AT the KING's Commission of the Peace, and Oyer and Terminer, Held for the City of London, and County of Middlesex; before the Right Honourable Sir Gerrard Conyers, Knight , Lord Mayor of the City of London, the Honourable Mr. Justice Denton, and Sir William Thompson, Knight , Recorder , besides many of His Majesty's Justice of the Peace;) Five Men were found Guilty of Capital Offences, and received Sentence accordingly.
After Judgement given upon them, they set themselves very carefully to Recover their Reading, which by a long Carelessness was in a great Measure forgotten; extreamly lamenting and bewailing the Estate their Vices had reduc'd them to; some on Account of themselves, who must suffer a shameful Death; and others on Account of their Families and Relations; One of them affirming that his aged Mother was distracted and ty'd in her Bed upon hearing the Disasters he was fallen into; and another declaring that his Wife whom he marry'd wholly for Love, and without any Profit or Advantage, had proved the sole Occasion of his Misfortunes, and was so far from being concern'd at his Sufferings, that she ridicul'd him, and refused him all manner of Sustinance and Support.
But as for Joseph Middleton, he had a farther Reason to lament; that having so great a Work to perform, he was hinder'd in the Performance, by being altogether unable to Read. But Humphrey Angier took a deal of Pains, as I was told, in reading to him almost all Night, and in calling upon him to attend very early every Morning, so long as Angier had Health; and after Angier was afflicted with Sickness, the Loss of him was supplyed to Middleton, by a Person under Confinement, who not only Read proper Books to the Malefactors in the Day time, but continued with them all Night, exciting them to repeat their Devotions, as soon as they had taken a very short Repose.
Three of these unfortunate Persons receiving His Majesty's Gracious Reprieve, viz. Richard Wallace, Richard Wynne, and Samuel Gibbons, to the remaining Two (viz. Humphrey Angier, and Joseph Middleton) and to others present, I preach'd the Day preceeding their Execution, from the following Words, Psal. vii. ver. 11, 12, 13.
God is angry with the Wicked every Day; if he will not turn, HE will whet His Sword; HE hath bent his Bow, and made it ready: HE hath also prepared for him the Instruments of Death.
From whence we took Notice,
First, That tho' the pure God is every Day angry, to give Men strength of Body, and to see 'em employ it in Robbing, Spoiling, and Plundering; To give Men the happy Faculty of Speech, and to hear 'em using it to abuse and Blaspheme his Holy Name; yet he whets his Sword, and does not immediately destroy them in a Moment, in order to their Repenting, and buying off (as it were) the Punishment, by a sincere Change; wherefore the Guilt must be more agravated, if they do not turn from Sin, but remain, till Justice and the Law overtake 'em, and in part force 'em to return to their Father, God; And consequently such a compell'd Repentance, (if we may so say) must put the Offender upon double Diligence, or he will find his Performances not efficacious.
Secondly, That tho' Sufferings and Punishments are inflicted by Man, they mediately proceed from God; who, tho' he is Infinite, always prepar'd alike, always arm'd with a sufficiency of Power; yet is described by the Psalmist, when he Surveys relentless Sinners, as in a Posture of War, with bended Bow, and ready to whet his Sword. (As also Deut. xxxii. ver. 40.)
Thirdly, How Sinners might avoid the Sword of Vengeance, and the Instruments of Death, to wit, by Turning. Tho' some Instances there may have been, of Robbers who have return'd to a sober Life, and in the midst of their Repentance, have been inform'd against by a Comrade, Apprehended and Executed; yet commonly to turn from Vice, is, to save even the Temporal Life. But altho' a Man's Former Vices may so find him out, and the Treachery of an old Companion, so hardly bear upon him, that Turning cannot preserve his Life here, it will yet most certainly obtain him an eternal Life hereafter: If he turns not purely to save himself, and to prolong his Life, but to please God, and benefit Man.
Lastly, We consider'd what was meant by Turning: How they were to prepare for the Holy Sacrament: How they were to spend that last Night of their Lives: How they were to Behave themselves at the time of their Deaths: That it was their Duty to confess to the World the Robberies they had committed, lest innocent Persons might be suspected; and also to satisfy those Families that they had injur'd; Nor ought they to fancy their Repentance was sincere, unless it led 'em to do all the Good they could before they left the World.
