ON Friday the 9th of July last, at the Sessions held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Baily, Thomas Cook receiv'd Sentence of Death, for the Murther of Mr. John Cooper, a Constable , as he was in the Execution of his Office, on the 12th of May 1702. This Thomas Cook, a Prize-fighter , who was known by the Name of the Gloucester-Butcher, said he was about 35 years of age, born of honest Parents, in the City of Gloucester; from whence he came up to London, where being bound to a Barber-Surgeon , after he had served two years with him, he ran away, and went into the Service of Mr. Needham, a Page of Honour to the late King, but did not stay long with him; his Mother, who sent for him down, telling him, That a Gentleman's Service was no Inheritance. Upon which he set-up a Butcher (the Calling of his Fore-fathers) at Gloucester, and there he kept an Inn for a while and turn'd also a Grazier , and was very much unsettled in his Mind, what Employment he should follow. He confess'd to me, that in those his several Employments, he had been unjust; That he had frequently stoln Sheep, and done many ill things; but yet had been often accus'd wrongfully. As to the Fact for which he was to die, he positively deny'd it; saying, he had no Sword in his hand that day the Constable was kill'd, nor was in the least concern'd in the Company of them that kill'd him. He acknowledg'd he had been a grievous Sinner, a great Swearer and Drinker, an Adulterer, a Prophane and Lewd Wretch, and a sworn Enemy to those who were employ'd in the Reformation of Manners; and that for some years past he had made it his great Business to Fight for Prizes; an Exercise which the Pride of his Heart carry'd him to, which he now looks upon as most Heathenish and Barbarous, and which, with all other the wicked Practices of his Life, especially his slight of Religion, he does detest and abhor; begging of God, not to remember the Errors of his Youth, nor his manifold transgressions, but to forgive him all his Sins, which indeed were many and great; and in the Words of a Dying-Man (who by the just Providence of God, came to suffer a shameful and untimely Death, in the prime of his years) he exhorts all those of his Acquaintance, and others that live loosely and particularly that follow this Wicked Sport of Prize playing, to reform betimes, and apply themselves to that which is virtuous and laudable, lest if they do continue any longer in their ill way, the Wrath of God fall upon them, and they come to the same, or worse Punishment than himself. He said, he repented of all his Sins, and declar'd that he dy'd in perfect Peace and Charity with all Mankind.
He being in this Disposition, and desiring to receive the Holy Communion of the Blessed Body and Blood of his Saviour, I administer'd it to him, on Wednesday the 21th of July last, which having receiv'd, and joyn'd in the other Parts of the Divine Service, then perform'd in the Chappel of Newgate, with very great Devotion, so far as it appear'd; he was from thence carry'd towards Tyburn for Execution, with the rest of the Criminals that were then to suffer. But in his way thither, as he was come-up as far as Bloomsbury, meeting with a Reprieve that prolong'd his Life to the next Friday the 23 of the said Month: he was brought back to Newgate: Where (after my Return from the Execution of the other Malefactors) I visiting him, found him in the Condemn'd Hold at his Prayers, in which he seem'd to be very earnest and devout. He then told me that he was not affected with this Temporal Life, and that he would have been well contented to have dy'd with his Fellow-condemn'd Prisoners: But it falling out otherwise, he desir'd however to have gone through to the Place of Execution, that he might joyn in Prayer with them, and be himself still rais'd to greater Devotion: But the Officers had an Order to bring him back again, and so some of them did, without going on any further with him. As soon as he was come back to Newgate, some of his Friends that came thither to congratulate him, would have rejoyc'd and made merry with him, for this his Reprieve But he would not give way to it, as desiring Privacy and Retirement from all Persons, but such as could further his Devotions, because he would carefully improve this small addition of time, to a higher degree of Repentance and Contrition for his Sins; that so he might be so much the fitter to receive that Death, which was put off but for a little while.
