THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE his ACCOUNT, Of the Behaviour, Confession, and last dying Words of the Malefactor, that was Executed at Tyburn, on Monday the 8th of April, 1723.
AT the KING'S Commission of the Peace, and Oyer, and Terminer, which began at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bayly, on Wednesday, the 27th of February last; before the Right Honourable Sir Gerard Conyers, Knt. Lord Mayor of the City of London, the Hon. Mr. Justice Powis, Mr. Justice Denton, Mr. Baron Gilbert; John Raby, Esq; Deputy-Recorder, and several of his MAJESTY'S Justices of the Peace for the City of London and County of Middlesex; Three Men receiv'd Sentence Death, of viz. William Burks, William Summersfield and Thomas Frost: The two Last of these receiving His MAJESTY'S Reprieve, in order to their be Transported to some of the Plantations beyond the Sas, the First of them was left for Execution.
DURING the time that William Burks lay under Condemnation, he never once absented from the Prayers in the Chapel, being well assured, that he should suffer Death; which put him seriously upon preparing for his Departure into another World; without delaying the time and flattering himself with absurd Notions of a Pardon or Reprieve as is always the Manner of Persons under Sentce of Death, till the Warrant for Execution is sent to the Prison, ar they are acquainted with the certainty of their Fate: And then t is that they begin to be serious, and to consider that they are enter in into the Presence of the eternal Soveraign and Creator of the Unierse; so difficult is it for them to entertain Thoughts of another Life, till the Magistrates are so kind to them as to satisfy them there i no possibility of their continuing in this,
BUT this Malefactor, as he appear'd to Read the best of those under Condemnation, frequently affirm'd to me that he excited 'em constantly to rise and worship God; sometimes reading the Scriptures, at other times the Prayers of the Church, or those contained in other Religious Books; taking only so much sleep, as Nature required, and then rising again, to pursue their Devotions, that they might not be accounted slack in the sight of God, or negligent in a Matter of the greatest Moment to them.
A SHORT time before the Execution of this Prisoner, I endeavoured to instruct him from the following Words,
Ho! every One that thirsteth, Come ye to the Waters; and he that hath no Money, come ye, buy and eat, yea come, buy Wine and Milk, without Money and without Price. Isa. 55. Chap. Ver. 1st.
FROM the Words, we endeavoured in the first Place, to consider, the Invitation, That it was made by no less that the Soveraign Monarch of Heaven and Earth, by the Mouth of his Holy Prophet, the God of Heaven vouchsafing so much to regard frail Mankind, as to stoop down from his Mansions of Happiness, to request and call upon the Sons of Men, to accept of Crowns of Glory, and Immortality, eternal Life. So that whosoever slights God and Christ, now inviting them to be Happy, must call themselves Ungrateful now, nor can ask Pity for their Souls hereafter, when placed before the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ; tho' our Saviour in the Parable, says, that some, being excluded from eternal Happiness, shall knock at the Door, and say Lord, Lord, open to us, adding farther, we have eaten and drank in thy Presence, and thou hast taught in our Streets. Luke 13. 29, &c.
SECONDLY, We consider'd the unlimitedness of the Invitation, every One that thinketh, come ye to the Waters, &c. So that he, and every Sinner, how long, or how greatly soever they had offended, were not excluded from the Mercies of God; as the Prophet saith, If their Sins were of Scarlet, they should become white as Snow; if red as Crimson, they should be as Wool. Wherefore, as Presumption must be displeasing to the Creator, whose Justice is infinite as well as his Mercy; so Dispair must be an Affront to God Almighty, who has sworn by himself, as Ilive saith the Lord, I desire not the Death of a Sinner, but that he shoul return from his Sins and be saved. For which it appear'd that we ae not to pretend to open the Door of Heaven to some, and so shut it ainst others, arresting the Almighty Arm of God, and saying (with th Predestinarians) thus far shall his Mercy reach, and here shall his racious Hand be stayed; his Mercy being over all his Works. Wrong therefore do some Persons pretend to blame Providence and the Creator for the badness of their Inclinations, as it is in their deprav'd lispositions, and to refuse the Evil and to chuse the Good. Wherefre, Prisoners especially, and those in Calamity, instead of finding out ain and frivolous Excuses for Ideleness and Sloath,
should rather set themselves seriously about their Duty, and as Christ says, strive to enter in at the strait Gate.
