A True ACCOUNT of the BEHAVIOUR, CONFESSION, AND Last Dying SPEECHES Of the Four Criminals that were Executed Together with the PAPER Writ by Captain HARRISON's own Hand, and Delivered to a Minister at the place of Execution.
On Friday the 15th of April, 1692.
THE Ordinary Visited the Condemned Criminals every Day, and other Ministers till their Execution.
On the Lord's-Day in the Forenoon, a Sermon was Preacht from the Ninth Psalm, and the 12th Verse, When the Lord makes Inquisition for Blood, he remembers them. Hence five Particulars were insisted on. First, The several sorts and degrees of Murther. Secondly, The heinous Circumstances and Aggravations of that Sin. Thirdly, The sad Consequents and Effects of it. Fourthly, How the Guilt and Defilement of Blood-shedding may be Expiated, and the Pardon of it obtained. Fifthly, Directions how to prevent the committing of so great and crying a Sin: With Advice to the Condemned. On the Lord's-Day in the Afternoon, a Sermon was Preach'd from the 26th Chapter of the Acts of the Apostle., and the 10th verse, To turn them from Darkness to Light, and from the power of Satan unto God. In treating on which words, several general Heads were unfolded.
1st. Spiritual Darkness, includes a State of Sin and Ignorance of Christ in his Redemptory Offices, as the Day-Star of Righteousness, to chase away the mists and Hellish Darkness, in the Love of Lusts, and Contempt of the Power of Godliness.
2dly, The misery and sinfulness of Spiritual Blindness.
3dly, The means of Curing Spiritual Blindness, and the Duties of such who are savingly Illuminated by Christ's Spirit.
The Second Efficacy of the Gospel, consists in turning Sinners from the power of Satan's Bondage unto God. In treating of which, were shown these Heads.
1st. The misery of being in Satan's Bondage. 2dly, Signs of being set free from it. 3dly, Proofs of true Conversion unto God. 4ly, If yet, you are estranged from him, Directions how you may turn to him with your whole Heart. 5ly, From both parts of the Text the Conclusion was thus directed to the Condemned.
How sad is this, That the stroke of Death is ready to be Inflicted on you, and yet, that few, if any Remarks of Converting Grace are found upon your Hearts! Have you not presumed, that your want of knowledge in Divine Concernments, shall plead an excuse of your Prophaneness? Ignorance of the mind of God, and their Duty is rather the strongest linck in the Devil's Chain of Darkness, whereby he hath bound you, in the stupid Love of your Lusts. Hence it is, that you cannot discern the worth of Christ, nor your own want of him. The very first work, in the forming of the New Creature, is to bear the true knowledge of God in Christ into the Soul. This will discover the defiling Intrigues of Sin: It will make you Vile in your own account, as acknowledging this to be a Miracle of Mercy, that Divine Justice doth not frown you into Hell. What an Hell of Darkness have you created in your Hearts! This hath made Satan to rule in you, as his proper Province. Yet how profoundly have you slept in your Security! The Prince of Darkness hath so inchanted you, that by Ignorance he hath betrayed you, to your Ruin. Is it not high time for you, to awake out of your pleasing Dreams of future Happiness, tho' Satan hath bound you fast under his Dominion Would you find Christ to be your Redeemer, then Cancel your Indentures to Satan, and set the Seal of your Obedience to the Laws of Holiness? Think not that some slight Reformation is through Conversion unto God. This subdues the Pride of Mens Hearts that they trust not in a Pharisaical-Self-Righteousness. It silences all Disputes against the strictness of Gospel Commands: It roots out all Prejudices against the Power of Godliness.
Neither distrust the faithfulness of God's Promises, to Redeem you from Satan's Bondage, if you be sincerely resolved to return unto the Lord. He is able to subdue the Tyranny of Satan, and the Love of your Lusts. Can you think so meanly of the Lord, that he will not promote his own Kingdom and Interest in your hearts, if you be sincerely willing to resign them, in Obedience to his Sacred Laws.
This was his great design from Eternity, and shall be assuredly fulfilled, for the Exaltation of his own Honour and Glory. O therefore strive to be partakers of the Divine Nature. If you be delivered from the power of Satan you will be Renewed and Establish'd by Christ's free Spirit, to run the Paths of God's Commandments, and will be prepar'd to every good work with a Zealous Joyfulness,
I proceed to give an Account of the Behaviour and Confessions of the Condemned Criminals.
