The True ACCOUNT of the Behaviour and Confessions OF THE Condemned Criminals IN NEWGATE, VIZ. Samuel Presby, Richard Hooker, Edward Linsy , Robert Nichols, Thomas Crompton, Mary Fisher, Thomas Gardner, Richard Jones, Katharine Brown, Matthew Morgan, Mary Collwood, Ann Davis.
AT the Sessions of 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 14, 15 and 16 Days of October, 1685. These Persons following recieved Sentence of Death, viz. Samuel Presby, Richard Hooker, Edward Linsy, Robert Nichols, Thomas Crompton, Mary Fisher, Thomas Gardner, Richard Jones, Katharine Brown, Matthew Morgan, Mary Collwood, Ann Davis.
The Ordinary earnestly Admonish’d them on the Lords day, that they would redeem their mispent Time, in a serious consideration, for what special Sins, the Lord had withdrawn his preventing Grace; which he never doth, till Sinners have quench’d the motions and excitations of his Holy Spirit, enviting them by his Long Suffering unto Repentance.
Before the Ordinary began to read Prayers, he advised all the Prisoners, as his usual manner is, to observe most Solemnly the the Lords Holy Day, and to return unto him, as the only rest of their Souls, by seeking true Satisfaction and Delight in him, and his Service, from whom they wandred all the Week past, by the Vanity of their Hearts and Conversations: And that the Condemned Criminals in a special manner would be very Intentive on the publick Prayers of the Church, and to the Sermons which should be Preach’d to them, which they promised to do.
In the Forenoon the Ordinary Preach’d on the 21 Ver. of the fifth Chap. of St. Pauls Epistle to the Romans, viz. As Sin hath reigned unto Deaths, so hath Rightecusness unto Life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. From which, he informed them of the deplorable Estate of all Men, being virtually concerned in the Apostacy of the
first Adam, whose Sin was complicated with many Aggravations; and that by the single Offence of this first Man, being under the Covenant of Works, as requiring of him personal perfect Obedience, being Created after the Image of God, in perfect Righteousness, the least declination from his Obedience did involve most justly himself, and all his Natural Posterity, as being their common Representative and Trustee for them, in the same State of Sin and Misery. Thus his Sin reigned unto Death, in all such who sin after the similitude of his Transgression: Inasmuch, that beside the vicious Inclination of their Nature, they make his Sin become their Own, by a voluntary increasing those sinful Dispositions inherent in themselves. In like manner, as a Vicious Off-spring, do strengthen and augment an hereditary Disease, by their proper and voluntary Intemperance and debauch’d Excesses.
Therefore it is very unreasonable and absurd to cast the blame of our personal Provocations upon any fatal Destiny in God, or on the imputation of Adams first Sin to his Posterity, considering that every Man entitles himself to the guilt of Adams Sin, and adopts it voluntarily to become his own, by treading in the same steps of Disobedience.
Here was declared what personal Sins became most deadly, as being least capable of Gods Mercy in Pardoning of them; then what are the pnal horrid consequences of such Sins, they being more aggravated in their own Nature. Also it was declared what are the characters by which we may discover, which is that chief beloved Sin, as reigning in us, and will certainly prevail over us unto Death Eternal, if not timely and sincerely Repented. Hereupon was added many Arguments to mortisie such Sins chiefly, left they reign unto Death. Also the difference betwixt true and counterfeit mortification of Lusts; with directions how to subdue the Law of Sin, that it may not prevail over us.
Then the Ordinary proceeded to shew the misery of all such in whom Sin reigns, in the Love and Indulgence of it; and that it is impossible to be set free from the Law of Sin and Death, but only by the infinite Righteousness of Christs Active and Passive Obedience, imputed to Sinners, by Gods free Grace upon timely Repentance, and a sincere Faith, deriving strength from the influences of Christs Spirit, for the renovation of their Hearts, and universal Obedience to Gods Commandments: inasmuch as true justifying Faith accepts of Christ in all his Offices, in his Kingly Righteousness to rule us by his Laws and Spirit, as well as to save us by his Priestly Righteousness. This is the only true compleat method of Salvation, because God hath sent his Son to bless us. How? By turning us from the love and dominion of all our Inquiries, equally, as in turning them from us in the damning guilt of them.
Thus God justifies none in an ungodly state We must first be Regenerated; which contains Faith, Repentance, and new Obedience, before we can obtain Gods actual Pardon, in as much as these are the Terms and Qualifications of the Covenant of Grace, to make us capable of the Benefits purchased by Christ for us, so that his Kingly as well as Priestly Righteousness must reign in our Sanctification, and obedience to his Laws, that we may inherit Eternal Life. As for that Objection, That God Justifies the Ungodly, it cannot be meant of such whom he finds in an Ungodly State, but only of Regenerate Persons, who are called Ungodly in a less degree, as having still the remainders of Defilement in them, which makes even them unlike to God, as having not in this Life perfect Holiness; and therefore Justification is not by our best inherent Righteousness, which needs constant daily extending of Christs Righteousness to cover the spots of our holiest Services.
