There will always remain speculation concerning the actual cause of death of Irish revolutionary Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763-1798). Sentenced to hang for treason (after the court refused his request to be hanged), Tone apparently cut his throat (but just missing his carotid artery) with a penknife hours before his scheduled execution. The wound was bandaged, the execution was postponed, and he lingered for a week; supposedly, the surgeon said that Tone might survive, and he was told that if he spoke (or, according to some sources, if he moved), the wound would reopen and he would die. Legend has it that he responded, "So be it." Another source claims he heard the surgeon warning the attendant that Tone must not speak or be moved; overhearing this, Tone thanked the surgeon for the information and said "What would I wish to live for?--dying immediately after.
Some sources claim that he received deliberately improper medical treatment following his suicide attempt, eventually causing his death. At least one source speculates that he was shot through the throat and then cut with a razor or knife to disguise the wound. However, there seems little doubt that Tone applied his mortal wound himself.