A True Account of the Behaviour, Confessions and last Dying Speeches of the Condemned Criminals, that were Executed at Tyburn on Friday the 28d of this Instant May, 1697.
On the Lords-Day, after the Condemnation of the Condemned Criminals; a Sermon was Preacht on this Text, Mat. 5. 3.
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit: For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
THESE Words contain the Preparative Disposition, to make us Receptive of the richest Effussions of Christ's Spirit. Our Blessed Redeemer being install'd in Majesty, at the Right-Hand of God his Father, yet condescends to dwell in contrite Hearts: These are emptied of proud Conceitedness in any excellency in themselves, that they may seek their whole Spiritual Subsistency from Christ's All-sufficiency.
Three General Heads were treated on.
First, What is it to be truely poor in Spirit?
There is great difference betwixt Legal and Evangelical Poverty of Spirit.
The Law of God apply'd in the perfection of its Precepts, and the certainty of its Threats against Sinners, works only Conviction of the loss of our Original Righteousness, and what Debts of Sinful Guiltiness we have Contracted.
This is to be miserably poor in Spirit. But such only are commendably poor in Spirit, who are supernaturally Inlightned to discern the wants and losses of their Souls, so as humbly to beg the riches of Sanctifying Grace from Christ.
The Sinner Evangelically poor in Spirit, is convinc'd that he is utterly unable to pay God the least mite of Service, or to make satisfaction for the least Sin. He cannot without shame shew his Face: He lies at the Foot of meer Mercy, as acknowleging that he needs not only the free Pardon of his Guiltiness, but also a stock of Heavenly Graces, that he may return in Gratitude the Fruits of Righteousness, for the free Cancelling his demeriting God's severest Justice.
Secondly, The truely poor in Spirit, will not sit down satisfied with low attainments in Holiness; They delight themselves in an importunate Hunger after Righteousness, as if they had not the least Degree. There is a Commendable Graceful Poverty, and a Lawful Covetousness. I can never have enough of an Holy Hunger after Righteousness, nor spare any degree of a Loathing abstinence from Sinning. In a Repentant abasement, let me ever abound; this commends me to my God, and by pacifying my Conscience, Reconciles me to my self, know, that to set down contented in low degrees of Holiness, is to be Irregularly Modest, rather then sincerely Devout.
Thirdly, How happy are the poor in Spirit? These can carry themselves with an Heavenly stateliness, in contemning the glittering Vanities of this World. Thus they fall not into mischief, while they do not give credit to the Pernicious Charmes of overfondLoving the excellencies of any Creature. O ye glorious recompences of Purity, in Heart and humility of Mind! What Divine Joys overflow in Conquering the softning Allurements of the World? by a resolute contempt of them, in order to embrace the strictest severities, in Mortifying sensual Lustings, which War against the Souls Heavenly Constitution. The poor in Spirit, are the choicest peice of God's New-Creation, as being enrich'd with all the fullness of Christ; yea, their indefeisible Interest in the All-satisfying God, shall be the Portion of their Felicity to Eternity.
The conclusion was thus Directed to the Condemned.
If the poor in Spirit be blest, then, how accursed are all such who are Proud in Spirit, altho' addicted to Prophaness. How remote have you been from true poverty of Spirit? who have disdain'd to be inricht with the Treasures of Divine Wisdom. You have not searcht into the Misteries of Christ's Kingdom, but have been Covetous in the pursuit of lying Vanities; you have been fill'd with a Proud Conceitedness, that you are stockt with Righteousness, as a sufficient Fund to entitle you to Heavenly Felicity. How have you mistaken true Humility of Spirit? who have with base Servility stoopt to the Vassalage of Sin and Satan; yea, you have readily comply'd with other Sinners, in promoting the excesses of Wickedness. How far have you been from Lowliness of Spirit? in not submiting to the Yoke of Christ's Discipline; you have rather exalted your Folly, in refusing to resign your Hearts in Love and Obedience to Christ's Laws. Be no longer restless in grasping after the sensual injoyments of this World, rather let the choicest of your time, and the strength of your Affections, run out after being inricht with the most excellent Treasures of the Celestial Kingdom; these are of Eternal duration, and suitable to the Divine Original of Mens Souls. These only can yield pure Solid satisfaction, without Stint or a loathing Satiety, yet you have delighted in fullfiling your sensual Lusts: Thus have you lost the Government over your deprav'd affections, which have wandred after Vanity, till you are become viler than Vanity it self.