An Account of them while under Sentence.
HUMPHREY ANGIER was Indicted for Assaulting Mr. Lewen, in the Lane between Highgate and Hornsey, about Five o' Clock in the Evening, on the 23d of December, 1720, and taking from him Seven Guineas, and Sixteen Shillings in Silver. He was also Indicted for Stopping Edward Herring, Waggoner , (between Knights-Bridge and Hide-Park Corner, between two and three o' Clock in the Morning, on the 21st of September, 1711, and taking from Mr. John Sibley a Passenger, Nine Shillings and Six pence in Money: The Evidence against him being particulariz'd by one Dyer, who was the Prisoner's Companion in the Commission of the Facts, &c. The Jury found him Guilty of both the Indictments.
The Account which this Prisoner gave me, for the Satisfaction of any one who should be inquisitive about him, is as follows. He went very Young he said, (from a Town near Dublin in Ireland, where he was born) to the City of Cork, and was there put Apprentice to a Cooper , but could not by his Master be perswaded at all to Labour; yet he continued about that Place above four Years, tho' his Master was by no means desirous he should there remain, and took an uncommon Care of his House, lest he should be injur'd in the Night-time by Angier or his Companions: So that at length his Father perceiving, that the Master was wholly resolved to have nothing more to do with him, was prevail'd upon to carry him from Ireland to England, and let him try his Fortune, where he would have an Opportunity of preferring himself.
After he had wander'd about, and been in several Places, he was in Danger from some he had wrong'd, and therefore enlisted in the King's Service , (at Eighteen Years of Age, as he said) It being the time of the late Rebellion in Scotland, he was in expectation of being ordered thither, where he had Hopes of improving his Fortune, at the Expence of the Country Folks, without much Guilt, as he believed.
After this, being known to one Duce, (who suffer'd at the last Execution) he improv'd in a wrong way from his Conversation. Becoming also acquainted with the Sister of Duce, marryed her, tho' he acknowledg'd he had no vertuous Designs in his Mind at that time, as to the Course of Life he intended to lead, together with her; adding, that he wish'd he had then dyed, or had had some good Advice given him. But he was glad that the Cruelty and Barbarity that was in Butler and Mead, and others whom he too well knew, in shooting all, or most of those they robb'd, was not in his Temper: And Mead and Butler, &c. having told him, that overtaking a young Man, a Shoemaker, in the Dover Road, who told 'em he was lately marry'd, and was going to his Friends, thereupon, they ask'd him to go and look at a Bird's Nest in the Hedge, and there bound and gag'd and robb'd him, and afterwards turn'd back and shot out his Brains; this Angier affirm'd that he refus'd ever to sit down or drink with Mead after that, and told Butler that Cruelty was not Courage.
He farther said, that after he had been marryed some time, the Regiment he belong'd to, went, or part, over to Vigo, and his Wife went thither with him; but they stay'd not long there, the Spaniards being mostly fled away, and their chief Business being to pull down Walls, and plunder as they could. He went where he found some Effects. Returning to England, He kept an Alehouse by Chairing-Cross, and was very sorry he did not cause more Regularity to be there observ'd, and less Leudness to be encourag'd; sorry that he did not shake off such Persons as were acquainted with his Wife, and William Duce her Brother; for he believed, he said, that he could have totally prevented all Highwaymen and Foot-pads from frequenting the House, had he undertaken it in time. But after it 'twas too late, he saw that if he there continued, he should soon be ruin'd, and therefore left the Place. Being unable to maintain himself in a more sober Way, he then, he said, kept a Brandyshop , but found himself there too run on to the same Dilemma as before.
