A True ACCOUNT of the BEHAVIOUR, CONFESSION, AND Last Dying SPEECHES Of the 12 Criminals that were Executed on Friday and Saturday the first and second of May 1691.
THE Ordinary visited the Condemned Prisoners every day till their Execution; on the Lord's Day, in the Afternoon, he preacht on this Text, viz. Proverbs 10. 27. The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked shall be cut short. These words are a safe Direction how to draw out the Line of Life to a fair extent, in prosecution of which many general Heads were treated of, amongst which were these:
First, How doth true Piety conduce to the lengthning out of the natural Life? Thus, the fear of the Lord doth engage his Protection over the Righteous, because he walks humbly in a dependance on God's Inspection over them. This holy fear doth not make Mens Spirits degenerate into Cowardize, to shrink at shadows of discouragement in attempting difficult Atchievements for Gods Honour.
Secondly, Godliness heals the Distempers of our Minds and Hearts, by composing them into an orderly and peaceful Harmony, as was shewed in many particulars. Thus a good temper of Mind works by Sympathy on the bodily Spirits, to make them flow with briskness, and not to sink into a despairing melancholy upon every appearance of danger, which is more terrible than Death, because this can but once be inflicted.
Thirdly, He only lives long, who carefully imploys his time in the service of God his maker, and doth not consume his years as a Tale which is told. How is this? In a fourfold respect:
1st, He makes his Life as a Story, full of fancy, in which is little real profit to himself or others.
2dly, As a Tale sometimes is almost ended, before any part of it is well attended unto; so a wicked man brings his years to a conclusion before he hath well considered wherefore his Life was given him, as neglecting to prosecute the Spiritual Designs of it.
3dly, The same Numerical Tale cannot be repeated, no more can the wasted oppertunities of living well be recalled that they may be better improved.
4thly, When Life like a Tale is ended, all the mirth is vanished, yea a tedious Tale is burdensome: Thus wicked men loath their lives and grow weary of them, when they reap the deserved bitter effects of finning. Now compare the long life of a wicked man with the shortest of a pious man, and then conclude which is to be preferred.
Fourthly, If some Saints dye young, as Enh and Josiah, they ripned the sooner for the state of heavenly glory. This World is a Foreign Soyle, where a Saints growth in Grace is not so beautified and consistent as under the immediate Inspection of Christ, the King of Righteousness. Therefore a real Christian loaths almost to live, that he may be consummated in Holiness; but a wicked man is never satisfied with living, because he lives to his own ease and the gratifying of his Lusts. Thus the renewing his date of Life, strikes him into a Dead Palsy of security, which is a stroke far worse than Death, because not felt: If the wicked live long and prosper, yet this is their punishment, because they often pyne away in their iniquities and are consumed with terrors, while they are vigorous in the fulfilling of their Lusts.
Here were four Inferences drawn from the whole Text, with several Improvements of it, in exhorting unto godliness from the benifits of it in this Life, and the prospect of a blessed Eternity.
The Conclusion was thus directed to the Condemned.
How have you contracted your years into a Span, by spinning out a Web of vanity in sinning? You have banished the fear of God out of your hearts. This would have been the safe Guide of your Lives, and a Sovereign Antidote against the terrors of an Ignominious Death. You have ventured to sin, while Gods Judgments on others have been fresh bleeding before your Eyes. Will you be wise at last? Then trifle no longer with God, in the weighty concernments of his honour and your own everlasting happiness. Mortifie your evil Inclinations, Execute your Lasts out right in a commendable revenge, as having crucified afresh the Lord of Life and Glory. How madly will you act against your own best Interest, if you still persist in your Impenitency, and do not return to the Lord with your whole Heart? Consider the past follys of your Lives, to bring you to an ingenuous self abasement, and to excite in you zealous endeavours to attain a blessed Eternity: value the fear of the Lord, that it may be implanted in your hearts. This will arm you against being overwhelmed with Consternation at the approach of death. A true Penitent, being cloathed with Christs Righteousness, may confidently look God in the Face, as Reconciled to him, yea, under the covert and shadow of his Wings, he may bid defiance to all the powers of Hell, and the Furies of a guilty despairing Conscience, which sink reprobate sinners into Eternal Torments in the greatest Anguish of their Souls.
I proceed to give an Account of the Behaviour and Confessions of the Condemned Criminals.
