THE Ordinary of NEWGATE HIS ACCOUNT OF
The Behaviours, Confessions, and Last Dying Words of the Malefactors that were Executed at Tyburn on Friday the 29th of January. 1719-1720.
THE Sunday preceeding their Execution a Sermon was preach'd by Me from the following Words,
But let none of you suffer as a Murderer, or as a Thief, or as an Evil-Doer, or as a Busy-Body in other Mens Matters (Pet. 4. 15.)
The first thing I considered from the Words, was, The Dishonour. that this sort of suffering brings to our holy Religion, to our own Souls, and even to Christ. Should those who have the Title of Christians, be caught performing the Part of Heathens? 'Tis a Guilt in such, that they were once baptized; 'tis a shame for them to own they have ever frequented the Church of God. The Enemies of our Religion object, that it cannot amend the Lives of its Professors; but let it no longer be said that the Foes of our Church are better than its Friends: Some of ye cannot by disputing perhaps do honour to your Religion, but by your Lives and Conversations all of Ye may.
Secondly, This sort of suffering, as a Murderer or Thief, brings a Dishonour to our own Souls. The Creator has made Us Superiour to Satan, shall we then by Sin make our selves his Slaves? God form'd Us a little lower than the Angels, and crown'd Us with Glory and Honour. Psal. 8. 5. How may we suppose the Devil to triumph, when the Soul of a Christian becomes his Prey: He more glories in it, than in many Heathens: Will he not boast that a Soul is his, for whom he will say Christ spilt his dearest Blood. Therefore, if ye have no Regard for the Honour of the Religion ye were bred up in, yet if ye have any Regard for your selves, Do not give Place to the Devil. Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his Hands the thing that is Good. Eph. 4. 27, 28.
Thirdly, The sufferer as a Murderer or a Thief, &c. brings a Disgrace even to Christ. Must Christ see those for whom He suffer'd Death, suffer also an eternal Death? This is crucifying Christ afresh; it is peircing again his Hands and Feet, and in vain do we blame the Jews for his Murder if we Murder him so often our selves by Sin. Therefore I may say to you as St. Paul to the Galatians. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the Truth, before whose Eyes Jesus Christ hath been set forth, crucifyed among you. Gal. 3. 1.
The Second Head was, to consider the particular Misfortune of suffering,
1. As a Murderer.
2. As a Thief.
3. As a Busie-Body.
In considering the Misfortune of suffering as a Murderer, We observ'd; That if there was no Punishment inflicted by the Laws for this Sin, it self would punish it self: For what Horror of Thought must weigh upon the Soul of a Person, who has sent a poor Creature naked into Eternity, with all it's Sins about it. Thus, we have had Instances in our Nation of Persons who have committed Murder by Accident, and have escaped the Vengeance of the Law; but alas! they could not escape the Vengeance of their own Minds; wherever they went, their Thoughts went with them, and were should they fly from Themselves. Secret Murderers have been often the Revealers of their own Guilt; their Consciences prest too hard upon them; their Fancies have painted before 'em the Buryed Innocent; till weary of the World and Themselves, They have cry'd out upon the Law to lay hold of their Lives. And what is more often the Occasion of Murders, than Passion? It is the Bane of Friendship, the Engine of Satan, the whirlwind of the Soul,-But what need I talk against Passion to you, who have amongst ye so immediate an Instance of its horrid Effects! Dearly Beloved, avenge not your selves, but rather give Place unto Wrath: For it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, faith the Lord. Rom. 12. 19.
Secondly, As for the sufferer as a Thief, He is scarce in a better Condition: He is look'd upon with Terror, as the Overturner of Society. As the Beast of Prey among an Herd of Cattle, so is he consider'd in a Society of Men; in short, as a Person whose Business it is to spoil, ravage and prey upon all he meets. He is fear'd and hated by All: They fear his Actions, and hate his Person. Therefore, if ye regard your present welfare (which I think will weigh more than a Future with ye) ye will do to Others, as ye would they should do unto you.
