The ORDINARY of NEWGATE his Account of the Behaviour, Confessions, and Last Speeches of the Malefactors that were Executed at Tyburn on Wednesday the 7th of February, 1704/1705.
AT the Sessions held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bailey, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the 15th, 16th and 17th of January last, Six Persons, viz. 4 Men and 2 Women, receiv'd Sentence of Death. The two Women being found with Quick Child, and Two of the Men having obtain'd Her Majesty's gracious Reprieve, are respited from present Execution; and the other Two, namely, Joseph Johnson, and John Norton, are order'd for it.
The Day on which they receiv'd that Sentence, I visited them in the Condemned Hold. And from that time forth to this, I had them brought up twice every Day to the Chappel in Newgate, where I instructed them in the Word of God, pray'd with them, and exhorted them to Repentance, and to the making a careful and right Use of the few Moments which they had to live in this World; wherein they had (at least some of them) so far as it appeared, done so much Evil, and no Good at all; and wherein they had now so little time to stay, to undo the one, and perform the other, i. e. To repair those great Defects and hainous Offences, both of Commission and Omission, which (by the Providence and Justice of God) had brought them to this Condemnation, and if not rectify'd by the present Amendment of them all, even those of them who might possibly expect to live longer than the rest, would bring them at last to that wofull State of Eternal Condemnation, which is far, nay infinitely, beyond the dreadfulness and Misery of any Temporal Judgment, how terrible and severe soever it might be.
On the Lord's Day, the 21st of Jan. last, I preached twice to them, viz. in the Morning and Afternoon; and took for my Text, these Words of the Prophet, Isai. 55. 6, and 7. (being part of the First Morning Lesson) Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found: Call ye upon him, while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his Way, and the Unrighteous Man his Thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have Mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
From which Words, I discours'd upon these 4 Heads, viz.
I. The Command which is doubled here, Seek ye the Lord: Call ye upon him.
II. The pressing Exhortation to our Obedience to that Command; from this twofold Consideration; 1. That God is not always to be found; And 2. That he is not always near at Hand, to help those that neglect to seek him, and to call upon him in due time. Seek the Lord, while he may be : Call ye upon him, while he is near.
III. The Disposition requisite for our Seeking the Lord, so as to find him; and calling upon him, so as to be heard. Let the Wicked forsake his Way, and the Unrighteous Man his Thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord.
IV. and lastly, The great Encouragement we have to do this, viz. That God will have great Mercy upon us, and will pardon us, not only a few or small Faults, but many and most heinous Faults, yea all our Sins of what degree, and nature, or number soever they be; provided we do timely and sincerely repent of them. Let the Wicked forsake his Way, and the Unrighteous Man his Thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have Mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Having explained and inlarg'd upon those foregoing Heads, I then reduced the Exhortative Part of my Discourse to these following Particulars, viz.
1st, The Necessity of seeking to God; because without him we are under the greatest Loss, and in the most lamentable State that can be imagin'd.
2dly, The Manner of this Seeking. It must be with great earnestness, and the most fervent application of the whole heart. So we find, Deut. 4. 29. If thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy Soul. And to this purpose, God himself thus speaks by his Prophet. Jer. 29. 13. Ye shall seek me, and shall find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
3dly, The Time of doing this: viz. the present time, as soon as ever we can, without any delay. Prov. 8. 17. I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me.
4thly, The great Danger of putting off this Duty, and doing it too late. Prov. 1. 28, 29, 30. They shall call upon me, but I will not answer: They shall seek me; but they shall not find me; for that they hated Knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord, they would none of my Counsel; They despis'd all my Reproof.
5thly and Lastly, - The infinite Advantage which Men may and shall certainly reap from their seeking to God in due time, and with all the vigor of their Souls. Psal. 119. 2. Blessed are they that seek him with their whole heart. And Psal. 9. 10. They that know thy Name will put their trust in thee: For thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. And this assurance we have from God himself. Amos 5. 4. See ye me, and ye shall live.
On the Lord's Day the 28th of January, I preach'd again to them, both in the Forenoon and Afternoon, upon part of the 2d Morning-Lesson, viz. Matth. 25. 46. And these shall go away into everlasting Punishment, But the Righteous into Life Eternal.
