The usual suspects were rounded up; the Dutch, the Irish, the Spanish, the French, especially those French papists. Even the king himself wasn’t beyond reproach in the search for a scapegoat. No “other” was excluded in the frenzied hunts that ensued, no questions asked. But all the arrests and beatings and mob executions still produced no answers. And then came along a young watchmaker, conveniently of French parentage, who appeared to fit the bill.
Flames were still burning across four-fifths of the wind-licked city when Sir Henry Keeling, the Lord Chief Justice, entered his chambers and stared down the deformed little simpleton in chains awaiting him.
“Prisoner, you admitted yesterday to having set the fire at Westminster. Considering that Westminster has been untouched by the flames, your recantation is probably wise,” the lord said tiredly.
“Oui, my lord, I was confused in my, uh, my hatred for your peoples. It was on Pudding Lane that I threw the first fireball... through an open window at the bakery, I threw three...”
“But man, the building you described to the jury this morning had no open window where you say it was, not open because there was not even a window...”
“My lord, your own investigators have determined that building is most likely where it all started, how could I be expected to remember all the details of that exciting night? I am guilty and I await your just punishment.”
Sir Henry Keeling sighed. Hopefully with his death, this talk of plots and conspiracies will die with him.
Robert Hubert, a “Confessing Sam,” was hung and his body torn apart by a mob, his confession having overridden all the facts of his innocence. He hadn’t even arrived in England until September 4th, 1666, two days after the Great Fire of London began.