of ’55.
Yours in the cause of liberty and property against unjust tyranny.