A which time were Executed
As also of
OF these unhappy wretches who now became necessary Sacrifices Justice, he that occasioned most discourse, as well by reason of his being generally known, as by the heinousness of his Crime, being the death of a very worthy Gentleman, was a person that being heretofore in a very good place, might have liv'd as comfortably and genteely as any man of his Rank could have wisht; but extravagance still wanting Supplies, put him upon wicked designes, lost his Employ, and since which, having followed loose irregular courses, he at last came to commit this bloody Crime for which he was now executed: the Particulars whereof having been already published, need not here be repeated. When he came to receive Sentence of Death, he desired time to prepare himself; to which the Court answered, that he should have what was usual and convenient, but caution'd him not to mook God, or flatter himself with vain hopes of a Reprieve, as many do under that pretence; but rather with all his might to humble himself and make his peace with God. Several Ministers visited him after his Condemnation, and earnestly press'd him to a hearty Repentance, and that if any others were Confederates with. or A betters of him in this barbarous Murder, he would disburthen his Soul by discovering them: But he was at first so far from answering their expectations therein, that he would give no full account of the Reasons or Provocations that moved him to do it; nor would he for some time declare himself guilty of the Murder, but at last he did confess it, saying, It was upon an Affront that he could not bear; but expressed himself heartily sorry for his cruel Rage, and desired all that were present, to pray for him to Almighty God, that he might
obtain Pardon for that and all other his manifold sins.
After his Condemnation the generous Charity of the Keeper of Newgate favoured him so far as to permit him to lie in the Press-yard, though he had not Money to defray the usual Fees of that Lodging; where he was at last so far wrought upon, that never any man appeared more sensibly penitent: an Instance or two whereof (amongst many others) we think fit here to recite. The day before his Execution he askt what it was a Clock, and being told past eleven, Ah, Lord, says he, where shall I be to morrow at this time? The same day a Barber coming to trim him, after he had washt his hands very clean, looking upon them, he said, Cleanse, O God, my hands from Blood guiltiness, and all my sins as clean as they now appear from filth. Then taking a turn or two in the Chamber, God grant, says he, I may fear Death to morrow no more than I do to day: for I bless God I have now no dread upon my Spirits concerning the Death I am to suffer. I know 'its just, and therefore will willingly undergo it; not doubting but the pretious Blood of my Saviour has attoned for that Innocent Blood which I have rashly and wickedly shed. And so continued in an undaunted temper and frame of Spirit to the very last.
The whole night before he suffered, he spent in Devotion, continuing in Prayer with such ardency of zeal, and such apt Expressions of a broken heart, and yet humble Faith and Assurance in the Mercies of God, as the like was searce ever heard in that place before, And so about ten a clock, was carried to the place of Execution, in Covent Garden, where he made a large Confession of his sins, and recommending his Soul to God in a most zealous Prayer, submitted to the Sentence.
John Cross, George Blake, and William Stone, were all of a Gang of that worst sort of Highway thieves, commonly called Foot padders, making it their business to lurk in the Roads neer London, and knock down and rob the Market people, (or others) in their return homewards in the evening; Two Robberies of this kind they were now Executed for, one upon a Person passing on foot through King Harries Walk, who had but five shillings about him, the other a Butcher on Horseback in the High way, not far from thence, from whom they took about three pound; nor were they content to rifle and bind them, but also barbarously without any
provocation, beat them severely, swearing they would make them know the danger of travelling with so little Money. They committed (its believed) several other Robberies the same night, and some it seems resisted them, for one of them was wounded in the Belly; the day they chose for these Exploits, was the Execution day after the last Sessions. And 'twas proved that they were all three Spectators at Tyburn, in a Coach, and yet so hardned were they in wickedness, that nothing dismaid with the untimely and shameful ends of their Associates, they immediately the same Evening return to act these Villanies, which now justly brought them to be the next that should succeed in that fatal place, and be made Examples themselves, since they would take no warning by the sad Examples of others, having long followed these ungodly Courses: for George Blake was burnt in the hand about a year and a half ago, for stealing of Plate, and indicted last Summer Assizes in Surrey, for a Robbery: And William Stone ad formerly broke Hartford Goal, whither he was committed for the like offence.
One of them especially appeared now very penitent, and made a large Confession of his Crimes, spending his time wholly in Reading, Prayer, and bewailing his sins.
Humphry Hulin and Thomas Constable, two old Thieves, though but young men, suffered for stealing of several Horses: A Trade they had long been acquainted with, and thereby almost ruined divers honest people.
And here we cannot but give notice of a grand Abuse put upon the world in a Pamphlet printed for B.H. pretended to be a Narrative of the Proceedings at the last Sessions: wherein is set forth, that a Constable was tryed for Horse-stealing, but says he, upon Circumstances of his Innocence, was cleared: whereas there was no Constable brought upon his Tryal.
Rose Wheeler, alias Goodman, a Woman grown old in wickedness, was Executed for two several Robberies Committed in Houses where she pretended to take Lodgings, thereby undoing several poor people, for she had long made it her practice, and it seems brought up her Daughter to the same profession; for she this Sessions was likewise Arraigned for the like fast, but refused to plead, having heretofore been Condemned for Stripping and Robbing of young Children, and often in Newgate for several other Thefts. Another young Woman was Condemned with her, but being supposed to be drawn in by her, obtained a Gracious Pardon: As likewise did another Woman and a young Man, who severally had robb'd their Masters.
These last mentioned Persons having spent most part of their Lives in a continual series of Wickedness, and Rebellion against God and all righteous Laws, it is no wonder if now, when they were overtaken by Justice, and had he amazing terrours of Death to grapple with, they were smitten with dreadful Horrours and Astonishment; from which both Mr. Ordinary and
other Godly Ministers endeavoured to awake and relieve them, first by representing to them the miserable Condition they werein; that the Temporal Death, which must they fixt their thoughts upon, was nothing in comparison of what was to succeed: And afterwards acquainted them, that there was yet a Way, and but only one, to prevent their everlasting Misery; which was a speedy and serious Repentance, and laying hold on the Merits of their crucified Saviour, by a firm and lively Faith: By whose gracious Promises, and consideration of his Infinite Mercies, they sought to take them off both from Atheistical Insensibility on the one hand, and Despair on the other, and so set them in the path of Lie, before they tasted of the bitter Cup of Death; and 'tis hoped, by the Grace and Blessing of God on their Labours, their pious Intentions towards these poor Souls were not in vain. For in their passage, and at the place of Execution, they behaved themselves with all the marks of a sincere Penitency, bewailing their former mispent time, and horrid Impieties, imploring Mercy at the Throne of Grace, and desiring all Spectators, by amendment of Life, to make a better use of their sad Examples, than they themselves had done of other suffering in the like ignominious manner.