Behind the true story of Ned Despard - Poldark’s enigmatic ally!

Poldark Vincent Regan As Ned Despard

Ned Despard has certainly dragged Ross Poldark into an unfortunate mess this series but just who was the real-life Despard?

As the final season of Poldark nears its end, the drama in the show is set to ramp up drastically to give its audience some truly nail-biting moments before the show finishes.

After season 5's fifth episode saw Morwenna Carne part ways with her son in terribly heart-wrenching fashion, attention now turns properly back to Ross Poldark who has managed to get himself entangled in a political intrigue so fierce that it could well have tragic consequences.

For that, he has Ned Despard to thank. Despard, as it happens, is actually a real-life historical figure but just what was his significance and what eventually happened to him?

Ned Despard in Poldark

In series 5 of Poldark, we first met Ned Despard in episode 1, Ross is recruited by Despard in order to help out with a spot of bother he's gotten himself into regarding a plot to assassinate King George III.

As a result, Poldark has spent the whole series in London, rather than moodily riding horses on the top of Cornwall's cliffs.

Series 5's finale is set to feature Ned heavily as Poldark fights to keep his friend and ally alive but can he stop this injustice?

Poldark Ned Despard

Ned Despard in real life

Ned Despard is a fascinating historical figure.

Born in 1751, to an Irish family in Coolrain, Despard joined the military at just 15 and became a soldier in the British army.

By 1772, he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant and was serving on the Caribbean island of Jamaica before going on to participate in the American war for independence in 1775.

Come the late 1700s though and Despard gets on the wrong side of the government at the time and is imprisoned, many believe wrongly for three years until his release in 1801 without charge. This is where the story of Poldark cuts in.

Poldark Aidan Turner

What happened to Ned Despard?

However, not two years later, in 1803, Despard was executed for supposedly plotting to commit high treason by assassinating King George III and seizing control of the Tower of London and Bank of England.

Despard was executed on February 21st, 1803 in front of a crowd believed to be 20,000 strong.

It is quite likely that Poldark's fifth and final season will conclude with, or just before, the death of Ned Despard.

On the subject of which, Poldark's final series continues with episode 6 on Sunday, August 18th at 9pm on BBC One. 

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