THE Ordinary of NEWGATE HIS ACCOUNT OF The Behaviours, Confessions, and Last Dying Words of the Malefactors that were Executed at Tyburn on Monday the 27th of June, 1720.
SOME time before the Execution of the Malefactors, the Sermon, commonly called the Condemnation Sermon, was preach'd by Me from the following Words,
Woe unto Us that We have Sinned! Lament. 5. 16.
We took Occasion from the Words to illustrate the following Things. First, We considered the Woe in General that Man is by Nature born to.
Secondly, The Woe of Sinners in particular.
Thirdly and Lastly, I advised All to make this Exclamation in time: But those in particular who had so particularly Sinn'd.
First, The Woe in General that Man is by Nature born to.
How great a Misfortune is Original Sin! We are Heirs of an Eternal Death, even before we enter on a Temporal Life: Condemned before we are Born. Adam entail'd Misfortunes upon Us; Nor can we accuse him for it, since any of us wou'd have acted the same: If he in a nobler Condition did it, much more we in a depraved Estate; If he who conversed with God so fell, then much more We, who are Conversant with a World of Vanity.
WHAT then is Man! In our Infancy, the Time of Innocence, We nothing differ, but in Shape, from the Brutes; And as we enter the World, give a Presage, by Tears, of our ensuing Miseries.
When at Youth we arrive, We are overwhelmed with headstrong Passions, one rowling on the Neck of Another. We are untamed Beasts, that go not but as driven by Rods and Scourges.
When we have got over this turbulent State of Youth, We launch out into all the Cares of Life. The Care of our Families wasts Us within, Ill-Neighbours and Suits of Law distract Us without; The World entices Us to Voluptuousness; The Flesh torments Us with wild Desires; The Devil urges Us to every Sin alike; till we cry out in this tormenting Conflict, with the Psalmist, Woe is me, that I am constrain'd to dwell in Mesech, and to have my Habitation in the Tents of Kedar.
To what Refuge should Man fly in this weary World of Woes. For where is the City that is void of Faction? Where is the Village that is
free from Calumny? What Court or Palace is there without Envy? What Church without its Sects and Divisions?
Is this the Condition we so court? and are we so much in Love with Life. The Religious and Devout are suspected of Hyprocrisy; The Free and Open are censured as Loose and Vain. If we are Wealthy, we are envy'd; If Poor, we are despised. Vain Life of Man! Ill worth the Care and Concern we bestow upon it! And well said Solomon, Man is born to Trouble as the Sparks fly up; that is, Naturally.
Was there but one part in Man's Body liable to be wounded; and was there but one Distemper to lay Siege to that tender Part; yet I am perswaded, busy Fate would find some Way to strike that Part, and thereby bring the Body to Destruction: What shall we say then! If every single Attom about Us is Mortal, and ten Thousand Distempers lye waiting around to assault those Mortal Parts; with truth may we All say, That it is less strange that we have not escaped Misfortunes and Pains, than that we have so long escaped Death.
The Use we are to make of this Doctrine, is,
First, To have an humble Thought of our Selves to whom Misery is thus Natural. St. Peter indeed says of Christians, that, They are a chosen Generation, a Royal Priesthood, an Holy Nation; 1 Pet. 2. 9. But this Honour Christ has procured Us, and the Glory he'll raise us to, should make Us the more humble; if 'twas only because our Benefactor has commanded it.
2d Use is, To prevent our being, too much in Love with Life and the World; and to make us in God's good time with St. Paul desire, rather to be dissolv'd and to be with CHRIST. Hereby we shall be led to set our Affections on things Above and not on things in the Earth. Therefore, pass the time of your sojourning here, in fear. Forasmuch as ye know that ye are not redeemed with corruptible things, as Silver and Gold; But with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without Blemish and without Spot, 1 Pet. 1. 18, 19.
3d Use; and not to repine at Afflictions while we are in the World; which are the Natural Portion of All Men. Consider Him who endured such Contradiction of Sinners against himself, lest you be weary'd and faint in your Minds, ye have not yet resisted unto Blood. Heb. 12. 3, 4.
