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 3d of April, 1721.
BEFORE the Execution of the Six Men condemned to Die, I preached to them from these Words,
Cleanse thou me from secret Faults, Psal. 19, part of the 12 Verse.
In considering the Words, I endeavour'd to show,
FIRST, What may be meant by Secret Faults.
As 1st. They are secret Sins, which a Man acts, yet knows not that he acts them; as we find in Antient History, a Man who was throwing Stones, for his Diversion, over a Wall, and accidentally slew his Father, yet knew not, then nor afterwards, That himself was the occasion of his Father's Death; yet surely he was not altogether Faultless, so carelesly to act what might possibly take away the Life of a Man.
2dly. When a Person knows he commits a Fault, but is not acquainted with the greatness of it. Thus Abimelec fin'd in detaining and designing to defile Sarah, Gen. 20. 3. But it might be called his secret Sin, because he knew not she was Abraham's Wife: Yet God consider'd the Crime as the Sin of Adultery, and intended to have destroy'd Abimelec for it, had not his most severe Repentance averted the Vengeance of God. And we may humbly presume to judge, that God intended so to have Punish'd, because Abimelec too rashly and without enquiry laid hold of Sarah. Since in all these Sins, the Wickedness is more or less, as more or less Trouble was taken in discovering the Truth.
3dly. Sins of False-Zeal. As when Rebellions are rais'd, or Lyes are spread to advantage a restless Faction; and the Authors think, like them who were to slay the Apostles, that the Performers do God Service.
4thly. Sins which seem to be fasten'd to some particular Stations, and in which, unless a Man acts like others of his Employ, he cannot well subsist; these are secret Sins, For Men often continue their Life times in them, without considering their Faults as Faulty.
5thly. A lesser sort of Sins, which are usually forgotten as soon as acted. As the being angry with a Brother without Cause; the not giving due Honour to Parents and Superiors; the forgetting to do some act of Charity which we suffer'd to slip out of our Minds; the not Reading, Praying, Instructing our Family, and frequenting God's House, so often as we possibly might. Also secret Sins of this Nature may be (1.) Sloath or Effeminacy, forbidden by St. Paul particularly, 2 Thess. 3. (2.) Uncourteousness, 1 Pet. 3. 8. (3) Extortion or Usury.
6thly. The first and least Degrees of every Sin, may come under the Species of secret Faults. As if we carry down Self-Murder from the highest Degree of Guilt to the lowest, an unobserved Kind of it may be; the wasting our Bodies by too great an Abstinence and Fasting, and so rendering a Person no longer able to serve his Religon, Country or Family, which Duties are required at our Hands by God. For there are few of the Vertues, but may by Extremity be carry'd on to Vice; as Abstinence may be Suicide, so Generosity may arise to Profuseness; Frugality to Covetousness; Devotion may become Superstition; and Zeal, Uncharitableness.
7thly. We mention'd to the Malefactors under Sentence of Death, another sort of Guilt, which we thought might not improperly come under the Species of our secret Faults, viz. The acting those Things which are indifferent in their own Nature, but become Faults, by being forbidden by the Laws of the Land we live in; for many cannot believe that these are really Sins. There are also Actions, which have in their own Natures some Degrees of Guilt, but are made Capital Crimes by the particular Constitutions of a Kingdom; as Treasonable Words, Deserting from the Prince's Service, &c.
Under this Head, I took Occasion to mention to the Malefactors, the Returning from Transportation, which not one of them could be made to believe was sinful. I endeavour'd, to the best of my Capacity, to convince them that they were not faultless and unblameable in the following Manner: If the disobeying the higher Powers, even every Ordinance of Man, be sinful, as forbidden, (1 Pet. 2. 13, 14, and 17, &c.) Then their particular Offence, which is disobeying the Orninence of Man, must be forbidden in Scripture and be sinful.
Another way, that it may be shown is thus. Not only Robbing and Stealing, but whatsoever else is detrimental to the Society we are Members of, is a Sin: Now this particular Action is detrimental to the Nation, (both in the Practice, and also in the Example); and therefore is sinful.
I told them, if they could not be convinc'd that they had sinned, because they were possest of the Notion that the Legislative Power was in this particular too severe; they might read, 1 Pet. 2. 18. Be subject to your Masters, not only to the Gentle, but also to the Froward: But that this was not their Case.
SECONDLY, What we are to do, in order to our being cleansed from our secret Faults.
And under this Head, we consider'd chiefly, the Necessity of acknowledging our smallest and secret Faults to be Sins, and not to endeavour to gloss them over with other specious Titles; For how could they be prevail'd on to repent of a Sin, if no Words could perswade them that it was a Fault?
The Account of the Behaviour, &c. of the Malefactors, till the Day of Execution.
As I had all the Prisoners condemn'd to dye carry'd constantly to the Chapel, that they might offer up their Prayers to God in Publick, hear the Scripture read, be instructed in their Duty, and in whatever could be judged necessary for their Salvation; and as this was perform'd twice every Day, during the Space of Time they lay under Sentence, I had Opportunities of observing their several Behaviours, Deportments, and Signs of Seriousness and Repentance.