I. Henry Harrison found guilty of the wilful barbarous Murther of Doctor Clench. He was bred up a Lawyers Clerk , afterwards he Listed himself to be a Trooper in the Lord Dartsmoth's Regiment. Upon the 10th of January last he offered to discourse with me upon the cause of his Commitment. I desired, that whatever he said, he would do it, as in the presence of the heart-searching God, and as if he were at the point of Death. He did profess he would do so; he said, That he had been Arraigned before for Murther, but it was only found Man-slaughter. That he did not after this walk so Circumspectly, as he ought, but was guilty of prophaning the Sabbath, and many gross Sins, which he lived in very securely. But that God by this distress had awakened him to call to mind those great sins which he had committed, saying, that God had strange ways to bring Sinners to Repentance. Upon this, I advised him, sincerely to Justifie God, as Righteous, in finding him out in his Iniquities. Or else Death would be more terrible, and his Eternal State very hazardous, if he now trifled with God, and did not ingeniously Confess his sinful course of Life. Hereupon he spoke very vilely of himself, as having been of a dissolute Life; that he seldom minded the Publick Worship of God, nor the private Duties of Religion. That he was a common Swearer in ordinary Discourse, and guilty of Notorious Sins, That he never received the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, because it is an Obligation to amend an Evil Life, which being accustomed unto, he forbore the Sacrament, that he might not aggravate his Sins, and future Condemnation. I told him, That his being unwilling to come under such a Sacred Tie of Reformation exposed him deeper into Satan's Snares of Temptation.
After this, he freely acknowledged, That he had some Acquaintance with Doctor Clench. and too much Familiarity with the Woman, to whom the Doctor lent Money; and that upon his not liking of the Security given for the Repayment, the Doctor would not forbear any longer; Harrison said, this did fret him, yet he used no threatning words, and said, That if his Son had been accessary to so barbarous a Murther, and himself knew it, he would discover him. Harrison made frequent Appeals to God, that he knew nothing of this Crime, in Thought, Word, nor Deed. I reply'd, That if he made any false Appeals to God, it would very much hazard his Salvation; yea, that this would bring swifter Destruction upon him, and that his persisting to deny the Murther, would make him to be less Credited, because two persons who lately Murthered their Wives, imprecated themselves, if they knew any thing of it, and yet after an hours
denying of it at the place of Execution, confest it at last. I told Mr. Harrison, that he would be an inveterate Atheist, if he should dare to dye with an execrable Lye in his Mouth. He said after all Advice, that he would at his Death deny, that he knew any thing of the Murther of Doctor Clench. He confest, that he could not reflect on the Justice of the Court, nor the Integrity of the Jury in their Verdict, who had proceeded according to what was deposed against him, and that he expected that the Sentence of Death would pass upon him, yet he blames the Witnesses for their being so positive in their Allegations against him, when, as himself is clear of Murther in his Conscience. He said, That God had justly suffered a shameful Death to befal him, because he lived so long in an Habituated Course of Viciousness, without any Remorse for it till now. This is all the Account I can give of Mr. Harrison, though I frequently with others sollicited him to an Ingenious and free Confession of the Crime, assuring him, That if he durst Dye in the denial of it, by any Mental Reservation, or Equivocation, he would meerly ruin his Soul Eternally.
II. Winfred Willmot, Condemned for Murther. She was a Throwster , afterwards she went about the Streets to gather Rags . She kept lewd Company. She was addicted to filthy Language, and Carnaliy knew some unclean Persons, though she proved not with Child; she did drink Excessively, and Swear frequently; she was very ignorant in the Concernments of Religion, and seem'd Penitent at last.
III. Richard Smith, Condemned for Felony and Burglary, in breaking the House of John Upton Merchant , in the Parish of St. Buttolph-Bishopsgate, Robbing him of Plate, Necklaces of Pearl, and other rich things, to the value of 400 l. He pleaded guilty to the Indictment. He is 25 Years of Age; at Nine Years he left his Parents. He went at 13 Years of Age to Jamaca, and served there 5 Years; he was guilty of excessive Drinking, of Sabbath-breaking, Swearing, and the Sin of Uncleanness, and joyned in several Robberies before this; he was not much concerned about his Souls state, being hindred in the work of his Conversion, and preparation for Dying, by hopes of a Reprieve.