Thirdly, We observ'd that the Busy-Body, tho' not within Reach of the Law, might not be less guilty than the Theif; if to separate Friends, to excite Jealousies, to root up Christian Charity be the Height of Guilt. And this Offender meets also his Punishment in this Life: He is accounted a Traytor, an Hypocrite; what Esau fear'd when God had set the Mark on his Back will happen to this Man; every one who sees him would willingly slay him. Behold, how great a Matter a little Fire kindleth; and the Tongue is a Fire, a World of Iniquity, &c. Jam. 3. part of 5th, and 6th, ver. Likewise also these filthy Dreamers defile the Flesh, despise Dominion, and speak Evil of Dignities. Jude 8 v. Therefore, speak not Evil one of another, Brethren; he that speaketh evil of his Brother, and judgeth his Brother, speaketh evil of the Law, and judgeth the Law. Jam. 4. 11.
Our 3d and last general Head was to show, how those who do suffer, as Murderers, or as Theives, are to behave Themselves during their Misfortunes.
And 1st. We are to suffer with Patience. They that plow Iniquity, and sow Wickedness reap the same. Job 4. ver. 8. 'Tis a natural Conse
quence, and why are we enraged at what is natural? Nothing can be a Reason for our being exasperated at our Judges and Condemners; If we are justly condemn'd, why murmer We? If the Case has been wrongly represented to our Judges, we should rest here, That he who is injured in this Life, will be recompenced in the next.
Why then do ye complain of the Greatness of your Miseries? Ye are now fallen into the Hands of Men, If that is bad, well might the Apostle, say, 'Tis a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of the Living God. Heb. 10. 31. Be patient therefore, Brethren, unto the coming of the Lord: Behold the Husbandman waiteth for the precious Fruit of the Earth. Be ye also patient; establish your Hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Jam. 5. 7. 8.
2dly, The second Requisite, was, a hearty sorrow and Contrition. But here we must beware lest we cheat our immortal Souls. This sorrow must not be for the Mistor mes ye are under, but for your having disobliged so kind a Father as God for having abused so indulgent a Friend as Christ: A Friend who left the Glories of Heaven to free you from Hell,-You, I say, ungrateful as ye have proved! For you his Hands and Feet were nailed. And this sorrow must be an inward hearty sorrow, for God looks at the Heart. It must be joined with Faith and Hope; Faith that Christ is able, and Hope that God is willing to save. If ye have such a sorrow as this, fear not; for however ye may fare upon Earth, trust Me, your Pardons will be seal'd in Heaven; ye will go from Ignominy here, to Glory there; from an Earthly shame, to an Heavenly Crown; where ye will sing eternal Halelujahs with the Saints of Light: For thou art no more a Servant but a Son; and if a Son, then an Heir of God thro' Christ. Gal. 4. 7.
3dly, The third Requisite, is, to be instant and urgent in Prayer. You must run, to make up for the Hours you have loiter'd.
Let me advise ye, to assault as it were the Throne of Grace; Wrestle with God as did Jacob; and say with Him, I will not let thee go, unless thou Bless me. Consider, you have lost much time already, and now have none to lose. We should all be Watchful, because our Deaths are Uncertain, But you especially because yours is certain. Therefore watch and pray, lest ye enter into Temptation. Satan will double his Diligence, this short time, for if he deludes ye a little longer, ye are, eternally his. It is your Souls that plead: If you will take no pitty on Them yourselves, how you can expect that God should pity them? They stand upon the very Brink of Eternity; and must belong to God or to Satan in a Moment. Therefore be careful, be vigilant, because the Devil your Adversary is so; be eager, be earnest, because glorious is the Prize ye reach at.
How active are Men in the wild Chase of Ambition! Their Industry reaches at earthly Honours, Yours at a heavenly Crown: Fickle Fame is at the end of their Goal, but an eternal Empire waits You at the end of your Race.
