A True ACCOUNT of the BEHAVIOUR, CONFESSION, AND Last Dying SPEECHES, Of the Criminals that were Executed at TYBURN, On Wednesday the 28th of February, 1694.
ON Fryday, the 23d of February, 1694. at the Old Baily, Eighteen Criminals, received the Sentence of Death, Sixteen Men, and a Woman, with a young Girl; both for Clipping the Current Coin of this Nation. Whereof Seven Men were in the Dead Warrant, to be executed at Tyburn, on Wednesday the last of this Month.
The Ordinary visited the Condemned every day, till their Execution. On the Lords day he read Prayers, and preacht twice on this Text, viz. the 24th verse of the 15th chapter of Solomons Proverbs, The way of Life is above to the wise, that he may depart from Hell beneath. For the explication of which words he shewed several particulars.
First, Who are counted the Godly wise, and wherein divine wisdome exercises itself.
Secondly, That the truly wise decline such sins, which directly and naturally tend to Hell beneath, or the Grave, by an untimely ignominious death of the Body. Here was shewed, what such sins are, and how godly wisdome is a preservation, or effectual Remedy against them.
Thirdly, What are the several ways of desperate confirmed wickedness, which lead to Hell in eternal Torments.
Fourthly, Wherein Godly wisdom promotes the Spiritual life of the Soul, which is infused from above, and tends to the inheriting Celestial Glory.
The First Head.
Who are counted the truly wise, and wherein do they manifest themselves to be such.
1. Those who imbrace the Lord Jesus Christ by Faith, who practice universal, constant, sincere and chearful obedience to his Sacred Laws. Such only are wise to eternal Salvation: All other knowledge of the deepest Secrets in Nature vanish most-what into Pride, Ostentation, and endless Strife. The two great ends of saving knowledge, are to communicate it to others, and to obey the light, which we possess within our selves.
2. Such know how to manage every state and condition of this present life, so as to abound without pride, and to want without complaint.
3. They strive to secure the great Interests of the other world, by valuing persons and things; not according to fleshly appearances, but as they will hold out, in the Estimation and Advantage, when the Frame of Heaven and Earth shall be dissolv'd.
4. They foresee an impending Storm of Divine Judgment, so as to hide themselves in Time, under the Wing of Gods Protection. They chuse proper, suitable and effectual means, to attain a blessed Immortality.
5. They set a Watch over their Hearts, as studying to approve themselves rather to God, than their Conversation to Men. Thus they arrive to the reward of Eternal Life in Celestial Glory.
But the present and future state of the Ungodly, is far different. The highest Advantage which they shall reap from such a vile thing as Sin, shall determine and center, in grasping nothing but Shame, Reproach, and Eternal Death. Sinful Folly is worse than Natural in Idiots. These may for the defect in their understanding expect some mittigation of their crime and punishment: But to fell a mans felt to Satan and his Lust, is to sink himself into a state worse than Brutal. Thus an hardned customariness in sinning, naturally tends to Hell, as the center of a consummated state in wickedness. Yea, were such admitted into Heaven, yet they would count this place of Blessedness an Hell of restless torments, because of a total unsuitableness to Gods holy nature, who cannot indure to behold the least spot of Iniquity. Therefore, sinners not purified by the merit of Christs bloodshed, and the renewing virtue of his Spirit, shall never be admitted into the regions of celestial light, in a glorious enjoyment of God to all Eternity.
The Conclusion was thus directed to the Condemned.
How devoid of common understanding are such, whose steps take hold of Hell, by a wilful course in sinning, as if they could not sufficiently insure, the intailment of Damnation upon themselves. Let me argue the Case with such spiritual Phrenticks. Why do ye conceit your selves wise in despising the sacred Oracles of the most high? Are not these the infallible Rule of Humane Conversation? Are they not that Standard of Righteousness, which shall convince all impenitent Sinners, how justly their Souls shall be condemned to Eternal Torments? Is not this the heighth of Folly and Madness, to despise that Divine Wisdom, which, as the Tree of Life, offers to stretch out her self for Eternal Safety, to such who shall take hold of her, to sit down under the Shadow of her Protection? Were men truly wise they would not dare to scoff at the Venerable Mysteries of Religion, nor the Commendable Pursuit of a Virtuous Life and Conversation. Yet strange it is, that Sinners will not be convinced of their Self cruelty, in ruining their precious Souls for Trifles, and the momentary Sceens of destructive Pleasures in the Paths of Vanity and Prophaneness. Consider that the way of Life, the Safety and comfortable Injoyment of it, is only, in lifting up the Soul to God, by a delightful Coutemplation of his infinite Perfections, and in a divine Conformity thereunto. This will secure us against those Trains of Temptation, which are laid by Satan and the Lusts of our own heart, to betray us to Hell in the Regions of Eternal Darkness. Therefore trust not your own hearts, which are deceitful above the subtilty of the old Serpent. Take heed of dreaming that you are the Heirs of Heavenly Felicity, and yet may remain Satans Bondslaves: Oh how sad is this to drown in the sight of a Rainbow; to perish in the Deluge of Gods Wrath, by admiring the specious deceitful vanishing Shadows of a defective Righteousness. Implore the Lord therefore, to send forth the light of his sanctifying Truth, to beget and preserve spiritual Wisdom in your Hearts: So shall you be exalted to safety, in being set above the slavish Fear of Death. Permit Divine Wisdom to guide your Feet into Paths of Piety in this World, and it will not fail to admit you into the Felicities of Celestial Blessedness to Eternity.