When that Day was come, viz. the 23d of July, a further Reprieve was brought to Newgate for him; by virtue of which he continued in this Life, and in this State of Devotion, which was very much taken notice of, by all that saw him, to this Wednesday the 11th instant, being the Day of his Death. Before which time, (namely Fri. last the 6th) the Order for his Execution was brought-in, and presently signified to him; But I found him not at all moved or troubled at it; there being no visible alteration in him. He then told me, that he was very willing to die, since it was the Will of God he should, and that he had flung himself wholly upon him, and resign'd up and submitted himself to his Holy Will and Pleasure; giving him Thanks and Praise, as for all his Mercies to him, so in particular for this time he had afforded him to prepare himself for an happy Eternity; which (he said) he was fully perswaded he should enjoy, whenever he departed out of this miserable World. The evenness of Temper in which I all along observ'd him, both when in hopes of Life, and under the certainty of Death, made me believe indeed, that he had so resign'd himself, and had (as he express'd) the assurance of Immortality. But one thing indeed he told me troubled him very much for a time, and of which he said he repented as much as of any Sin he ever had committed; and that was, his having so far gratify'd his Friends, as sometimes (though not frequently) to have given them the liberty of his Company; whereby he had been engaged once or twice to drink, though not to excess, yet to such measure, as through his fasting and great weakness, had discompos'd him, and interrupted him in his Devotions: For which he most heartily begg'd Pardon of God, being much griev'd he had wasted any of his precious moments, while under this Condemnation.
This last Order for his Execution being come, (as I said before on Friday the 6th instant) I redoubled my Visits to him and Pains for his Soul: And on the last Lord's-day choosing a Subject to discourse upon, proper (as I thought) for his Meditation, I preach'd both in the Morning and Afternoon, on Luke 18. 13. being part of the Gospel for the Day, And the Publican standing afar off, would not lift-up so much as his eyes unto Heaven; but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a Sinner.
From which Words,
1. I shew'd the great Humilty of this Supplicant, describ'd, 1. By his standing afar off, as One who durst not presume to come too near the Divine Presence. 2. By his Posture; he looking down upon the Earth, as One that thought not himself worthy to look up towards Heaven. 3. By his Action; he smiting upon his breast, as One that was full of trouble, and had a just indignation against himself for his Sins. 4. By the Matter and Form of his Prayer; he confessing himself a great Sinner, and begging of God to be Merciful to him.
2. I gave the Description and Character of a true Penitent; shewing, 1. That such a One is so far from denying and endeavouring to hide his Sins, that he openly confesses and repents of them, and patiently takes that Shame and Punishment due to him for them. 2. That he, by no means, goes about to extenuate his Sins; but rather aggravetes them. 3. That he passes a severe Judgment upon himself; owning himself a most grievous Sinner, yea, the greatest of Sinners, and thinking and speaking worse of himself, than any One else can do.
3. I shew'd how acceptable such a Confession was to God, and what were the blessed Fruits of true Humiliation and Repentance, viz, 1. The Pardon of Sin.
2. The Favour of God. 3. Eternal Life. All which great and excellent Advantages God will freely bestow on the true Penitents for Christ's sake.
Having largely discoursed upon these Heads and Particulars, viz. upon some of them in the Morning, and on the rest in the Afternoon, and concluded with a particular exhortative Address to the Condemned Person, he (after I had made an end) spoke to the Congregation, which was then pretty numerous, to this effect; 1. That upon his Salvation, he was innocent of the Fact for which he was to die: 2. That he had been (otherwise) ingaged in many worldly Sins, for which he begg'd God's Pardon, and the Prayers of all good People. 3. That he wish'd all Young-men would take Warning by him; avoid bad Company, and serve God.
This Protestation and Advice, as he repeated several times upon publick Occasions, so in private he constantly affirm'd to me his Innocence of the Murther sworn against him; and though much endeavours were us'd to bring him to a Confession, if he knew himself guilty, he still persisted in his positive denial of it. As to those Irregularities and Miscarriages of his Life, which he confess'd, he seem'd to be very sensible and very penitent of them. So that upon his repeated Desire, I again administred the Holy Sacrament of the LORD's-SUPPER to him, Yesterday, when some pious Christians of my Acquaintance had the Charity to joyn in Communion with him, and were Witnesses of his Devotion; which, by all that outwardly appear'd, was very great, and seemed so to me all the time that I was with him afterwards.
