Giving a full and satisfactory Account of their Crimes, Behaviours, Discourses in Prison, and last Words (as neer as could be taken) at the place of Execution.
Published for a Warning to all that read it, to avoid the like wicked Courses, which brought these poor people to this shameful End.
At the Sessions held for London and Middlesex, August the 23, 1676.there were in all Sixteen persons Condemned to be hang'd for several great and notorious Crimes: And though, for the most part, they were persons that all-along, both at their Apprehension, Imprisonment, and Tryals, carried and behaved themselves with too much Confidence, yet when Sentence of death came to be pronounced upon them (which was done in a most pathetick Oration and a Gravity suiting the solemness of the occasion, by that worthy person whose Charge it was) it could not but much affect the hearts of all present to hear the sad Cries and doleful Lamentations which these miserable Wretches made, begging and importuning the Court for mercy, when their own repeated offences had excluded it, and left room for nothing but Judgment.
Yet so great has been the Clemency of his gracious Majesty (the Fountain of all Terrestrial Mercy as well as of Justice) that Eight of these desperate Malefactors were Reprieved from death, the other Eight that suffered their Names and Offences were as followes:
Thomas Moore and James Parker, convicted for stealing the Goods of a person of Quality at Cue in Surrey; and though they were here only indicted for Felony, because they were taken with the Goods, by one that knew them to be Theives , in Aldersgate-street, the same day the Fact was done, yet it appeared to the Court to be a Burglary too in the said County of Surrey. These Two upon their first apprehension, were put into Bridewel, and sent aboard a Ship by their consent, whence they runaway; and being retaken on a new score, were now sound guilty: the latter of them was transported for the like Tricks about five years ago, and by trifling now with the Court before he would plead, forced them to commit him to the Press, where, before he would recant his obstinacy, he was very much bruised, so that without further Execution, 't was much doubted whether he would have survived.
Richard Cooke and Matthew Walkenden, were condemned for Burglary. They were both old Offenders; had several times had the mercy of the Court, but it seems would by no warning be reclaimed from their vitious Courses.
The next we may justly call a matchless piece of Female Impudence: A young woman, named Martha Harman, was condemned for breaking open a house at Islington, a Crime rarely if ever attempted by that Sex. She had four times before been tryed before the Court for several Offences; but now could no: obtain further indulgence, Lsa toties misericordia fit furor.
The last we are to mention, was the youngest in years, not above Fifteen; by name John E. vans: He was convicted for breaking open a house: and several other Indictments against him; to which he pleaded guilty within the benefit of the Clergy, but that Plea in his Case was vain; for he had received that Legal savour in his hand several sessions ago.
All these were visited in Goal by several able and godly Ministers, whose Charity to their perishing Souls led them to come to them in the Dungeon; besides the dayly pains of the Ordinary, who very diligently performed his Christian duty on this occasion.
The Ignorance they had been bred in, the ill Courses they had all their lives time followed,
whereby the custom of staning had taken away the sense of it, renred them very hard and difficult to be wrought upon, or nelted into 30y degree of Communion by the most earnest or searching Discoursed or Periwasions that could be used to them for a long time, their mind, being more taken up with flattering hopes and vain endeavours tolong their lives in this world, than to prepare and fit them for an eternal life in the next.
But that omnipotent wisdome which of old was pleased to alford, by miracle, plentiful waterout of a dry and barren Rock, did now graciously vouchsafe at last to mollitie some of their obdurate hearts, into a deep, due, and melting sense of their miserable state.
The Ministers, as Embassaders sent from the gloricus Court of Heaven with Offers of Peace and Parden to these desperate and forlorn wretches, were not wanting to represent to them their miserable Condition by nature, aggravated and increated by a numberless number of actual Transgressions; not onely against the light of their Consciences, and distates of humane Reason, and common Right, but also against several political Indulgensces and Warnings from their own former danger and others miserable fates.
Some of them appeared to be very sensibly touched with these grave and seasonable Admonitious, and to cast back a repentant Eye on their former miscarriages, with endeavrous to improve those few remaining micures of their lives, to obtain pardon for their past Offences: Oh! how welcome would a few of those days, they had formerly spent in vanity, been now to these poor werteches, that they might have had sufficient time and opportunity to bewail their past miscarriages, and get some assurance of future happiness, being now to lanch out into the Ocean of Eternity.
Most of them were very full and open breasted in their acknowledgements, that they had violated both the Laws of God, of man, and Dictates of their own Consciences, in unjustly invading the proprieties of other men. And (what is very remarkable) they confessed, that what they died for was the least of their Transgressions against the Laws of God; having otherwise by multiplied Offences justly provoked the Divine Vengeance against themselves.
On the Tuesday there were at once four Ministers attending them in Spiritual Instructions and Prayer, for several hours together, the effect of which was, That several of the dying men seemed intirely convinced of their desperate Estate, and in that Agony to intreat, with the greatest earnestness in the world, the Prayers of all good people.
When they were brought to the place of Execution (wither they were attended besides the
people, with several Ministers) few of them spoke any thing considerable, onely one or two declared the Original of their ruine to be disobedience to their Masters, and particularly negleting their duties on Sabbath days at the places of publick Worship, the temptations of leud Women, and idleness in their lawful Callings; from which they were debauch'd by ill and extravagant Company: of, and from all, which they seriously and in the words of dying men, desired all the heard them to beware and refrain,
And so suffered according to their Sentence: And may their lamentable Examples warnall others that saw the same, or shall here read it truly related, deter them from those wicked Facts and Courses, which brought these unhappy Wretches to this sad, deplorable, and ignominious End.