THE TRUE ACCOUNT OF THE BEHAVIOUR AND CONFESSION Of the Criminals, Condemned on Friday the 10th. of September, 1686. at Justice Hall in the Old-Bayly, viz. Elias Smith, John Raven, Samuel Watkins, Humphery Petton, Edward Thornton, Eleanor Jones, Esther Simpson, Mary Stanly, Sarah Dean,; Of which, Samuel Watkins, Edward Thornton, John Raven, and Eleanor Jones, were in the Dead Warrant to be Executed at TYBURN, On Friday the 17th. of this Instant September. 1686. The other Coudemned Criminals, are by His Majesty, Graciously Reprieved.
THe Orninary , on the next day after the Sentence of Death passed upon the aforesaid Criminals, visited them, and after he had prayed with them, earnestly exhorted them that they would beg of God, to make them sensible of their sevearl Crimes, that they would look back on the whole course of their Life, in as much, 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 to a considerable degree of Atheism, because they are not for some time discovered and brought to shame.
Notwithstanding, though they had quentch’d the Motions of Gods holy Spirit, and resisted the Convictions of their Conscience formerly, yet, Now, by this Fatal Stroke drawn upon themselves; he loudly calls them to Repentance, that so ehey may escape the Wrath which is to come.
They began to be awakened from their Security in an Evil Estate, and to lament their former flagicious Courses; which relenting, the Ordinary encouraged, yet advised them, not to rely on any flight sorrow for sin, as if this were any satisfaction to God, for all the Exorbitances of their Conversations, He
Exhorted them to prepare for the Dutys of the Lords Day, because it was likely to be the 1sst Sabbath they would enjoy on Earth.
After this, and other Counsel given them, they seemed very sensible of the Heinousness of their Crimes, and were desirous that I would often visit them; I replyed, that It was my Duty, and that I would not fail, by Divine Assistance to fulfil my Office to the utmost, in Compassion to their Souls: And they promised me, that they would take pains with their own hearts in my Absense, to fit themselves for a future Happy State.
I told them, they ought to help forward each others Repentance, considering, how by their bad Counsel and Example, they had miss-led others into sinful Practices, and so with Prayer I dismist them.
On the Lords Day in the Forenoon, there was a Sermon on this Text, viz. The fifth Chapter of St. Matthews Gospel, the sixth Verse. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after Righteousness, for they shall be filled or satisfied.
In the Afternoon, the Ordinary Preached on the 11th. Verse of the 33d. Chapter of Ezekielz Prophesie, Say to them, As I live faith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the Death of the Wicked, but that he turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye, from your Evil ways, for, why will ye Dye O House of Israel. Whence he drew forth these Observations.
First, That it is a great Condescension in God, to treat on Terms of Mercy and Reconciliation with sinners, standing out in their Rebellion.
Secondly, Inasmuch as the Lord directs Offers of Peace to sinners, under the form of a solemn Oath, to obtain Credit of his willingness to save them. Observe, it is very difficult to convince such who are sensible of Guilt, yet the Lord God will not Arm his Justice to destroy them. Sinners naturally entertain low and hard thoughts of God, as if he studyed to Tryhumph in their Ruin.
Thirdly, The only proper way, for any Man to enjoy himself happily, is to turn from a course of sinning to the Lord [Let the wicked turn from his way and live.]
Fourthly, As a Relation to God, aggravates the Evil of departing from him, so it ought to be a moving Obligation and Encouragement to return unto him Turn O House of Israel, though very much degenerate, because I am your God, by special Covenant of free Grace, having chosen you to be my peculiar People, in the publick profession of my Name.
Fifthly, Sinners often-times Judge Gods way or providential dealing with them to be unequal and severe, when their own ways were evil and perverse, to draw heavy Judgments upon themselves. Turn ye from your own Evil ways.
Sixthly, Converting Grace is necessary and difficult: Therefore the Exhortation is repeated with the greater Pathetical Expression. Turn ye, turn ye.
Seventhly, There is spiritual Death contracted, by sinning against God, which should provoke us to hate it, and turn from it.
Eighthly, Sinners unwilling to turn to God, are self-cruel, and in love with Death. Turn ye, why will ye Dye?