As there were Boys very young in that lamentable Condition, it was not a little shocking to see their Behaviour when they were first Condemn'd: The Corruption of their Minds, and the little Knowledge they had of the Condition they were in, appear'd in their disturbing their Fellow Prisoners, who were disposed to be serious, by privately kicking, mocking them, &c. As they could not be convinc'd they had done any Harm in Returning from Transportation, scarce any one of them could believe he should dye for it. Henry Woodford in particular undertook (as he had declared in Chapel he would) to demonstrate to me, That the returning to his Wife and young Children, in order to keep them from Starving in his Absence, was so far from being a Crime, that it was his Duty so to act; and that no Law could disingage him, or any thing but Death, from the great Duty of providing for his Family.
After a few Days, they were brought to a Behaviour something more decent, except Jasper Andrews, and James Dalton. They never made Excuses to absent themselves from the Prayers, and read alternately after me. But as Mary North had the unhappiness, she said, to be at certain Times Lunatick, she was some Times troublesome to the Prisoners, and to all who heard her, using most wicked Expressions; That she should go to Hell, that she cared not if she was damned, that she could not say the Lord's Prayer she had so much Enmity in her Heart, and that she would hang herself that Night, or if she could not, she would dash out her Brains against the Stones. But at other Times, when she was right in her Mind, she appear'd to be very Devout, and earnest in her Addresses to Heaven for the Pardon of her Sins.
1. JOHN FILEWOOD) was convicted of Returning from his Majesty's Plantations, without just Cause, having received his Majesty's most gracious Pardon, on Condition of being Transported for fourteen Years. He was about 35 Years of Age, born in the Parish of St. Peter Cornhill. The first Time I undertook to instruct him alone in his Duty, I told him he had nothing to do but to think of Dying; but showing me a Petition, he assured me, that he was far from being without Expectation of Living, notwithstanding what had past; tho' he freely acknowledged, that he had committed comparatively an infinite Number of Robberies, had been a Highwayman a great many Years, and was twice before Condemned to Dye, and Pardoned.
He said he died for the Fault of the Planter in America he was sold to; for he invited him, for a Sum of Money, to accept of his Liberty, and when he had his Freedom, the Love of England was natural.
He believed, he said, that of all Men he had the least Happiness in this Life; for as he had always been in Hurry, Fear, and Suspicions, he had constantly Perturbations of Mind; and the Sums of Money he had lavished away in Luxery, Debaucheries, Gaities, and Excess, could not compensate for the Trouble and Anxiety of his Mind; so that he was not much concerned for leaving Life, tho' as his Wife had lately a Legacy left, he was enabled handsomely to subsist, without illegal Actions. He thus express'd himself some Days before he died; adding that what Concern he at first showed for Life, was wholly on the Account of his Wife, and (I think) five small Children.
Before he died, he said he had two Brothers, (the only remaining Sons of his Mother who was living) falsly reported to be hanged at distant Places from London, because he had one Brother who had come to that sad End; but he declared that they were alive, and well, as to the Health of their Bodies, and at some Times not very distant from London.
He said he was sensibly touched with Concern, for having brought so much Disgrace to his good Mother and Sister, and not taking Warning at the untimely Death of his Brother, who was taken off much earlier in his Sins. He said his Miseries proceeded wholly from himself, for he had no vicious Examples from his Father and Mother; but that they had Reading and Praying constantly in the Family, when he was Young; but he remembered the Badness of his own Disposition then appeared, for he was very restless and tormented wile the Devotion lasted, and used to divert himself in a Corner alone; and that he wished his Parents had used him with a severer Hand.
After the Warrant was come for their Execution, he discovered his Fondness for Life, by starting up in the midst of the Prayers, as restless and distracted; by throwing himself down in a passionate Manner, &c. Nor was it with Ease he contain'd himself from Extravagances, even at the Holy Sacrament, the Morning of his Execution.
He said he was 22 Years of Age last November, born in Southward, where his Father kept an Inn: That he could not Read nor Write; but was 'Prentice to a Fisherman on the River Thames, and served seven Years; but marrying a Year before his Time expired, he was put to great Hardships, tho' he had no Children living. That he thence went down to live with an Uncle in the Country, who being a Grasier, he kept his Cows in the Field; but before that had been given to picking Pockets. Upon hearing, he said, that his Mother was sick in London, he came to see her, and had not been in the City three Days before he was taken at his usual Employ, and sent to Newgate, and thence Transported. He said he was
greatly frighted, least his Body should be cut, and torn, and mangled after Death, and had sent his Wife to his Uncle to obtain some Money to prevent it. I cannot mention much of his good Behaviour; but before he died, he seem'd very much concerned; and told me, he had taken all Opportnuities to hear his Fellow Prisoners read, and to pray with them; and that he hoped God would take Pity on him, a poor ignorant and foolish Fellow, and not throw him into Hell.