After the Lords day I visited the Condemned, and inquired what Impressions the Prayers and Sermons made upon their Hearts. They generally reply'd, that they were made sensible of their evil Lives, and hoped that they repented. Hereupon, I advised them not to mistake a slight sorrow for Sin, as if this could make satisfaction to God for the Excesses of a vicious Life. And because I have observed many dolorous complaints of Criminals against themselves to vanish away, upon slender Hopes of a Reprieve, I exhorted them to beg of God, that he would carry on their Convictions to a thorow Conversion. At another time I stated the Nature and Effects of true saving Faith and Repentance, from that which is false.
Afterward I required an account from them, in what preparation they were for Death and a Blessed Eternity.
I proceed to give you an Account of the Behaviour and Confessions of the Condemned Criminals.
I. William Gillet, Condemned for stealing Hats; born in St. Georges Parish, in Southwark. He served under Glass-makers , but had been addicted to a vicious Life: For he plaid on the Sabbath in the Streets; and was guilty of Swearing and Lying, was very ignorant in matters of Religion, and little sensible of his Sins.
II. William Breed, alias Buckingham, Condemned for Felony, aged 15 or 16 Years. He was born in St. Giles in the Fields: He cried Mats about the Streets ; afterwards joined with bad Company. He said, that he sadly brake the Sabbaths, and
that he gamed on that day. That he had been drunk, and often swore: That he was very disobedient to his Parents, especially to his Mother, which was occasioned by her Tenderness over him.
III. William Evans, Condemned for stealing a Horse, aged about 19 years, born at Meldrid in Cambridgshire. His Father employed him in Husbandry ; but he grew idle, and leaving his Father, he brake the Sabbath, and was given to Drunkenness and Sweating.
IV. Samuel Smith, Condemned for Felony aod Burglary, aged 21 Years, born in St. Giles in the Fields. He was a Fringe-maker , but grew wanton, and would not be ruled by his Parents. He said, that he served King William in Ireland and Flanders, but left that Employment, because he was disabled by some wounds. He had been guilty of Swearing and Drinking excessively. But now he said, that Sin was his Burden, and that he grieves chiefly for offending Cod.
V. John Salter, Condemned for Felony, about a Robbery in Surry, aged 22 years; born in Buckinghamshire. He was brought up to Husbandry , but left that employment, and joyned himself to bad company. He prophaned the Sabbath, and was addicted to Swearing and Drunkenness. He said that he was a great sinner: but he hopes that by Gods mercy and Christs merits, his heart will be contrite for offending God, and giving evil example unto others.
VI. Richard Lorreiner, Condemned for picking a Pocket, aged 16 years and a half, born in White-Chappel Parish. His employment was in driving Carts ; He went not to Church on the Lords day, but played at Marbles; He sometimes swore prophanely; But said, that now he mourns for his sad distress; That he reads night and day; That he prays, Gods Spirit would change his heart, that he may be fit to dye. If he may be spared, he hopes that he should not joyn again with bad Company.
VII. Henry Hooper, Condemned for stealing a Horse, aged 32 years; born in Norfolk. He was a Horse-Courser , and said that till of late, he drove a Hackney Coach : He was ignorant in matters of Religion, and confest only in general, that he had sinned, and led an evil Life, but did not express in what particulars.
VIII. John Edwards, Condemned for Felony, aged 25 years, born in Aldgate Parish. He was a Plaisterer . He denied not that he joined with others in stealing broad Cloth, and that he had 25 s. of the Mony, for which it was sold. He wept. I askt him why? he said for his sins; and that now he hoped, he hated sin, more than he loved it; that his heart is set against all sin; saying, that if he might have his life spared, he would go again to his Trade of Plaistering, and never more commit any unlawful Act.
