THE Ordinary of NEWGATE his ACCOUNT Of the Behaviour, Confessions, and Last Dying Words of the Malefactors that were Executed at Tyburn, on Thursday the 8th of February, 1722.
AT the Sessions held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bayly, which ended the 17th of January, were Try'd, and Convicted of Capital Offences, five Men, viz. James Shaw, alias Smith, &c. John Smith, William Colthouse, Jonas Burgess and George Nicholas; The last of these receiving His Majesty's Gracious Reprieve, the remaining Four were ordered for Execution agreeable to the Sentence pass'd upon them.
Before the Day of Death I endeavour'd to instruct them from the Sentence pass'd upon them.
I said, In the Cutting off of my Days, I shall go down to the Gates of the Grave; I am deprived of the Residue of my Years. I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord in the Land of the Living, I shall behold Man no more with the Inhabitants of the World. Isaiah 38. 10, 11.
From this Complaint which Hezekiah made to God, we took Occasion to observe,
FIRST, That God is the most proper Being for all sorts of Men to apply to in Calamity and Distress; as he is most Able and Willing to assist, being the great Disposer of Men's Lives and Conditions; and as he is the Universal Father, and has Bowels of Compassion toward all Mankind.
NEXT, we briefly considered the Nature of the Creator, as he is here mentioned changing his Intent of letting Hezekiah die, and adding to his Days even fifteen Years, altho' Unchangeableness and Immutability are the Creators eternal Attributes.
WE observ'd besides, the Condescension of God in Reclining so much to the natural Frailties of Man, That least King Hezekiah should
have committed the Fault of dis-believing the Word of God, pronounced by Isaiah, he prevented his Sin, by causing the Sun (in Effect and Appearance) to go back on the Dial of Ahaz ten Degrees; Isa. 38. 8. Observing, that Lenity and Tenderness, in a generous Mind excited a greater Regard and Desire of Pleasing, and that base and mean Spirits alone, were by Lenity excouraged and puffed up, to disregard and slight.
IN the next place, we considered the particular Complaint of King Hezekiah, when he thought he was to die, and was no more to see the Lord, (or the Works and the Goodness of the Lord) in the Land of the Living. Taking notice from thence, of the secret and unaccountable tyes, that bind Men down to love of this Earth, unhappy and wretched as it is; even binding Hezekiah, tho' he had enjoy'd the Pleasures of a Crown, and was a Person prepared for Heaven, as appears from Verse 3. &c.
FROM this mournful soliloquy of King Hezekiah at the Prospect of Death, we also considered, in what Cases the Fear of Death may be reasonable and becoming Men and Christians. As, 1st, when 'tis not an uneasiness at leaving the Gaieties and Pleasures of Earth, but a Concern at being deprived of doing Good in the World, or compensating for Mischiefs done. 2dly, When that Fear is not occasion'd by our having too much neglected the Thoughts of God and Eternity, but from a becoming suspicion of our own Worthiness from a due Sense of our Failings, and from a Desire of being more the Favourite of God, before we appear in his Presence. 3dly, 'Tis a reasonable Concern, where a Malefactor is grieved at a ignominious Death, as it is a Disgrace to Christianity, and an Injury to his Family and Relations.
LASTLY, we advis'd all Malefactors to imitate the good King Hezekiah, in a decent Fear of Death; and not to affect an entire Carelessness, and a full Contempt of Death, supposing it Bravery and Courage. For the Roman's may commend their Cato's and Curtij, yet Christians are to imitate Martyrs and others, who in all their Calamities waited the Hour of Providence, and had too great an Awe and Reverence for Eternity, rudely to rush into the Presence of God; and too much Greatness of Soul, to fear being Wretched, or to end their Lives to terminate their Misfortunes.
The Account of the Prisoners, while they lay under Sentence of Death.
THESE Malefactors, during the calamitous space of their Confinement, appear'd to be very earnest in compensating for the many Moments they had trifled away. As they could read, except James Shaw, They assured me, that they made it their business to read and pray with him till late every Night, and very early every Morning; yet complaining sometimes, that he, instead of attending to their Instructions, interrupted both Them and Himself, by vain and leud Discourse; and often endeavouring to convert the Word of God to a Jest or Pun; and at other times by foolish Discourse with the Women there; this Prisoner indeed appeared, to be but little sensible of his sad and distress'd
Condition, having a kind of undaunted expectation and wild assurance of future Happiness; yet at length he said, that he found his Inclinations and the Frame of his Mind surprizingly altered, when Death approached near him, which he principally imputed to the good Advice given him by his Parents and others, and to Mr. George Nicholas's frequently reading to him, and to his frequenting so constantly the Chappel, till he perceived a sort of Delight in what was at first Uneasy, and found a Pleasure by Use and Custom infused into those Duties, which at first he perform'd with a great Reluctancy.