Here the Ordinary excited them to a regular Genuine Faith and Repentance, that so, as the Malignity and Infection of Adams Sir, confirmed by their customary Excesses, had reigned unto Death; so the Benign efficacy of Christs Righteousness might reign more triumphantly in the infinite value and vertue of it; as for our Justification, so to produce in us by the Almighty Operations of his holy Spirit, not only a state of Sanctification, but with it all degrees of Spiritual Life, in progressive Holiness, till it be consummared in Eternal Glory.
Here those degrees of spiritual Life were enumerated, and how Christs Righteousness reigns in those in a transcendent Efficacy beyond all the degrees of spiritual Death contracted by the Malignity and Defilement of the first Adam’s Sin, or our personal voluntary Provocations.
After this the Ordinary made a short Speech to the Condemned Malefactors, and dismissed them with Prayer and the usual Benediction of the Church Liturgy. In the Afternoon he read the solemn appointed Offices, and another Sermon was preach’d to them on these Words, To Day if you will hear his Voice, harden not your Hearts. Which the Person who preach’d trea ted of very closely and pathetically: So that I hope it made a good Impression on them.
Now I proceed to give an account of what fitness they were in for their approaching Death.
Katharine Brown, of the Parish of Twitnam, Indicted October the 4th. for that being Deli vered of a Bastard Child, on the same Day she carryed the Child to a Brook, and put it therein, Choaking and Drowning it with Water. It was proved the Prisoner confess’d the Child was hers, and that she was Delivered there of in a Meadow, but that it was Born Dead: but being no Ways Credited, she was brought Guilty.
In this sad Instance, which is too frequent, its observable how Satan prevails upon Sinners
by degrees: first he Tempts them to Immodesty, and Laciviousness in Conversion, by not setting a Watch over their Hearts, to prevent inward Lusting in the first Motions and Ebullitions of it; then by unwary Converse with prophane Persons, Tempts them from Chambering and Wantonness, to comply with flagitious desires of gratifying sensual brutish Commixtures; to cover and conceal the turpitude and shame of which, he draws them to Murder their Illegitimate Off-springs; which is a most unnatural Crime, in as much as the very Sea Monsters Suckle and Preserve their Young. But common Reason depraved, grows impatient of any restraint from the dictates of Nature, and so exposes to the most abominable Crimes.
Murder, especially that of the Mothers Murdering of her own Child, is a most horrid Sin, which cries loud to Gods Justice for the Discovery and Punishment of it. The Ordinary assured her, that without a sincere extraordinary Repentance, the guilt and defilement of so abominable a Crime could not be expiated: for she ought to have considered that she conceived the Child in a base way, and therefore stood engaged to have declared her Remorse in bringing it to Christs Holy Baptism, and to have acknowledged publickly her great scandalous Sin. Yet she was so averse from this Ingenuity, that to cover her vile Offence, she offered not her Child to Baptism, which is the Laver of Regeneration, that so it might be dedicated to the holy Trinity, but had chosen rather to devote her self Soul and Body to eternal Destruction, by embrewing her Hands in the Blood of her Innocent Babe. She was told how difficult it was to Repent of such a Murder; when as no Sin is more hardning of the Heart, it being so directly against humane Nature, and renders the Murderer more stupid than any Beast.
That she was not to sink in Desparation, yet so to aggravate her Crime, as upon sincere Repentance, to look up to a Crucified Jesus, who prayed for those who shed his most sacred Blood; which if the beg servently of God, to apply it by an Unfeigned Faith, the infinite Merits of it will not only atone Divine Vengeance, but expiate the deep defilement of so horrid a Crime.
She was not able so reply any thing more to me, than that she was truly sorry for so great a Sin, and desired me to Pray for her, that God would soften her obdurate Heart, and work in her a thorow Repentance, that she may no Dy in her Sin, tho she might suffer a publick shameful Death for it.
She was ignorant in Soul concernments, and could not Read, therefore could give the less account of the change of her Heart.
Mary Fisher, Mary Collwood, and Ann Davis, were not free to Discourse with the Ordinary concerning their present Repentance, in order to their Everlasting Happiness, because upon pleading they were Quick with Child, and the Jury of Women bringing in their Verdict it was Truth, they three Criminals were ordered to be kept in Goal till they they shall be delivered in Child bed.
The Ordinary told them that he had observed some Criminals in the circumstances with them, had grown more Obdurate by so along a Respit from Death, perverting the Equity and Clemency of the Law, that the Innocent Child shall not Perish with the guilty Mother, into an occasion of greater Security and Impenitency. He wish’d that their Reprieve might not produce such ill Effect in them, but rather, that they would consider whether their Children were Legitimate: if not, this was but a very Sinful Artifice to prevent a sudden Execution, hoping thereby to get a Transportation. But if they did not Redeem precious Time, and repent Sincerely of all their vicious Courses, the Justice of God and Man would yet bring them to condign Punnishment, and by the Abuse of longer time they would be less fit to Dy, and so aggravate their Eternal Condemnation. They took my Advice in good part, and I shall not be wanting in my Sermons and Prayers to remind them of their Promises to improve their respit from Death to the best advantage of their Souls.