Second General Head, The Woe of Sinners in particular.
The better to illustrate this, We need only take a View of the Sinner at the Day of Judgment. Will not our Redeemer then ask the impenitent Sinner; Did you so closely pursue your Wickedness, because I dyed to free You from it? Did I suffer so much pain upon Earth, That you might indulge yourself in every voluptuous Pleasure? Certainly, the Sinner will not only have the Abhorrance of the Angels, but the Sport and Hiss of Evil Spirits. Beneath him will be the Lake of Hell; and over his Head the Hand of Justice. If this will be the Case, Then Woe unto Us that ever we have Sinned.
The Sinner will find it difficult to stand the Shock; yet more difficult to fly. Not unfitly may his Exclamation be represented, by the Howls of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, when the Earth open'd to swallow them alive.
The Glutton will find the more pain in Hunger, for his former epicurean Feasts and Banquets. Misers will be the more Uneasy at Want and
Necessity, for the Riches they will remember they left upon Earth. In short, The Scourges of Satan will wound the deepest in the Man of Ease and Sloath, for his former tender Indulgence. We should therefore with St. Paul, rather covet Afflictions; 2 Cor. 11. 25. Thrice was I beaten with Rods, once was I Stoned, thrice I suffer'd Shipwrack; a Night and a Day I have been in the Deep.
Indeed, we think, that to be out of the Gaieties of Life, is to be dead to the World; The Apostle's Opinion was the Reverse; and he tells the Widows, She that liveth in Pleasure is dead while she liveth. 1 Tim. 5. 6.
THIRDLY, We advised all to make this Exclamation in time; to prevent their having Cause to make it at the Last Day. And those especially who had so particularly sinned.
- There is no cheating or over-reaching God. He sees the Sinner in his darkest Recess; and tho' Providence may permit ye to proceed for a while, 'tis like the Master, who corrects not his Scholar till he has exaggerated his Faults; For so God would have the Sinner retrieve and buy off the Punishment hanging over his Head.
So contradictory is the Nature of Man, that tho' we Contrive for Wealth and Pleasure by Ill Courses, we own at the very same time, that neither Pleasure nor Wealth can come but from God.
'Tis agreeable to Reason to think, that the Being who first turn'd Men's Hearts to the Love of Society, continues to preserve that Regularity it first introduced into the World. Wherefore did God give us Reason, if we are to live the Life of Savage Beasts? If we are to inhabit the Woods, to spoil, ravage, and prey upon one another, why were we not form'd agreeable to that? Let us discard that useless thing, Reason, that will only tell us we disgrace the Name of Man, While we make that Being hunt the sordid Earth, that was design'd by the Creator to gaze at the Heavens.
In the Account he gave me of his Life; he said, He was of his Father's Trade a Weaver . But tho' he had the tenderest of Fathers, and was the only Child, yet he left his Father when very Young, and went into the Army, where he was a Serjeant ; All ways of Living were insipid to him but that; he said, he was at the taking Doway in Flanders; But her Late Majesty ending the War, (among other Regiments) his was broke: Immagining he should be Heir to his Father's Effects, he left the Queen's Service, and at his Father's Death was worth 500 l. A very great Sum to him, as nothing is little but by Comparison. But being a great Company-keeper, and no great OEconomist, he soon diminished his Fortune, was arrested, and made a Prisoner in Wood-street-Compter.
He said, he had always kept Company with Leud Women, but of all, he never was downright in Love with any, but her he had Married, and unhappily Murdered. He said he should not have Married her (having a Wife living) but that he thought, there was not, nor cou'd not be in the World, another Person like her, with all Excellencies and Perfections; For which reason he openly wedded her at St. Andrews- Church, Holborn, after the Banns had been there thrice Publish'd; and he said, very willingly took his Tryal for it afterwards at the Old Baily; Thinking nothing too much to undergo or sustain for her Sake.
