A True ACCOUNT of the BEHAVIOUR, CONFSSION, AND Last Dying SPEECHES Of the Criminals that were Executed at TYBURN, On Friday the 27th of January, 1692/1693
ON Thursday the 19th of January, Ten Criminals received the Sentence of Death. On Friday and Saturday the Ordinary visited them, and endeavoured to make them sensible of their several Crimes. After several Exhortations and Prayer, they were dismiss'd, with importuning them to prepare for the Duties of the ensuing Lord's Day.
In the Forenoon was a Sermon preach'd on this Text, viz. Luk. 15. 7. I say unto you likewise, that there is more Joy in Heaven over one Sinner who repents, than over Ninety nine Just Persons who need no Repentance.
The several Parts of the Text were Explicated.
First, Who are meant by Sinners; viz. Such who are publickly notorious before Men; in whom a publick Recantation is requisite.
Secondly, By Just Persons, are meant, Secret Sinners, known only to God and their own Consciences. These need not such eminent Degrees of Repentance as the former. For there are none so just, as to be altogether without Sin; nor is any Sin so little, and inconsiderable, as to need no Repentance.
Thirdly, By Joy in Heaven, is meant, How pleasing it will be to God, and the blessed Society there, to observe Repentance in notorious Sinners. Yea, They rejoyce more in the Conversion of such, than over Ninety nine such just Persons who need no such Degrees of Repentance. The Reason is, because the Repentance of gross, prodigious Sinners sets an holy Example before others, to encourage their Hope in Divine Mercy, and to invite them to a sincere Conversion.
Then was opened the Nature of true Repentance, in six gradual Parts. First, Conviction of Sin, which finds out the Disease. Secondly, Confession to God and Men, of the Injuries against both. This seeks the Remedy. Thirdly, Contrition, which evinces and demonstrates the Sincerity of both the former. Fourthly, Faith in applying of the Medicine. Fifthly, Reformation, which advances the Cure. Sixthly, Charity, which compleats and perfects it.
In the Afternoon was a Sermon preach'd on 2 Pet. 1. 10. Wherefore, the rather, Brethren, give diligence to make your Calling and Election sure; for if you do these things, ye shall never fall.
The Conclusion of which Discourse was thus directed to the Condemned.
And now a few Words to you condemned Persons. How ought you especially to give all Diligence to make your Calling and Election sure, to secure an Interest in Eternal Life and Glory! You who have a great and difficult Work of Conversion to undertake, and go through with, and but a little, a very little Time and Season to effect it in. How ought your late Return unto God to quicken so much the more your Pace in holy Performances! You have the whole Course of an evil Life to unravel, to repent of, and reform: You have wicked Habits and Customs of Sinning to be sorry for, to get your Minds alienated from, to break off, and in full Purpose of Heart to relinquish, before you can have any well-grounded Hopes of Mercy and Forgiveness at God Almighty's Hands. And can you think this Change of your habitually corrupt and wicked Dispositions of Soul an easie Task, a soon accomplish'd Labour? Deceive not your selves: A sincere, thorough Conversion, a Godly Sorrow for Sin, such as worketh Repentance unto Life, never to be repented of, is much more than a few Sighs and Tears, and Implorations of Divine Mercy. It imports, besides this, all the Pangs and Agonies of a Second Birth, of a Renewed, Regenerated Nature. It implies a Broken and a Contrite Heart; an Heart pierced thorough with a sorrowful Sense of its vile Disingenuity and Ingratitude, in having grieved and offended that infinitely good God, who from time to time waited to be gracious unto the persevering Sinner; and strove by his Goodness, to lead him to Repentance. In short, Repentance implies as great Dislike, and Hatred, and fix'd Resolution against Sin, as ever was formerly the Affection and Settlement of our Hearts upon it.
Repent you then truly and earnestly of your Sins: Have a lively and stedfast Faith in the Merits of Christ Jesus: Be free and ingenuous in the Confession of your Impieties: Humbly and importunately beg Pardon of them from God Almighty: Resolve unfeignedly to lead a new Life, could your Lives be continued unto you: Do what you can to undo the sinful Miscarriages of your past Conversation, by opposite Acts of Piety and Goodness: Be more sollicitous for the procuring your Pardon seal'd in Heaven, than for your Temporal Acquitment on Earth: Spend all your remaining Hours to the best Purposes: Spend them all in Self-Examination, in holy Reading, Meditation and Prayer: Let no Company, no former Acquaintance, hinder and divert you from your Preparations for a Blessed Eternity: Repent you, not only of Personal Sins, but also of other Men's; which you have been accessory unto, through an evil Example: Make all imaginable Reparation and Restitution of Goods unjustly taken from their Right Owners: Ask Forgiveness of those you have injur'd and offended, and die in Charity: Forgive from the very Bottom of your Hearts, as you expect Forgiveness from your Divine Judge and Sentencer: Become Paterns of sincere Conversion, in making a penitent and holy End, as formerly you have been Examples of wicked and profligate Living: Warn others from those evil Courses which have brought you to this deserved Punishment: Cast your selves wholly upon God's Mercies, and his Son's Merits, for Salvation: So shall you die the Death of the Righteous, and your Latter End shall be like his.