IX. Thomas Kerton, Condemned for Felony, aged 20 years, born in Shorediech Parish. He bought old Clothes, and some times Ends of Gold and Silver . He confest, that he would not be ruled by his Parents, and so fell into bad Company; He Played on the Sabbath day in the fields; He was sometimes drunk; He said that he did not fear God, but now he grieves for his sins, and prays that his heart may be changed, and that he may no longer be left to himself.
X. John Riggs, Condemned with Robert Lewis, and Jasper Marry, for Felony, and Burglaty, aged 24 years, born in Bishops-gate Parish. He was a Weaver , but left that Employment, being drawn from it by bad Company. He said that he much broke the Sabbath, which brought him to this sad condition. He was disobedient to his Parents, and guilty of many other sins; That God had brought him to publick shame, and he desired to repent of all his Sins.
XI. Robert Lewis, Condemned for the same Felony and Burglary, aged 26 years, born in Barkshier. A Butcher by Trade in St. James's-Market. He left not his employmen above a month: That he was much in debt. He said that four or five joyned in the Robbery, but did not name them. He denied that he brake into the House, yet confest that he did share with others in the stolen Goods. He said, that he did sometimes drink excessively, and swear prophanely, but he desires to repent, that he hath set such a bad example to others, and prays that his heart may be more softed.
XII. Jasper Marry, Condemned for the same Felony and Burglary, refused to come at any time to the publick Prayers and Exhortations. Therefore I called to him in the stone Dungeon, and offer'd to pray with him, but he utterly dejected the motion, saying that he was a Romanist, and would not hearken to any advice which I would have given him, to convince him of his false Religion.
XIII, XIV, XV. The like refusal was made by Simon Betts, Richard Betts, and Thomas Michel, who said that they were of another Religion; I offered to pray with them several times, but they persisted in their impenitent behaviour: These three were condemned for Felony and Burglary.
XVI. Margery Townley, Condemned for Clipping the current Coin of this Nation, but reprieved as being quick with Child; Aged 29 years, born in Barkshire: For twelve years last past, she sold Fruit in the Market . It is a quarter of a year since she left that Employment, being (as she said) tempted to clipping of Mony, but would not name by whom. She confest that she was guilty of Swearing, and often broke the Sabbath.
XVII. Frances Wroth, Condemned for Clipping the Coin of this Kingdom, aged about 12 or 13 years, she was born in Westminster. She served a Gentlewoman some time, but being tempted by bad Persons, particularly, by one Hurst, she committed the Crime, saying, that Sabbath breaking, Lying, and other Sins, had brought her to this. She seemed penitent.
Lastly, Thomas Granger, Condemned for breaking a House in the day time: He denied not the crime. He said, that it much troubled him that he did not take former Warning; That he had offended God in a great measure, so that he fears his Prayers will not be heard; That he had sinned against Convictions in his Conscience, yea against Vows and Resolutions to break off many evil Courses; That he doth earnestly beg of God, to work in him nnfeigned repentance; That he desires all persons whom he hath wronged, to pardon him, because he is willing to make restitution, but cannot, having nothing left wherewith to do it. He wept much, and I hope was penitent.
On Wednesday, the last of February, 1694, Seven men were carried from Newgate to Tyburn, to be Executed, viz. Jasper Marry a Sweed, Simon Betts, and Richard Betts. These three declared themselves to be Roman Catholicks. Marry prayed out of a Popish book, and often kissed it. Richard Betts prayed affectionately for himself; Simon Betts, his Brother, did the like: They desired, that every Person whom they had injured, would forgive them.
The other four Persons, were these who follow in the account, viz. John Riggs, he being tied up, prayed thus for himself. O thou Eternal God, the Judge of all Men, thou knowest that I have been a very great Sinner; yet for thy Mercy sake, give me one Glimpse of thy Conntenance to support and comfort me: Oh do not reject me, tho I have aggravad my Sins against the Convictions of my Conscience. Do not only pardon me, but sanctify my heart, and fit me for thy Heavenly Kingdom. He warned the Spectators not to brake the Sabbath, which he often did, and this led him to the Commission of gross Sins. He said, Take heed how you keep Company with lewd Women, and become unclean with them. This Sin now much wounds my Conscience. It puts upon stealing to satisfy their Lustt. He said, that since two Sessions last past, he being at Liberty, would not take warning, but had committed many Robberies, yet not Murder at any time. I askt him and the other Criminals, whither any of them knew of any concealed Murder. They replied No, neither had been guilty of any. He wept very much, acknowledged Gods Justice, and died penitently.
After the Ordinary had exhorted and prayed for them all, he committed them to Gods mercy. After they had again prayed for themselves, the Cart drew away, and they were executed.
This is all the Account I can give of this Sessions, Licensed, March, 1st. Sam. Smith, Ordinary.
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