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The Story of the Lunar Rogue

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Henry More Smith’s trial was over. The fact that he had been found guilty of horse theft and had been sentenced to hang seemed not to make the slightest impression on him. It was obvious to all that in his mental state he could not comprehend his situation.

The Lunar Rogue was returned to his cell but the Attorney General advised that the execution was to be delayed and that he was to be kept informed of the prisoner’s conduct.

Over the next few months, “at home” again in his cell in Kingston jail, Henry constructed more astonishing puppets, referring to them as his “family”. Sheriff Bates, in a letter to the Attorney General, offered the following description of Henry’s “puppet family”.

“…It consists of ten characters – men, women and children – all made and painted in the most expressive manner, with all the limbs and joints of the human frame – each performing different parts…To view them in their stations, they appear as perfect as though alive.” Bates added that the exhibition was worth the attention of the public – “more worthy than all the wax-works ever exhibited in this province.”

Bates’ letter to the Attorney General was published in its entirety in the Royal Gazette early in July of 1815 and as stories of the “puppet family” spread, people came from far and near to view the exhibition – and Henry charged them for the privilege!

Those who viewed Henry’s puppet show marvelled at it and sympathized with the wretched condition of the poor, mad, prisoner. Soon public sympathy reached such a point that the Attorney General used his influence and the Supreme Court of New Brunswick decreed that the Lunar Rogue would not hang.