I proceed to give an Account of the Behaviour and Confession of the Condemned Criminals.
I. James Whitney, Condemned for Robbing on the Highways. He said, That he was born in Hertfordshire; aged upward of 30 Years: His Employment was, to buy and kill Cattle to sell in the Markets . He declared that he had sinned against clear Light, and the strong Convictions of his own Conscience; which aggravated his sinful Course of Life. He confessed that he had been guilty of many Robberies, yet that he never killed any Person; and that he did refrain from wounding any Man, left he should die of his Wounds: And much lamented the wounding of a Person at his Apprehension. He was very willing to receive good Instruction, and to joyn in Prayer for the producing in him a fit Preparation for his Death. He came to the Chapel twice on the Lord's Day, and there behaved himself with great Devotion and Contrition, standing up with Attention throughout the whole Services of the Day: Taking publick Shame to himself for all the great Misrriages of his Life, shedding many Tears.
On the Monday my self and another Minister visited him twice in his Chamber, declaring the Greatness of the Crime of Robbing on the High-way: That no Man can attempt, much less persist in it, without great Violence first offered to his Conscience. Telling him, that this Sin was an Injury to Humane Society, and the Obstruction of all Trading. That it put Persons in terrour of losing their Lives, and might, in their own just Defence, expose themselves to be murther'd.
Upon which, he again solemnly protested, that he always declind any cruel Dealing toward those whom he robb'd.
Being ask'd whether Poverty necessitated him thereunto? He answer'd, No: For as he never had Plenty before, so he was not distress'd with Want. But it proceeded from a covetous Desire to get Mony for his wanton Excesses. He desired to be faithfully dealt with, in reference to his Eternal State, because his Heart was deceitful, though he express'd abundance of Tears; acknowledging that these could not merit God's Pardon, nor cleanse away the Defilement of his Heart. He confess'd that God was just in thus discovering and bring him to deserved Punishment. He wish'd that his Death might be a Warning to Others, to withdraw from Evil Society; and that they might betake themselves to some lawful Employment, that they may not ensnare themselves in the like Condemnation. Upon my whole Observation of his humble Submissiveness to God's righteous Dealing, I do hope that he was a true Penitent, and a great Example to all other Criminals, not to remain obstinate in their sinful State, to the Abuse of that Respite of Time, afforded for their Conversion.
II. Nathanael Grosse, Condemned for Robbing on the Highway. He was Aged 35 Years, or thereabout: Born in Oxfordshire. He said, That he was a Labourer in the Country; but coming to London, fell into Acquaintance of bad Company. He was at last prevailed with to confess, that he had been dissolute in his Practices, and had not regarded to serve God as he ought: But now he saith, that he repents of all his Sins, and hopes that God will pardon them. Being ask'd what Saving Faith and Repentance are? He gave a very slender Account. Therefore I instructed him in the true Nature, Properties and Effects of those Graces. He said, that he never kill'd any Man upon the Rad, or in any other place. Yet I told him, That Violence in depriving Persons of their Mony is a very great Crime, especially if Robbers are inur'd to it, and harden'd in it by Custom, being in hopes to escape publick Justice, which sometimes overtakes and apprehends them in their deepest Security. He was urg'd to discover his Associates, not yet taken; but refus'd it. Whereupon I told him, that his Repentance was much to be suspected. He replied, That he had made his Peace with God, and would not answer any more Questions.
III. James Phillips, Condemned for Robbing on the HighWay: Aged 25 Years, or thereabout: Born in the City of London. He would not acknowledge what Employment he had been bred up unto. He sent for me to visit him in Newgate, before he took his Trial; pretending that he had some Trouble upon his Mind. I went to him; but finding him drinking in Company, he shifted me off, and would not admit of Instruction or Prayer. Whereupon I left him; telling him, that he ought to prepare more seriously for the Sentence of Death. After which, I took him apart, and endeavour'd to make him sensible of his evil Practices: But he was peevish, and would not, for the space of two Days, give any Account of his Life. On the Lord's Day he came to the Chapel, and there express'd little Signs of Sorrow for his Sins. On the Monday he express'd some Remorse of Conscience, yet would not instance any one particular Sin of his Life; saying, God only knew his Heart, and that he needed not to make any Acknowledgment of any publick Miscarriages; secret Repentance would obtain their Pardon. But I told him, that his Repentance ought to be as exemplary, as his Scandals to the Christian Religion had been notorious. I hope he will not persist at his dying Hour, in any obstinate Behaviour.
