This is a letter from Stopford Green is writing to Herbert Henry Asquith to request that he allow two letters to be sent to America seeking funds for the defense of Roger Casement. She believes that Casement is not receiving the basic right of a fair trial and every possible source of funds for the defense has been blocked. She complains about the conditions which Casement has had to endure and requests that the English traditions of open justice be observed.

Alice Stopford Green (1847-1929) was an Irish historian and nationalist. While not a supporter of armed rebellion, her house provided a space for leading nationalists to meet. Stopford Green had collaborated with Roger Casement on Congo Reform and after the Easter Rising in 1916 she tried to save him from execution. Roger Casement (1864-1916), Irish nationalist, was arrested at Banna Strand, County Kerry on Good Friday 1916. He was tried in the Old Bailey for treason and subsequently executed by hanging at Pentonville Prison. Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928) was the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916.


  • Easter Rising Ireland 1916


Institution: Military Archives of Ireland
Collection: Bureau of Military History Contemporary Documents, George Gavan Duffy Collection, BMH CD/45/2/22

Citation & Contributors

Alice Stopford Green. "Letter from Alice Stopford Green to Herbert Henry Asquith, 17 May 1916.". Letters of 1916. Schreibman, Susan, Ed. Maynooth University: 2016. Website.

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From: Alice Stopford Green
To: Herbert Henry Asquith
Date Sent: 17 May 1916

Subject: Letter from Alice Stopford Green to Herbert Henry Asquith, 17 May 1916.
36 Grosvenor Road, Westminster
My dear Mr. Asquith,

I desire to ask of you two favours - namely that the enclosed letters may be allowed to pass to America; asking for financial help for the defence of Sir Roger Casement in the High Court. One letter is from myself to Mr. Shane Leslie, (who is at present doing work for Mr. Redmond in New York) in answer to one I received from him two days ago. The other is from Miss Bannister (the nearest relation of Sir Roger in this country) to a lawyer in Philadelphia.

My reason for asking are these. 1) Prejudices has overturned the honourable tradition of English justice that every prisoner should have full opportunity for a fair trial, more especially when his life is in question. Sir Charles Russell, to whom the prisoner appealed as the only solicitor in London of whom he had any knowledge, refused to see him, or to ad— vise him. By counsel of his relations Mr. G. Gavan Duffy offered his services, in a letter sent by hand tot the Governor of the Tower on May 1st. On May 9th Mr. Duffy (by personal application at the Horse Guards) was at least admitted to see Sir Roger, who even then had not bee told of his name, his application, nor the object of his visit. Mr. Duffy's undertaking of the prisoner's defence was met by a request from his firm that the partnership should be dis- solved if he persisted in defence, and it was consequently dis— solved.

2) The refusal to allow any communication with the prisoner till May 9th raised most serious difficulties in arranging for defence. The time was dangerously short. Sir Roger had no money for his defence. His only relations here earn their living as school teachers. Under martial law in Ireland no help can be safely asked for there. I have indicated the affect of prejudices in England. From America all access is cut off by the censor. Every source is thus blocked by which a poor man can have the necessary facilities for a fair trial, which England used once to think essential.

3) I must add some further details. The situation of the prison— er has been such as to affect gravely his physical endurance. His desire to have advice was met, as I have said, by a curt denial; and by the refusal of the officials to let any other application reach him. He was confined behind barbed wire in a cell, dark, damp, gloomy and airless. It was in fact solitary confinement, except for the interrogation of officials - a solitary confinement particularly injurious to a man in his ill-health. The early and immediate offer of his relations to supply necessary clothing was not answered, and was withheld from him. He suffered much from cold, as his warm coat had been taken away. It was not till three weeks had elapsed, although his relations had offered to supply necessar— ies as soon as they heard of his arrest, that he was allowed a change of clothes and underclothing, from garments which had been worn for a month, and saturated with sea-water. When his cousins were finally allowed to see him on May 11th they were detained while the parcel of clothes they had previously sent on the 9th was searched for, so that the prisoner might see them in clean apparel.

This is the only visit that has been allowed to him in nearly a month's confinement, save for the last week's conversations with his lawyers.

By whoever a treatment of this sort has been authorized and carried out i feel that it justifies me in asking that at the last stage there should be a vindication of the English traditions of open justice.

I remain Yours sincerely,