When this Day, which was appointed for his Execution, was come, I went (according to Order) very betimes in the Morning to him. And after Prayers, Reading of the Word of God, and making some Observations upon it, and Exhortations rais'd from it, and suitably apply'd to the Condemn'd Person, he was taken away, put into a Cart, and carried to the Place of Execution; where I attended him for the last time; and after some small Discourse with him, follow'd by Admonitions and Exhortations to him, Prayers, and singing of Penitential Psalms for, and in conjunction with him; He read the Speech and Prayer, and sung the Hymn following.
Here follows his Dying Speech, with his Last-Prayer, and Pious Verses.
I thought it convenient to give you an Account of my Life, and Conversation, which is as followeth.
I Was a Young-man that was well-educated, and well-broughtup, and come of very honest Parents, and about the Age of 15, was put Apprentice to a Barber-Surgeon in London; and after the serving of two Years, or thereabouts, I ran away from my Trade, and afterwards liv'd with Esquire Needham, who was Page of Honour to the late King WILLIAM. But my dear Mother told me, that a Gentleman's Service was no Inheritance, and so desired me to come home and settle. Accordingly I went to Gloucester, and there set-up the Trade of a Butcher , which was the Calling of my Fore-fathers, and I follow'd that Trade for several Years, and serv'd Master of the Company of Butchers, in the said City of Gloucester. But being too much imbolden'd with Courage, I thought no Man, a better Man than my self; I took-up the Sword, and follow'd the Sport of Prize-playing for several Years; which Practice has proved prejudicial to me. And I desire all Youngmen to take Warning by me, and never meddle with any such idle Practice; but let their honest Calling be whatever it will, mind that, serve God, and keep good Company. For here I shall give you an Account of the ill Consequence of such an idle Practice. First, It is displeasing to God, to have his Image scarrify'd after such a manner. Secondly, It brings a Man to a Correspondence with ill Company, and ill Company takes a Man off from his Duty of serving God, and makes him to follow those Vices that I have been guilty of my self, as Breaking the Sabbath, Swearing, Cursing, Drunkenness, Lewdness, and other like Debaucheries. But as to what I die for, I do declare before God, and all the World, I die innocent. There was one Witness depos'd on Oath, That he saw me lock up my doors, and go down towards the Fair with a Sword in my Hand: And there was One Jonathan Shephard declar'd upon Oath, That he saw me in the middle of the Mob, with a Naked Sword in my Hand: And there was a Beadle declared also upon Oath, That he saw me with a Sword in my Hand bloody. And there was One Mr. Deering, who, in like manner, declar'd upon Oath, That I told him in Ireland, that when the Constable dropt, I wip'd my Sword, put it up, and went away. Which I declare I never said, nor spoke any such Words to him in all my Life. And furthermore I do declare, as I expect Mercy from God, I had no Sword in my Hand in the Fair that day, and did not so much as lift up my Hand, either for or against any Person, when the Constable was kill'd.
Gentlemen, I must desire you, not to reflect on Mr. Gorman, for he is very innocent of what they have charg'd him with, concerning me. But since it is my misfortune to die this shameful Death, I must look upon it as an Affliction from God Almighty, for my Worldly Sins. As for those false Witnesses that swore my Life away, I do freely forgive them with all my Spirit; and I hope, God will forgive them also. And as for all whom I ever wrong'd in my Life, I do hope they will freely forgive me, as I do freely forgive all the World. So Gentlemen, I bid you an Eternal Farewel, and shall now conclude with this my Prayer.