He also told me, he was very well satisfied and contented to dye; and Life he never expected; well knowing His Majesty would not pardon a Crime of the Nature of his: Therefore (he said) he had, to the utmost of his Power, endea
voured to fit himself for another Life; and had great Hopes and ever Assurances (he said) that he had made his Peace with God. He added, That a little Book (which he shewed Me) called Lama Sabachthani, or, The Cryes of the Son of God, had been of most singular Use and Benefit to him; together with a little Book I lent him, and which he desired he might give to his Child; for that, he said) to his greatest Sorrow, was the only Legacy he should be able to leave her.
2. Lewis Dane of Paddington, was condemned for stealing out of Tyburn-Fields the Mare of Joseph Baker. He behaved himself, during his Confinement in the Prison, in a very uncommon Manner; being generally half Naked, nor could he be prevail'd upon to put on any Clothes: The other Prisoners complained that he was a Nusance to them all, on account that he would not endeavour to keep himself free from Vermin; which, they said, they found difficult to do tho' they shifted 3 or 4 times a-Week upon his Account. Yet before his Execution, he had left off his common way of Swearing, if any of them endeavour'd to perswade him to behave himself a little like a Man, and a Christian.
He was about 25 Years of Age. He freely confess'd he had committed the Fact he was convicted of, and begg'd Pardon for the Injury done. He said he had not long been come out of Norfolk, his Native Place, to Chelsea, where he was hired to a Service , and might have got a comfortable Subsistance, had not the Devil been over-busy, in perswading him, That he wanted new Cloths, &c. And that Thieving was the easiest and most ready Way of supplying his Wants.
He was about 26 Years of Age. He did not apprehend by any means that he should Dye, till the very Last; Tho' I endeavoured to apprise him of the Infinite Hazard he run, if he neglected his Soul in expectation of a longer Life. He told me, he had Friends, and Friends that he believ'd would not forget him in his Extremity. I told him, that there was nothing that I knew of in Life, so valuable as to deserve such a Solicitous and anxious Concern; if he extended his Life, he would only encrease his Care; but if he should be mistaken, it was his Soul that must pay for his Error.
Yet I must do him the Justice to say, That he was attentive to the Prayers, which he attended as constantly as any amongst them. As he protested to me, that he had not been an Ill-Liver, and that this was the only great Crime he had been guilty of, I ask'd him, what led him into this Ill-Action, and whither any particular Person had solicited and urged him to it? He answer'd; No; He could blame no One but Himself, and the suggestions and incitements of Satan, the Watchful Enemy of Mankind.
5. John Lewis, alias Lawrence, of the Liberty of the Old Artillery-Ground, was condemn'd for robbing Mary Baldwin of her Pocket, about 9 o'Clock at Night; At which time he wounded three Men who endeavour'd to apprehend Him. He was about 40 Years of Age. The Account he gave me of his Life, was as followeth.
He was put 'Prentice to a Butcher ; Took his Freedom; Work'd as a Journey-Man . But during his 'Prenticeship, when he was about fourteen Years old, He took great delight in Profligate Company; and soon himself improv'd both in Drunkenness and in Debauchery. He said he never corrupted any Maiden, for that he the more liked a Woman, the greater Strumpet she was; (or to the same purpose.) These Mistresses, he said, he generally associated with about a
Month, and then sought out for a new One; which was the Cause of his being so finish'd in Vice, that he could never keep the Resolutions he had sometimes made of Reforming.
At length, he said, he took to the Highway. The last Robbery that he committed (and wherein he was Apprehended) was near Gravesend; where a foot, without a Pistol, but with a Knife, he assaulted a Gentleman on Horseback: The Gentleman being about to deliver his Money, he (in order to take his Watch) put his Knife into his Mouth to hold: The Gentleman seeing that, wrenched it out of his Mouth; but the Back of the Knife being next him, it did not cut open his Jaw; but the Gentleman cutting him cross the Wrist that held the Bridle, got loose, then cutting him slightly over the Arm, rode and rais'd the next Town: About 12 Men coming forth, took him by the Waterside, where he intended to have gotten a Boat, it being near Gravesend. But as he took nothing from the Person attack'd, he had the Fortune to be then Acquitted.