THIRDLY, we consider'd the subsequent Words, Yea, come, buy Wine and Milk without Money, and without Price. Tho' we cannot pretend to Merit and acquire Heaven, by any Performances of our own, having added to original Sin, many actual Transgressions, yet we must endeavour, as far as in us lies, to perfect Holiness in the fear of God: Since we are sanctify'd by Morality, as by Faith we are Justified: Nor can real Faith be without Virtue; all other Faith being a false and pretended Faith. For which Cause tho' the Person under Condemnation especially, was to be instant and earnest in his Duty, and sedalous in his Devotions, making a kind of Attonement for the badness of his Life, by his good Behaviour at the Time of his Death; yet was he not to relye, or depend upon any such performances as Meritorious, or proper to obtain him Heaven; but at the Hour of Death, must lay them aside, resting and depending of the meritorious Sufferings of his Saviour; that the stains of his Sins may be done away, and the Handwriting of Ordinances that was against him may be blotted out, thro' the Blood of that immaculate Lamb that was slain from the Foundation of the World.
FOURTHLY, We endeavour'd to direct the Man under Condemnation, how he was to behave himself, under the greatest Tryal that can happen to any Man, to wit, in the last Moments of Life, when Death and Eternity appear immediately before him, and he is entering into the Presence of God and Christ, and the Holy Angels, together with all the great and good Men that ever lived in this World.
To the Instructions that were given him, he seem'd to attend, with a good deal of seriousness; and altho' some times his Relations or Acquaintance would be whispering to him, of their own Concerns, he seem'd to decline and avoid them, as much as possible; pressing the Affairs that related to his Soul, before those Temporal ones which concern'd his Body. And for one thing, he was to be particularly commended; inasmuch as a certain Person put him in Mind, that as he lay so long in the deplorbale condition of Condemnation, he had a fair Opportunity of considering ways and means to make his escape; he declin'd the Offers of his Acquaintance, and declar'd to him, he had us'd to much Violence already, nor intended to use any more; neither would he escape if it was in his Power, at the Expence of shedding the Blood of Innocent Persons, and adding to his fomer Offences the crying Sin of Wilful and deliberate Murther.
The Account given me by this Prisoner, during the time that he lay under Sentence of Death.
did assault William Fitzer in the first Field from Stepney, near the Back Lane; where with a large Hedging Bill cutting him over the Head, he told him he must have his Coat, and took his Jacket, Tobacco Box, Knife and Fork, &c. It farther appear'd upon Evidence, That John Andrews, and Robert his Son, going the same Night over the same Field, were attack'd by the same Man, who chop'd down the Father, but the Son thinking his Father kill'd, leap'd upon the Assaulter, and having catch'd up his Father's Stick, bruiz'd the Robber, and afterward, closing in with him, drove him up against a Bank, till Jeremiah Perkins, hearing the Clamour, went up to his Assistance, and the Robber was apprehended. He was also indicted for Assaulting James Westwood, near the same Place, and taking from him a Coat, value 8 s. a Rule value 1 s. and 10 s. in Silver, about 7 o'Clock at Night, on the 9th of February last. It appear'd, that the Prosecutor returning from his Work, was stop'd by the Prisoner, who caught hold of his Collar, and holding the Chopping-Bill over his Head, took his Money of his Pocket; then bad him pull off his Frock, which he did, and told him he was a poor Man and it was hard to take his Frock; whereupon the Prisoner bid him make hast, that he knew him, and if he look'd but once back he would lose his Life; for it seems this Malefactor told those whom he rob'd, that he had five Companions lurking about the Fields, ready to assist him in case of need; tho' he had no one but himself, as he has since said. The Matter appearing to the Jury very plain and evident against him, he was found Guilty the Indictments, and condemn'd accordingly.