Press forward then, to the Mark of the high prize of your Calling. Let not the World detain ye one Moment. Open your Hearts to your God: Tell him how your Saviour suffered, and why, but to snatch poor Sinners from Hell. Do not distrust but it's still in your Powers to be happy. The Servant who came in at the 11th Hour, was equal to those who bore the Heat and the Burden of the Day. Behold, I set before you two Things; on the Right Hand is Repentance and Life; on the Left Hand is indolent
Carelessness and Death; chuse Whither of them ye will: Ye must now make your Choice, so hardly your Misfortunes press Ye; ye must chuse to be happy or to be tortur'd for ever: The Time of Probation is expir'd, the Thread of Life is spun; and Heaven or Hell depend upon the wise Management of these your last Hours.
And now what shall I say more?-If any of ye should have a Pardon brought, Ye would rejoice; Behold, I offer Ye an eternal Pardon! Ye would be glad to have your Lives given Ye here; Behold, Christ will give Ye a Life everlasting! Repent and be saved.
Concluding with the Words of St. Paul to the Thess. 5. Chap. 22, and 23 Verses. Hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all Appearance of Evil. And the God of Peace sanctify Ye wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and Body be preserved blameless unto the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He told me his Parents were of honest Repute in Oxford; but neglected to instruct him in Writing and Reading: He said all the Learning he had, was the Lord's Prayer and Belief, Nor did he know at all what Age he was of, but He believed he might be 30 or 35; but it might seem he was more, if his Age was to be reckon'd by his Crimes. He confess'd the Fact he stood convicted of. He told me he broke open two Houses in Oxford, One a Laundress's, The other a Mercers-Shop. He also rob'd (I think) in Hertfordshire; but profess'd he had always taken Care, not to commit Murder: He said he had been Guilty of every Ill-Act except that. He had rob'd on the High-Way with One executed at Guilford in Surry; but luckily escaped being taken with him. He also said He has sometimes taken a Purse near London, in Company with two others who were not yet suspected; but added, that he was unwilling to discover their Names, Unless I would promise to conceal them; because they had relieved him during his Confinement, and he hoped they would continue their Kindness after his Death to his dear Wife and his two poor young Children.
He said his Misfortunes came in the following Manner. He was put Prentice to a Butcher ; before out of his Time, he marryed: On this, his Master claim'd 2 l. and a bond of 28 l. more, for the Remainder of his Time; He was thus plung'd irretrievably into Debt; and being unable to recover himself, his Wife added to his Expences, she having a Child the first Year. Being thus brought to Extremities, he took Ill Practices; and had been hang'd before, but that he impeach'd Allen and Chance, and saved himself. He also rob'd the whole Country about Reading, and being taken, was condemn'd at Reading Assizes, but afterwards pardon'd. I advised him to take due Care of his Soul; for he seem'd to be particularly Sollicitous about his Corps after Death: He said his Wife went that Morning to sell the Cloaths she had upon her to buy him a Coffin, and he hoped he should then escape the Hands of the Surgeons. When he was in the Cart at the Tree, he was no whit terrify'd at the Approach of Death; I told him what Importance his Soul was of, and he answer'd, He knew it, and had great hopes he should go to Heaven.
2. Thomas Tharnock, was condemn'd for Robing his Master's Counting House. He confess'd the Fact, but protested that he had never committed any Robbery before. He said he had in some Measure neglected his Duty in Expectation of a Pardon, but found he was deceiv'd. He seem'd to be well instructed in the Principles of Religion.
