A True ACCOUNT of the BEHAVIOUR, CONFESSION, AND Last Dying SPEECHES Of the 15 Criminals that were Executed On Monday the 22th of December, 1690.
THe Ordinary visited them every day after their Condemnation, and on the last Lord's Day a Sermon was preached to them, on this Text, Deut 32. 29. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end.
Whence five things were observable, 1. The Benefit and Advantage of a Religious Consideration in general. 2. The no less advantagious Benefit of considering our latter end in particular. 3. That to consider our latter end, is an Argument of our Wisdom and Understanding. 4. Some Seasons and particular Occasions were instanced wherein consideration of our Latter End is more especially necessary. 5. That Discourse was concluded with some Motives for the putting in practice this important Duty, then a Charge given to the Condemned as follows.
O that you were wise, that you understood this, that you would consider your latter end.
I know you do consider it in one sense, that is, your minds are in continual fearful Apprehension of it, but this is not that considering of your latter end, which the Text exhorts to, this is the minding in such sort their Deaths and Departures, as to prepare and make ready for them.
O that I may dye the death of the righteous, is the ardent Wish of every one; but O that I may live the Life of the Righteous of how very few. Sirs, deceive not your selves, there is no having your latter End like the Righteous Man, but only by having your precedent Life like his.
What? Will not you consider your latter end, so as to prepare for it, who have it in so near a view, and Death stares you in the face, and are you yet unprovided against it?
O certainly it is your Wisdom, it is your Understanding, to consider the things belonging to your everlasting Peace, before they be for ever hid from your Eyes. How utterly inexcusable will you be, if you do not, to morrow, to morrow my Friends will be the latter end as to this Life. O that tomorrow may be the beginning of an Eternity in Blessedness unto you.
Take care therefore that they be in a due Qualification for-Heaven and Happiness; take heed that they be meet to be partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light and Glory.
This Life is the only State of Tryal and Probation, there is no amending in the other World what was left defective in this Work of Conversation, at our departure out of this.
Therefore let us now give all Diligence to make our Calling and Election sure, let us work out our Salvation with a cautious Fear and Trembling, left our Contrition be imperfect, and our Repentance unsincere.
O blessed God! is this the business you are imployed about for an endless Eternity, and can you be too careful concerning it? Think not a few Tears, Sighs, and Lord have Mercy on me, to be Repentance This is not so cheap and easy a performance, especially when there is a whole course of Life of wickedness to be repented of. Oh, no! it imports all the painful Throws and Pangs of of a second Birth, of a life of Regeneration. It imports a broken and contrite Heart, an Hatred and Detestation of Sin, as well as a Sorrow for it. Sincere and stedfast Resolution of new Obedience, yet, an actual ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well. And, oh! may your Repentance be such! may it be a repenting you more that you have offended a good and gracious God by your impieties, than that these have exposed you to condign temporal Punishment.
O cause you new Joy in Heaven by your Repentance, as you have formerly grieved, quenched, and offered dispight to Gods Holy Spirit by your obstinately wicked and impenitent Lives. Think it not enough to say within your selves, We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, for he is no Propitiation for yonr Sins, unless you truly repent and forsake them. The Redemption purchased by our Saviour, and the Promises of his Gospel, belong not to you, if you have not the Qualifications of Redeemed ones, nor the performed Conditions of the Gospel-promises, viz. Truth Faith, Repentance and Amendment: Without Holiness there is no Happiness without beholding Gods Face in Righteousness here, there is no beholding that in Glory hereafter. And therefore see that you have a Divine and Holy Nature implanted in you in this Life, and then departing hence, meerly disposed for eternal blessedness, when at the Resurrection from the Dead you awake up, after Gods likeness, you shall be endlesly satisfied therewith.
I shall proceed to give an account of the condemned Criminals, as to their former course of Life, and in what frame of Heart they were for a blessed Eternity.
