The True ACCOUNT OF THE Behaviour and Confessions OF THE Condemned Criminals IN NEWGATE VIZ. John Gorden Soldier, for Murdering of William Dyson in the Savoy, on Monday the 1st. of June, William Woodwin, for Felony and Burglary, John Pilborow, and Edward Little.
Together with their LAST Dying WORDS Before their Execution at TYBURN.
Whereas several Malefactors Condemned to Die, do in the Prison of Newgate desire the Ordinary to Publish their Conferences with him, as also an account of their whole Behaviour, from the time of their Condemnation, to the time of their Executions; together with their Confessions to him, to prevent false Stories of them after their Death.
The Ordinary thinks fit to give this Advertisement, that the true Account as taken by him in Writing from their own Mouths shall be Attested under his own Hand, which Account may be an useful Service to Reclaim Vicious Youth by forwarning them not to fall into the same Crimes, left they draw the snare of an Ignominious Death upon themselves.
This Account therefore the Ordinary now gives, that on the next Day after Condemnation, he visited the said Malefactors, and endeavoured to make them sensible of their several Crimes, and withal, sollicited them to look back upon the whole course of their Life, inasmuch, as the just God never leaves Sinners destitute of his Preventing Grace, till they first harden their own Hearts, indulging themselves in some secret Sins, thereby strengthning Vicious Inclinations in themselves, in a considerable degree of Atheism, because they are not for some time Discovered, and brought to publick Shame.
The Ordinary pressed them to consider what Sins they were most addicted unto, either for want of good Education, by the Example and Influence of Bad Company, but especially by not watching over their Corrupt Inclinations, which break out with more Violence, by the prophanation of the Lords Day, of which most Criminals complain, that this is the beginning of all their Sin and Misery.
After the Ordinary had pressed them to a serious strict Examination of their Hearts, that so the review of their Sin Now, might be as Bitter as at any time the commission of them had been Delightful: and that they ought, (having given Notorious Scandals) to take Shame to themselves, and to make their Penitential Acknowledgments as Publick.
They began now to be more awakened from their security in an Evil State, and with Tears to Lament their former flagitious Courses. Which Relenting, the Ordinary Encouraged; yet advised them to beware of Satan’s Sophistry, who studys to Ruine Souls, by perswading them to rely on a flight late Sorrow for Sin, as if this were a Compurgation, and an Expiatory satisfaction to God, for all the Exorbitances of their Conversation.
For, Christ had placed this upon his own Account, who Died to Redeem us, not only from the Condemnation of God’s Law, but also from the Defiling Love and reigning Power of Sin in the Heart.
The Ordinary stated the difference’ twixt true and false Faith, in coming to God for Reconciliation by Christ; Exhorting them to a speedy Repentance and thorough Conversion: Then he Prayed for them, and they seemed much Affected during the performance of this Duty. Captain Savill was present, for whom I have a singular Respect, not only as being a Person descended from an Honourable Family, but also for his Eminent Care of, and Christian Compassion for the Soul State of John Gorden, Condemned to Die for the most Barbarous Murder of a Person, without any Provocation given him. The manner how he perpetrated it, is related at large in his Trial.
After Prayer, the worthy Chieftane desired me that he might speak a few words to the said Gorden, because he very lately had been a Soldier under him. Which desire I willingly Embraced. Then he spake to him to this Effect, Garden, I am very Sorry to see you in this deplorable Condition, you very well know how often I have Admonished you to reform your Extravagancies, particularly Drunkenness. You sometimes absented your self from the discharge of your Duty, but no means proved Effectual; and now you see the sad Issue of your Neglect of taking Good Advice.
Then the Ordinary said, tell me truly, had you any Malice to the Person whom you Murdered? he replied no, but he was very much overcome with Drink. The Ordinary said that was no Extenuation, but rather an Introduction to the Crime. The Captain said, you see the woful Effects of Idleness, and stragling from your Station. But I have this farther to inquire, it is deeply suspected that you Murdered Dunbartons Wife, Confess the Truth, for you are sure to Die for the late Murder, and therefore it will not avail you to Conceal this.
The Ordinary asked the Captain the manner of the said Womans Death, he said that she was very much Bruised, so that it made an Impression on the Child within her, and in a short time, both the Mother and Child Died with the Barbarous Usage of her.
The Ordinary urged Gorden to confess how he did it. He said that he did Kick her, but thought it would not have proved Mortal. The Ordinary said you have great cause to Repent of it, and of all your other Wickedness.
The Captain told him, he should be glad to hear of his being fit to dye; but though he had been obstinate to him, yet, in pity, he would afford him Six-pence every day, till the time of his Execution, and so praying for his eternal Salvation, took Farewel of him.