3. Roger Cane, 22 years of Age, was convicted of assaulting a Person in the Street, whom he knock'd down and took away his Hat, Coat, &c. He said He left the Master he was 'Prentice to, twice, and went to Sea : One time he was at Sea 3 Years; where, on board a Man of War, he encountred a Spanish Ship for 8 Hours by Day, and almost a whole Night, which they took. But coming again to England, He fell into Ill Courses. The Occasion of his wanting Money, he said, was as follows: He courted a Young Woman, and was much in
Love with Her: They were to be marryed without the knowledge of his Friends; but it happen'd, he had not Money for a Licence, &c. nor could he get any (he said) unless he had sold his Cloaths. Being above requesting the Maiden or her Mother to be at the Expence of the Wedding. He went out, and meeting with the Person who accused and condemn'd him. He told me that he took from him his Hat, Coat, &c. but deny'd (on the Word of a dying Man) that he knock'd him down, but said the Man was in Drink. He desired to speak with Me before he dy'd; when, he told me, That what burden'd his Mind, was, His having rendred the aforesaid Young Woman so unhappy, who came every Day to cry with him during his Misfortunes; and also that he had made her Mother wretched, who was then sick in Bed, thro' the Grief his Ill-Fate had occasioned her.
4. John Trippuck, (vulgarly call'd John the Tinman, or the Golden Tinman) condemn'd for Robing on the High-Way. When I discours'd with him in Private, in order to give him the best of my Advice, I perceiv'd his Thoughts were intent on the World. He told me he had been indeed a loose Liver, and Careless of his Duty; as I must observe from his little Acquaintance with his Common-Prayer-Book; but protested he was wholly Guiltless and Innocent of the Crime he stood condemn'd for, and that his Enemies (knowing he had been very lately pardon'd) had indicted not him, but his Character. I press'd him to be rather Sollicitous about his Eternal Welfare; he answer'd, do you think it is impossible for Me to procure a Pardon? He desired Me also to apply to a certain Councellour he knew Me acquainted with, who he said was able to obtain what he wanted for him. He desired Me to remember That his Confederate Constable, even at the Moment of his Death, deny'd the Fact they together stood convicted of: Then, opening his own Bosom, he show'd Me the Wounds in his Arm and in his Breast, whence Bullets were taken by Causticks, and ask'd, if those sufferings might not in some Measure attone for his Ill Actions, had he really been Guilty: I told him, I was sorry to find him at that late Hour so in Love with Life, and observ'd, That even to Men of Fortune this World had more of Care than Pleasure in it, much less to him could there be any thing desirable in Life, was it possible for him to extend it; of which however, not the least reasonable Expectation appear'd; those Thoughts were the Dreams of a Man that lay sleeping on a dangerous Precipice, and unless he became more concern'd for his Soul, he was like to lose it for ever. He told me if I would represent his Case in a favourable Manner, he imagin'd it would be advantageous to him. I answer'd, It were better if He would represent his Case to Heaven, and at length acknowledge his Crimes.
Before I adminstred to them the Holy Sacrament, I advis'd and conjur'd him to own the Fault he was condemn'd for; He answer'd that he just before made a solemn Promise to some of his Friends, that He would not make any other Discoveries besides that, but as for that, He thought they did not intend to include it, and said, that if I should agen ask him the Question, He would not deny it.
But tho' he show'd so hearty a Desire to live, when in Custody first; yet as the Time of his Death advanc'd, and his Hopes of success diminish'd, he appear'd less and less to have a Value for the World. When he was at the Place of Execution, immediately before his Death, I put the Question (as I had been requested to do) whether he was not the Person who murder'd Mr. Hall the Tallow-Chandler, upon Black-Heath, the end of the Last Summer, He said, As I am a dying Man, and you see the Instrument of Death about Me, I protest that I was not concern'd in the Murder of Mr. Hall.
He appear'd much concern'd for his Soul, and very earnest in his Expressions of Pardon, as the Moment of his Death drew near; when I seem'd to be particularly engag'd with Mrs. Griffin, he told me twice, He hop'd I would no ways neglect the Souls of them, by praying in particular for Pardon of Murder.