Can any real happiness be secured by the meer Raillery of a discontented Spirit, at the Transitory Pleasures of Sinning: This may, and doth often proceed from the bitter effects of Sinning, and not from any sincere affection toward those Divine Joys, which flow from the intire Resignation of the Heart in the Purity and Strength of its Love to Christ's Sacred Laws. But you have been so secure in your Sinful State, that you have not exprest any Satiety in Sinning; so far have you been from providing any Fund of Righteousness, to fit you for the Felicities of Eternal Life. How empty are you of true Wisdom, tho' you ought to have digged for it in the Mine of the sacred Scriptures. You have not a Rag of Moral honesty left, but have willingly stript your selves of it, that you may boast of being Arch-plunderers of the Estates of industrious Persons. How vile have you made your selves? by the Prodigal abuse of your natural Wit and Strength, in pursuit of lying Vanities. What vast Debts of Guiltiness have you Contracted? which you cannot discharge by all the services of your shortned Lives, having forfeited them to God's Justice, by your Riotous Courses in impiety. you cannot but Remember what a great degree of Blasphemy was vented by the Prophane Scoffers at the Effusions of Christ's Holy Spirit, when the Apostles spake with strange Tongues at the Feast of Pentecost, they were Censur'd to be Drunk with new Wine, being fill'd only with the Spirit of Holiness, wherein is no excess. You will readily condemn such Prophaness; yet your Souls have been deriders of the Power of Godliness, as if this were only the conceited Phantasme of Melancholy Pride.
Here I cannot forebear to warn you, that you do not by Drinking excessively strong Liquors, conceit that this will animate you against the Terrours of Death; such a wicked Art of Intemperance, rather strengthens Agonies in dying.
Besides, This exposes the Souls of Criminals to a stupifying Bravado, and obstructs all reflexive Sentiments of their Guiltiness and unfitness to appear at Christ's Tribunal; yet, at the very Point of dying, How do many Criminals presume to snatch at the state of Celestial Blessedness? altho' they have no other Qualifications for it, but only Languishing and Lazy Desires after it.
Is this to Answer Christ's Design, in his Ascension into Heaven, that by the Effussion of the Graces of his Spirit, Sinners Hearts may be changed, and that they may abound in all Heavenly disposition. Be asham'd that you have advanc'd a joint stock in iniquity, designing to enrich your selves with precious Spoiles; but you have deceived your selves, being loaden with terrours in your Consciences, as made an easy ignominious Prey to Satan. O Supplicate God, that you may be filled with all the Graces of his Spirit; so shall you not be overwhelm'd with Terrours in your dying Extremities; humbly resolve to take no denial therein, for the sense of your Spiritual indigence, is a Disposition and prevalent Plea for God's Mercy, to bestow on you the exhibitions of gracious Qualifications for Eternal Life, Men may be wearied out in Solliciting their scanty bounty; but the God of All-sufficiency, Commands us to open our Mouths, and widen our Thoughts in Praying, and he will fill us with the Treasures of his Grace, with the foretasts of Heavenly Festivities, unutterable and full of Glory; These shall be intail'd on the
truely poor in Spirit, as the chiefest Promoters of Christ's Honour.
Humility when advanc'd into Heaven, is most illustriously Triumphant in Self denial: Saints when glorify'd, wear their May Crowns, with a blusting Modesty, in Homage to Christ, who is All in All, for their Compleatness in Holiness, and Stability in the state of Heavenly Felicity.
I proceed to give an Account of the Behaviour and Confessions of the Condemned Criminals.
I. George Gadesby, Condemn'd for the Murder of his Wife; he was a Butcher , who sold meat in Leaden-Hall-market, aged about 40 Years. I endeavoured to make him sensible of this great and Barbarous Crime, but he several times extenuated it, saying that he and his Wife liv'd lovingly together and that she was a very good Wife, and therefore that he did not intend to kill her out of malice; but she reproving him for neglecting his business, and there upon not having Money to supply her Occasions, and other Reflections on him, he was so enraged with Passion, that he flung the Knif at her, which Wounded her Mortally, that she dy'd immediatly. I reply'd, That at his Trial it was prov'd that he did the Fact, not only in Passion, but with an ill Intention, because that the Wound was three Inches deep; and that the pretence of their living lovingly before, did rather aggrivate the Crime, so that a just reproof ought not to have inraged him against her. I daily endeavour'd to make him sensible of the Crime; yet, still he lessned it, and I observed not, that at any time he shed any Tears for it; yet, he Confest, that he thought that God left him to this violence of Passion, because he had sinn'd against him, and did not Repent; in particular, He acknowleged that he did not keep the Duties of the Lord's-Day, was sometimes Drunk, and did often Swear and Curse in his Passion, but that now God in Justice brought these Sins to his Remembrance to humble him, and quicken him to Repentance, and that he hoped the Sentence of Death on him, was to his Souls advantage.
II. William Herne, Condemn'd for Burglary, aged 17 Years, he was born in Clarken-wel, was put Apprentice to a Fisherman , but he was Refractory, and run away from him. He said, That he prophan'd the Lord's Day, and would not mention any other Sins; he was not affected with the Exhortations and Prayers, but behaved himself very rudely. He confest that he was Guilty of all the three Burglaries, for which he was Condemn'd.
