THE Ordinary of NEWGATE HIS ACCOUNT OF The Behaviour, Confession, AND LAST SPEECH OF John Pr�ce, vulg� Jack Catch, WHO, For the Murder of Elizabeth White in Bunhill-Fields, was Executed at that Place, on Saturday the 31st of May, 1718, and thence carried to Stone bridge near Kings-land, in Middlesex, there to be Hang'd in Chains.
IN my Printed Paper concerning the Four Malefactors that were Try'd, Convicted, and Condemn'd (with this John Price) at the Sessions held at Justice-hall in the Old-Baily, on the 23d, 24th, 25th, & 26th of April last, and Executed at Tyburn on last Tuesday the 27th instant, I gave an Account of their Lives, and of the several Sermons I preach'd to them while under Condemnation. And now I come here to set forth that which particularly respects the miserable Person who is the sad Subject of this Paper.
When he was now left alone, I still continu'd my Visits to him, and constantly pray'd with him, endeavouring to instruct him in those Things which were absolutely necessary for him both to know and to practise, during his Abode here on Earth; the shortness of which I endeavour'd to make him sensible of, that (if possible) he might be perswaded to lose no Time in his due Preparation for his approaching Change.
And on Thursday the 29th instant, being the Anniversary of KING CHARLES the SECOND'S Happy Restauration, I publickly preach'd to him (and other Prisoners then in the Chapel) upon this Text, taken out of the Epistle appointed for that Day, viz. 1 Pet. 2 Chap. the latter part of the 17th Verse; Fear GOD: Honour the KING.
From which Words, first explain'd in general, I then shew'd in particular,
I. That this Command in the former Clause of the Text, Fear GOD, reaches to, and comprehends, all the Duties of Religion, with respect to GOD, our Neighbour, and Our selves.
II. That by this latter Clause, Honour the KING, we are in a particular manner taught this important Truth; That our honouring, obeying, and submitting to the KING is such a Duty, and so indispensable, that we ought to have an especial regard to it, and strictly perform it; duly considering, that he who does not honour the KING, cannot well be suppos'd to fear GOD; for these two Precepts in the Text go hand in hand, and the Duties they enjoyn are inseparable. He honours the KING best, who fears GOD most.
Upon these I enlarg'd; and from the Solemn Observation of this Day, I took occasion to exhort my Auditory to give hearty Thanks to Almighty GOD, who (by his good Providence) had restor'd His late Gracious Majesty K. Ch. II, and the whole Royal Family, to their just and undoubted Rights, and thereby brought upon the Throne of these Kingdoms our most Gracious Sovereign Lord King GEORGE, whom, with his whole Illustrious House, GOD long preserve, so that there may never be wanting in it a Protestant Prince to sit upon the Throne of his Royal Ancestors, to judge and reign in Truth and Equity, in Peace and Love, in Honour and Glory, over Us and our Posterity, from Generation to Generation; yea, as long as the Sun and Moon shall endure.
After this, I spoke in particular to the Person condemn'd, whom I endeavour'd to make sensible of his great Offence and Danger, for having in such a heinous manner broke GOD's Law and the KING's; and how near he was now to suffer for it, not only in this World, but (unless he truly repented of all his Sins) in the World to come. I desir'd him seriously to consider what a great Change Death within a very few Days (I might almost call them Moments) would make in his Condition, infinitely to the better, or to the worse; and that would be according as he improv'd, or neglected this Time of his Visitation, and all the Means of Grace and Salvation now offer'd him. I advised him to look back upon his past sinful Life; to consider how the present Time was fleeing away, and Death hastening towards him, which would transmit him into a state (whatever that were) which would never end, nor admit of any Alteration. I gave him Directions how he might profitably imploy his few and precious Hours, and obtain the
Favour of GOD, which is better than Life itself. Then I dismiss'd him and the whole Congregation for that time.
In my private Discourses with, and Examinations of him, he gave me the Account that follows.
He said, he was 41 Years of age, born of good Parents in Old Soho, then within the Parish of St. Martin in the Fields, now in that of St. Ann Westminster: That his Father, some time a Soldier in Tangier, being unfortunately blown-up in the demolition of that Place, about the Year 1683, and his Mother left in poor Circumstances, not able to give him much Education, nor indeed himself very willing to take it, I found him so ignorant that he could neither read, nor give any Account of his Faith, and of the Hope that was in him: And that which render'd his sad Condition so much the more deplorable, was his taking no care to improve his Time as it became him, and indeed was not only his great Duty, but everlasting Interest to do; for instead of attending on the Word of GOD and Prayer, he often gave up himself to drinking Genere and other strong Liquors, to such an excessive degree as render'd him Unfit for the Exercise of any part of Religion, seeming then to be altogether insensible of his present Misery, and unapprehensive of what his future State was like to prove, if his Vicious Inclinations were not alter'd before it was too late.
