The Confession and Execution of the Prisoners that suffered at Tyburn on Wednesday the 23d of Jan. 1677/8.
T was observ'd by the Court this last Sessions, that it has rarely been known so many should be convicted of Crimes deserving Death out of so small a Kalendar, or when the number of Prisoners has been so few; there being no less than Thirteen persons (seven men and six women) that received sentence of Death for their respective Capital Offences. But of the women, two after Judgement pleaded their Bellies in respit of Execution, and by a Jury of Matrons were found Quick with Childe. Another condemned for murdering her Bastard Infant, died in Goal the next day after Sentence; It being supposed that by going abroad immediately after her Delivery upon the unnatural designe of exposing her Childe (as she did) in the streets, she might catch Cold, which together with the dejection of her Spirits, might hasten her End, and prevent an Ignominious by an untimely death.
Others, by the mercy of Authority, were Reprieved in hopes of future Amendment of their Lives; but Five this day were carried to the fatal place of Execution, of whom two were the Highway men taken at Whetstone, and the rest before-mentioned in the Title-page. That is to say,
William King and Henry Claiton for a robbery on the Road done in Berk-shire; but the things being taken about them, render'd them liable to betried for the Felony in Middlesex, and appearing to the Court to be a Robbery in another County, excluded them from Clergy. The Goods they took were only two Silver Powder-Boxes, Etc. of no great value; but it was well known, they had been notoriously concerned in such Villanies, near twenty Robberies lying upon them, and violent suspitions of some Murders.
The next was William Hare, for a like Robbery on the High-way, only he followed the mischievous Trade on Foot; and indeed these generally are more cruel and dangerous than the other: He was Indicted the Sessions before for a Crime of the same nature, but got off.
Robert Motly had been often in Newgate, and Mercy shewed him; Once transported on a Pardon, but returned, before the time in the Condition thereof specified was expired, whereby he forfeited his Life; yet not content, takes the old course, and being now taken in a Burglary, was cut off as an incorrigible Offender.
To fit them for this great and terrible Change, great pains and care was taken by several Ministers, and particularly by that sober Divine whose office it more peculiarly is; who on the sunday before their Execution, preach'd two very Pathetical and Christian Sermons to them. To go about to repeat them here, were to wrong that Gentleman whose affectionate and powerful Eloquence cannot, without losing much of its force and beauty, be express'd in any words but his own: But the purpose and substance was to this effect.
Taking for his Text in the forenoon, that suitable portion of Scripture, Psalm 90 vers. II. Who knoweth the pomer of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. From thence he shewed, That all unregenerate men, and in their natural state, pay under the wrath of God, and obnoxious to all the dreadful Curses pronounced in the Holy Scriptures, both in relation to their bodies and souls: Which Divine wrath, though in it self so terrible and weighty, that it is as well Inexpressible as Intollerable, he endeavour'd to shadow forth by certain apt Comparisons and Arguments a minore ad majus. If the wrath of a King be as the roaring of a Lion, which makes all tremble that hear it, who shall be able to withstand the displeasure of the
King of King? If God's withdrawing the Light of his Countenance, and visiting his Saints with Chastizements, in Love, be so insupportable to their spirits, with what Horrours and Astronishments must the Wicked be confounded, when he makes bare his Arm to take Vengeance upon them for their long continued and aft repeated Transgressions? He further told them, That the Extremity of this Wrath, was when God, for a punishment of sin, gave persons up to sin without Remorse: That hardness of heart with blindness of mind, was the greatest Plague could be inflicted upon poor creatures. Since not onely their days, but their hours, now were numbred. being but a few minutes on this side Eternal Destrbution, he advis'd them seriously and suddenly, with all their might, to set upon this great and most important business of working out their salvation with fear and trembling: not to slatter themselves with delusive hopes of longer Life, nor murder their Souls by pretending to die with a Roman Courage: For alas, who could contend with Omnipotence? or what Resolution can abide, Everlasting Burnings? David as valiant as any, yet under a sence of his sins, thought it no effeminacy of spirit to water his coach with his tears. The true Penitent is the onely Hero, who subdues Principalities and Powers, and yet lays him low in the presence of his offended Maker; whose breath abaseth the mightiest Conquerours, and swrepeth away the Proud and Obstinate with sudden and Everlasting Destruction: Therefore he passionately charged them, as they would avoid the dreadful wrath of God, the fierceness of which he had in some part represented to them, That they would every one, with broken hearts and bended knees, confess their sins and give Glory to God and loathing themselves and their past actions, die to the Throne of Grave and the Blood of the Lamb, for Mercy and Pardon. For having first search'd their ulcerated hearts, like a prudent Soul Physician, he in the afternoon began to point in the Balm of Gilead, quitting Mount Sinfor Mount Sion, and leading them from the terrors of the Law to the glad tidings of the Gospel, even to the Blessed Jesus, who delus from wrath to come an praying his infiLove land Mercy to penitent simmers, and pre them forthwith to kiss the son with a kiss of Homiage and Obedience; of Love and Loyalty, lost his wrath be kindled and they per ever la Etc.
During the Sermons, and other acts, of Devotion, the Condemned Prisoners in general behaved themselves with extraordinary Sobriety and Attention the That oftentimes in abundance gushing forth. Nor was their Deport- ment less becoming afterwards, desiring the Prayers earnestly of such as came to visit them. The Highway-men confessed several Robberies by them committed, but refused to discover any of their Companions. And the most resolute was an old Malefactor in Burglaries, Felo-
nies, Etc. who before at the Bar, when he received Sentence, being told by the Court, that he must not expect any Pardon, surlily answered, Why, I do not ask you for any, do I? This person appeared the most unconcerned, and stupidly insensible of his condition, refusing to answer any questions relating to his spiritual State, or enter into any serious Conversation. The rest were much more mollified, and at the place of Execution acknowledg'd, that they died justly; begging pardon first of God, and next of all persons whom they had wronged: Prosessing that Sloath, Pride, Last, and Ill Company had been the sole occasioners of their ignominious end. And therefore desired all to take Warning and Example by them: And to live honestly, industriously and uprightly in the several lawful Trades or Professions, wherein Providence bath placed them: The neglecting and abandoning of which, for a loose extravagant course of Life, they declared was the original Cause of their Ruine.