The Execution and Confessions OF THE Seven Prisoners Executed at TYBURN On Friday the19December1679.
AT the last Sessions for London and Middlesex, ending on Saturday the 13December, there were in all Eleven persons (six men and five women) that received Sentence of Death; of whom Four, viz. Jane Cragnel, Anne Side, James Rawlins, and Sarah Bennifield, alias Bodington, obtained his Majesties gracious Reprieve.
As for the rest that suffered, we shall give the Reader a true and impartial account both of their Crimes and Deportment after Condemnation.
John Parker was by Trade a Watch-maker , and tis said a most ingenious Artist in that Profession; but happening long since into Ill Company, he has for many years followed those mischievous practices of Clipping and Coyning, whereby the whole Nation is most horribly, and more of late than ever, abused and defrauded. He had a Brother of the same bad Principles, for which he had three or four times been questioned; as likewise this man had once been tryed and convicted of the like Offences at Salisbury, though there he evaded Execution. The Fact at present was fully proved upon him by an ocular Witness; and when Sentence of Death passed upon him, he was the onely person that desired time to fit and prepare himself to die; which both to him and the rest was charitably granted. After his Conviction, two persons coming to visit him, were detained; whether charged by him, or otherwise, we shall not say. He seemd all along to comfort himself with hopes of a Pardon, having (as tis said) obtained one for his Brother heretofore in the same Circumstances, by presenting a Watch of exquisite workmanship to a Woman of mighty Prevalency. But as he had led an ill life, so his Deportment was now suitable, rather busied for a Reprieve from man, than pardoning Mercy from God.
Benjamin Penry was a very stout portly man, provd to be a notorious Highway-man , and Companion with French who was executed last Sessions; with whom he was taken in Islington-Town on the Lords, day, where being (as tis believed) in drink, they made an Assault on a young man, with an intention (as tis probable ) to rob him of an Horse of great value; for which Misdemeanour being committed, other things came against them, and particularly this Fenry was found guilty of robbing a Gentleman on Bag-shot-heath. As he was a man of Confidence, so he behaved himself with an untoward, at least unchristian kind of Resolution. He had a woman indicted with him, whom he calld Wife, one Mrs. White, formerly condemned for Clipping; she endeavoured to bring him to confess others of the Gang, but as far as we hear, without much effect.
The next was the notorious John Dell, Iately living at Edger in Middlesex, of whom common Fame has given such a report, as may excuse us from enlarging. He and his Companion Richard Dean, formerly his Servant , heretofore Tryed for the Murder of the said Dells Wives Brother, a Tanner, whose Body about a Year ago was found near Redlion-fields, were this Sessions Tryed, first for Murdering his the said Dells Wife; and next day, for Murdering one Daniel Ball her Father. The Circumstances on each were very pressing, and (as Mr. Recorder excellently observed) in the judgment of most Auditors, seemd to want rather Proof than Truth: However, they were thereof found Not Guilty; but afterwards Condemnd for stealing a Mare. The Behaviour of this Dell after Sentence was very sad and extraordinary; he seemd to have no kinde of Remorse for his Sins in general, or Sense of his approaching End; but rather added to the former Suspicions: For when soon after Condemnation, by the prudent care of the Court, Dean was ordered to be taken out of his company, and kept apart, he seemed to be much troubled at it; and calling for Ale, whisperd to the Boy that brought it, to commend him to the said Dean, and tell him that possibly he might be put to the Torture, but however he should be sure to stand his Ground. When the other Prisoners went to Prayers, he would retire into a corner, wrap himself up in his Cloak, and refuse to joyn with them, saying, He could, not pray. Even at Chappel, the Minister endeavouring to reach their Consciences by a particular Application, and treating of the heinousness of the sin of Murder, this Dell infolently interrupted him in the publick Congregation, saying, Who do you speak to? Why do you direct your discourse to me? or ill irreverent words to that effect. Befides the unwearied pains taken by Mr. Ordinary, several other able Ministers were sent, or led by Charity to visit him, but he sullenly received them; and to one discoursing of the two future states, Heaven and Hell with a scoffing kind of Atheistical humour, he replied, Heaven! There is not one of a thousand goes to Heaven, why talk you to me of Heaven? Another time he refused to be uncovered at Religious Worship, scoffingly saying, He should catch cold, or a Chine-cough, if he pulld off his Hat; with several other marks of a deplorable Impenitency.
As for John Dean, though he behaved himself not fo morosely and untowardly, but would often confess in general terms that he had been a very great Sinner, yet could not he by any pains of the Ministers be brought to acknowledge the Murders whereof they were both so violently suspected as aforesaid. Tis believed, that being only found Guilty of Felony for stealing the Mare, and for want of Legal Proof acquitted of the other matters, might harden their hearts to deny their other Grimes , hoping that for so small an one they might easily obtain a Pardon. So sollicitous are bad men to prolong a miserable, and at best uncertain Life here, for a few moments, though thereby they incur eternal Death and never-ending Torments in the World to come. For let all stubborn Sinners know, that however with Hypocritical pretences to Innocence or Jesuitical Impudence they may conceal from, or forswear their Villanies unto Men, yet there is a most Just and All seeing God, from whom nothing can be hid, and who will not always be mocked; but certainly, though sometimes slowly, sud after a long and seeming prosperous Carreer in Wickedness, will call them to a severe Account, and pour forth to the full his dreadful Indignation upon them.
On this present Friday 19December, Parker was drawn from Newgate on a Sled with four Horses: He behaved himself very penitently, holding a Book in his hand, and often elevatedhis eyes to Heaven. Dell, Atkins, and Penry were carried in one Cart : The two women in another, of whomone was whipped but the very last Sessions : And Dean in a Cart by himself; He seemed a poor sorry fellow,but had often been concerned in Rogueries, and without doubt had been a Consederate with his Master Dell inmany of his late horrid Crimes. However, in his Passage he demeand himself with much more shew ofPenitence than the other, and it was well hoped that he would make an ingenuous Confession.
Mr. Dell continued obstinate to the last, and in the Morning before. he went out of Newgate, the Ordinary pressinghim to a Confession , he impiously answered , What shall I confess for, it is not in your Power toPardon me? Nor did he at the place of Execution own any thing, nor indeed could be induced to speak; butin a stupid manner was Executed.
Parker appeared very penitent, and gave away his Book before he cameto Tyburn to an Acquaintance of his.
The Highway-man Mr. Penry, died very composedly, and just before his death, in spight of all his Resolutions, the Tears ran down his cheeks.
Atkins, who suffered for being a Pickpocket and a great Practitioner that way, seemed also to be mindful of his latterEnd.
Dean was kept alive till all the rest were executed, and Captain Richardson very worthily, andwith incomparable earnest Expressions, importund him to a Confession; and once he was, as it were, turndoff, but stopt; and then he did say, That he verily believed Dell was guilty of the Murder of his Wife: butwould not acknowledge that he himself was concernd. And so he was likewise executed.