This is Maurice Margarot, one of the most prominent of Britain's neo-Jacobins at the close of the eighteenth century. He was a founding - and leading - member of the radical London Corresponding Society and this portrait was issued at the time of Margarot's trial for sedition at the High Court of Edinburgh in January 1794.
Maurice Margarot was born in Devon, the son of a wine merchant. The family travelled widely across Europe - a custom which Margarot maintained. He was in France in 1789 at the time of the Revolution. Returning to London in 1792, he became involved in the campaign for Reform. Late in 1793, he attended the Edinburgh Convention, a radical gathering which the authorities regarded as having insurrectionary intent.
The portrait below was issued at the time of Margarot's trial - and also formed the frontispiece of the published record of the hearings. He was found guilty and sentenced to transportation to Australia, along with other reformers who became known collectively as 'the Scottish Martyrs to Liberty'.
Margarot eventually returned from New South Wales to Britain in around 1810, died five years later (at the age of 70) and was buried in London's Old St Pancras burial ground.
As well as coming across a nice copy of this portrait, I've also recently got hold of a copy of a London Corresponding Society pamphlet in Margarot's name. Here it is:
The historian E.P. Thompson, in his magisterial The Making of the English Working Class, says of Margarot: 'He was energetic and audacious, but badly bitten by the characteristic vice of English Jacobins - self-dramatization.' Ouch!
Of the Edinburgh trial, Thompson records: 'Margarot, who was accompanied to his trial by a procession holding a 'tree of liberty' in the shape of a letter M above his head, overplayed his hand and was too eager for the crown of martyrdom. But he challenged Braxfield [ ie Lord Justice Clerk, the leading judge in Scotland] with great audacity of having boasted at a dinner-party before the trial that he would have the reformers whipped before transportation, and that 'the mob would be the better for losing a little blood'.'
This is the exchange which features on the text below the portrait, though that talks of the mob 'letting' a little blood, which I take to mean drawing blood rather than losing it.
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