The True ACCOUNT OF THE Behaviour and Confessions OF THE Condemned Criminals IN NEWGATE, VIZ. William Charly, John Tomson, Thomas Draper, Ann Scot, Catherine Baucer, Cassandra Widdows, Elizabeth Hacker, Thomas Glanister, Elinor Steel.
At the Sessions or oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery of Newgate, Held for the City of London, and County of Middlesex, at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bayly, the 26th and 27th Days of August, 1685. These Nine Persons received Sentence of Death, viz. William Charly, John Tomson, Thomas Draper, Ann Scot, Catherine Baucer, Cassandra Widdows, Elizabeth Hacker, Thomas Glanister, Eleanor Steel.
The Ordinary the Visited the Condemned Prisoners, on Friday, the 28th of August, and told them that it much affected him with Pity and Grief, to behold so many Persons under the Sentence of Death, in so short a time since the last Sessions, and that frequent examples of publick shame and Punnishment made no deeper impression on Mens Hearts, than not to avoid the like Crimes, for which others had so signally and justly Suffered.
He Exhorted them to consider seriously what the whole course of their Life had been, and for what special Sins God was now (by this Heavy, yet Rghiteous Stroke) making Inquisition: He endeavoured to make them sensible of their several Crimes, whereby they had violated their solemn Ingagements to God at their Baptism, and not Reflected on it, so as to make an Holy and Wife Improvement of it, to have resisted the Temptations of their evil Hearts, the World and the Devil
That sacred dedication to God, is little Regarded by many Persons who grow ripe in Sin in their very Youth. The Ordinary told them that their Childhood had been Vanity, because then they knew little of God, and their Youth is Vanity, because as soon as Reason began to dawn, their Vicious Dispositions grew stronger to Rebel stronger against him. That they had Rebelled also against Human Society, and the very light of Nature, in the checks of Conscience, and possibly against many resolutions of Reforming, which contracts hardness of Heart, and provokes the Lord justly to suspend his preventing Grace, because by custome they had made Sin familier, and the harder to be Retracted from. Notwithstanding it was not yet too late to seek unto God, that he would recover them out of the Snare of Satan, who had led them Captive in the fulfilling of their Lusts. Therefore their Duty now is, to lay themselves Prostrate before the most High, in the sense of their great Provocations of his Holiness, and then to implore him to create an Eye of Faith in them, to behold a Crucified Redeemer, able to save to the utmost sincere Penitentiaries; and that tho they could not soften their own Hearts, yet it is promised in the Covenant of Grace, that the Lord will take away the Heart of Stone, and give an Heart of Flesh: A tender flexible Disposition to Obey his Laws. Much more the Ordinary discoursed with them; afterwards he Prayed with them, and upon a short Exhortation, dismissed them for that time.
On Saturday he visited them again and having Prayed and Exhorted then to re-account from their own Mouths in Writing, what preparation they had made for a Blessed Eternity: Whereupon most of them freely confessed what their former course of Life had been, and expressing some Relenting, but not clearly understanding the nature of saving justifying Faith, nor of a thorow Conversion to God. The Ordinary instructed them in the difference twixt true and false Faith, Hope, and Charity, exhorting them to a speedy Repentance, then he Prayed again with them, and desired them to prepare themselves for the solemn Duties of the Lords Day approaching, that it might be a pledge of Eternal Rest, in Glory, and so dismissed them.
On the Lords Day the Ordinary read Prayers and Preached to them twice. In the Forenoon on the 9th. to the Hebrews, and the 27th Verse, It is appointed to all Men once to Dye and after that the Judgment.
In the Afternoon he Preached on the fourth Chapter of the Prophet Jeremiah, and the first Ver. If thou wilt return, O Israel, faith the Lord, return unto me; and if thou wilt put away thy Abominations out of my Sight, then shalt thou not Remove.
He observed that they were much affected with both those Discourses, and expressed sighs and Tears for their ill spent Lives. Some of them who before were not so Compliant with the Ordinaries Advice, now were very Active and Flexible.