O Almighty God! I humbly beseech thee to bless our most Gracious Sovereign Lady Queen ANN; and guide her by thy good Spirit, that she may do always that which is righteous in thy sight. And I beseech thee, O Heavenly Father, that thou would'st be pleas'd to give her that Sight, as that she may fore see her Enemies; and arm her so with thy Defence, that she may not fear the Power of any Adversaries: And I beseech thee, O Lord! give unto her a long and happy Reign, and after this Life a Crown of Glory with thee in thy Heavenly Kingdom. And I likewise beseech thee, O Lord to bless thy Holy Catholick Church, and especially that purest Part of it, the Church of England, and give unto it the same Honour, Power, and Glory, as it had heretofore? and let not those who dissent from it ever have that power to trample it down; And furthermore I beg of thee, O Lord, that if any of those Dissenters should in any wise ever rise in Rebellion against our Gracious QUEEN and CHURCH, that thou would'st abate their Pride, asswage their Malice, and confound their Devices: And so let the Church of England remain and flourish unto the World's End. And finally I beseech thee, O Lord, to pour down thy Blessing upon my whole Family, and enable them to bear my Death (as by thy Grace I do) with patience and resignation; and grant that this my Death may be a Joy and Comfort to them, and a Warning to the World. And Lord Jesus! I beseech thee to forgive all my Enemies, especially those who swore false against me; for thou know'st, O Lord, I die innocent of that bloudy Fact, for which I am condemn'd. But my Sins have provoked thee to deliver me up a Prey to the Enemy. Lord! I beseech thee, that this my shameful Death may, through the Merits of the Bloud of Christ, and Sanctification of thy Grace, make an Attonement to thee for my Worldly Sins; that as I die here, so I may live eternally with thee hereafter. And now I come again to beg Mercy for my self, intreating thee, O Heavenly Father, to have mercy on my poor Soul, for thy Dear Son's sake, my Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST: Into whose Hands I commend my Spirit. Amen.
His Verses in Answer to the Bell-man's the Night before the Execution.
THou art the Bell man for this Night,
Who com'st to let me know,
That on Tomorrow I'm to die,
And be a publick Show.
What follows was sung by him at the Tree.
I Hope my Death will Warning give
To all that here attend,
And by my sad Example may
Your Lives learn to amend.
Amend your Lives, young Men, I pray,
And do no more offend
That Great and Mighty God above;
Whose Kingdom has no end.
He's a God that Merciful is
To all that do believe
In Jesus Christ his only Son,
Who will our Sins forgive.
Pray, do repent of all your Sins,
Before it be too late;
And beg the help of God above,
For Jesus Christ his sake:
Who suffer'd Death upon the Cross,
To make a Recompence
To all that do in him believe,
Before he did go hence.
In him I do put all my trust,
Whose Mercy is full sure;
Hoping my Soul with him shall dwell
Henceforth for evermore. Amen.
This I writ with my last Farewel;
After he had read these, he deliver'd them to me, writ in his own Hand, and signed by him; telling me upon the Word of a Dying Man, and his Hope of Salvation, that what he had thus spoken to the People, and now deliver'd to me, was nothing but Truth. I asking him whether he had any thing else to say, he answer'd me, No. And also I asking him, whether he was fully perswaded, That his Repentance was sincere; That his Sins were forgiven him; And that (being upon his Departure out of this World) he was now presently to enter into Life Eternal: His Answer to me was, That he was fully perswaded of all this, and that he was very easy in his Spirit: And so indeed he seem'd to be; telling me, that he never felt so much joy in all his Life, as he had done since his coming into the Cart.
When he had said this, and thanked me for all the Pains I took with him, and deliver'd to me his Papers with a desire I should publish them for the good of the World; I made another short Prayer recommendatory of his Soul to the boundless Mercy of God; and having pronounc'd to him the Absolution of all his Sins, in case he had truly and sincerely repented of them, and had a stedfast Faith in Christ Jesus; I left him to his private Devotions, for which he had some time allotted him. And while, with his last Breath, he was uttering these, and the like Ejaculations; O Lord Jesus have mercy upon me: Into thy hands I commend my Spirit. Thou Saviour of my Soul, receive me, receive me! Lord Jesus receive my Spirit; the Cart drew away, and he was turn'd off.
O may his Death be a happy Warning to all Loose Livers!
This is the Prayer of, and this the Account given by.