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Robert Hubert
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Scapegoat
    (circa 1640-October 27, 1666)
    Born in Rouen, France
    French watchmaker
    Confessed to starting the Great Fire of London
    Executed by hanging
    He claimed to be a French spy and an agent of the Pope.
    His confession kept changing and was never convincing.
    When his body was being delivered to the College of Surgeons for dissection, it was torn apart by a crowd of Londoners.
    The Monument to the Great Fire carried an inscription blaming the fire on ‘the treachery and malice of the Popish faction’ until 1830.
    The captain of the Swedish ship ‘The Maid of Stockholm’ reported that he had dropped Hubert off in London two days after the fire had started.
    He might have been tortured into ‘improving’ his confessions.
    In his initial confession, he claimed to have started the fire in Westminster, which was one of the few sections of London not touched by the fire.
    After learning that the fire had started on Pudding Lane in the house of baker Thomas Farriner, he claimed to have thrown an incendiary device through an open window of the Farriner bakery – a building that had no windows.
    The jury that convicted him included three members of the Farriner family despite their obvious conflict of interest (namely, a desire to prove that the fire had not been caused by their own carelessness with the bakery ovens).
    He was a victim of anti-French and anti-Catholic hysteria.

Credit: C. Fishel


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