A True ACCOUNT of the BEHAVIOUR, CONFESSION, AND Last Dying SPEECHES Of the Criminals that were Executed at TYBURN, On Wednesday the 21st of December, 1692.
THE Ordinary preacht several Sermons to the Condemed Criminals being Twenty One. The first was on the Lord's-Day immediately before their Condemnation on the Monday following, from this Text, viz. The 19th. Psalm, the 12th. Verse. Who can understand the Errors of his Life? Cleanse thon me from my secret Faults. The Observation from the Words was this, That the smallest Sins even Errors in Opinion and Infirmities in our Obedience to God's Laws, ought to be repented of, as needing pardoning Mercy.
All Error is sinful, as it is a Mistake drawn upon our selves by the hereditary blindness of our first Apostacy from God. Yet is it not a complicated Iniquity till we remain under the power of Error, out of any affected Sloth, which will not search after sound knowledge. Thus it amounts to some degree of Rebellion against the light of Sacred Truth. A sincere Person doth not espouse any Error out of setled Pride of Heart to exalt a wanton Fancy, much less doth he propagate it, out of Self-interest against Conviction.
Secondly, Errors or Mistakes in Practice need Repentance, though there be not perversness of Heart, in committing them against Knowledge and out of any confirmed Obstinacy.
Thirdly, We ought to repent of secret Sins, because these have in them some degree of Athisme. We ought to pray that we may be cleansed from Heart Sins; these being not easily discover'd are the more dangerous. Such are vain thoughts, wandrings of Heart in our best Services; or unbecoming irreverent Conceptions of God's infinite Excellencies.
Fourthly, Some expound secret Sins, to include Guilt contracted from other Mens Sins, by conniving and not reproving them. Thus adopting other Mens Sins to become their own, by counsel or example. Thus Sin may circulate in its vigor when they are dead, who first gave occasion of its spreading.
Fifthly, Repentance is necessary for the smallest Sins, the consequents of which we have an accumulation of the greatest, Evils, as in Adam's Primitive Transgression. What vast Rivers spring from a little Head of Waters? Many Mites may amount to weighty Talents. Sinners modest and timerous at the first, soon wade beyond their intention, till they are swallowed up, in the Whirle-pool of presumptuous sinning. Here the difference was shewed betwixt Infirmities in obedience to God's Laws and presumptuous Sins. The former, proceed from Weakness in Grace, rather than the Wickedness of an obdurate Heart. They are Slips in the way of Piety, not wilfull designed departings from God. But an Hypocrite, Sins out of deliberation and Contrivance. Slightness in his Religious Duties, is usually joined with seriousness in sinning.
Sixthly, If you would not pervert your Way or Course of Life, observe these Rules. First, Live up to the Sanctifying Power of those Divine Truths, which you know and are convinced of. Secondly, Keep a Diary or constant Register of their daily Slips and Infirmities. Do not slight them as Errors of Course, which could not be foreseen nor prevented. Thirdly, Take heed of Pleading the extenuation or lesning of any Sin, to show the pregnancy of carnal Wit. Or because it promotes any Worldly Interest; or is in fashion, by the degeneracy of the present Age. Such indulged Errors, will sonner commence into presumptuous Sins. Fourthly, Be cautious of all Appearances of Evil, and curious about the least circumstance of your Obedience. Mannage it with sincerity and wisdom in conjunction, that it may be aimable in the Eye or Account of God and Men. When you have done your utmost in your duty, take Shame for your defectiveness. Fifthly, Because all our Steps in a religious Course will be exposed to Mistakes, till the Heart be set right toward God, exercise a strict discipline over it, when then rest and most spiritual Frame long for the consummate State of Holness in Heaven. There will not be any possibility of declining or swerving from sacred Truth; nor your Obedience to it. Then the liberty of the Will, perfectly renewed, shall be absolutely determined to Love and Obey God, by the Eternal, Immutable, Perfected Notions of Righteousness, with the highest Transports of Delight.