He said he was never Marry'd, nor ever learned any Trade, for being put thereto, he continued not with his Master any considerable time. He added, that for the last 3 Years of his Life, he knew not well how he lived; His Friends not being in any Condition to support him without his Labour. He expressed himself how much he wished that his Parents had kept him close to some laborious Employ, and check'd him more severely for the first appearances of his wicked Disposition; for to their neglect was owing his Shame and Misery.
He said he had often and often been guilty of picking Pockets; and that he had frequently thieved from Houses in and about the City; but that he always enter'd privately at the Door, for fear of being Hang'd, if he should break open a House.
Yet as the Time of his Death drew near, there was not one amongst them, that had more the Appearance of Seriousness and Repentance. And especially at the Sacrament, the Morning he was to dye, he expressed such a Fervency and Earnestness in his Devotion, as might seem in some Measure to attone for the viciousness of his Life.
He said he was bred to the Sea , and had received but little Advantages from Instruction or Education; yet from those natural Endowments which God had been pleas'd to give him, he fear'd not an Argument with most Men; that he was no way concern'd at the leaving Life; but at leaving his Children was very deeply touched.
But of all the Prisoners, he seem'd most to resent his Dying, and said that if he had not returned for the sake of his Family, he thought he had just Reason to come Home; because the Law was not, he said, that they should be in such a manner sold for Slaves, which was worse than Death, being Christians by Baptism; and that the Negroes after they were Baptised were no longer Slaves; adding, that if I would enquire of Mary North, she would assure me, that 20 such as she were Sold for 50 l. to walk into the Sea to the middle to find Oysters in Winter time, and the like. I endeavoured to cause him to lay aside the Ill-will and Rancour which his Breast was full of, but in vain, till he was near his End. But his Disposition alter'd suddenly, and he appeared in the Chapel with an uncommon Earnestness and Devotion, thanked me for the frequent Advice I had given him, and receiv'd the Holy Sacrament with due Regard, Reverence and Devoutness.
He said he was not bred to any Trade, but went very young for a Soldier , that he was at several great Sieges in Flanders, as well as the most memorable Battles there; but that being discharg'd, he took to Gaming, and particularly Thimbles and Ball; adding that when the Ice was upon the Thames he maintain'd his Family as Genteely by his Wits, as if he had had an Estate of 200 l. per Annum.
He was fully possessed with a Notion that his Colonel intended to endeavour to save his Life; but when he found he must dye, he much accused his Wife, as one occasion of his many Sorrows; but he said, that he was
not less blameable than she; for when she left him, he always took another Woman to Co habit withal: He acknowledged that he might be the first Cause of her giving herself up to Drinking, and an irregular Course of Life; for had he labour'd for an honest Maintenance, and not provided for his Family sometimes profusely, and sometimes not allowing them Bread (as his Successes at Gaming happened) she might have continued Faithful and Industrious.
But after all this, he added, that this was a second Wife, whom he had marry'd as soon as he came from Flanders, without ever enquiring after his first Wife; nor did he know, he said, whether that Woman might be now alive, or dead. As for the third Woman, whom he at present cohabited with as his Wife, he said, she was not actually his Wife.
He was in very great Passions of Grief some Days before his Death, because his second Wife, as he told me, was gone away from his Children, a Boy nine Years old, and a Daughter-in-Law fourteen, and two other Daughters younger.
6. SAMUEL WHITTEL) was convicted of Returning from his Majesty's Plantations. He said he was 17 Years of Age; born in White-Chapel; that his Father was a Journeyman Weaver, and bred him up to no Employment; that he had lived in a vicious Way from his Infancy, not having any Subsistance, but what he procured to himself by Thieving; that he was taken by a wicked Gang, and trained up to Villanies and Wickedness.
The Account of the Malefactors, at the Place of Execution.
1. John Filewood was desirous that People should know, that he was the Person who robb'd a Porter's Wife of several Yards of Fustian, near Bishopsgate, by sending her to a Neighbouring Shop, and giving her a sham Watch, as a Security for her Goods. He also said, that he was the Person who committed the Robbery, for which one Picket was try'd and convicted.
3. Henry Woollford, before he died, deliver'd a Paper to me, to this Effect: Henry Woollword's Declaration how he broke open Mr. Crowley's Ware-House, and took the Steel, for which Ba. Ward is confin'd in Newgate. I first attempted to break into the Ware-House underneath the Threshold, but finding I could not, I wrenched off the under Hinge, and there crept in, and took several Bundles of Steel, three Bags of Nails, &c. as much as loaded a Boat. I sold the Steel to certain Persons for 24s. per Hundred, who sold it again to Mr. Bar. Ward, who was not sensible of its being stole; and this, as a dying Man, I do attest.
April 2, 1721. Henry Woollford.
At the Moment of their Deaths, they were loud in their Exclamations to God, declared they died in Charity towards all Men; but said they should have been more prepared for Death, had they not been disturbed by two Boys, Jasper Andrews and James Dalton, who interrupted their Devotions; and even as they slept play'd vile Tricks, burning their Feet, and pouring Water, &c.
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