The Confessions, Behaviour, and dying Speeches, of the Criminals that were Executed at Tyburn the Sixth of September, 1700.
DEvereux Pheasant, born in London, confest the Crimes for which he was Condemn'd, viz. Felony and Burglary. Acknowledged also that he had been in Jayl before, being one of those that broke out last Christmas, at which time he had been a Convict for a Twelve-month. Being desired to declare all the other Robberies and Wickednesses he had committed, there was no engaging him to confess any otherwise, than that he was once besides taken up upon suspition, and suffered for it, because he was taken in the Company of those that did the Fact; And that he for his part had left his Wife, but it was as he believed upon a just Account, because she kept Company with another Man. This gave occasion in the first place to remark, That granting what he said was true, it ought to have been a warning to him to avoid ill Company for the future, when he had suffered so much by it before, and that sure, he, of all Men, should have detested Robbery, when the Providence of God had permitted him to undergo so much Affliction for but being in the Company of Thieves and Robbers; But he was to take care that what he charged upon his Companions, was not really chargeable upon himself too; God knew the truth of what he said, and there was no dallying with Omnipotence. He acknowleged all this in a very decent manner, and desired withal, my Thoughts of his parting with his Wife, for that created him some disturbance, but he supposed it was groundless. I then observed, First, That Men sometimes take offence where there was no offence given, and if that was his Case, he had reason to be troubled, and the more, because the offence was of that nature as to make a Separation betwixt Man and Wife. But then, Secondly, if he was really satisfied in his own Conscience that the Offence was justly taken, I durst assure him, that what he did in that respect was no Sin, provided he had no other Antipathy than what arose from that Ground. For in the Case of Adultery our Saviour allowed it. This gave him satisfaction, and put an end to his Discourse; for he was a Man of a close Temper, and of few Words, and a Countenance Melancholly to the last degree: Tho' this I must say of him, his Countenance was but suited to his sad Condition; and having meekness of Behaviour, and a regular Devotion to attend it throughout, we may humbly hope that it was so far from being a Fault, 'twas his Vertue and his Happiness. All that were to be wished, he had confest particularly his crying Wickednesses, and not lessened and concealed them, and then there had been nothing wanting to shew the sincerity of his Heart.
II. Walter Terry, born in Bishopsgate-street, under the same Condemnation for the same Crime, besides another for which he was tried and Convicted. After a particular Application, as was needful to a Person of his Surliness and Obstinacy, he gave this following Account of his Life. That he had been Coachman to several Persons of Quality, and had been also Master of a Hackney Coach himself, and might have lived very happily had not he fell into bad Company. But having once got that, that prov'd his ruin: For that drew him on to break the Sabbath, to Curse, to Swear, to Drink, to commit all manner of Debauchery, amongst the rest, to Theive and Steal to maintain the expence of it, particularly to steal from a House by Stocks-Market one piece of Cloth, and another of Serge, which was done about 5 Months since; to take out of a Court in Throckmorton street, a Silver Tankard and a Silver Porringer, about the same time. Besides the two Robberies for which he suffered, and another that brought him to Prison once before. Thus far he went with an indifferent Calmness; but then nothing could smooth him into Temper till we entred on another Subject, and that was the representing before him the nature and ill Consequences of keeping wicked Company, That it corrupts a Man's Morals, alters his Complexion, and infatuates him to that Degree, till he's brought to the Gallows, and what is beyond all, the damnation of Hell; A Word that made him wish at least, that he had been wiser. And gave me opportunity to lay also before him the necessity of discovering all his Accomplices; for it was not enough to reveal all his own Robberies, and take shame to himself for them, but if he meant to do all the good he could whilst he lived, in lieu of the evil he had done, 'twas certainly his Duty to discover them. This made him at first absolutely to despise any such Advice, but then after a little cool, he came to consider how this could be? For was he to betray his Friend? 'twas enough for him to suffer himself, and not to bring others into the same snare. Whereupon I observed to him, First, That what he thus discover'd cou'd be of no disadvantage to his Friends, he being under the Sentence of Condemnation, and consequently what he affirm'd being not valid in Law. Secondly, That it might be of advantage to them, so as to reclaim them, being conscious to themselves they are the Persons pointed at. And Thirdly, that I for my part should make no other use of it, than either Personally, or by Letter, to beg them to be Reform'd, and Fourthly, that whatsoever might be the Consequence, he was bound in Conscience to discover them; for if he was sorrowful for the Evil he himself had done, there was no other way to demonstrate his Sorrow but by preventing, to his Power, the evil that may be done by others. And how could this Morally be prevented but by such a Discovery? All which obliged him to confess a whole Gang of his Accomplices both Men and Women, the Names they go by, and the Places where they may be found. If any such chance to read this Paper, they are desired to take Example, and be wise and sober in time, especially the Buyers and Receivers of stoln Goods, who know them to be such; for tho' they may think themselves as honest as their Neighbours, because they are not actually in the Robberies, yet when they remember that there's a Proverb against them, The Receiver is as bad as the Thief, for were there no Receivers there would be no Theives; this must make them hate such base dishonest ways, unless they can be also deaf to the Cries of Condemn'd Wretches, who lay the fault even of their own Ruin at their Doors: For such was the Case of the Person here before us, and he spake it with an air of Truth. Would to God all his other Behaviour had as much an Air of Repentance and Sobriety!