Most of these Propositions were illustrated and practically improved: The Conclusion of the Sermon, was directed to the Condemned, with Arguments to turn from their Evil course to the Lord, demonstrating the misery of spiritual Death, and the Happiness of spiritual Life, in a sincere Conversation, stating the Nature of it, with Rules and Directions how to Expedite it.
On Monday I visited them again, and after Prayer, whilest they retained tho’e relentinig impressions, which were upon them the day before. I asked them what hope they had that God was Reconciled to them in Christ: They said that they prayed & did what they could to obtain the pardon of their sins, that they might be saved. I assured them, that if they were willing to be happy on Terms viz. If they desired sincerely to be holy, as much as to be delivered from the wrath of God, by whose frowns sinners Dye Eternally, then Christs sanctifying spirit would become their Comforter.
The Ordinary took an Account of their fitness fortheir approaching death, and most of them readily complyed with his desires.
The first Criminal, who offered himself what his evil Course of Life had been, was Elias Smith, Born in Ludlow, in the County of Salop, Aged, 27. years he was a Button-maker in the City of Worcester, after he left his Trade, he grew acquainted with bad Company, and now is Condemned for stealing a Horse. He said that once he had a full Employment of his Trade, but addicted himself to idleness, he soon became Poor, and cast about in his thoughts to get Money for his vain Expences. He denys not, that he gave his Consent to the stealing and selling of the Horse, and did partake in the price for which it was sold. He acknowledged and bewailed the miserable and sinful Condition into which he hath plunged himself, and that he had grievously offended God, by lately neglecting the Observation of the Lords Day, which he says he was wont to spend in Religious exercises.
That formerly he had received much Mercy from God, but for the abusing of proffered Grace, and not keeping due watchfulness over his heart, he proceeded to neglect Prayer, and quentch’d the Motions of the holy spirit. That his evil heart did sometimes vent it self in swearing, and in other sins, that his sorrow is chiefly for offending God, and in rejecting the proffers of his Grace, and good instructions, which were given him by Religious Friends.
He much Laments that now, the time of his returning to the Lord by Repentance, is so short, and wishes that Rivers of Tears may run down his Eyes to quench the Flames of his Lusts. He says that his heart is ready to break for the transgressing Gods Laws, in whom alone, is all his snccour and hope of Comfort. Therefore he prays to the Lord of Life, to quicken him by his holy spirit, and that he would put such Petitions into his heart, which may be suitable to his present distress.
2dly. John Raven, Born in Catharine Wheele Yard in Smithfield, Aged 16. or 17. Years. He says his Father was a a Coach-maker, and dying, left his Mother Poor, and not able to put him to any Trade, therefore he was forced to be a Postillion , for which, he received 3 l. Wages by the Year. He stands Condemned, for Committing a Rape on the Body of Mary Katt, a Child of 8 Years and 3 Weeks Old. He would feighnedly have extenuated the Crime, but the Ordinary laid it home to him, then he said that he was sorry for it. He was wonderfully ignorant in any thing which is good, having spent his time idly and vainly; and faith he was disobedient to his Mother.
I find few so little instructed, he not being able to repeat perfectly the Lords Prayer. I wish that all Young Persons may take warning by him, to give heed to good instruction, and to fortifie themselves by Prayer against all immodesty and Lasciviousness, in Conversation, least they be hardened in a course of Wickedness, and come to an untimely End.
3dly. Samuel Watkins Born Essex, in Childerditch Parish, Aged 23. or 24 Years. He followed the Employment of a Gardener at Tattenham, for 5 Years, Afterwards being of a vain Conversation he fell into loose Company, and was Burnt in the hand last Sessions; now Condemned for stealing a Dun Gelding: for some time past he faith he was in Lecester-shire to see some Friends, but being Poor, and they not able to supply him, was the occasion of his Horse stealing.
He is not very sensible of his past illspent Life, but as Death is heavy and doleful to all such, who take little Care for their future state, so he is now perplext for the shortness of his Days, and his Exorbitant courses.
4thly. Humphery Peiton, Born in St. Giles’s Cripplegate Parish, 20. Years of Aged: He served an Apprenticeship to a Joyner in Threadneedle-Street: He stands Condemned for Breaking open the house of Susannah Kemp. He says that coming from work on a Saturday in the Evening, he went to an Ale-house, where meeting Bad Company, he continued drinking from six a Clock till Midnight, which Evil course he had been addicted unto, and other prophaness: But this sentence of Death, he hopes will bring his sins to Remembrance for committing which, he desires to be humbled and Repent, and that, if he may obtain sparing Mercy, he will endeavour to lead a new Life.