When he was fitter to be spoke to, i. e. when sober, as he sometimes (tho' very rarely) appear'd to be, I endeavour'd, by the Divine Grace, to work on him a true Sense and just Abhorrence of his Sins; and the Instructions and Admonitions which I gave him, both in publick and private, did seemingly make him a little more considerate and serious; so that I observ'd, from his shedding of Tears, that his Heart was full either of Grief or Fear, or both; but what it was, or which of those Passions had the prevalence, I could not well discern in him, who indeed lamented his wicked Life and woful Condition in general terms, but did not in the least discover any particular Thing wherein he had most heinously been defective, nor any Sorrow for his having (as he had) offended GOD, and injur'd his Neighbour; neither did he give any Intimation of what he expected in another State: But all he said was, That he knew he must die. Upon which I told him, That as he was convinc'd of this Truth, and would very soon know it better by Experience, so I hoped he desir'd (as I earnestly advis'd him) to make due Preparation for that Death which he look'd for, that he might not be lost for ever: That he would duly weigh and ponder (now in time) the Things of Eternity, Things that belong'd to his Eternal Peace, before they were hid from his Eyes; adding, That if he did not repent now, he might never have an Opportunity to do it to any purpose hereafter; and if that were his dismal Case, he must perish everlastingly, - &c. With such and the like Admonitions I try'd how to awaken his dull and drowzy Soul, and mollifie his stupid and obdurate Heart; but he seem'd to be unmov'd, saying only, That if he had many Sins, they were such as
were common to other Men as well as himself; and, That he suppos'd, whatever his Condition might then be, it would be no worse than Theirs. Thus I found him to support himself with this vain Opinion, That to have Companions in Misery should be some Ease to him. Of which I did what I could to undeceive him, but to little or no purpose, so far as I could perceive, at least at that time when I first open'd the Matter to him.
And what made him so harden'd, as not to shew any degree of Repentance, I may attribute to his being resolv'd (as it appear'd) upon an obstinate Denial of this Murder; and this Denial, I may say, was both the Cause and Effect of his continued Impenitence; who seem'd to me as little sensible of the great and enormous Crime, for which he was to suffer, as if he had been perfectly Innocent of it; and was as little concern'd at this Condemnation he lay under, as some of his Fellow condemn'd Prisoners were, who thought they had greater Hopes of their Lives than he could have of his.
When I enquir'd of him, what Life he had led, and how he had imploy'd his Time formerly, he told me; That soon after his Father's Death (which is before mention'd) he was put Apprentice to a RagMerchant : That his Master dying when he had been about Two Years with him, he presently went away from his Mistress (who, he said, was very severe to him, and upon that account left her) and got into another Service, which had some relation to that his Master imploy'd him in before, which was the loading Waggons with Rags : That afterwards he took a fancy to go to Sea , and accordingly serv'd on board the Old Russel, Grafton, Devonshire, and other Men of War, for the best part of 18 Years off and on: That likewise he was, some Years since, Finisher of the Law (as he term'd it) for about a Twelve-month, and might have continued such to this Day, if he had taken better care, than he did, of his Concerns, and liv'd within compass; but spending his Money too fast, and beyond his Comings-in, and thereby growing in Debt, he was one day arrested in Holborn at his Return from an Execution; and tho' the Action was but for Three Half-Crowns, which he then clear'd, and also paid the Charges, partly with what little Money he had then about him, and partly with 3 Suits of Cloaths, the Remains of them that were executed that Day; yet having two other Actions at the same time clapt upon him, and no Money, nor Credit, nor Bail to give in, he was carried to the Marshalsea, where he continued a Prisoner some time; so that when the next Sessions call'd for his Service, he not being then in the way to give it, another Person (viz. William Marvell, since discharg'd on an Occasion almost of the same nature) was put into his Place of Executioner.
And this he further said, That while he was under Confinement in the Marshalsea, he now and then obtain'd the Liberty of going abroad to work as a Labouring Man , which he did for some time, serving Bricklayers, Masons, Paviours, &c. But afterwards being barr'd from that Liberty, he with another Fellow-Prisoner of his, contriv'd and found out
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