III. Richard Downes, Condemn'd for Coining; He deny'd not that he knew several Coiners, and joined with them in Company, which might encourage them, but he would not now discover any of them. I told him that this was his Duty, and tho' he shed Tears, yet that his Repentance was not sincere, if he did not prevent Coining in others. He said, that his Life had not been Scandalous openly, yet he had committed several Sins, but did not mention them in Particular.
IV. Richard Arrigrig, Condemn'd for Burglary, aged 18 Years, he was born at Coventry in Warwickshire. He said, that he waited on a Gentleman for some time, but left his Service, to be at his own disposal. He said, that when he left his Master, he listed himself for a Soldier , and served in Flanders three Years; that he returned into England in November last, and joined with bad Company, and that he had brought himself to ruin, by knowing led Women, and was Guilty of all Sins except Murder. He Confest that he was Guilty of all three Burglaries.
V. William Denny, Condemn'd for Burglary, aged 22 Years; he said that his Parents gave him very good Education, but it did not make a deep Impression on his Heart. He came from Flanders last Spring, and met with one John Weaver in Spittlefields, who tempted him to join with him, but that Denny himself, did not enter into the House broken up, and that he had not any part of the Spoil. He said, that his Life had not been Vicious, but he neglected Religious Duties, which exposed him to bad Company. He was attentive to Exhortations and Prayers, and very Penitent, and said if his Life may be spared, he hopes he shall amend it, and be Serviceable and Faithful in any future Employment. I do think he is truely Penitent.
VI. William Smith, Condemn'd for picking a Pocket, aged 12 Years, was born at Kingstone; he was put to a Weaver , but staid a little time with him, after that he took to ill Courses, but especially to picking of Pockets. He wept much, and said, that if he be spared, he will take warning, for the future.
VII. John Alderson, Condemn'd for Burglary and Highway Robbing, he was born in Soho. He said, That he did not take to any Employment, and that his Idleness brought him to join with with bad Company. He confest that he was Guilty of this Burglary, which was occasion'd by his knowlege of leud Women, for he stole to maintain them; that he did break the Sabbath, and did Swear, and was sometimes Drunk
VIII. Richard Whiteing, Condemn'd for Robbing on the High-ways, and a Burglary, aged 28 Years, was born in St. Gs's Parish; he deny'd not the Crimes, and Confest that he had been a great Sinner in other respects, but did not mention wherein. He said, That he was sensible of his sinful Courses; yet he distrusted the Truth of his Repentance.
IX. Lewis Skidmoor, Condemn'd for Coining, aged 44 Years, born in Somesetshire; he was a Black-Smith in Southwork. He acknowleged that he observed not the Duties of the Lord's Day; was Guilty of Swearing and Drunkness, and kept bad Women Company, which he now Repents, and warns others to avoid them, as bringing Men to Ruin.
X. There is one whose Sir-name is Towers, Condemn'd for Coining, and brought this Sessions to his former Judgment, as not making good his promise, That if he were Repreived, he would discover other Coiners. He deny'd not the Crime, and said, That his Riotous Courses, and bad Women, had exposed him to this untimely Death.
On Friday the 28th of May, George Gadesby, Richard Whiteing, William Herne, alias Old Iron, James Golding, Richard Arrigrig, John Alderson and Mary Walker, were Convey'd to Tyburn in three Carts, and Lewis Skidmoor, Richard Downes, John Towers, who was formerly convicted, and Elizabeth Gregg on a Sledge, the Criminals being tied up. only Gregg, who was burnt to Ashes. Gadesby, acknowledged his Fact, saying he was very sorry for what he had done, it being in a great Passion, for he had kill'd a loving Wife, whom he loved as his Life; he seemed to Repent himself of his rash deed. Elizabeth Gregg, who was burnt, owned her Fact, saying, she was led to it by evil Company, but acknowleged that she died a Roman-Catholick . Golding, desired that he might not be troubled, saying, he died a Roman-Catholick . Arrigrig, acknowleged his Crime, saying, Lord look down upon me, and grant me forgiveness for all my past Sins, for I have been a great Sinner. Alderson, said that he was Guilty of this Crime, and divers others, and hoped that God will have mercy upon his Soul. Skidmoor, acknowleged his Fact, but said very little. Downes, said he was privy, and knew of such as drove the Cursed Trade of Coining, but would not mention them. Mary Walker, she said, That she had confest her Fact to God and her self, and said nothing more. The Ordinary pray'd with them for some time, and Sung a Penitential Psalm; then the Cart drew away. They were turn'd off.
This is all the Account that I can give of this Sessions.
Dated May 28
LOst from Captain Serjant of the First Regiment of Foot Guards, on the 30th of March at the Parade at Whitehall, a Brown Lurching Bitch, her Ears being cropt close, lost about two Inches of her Tail, a small White Speck on each Shoulder, Black Nose, and White Breast, having lately been Scalded thereon whoever brings her to Mr . Edward Paige Surgeon , in Goat. Court on Ludgate-Hill, shall be Rewarded.
LONDON, Printed for E. Mallet, in Nevil's-Court in Fetter-lane, 1697