I. Elizabeth Dale, who murthered her Bastard Child. She said, That she was Educated by Religious Parents, but walkt not according to their good Counsel and Example: That she got a subsistance by winding of Silk , knitting and going a Nursekeeping . She did break the Sabbath, and seldom pray'd to God; when she read any part of the Scriptures, she little minded her duty required therein, but had worldly Covetous desires too prevailing on her, how to get fine things about her. The occasion of her great sin was thus, There was, within a little more than a Year since, a Meeting Place built in Stepney. Parish, she went to the House to get Chips to save the charges of Coals, were a Workman detained her in the House, and sollicited her to commit folly with him, she being left to her wicked heart consented, upon some Promises which he made her, but performed them not. She confest freely the Fact: I told her she ought to call to mind the former sins of her life, which not being duly sensible of, God justly left her to commit this unnatural Fact: She acknowledged as much. She said, That though her Heart was very hard after the Fact, yet now she is deeply humbled, and prays often with Tears, that God would more soften her Heart, and bring her to repentance. I exhorted her not to rest in the beginning of relenting, but to pray earnestly that she might become a thorow Convert to God, which she promised to do.
II. James Selby, condemned for murthering Mary Bartlet, who lived in Goodmans Fields and kept an Ale-house of ill Conversation. He said, That he was a Distiller of Strong Waters in Bishopsgate-street, that he fell into decay of his Estate, by living an idle and expensive course of life: That he seldom prayed against his excesses: That he was acquainted with the Woman who was killed: That going by her House she pulled him in, and inticed him to drink with her and another Woman; they drank togerher to the loss of their Reason, but he did not remember that he killed Mrs. Bartlet, though they quarrelled about the Reckoning. He confest that he was in a great Rage afterward, because, being drunk, the Woman pickt his Pocket of a Guinea and some loose Mony. I prayed with him before his Tryal, when he confest what is related before. I exhorted him every Sabbath to redeem his mispent time, and to repent of all his sinful courses. He denyed not that he frequented other Houses of ill note, and that he knew the woman who was murthered, with two more near Well Close. I told him that he was suspected for that, but he denied it. I intend to lay it close to his Conscience at his death. I wish that he had been more serious and sensible of his ill courses before his Tryal: since Condemnation I take pains with him, to bring him to true Repentance. On Munday last he said, That God was just in his Condemnation, because he had often prophaned the Sabbath, and when he went to Church, he did it in formality, and his heart was little affected with the publick worship. I desired him to consider that he could not be a Penitent i he stood out in denying any wicked act which he was guilty of, yet he was very reserved and would not acknowledge any of those scandals
which he had given, but remained more insensible than any of the Criminals.
III. Henry Powel alias Howel, condemned with John Grymes and Charles Smith, for a notorious Robbery in the High-way near Acton, upon Thomas Allom, Gent. his Wife and Daughter. Howel is aged about 27 Years. He said, That he was Listed about a Year and a half since a Trooper , but, upon some misdemeanour against his Officer, he was dismi; Afterward he joyned with bad Company and lived disorderly: He said he had been a great sinner, and wept, desiring me to pray for him, that he might become truly penitent.
IV. Charles Smith, aged 37 Years, he said that he had neglected his duty to God; That he had seldom prayed to be kept free from the Temptations of Satan and his own Heart; That he had not used Robbing in the High-way long, and that he never killed any Man in those bold Adventures. He wept and said he had been a great sinner, which now was burdensome on his Conscience, and begged that God would heal the Wounds made therein, rather than deliver him from death. He said, That he expected to dye, and therefore prayed it might be a means to save his Soul. He was very submissive to be faithfully dealt with, which some other Criminals could not bear, and thereupon grew sullen and peevish.
V. William Selwood alias Jenkins, condemned with William Mackquear a Papist , for Robbing, on Hounslow Heath, one Benjamin Witts, being Old Offenders. Selwood alias Jenkins had Robbed before and been Repreived, but would not take warning. He refused at first to give any account of his wicked life, yet on Thursday he said that he had been in several Robberies, particularly one in Essex near Brentwood , three men joyned in it, and breaking in, bound the People in the House, carryed away Money, a Diamond Ring, and other considerable things. He said they were Irishmen, one is since dead, and the other two he knows not where they are, and cannot tell their Names. He wish the had never been born, but every one must live and not starve. I told him that Robbing was a very wicked Trade, though he had made it his frequent practice: he was more sensible of his bad life than some days before.