BEING frequently examin'd concerning his Former Life, he said, he was above 22 Years old, born of Parents very tender and indulgent towards him, but in mean Circumstances; for which Reason he was put to the Charity School belonging to St. Catharine's Parish, and continu'd there for several Years, learning to read, &c. but being of a rude unlucky Disposition, his Master held a severer Hand over him, he said, than over any other Boy in the School: But that he endured, till he was about Eleven Years of Age, when after some pretty severe Discipline exercis'd towards him, he resolv'd at any rate to fly away; and accordingly, getting up very early in the Morning, he put on his best Apparel, and went to the Water side, but could not for several Hours meet with any that offer'd it self, till at length he met with one who carried him to a Captain who wanted a Boy to wait upon him, and hired him immediately and carry'd him down to the Buoy in the Nore, and put him into his Ship, where he lay a Fortnight. But in the mean time, his Mother being half distracted for the Loss of him, had heard where he was; and travelling to him, by Violence would have borne him home again, had she not been interrupted, and he secur'd there acccording to his own Inclinations.
So that setting out from the Buoy in the Nore, they had a good Voyage to Jamaica, in the Salisbury, Captain Hosier Commander of that Man of War: Which Ship he said took two Spanish Galleons, (it being about the latter End of Queen Anne's War with France and Spain) one Engagement he was in, was of a long Continuance, and very bloody,
he himself tho' a Boy, being very much hurt, as oblig'd to bustle about in the warmest and most dangerons Places, during the whole time that the Fight continu'd. But as for the other Encounter, it was of small detriment to them; for the Salisbury carry'd about 60 Guns, and the Spanish Ship had 74 Brass Guns, and 650 Men, yet the Salisbury, took the Galleon, after having slain a great Number of the Men, without the Loss of so much as one Englishman; But only a Woman, (who was the only Woman on Board the Man of War) going to peep at the Engagement and the Nature of it, had her Head and Shoulders shot off. He added, that the Prize-Money that accrued to each common Salior, was fifteen Pounds; but the Officers had such a Booty as made it unaccessary for them to expose themselves any more to the Violence of the Wars and Waters.
Remaining three Years about the Coasts of America, he led a bad Life and sometimes the Saliors having made Appointments to play Tricks with the Inhabitants of the Plantations there, would employ him in vile Practices, which first learnt him to look upon Pilfering and Thieving as no more than merry Jokes and Jests. He added, that the Country of Jamaica, being full of Negro-Servants, was almost destitute of White-Servants, so that, a Woman who had been transported from Newgate, and was grown Rich by marrying in Jamaica, desir'd his Master to let him draw Wine for her, and serve in the Tavern , which she then kept; which his Master complying with, he liv'd very happily there, till he play'd a Prank which his Mistress could not forget, altho' as she had promis'd him, she did not inform the Captain of any Circumstances thereof.
After this, he was for some time in Mary-Land, and in the Vessels lying upon the Coast, where, if his Master would have parted with him, he had an offer of Twelve Pounds a Year, made him by a Gentleman who had a large Plantation in that Country, and keeping a Store, had Plenty of every thing that England produces. But from thence, he went to Virginia, and other Parts of America; till at length he return'd into England.
He said he had as much as any Man living to turn Thoughts from the Love of this World; and also to make him read a Providence: Relating several Instances of Calamities and the Hardships that happen'd to him; the severest of which was his Voyage to Guinea; to which Clime they go to carry Negroes to the Islands and Continents upon the South-Seas. For after they had undergone many Dangers and Hardships, from the Inhabitants of Guinea where several that he knew were entrap'd, and cruelly put to Death by the Natives, (he himself narrowly escaping.) they set out, in order to returning to England, but had lost several Sails and other Things belonging to the Ship, which it was impossible to repair in that Country, where they live like Savages upon Trapanning one another, and when they have gotten up a Company, selling them, for Musquets, Pots, Linnen, &c. But tho' in so bad a Condition, they doubted not but they should reach England in at most two Months; having Provision barely for so long a time; but Providence so order'd it, that the Violence of the Storms, and the extream bad Weather, made it Between 4 or 5 Months before they could reach their Native Land and enter into Bristol. Insomuch that they were oblig'd to divide the small Quantity of Victuals which was to last each Man 48 Hours; but so little it was, that they always eat it up at once, thro' extream Hunger, and fasted after it the 48 Hours. But at length all was eaten, except a small Quantity of
Flower, which was made into a kind of Liquid Pudding, and divided out to them once in four Days; but he himself, before he enter'd Bristol, fasted twice or thrice no less than five Days together. So that sarce a Man besides himself, but was either Dead, or ready to die; but he continu'd found and well.