While he kept the Alehouse, as above, he said he went with another Soldier, to see the Execution of Morris Fitzgerald for Murder, and continu'd out all Night, and riding round by Chelsea, &c. return'd home at four the next Morning; during which, a Dutchwoman (since transported) who was wont to walk the Streets, had pick'd up a Gentleman, and carry'd him into Anger's House and robb'd him there, and then did walk away, with what she could carry off, while the Gentleman was a sleep: Whereupon he and his Maid were apprehended and sent to Newgate; but nothing being prov'd against them, they were acquitted. But tho' the Fact abovemention'd he was not personally concern'd in Another for which he was also put into Newgate, appears with more suspicion; For a Woman being Drinking at his House and carryed up Stairs, he pull'd her upon a Bed, pretending a great Love towards her Person, while his Wife (as the Woman swore) pick'd her Pocket of (I Think) four Guineas. These Disasters, he added, were one Occasion of his not returning to so regular a Life as desir'd, by impoverishing him; for tho' he got clear of 'em, some cost him above 30 l. including the Injury that was done to his Trade at home, honest Men by degrees being banish'd from his House, and their Places supplyed by very different Persons.
Having been discharged before this time from the Regiment he belong'd to, he was under no Restraint, but unfortunately became aacquainted with one Carrick (who was executed) and Carrl who fled away, and others of his Countrymen. He added, that tho' several People, whose Pockets had been pick'd of Watches, Gold, &c. had suspected him and apply'd to him in Prison, that yet he was Innocent of all those Charges, for he was never so mean as to submit to Pocket-picking; but one Hugh Kelly was the Person whom they usually imploy'd upon that Business, who is now in America, and as he had heard, leads there a sober and industrious Life; and tho' J. Lock had put him into his Information, as if he was the Person who rob'd the Gentleman of his Watch, a few Years ago, who was going with the rest of the Congregation out of St. Paul's Church Covent-Garden, yet he said that J. Lock had since recollected himself, and believ'd that it was Kelly that took the Watch.
He added, That he thought it his Duty to declare, that it was he and one Milksops, dwelling in the Old-Baily, that robb'd a Gentleman's Coach on this side St. Albans, and shot one of the Horses, and threw the Coachman under the Coach, because he refused to stand; afterwards rifling the young Gentleman and the young Ladies of all that they had valuable about 'em; not without being very rude and uncivil to them all; but he said it was occasioned by his being then in Liquor.
He denied that he was acquainted with Dyer, (who was Evidence against him) so early as the Year, 1711: But said, that being at the House of one Strickland, who then lived in the Old Baily, he observed a Person appearing but seldom in the Day-time, and being then wrap'd in a great Coat in Disguise; He therefore enquired of Mr. Strickland, who it was? Who told him his Name was Dyer; and that he was under a Cloud about shooting a Gentleman's Footman, and therefore was there all Day, and went Home to his House each Night. But tho' he said this from the Circumstances of his Story, we may believe, that he was acquainted with Dyer much sooner than he would have induced us to believe.
In 1720, in the Spring of the Year, a Person of Quality's Coachman being robb'd of a Watch and Money, and a Woman of the Town being apprehended thereupon, she inform'd the Magistrate, that Angier, and one Armstrong, that lived in the Mint, with another young Fellow, were the Persons concern'd in the Robbery; upon which they were seiz'd, committed to Newgate, and Try'd; but the Evidence not being full upon them, they were acquitted, and, as Anger declared, very justly, for that Woman accused them barbarously and wrongfully. He mentioned some small Robberies committed on and near Black Heath: But in that Account I do not remember that he took notice of the Robbery committed (as Dyer says) by them two, after they had robb'd Mr. Sibley in a Waggon by Hide Park Wall, and had afterwards been at Southwark Fair; or that he mention'd Dyer's Shooting the Persons's Horse that pursued him upon the Heath aforesaid.
In the midst of this hurry of Vice, he said he resolved to repent, and not only to shake off all his old Acquaintance, but also to leave his Wife and his own House; and the better to do this, he again enlisted himself in the Guards , and was quarter'd at Henly upon Thames; where he was so well beloved, that several substantial House-keepers came after him to London, where he was apprehended; and his Officers frankly offering to take him again, if he should be clear'd; for he had continued there a considerable time, after his leaving the City and his Comrades.
From the time of Condemnation, to his Death, he extremely lamented his Condition, with a vast number of Tears. His Father (who was late a Pensioner at Chelsea College) was dead, he said, thro' Sorrow for his ill course of Life: His Wife, whom he lov'd too well to be Happy, as he farther said) lay in Prison for Transportation; and his Friends were all either Executed or Fled Beyond-Sea. Before he died he recovered of his Sickness, declar'd, that he was very easy at Death, and had a strong Hope, that thro' the Merits of our Saviour, he should go to a better Life. He was near 29 Yeare of Age.
