This print depicts the execution of two soldiers at Goldstone Bottom in Hove on 13 June 1795. The soldiers can be seen kneeling on coffins in front of a firing squad.
Remembering an injustice
Edward Cooke and Henry Parish were executed for their role in a mutiny by the Royal Oxfordshire Militia in April that year. Suffering from a severe lack of supplies, the men had marched from their barracks in East Sussex to the nearby town of Seaford and seized food and other goods from local shops and businesses.
After the mutiny was quelled, Cooke and Parish were identified as ringleaders and sentenced to death. Many people felt they had been made scapegoats, and the execution was presented as a spectacle of military discipline: soldiers from 13 different regiments were made to watch as Cooke and Parish were shot by their comrades.
The execution sparked anger and political protest at the time, and the injustice was remembered some 55 years later when this print was made. Like the 1790s, the 1850s was a time of growing calls for political reform, with the Chartist movement campaigning for greater suffrage.
Aside from the text, the figure of the priest is a reminder of the injustice of the event. As a man of god and the only civilian on the field, he has turned his back to the awful scene.
Author: Kevin Bacon, Digital Manager