From which Words I shew'd, That there will be a Judgment pass'd upon all Men; and that Judgment shall be twofold, as the Persons to be judged shall be of two different sorts.
I. There shall be a Judgment unto Eternal Death, for Wicked and Impenitent Sinners. These shall go away into Everlasting Punishment.
II. There shall be a Judgment unto Eternal Life, for such as shall have liv'd godly and religiously, or repented truly and sincerely. They shall be accounted Righteous, as having Christ's Righteousness imputed to them; by which they shall obtain that Eternal Life, mentioned in the Text, which imports all the Glory and Happiness of Heaven. The Righteous shall go into Life Eternal.
Upon these I inlarged, and shewed both the Certainty of this Judgment, and how to prevent the Severity of it, viz. by a timely Return to God.
On Tuesday the 30th of January, being the Fast-Day, I preach'd to them again, both in the Morning and Afternoon upon these Words, 1 Pet. 2. 17. being part of the Epistle for the Day - Fear God: Honour the King.
From which Words I laid down this Proposition, viz. That they are the best Subjects and the most Obedient to their Superiours, who truly fear God.
Upon which I inlarged, and particularly on the first Part of the Text, Fear God. Which I made also the Subject of the Lord's Day that follow'd, viz. The 4th Instant, when (to this purpose) I did, both Morning and Afternoon, take for my Text, Job 28. 28. And unto Man he said, Behold the Fear of the Lord, that is Wisdom, and to depart from Evil is Understanding.
From whence I shew'd,
That as the Fear of God, Which is Religion in the Abstract, keeps us from doing Evil, and directs us to that which is good; so the want of this Fear brings Men into Sin and Misery.
This was the Subject of my then Discourses, which I summ'd up with pressing Exhortations to Amendment of Life.
On the 6th Instant, being the Birth-day of our most Gracious Queen, I (according to my Custom) preach'd in the Morning to the Prisoners in Newgate. And this (besides my other Discourses from the Desk) was my 9th Sermon to these Persons since under Condemnation. I took my Text out of one of the Psalms that came of Course then to be read; viz. Psal 30. the latter part of the 12th Verse - O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
In speaking to which, I laid down this Proposition: viz.
I. That the Service of God consists of these two great Duties, viz. Prayer and Praise. In both which Holy David, who was fervently and constantly exercising himself herein, is a fit Pattern for our Imitation.
Then I shew'd;
I. The Dispositions we ought to be in to present our Prayers, and Offer up our Praises to God.
II. The Subject of our Thanks and Praise, which is general, for all Things and for all Men, as the Apostle directs, Eph. 5. 20. and 1 Tim. 2. 1.
III. The great Priviledge, Benefit, and Advantages of our praising God.
And Lastly, I concluded with a Word or two to the Persons condemned, spoken to this Effect, That if they had, all this while they were under Condemnation earnestly pray'd to God, and heartily endeavour'd to be reconcil'd to him through JESUS CHRIST, and by Faith and Repentance, prepared themselves for another Life; they might now feel great Joy at their approaching Dissolution, in this comfortable Perswasion and Assurance, That their Sins were forgiven them; That all their Miseries were near at
an end; And that they were going to enter upon a State of Bliss and Glory, in which they should praise God for ever. But withall they must remember, that this happy and glorious State is not attainable without sincere Repentance.
And thus I ended all my Discourses here with particular Applications to the Condemned; whom I endeavour'd, by all the convincing Arguments I could think of, to perswade to this important and most necessary Duty of Repentance. This was the great Theam on which I discours'd to them every Day. Wherein I had Opportunity to observe their Behaviour, which appear'd very decent and devout, according to their weak Capacities. So that from thence I may say, I have some ground to hope that if they were inwardly affected, as they seem'd outwardly to be, those of them that are now reprieved, will lead a better Life than ever they did; which God grant they may do: And for those that have suffer'd the Law, as I left them to the Mercy of God, at their Departure oua of this World; so I leave them now to the Judgment of Men, as to what relates to their Confessions to me: Which are as follow.