On the Monday he Visited them again, and took a further Account what Impressions the sabbaoth Duties had left upon their Hearts, and inquired (after he had Prayed with them) what Grounds they had to hope for a future state of Blessedness: Those who had an early Reprieve came not to me, because the fear of Dying with the sense of their past Guilt, were worn out together: Only one among the Reprieved, viz. Elinor Steel, after she knew she was safe, desired me to Pray for her, that she might live in some measure sensible of so great a Mercy, and walk Humbly under it, and with more Circumspection for the future.
As for the other who had no hopes of a Reprieve, they submitted to a more thorow inquiery into their Soul State, and expressed more of a Penitential Frame, of which I now proceed to give an Account.
Aged about 40 Years, Born in Ireland, now a Widdow . She said that she Wrought hard for Nine Years space in Embrodery , after that she grew Idle, and observation of the Lords Day. Soon upon that great Sin she ceased from Praying that she might be preserved from ill Company, the Snares of Satan, and the Temptations of her own Heart. She said, that if she Dy, she must needs Justifie God, and Condemn her self, because she had turn’d the longSuffering and abounding Goodness of God, into Wantonness: And altho she had at times resolutions to Repent and Reform, yet they were not fix’d, but Vanishing, so that she had dealt basely and falsely with God in his Covenant.
She said that one Night since her Condemnation she tasted of Gods Goodness, and had some hope of her happy condition after Death. But she thought notwithstanding that it might be the presumption of her own deceitful Heart, and she thought she had no Repentance because she had Sinned Wilfully after clear and strong Conviction. For, said she, It is written if any Sin wilfully after the acknowledgment of the Truth, there remains no more Sacrifice for Sin, but a fearful expectation of Fiery Indignation, which shall devour the Adversary. Then, she said, pray, Sir, inform me of that Scripture.
I told her, that tho every wilful Sin be against the Holy Ghost, yet that Text points at the special extraordinary Sin against him, which is a total Renouncing of the whole Doctrin of the Gospel, and the Fundamentals of the Christian Religion against former clear Illuminations, and some Eminent Profession of the Name of Christ. This Apostacy is so directly and transcendently opposite to the Grace of God offer’d in the Gospel, and to the more remarkable, sensible commutations of Goodness and Kindness from the Holy Spirit, that by degrees the Heart is desperately Hardned, in striving to Raze out all former Impressions; so as to Apostatize to Judaism, or Mahumetism, and to persist therein, even unto final Inpenitency. This Monstrosity Sinning, is so directly against the Grace of God revealed in the remedy of Recovering Sinful Manking, by the only Expiatroy Sacrifice of Christs Death, that it proves Unpardonable, upon that account, as not capable of Repentance, because there remains no more Sacrifice for Sin. Yea, such who are really guilty of it, (who are very few) are so Hardned in it, that very they never fear nor suspect themselves to be guilty of it. Yet the Ordinary told her that wilful Sinning against Clear and frequent strong Convictions and Resolutions to Reform, is a very deplorable and Hazardous Case, tho not Desperate and Irrecoverable
Upon this the Condemned Ann Scot received some hope of Gods Grace and Mercy. For, said she, Tho I have been a great Notorious Sinner, so that none can judge worse of me, than I do of my self, yet I lay hold and depend on Christ alone for my Pardon and Eternal Life. I know that I must be wholly emptied of all good Opinion of myself, that I may be Justified by Christs Merits, and filled with the Sanctifying Graces of his Spirit. She said that she must exercise the greater Repentance because she had Sinned against Light and Conviction. That her Sins have proceeded from Presumption, so that after all her Humiliation, she hath need to pray, Lord forsake me not.
I asked her what Faith and Repentance were. In which she gave great Satisfaction. She said that she to leave all Sin, out of Hatred to it, and not only for fear of Hell. And that she desired to have Gods Glory in her Eye, more than her own Salvation. Upon my frequent Discourses with her, and her whole Deportment, I have Ground; to believe that she was truly Penitent.