Another time, he said, he was almost in equal Danger, from the Negroes that they were carrying from Monopotopa to America; For as they are taken by a Prince whose Kingdom reaches over two, or sometimes three Towns, who surprizes them on the Banks of a River, as he goes up in the Canoe or Barge; being sold for Slaves, they oftentimes grow sullen, and refusing to eat or drink, die quickly; but now it happen'd, that they form'd a Conspiracy among themselves, to kill all the Ship's Company; which being discover'd to the English by a Negroe, they appear'd Desperate, and taking for Arms whatever was in their way, endeavour'd to Destroy or Maim as many of their Masters as might be; to the great Detriment of the English, who with Difficulty overcame them, and tyed them down in a convenient Place, and gave them Punishment most severe, to deter others.
He also said, he was in the Baltick in the Worcester Man of War; and suffer'd Cold and great Miseries in a Voyage to Archangel in the North of Russia, which Sufferings he wished had arm'd his Thoughts more upon another Life; and that from the many Wonders he saw on the Ocean, he had consider'd that there was a great Soveraign Creator, who could see every Action of his Life, and would take a Cognizance of it. For he now ackcowledged the meanest Life that was regular and orderly, to be preferable to any Debaucheries and vicious Pleasures.
Before his Execution, as he had lain so long a Time, and as we had largely and distinctly explain'd to him the Nature and Duty of the Sacrament, six several Times; it was thought best to put him upon receiving it, so, that he might have at least two Days, before his Execution, to put into Practice his good Resolutions inspir'd by the Sacrament; and might not be hurried away directly from Refreshment of the Lord's Supper, to the Place of Execution; Men being always terrify'd and shock'd, more or less, at the instant Sight of a shameful Death. But yet he, at first, seem'd unwilling to receive the Sacrament, unless the Morning he was to be executed; because it had been usual to give it then to the Malefactors: At other times he said he intended not to receive it at all; being wholly unfix'd in his Thoughts. However, being ask'd how he could fancy, that if his Prayers that had been offer'd to God for so many Weeks together, had no efficacy as to the Pardon of his Sins, he could imagine that his Prayers for only two poor Days would have any Effect? And being told that God looks more at the Sincerity of the Heart, than the Numbers of the Prayers; and that not our Performances, but the blood of Christ must attone for our Sins; he readily agreed, that it was best for him then to receive it; nor had he named the Contrary, but that some of his Friends put him upon it. As the time of his Death drew near, he seem'd more and more earnest in his Devotions; but complain'd that certain Persons had endeavour'd to persuade him he should be Repriv'd, which might have proved fatal to his Welfare, had he had given credit to them. Being told of the Cruelty of his Heart, that could induce him to dash out any Man's Brains, and send him into another World unready and unprepared, he several times cryed in a lamentable manner, owning that if there was any Mercy left in store for him, it must proceed from the Merits of Jesus Christ his Saviour and Redeemer.
The Speech of the Malefactor at the Place of Execution, was as follows, viz.
I was never concerned in but four Robberies, which chief Inducement was forced from me, for the anxious Concern which I bore to my Wife. I desire all young Men to take Warning by me, and not be concern'd in Womens Company, it being the entire Ruin of me, which had I took the Advice of my Loving Wife I had not relaps'd to this unhappy End: Therefore I desire that my unhappy Misfortunes may be an entire Satisfaction to the World, and not be their Total overthrow.
This is all the Account to be given of this MALEFACTOR, By
T. PURNEY, Ordinary, and Chaplain.