Jane Griffin, was condemn'd for the Murder of her Servant-Maid. She desired that the Minister belonging to her own Parish, might attend her jointly with Me, which he accordingly did. As I visited her constantly twice a-day, I had an Opportunity of nearly observing her Behaviour. She appear'd to be very
well acquainted with the Holy Scriptures. From the first she did not deny the Fact; but I was tender of putting it to her too soon, less I should teach her to deny it, and make her Confession more difficult afterwards; but she told me, that she knew her present Misfortunes were occasion'd by her former Sins. On Monday Night I was discoursing to her of the Nature of Hell; On Tuesday Morning as soon as she saw Me, she show'd Me in her Prayer-Book, the Picture of our Saviour hanging on the Cross, and ask'd Me, if that was not her Saviour? which words she often repeated to Me; It was the Saviour of Mary Magdalen, who kneel'd at the Cross, and why not hers?
She could sometimes not be perswaded to sit on a Chair, but would sit on the Floor, saying that she ought to humble herself in Dust and Ashes; and that had she ten thousand Hearts, she would willingly they ALL should bleed, to attone for her Crime. She was in Hopes of a Pardon till Wednesday; She then heard the Dead Warrant was come down for her Execution on Friday. She then ask'd Me, if it was proper for her Husband to come to her any more; I told her it was proper she should agen see him to give him her best Advice, and to settle the Affairs relating to their Family. She also ask'd Me, if she might go to Bed any more? I answer'd, That as she had always been accustom'd to a certain proportion of Rest, the Want of it might render her unfit for the Duty of the following Day; and as for too much Sleep her Concern would prevent it.
On Thursday, she kneel'd down on the Ground, and made the following Confession; I did kill'd my Maid, in the following Manner; After I had cut my Children some cold Fowl for Supper, I miss'd the Key of the Cellar; It not being soon found, I was very angry; going then into the Room where the Maid was, the Maid began to say, I was always blaming her for every thing lost; I using then perhaps a sharp word, the Maid began very foul and abusive Language to Me: On this, as I stood by her, being fretted before, I strook the Case-Knife, that cut the Childrens Supper, into her Bosom; but I verily believe her Stays were open, or it could not else have kill'd her. When she took her last Farewel of her Husband and Daughter, it was not possible to view without Tears the Reluctance with which they left each other for ever. She advised her Husband to be partciularly regardful of the Sabbath; nor to continue any in his House who swore or appear'd to be passionate: Then turning to her Daughter, who hung upon her with Tears, she conjur'd her not to neglect to learn her Duty, to go constantly to Church on a Sunday, and to be afraid of Passion. After a very hard and difficult Task in Parting: Her Husband and Daughter left her, and I prepar'd for the administring to her the Sacrament; but before I did so, I desir'd all present to withdraw, and being alone, I ask'd her If she knew of the Murder of Esquire Hanson in the Farthing Pye-house Fields, she protested she did not, nor did she ever live nigh that Place. I then told her of the Common Fame as to the cohabiting with Mr. Griffin unmarry'd, she protested it was false, and she was innocent of it.
On Friday, the Minister belonging to her Parish, attended her to the Tree in her Coach, and I in that appointed for Me. After I had there pray'd with them together, and also with Her in particularly; She desir'd Me to pray agen for the Pardon of her Murder of Elizabeth Osborn. She then declared to Me the following Words, which she requested Me to deliver aloud to the People; I confess (said she) the Murder, but it was not in Malice, nor did I think of doing it a Moment before: It was Passion: Passion I heartily advise and request all present to beware of, especially the first beginnings of it, lest it grow upon Ye, and bring Ye to these Miseries I justly undergo. The other Divine then pray'd with her, and I apply'd myself to the Rest. She soon after desir'd me again to assist her in Words to implore Pardon for the particular Murder of her Maid. When I had done this, and afterwards had pronounc'd the Absolution and the Blessing, and was now departing, She, holding Me fast by the Hands, ask'd me earnestly, if I hop'd there was Mercy for her Soul? If I thought Christ would be entreated? I answer'd her, and recommended her Soul to God; desiring not to dismiss Me with Reluctance, for We should meet again (I hop'd) in the Kingdom of Heaven.
T. PURNEY, Ordinary and Chaplain.