He afterwards broke open a House (he said) by Ratcliff Highway, where he got very little, and was not taken. Not long after, he committed a Robbery in the Streets of London, by snatching a Pocket from a Woman's Side: Being taken, he was try'd, condemn'd and transported to South Carolina; but he immediately return'd from thence, he said, with the Consent of the Captain and the Person he should have been Sold to: He added, that he took his Wife with him (as she was suppos'd to be, but was not so till after his return to England) The Captain told him, during the whole Voyage, that if he would be easy and quiet, he would procure him his Liberty, when they arrived at Carolina; which he accordingly perform'd. So that in the next Ship that was bound for England he return'd; together with his supposed Wife; whom, upon his going a-shore, he marry'd. But she being, he said, but an indifferent Woman, he liv'd with her Wedded, but about two Months: He then went to Sea , and pass'd the Straights of Gibralter; but was set on Shore at Genoa sick; and soon after his Ship was taken to transport the Emperor's Forces to Sicily. As soon as he could, he return'd home; where he soon found all his former Companions.
He said, he could remember but one Robbery he had committed, since his Transportation (beside the Fact condemned for.) In that Robbery he was accompanied with one more; Who together broke open an Ale-House, at the Corner of Fore-street, near Bunhill-Fields, I think he said the sign of the King or Queen of Hearts: He there got, he said, 12 Tankards, thinking 'em Silver; but finding 'em to be Pewter, they melted them and threw them away.
He appear'd to be sufficiently harden'd and obdurate: To my Advise, he only said, that he wished he had staid in Carolina; he might have got a handsome Maintenance by his Trade; and added, That there would have been nothing to make him dislike the Place, if he had not been compell'd by force to go to it.
He was about 27 Years of Age; and said, he had been before in Newgate, for 2 Years together: for being condemned to be burnt in the Hand, and kept to hard Labour for 2 Years, he was not removed to Bridewel, but detained in Newgate; This, he said, was for taking a pair of silver Buckles out of a Silver-smith's Shop, as he was cheapning of another Pair
He said, he found how little he was Master of his Resolutions; for after this, he had entirely determin'd to lead an honest Course of Life. He said he was never put 'Prentice to any Trade, but being about 16 Years old when his Father dyed, he from that Time lived as he could. He had once engaged himself to go to Sea with another young Man, but was by Accident prevented. He said, he had gever been Marry'd, nor had many Relations; yet an aged Mo
ther he had, whose Heart, he said, he believed would be broke by his untimely Death.
He said, This Misfortune came by taking more Business upon him, than his Capacity was able to discharge; by this means he made frequent Mistakes in the Hurry of Writing, and became very much behind-hand in his Accounts. Being unable, out of his own private Fortune, to rectify the Sums deficient, his Affairs became more and more embrangled; In fine, his Accounts were gone so far, that he found it impossible to give any Account at all; for which reason, the Devil put it into his Mind to fly from those he could not justify himself before: The Sum he took with him, he told me was only four Hundred Pounds. But of the Truth of this we are to doubt.
He told me (which was remarkable) that he had not felt so much Ease and Composure in his Mind, during the three last Years he was employ'd in Business, as he had enjoyed for that little space of Time that he had been confined in Newgate. Particularly, he said, the Day he went off with the Money for Dover, he was so extreamly confused in his Head, That even when he was told what he had done, and what Places he had been at, he could by no means recollect it.
When he was at the Place of Execution; He told me, That he little expected that Fate, from the Opinion he had always entertain'd of the Honour and Generosity of his Masters. He then delivered into my Hands a Paper, which he said was written by a Friend, because his Eye-sight was almost entirely decayed by his long Confinement in Newgate before his Execution, but that he had himself Subscribed his Name to it. This Paper contain'd little else besides an Assertion that he did not rob the Company of so great a Sum as the Governors and Directors had been pleased to imagine; but that it was really lost by his ill-management of their Accounts. He added, That some Person (I have forgot who) buoy'd up his Relation with promises of his being pardon'd; which, he said, he had rather They had never mention'd to his Mother or to Himself. These Particulars were mention'd at large, with some Particulars which I thought proceeded from some Heat and Passion, and which were the Cause of my not publishing the Copy.