1. JAMES SHAW, otherways Smith, &c. was found Guilty of Assaulting Charles Hungate, on the 27 of December last, between Highgate and Kentish-Town, and taking from him an Horse value ten Pounds, and eight Shillings in Silver. He was also Convicted of Robbing Philip Potts, on the 24 of June last, of a silver Watch, value five Pounds, and a silver Hilted Sword, value three Pounds, near the Tile-Kilns at Pancrass; and likewise found guilty of the Murthering of the said Philip Potts, by knocking him off his Horse, and then striking him with a large Staff over the Head and Body, while one of his Companions struck at him several times with his own Sword; insomuch, that being carryed to the Pindar of Wakefield, as able to go no farther, he there languished from the Saturday till Monday, and then died.
The Malefactor, was about 28 Years old, and born of Parents who he said, would have given him a competant Share of Learning, had not his Temper been too Unfix'd and Unsettled; which Roving Humour appear'd in his being unable to continue in any 'Prentiship, being tryed at a Forgers of Gun-Locks , and other Trades. Yet he would not own that his Inclination was naturally Vicious, but endeavour'd to cast the whole of his Vices and Calamities upon his Wife, asserting, that one while he acquired by his Industry 9 Shillings per Week when first married, but returning weary from his Work, he constantly found his Wife from home, and all things in a melancholly Confusion, which made him (as he said) resolve no longer to labour to so little purpose. And so deep was his inveterate Hatred engrafted in him against his Wife, that no Threats of Hell Fire, no Assurances of being Forgiven, if he heartily forgave Others, could ever abate this settled Eternity; nor could the Sight or Speech of her be supportable; saying also, that the Child which she had, was nothing related to him.
He said, that he perform'd all that was in his power to obtain God's Pardon for the vast Number of Robberies he had committed: That these Assaults were chiefly made between Hamstead and London, upon those who went to, or return'd from the Wells or Bellsize; and that the Soldiers were but little Hindrance to them: He owned that he had sometimes taken 60 or 80 Pounds at a time; adding, that he had often robb'd both on Horseback on Hamstead-Heath, Finchly-Common, &c. and often on Foot, but that the most Cruel and Savage, was the way of Robbing on Foot, Murther being commonly committed, they having no other method on Foot of escaping from a Horseman, but by striking him down from his Horse, and then either Binding or else Disabling
his Body. But he was firmly of Opinion, that, as it is more sinful to rob a poor Man or the Church of God, so it was less sinful to rob those who would have spent the Money taken in Gaiety and Luxury, or those who perhaps had unjustly acquired it by Gaming.
He at first denyed very peremptorily, that he had any hand in the Murther of Philip Potts; asserting, that in all his Robberies he never us'd Violence to any Man, except one who lives at Islington, and whom they rob'd by the Men who hang in Chains at Holloway, and that he only gave him a slap on the Head after he had bawl'd out Rogues! Highwaymen! Murther! for a very long time without any one touching him. But afterwards he began to acknowledge that he was acquainted with all the particulars of the Murther, which Circumstances could by no Method have been so precisely known, but by an actual Survey and Cognisance of the Performance.
He said, that he did not know of anything that had ever touch'd his Heart with Concern or Grief, but the Death of one Barton, who was executed a short time ago, for that he himself ought then to have died, that he robb'd the Lord Viscount Lisbon, as he was going from Hamstead, adding, that he found true, what he could not then keep out of his Mind, to wit, that he should quickly follow to an untimely end.
As Jonas Burgess had declar'd, after he had cut his own Throat, that one of the Pistols which were taken from under his Coat, was design'd for this Prisoner, to dispatch himself withal, he was examin'd about it, but would acknowledge nothing, nor own the barbarous Intent he had of killing those who should oppose the Escape of these 4 Malefactors. He said that Burgess had of late declar'd that his Enemies should never see him go to be hang'd, but if he could not escape, he would die; but the Prisoner said (if true I know not) that he advis'd him to beware of Self-Murther; That as he heard the sad Groans he remember'd how he beg'd him not to say that his Enemies had hindered his getting Pardon; for even, if they had destroy'd his Body, it would be no recompence for himself therefore to destroy his Soul.
2. JOHN SMITH was Condemn'd for assaulting and murthering Matthew Walden, with a Pistol, as he was endeavouring to detain and apprehend him for a Riot, an Assault committed on Sarah Thompson, at the Lynn near the Hermitage; on the 22 of November last.
This Prisoner, about 40 Years of Age, was bred to the Sea, and served in most of Queen Ann's Wars against the French; and belong'd to a Man of War , he said, in the Squadron of Admiral Byng, in the Mediterranean, and in particular was at the Fight with the Spaniards, near Messina in Cicily, where the Spanish Fleet was dissipated and broken.
He said that his Life had not been the Life of a Robber; but being of late too much on Shore, which was always hateful and uneasy to him, he could not find any way of spending his time, but had been Guilty of Pilfering and Stealing, as much thro' lack of Business and Employ as otherwise to divert his vicious Inclinations, and to terrifie his Mind from Wickedness, he went with his Acquaintance Woolford, to see him Executed; but that sad Sight, he added, was not sufficient to break the viciated Force of his Inclinations; but that he became Acquainted
with the Wife of Woolford, who had been before Wise to one Louder that was hang'd in Chains at Holloway, and cohabited with her in an Illegal Manner.