I was with the Condemned twice on Thursday, some joyned in praying and exhortation, others kept their Chambers, saying, That they could prepare themselves for death. I told them, that the more they knew Gods Will, the greater is their sin in disobeying it, and rejecting good Advice. I fear these were Popishly affected, for they pleaded for the Errors of the Romish Church, which I refued; yet some of them stuck to their false Principles, and would not joyn in prayer. But Winn alias Wing, Riggs and Phipps seemed more relenting, and gave some account of the nature of Faith and Repentance, which being more General and Imperfect, I stated them more clearly and fully; after this, they said they hoped the effects of both were wrought in them. I told them they ought to pray to God to undeceive them as to any false hopes of Heaven, for it was not an easie thing to believe and repent in Truth, and the reason why. On the Wednesday I read Prayers and Preacht, exhorting all the Prisoners of the Goal to express the fruit of true Faith, Repentance and Self-denyal, with Directions how to work out their Salvation, which cannot be inserted in this scanty Paper. On Thursday I visited them again, exhorting and praying with the Condemned. Then Honour Allen, condemn'd for a Burglary, and stealing divers Goods, of considerable value, from one Web in Whitechappel, said she was but 17 Years of age, but had led an ill life, being lately acquainted with bad Company; that she seldom went to Church, or prayed to God; that her sins were now an heavy burden on her Conscience: She wept much and said she hoped her Tears came from true sorrow of heart for offending God.
John Phipps (aged 40 Years) condemned for stealing a Gelding. He said he had been an Husbandman , that in his younger days he had been much guilty of Drunkenness, but this grieves him most, that he made many Vows he would leave off that sin, and yet broke them. He seemed very penitent.
This is all the Account I can give of this Session.
An Account of the Behaviour of the Eleven Condemned Criminals, who were Executed at Tyburn, May the First, whose Names are these: William Riggs, Henry Powell alias Howell, John Grymes, Charles Smith, John Story, Henry Win alias Wing, William Selwood alias Jenkins, William Mackquear alias Bayley alias the Irish Teague, William Phipps, Elizabeth Deale and Honour Allen, who were all conveyed in four Carts to the place of Execution, where, being all tyed up, they all began (with mournful cries) to bewaile and lament their former evil and wicked lives, crying out for Pardoning Mercy from Almighty God, but would not be brought to acknowledge any particular Miscarriages of their lives, at the place of suffering; desiring all the Spectators to pray to God for their Souls, &c.
William Selwood, and William Mackquear, publickly confessed, That they had been great and old Offenders, and that they deserved to dye; the former of which, Admonished the People to have a care of their Children, and not to Indulge their Covetous Appetite with too much Mony, for if so, then they would at length acquire such a Habit of Extravigancy, that they would not be contented with a little, but would venture their Lives to fill up the Measure of their Lusts, and so might come to dye a shameful death at last, &c.
The latter, William Mackquear, freely declared (without pressing) That he was one of the Persons that Robbed Captain Shooter, who was not long since Murthered, on Hampstead-Heath, and that he shot him and wounded him, after which he fell off his Horse, but received some hurt by his fall, (as he conceived) which might be some additional cause of his Death, he being the first Person that hath been discovered since the aforesaid Captain hath been slain.
After this was done, the Ordinary prayed with them, and sung a Psalm very pertinent to the Occasion, and then they were all turned off, &c.
On Saturday the second of May, James Selbey was conveyed in a Cart from Newgate, thorow Cheapside to Algate, and down Whitechappel into Goodmans Fields, (in order to be Executed for the Murther of Mary Bartlet alias Bartley, as may be seen at large in the Book of Tryals) where a Gibbet was erected on purpose for the occasion, near the House where the horrid Murther was perpetrated, where being come, and the Cart placed under it, the Ordinary began to press the Prisoner to be free in his Confession to Almighty God, in respect to the Crime for which he suffered: To which the Prisoner replyed (consonant to his former Affirmations in Newgate, in the general) viz. That he was so much disguised and made insensible by drinking, that he was changed into the likeness of a Beast more than that of a Human Creature; for that when he came to himself on the morrow, he could not remember where he was, nor what he had done: adding withal, That he did believe he was the Person that committed the Murther. But as to the Murther of the three Persons in Well Close, as also the firing the House, he solemnly protested that he knew nothing of it, either directly or indirectly; desiring all the Spectators to take notice, That God never left any Man to himself, till they had so often provoked him, that he was weary of their sinning, and then God tryed them gently by small and slender Judgments, to win them over to himself; but if that Method fail, then it sometimes pleased Almighty God to dispose of Men otherwise, by bringing them to publick shame, in such an infamous way as he appeared before them; desiring all People to take warning by his sad Example, not Notionally and Speculatively, as it was the common saying of all dying Men, but to make such use of it, as might work a true love to God in their Hearts and Souls, and to cause them to live up to the Profession of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, which he had owned according to the Doctrine of the Church of England, but unhappily had not ordered his Life and Conversation aright, so that the just Judgment of Heaven had now overtaken him, &c. He freely forgave all his Enemies, and desired to dye in Charity with all Men, hoping only in the Merits of Christs Blood-shed for Eternal Salvation, desiring the prayers of all Good People even to the last Breath: Then being tyed up, and having prayed again for himself privately, the Cart drew away; and after he had hung the usual time, he was cut down, and carryed to Mile-End, there to be hanged up in Chains.
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