The Conclusion was thus directed to the Condemned. You have heard how David, the Man after God's own Heart, was Conscious of the multitude of his Errrors and Mistakes concerning the Mysteries of Faith and Divine Providence; yea, the very Slips of Humane Infirmity in a Course of Godliness. How sadly therefore ought you to fleet on your prodigious Excesses in Sinning. You have not, out of Modesty, been puny Transgressors of God's Laws, but have held fast Deceit and the Spoils of Unrighteousness. You have not been timerous of sinning in secret, though constantly under the Eye of God's Omniscient Observation: Yea, you have disposed all the Offers of Eternal Life by Christ, as if you envyed Him the Honour your Salvation. Lye prostrate at the foot of the Supreme, Universal Judge; Justify Him as Righteous, in all those Distresses, which you have brought upon yourselves. Repent of the Errors and smallest Indecencies of your Life; yea wash your Hearts from all secret Defilements, otherwise you will conceit vain false hopes of Eternal Blessedness. Remember that no Error nor Mistake in the Concernments of your Souls. Can be retreived nor rectified after Death. Yea the Hell of Hell, which breaks the Heart of a Sinner by despair, is to descend thither with ill-grounded presumptuous Hopes of an happy Eternity. Will you at last return to your fober Wits, in not resisting the directive and reflexive Acts of Conscience. Thus shall you have setled Peace and Serenity in your minds; so shall you be above the fond Love of natural Life: Being reconciled to God, in the sanctifyiny of your corrupt nature; your Death shall not be terrible nor reproachful, but become your Priviledge, by a friendly Admission of you into the Mansion of Celestial Blessedness.
On Tuesday the Ordinary endeavoured to make the Condemned sensible of their several Crimes, and withal sollicited them to look back upon the whole Course of their Life, by indulging any secret Sin, to a considerable degree of Athisme; thereby strengthning vicious inclinations into a confirmed habit. He prest them also, to make their penitential Acknowledgments as publick, as their Scandals had been notorious; yet were they not awakened from their Security in an Evil State.
Wednesday he renewed his Exhortations, and stated
true and false Faith, in coming to God for Reconciliation by Christ; persuading them to a sdeedy Repentance, and thorough Conversion. Some shewed Beginnings of Sorrow, yet were advised, not to rely upon this as an Expictory Satisfaction to God, for all the Exorbitances of their Conversation: For Christ had placed this on his own Account, who died to redeem us; not only from, the Condemnation of God's Law, but also from the defiling Love, and reigning Power of Sin in the Heart.
Then I prayed for them, that the Lord would make them truly and deeply contrite in Heart for every the least Sin, as an Offence against the Authority of his sacred Laws; and that they might not be more desiring of Pardoning-Mercy, than Sanctifying, Renewing-Grace: For this only can make them like to God here, and so fit them to enjoy him in the Beatifical Vision to Eternity.
I proceed to give an Account of their Behaviour, when I advised them to be ingenuous and sincere in what they were willing to declare of the former Course of their Life, and what Preparation they had made for a Blessed Eternity.
1. Mary Bampford, Condemned for Felony and Burglary: Aged 50 Years: Born in Stepney-Parish: Her Employment was, to Wind Silk . She declared’ that she was sorry she could not pray with any degree of Fervency; because, she said, that this was contracted by her forsaking the Worship and Ordinances of God. Hence she acknowledged, that it was just in him to leave her to the Inclinations of her corrupt Nature; because she first withdrew her self from the Means of Grace, and the Opportunities of Salvation. She desired me to pray to God for her, that he would take away from her that Heart of Stone, and give her a penitent Heart; according to his Promise made to Returning Sinners. She also said. That if she might be spared, she hoped she should become a New Creature.
II. Sarah Chandler: Condemned for Felony: She is aged 26 Years: Was born in Richmond: Her Employment was Embroidery . She said. That she had not long joined with bad Company, but now she endeavours to repent; and prays, that God would give her a New Heart and Life.
III. and IV. Ambrose Holland, and Elkana Smewin: Both Condemned for Robbing (on the High-way) one John Smith, and others, in the Parish of South-Mims; killing several Horses, lest they should be pursued, after they had taken from a Carrier 700 l. in Money, out of 1500 l. Ambrose Holland was formerly Condemned for Clipping the Currant Coin of this Nation; and being spared from the Execution of Death, gave Evidence against several Persons, who suffered Death for the same Crime: Yet he took not Warning by their Death, but grew the more secure. He kept not to the Worship of Chappel; yet, before his Discharge from Prison, made Vows, that he would never more break the established Laws of the Nation; but would follow an honest Employment. He now absented himself from good Exhortation; so also did Smewin: Neither would they give any Account of their former Conversation, nor discover any of their Accomplices in Robbing. They shewed little signs of Repentance.
V. Philip Davis: Condemned for Felony and Burglary, in Breaking the House of John Reynolds, in Ironmonger-Lane, on a Sunday, in Sermon-time; taking from thence 150 l. in Money. Others were concerned in it, to the Number of Seven, not yet taken. Davis is aged 30 Years. He confessed he had been a great Sinner, yet would not declare wherein; nor what his Employment was, which he was bred up to: Yet, at last, he expressed much Sorrow for such Obstinacy.