The Ordinary endeavoured to convince him of the greatness of his Crime, because he could not but offer Violence to the
contrary dictates, of his Conscience, before he broke open the Closet-door, to carry away the Goods of her who prosecuted him. He confessed he had been a Sinner many ways, but he was convinced now of his evil course of Life, and earnestly beg’d of God, that he would give him Repentance, an hatred of his Sins, and an obedient frame of heart unto his Laws, and then hoped he should find mercy at the hand of God, whether he lived or dyed.
Robert Nichols and Thomas Crompton, were Indicted for assaulting, Aug. 30. the Body of Edward Herring, with a Sword, giving him a mortal Wound, on which the said Herring dyed. Nichols pretended he did not draw his Sword himself, but the Scabbard was drawn from his Sword by another: But setting aside Pretences, upon Evidence sufficient, Nichols and Crompton were found Guilty.
The Ordinary told them, that it was a great sin to obstruct the course of Justice, in endeavouring to rescue any man arrested, out of the hands of the Bayliffs; that such a practice brought on fatal Effects, in shedding Innocent Blood; and that to Kill an Officer of Justice in the Execution of his Office was Murder.
They expressed much Grief for offending God in the Violation of the Laws of the Nation, providing against such outrageous Attempts, and for all other provocations of God by their evil Courses, which might expose them to the committing of this Crime. So that they hoped, thorow Christ’s mous death, which made satisfaction to God offended Justice, that he would pardon them, and wash away the defilement contracted on their Souls, by shed ding humane Blood, though they did not maliciously design it.
In my next visit of them, I told them, That the Heart of Man is very deceitful, and that they were not to rest in, much less to trust to any initial Sorrow for Sin, but to endeavour what lay in them, that they might obtain of God the carrying on of their Convictions to a perfect work of Conversion. Therefore I enquired of them, what grounds they had to believe, that God was reconciled to them in Christ. I allured them, that as the Enmity betwixt him and Sinners is mutual, so he expected that they should be reconciled to him, in casting away their rebellious dispositions, as they desire he should be at peace with them, in pardoning the guilt of their Sins, that the chief Blessing of his Free-grace consisted, in turning them from the love of all Iniquity, that Christ may be formed in their hearts as the hope of glory. This lively hope they could not have, unless they were conformed to the power of his Death and Resurrection, in dying to the indulgence of their Lusts, and in being quickned to the life of Holiness.
Upon this they were desirons to be farther directed by me, how they might proceed safely to hope for a blessed Eternity. I told them they must be willing ingenuously and sincerely to declare what their former course of life had been; and that the review of their Sins must be with as bitter a detestation, as they had committed them with delight, that so they might leave some publick Testimony of the truth of their Repentance, because their Crimes had been so Notorious.
Hereupon Edwand Linsy, Condemned, for Feloniously deferring the Service of the King, after he had taken Pay, said that he was heartily sorry for his Crime, and all other Sins whereby he had provoked God to leave him to such Disloyalty.
I told him that it was a great Crime to withdraw himself from the Service of His Majesty, and that he could not have any pretence for it. But this Disloyalty was founded on the breach of his Vow and Covenant, made to and with Christ at his Baptism: he had not fulfilled that Sacramental Oath, wherein he engaged to forsake the Devil and all his Works, that he might become Christ’s faithful Servant and Soldier to his lifes end. Neither can any man be truly Loyal to his earthly Sovereign, who is not faithfully obedient to his heavenly Father and Almighty Redeemer.
Henry Cornish, late Alderman of London, was Indicted for High-Treason, in conspiring the death of the late King, with other Traytors, to raise a Rebellion in order to subvert the Government, was, upon a full Evidence, brought in Guilty;who is to be executed in Cheapside, facing King street, near Guildball.
About Nine of the Clock in the morning, those Prisoners Convicted of High-Treason, were drawn in Sleds, the others in Carts, to the several places of Execution, who seemed very penitent all the way they went, Mr. Ordinary praying with them. After which, they exhorted the Spectators to take warning by their untimely Ends of the Effects of Sin. Then they prayed earnestly by themselves, desiring the People to pray for them, after which they were all Executed.
This may be printed, 1685. R.L.S.
These are to give Notice to all Persons, That the true Account of the whole Tryals of Henry Conish, John Fernly, William Ring, and Elizabeth Gaunt, at the Sessions held at JusticeHall in the Old-Bayly, pursuant to an Order Granted by the Right Honourable Sir James Sith, Lord Mayor of the City of London, will be Printed and Published by George Croom.