The Morning before he dyed, he received the Sacrament with much earnestness and devotion; and the Moment of his Death had an undaunted Resolution and Intrepidity, Confessing his Crime, and advising the Spectators to take Warning by him, and beware how they listened to the Tongues of Women.
3. WILLIAM COLTHOUSE about 34 Years of Age, Born in Yorkshire, was Convicted of Assaulting ROBERT HARLE on Hounslow-Heath, between 5 and 6 in the Evening, and taking from him near 4 l. by catching hold of his Bridle as he was turning out of the Road for a Chaise which he thought the two Highwaymen belonged to.
He was besides Convicted of Robbing Benjamin Burrows just after, of a Watch, and two Rings, which he took off his Finger, and 4 s. in Money; these Robberies he committed in Company with one Sinnament, on the 20th of September in the fifth Year of the King.
This Will. Colthouse had a good Education, being well Instructed in the Principles of his Religion; but for seditious Words against his Majesty was put into Newgate, about 6 Years ago, where instead of being terrify'd at the Miseries that Vice occasions, as thinking Men would be, he was desirous of acquiring a wicked Acquaintance, which asserted he improv'd to his utter Ruin. After this, he said, he lived like a Gentleman for a very short time, but, was more deeply wretch'd than any Beggar; till his Brother and he, were pursued on Hounslow-Heath, for a Robbery; where his Brother was taken and Executed, but he shelter'd himself from his Chacers in an Hollow-Tree: He said also, that he went to Oxford, intending to alter his vicious way of Life, and work'd sometime as a Joyner there, but perceiv'd at length his ill Inclinations too forceable for his best Inclinations.
He added, that he was very sorry that his remaining Brothers should be both suspected of being Highwaymen, for two, nay, one out of a Family was enough to come to a shameful Death; that he really believed his Elder Brother was no Rogue, but his Youngest he was sure was a Child of very virtuous Principles; and that he had left them a Paper, entreating them to mind nothing so much as Reading and going to Church, and to Work hard at their Callings, because six Pecne well got would go farther than a Pound obtain'd by Fraud.
Being ask'd if he murther'd a Farmer's Son in Philpot Lane in Hampshire, he denyed it, and said, what made People suspect him, was, because the murtherer had two Scars a-cross his Hand; and he had a Scar on his Face; but he added, that this Scar was occasion'd by a Quarrel at Tuthil-Fields, which happen'd upon a Man's saying the Prince was Par-Blind; in which Quarrel some Soldiers laid his Face on a Red-Hot Gridiron, and burnt up his Cheek, and the lower Lid of his Eye.
Before his Death, he appear'd Earnest in his Devotions, denying that he gave Consent to the Design of Burgess and Shaw, of making their Escape with Pistols in Hand; however, he received the Holy-Sacrament with all the Tokens of a real Repentance; and at the Place of Execution, beg'd to be forgiven by all Men, requested their Prayers, and hop'd that they would be so warn'd, as not to follow him, as now to the Place.
This Prisoner was about 30 Years of Age, and appear'd at first to be very diligent in his Duty; but after he had been Condemn'd about a Fornight, all Thoughts of Death were banish'd from him, and he combin'd with the other Prisoners, to make their Escape, and had prepar'd two Pistols for that End; but being search'd, and they taken from him, he thro' Fury cut his Throat in the Chappel, declaring that his Enemies had boasted they would plant themselve on Holborn-Bridge, to see him carried to be Hang'd, but he would never indulge 'em in such a Pleasure: When his Wind-Pipe was sow'd up by the Surgeon, he was advis'd to lay aside Anger and Passion, and to regard his Future Estate, but cry'd out, that his Enemies had ruin'd his Soul and Body, that they had petition'd the King not to show him Mercy; that he felt no Pain, and only wish'd he might die of his Wound, before the Morrow came, when he was to be hang'd.
The Account of the Malefactors at the Place of Execution.
William Colthouse acknowledg'd that he had provided two Pistols, and were to have received more, to destroy some who had the Care of them; and had Files to free 'em from their Irons, adding, that the Design had been long under Consultation, and all were concern'd in it except George Nicholas; but that he was glad it was not perform'd for Blood must have been shed, and as 'twas, he had no Blood to cry out against him.
I WAS born of Honest Parents, bred to the Sea, and liv'd Honest till I was led aside by leud Women; I then rob'd on Ships, and never robb'd on shore: I had no design to kill the Woman who jilted me and left me for another Man, but only to terrify her for I could have shot her when the loaded Pistol was at her Breast, but I curb'd my Passion, and only threw a Cand lestick at her. I confest my Cruelty towards my Wife, who is a Woman to good for me, but I was at first forced to forsake her for Debt, and go to Sea; I hope in God none will reflect on her, or my poor Innocent Children, who could not help my sad Passion, and more sad Death. Writtenby me JOHN SMITH.
T. PURNEY, Ordinary, and Chaptain.
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