A True ACCOUNT of the BEHAVIOUR, CONFESSION, AND Last Dying SPEECHES Of the 13 Criminals that were Executed On Thursday and Friday the 26th and 27th of February, 1690.
THE Ordinary, in the Forenoon of the Lord's day, peach'd on the last two Verses of the first Psalm, viz. The ungodly shall not stand in the Judgment, nor sinners in the Congregation of the Righteous: These words import thus much. That as the Godly and the wicked are discriminated in their Course of Life; So, at Christ's Tribunal, they shall be rankt in a different Portion of Reward or Punishment: Thus the Lord knows, approves, commends and rewards the way of the Righteons, though the wicked shall not stand, but fall in their Trial at Christ's Tribunal. This denotes a State of Shame, Contempt, Horror and Desperation. Christ will put Honor on the Righteous, by assuming them into the Clouds to set them on Thrones of Judgment, as approving the Equity of his Sentence, on the Reprobates. But Hypocrites shall stand on the Left-hand, so as to be judged on the Earth, the Stage of their Impiety and Collusions. They shall be rejected, because they set their best Services to sale, for the Auction of their own Credit, and not to raise the Revenue of Christ's Honor.
Here followed a List of other Sinners, who cannot expect any Moderation of Christ's Judiciary Sentence. How shall they stand in the Judgment, who cannot sleep unless they cause some to fall into their Nets of cruelty, who oppress the Widow and the Fatherless, who fall prostrate in worshipping an Idol, being so blockish and stupid, as to say, in their distress, to the work of their own hands, Arise and save us, who Atheistically scoff at strictness of Life, and Heart-purity, who ask in scorn, where is the God of Judgment, because of his delay to execute it? Who call prosperous Vice Vertue, and afflicted Innocency, a proud singulatity and zeal, a peevish madness? How shall such stand speechless, who cease praying, but have a very voluble Tongue in pouring out Oaths and Execrations, being void of common Modesty? Can any think to have their sins covered by Christs Priestly Propitiatory Merits, who contemn the word of Reconciliation, which is the Scepter of Christ's Kingly righteousness: Can such look Christ in the face, who now dispise his favour, and sin directly against this only remedy of their sin and misery who keep not the Faith of Christ uncorrupted in a ure Conscience, but subject their Hearts to the fleshly interest of their Lusts? Let us not debase the excellency of our Heaven-born Souls, by bowing to any Temptation, which Satan shall impose upon them. Such cannot expect to stand upright at Christ's Tribunal, who stand watching for oppertunities of sinning to perpetrate their Deeds of Darkness. What punishment can be commensurated to recompence the Love of self Destruction? Together with some seasonable Advice to the Condemned, &c.
I proceed to give an Account of the Criminals Confessions and Behaviour.
I. Robert Congden, Condemned for the Barbarous Murther of three Persons in Ratcliff; I inquired, what tempted him to commit it? he said that one sin brought on another. In his younger time, he cheated several Persons of their Mony, with which he was intrusted. When he first came from Sea-service , he Robbed a fellow Lodger in Wapping of 14 l. in Mony. He confest that he wanted neither Food nor Clothing necessary, but covetousness of Money prevailed upon him, to supply his wicked excesses. That he contrived that Murther two weeks before he committed it. That he Murthered all the three Persons with his own hand, viz. the Woman coming behind her, he struck her with an Iron Bar on the Head, so that she never spake word. That he had no pitty on the Child though it began to cry. That the Maid-servant being sent out to buy Tobaco, at her return, he stood behind the door and knockt her down, so that she died immediately. Then he Robbed the House of Plate and Mony, but was under an horrid affrightment, and could not stay in the House. He thought that he should be suspected in offering the Plate to sale, and went back, but thinking he could not escape being taken, he did venture to sell it, and so was discovered. He said, That his Heart was so hardned that he could not Repent, yet was full of horror in himself. I asked him concerning the two Persons mentioned in his Tryal, how far they were abetting, he said that they were escapt, and he would not accuse them of any thing. I told him that it was his duty to confess the whole truth, whether they Robbed with him, or whether either or both of them Murthered any of the three Persons, or consented to what himself did? He said, That he would not be a means of bringing any Mn to a sentence of Death, if taken. I told him, That his Crime was black and horrid enough, he need not, by concealing others, lead himself with the whole, if not Guilty. He was very wavering in what he had before confest, which I wondred at afterward, upon telling him that if he did not speak truth, and the whole truth he could not be saved; he said, That he did the Murther on all the three himself.