1. Joseph Johnson, Condemned for Robbing on the High-way. He said, he was about 34 Years old, born in the Parish of Presbury in Cheshire: That his Father was a Husbandman, and he a Servant to him, till he came to be about 22 Years of Age; at which time he came up to London, and was a Servant to 3 or 4 Brewers successively for 7 years or thereabouts. Then turning a Porter , he ply'd in the Streets of London, under the Protection of a Freeman of this City; and afterwards, having got a little Money, he became a Fruiterer . He confessed he had been an ill Liver, breaking the Sabbath-day, and committing several Acts of Lewdness and Debauchery, as Whoredom, Adultery, and the like: But he would fain have perswaded me, that he was innocent of the Fact for which he was condemned; asserting most positively for a great while, his being innocent as to any Concern he had in that Matter. But at last he confess'd it plainly; saying, it was true that on the 30th of Nov. last he robb'd Mr. Woolley of a Silver-Watch and some Money on the High-way, being then with three Companions of his. He confess'd also that the said Watch was by a Friend of his (with his Consent) put into the Hand of Mr. Colman (the Evidence against him) in order to his pawning or selling of it. Upon my asking him several Questions, and particularly these. 1. How he came by his Wounds? For, by his own Confession, he had been shot, and received seven Bullets in his Body. 2. Whether he had ever committed, or endeavour'd to commit any Robbery, and where? And 3. Whether he was the Man that us'd to rob on the Black Mare? He answer'd to the first, That about a Fortnight or three Weeks before he was sent to Newgate, he being out upon a Horse he had hired, with a Design to rob on the High-way, in company with another Man, they did (between Honslow-Heath and Colebrook) meet with a Stage-Coach, having four Gentlemen in it, who seeing him come pretty near the Coach, and perhaps also perceiving that he had sometimes a Mask on, were (as he supposes) apprehensive of his Design of robbing them: And upon that, did (that is, one of them) shoot him with a Brass-Piece or Blunderbuss, and lodged seven or eight Bullets in his Body. To the Second Question, He said, That he had (in company with some others, that is 3, or 4 High-way-Men he was acquainted with) robb'd some Stage-Coaches and Travellers, but not many, he having begun this Trade of Robbing on the High-Way but in Summer last, when he was perswaded to it by others who had been used to it before him; adding that he never took things of great Value, nor offer'd much Violence to any Person; and that he was so far from designing Murther at any time, that he always resolv'd rather to be killed than kill; because he consider'd that Men were in the right to stand upon their own Defence; but his assaulting of them was unlawful. And this it was that kept him from killing the Gentleman that shot him near Hounslow Heath; which he said, he could easily have done. To the 3d Question, he gave me this Answer; That he had heard of a Man that used to rob on a Black Mare; but he was not the Man, nor knew him. Thus having answer'd to all these Questions, and I thereupon giving him the best Direction I could to repair (as far as possible) the Injuries he had done, and to apply himself to God for Mercy and Pardon; he seem'd to be very sensible of his Faults, and very desirous to make the World amends for them: But as he could not, so he earnestly beg'd of God and Man to forgive him, as he heartily forgave them that wounded him, and all others that had done him any harm; declaring that he died in perfect Charity with all Mankind; and protesting (upon the Word of a Dying Man) that though he had been a wicked Liver (as before confess'd) yet he never wrong'd the Masters that he serv'd, unless it were in such a small Matter as sometimes to make his Friends drink at their cost. And moreover, he said, that when he was a Porter, being often employed in carrying things of Value, as Plate and Money (which he had done sometimes to the Worth of 200l. at once) he ever was faithful to his Trust. To all he had thus told me he added, That about the latter end of King William's Reign, he being condemned (and that justly too) for stealing some Lead about High-Gate, he was ordered into His then MAJESTY's Service; but he bought it off for 4l. or better: And after that was again committed to Newgate; but it being upon Suspicion only, and no Body appearing against him at the Sessions (as there was no real Cause for it) he was then acquitted. Both these times he said, he went by another Name than that of Johnson, which is not his right Name; but that was; which he desir'd should be here conceal'd, lest it should come to his old Father's Ears, and so bring his Gray-Hair with Sorrow to the Grave. When at the first he was under this Sentence of Death, he seem'd very uneasie, and unsettled in his Mind, as being divided between Hopes and Fears; with a Mixture of other diquieting Passions, as worldly Sorrow, Love for this Life, Anger, Revenge, and the like; but in time he grew more ease, and at last, wholly resign'd himself to the Divine Providence: So that when he came to understand that there was no hope for him in this Life, and that he must certainly die, he cry'd, The Lord s Will be done. I am willing to die. The Lord prepare me for it, and grant me a better Life. From this time forwards he appeared very well composed in his Spirit, and said, he hop'd that God, for his Redeemer's sake, would forgive him all his Sins. He pray'd that all Ill-Livers, and particularly those he had been concerned with, would take Warning by him, so as to amend their Lives, and thereby prevent their Ruine.