IV. William Scot, aged 25 Years, Condemned for joyning in the same Felony and Burglary with Richard Smith: His Father was a Weaver , and imployed him in his Trade, but being very Undutiful, he run away, and joyned himself with leud Company, who Robbed, some of which are Hanged. He seldom prayed, was a great Gamester , Swearer, and Drunkard. He cannot Read, yet Mourns, that by long custom in Sinning, he had hardned his Heart to a greater degree.
Smith and Scot who Robb'd Mr. Upton the Merahant. confest, That one Martin Fled tempted them to joyn in it, and thut three more, whose Names they told not, did all assist in it. The manner of doing it was thus, That at Five of the Clock in the Morning, Martin did break in at a Window of a House, and let the rest in. Upon this they bound the Coachman and Foot-boy, threatning to kill them if they called out, but did not intend, as they said, to do so. Then they immediately went up to Mr, Upton's Chamber, and broke open the Door, and Bound him in his Bed. He desired them not to affright his Wife being with Child, which they did not, in Binding her. Upon this they made up in a Bundle, the Plate, the Necklaces, Gold, and Silver, and tied them up in a Blanket, one of them carried it away on his Back, while the rest guarded it. Martin, who carried them to the House, knew what Treasure was in it, and they said that they had no other notice but by him.
Scot and Smith confest, That they had been guilty of many Burglaries, but did not discover the Places where, and that some of their Consorts, have been Executed formerly, and that they do Repent, that they did not take warning by their Untimely End.
On the 15th of this Instant April, Henry Harrison, was betwixt Nine and Ten of the Clock carried in a Cart near to the upper end of Holburn, where he was tied up on a Gibbet, after the Ordinary, and another Minister had changed him upon the hopes of his Salvation, to declare the whole truth, concerning the Murther of Doctor Clinch, he did several times affirm, That without any Mental Reservation, or Equivocation, himself neither in Thought, Word, or Deed, did contrive or abet the said Murther, nor knew any person who did contribute toward it. After several Exhortations and Prayers to fit him for his Death, he behaved himself penitently for all his other sins, but persisted with many Appeals to the Omniscient God, (as before) that he was Innocent as to the said Murther, and could not accuse any person for it. So Praying a while for himself, the Cart drew away, and he was Executed.
A Copy of the Paper Writ by Capt. Harrison's own Hand, and Delivered to a Minister at the Place of Execution.
NOW I am come here to Die, the People expect a Speech and Confession, for the words of dying Men always ought to be believed by the Survivors. I thank God, I am not an Atheist, nor a Man that makes Equivocations, or Mental Reservations, but was Educated in the Protestant Religion. The greatest Grief I have, (next unto my offending my great and gracious God,) is that of my Relations, for no disaster was ever in the Family before, (but I pray God give them Comfort,) being all of them People of Reputation, as is well known to a great many in this Town, I having had some difference with some of them. I do own I lived for some time an Irregular Life, which was displeasing to them, God forgive me for it; and it was for my Sins God thought fit out of his infinite Justice to suffer this heavy Affliction to come upon me, which I firmly believe tends for my Everlasting Salvation, through the Merits and Mediation of Jesus Christ my Saviour, who came into the World to save Sinners, and me the chief. And as I have acknowledged and reputed my self, I assuredly now hope for Mercy at his hands, being Innocent of this Black, Bloody, Inhuman, Murther, I now Die for, in Thought, Word, or Deed, heartily forgiving those that were the Authors of it, as also Pray to God to forgive them, as I humbly beg of those I have in any ways wronged to forgive me; desiring all that sees me this Day to live a godly, righteous, and sober Life, to the end they may attain Everlasting Life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God Bless the King and Queen, and the present Government, my Judges and Jury; the rest I refer to a small Treatise I have left with my Friends, concerning the occasion why I was suspected to be one of the Murtherers of Dr. Clench, which I have desired them to Publish very suddenly after my Death. Farewel in the Name of God. Amen.
God Reward all those Worthy Divines who have assisted me in my Heavenly Journey, since my Condemnation.
Scot and Smith acknowledged, that they had often Robbed and Committed several Burglaries, in plain they confest, that upon the House of Mr. Upton, Merchant, and the whole Contrivance and manner of it, they revealed a little before they went to Execution. They seemed very Penitent.
Witnses to the truth of this, and to the Paper delivered by Harrison, at his Execution, that it is not altered, but delived to be Printed, as it was received from him.
Dated this 15th. of April, 1692.
LONDON, Printed for L. Curtiss, at Sir Edmundbury-Godfrey's-Head, near Fleet-Bridge, 1692.