III. John Harold, of the Parish of St. Giles without Cripplegate, Convicted twice for two Felonies and two Burglaries. Being examined about his Life and Conversation, he reply'd at first, with a peculiar Sourness, I have nothing to Confess, nor nothing will. The reason, because he would have as little as possible to reflect upon his Wife and Family. But upon proper Discourse, as, That it would be a greater Reflection upon his Relations should he die in Obstinacy and Impenitence; That the manner of his Death was not the consideration, all his business was with the Thief upon the Cross to make a Penitent and Holy end; That for his Crimes they were of a publick Nature, and therefore his Confession ought to be as publick; That they had given offence to the Church of God, and where the Crime is publick, the Acknowledgment ought to be so; That therefore David's Adultery and Murder is left on publick Record, and he is perpetually praying, Deliver me from Blood guiltiness, O God! And should not we who have David's Failings do all we are able to have David's Repentance? All this melted him into Tears, and made him sorrowfully acknowledge, that he had been in two or three Robberies, but it was mere necessity drove him to it, having married an honest Woman whom he was unwilling shou'd starve before his Face. This made me reply with some concern, 'twas a strange Necessity that should make a Man rob, and so destroy both Soul and Body, without God's great Mercy; That if he had an honest Woman she would chuse any thing rather than put him upon that; that this was the worst pretence that could be, because every Body knows that the Providence of God will always assist them with Necessaries, who endeavour for an honest Livelihood. The result was, he wept even Floods of Tears as an Argument of his Conviction, and at the same time took of his Wife this solemn Farewell, Take care not to be drawn away, but serve and please God, and take warning by my fall. A Farewell so much the more considerable, because out of the Mouth of a Thief and Robber, it being even in such a Man's Judgment the best way to lead an honest Life.
IV. John Bedley, born in Ireland, 26 years of Age, was a Soldier for some time, but upon disbanding of the Army fell into bad Company, which brought him to destruction. He confest he was in the Robbery for which he died, but cared not to talk much concerning it, nor of any thing else. Being urged to discover the Condition of his Soul he seem'd to represent that in a frer Character than suited his Condition, and this made me entreat him to consider what he said, and not deceive himself, for God he could not deceive. The effect was Seriousness and Thinking, and indeed his whole Carriage under his sad Circumstances was in some measure an Argument of both.
V. William Goff, born in the Bishoprick of Durham, 23 years old, condemned for the same Crime with Bedley, confest he was the Person that stood upon Bedley's Shoulders, by the help whereof he got into the Belcony Room, the Belcony Door being open. He acknowledged he had been in three Robberies, and thrice in Prison for it; but for any other sort of Confession he could not be prevailed with to make any; whether that proceeded from a carelesness to consider, or Peevishness of Temper, or a principle of Conscience, must be left to God, who alone knows the Heart; not but that it must be owned, he gave too much ground to imagine the former to be the Cause and too little to suppose any thing of the latter.
VI. John King, born near Bedford, 23 years of Age, Condemn'd for Felony and Burglary, confest the Crime for which he suffered, but he humbly hoped for Mercy from God, Poverty and great want being the Motive to it. But that I told him could be no excuse for his Crime, for a Man ought to be honest be he never so poor, for if he once ceases to be so, he acts contrary to the Will of God, and nothing can excuse the horrible wickedness; upon this he exprest his sorrow with abundance of Tears, but was so Sick that he was not able to continue in Discourse. Not but that he made it his constant business to pray and Weep, maugre the bad Example of some about him; and to shew his Sincerity, made a shift also to get to Chappel the Day before, and the Morning he died.
VII. John Tackerbury, Born in Cornwal, after much Argument, confest he was in the Robbery for which he Suffer'd Death; and owned also, that he had been in Jayl once before. But for his Repentance and Sincerity of Heart the only Test of it in Persons under his circumstances, I must take leave to express my Fears about that, when this very Person was so unwise the day before he Died, to send for a Woman, under pretense he was Espoused to her, whereas it appeared, she was only one, with whom he had kept Company. I endeavorr'd to make, him sensible of this, but its much to be fear'd, the Success fell short of the endeavour.