For when I Visited her on Tuesday, I Observed that she had made some further Progress in the Humbling of her Soul for her Sins; and thereupon endeavoured to Comfort her, and Encourage her to Believe in Christ; and commit her Soul to him, as a Merciful and, faithful Redeemer. She replied, that it was a most Difficult thing to Repent and Believe Aright; for Satan had long had the possession of her Heart, and thought now to confirm his Hold, because, she said, she had Hardned her self in a course of Sinning. I told her that God had promised to Tread down Satan under the Feet of true Penitentiaries, And that to be sensible of Hardness of Heart; was some degree of Contrition. She said that I had a better Opinion of her, than she could have of her Self: God might justly leave her to the Deceitfulness of her Heart, because she had often Deceived others. That she did not so much desire to Live out of the love of Natural Life, as to Glorify God, and have further time to work out her Salvation: But the will of the Lord must be submitted unto. She had rather Dy now, than Survive and multiply Provocations of Him. She expressed much more, which to relate would exclude my Account of others.
Catherme Baucer, Aged 44 Years, Widdow . She said, that she became very unfortunate, in Marrying against her Friends Consent, which made them unkind to her, but she hopes, she shall find Favour in Gods Sight, if this be Sanctified to her. She confessed she had good Educatin, which the more aggravates her Sins. That she had been guilty of Pride, and that
the want of good Cloaths made her refrain somtimes from going to Church.
She feared that her Heart was so Obdurate, that it was Impossible to find Mercy at the Hand of God, for he did not leave her, till she first forsook him, yet she rests upon Christ alone to Save her.
I asked her what Repentance was, she said, It is a Sinners Consideration of his or her Ways, and the sad Condition thereby drawn upon themselves, joyned with an hearty Grief, and chiefly for Offending God, and that they went against his Laws.
Elizabeth Hacker, Aged 34 Years; Born in Middlesex. She Wept and said she had not observed the Sabbath Day, as she ought. That she had been guilty of other Sins, of which, we hoped, God would make her truly sensible. That it was a Mercy she was on this side Hell. And that if she had led her Life never so strictly, yet she had cause not to depend on this for her Justification before God. And therefore she trusts on Christs Kindness alone, to Save her, tho she Repent never so much.
Thomas Draper, Aged 20 Years, Born in Leicester-shire. He was brought up in Husbandry ; which Imployment he left, as counting his Fathers Trade of a Shomaker to be better. Yet he left his Fathers House and Employment, because he was crost in Love, which he had ferled on a Maid. So he took up the Horse for which he is Condemned, without the Owners leave, to ride to London, and seek Imployment there. He said it was a very foolish Act, so to bring himself into Trouble. That he had Sinned before in Lying and Swearing, for which God left him to commit this Fact. But he begged of him, to make him Penitent, and then he shall be satisfied whether he Live or Dy.
William Charly, when I Visited him the fourth time, viz. on Tuesday, his Mother was present, and Wept exceedingly, desiring him to fit himself for Death. She said, she had been partly guilty of his untimely End, by her fond Indulgence of him, above any of her Children. A good caution to all Mothers not to be Partial in their Affection. She press’d him to forgive all his Enemies. Upon that, observing him to fall into some Passion, I took him aside and asked him whom she meant. He said his Wife. He was Industrous, as he said, at his Trade, but she wearied him out of his Employment by her sharp Tongue, and being very Vexatious to him, he told her that her ill Carriage would make him take desperate Courses: So that he left Co-habiting with her, and soon after fell into bad Company. I told him that the neglect of her Duty should not have produced such ill Effects. But rather he ought by a patient discharging his own Duty, have won her to a mild frame of Spirit. At last, he said, he freely forgave her, tho she had been the cause of his untimely End.
When I left him he was more awakned than before, and Wept, saying, that he had been a great Sinner, but would not express wherein. I told him that true Repentance is an hatred, especially of the darling Sin, which he ought freely to Acknowledge, and thereby give Glory to God, if he were sensible first of it. He desired me to Pray for him, which I did, and Ann Scot joyned in Prayer at the same time, whole Repentance was very Remarkable. They two only were in the Dead Warrant. I Visited them on Wednesday, Thursday, and on Friday before the Execution. The other Condemned Malefactors not Named in this Paper, were not free to Discourse with me, and therefore here I must terminate my account of this Session.
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 fifth Psalm; after which, they exhorted the Standers by to take warning by their dismal and untimely Ends, of the Effects of Sin, which 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 all Executed.
This may be Printed, 1685.R.L.S.
London, Printed by G.Croom, at the Blue-Ball in Thames-Street, over against Baynard's-Castle. 1685.