A True Account of the BEHAVIOUR, CONFESSIONS, AND Last Dying Speeches Of the Criminals that were Executed at TYBURN, On Wednesday the Second of March, 1691/1692.
THE Ordinary visited the Condemned Criminals every Day till their Execution. On the Lord's Day in the Forenoon the Text was 1 Cor. 11. 31. If we would judge our selves, we should not be judged or condemned by the Lord.
On the Lord's Day in the Afternoon was preached a Sermon on this Text, Eph. 5. 14. Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee Light. The Conclusion of which Discourse was thus directed to the Condemned.
Awake, awake ye Sons of sinful Slumber, awake to Righteousness, and sin not any longer; awake and hear what concerns your Everlasting Peace before the Grave and Hell shut their Mouths upon you, and you shall hear no more to your Saving Advantage. What, will you dare to sleep on in Impenitence, though in Danger of its proving a Sleep unto Death Eternal? Will you dare to sleep secure with Hell-Flames about your Ears? impenitently take your Rest, in a State every moment lyable to Damnation.
O the insensibleness of a Customary habitual Sinner! that Misery and Destruction should be in his Evil Ways, and yet the Way of Peace he should not desire to know! That Affliction, extream Affliction and Distress, God's lowdest Calls to Repentance should not awaken him! No Sleep sure so dead a one, as persevering Impenitence! But alas, alas Man, what avails it thee to sleep on? thou art never the more safe, because secure; that Sleep is thy dangerous Disease, which thou accountest thy Happiness: The Sleep of Sin is the Lethargy of thy Soul, the dead Doze of it to the Life of Grace and Vertue; such a Stupor of Spirit as exposes thee to a going away in thy Sleep into Everlasting Torments: And wilt thou continue in such a perilous Condition, and not use the means of thy Recovery, serious Reflection, Repentance and new Obedience? Alas, better awake now to Conviction and Conversion, though a Painful and Troublesome Undertaking, than to awake and lift up thy Eyes with Dives in Hell-Flames, and there endlessly lament thy not considering and looking about the sooner.
As yet Sinner there is Hopes for thee, as yet there is Help for thee in a Saviour; a Capacity of thy escaping the Terrors of the Lord, and of thy getting into a safe, delightsome State of Salvation: Do but begin to Awaken to a Penitent Conviction; do but begin to arise to Newness of Life, by the Aid of Divine Grace, and thou shalt find God will Bless such thy good Beginnings, will convince and illuminate thee more and more to see thy past Errors and Miscarriages; will add fresh Supplies to thy renewd Inclinations, and Holy Purposes of Amendment; will make thee proceed from Strength to Strength in the Advances of Grace, till he has compleated thy Reformation, and fitted thee for Eternal Glory.
Consider, I pray, what Gracious Offers are made you in my Text, and then refuse 'em if you can; doth there the Holy Spirit of God cry Awake, and arise from the Death of Sin, and Christ will give thee Light, larger Measures thereof, and hast thou the Folly to remain in a State of sinful Darkness, practising the evil Deeds thereof? O none so Blind, as those who will not see; none so Ignorant, as those who will not be convinc'd of their wicked Doings! Shall God profer you his Grace in vain, if it be yet in vain? O let it not be so! Is Christ willing to receive you, and are you unwilling to return unto him? O turn ye, turn ye, why will ye Dye Impenient Sinners?
It Grieves me, it Grieves me, to see you so little Affected, so greatly insensible of your impenitent dangerous Condition; to see you dead in Sins and Trespasses, and yet unwilling to arise to Newness of Life: Ah who is more an Object of Pity, than he who is in a miserable Condition, and yet is inapprehensive thereof, and pities not himself in order to his getting out of it? And who is more to be condol'd, than the hardned secure Sinner, whose very Sleep is deadly, and his Rest pernicious?
Go then immediately and fall down upon your Knees in Prayer; beg, beg earnestly of God and Christ, who only can do it, to give you the Grace of Repentance; To raise yo from the Death of Sin, unto the Life of Righteousness; to melt your obdurate Hearts, to make complyant your stubborn Wills, to spiritualize your corrupt sensual Affections. O 'tis but a little while and those who now see you, shall see you no more; take heed therefore that when you cease being seen of Men, you may see and be seen of God to your endless Felicity: This will never become your Lot, unless you carry hence holy Bodies, holy Souls, holy Tempers and Dispositions of Mind; for Heaven is a Place wherein no unclean thing can enter; Heaven is a City wherein only dwelleth Righteousness. Ah then as you look for Mansions among the Saints in Light and Glory, live Saint-like God-like Lives, your short remaining Season. Begin to live that Spiritual, Divine, Heavenly Life now, which you desire and hope to Live for ever; and continue not one Moment in that impenitent unconverted Condition, in which you would not Dye, and go to Judgment.
I proceed to give an Account of their Behaviour in Prison, and their former Course of Life.
1. Lancelot Snowden, Condemned for the Murther of one Richard Lowther. He was lately a Press Master , and had been imployed in Sea Affairs from thirteen Years of Age: He said, That he had not led a strict Life, for which he was very penitent, but especially for his late killing of the said Lowther, though in a Scuffle, he being among some Coopers, who came to rescue one Thomas King, whom he had newly press'd. This Inconsiderate Passionate Action, he said, much troubles him, and he is resolved, if he continue in such Employ
ment, to manage his Office with more tender Circumspection.
