Roger Casement – Reports and Republicanism

October 12, 2007

Sir Roger Casement was a British diplomat, lauded for his influential reports on human rights violations in Congo and Peru. So groundbreaking and revelatory was his work in exposing the ill-treatment of natives in these countries, he was knighted in 1911.

The Casement Report of 1904 led to the removal of King Leopold II of Belgium from his position of corrupt primacy in Congo.

Casement can be seen in the Passenger Lists travelling to Africa:

 Passenger List - Roger Casement

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His name has become synonymous not with his diplomatic work, however, but with the events of 1916.

Dublin-born Casement, partly as a result of a growing abhorrence of imperialism caused by his experiences in Congo and Peru, developed fervent republican sympathies. In 1916 he visited Germany in order to acquire arms and men to fight against British influence in Ireland.

Casement can be seen travelling to America in 1911, his ‘Sir’ appendage now in place:

 Passenger List - Sir Roger Casement

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The trip to Germany was not a great success, he was promised far fewer arms than he had hoped, and gained little in the way of reinforcements for the nationalist cause. The arms were intercepted en route to Ireland.

On his return to Ireland, Casement was arrested, three days before the Easter Rising occurred. He was stripped of his knighthood and tried for treason, sabotage and espionage against the Crown.

Casement was ‘hanged by a comma’, British treason law was seemingly powerless to convict him on the basis that he had been on foreign soil when he negotiated with the Germans. Nonetheless a suitable application of the law was found and, coupled with the outcry surrounding his infamous ‘Black Diaries’ he was sentenced to death.

Roger Casement was executed at Pentonville Prison in London on 3 August 1916.

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 His death record can be viewed on findmypast.com

 Death record - Roger Casement

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