WITH An Account of their penitent
Behaviour after their Condemnation, and substance of their last Speeches at the place of Execution.
Published for a Warning-piece to all others to avoid the lewd Courses which brought them to this Ignominious End.
The last Speeches, Confession, and Execution of the Prisoners, December 19 1677.
DEath in its own nature is very affrighting to Man, the King of Terrours, much more when he comes attended with shameful and ignominious Circumstances; when Persons consider that they have hastened his approach by the Errours of their lives, and are justly cut off for their Crimes. Oh! how sad is it, when poor Souls are themselves the occasion of their being thrust out of this world by untimely Violence, and yet are not at all fitted or prepared for the next. If they look down to Earth, there is nothing but Justice and Vengeance ready to pursue them; and
if they look up to Heaven, they cannot but conclude that too pure a place for such un- clean Creatures to enter into, whom the Earth it self would no longer entertain. Yet so lamentably do the Delusions of Satan, and Witchcrafts of Sin blinde the eyes of these Malefactors, that they rarely reflect on these things till it be too late; nor will be warned by the frequent Examples of their wretched Fellow. Criminals, to leave off their wicked Courses, till they are precipitated in- to the same Gulf of Misery.
Of this, the Five Persons that this day suffered were deplorable instances. After their Condemnation many charitable Di- vines went to visit them, besides the most diligent and careful endeavours of Mr. Or- dinary, who, well knowing the weight of his Office, takes care on all occasions to discharge a good Conscience therein, by u- sing all means to make them sensible of their sad Condition, and prepare them for their terrible Change.
The poor Souls appeared as ignorant and unacquainted with the Principles of Chri- stian Religion, except only some bare empty notional words, as Heathens. True it is, they profest themselves Christians, and that they hop'd to be saved by the Mercies of God; but the odious nature of Sin, the ne- cessity of a Saviour, the terms of a New Co- venant, the nature of Repentance, Faith, and other Evangelical Graces, they were wholly strangers to: But by the pains of these Ministers, God was pleased to give them a taste of these precious and most im- portant Truths, though 'tis feared, by their careless insensible Carriage, some of them still were more solicitous to get a Reprieve than to get Grace, and minded more to save their Lives for a few moments, than their Souls to eternity. So hard it is when Per- sons have gone on all their lives, hardening their hearts in wickedness, to mollified on a sudden, though summon'd to Repentance by a present and unavoidable Death.
One of these persons was heretofore Con- demned, and now justly brought to suffer.
Another about two years since was Con- victed and received Sentence of Death, but
obtaining a Reprieve, after long lying in Newgate, obtain'd his Liberty by the Gene- ral Pardon; but was now brought in for stealing a parcel of Swords.
Another was by trade a Sawyer, and had lived neer Islington: he had formerly been burnt in the hand, and several times in Goal; and having lately follow'd the Foot-Pad, was Condemn'd for a Robbery on the Highway.
Mrs. Riggs was notoriously infamous; several of her Children had been executed, and she a year or two ago transported for stealing Silks; but returning before her time, was now again Convicted of stealing, and call'd to her former Judgement. She caus'd her Coffin to be made & brought into the Prison to her; and we wish that she had provided for her Soul as well as for her Carcass.
The other woman was Convicted about a year and a half since, and upon the General Pardon gave Bail to transport her self within such a time; but never did it, but fell to her old wicked Courses, in which being now taken, she was Condemned.
There was another woman received Sentence to be Burnt; but she alleadging her self to be quick with Childe, which a Jury of Matrons likewise affirmed, that the Innocent Babe might not perish with the Guilty Mother, Execution for the present in suspendid.
The day before their Execution four Ministers were to visit them, and bestowed much pious pains both in Exhortation and Prayer with them, pressing them to Repent, and Confess their Sins, and give Glory to God. To whom one of them was so hardy ('tis said) as to declare, That she never in her life, that she could remember, ever felt any Convictions or Checks of Conscience for her wickedness, but now desired a longer space, promising amendment, Etc. But they desired her not to flatter her self with any such hopes, but rather instantly to set upon the Work with all her might, and improve those few minutes she had allowed her, rather than vainly to expect longer time, and mis-spend the present.
Mrs. Riggs Confest she had been a notorious sinner all her days, and that she had been an occasion of bringing many poor wretches to untimely Ends, for which she exprest much sorrow; but said, for her own part she did confess she deserved to die, and had long look'd for it, and desired the Ministers to pray for her.
In the Cart they behaved themselves very penitently, weeping and wringing their hands, as likewise at the place of Execution; but said little, save onely, Desiring all people to take Example by them, and to remember this, That if they themselves had took warning when others of their Acquaintance, under the same Circumstances, with their dying breath heartily advised them to it, they might have prevented this shameful untimely Death which now they were to suffer. And so after Prayers and religious Offices usual on such occasions. surrendred their Souls to the Mercies of God, and their Bodies to Execution.