I. John Bennet alias Freeman, but more notoriously known by the name of the GOLDEN FARMER, condemned for the Murther of Charles Taylor, and several Robberies, to the value of some thousand Pounds. I was with him several times in his Chamber, and exhorted him to disburthen his Conscience, by a free Confession of his Evil Courses, yet after much Advice for his Souls Welfare, and many Prayers that God would work his Heart to Repentance, nothing more than what follows could be obtained: That he had been a great Sinner, and was guilty of most Sins. That he was not so much grieved for the Shame of this condign Punishment, as for offending God. And that he was not solicitous to lengthen out his Life upon Earth, but to get his Pardon sealed in Heaven. He shed many Tears, yet said, That he trusted only in Christ's Righteousness for Pardon and Peace in Conscience. He was exhorted chiefly to be deeply humbled for the Murther he had committed, and upon reading to him David's Penitential Prayer, in these Words, Deliver me from Bloodguiltiness O God, and my tongue shall sing of thy righteousness, he gave some Signs of great Remorse; yet I told him, That his Tears could not expiate his great Provocations of God, for they stood in need of cleannng by the Merit and Efficacy of Christ's Blood shed, This he acknowledged. Then I endeavoured to make him more sensible, offering Violence to the Dictates of his own Conscience, before he could so long proceed in the wicked Trade of Robbing, and putting many Persons into affrightment of losing their Lives: He did acknowledg this Crime, whereupon I horted him to make Restitution to the utmost, of what remained in his Hands, otherwise his Repentance could not be syncere: He thought this to be strange Doctrine, whenas, he said, he dyed for robbing. I told him, that he paid his Life to the Justice of the Law, it made no Satisfaction nor Recompence to those he had despoil'd of their Estates. And added farther, That he should not conceit that his former Supplies of the Wants of the Poor was any
true Charity in God's Account, who abhors Robbery, though it be intended for a Burnt offering: And that I feared his Pretension to Charity was designed by him as a covert of his robbing to be less suspected, however, that it could not att one God's Displeasure and incensed Justice against him, for so many Acts of Violence as he had used towards the Persons and Estates of many: This he acknowledged. I exhorted him to make a more thorow Discovery of his wicked Life; but he often refused to do it, saying I could not pardon him. I told him, not authoritatively, this is God's sole Prerogative, yet as a Gospel Minister, to whom the Word of Reconciliation is entrusted, I might furnish him with good Grounds of a Lively Hope of Pardon and Salvation, if he did not hide obstinately his Sins, by which he had given publick Scandal to the Christian Religion, and therefore his Repentance ought to be as Publick and Exemplary, as his Course of Life had been more notoriosly sinful than other Mens: But I could not prevail with him to give any Testimony of his syncere turning to the Lord, to whose all-discerning Eye and determination of his Soul's State I must leave him.
II. William Jones, condemned for Felony; he is aged about 21 Years, was an Husbandman , came to London for Employment, but fell into bad Company, because he said that he seldom prayed that God would keep him from Temptations of Sinners; he broke the Sabbath, was sometimes overtaken with excessive drinking, would swear sometimes, and before he was married, he kept company with Bad Women. I hope he was penitent.
III. Francis Yates, condemned for Felony and Burglary, aged 31 years: His Employment was to turn Throwsters Mills : He joyned with bad Company, was guilty, he said, of Swearing, Drunkenness and of walking in the Fields on the Sabbath day.
IV. Richard James, condemned for Felony and Burglary: He was very obstinate, as to the receiving of any Good Instruction, he would not give any account of his Employment or Conversation, only acknowledged that he had been a sinner, as all Men are: He shewed no Sign of Repentance, and would not declare whether he were a Protestant or a Papist.
VI. Thomas Diggs, condemned for clipping the Current Mony of this Kingdom, aged 33 Years: He was a Sea-Surgeon , but said he left that Employment because he was sick: He said that he seldom prayed, would swear, break the Sabbath, and kept lewd Women Company before Marriage.
VII. Charles Wells, condemned for Felony and Burglary, aged 22 Years, he was a Taylor : He said that he stayed at home on the Sabbath, and went not to the Publick Worship, for which, he thought, together with other Secret Sins, that this Distress did befal him.
X. John Earle, condemned for Felony and Burglary, aged 17 years: His Father brought him up to the Trade of a Bricklayer ; but he was disobedient, and stole 10 s. from his Father for Idle Expences: And upon this, fearing his Father's Displeasure, he ran away from him. He was exposed to bad Company, and was burnt in the Hand last Session, and now is condemned for a worse Crime, because he would not take warning by an easier Punishment.
XI. Benjamin Harvy, condemned for Felony and Burglary, committed three Years since: He confessed that he had been guilty of most Sins; he was a Seaman , but left that Service, and minded not his Duty to God, nor any thing which was serious. He seemed Penitent, and gave a better account what Saving Faith and Repentance are than most of the other Criminals.
XIII. Constance Wainwright, condemned, with three Women more, for firing Newgate; She was an old Offender, and not sensible of this Crime, nor of the Course of ill-spent Life; and yet said, That she trusted in God's Mercy for Pardon and Salvation, though she was ignorant of the Qualifications to obtain either, and yet was very confident that these Qualifications were performed by her.