The Ordinary desired all the Condemned Persons to prepare themselves solemnly for the Morrow duties of the Lord’s-day, that this, may be the pledge of an eternal glorious Sabbatism in Heaven.
The Ordinary preach’d to them in the Forenoon on this Text, viz. Psal. 27. ver. 8. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my Soul answered and said, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. From whence he treated of these general Heads, which branched into several Particulars.
1. What is meant by the Face of God.
2. What are the special Seasons, wherein the Lord expects, that we should solemnly seek him.
3. With what divine Impressions, or prevailing Arguments, doth he excite the heart to this fundamental Duty, which virtually comprehends all found Christianity.
4. How to discern, when Satan upon many bad designs prefers a motion for any Religious Duty; and how the inward Call, or Invitation of God to seek him, may be distinctly known.
5. What the seeking of God’s Face includes in the Extent and Sincerity of it.
6. How, or in what Respects must the Heart be prepared, or rightly ordered and fixt, to seek the Lord.
7. Why the Face of God must be sough immediately, without delay.
8. How may a Christian readily embrace, and spiritually improve the motions of Gods Spirit, exciting to any Holy Duty.
In the Afternoon the Ordinary preach’d on several other general Heads, and concluded with in Application of the whole, to the present state of the condemned Prisoners
They were Forenoon and Afternoon very attentive and affected with what was Prayed and Preached; so that they wept, and seemed Penitent: But I told them, that the Heart of Man was very deceitful, and that they were not to rest in, much less to trust to any initial sorrow for Sin, but to endeavour whatever lay in them, that they might obtain of God the carrying on of their Convictions to a thorow Conversion. The rather, because I had observed many dolorous complaints of Criminals against themselves, to vanish away upon the hope of a Reprieve.
But they could not expect any such thing, because there were so many made examples of Publick Justice the last Sessions, and yet you would not take warning thereby.
That I expected another manner of Account from them of their fitness to Dye, than what I had already received.
In order to which I promised (God willing) to Visit them the next day. Accordingly I went to them, and inquired what frame and disposition of Heart they were in at present, whether they retained those good Impressions which were upon them, or had obtained further grounds to believe, that they were sincere in their addresses to the Throne of Grace, and what prospect they had, that God was reconciled to them in Christ. They replied, that they Prayed, and did what they could, to obtain the pardon of their Sins, and that they might be Saved.
I assured them; that if they were willing to be happy, upon God's terms; if they desired sincerely to be holy, as much as to be happy, and to make Christ their pattern as well as their portion, then his Holy Spirit would become their Comforter.
Upon this, they were desirous to be farther directed by me, how they might proceed safely to hope for Salvation. Hereupon I unfolded so them the Nature of God's Covenant of Grace made with Mankind in Christ, and those requisite qualifications which must be in Sinners, to make them capable for that great Salvation purchased by him: Yet, notwithstanding the Graces of Faith and Repentance; are the free Gift of God; he hath not promised to work and implant them in the hearts of any, but only of such, who do not persist to despise them, but submit to his Spirit as a Sanctifier, otherwise there cannot be any effectual, application of what Christ hath done and suffer'd to expiate Sin and reconcile Sinners to God.
Hereupon, they were willing, yea desirous, that I should state again the Nature of True Faith and Repentance, and I judged it necessary, because they were under Confirmation upon receiving the Sentence of Death, when I first visited them, and so might forget but were now more composed. Therefore I renewed that former Discourse, and added other advice; how to settle them in a better preparation for their End.
Then I prayed for them, and in particular, that God would make them to be ingenuous and sincere, in what they were willing to declare of the former course of their Life. And what their Repentance now is, that so, they might leave some Testimony as satisfactory of its Truth, as their Crimes had been Notorious,
The first who offered himself to give an account of his Life, and his preparation for Death was,
John Gorden, he was Born in Sunderland, is now 35 Years of Age. His Father he said, was a Gentleman, himself was Illegitimate, so there was little care taken of his Education. He was forced, (for want of Maintenance) to to take the Employment of a Soldier . He served four Years under Colonel t Douglas. He Was in the Fight at Treves, where being Taken he asked Quarter for his Life. Five Years after, he was a Soldier at Lunenburgh. He procured a Pass to Hamborough, and so got home to Scotland. He said, he lived with his Father two Years. After that he came to London, to seek his Fortune: And was four Years under Captain Savil.
It was past one a Clock at Night before he came in to the Cellar in the Savoy, but he was worse than a Beast, he said, because he was Excessively Drunk. That he had been a great Swearer in his Drink. The Ordinary told him that those two great Sins are usually Coupled: But I enquired of him how he was Induced to Kill Dyson, who did not give him any the least Provocation; he replied, that he was so drunk, that he knew not what he did.
