Pillory - Titus Oates - Hands Restrained

Pillory - Titus Oates - Hands Restrained American History Visual Arts Government Social Studies

Titus Oates told a lie. That lie—known as the “Popish Plot”—caused other people to be executed. 

When his lie was finally exposed, Titus found himself in the pillory (before he went to prison).

It all happened in 1678. Oates, a Protestant, announced that he’d uncovered a plot (concocted by Catholics) to kill King Charles II (a Protestant). This was all a bit unnerving since the King’s father (Charles I) had been beheaded in a previous decade. 

Oates’ story had more to it (beyond being a figment of his own imagination).  Once the King was dead, he alleged, the plot included a succession plan.  The King's brother (James, Duke of York) would replace him.  James was a Catholic.

People believed Titus (and his assertion that thousands of Protestants would be massacred if James became King).

Several people accused in the plot were found guilty and executed.  One such person was Oliver Plunkett (Archbishop of Armagh).

All along, however, Titus was telling a lie. Historians have found him to be one of the "10 Worst Britons in the Last 1,000 Years."

In 1685, Oates was found guilty of perjury and was sentenced to time in the pillory before going to prison for life. This image depicts an engraving of Titus Oates in the pillory.

He did serve time in prison but was released in 1688.  The "Glorious Revolution" (placing the power of Britain's Parliament over the power of Britain's Monarch) had intervened which, for Titus Oates, was a positive development. 

He died in 1705. His infamy, however, lives on.

Click on the image for a better view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 09, 2016

Updated Last Revision: Dec 10, 2016

Media Credits

Image, described above, online courtesy Spartacus Schoolnet.



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