II. John Norton, Condemned for privately Stealing a piece of Damask out of Mr. William Elliot's Shop, on the 25th of December last. He said, he was about 28 Years of Age, born at Athlone in Ireland; That at the beginning of K. William's Reign, being then about 12 Years old, he went to the Army; and having at first been an Officer's Boy , he became afterwards a Soldier under the Command of Capt. Stagby, in Brigadier Titcomb's Regiment; and served also in Brigadier Stuart and Brigadier Hamilton their Regiments, sometimes as a private Centinel, and sometimes as a Trooper. He confess'd, he had been a loose Liver, and guilty of other Felonies besides that for which he was to die: and that (particularly) about a Fortnight or three Weeks before Christmas last, he (with another Person) stole a Parcel of Stockings out of a Hosier's Shop without Temple-Bar; and that he had for his Share Nine Dozen of them, which he then sold for Two Shillings a Pair, to one that was at that time just going beyond Sea. He told me, that though his Father was a Protestant, yet his Mother being a Roman Catholick , he was baptiz'd in that Church of which his Mother was, and so desir'd to die in it. I found him very ignorant in any thing of Religion; and by his own Confession, he had liv'd without Religion in the World, having in his former Course of Life, very little concerned himself with the Knowledge or Practice of Christian Duties; for which, he said he was now sorry, and wish'd he had liv'd better. He readily, and without any Disguise, owned the Fact for which he was condemned, and said, he never was guilty of Murther: But for other the Offences he had committed (which he confess'd were not few) he pray'd, that God, and those he had wrong'd, would forgive him, as he freely forgave all Men; That was his own Expression; by which he would declare his dying in Charity with all the World. I found there was but one of all the Six condemned Persons beforementioned that could read; which was a great Disadvantage to them. However, through the Care that was taken, this was (as well as it could be) supplyed by others Reading out of the Bible and other good Books to them, while they lay under this Condemnation, which they were (in some measure) sensible that their great Ignorance of so useful a thing as the Knowledge of Reading is, had been one of the Means of bringing them to.
This Day of their Execution being come, they were carried in a Cart to Tyburn, where I attended them for the last time, and having asked them whether they had any thing to add to, or alter in their Confessions, they told me No. But desired my Prayers, and the Prayers of all the Standers-by. One of them, viz. Johnson, openly owned that he had done much Evil, but no Good in the World; and herenpon begged God's Pardon, and the Pardon of them he had offended; and earnestly desired, that as he had not by his Life, so he might now by his Death do good, and that his Suffering thus shamefully might prove an happy Occasion of other Sinners Amendment.
Then I exhorted them to stir up their Hearts to God: And after Prayers and singing of Psalms, and the rehearsing of the Apostles Creed, and their warning the People by their sad Example to avoid all manner of Sin; After this (I say) wa over, I committed them to God; and retiring from them, left them to their private Devotions, for which they had some time allowed them. Then were they turned off as they were calling upon God in these and the like Ejaculations, which they often repeated. Lord have Mercy upon us! O Father of Mercies open thy Gates unto us, and let us enter in. O Lord despise us not, Reject us not! Lord strengthen us! Lord Jesus save us through the Merits of thy precious Blood! Lord, into thy Hands I commend my Spirit, &c.
This is all the Account that can be given here of these Dying Malefactors, by
London, Printed by J. Downing in Bartholomew-Close near West-Smithfield, 1704.