5thy. Edward Thornton, Condemned for Absenting himself from His Majesties Military Service , after having taken Pay, and being Twice Cloathed. He was Born in the County of Durham, Aged One and Twenty Years. Formerly he waited on a Gentleman at London, and for a pretence to leave his Service, he went to see his Friends in the Country, but not finding what he expected, he returned and Lifted himself for a Soldier at Kingstone upod Hull: Afterwards he took an opportunity to Run away from His Majesties Camp at Hownslow-Heath, wandering about as an idle Person, and sell into extream Poverty by keeping loose Company. He is sorry that he hath incurred the King’s Displeasure by his Disloyalty, and thinks, if he had led a better Life, he had not faln under this Sentence of Death.
On Tuesday the Ordinary visited them again, and enquired of them what impressions were made upon their hearts, by Prayers and Instructions in Order to their Preparation for Death, and a Blessed Eterniry. They said that it is no little trouble to them that they have sinned against frequent Convictions, of Conscience, which do aggravate the sins of their mispent Life.
I told them how deceitful the Heart of Man is, and that sincere Repentance is not so casie a work, after sin hath been strengthened by Custome and that it requires some consideraable time, to manifest the found Fruits and Effects thereof For some Criminals after they are spared, forget the Vows made to God in their Distress, and their good Resolutions of Reformation-Vanish, when their fears of Death are blown over. They replied, that they prayed to God to make them syncere in their sorrow for Sin. Then I stated the Nature of true and false Faith, and Repentance, Exhorting them not to despare of God’s Mercy, but to Endeavour what they can to make peace with Him, thorow Christ, that Death may not be terrible to them.
So proceeded to take an account of the Criminals whom I had not yet Examined.
First, Eleanor Jones, Condemned for two Felonies, one of which was for Robbing her Master Mr. Carnal, of a good value in Gold and Apparrel, which she doth not deny, but says, that She hath restored most of what She stole.
She says that she was Born of Creditable Parents, who live plentifully, and gave her Godly Education but she did not improve that Advantage. I told her, that her Repentance ought to be as Eminent and Remarkable.
She said, she hath been seaven years absent from het Parents, the first three of which, she spent at a Boarding-Schoole in Hackney, four years more she lived in Service but shifted her Places, which brought Poverty upon her, and this led her to Stealing. She hopes she hath made her Peace with God. I askt her upon what Grounds she thought soe, she replied, that she had knowledge Enough, and therefore cared not to answer to any more Questions, and that if God hath a good Opinion of her, the Worlds account of her signifies nothing. After I had Prayed with her, and the rest of the Condemned, she only added this Expression, that she Mourns not out of fear of Death; which she is willing to Undergoe but for, offending God, and the disparagement of her Friends.
2d. 3d. 4th. Hector Sympson, Mary Stanly, Sarah Dean are Reprieved , the two latter upon pleading they were quick with Child , which was verified by the Virdict of a Jury of Matrons, so being Respeited from Execution till they are delivered of their Burthen in that Respect, they (as others) of the same Circumstances care not to be discoursed with. Yet the Ordinary advised them, not to grow the more Obdurate by a respeite from Death, and wisht that it may not proproduce greater Security.
But if pregnant Criminals shall mispend that Respeite, and grow more hacdned in a sinful State, the Justice of God and Man will overtake them, when they most presume on safety, and will bring them to condigne Punishment, that their carelesness to sit for Death will aggravate their Eternal Condemnation.
The Ordinary continued every day to pray with, and Exhort the Persons to be Executed, and hopes that the Lord will make them more penitent and capable of his Mercy.
This is all the Account which he can give of the Criminals Condemned this Session.
About 10 of the Clock on Friday Morning, they were put into two several Carts at Newgate, and conveyed to the place of Execution, where the Ordinary prayed with them, and exhorted the Spectators to take warning by them; after which the Ordinary sung part of a psalm, and so concluded with a Prayer, after which they were turned off.
This may be Printed, R.P. September the 17th, 1686.