After a Council of War, attended by the Captains of the Garrison and Vice Admiral William Batten on the 1st March 1645, William Sydenham convened a court of enquiry and soon most of the plotters names and the parts they played in the conspiracy were known to him. The arch-plotter, Fabian Hodder, had already made good his escape but was arrested near Poole and thrown in to the jail there to await the time that William Sydenham came to get him. Most of the others who had not fled or perished in the fighting, were put safely into the hold of Batten’s ship to await their fate, a fact that he remarks upon in his wide-ranging correspondence. He wrote of his prisoners that they were “in a posture, speedily to be hanged” and later:
“Tomorrow we shall shorten the number by hanging some of the townsmen on board us and were the betrayers of the town”.
In the two days leading up to the trials, several depositions were recorded from various people in and around Weymouth and from their evidence, eventually, confessions were made by two of the leading Crabchurch Conspirators, Captain John Cade and the former Weymouth Town Constable, John Mills. Those depositions can be read later in this book.
Besides Philip Ashe, at least two other Crabchurch conspirators lost their lives during the fighting. They were Leonard Symonds and William Philips, who owned the house beneath the Chapel Fort where the plotters met for the last time on that fateful night of the 9th of February 1645. Amongst those being held on the ship were Walter Bond, the Hope Fisherman, Thomas Samways, the Melcombe Tailor, John Mills, the Weymouth Town Constable and John Cade, the ex-Royalist sea-captain.
The court of enquiry continued and ordered the arrests and questioning of all of those villagers who had waited in vain in Radipole Meadow for Sir Lewis Dyve on the first night of the conspiracy. However, after being given a severe reprimand by William Sydenham, they were eventually allowed to go free, probably due to the fact that they had not physically taken part in the assault.
Others though were not nearly so fortunate.
On the 3rd of March 1645, just four days after Lord Goring’s over-confident and disastrous attempt to take the twin towns, the first of the plotters to feel the wrath of Colonel William Sydenham met his end upon the Nothe Gallows. Captain John Cade was hanged by the neck, as Ince put it “after making a full confession of his crimes”.
Next to appear before the assembled Roundhead garrison and the equally ragged townspeople were Walter Bond and Thomas Samways.
The pair stumbled unsteadily past the foot of the scaffold where Cade’s body still swayed; limp in the cold March breeze and the charges were read to them. At that point though, the nerves and dignity of both these men deserted them and they fell to their knees and began to beg for mercy before Sydenham and the court. Possibly seeing a chance to win over the local populous once and for all, Sydenham eventually relented and the two men were once more taken back to jail to, as the Parliamentarian propaganda paper, Mercurius Britannicus, put it “make a further discovery of their partners”.
Last up was the Weymouth town Constable, John Mills, a very brave man who was made of sterner stuff. A contemporary Pamphlet describes how this resolute soul managed to perform one last defiant gesture before his watching accusers.
“He most desperately, without any sign or token of sorrow or repentance, when he was upon the ladder, desperately threw himself off not showing any signs of humiliation or calling upon God, for mercy on his soul, but carelessly, in a most desperate manner died, not so much as praying to God to receive his soul”.
Ince finished his account of the executions by saying:
“There be not many of the villains left, as their sin hath found them out, divers of them are slain, Fabian Hodder and others are in prison at Poole and other places, not yet tried, and some are run away”.