II. Valentine Knight, Condemned for two Felonies. He hath been suspected to have commited Burglaries before: He was told that he ought to discover his lewd Companions, because it might prevent much Mischief; and that Felony is a great Crime, because those guilty of it usually make a Sporting Trade of it, so that such Criminals are seldom convinced of the Sinfulness of it; And that if he did not endeavour to break the Conspiracy of Robbers, whom he knew, he would accumulate the Guilt of their Sins upon his own, as being more Faitful to the Devil and his Wicked Associates, than to the Welfare of the Nation. He was also urged to make Restitution of what he had taken away by Violence or Stealth, otherwise his Repentance could not be sincere: Yet he remained insensible of his Sinful Condition, saying (as I am credibly informed) That he dreaded not Death, the Pain of Hanging would soon be over; so that he little considered what would become of his Soul after Death, as if he believed not any Future State of Happiness or Eternal Misery in the World to come.
III. Alice Meadowes Aged twenty five Years, Condemned for the wilful Murder of her Infant Male Bastard Child. She said that she lived with her Mother till seventeen Years of Age, after that she went to Service in the Country, but coming to London, she lived as a Maid Servant in Lothbury, for two Years and an half. In the Latter end of which the murthered Child was begot by a Lodger in her Mistress's House, tho warned by her to avoid any familiarity with him; she said, that she easily consented, when sollicited to the Act of Whoredom, without any hope of gain or promise of Marriage. I did earnestly exhort her to a thorough sincere Repentance for the Sins of her whole Life, especially for this unnatural Cruel fact, because all Creatures express a tender Care to preserve their Off-spring, she said that she is ashamed of it, and that to Cover Bastardy she committed a greater Sin, in the stifling of her new born Infant. She would not acknowledg any antecedent Sin, but only that she neglected to Pray, that God would preserve her chastity, and so was easily overcome. I askt her what true saving faith and Repentance are? She said, she was Ignorant in matter of Religion. I told her that the very dictates of natural Reason, and an ordinary modesty, might have presented her two great Sins. She exprest not any considerable sorrow.
IV. A Youth of twenty two Years condemned for felony in joyning with one Richard Whithorn not yet taken. The person robbed was Mr. John Harris, to whom he had formerly been an Apprentice. He says that his Father gave him Religious Education and put him to a Good Employment, in which he served six Years; but being uneasy in the Service of his Master, he left him and went over into Flanders, where he indured very much hardship. Thus he was brought to consider that he Justly reaped the sad effects of his disobedience to so Good a Father. Afterward he travelled into Holland; There he met with a Merchant who knew his Father, and gave him three pounds in Mony to return into England, and to submit himself to his Fathers good Counsel. Which he fully intended to do; but in his travelling through Chelmsford, he unfortunately met with one Richard Whithorn, who pretended that he knew John Harris, his former Master, and where he dwelt. So going together near the House, Whithorn undertook the Robbery, for he broke into the Closet at a Window and there found twenty five pounds. After this they went to the Ram in Smithfield, where Whithorn gave the condemned Person only eight pounds out of that said Summ. Promising him twelve Guineas, if he would not discover the said Whithorn. Upon the whole matter, the condemned Person Laments his former ill Life and that he fell into this Crime, resolving if he may have a respite from Death, to reform and betake himself to an honest and Laborious employment. I hope he is truly penitent.
V. Robert Smith condemned for Felony. He said he had been guilty of many and great Sins, which were committed by the frequent omission of prayer; that he did not guard his Heart as he ought against the sollicitations of Evil company, but he now resolves if he may be spared, that he will amend his life and walk more circumspectly.
VI. Susan Lucas, condemned for high Treason, in Clipping the current Coyn of this Kingdom. She kept a Publick House, till of late she brake the Sabbath, would Swear and Drink to excess sometimes. She denies not the fact to be notorious, but was tempted to it by bad company, which she is not willing to discover. She is reprieved upon being Quick with Child. I charged her not to grow secure upon this, as if her Sentence would be forgotten. She promised me that she would constantly come to the Chappel, and endeavour a thorough Repentance.
Valentine Knight and Alice Meadows were (on Wednesday the second of March) drawn to Tyburn in a Cart; where being tyed to the Gibbet, the Ordinary and another Minister began most fervently to Exhort them both to call for Mercy, and truly to acknowledge before God, Angels and Men, what wicked Sinners they had been; Praying for them, That God Almighty would undeceive them of having any false Hopes of a better Life: To which seasonable Advice, Alice Meadows gave a heedful Ear; and begged all the Spectators to take Warning by her fatal End how they spent their Lives in this World, that they might not come to such a Shameful Death. But Knight was not so particularly Affected, as was hoped for: In his Way from Newgate, he behaved himself very undecently; not like one who was to undergo such a Sentence, but rather like one who, being Fool hardly, makes light of what should have been a Shame and Sorrow to him; but when he was in the Cart, he seemed to be a little more sensible of the near Approaches of Death, and sometimes would cry out to God Almighty; but other times would suffer his Eyes to wander abroad, tho' Exhorted to the contrary by the Ordinary. He Confessed in the General, That he had been a great Sabbath-breaker, a Swearer, a Drunkard, an Adulterer, guilty of offering great Violence to Persons that did him no Wrong, &c. but affirmed withal, That he was never guilty of the horrid Sin of Murder, and hoped that God would forgive him. After this, the Ordinary prayed with them again, and sung a Psalm of Penitency; and there recommended them both to the Mercy of their most Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ.
This is all the account I can give of this Session,
London, Printed for L. Curtiss, at Sir Edmundbury Godfry's Head near Fleet-bridg. 1692.