IV, V, VI. The other three High-way-Men, Condemned, viz. John Fetherstone, Edward Poor, and Nicholas Nealand, would not give any Account of their evil Course of Life, having declared that they were Roman Catholicks : And though Edward Poor and Nicholas Nealand came to the Chapel, yet they express'd little Sorrow for their Sins, as being not awakned from their then Security by any Dread of their approaching Death.
VII. William Turner, Condemned for Coyning false Mony. He was born in Staffordshire. He would not give any Account of his former Course of Life, being sullen. Bnt on Monday he said, that his Heart was much affected with the Preaching and Prayers on the Lord's Day, and that he now desired to be directed how to make his Peace with God. Whereupon, being told, that, in order thereunto, he must ingenuously acknowledge his evil Course of Life. He replied, That by Trade he was a Lock-Smith . Being ask'd if that did not prompt him to be more dexterous at Coyning, in making Instruments for the Promoting of that wicked Artifice? He said, No: It was only the following the Advice of others, who had used that Crime to gain Mony for their Riotous Expences: And that he had not long engaged himself in such a Crime, against the Law. He shew'd some Signs of Remorse, and submitted at last to good Advice for his Soul's future Happiness.
VIII. Ann Merryweather, Condemned for High Treason, in Composing, Printing and Publishing the Late King James's Declaration. I cannot give any Account of her, because she was not brought to the Chapel: I suppose, being unwilling to appear, left I should enquire into her Conversation; as I did into others.
IX, X. Ambrose Holland and Elkana Smewin, who were Convicted last Session for Robbery on the High-way, at South-Mims, were called to their former Judgment, and order'd to be Executed with the other Criminals. I can give little Account of their Penitency; they continued as unconcerned as they were when under Condemnation the last Session. I must leave them to God's All-discerning Scrutiny; hoping that, before they suffer a publick Death, they will be more wrought upon to bewail their sad Lives, and take an Ingenuous Shame to themselves for all their Provocations of the Most High.
On the 27th of January, 1692. these Eight Persons, viz. Whitney, Phillips, Grosse, Nealand, Featherston, Poor, Holland and Smewin were carried in Carts to Tyburn, to be Executed for High-way-Robbing. But a little Space off the Gallows, a Reprieve was brought for Whitney; at which he seem'd to be much surpriz'd with such welcome News: He was immediately carried back, behind an Officer, on Horse-back. to Newgate.
Turner was drawn in a Sledge, for Coining false Mony. He was an ignorant Person, but lamented his untimely End.
Ambrose Holland was chief the Person who warn'd the People: Thus: My Name is Holland: Good People, take warning by me; I pray you take warning; I thought my self once as brave a Man as any; but God hath been too hard for me. I have been a very great Sinner, sinning against much Knowledge; which makes me now wavering, as to my Hope of Future Happiness. He cried out often, What shall I do to be saved? I have a treacherous and deceitful Heart, which makes me question the Sincerity of my Conversion. Oh! May not the several Curses and Imprecations which I have often wish'd on my self, now light on my Head. He desir'd all People to fear and serve God, that they might not fall into the same Condemnation.
Poor dyed a declared Papist , and was very little concerned about his Future State.
Nealand also, and Fetherston dyed Romanists , yet seemed to disclaim all Trust in the Merits or Prayers of any Saints.
Smewin, joined in the Robbery with Holland, was penitent.
Phillips, at last was affected with his bad Course of Life, and wept; confessing, That his former Security was occasioned through false Hopes given him by his Friends, of Sparing Mercy.
Grosse was attentive to Instruction, and the several Prayers made for the Persons to be Executed.
After which, the Ordinary sung a Penetential Psalm, and prayed several times; recommending them to the Mercies of God, and Merits of their Saviour. The Ordinary told them, That they would hazard thuir Salvation, if they did not discover any Murthers which were conceal'd, or Robberies design'd. To which they answer'd, That they knew not of any. Se after short Prayers for themselves, and their Desires of the Spectators to take warning by them, they were Executed.
This is all the Account I can give of this Sessions.
Dated this 27th of January, 1692.
WHereas a Picture was lost on Saturday last, being the Representation of Flushing, one of the Provinces, or a Town in Holland, with the Sea encompassing it; a Packet-Boat under Sail, and a large Ship under Sail; and a little above the Ship it was torn about eight Inches, and but coursely sewed up: At the Bottom, near the Frame, there is a yellow Streak, whereon was inscrib'd Ulisingen. It had a gilt Frame, and fit for a large Chimney-Piece. Whoever gives notice of it to Edward Paige, Surgeon , in Goat-Court, upon Ludgate-Hill, shall be rewarded; and if bought, their Money return'd, and gratified for their Trouble.
LONDON, Printed for L. Cutis, at Sir Edmundbury-Godfrey's-Head, near Fleet-Bridge, 1693.