II. George Reason, Condemned for Burglary. He confest, That he had been a very great and vile Sinner, in many respects That he did not pray to be kept from the venting of his evil Inclinations, but abated the fear of God, and had not taken warning by the examples of publick Justice on others, and therefore that God had righteously found him out, to punish him for his Iniquities. He said that he could not stand before the sight of his many and great sins, how then should he be able to appear at the strict and just Tribunal of the knowing God? He was attentive to Instruction and Prayer, I hope he was Penitent.
III. William Glassenberry, Condemned for a Burglary. He confest his great sins, and Relented in the remembrance of the Evil course of his Life. That he little minded his duty to God, till he was brought into this distress. He was very sorry for the remorselessness of Congden, having so much bloodguiltiness upon him.
IV. W. G. Condemned for stealing 24 yards of Cloth, value 8 l. the Cloth was found upon him. He was Conscious to the Contrivance of Mr. Goodman's Murther, the late Turnkey of Newgate. He confest that he whetted the Knife which killed him, and that he had been guilty of many other notorious sins. He did not express any signs of remorse, will he knew that he was in the Dead Warrant.
V. Charles Hughes, a notorious Criminal formerly, and now condemned for Burglary. He was little sensible of his evil course of Life. I was desired by Mrs. Elizabeth Shooter, the Widow of Captain Shooter, Murthered lately, to inquire of him, Reason and Glassenberry, whether they, or any of them, committed it. They all three, as dying Men, upon the hopes of their Salvation, denyed that they either did it, or knew who did it. I laid it home, more especially to Rason and Hughes. Rason utterly denied that he knew any thing of it. I asked Hughes whether he knew, or heard since, who did it? He was somewhat shy to answer, and would not declare any thing as to his suspicion of any body.
VI. Henry Knight, alias Wright, and Edward Stephens, both condemned for Counterfeiting fifty pieces of false Mony, the Stamps and some false Mony being found in their custody; they did not absolutely deny the Crime. They said, That they had been great sinners, but would not discover any of their Accomplices. Knight said, That he was willing to dye, that he might not live to commit more sin, and so aggravate his Provocations of Almighty God.
VII. John Ray, condemned for Coyning several pieces of false Mony. He said, That he had improved his natural indowments, by much study and diligence in reading Physical Authors; and that he was so unhappy as to fall into bad Company. That he pretended among some who counterfeit Money, that himself knew an Art how to mix Meal so that it should not be discerned from true Coyn: yet he could never bring his Essay to perfection. He said, That he was not so deeply dipt in that artificial Treason, as he was reputed to be, yet he acknowledged the righteous Hand of God, in bringing him under this sentence of Death, for he had lived in customary sins, and contracted such firm habits in them, that though at times he prayed and resolved against them, yet his Convictions wore off, and he could not retrive his wonted excesses. That now his Heart is thorowly broken and contrite for all his sins, and yet
he hath many disponding thoughts, whether his Faith and Repentance be sincere: I hope he was penitent.
VIII. Thomas Jones, a Boy, condemned for Burglary, he confest the Crime, and said, that he had used that way of violence for four years past, breaking into Houses singly, and taken thence Mony and Goods, which he sold, for to maintain riotous courses; he had some remorse, yet was very ignorant in Soul concernments: I instructed him, and he desired me to pray for him.
On Thursday the 26th Instant, these 12 Criminals were convey'd to Tyburn, in order for their Execution, whose names are these, viz. Henry Knight, Edward Stephens, W. G. George Jerrott, alias Mesey, Thomas Jones, Richard Moor, George Rason, VVilliam Lasenbury, Charles Hughes, James Cox, John VVilliams, and Susannah Blagrave.
The two former of these for Coyning Money were drawn in a Sledge to the Place of Execution, and being put up in a Cart and tyed to the Tree, the Ordinary solicited them to a sincere Repentance, desiring them to warn the People, to take care how they were drawn into the like Error, Knight said that he had been a great Sinner, and that he lost his Life, by his readiness to entertain wicked People in his House, &c. and much lamented his untimely End, bnt Stephens said nothing, neither would either of them be brought to any ingenuous Acknowledgment of their Crime: So they were turned off and afterwards quartered, according to the usual manner.