VIII. John Laing, Born in Scotland, gave this Account of his barbarous Fact. That the Woman whom he Wounded and Robb'd, was a Neighbours Child in his Country, had been his Company keeper for 6 Months, was entrusted by him with things of Value, which she Disposed of in his Absence, and forsook him to follow another; upon which meeting her accidentally in the Street, being Mad with Resentment, and Drunk with Liquour, he seized upon her Head-Clothes, and gave her as he said he wou'd, an Whore's Mark for he almost Cut off her Nose and Gash'd her Cheek in that terrible manner as is not to be exprest. I laid before him the Inhumanity of the Action. Shew'd him first, That he had no Right over her, to strike her in that manner. Secondly, That since as he pretended she wou'd not go and Live with him again, he ought to have been so far form Seizing her, that Charity obliged him to conclude she was now sensible of her Wickedness, and would commit it no more. And Thirdly, That he now saw the lamentable Effect of Living with a Woman without the Sacred Bond of Marriage, that certainly he wou'd therefore Repent of it till the very last moment of his Life. To all which he replied in such a becoming manner as gave great hopes of the Sincerity of his Soul. That it was very true he had no Right to Strike her, and the Thoughts of it overwhelm'd him with Horror and Confusion. That for his belief of her being turn'd Honest, he presumed there was no Room for that, having proof to the contrary. And that for Living with her, without the Sacred Tie of Marriage, he Repented of that from his very Heart and were it to do again, wou'd not do it for the World. Not but that he owned he formerly argued as some of his own Profession does, That being a common Souldier , and consequently unable to Maintain a Wife, he inferr'd the other the better way. But I observed to him that sure now that humour would Vanish, when his Deplorable Fate is before their Eyes, and that saying of the Apostle is once Considered, 'Tis better to Marry than to Burn. I entreated him in the next place to call to Remembrance all his other Sins and take Shame to himself in this World, that God might, if it were his Blessed Will, have Mercy on his Soul in the next. He openly declared that for Sabbath-breaking, Drunkenness and Bad Company he had exceeded in the Commission of those Vices beyond all measure; but for Robbery he had never so much as attempted it but at 13 Years of Age and now the Head-Clothes, which he took from the Woman whom he Wounded so mercilesly. And for Murder he acknowledg'd he had once committed that but it was in a Quarrel. I then remark'd, the Justice of Heaven had now met with him, and he was therefore to give God the Glory. He shewed himself very sensible of it, and in all respects behaved himself as a Penitent.
IX. Edward Fowler, born as he said in Ireland, but one who followed the Trade of Robbing for nine Years here in London. He was condemned for Felony and Burglary. He confest he had a hand in the Fact, and was guilty of others without Number, particularly of a Crime of the deepest die, and that was Murder, committed on the Road to Acton, about 6 Years since, upon a poor Carter, with whom he had agreed to Travel to that Place. Till this was discovered he laboured under the greatest uneasiness of of Mind, Swore, Cursed, and valued neither Heaven nor Hell, but afterwards grew into a more quiet Temper, especially as he drew nearer to his end.
X. John Wheeler, born in Oxford, 24 Years of Age, first raved and tared like a mad Man, and then despaired of God's Mercies, as if he had not time enough to prepare for Eternity, and therefore he would not trouble himself about it. But upon reasoning the Case, that a wise Man would make as good use of the short time as he could, that 'twas true his Case was that of a Death Bed Repentance, but then it was not desperate, tho' it was dangerous; for the penitent Thief was saved at the last Hour, and he could not be sure he should not be saved. It behoved him therefore to try the Experiment, it being the best thing after all. This wrought its proper effect, and had it not been for a violence of Passion, and a Spirit that swelled beyond its bounds, there could be nothing wanting to compleat the Penitent.
After this they were Exhorted to partake of the Blessed Sacrament before they Died. Accordingly 6 of them did receive, but 4 did not; the Reason, because by their ill Conduct they shewed themselves uncapable of it, and by their Ignorance, that they did not discern the Lord's Body.
On Fryday the 6th of September, 1700. These following Persons were conveyed to the Place of Execution: Devereux Pheasant, Walter Terry, John Laing, William Goff, John Wheeler, Edward Fowler, William King, John Tackerbury, John Bedley, John Harrold. Being come to the fatal Place, it fetch'd Tears from their Eyes, Cries from their Tongues, and Groans from their Hearts; such Tears, such Cries, and such Groans, as shew'd them sensible of another World. As for what was delivered at the Tree, there was nothing material, but a Request of Wheeler, to clear the Reputation of his Father and Mother in Law, they being, as he affirmed, not any cause of his Overthrow. They all attended the great Duty of Prayer to the very last, Singing of Psalms, and Crying unto God. And 'tis pity such a pious Death had not been blest with as Holy a Life.
This is the Account I have to give of this Sessions.
R. Wykes, Ordinary.
London. Printed for E. Mallet, at the Hat and Hawk in Bride-Lane. 1700.