XIV. Mary Jones, condemned for the same Crime, said, That her Employment was to make Gold and Silver Lace ; but of late she became Idle, and fell into bad Company, by which she was tempted to break the Sabbath, and that she did not reprove Swearing and Cursing when she heard it; but she now repents of all her Misdeeds. I hope she was penitent.
The day of Execution being come, viz. Monday the 22d instant, Mr. Ordinary attended the Prisoners, and laboured to bring them to a fight and sense of their Sins, pressing them to a serious consideration of their approaching end, future State, and a Preparation for another World: And about half an hour past 9 in the Morning Anne Hereford, one of the Women that set fire to the Prison of Newgate, and received Sentence of Death upon that Account, was brought down and tyed up to a Gibbet in Newgate-street, where, after some deploring her untimely End, and shewing a Reluctancy for her Misdoings, she was turned off.
Immediately after John Bennet alias Freeman, otherwise called the Golden Farmer, was put into a Cart, and conveyed to Salisbury-court end in Fleetstreet, near the Place where he committed the Murther, for which he received Sentence, where a Gibbet was erected for his Execution, and there having made a short Prayer, he gave the Executioner the Word or Sign to do his Office, and was accordingly executed, without making any Speech or Exhortation.
This Execution done, George Hutton, Francis Yates, Richard James, Charles Wells, Peter Heasey, William Jones, John Earle, John Wray alias Ray, Sarah Cane alias Moor, Constance Wainewright and Elizabeth Trant were conveyed to Tyburn in several Carts, Thomas Diggs and Bartholomew Mumford, drawn on Sledges for Cliping as in Case of High-Treason; when being tyed up, they expressed, as well in Gesture as Countenance, a very sorrowful demeanour for the failings and misdemeanours of their past Lives, desiring God to have mercy upon their Souls in this their last and greatest Extremity, several of them acknowledging themselves to have been notorious and incorrigible Sinners, owning the Justice of God as a Scourge for their Impieties, in bringing them to a place of ignominy, and temporal Punishment, Mr. Ordinary prayed with them in extraordinory Zeal and Fervor, labouring with all diligence to make them sensible of their Conditions, how they stood upon the very brink of Eternity, and wanted but a few Moments to plunge them into it, which they ought to use for a Redeeming the time they had spent or squandered away in trifling Vanities, and things that had proved distructive to their Bodies; he then admonished them to pray for themselves, desiring to hear them pray, which some readily did, but others declined it, desiring to be excused by reason of the Extremity of the Weather, their uncomposedness, or some such like Excuses. The Ordinary reproved some of them of their neglect of the good Officer he loboured to do them in Prison, for the Health of their Souls To which Richard James answered, he was exceeeding sorry he had not given more heedful Attention; and others replied much to the same purpose. Then the Ordinary set and sung with them the 25th. Psalm sutable, and fitly applied to so Melancholy Occasion, which most of them sung with an audable Voice. Then he prayed, and recommending them to the Protection of the Almighty, took his leave, when soon after the Cart drew away, and their Souls were committed into the Hands of their merciful Maker and Redeemer, whilst their Bodies remain in hope of a glorious Resurrction to the Life Immortal.
This is all the Account I can give of this Session.
Dated this 20th of December 1690.
***The Triennial Mayor, or the New Rapparees: A Poem sold by the Booksellers of London and Westminster, Price 6d.
***These are to give Notice to all Persons, for the Benefit of the Publick, That Mr. Elmy, Professor of Physick, and Operator, of known Integrity, and above 25 Years practice, Liveth at the Blue Ball in Whale-Bone Court, at the Lower End of Bartholomew-lane by the Royal Exchange, who most safely and expeditiously Cures Deafness and Noise in the Ears in any of what Age soever, (if Curable) and at first Sight, by Inspection, Resolves the Patient if so or not, as most Eminent Persons of Quality in this City can Testifie. He hath likewise a most excellent Gargarism or Mouth-Water, which will make black or yellow Teeth as white as Ivory, in a few times using; and it will certainly cure the Scurvy, and all other Diseases incident to the Mouth, Teeth and Gums, which in many persons causeth a stinking Breath, which (by the Blessing of God, and the use of this Water) I dare affirm you will be freed from those Maladies beforementioned, with Directions. His Pills only prepared for the French Disease, and the Running of the Reins, may be had in Boxes of several prices, with other Venereal Arcana's, as occasion serves.