I asked Gorden if he Killed Dyson, mistaking him in his Drink to be Jack Ketch; for he repeated Jack Ketch, Jack Ketch, and what Malice he might have to the Common Executioner: He answered, that he bad none at all, and remembers not any thing of such an Impression in his
Fancy. But wholly ascribes his madness in such a Wicked Fact, as a just permission in God, who Punished him for his former Debaucheries.
Then he inquired what moved him to Kick Dunbarton’s Wife Big with Child, so that both Perished together: He said that she was his Laundress, and he challenged her with detaining from him a Cravat, whereupon she gave him very foul Language, and plucked him by the Hair of his Head. I told him that was an Inhuman Base Conquest over a Woman.
He said he was very much troubled in his mind for it, and is willing to dye, that by his Example others may be warned from committing so heinous Crimes: yet he hoped God would be merciful to him upon his Repentance, and said, Good Sir, pray for me to the last moment, that God would look down upon me, to sanctifie this heavy, yet righteous stroke upon me. I promised him I would, and hope he was sincere in his Repentance.
The Second, Edward Little, condemned upon a double Indictment for Felony and Burg’ary, which were proved against him. He was born at Westcot-Barton in Oxfordshire, aged 26 years. He was put Prentice to a Cabinetmaker in Covent-Garden, his Master absented himself, (as he said) being ready to brake in his Stock before he left his Service.
Also, that he was in Drink that Night he was apprehended, for breaking the House of the Lady Newport Widow, and was found asleep by a Linkman.
As concerning the second Burglary, he said, he did indeed put his hand in at a Casement, which was broken before, and took away a Pewter Dish, out of the House of one Matthew Sharnio. I told him, that however he excused it, that it was proved upon him, viz. both the Burglary and the Felony.
He conseft he had been very prophane, a great Lyar, Swearer, Sabbath-breaker, given to excessive Drinking, and all Debocheries, yet not to Stealing until now. He hopes his Prayers and Tears are acceptable to God, through the merit of Christ’s Bloodshed, which is all-sufficient to make his peace with God. That since this great Affliction befell him, all Sin is as much hated by him, as it was delightful before. That if he might have his Life spared, and the opportunities of Grace renewed, he hoped he should endeavor to walk in the ways of Gods Commandments.
The Third, William Woodwin. He was born in the County of Cary in Ireland, aged 28 years; his Employment was at Sea mostwhat. He denied not the Fact of Robbing Mr. Glover, under pretence first of a Bill of Exchange which when the Servant could not accept, his Master being not at home, Woodwin, and another who is escaped, pretended that they would write a Note of their business, to be left for Mr. Glover. Being admitted so to do, they seized the Servant, and twisted his Crevat about his Throat, to prevent crying out, and told him they would murther him, unless he would tell them where his Masters money lay.
He says it is his hard Fortune to be condemned, because he had lived very Civilly before, and was now justiced to this by the other person who is fled; and that he never saw him but twice before. It is for some Sin, not repented of, that God now left him to fall into such bad Company.
He said he is as free to dye, as to live, because he hopes he shall be happy in Heaven : And, upon my strictest observation of his whole deportment, I do believe him to be truly penitent.
The Fourth, John Pilborow, born at Finburrow in Suffolk, aged twenty years. He was for three years a BarberChyrurgions Prentice at St. Edmunds-bury, at that time his Master dyed: So he went to serve Sir George Winniffe, and thought to make money of the stolen Horse to set up his Trade ; for his Father dyed a week before, and so Po verty inclined him to commit the Felony.
He said that he had been a great Sinner in Drinking Excessively, in Swearing, in Gaming, yet he never Stole before, but God justly left him.because he had neglected his Duty, in not hearkning to Gods Call, in the loud Convictions of his Conscience: Yet, now he was made willing to come to him by Christ. He said also, that he hated all Sin, and did now esteem of Holiness. That he resignes himself up unto God, and submits to the Stroak of Death, because he hath deserved it.
Thus have I given an account of these four, as for Saltmarsh he was very Ignorant, and as Stupid, therefore I can say but little of him; yet I hope he was not totally Obdurate.
Betwixt Ten and Eleven in the morning, the Prisoners were put into the Cart at Newgate, who seemed very penitent all the way they went; when they came to Tyburn, Mr. Ordinary prayed with them, and sung part of the Twenty fifthe Psalm; after which, they exhorted the Standers by to take warning warning by their dismal and untimely Ends, of the Effects of Sin, which had brought them to that fatal place. And then they prayed earnestly by themselves, and desired the People to pray for them, after which they were Executed.
This may be Printed, June 9. 1685. R.L.S.