The other Ten being brought in three Carts and fastened to the Gallows, They were earnestly Exhorted to a free and sincere Confession of their several Crimes, the first of which was W - G. who desired all People to take warning by him, especially of Sabbath breaking, and Disobedience to Parents, telling them it was better for them to follow the meanest Imployment, even sweeping of Kennels than to be guilty of Thievery.
George Jerrott cleared William Lasenbery publickly, that he had no hand in the Robbery of Mr. Whitehal in Hatton Garden, but took it upon himself, that it was he (viz) Rason and four more not yet taken that committed the Robbery, whom he did not discover, acknowledging that he had been bred up a Roman Catholick , &c.
William Lassenberry was somewhat Resolute in his Behaviour, confessing in the general, That he had got a very ill name, and that he was not concerned in the Robbing of Mr. Whitehall, neither was he Partaker of one Farthing of the Mony taken away by Jerrott and the rest.
Charles Hughes did not deny but that it was the Justice of the Nation that brought him to that untimely end. And as to the Murther of Captain Shooter, which he seemed to hint as if he knew something of, when he was Arraigned, he now said that he knew the two Persons that were suspected to do it, who told him, That they were wounded by Captain Shooter, but before they left him they made him kiss the Ground.
John Williams, Thomas Jones, Richard Moor, and James Cox, who said at Tyburn his right Name was Harding, seemed to be penitent, crying out for Mercy from God for their Souls; and that all the Spectators would be admonished by their suddain Death, to take heed of all Evil Company, and how they led their Lives in this World.
After the Ordinary had prayed for them, and sung part of a Psalm, they were all turned off.
On Friday February 27. A Gibbet being erected to the Door of Captain Gitings in Brookstreet, Robert Congden was brought in a Cart (round by Ratcliff Cross, and so up Brook-street) to the place of Execution, and being tyed up, he began to lament his most dreadful (and at present) remediless downfall, after a most earnest manner, that ever he should be guilty of such a horrid Crime, as the murder of three such Innocent Souls, who he said endured more torture at their Death, than he should now at his Execution: And after this he prayed to this effect.
O Lord, and my dear Redeemer Jesus Christ, I desire to repent of my sins, do thou wash them all away with one Drop of thy Blood, and be near to me in this hour of great Extremity. My dear Saviour, I beg of thee to accept of my Repentance, because I am willing to Repent; and let all the World take Example by my Suffering. Lord Jesus I am coming to thee just now, in halfan hours time. O let me come to thee with a clear Conscience, and let not the Wicked one take hold of me, but let thy Spirit take hold of me: Lord, I have been a great Sinner, yet thou canst forgive them all; my Suffrings are nothing to what my dear Jesus underwent for me. Lord take me into thy Custody; I forgive all the World, let me be forgiven by thee. Lord let me creep into thy Wounds, and wash me clean from my sins. I Murthered the three Persons with my own Hands, and the Persons whom I have accused is not Guilty: Let the sin lye at my Door, Lord, for they dyed an harder death than I do now: And, Lord, let me request one thing more from thee, and that is in the behalf of my dear Parents, that God would bless them, for they gave me better Counsel: And oh that my dear Brethren may take warning by me, and that God will give them more grace, that they may not come to so fatal an end. So he concluded with the Lords Prayer, &c.
After this his Foot slipping through the Cart, he sunk down, and was almost strangled, but the Rope not being well fastned to the Gibbet gave way, so he came to his senses again, and cried out, O Lord Jesus, I was coming to thee, why didst thou let me come into this wicked world again, for I am more willing to dye than live any longer, &c.
Then the Ordinary began to set it home upon him, whether he was concerned alone, or if any other person or persons were confederates with him, to which he, after at least five or six times being sollicited to confess the whole truth, answered, that he was the only Person that committed the horrid murder, and that no other person whatsoever was concerned with him, neither before nor after, and as for William Thomas, saies he, let him be set free, for he knows nothing of it, for I did all things my self, and I sent the Maid for some Tobacco, whilst I murdered the other two, viz. the old Gentlewoman and the Child; and when she came back I murdered her, desiring all to take timely warning by him.
This was the substance of his Confession, after which the Minister prayed with him very earnestly, and then took his final leave of him, recommending his Soul to the Mercy of Almighty God.
Then he praying a considerable time for himself, the Cart drew away, and being cut down, he was afterwards conveyed to the Gibbet between Mile End and Bow, and there hung up in Chains.
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