This Malefactor being born at Debtford was brought up by an Uncle till Six or Seven Years old; after that, being continually put to Labour, had no Opportunity of learning to Read or Write, or ever going to Church; being by Trade a Gardiner , and employ'd as much on Sundays as at other times. Being Press'd and forc'd on Board one of His Majesty's Ships ,
he sailed into the Baltick against the Muscovites, but only was in several Harbours upon the Coast of Sweden and Denmark. Returning to England, he got Discharged, which he said was a great Comfort to him, for he by no means approved of being on the Seas, or being in a Man of War; yet his Uncle belonging to a Merchant's Vessel, he had resolved to go with him to Barbadoes. After this he added, that he marry'd, and has two Children, whom he must leave to the wide World, helpless and poor, which might probably induce 'em to follow such vicious Courses, as had proved the Occasion of his untimely End. For he affirm'd, as he had said before the Justice at his Commitment, that it was entirely Necessity that put him upon pursuing those Measures which must necessarily terminate in Misfortunes and Ruin.
But tho' he plunder'd for Bread, and committed several Ill Actions, yet he acknowledged that he grew never the Richer. His Companions being usually the Persons that took the Goods, and being as necessitous as himself, divided to him, who only lurk'd about to prevent Discoveries, just what they thought proper themselves. He added, that the Robbery that was most Advantageous to him, was committed less than Three Years ago; I think in Southwark; after which he was Master of 6 or 8 Pounds; which he esteem'd a very large Sum. He mention'd besides, a Robbery in which one J. Woodborn was concern'd with him, who cheated him, he said, of the Profits, and yet was very near running him into Prison afterwards for it.
He lamented his being acquainted with one E. Paret, and wish'd he had never beheld her. He spoke besides, of another Woman, reputed a Common Street-walker, who helped him into a House, in or near Wapping about a Year ago; but sending the Goods to Pawn, by a young Fellow his Companion (as not thinking it safe to carry them himself) his Companion thought fit to run away with the Money, and stay at Plymouth till it was all wasted. This Prisoner could not at first be persuaded but he was Innocent, as to the Robbery committed at the House of Mr. De Puis, because his Companions took the five Tiles off the Shedd, and he was standing, as he said, but not on Mr. De Puis's Ground, during the Robbery.
He added, that his Father having once been to see him under his Misfortunes, gave him Reason to wish be might not see him again; for his Father's grief had put him in such Disorder into his Mind, and prevented for some time his attending to any thing that related to Devotion. Tho' this Malefactor was Careless and negligent of his Duty when first under Condemnation, yet afterwards, being included in the Dead-warrant, he carefully attended to those who gave him some Knowledge of his Religion, whereof he was before as Ignorant as a Child.
At the Place of EXECUTION.
BEing carryed together in a Cart, to their Deaths, they appear'd all the way extreamly concern'd for their Vicious Courses. At Tyburn, Humphrey Angier gave me a Paper, which I found contain'd little more than the Account which he had given me before. He therein said, that to his great Grief, he had been Guilty of great Disobdience to his Parents, which he believed was the Cause of his Unhappiness: That he was not acquainted with Dyer, till about 9 Months after one Robbery that he Charged upon him: That he had committed many Robberies, but never Murder; yet Worthily merited the shameful Death he underwent: Begging of all young Men to be warn'd by him, and reject the Solicitations of vicious Acquaintance.
After the Prayers were ended, he spoke a few words to the People, desiring 'em to pray for his Soul, for he had been a notorious Offender; but did not confess the two Robberies, for which he suffered Death.
Joseph Middelton, before he dy'd, desired it might be known, that he and J. Woodbur, at the Incitement of one Hellen - robb'd an Alehouse in Kent in the Parish of Greenwich ; and took about 9 s. in the Day time, And also another Alehouse, in the same Place, of 5 s. wherein he was assisted by a Person who dwelt in the House. He lamented his Fate in a very extraordinary manner, begging all Men to pray for him.
This is all the Account that can be given by me
T. PURNEY, Ordinary, and Chaplain.