The Last Speech of Archbishop Oliver Plunkett
St. Oliver wrote the speech during his final days in Newgate Prison, London, with the endorsement of
Fr. Corker a fellow prisoner. He delivered it from the scaffold at Tyburn, immediately before his execution
and it was printed shortly afterwards for distribution. The original manuscript, which is written in St.
Oliver’s own hand, is preserved in Downside Abbey, along with his final letters to Fr. Corker. The speech
was apparently well received, as the large crowd listened to him deliver it to its very conclusion and it is
probable that many people may have already sensed an injustice was taking place. It is a well-structured
speech and was obviously crafted with the benefit of a trained legal mind. It answered his detractors on a
point for point basis, showing forgiveness even to his enemies and it must have convinced many more people
of his innocence. Indeed, the tide of the wicked Popish Plot turned immediately and Lord Shaftesbury its
principle promoter was arrested on the following day. St. Oliver thus became the last of the one hundred and
five Catholic martyrs of Tyburn who had given their lives over the previous one hundred and fifty years and
also the very last of the Catholic martyr’s who were condemned by the state in these islands. Deo Gratias.