VII. John Neale: Condemned for Robbing John Lacey, Esq ; in the King's High-way, of a Gold-Watch, value 18 l. a pair of Diamond-Pendants, value 40 l. and other rich things. He also would not join in the publick Worship of God; giving this as a Reason, because he was a Romanist .
VIII. Robert Marshal: Condemned for Murthering William Curtys, in White-Chappel. He pretended now, as formerly, that he is blind, and Begged under that Disguise. But being denied Relief by Curtys, Marshal, with his Begging-staff, in both his Hands, struck him on the Head, and made a Fracture in his Skull, of which he died; and he immediately attempted to run away. He confessed on Tuesday, that though his Sight was not strong enough for Labour, yet he could see his Way, in Walking, so as to go safely. He was born in Jamaica, bred up a Sea-man . He was unwilling to give any Account of his Life, being very obstinate.
IX. Richard Star: Condemned for Feloniously Takiing away of Goods of a considerable Value, from Abraham Walker, without Bishopsgate: Aged 19 Years: Born in Bartholomew-Lane, in London. He was bred up an Herald-Painter , with his Father; but did not serve him with that Fidelity which he ought: So joining with bad Company, he exposed himself to this fatal End. He had not that Care in making Preparation for a future blessed State, which ought to be in a dying Person.
X. Daniel Jones: Condemned for Breaking the House of John Tewder, in Goodman's-Fields; stealing thence Plate and Money, of a great Value. Having been an old Offender, he shewed little Sorrow for his sinful Course of Life.
XII. George Wood: Condemned for Robbing Mr. Wayte of Plate and Money, to a great Value, while the Family was at Church. He was, upon notice given that the House was rifling, surprixed, and caught with some of the Goods about him. He is aged 30 Years, was a Sea-man , but left that Employment. He would not give any Account of his ill Course of Life, but persisted in persuading others to do the like.
XIII. Thomas Harding, alias Harday: Condemned for Stealing of Plate, and other Goods: Aged 16 Years: Born at Stayns. He said, that, joining with bad Company, he brake the Sabbath, and had been vicious; but now he prayeth, that God would be pleased to change his Heart.
I visited all the Criminals every Day, especially such who did not refuse Exhortation and Prayers, till the time of their Execution: Two Days before which, they expressed more Sorrow for their Sins, than in all the time before.
The Persons Executed at Tyburn, on Wednesday the 21th. Instant, are these whose Names follow, viz. Phillip Davis, James Greene, George Wood, Richard Star, John Neale, Robert Marshall alias Dyamond Robin the Blind Man, Daniel Jones, Thomas Harding alias Harday, Robert Wright, Edward Sympson alias Dempsey, and Mary Bamford alias Bansford. Who were drawn to the Place of Execution in Carts. They were fervently exhorted to Confess their Faults, the Effects of which had brought them to such disgrace: After which the Ordinary took great pains with them in Prayer, and other suitable Applications, to bring them to a sense of the near approaches of Death; to which they adher'd, and joined in the Prayers; and singing of a penitential Psalm in as fervent a manner as could be reasonably expected from Persons of so mean Education, as were the most of them. They lamented their dismal Fall, desiring all Spectators of such a Tragedy to be warn'd by them, &c.
As to the Particulars of their Confessions. they did not much enlarge themselves; only the Blind Man was penitent, and desired all Persons to take warning by him; owning that he could see; hoping God would forgive him all his Offences, &c.
Daniel Jones, whilst the others were exhorted, and the Ordinary in Prayer with them, on a sudden sunk down, and was strangled; some Fainting Fit (as is supposed) seizing upon him. He was not altogether so free in his owning the Fact, but was very much concerned about his Latter End. And being asked if one Ball was not active for him, in making his Escape from the Constable, when he was carried before my Lord Mayor; he solemnly protested, that the said Ball was no ways concerned in the matter, nor knew any thing of it: Which he declared, as he was a dying Man, &c.
Then they had all a convenient Time given them, to pray for themselves, and so were all Turn'd off.
This is all the Account I can give of this Sessions.
Dated this 21th. of December, 1692.
WHereas there formerly have been, and still are, several False Accounts in Print, in relation to the Condemned Prisoners; and particularly, this very Session, that Robert Marshal, the Blind Beggar, was Executed two Days since; which is utterly false: The Ordinary thinks it necessary to acquaint the World, (to prevent the like for the future,) that no true Account can be given of the Condemned Prisoners Behaviour, Confessions, and Last Dying Speeches, which is not Attested under his own Hand.
LONDON, Printed for L. Curtiss, at Sir Edmundbury-Godfrey's-Head, near Fleet Bridge, 1692.