THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE his ACCOUNT, Of the Behaviour, Confession, and last dying Words of the Two Malefactors, who were Executed at Tyburn on Monday the 15th of June, 1724.
AT the King's Commission of the Peace, and Oyer and Terminer, &c, held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bailey, before the Right Honourable Sir Peter Dlme, Knt. Lord Mayor of the City of London, Mr. Justice Dormer, Mr. Baron Page, Mr. Serjeant Raby, and several of His MAJESTY's Justices of the Peace (for the City of London and Country of Middlesex;) on Thursday the 21st of May last, Three Men and One Woman were found Guilty of Capital Offences, and accordingly receiv'd Sentence of Death.
After the Persons capitally Convicted had lain some Weeks under Condemnation, Two of them (viz.) Peter Burgess and Susannah Hutchins, were respited from Death. From the time of their Conviction, they seem'd, to be observant of their Duty, to read and to repeat carefully the Prayers; thanking Almighty God for continuing to them the entire enjoyment of their Health and Strength; But their good Behaviour abated; as has been the ususal Ingratitude of convicted Persons, they abus'd the Clemency of their Superiours, who indulg'd them in a long space of time antecedent to their Deaths; and instead of confirming themselves in goodness, grew wholy vile and abandon'd, entertaining murtherous Designs of making their Escape from the Hands of Justice. This Intention was not discover'd till the Saturday preceding their Execution; at which time, their Fetters were found to be loosen'd, and ready to take off or put on, and Instruments were taken from the Person of William Parkinson. Upon which they easily acknowledged their Intentions, but would not confess who furnish'd them with Instruments. Peter Burgess, who receiv'd HIS MAJESTY'S Reprieve, declar'd that his Irons had been loosen'd a Fortnight, but he had not mt with an Opportunity of putting his Designs in practice. So that the show of Religion and Devotion, even in this old Man and old Offender (for he was some time ago committed to Newgate for stealing a silver Watch) was only artfully put on, the better to carry on these wicked Resolutions,
which the Devil infus'd into his Heart, but was not able to render succesful.
They were frequently instructed in the Nature of God, of Redemption, Repentance, &c. from different Texts of Scripture; and the Sunday before they suffer'd, the Text was taken from 1 Pet. 2. 3.
Submit your selves to every Ordinance of Man.
Whence we consider'd, the absolute Necessity as well as Reasonableness of Submiting to the Laws and Statutes in Force in any Nation, for the Lord's sake, and as it is commanded in the word of God; and Civil Societies (which Men, being soon weary of entire Liberty which is real Bondage, found themselves oblig'd to form and compose) could not otherwise subsist, but must fall, and with them all the Security, Peace and Temporal Happiness of each particular Person.
SECONDLY, How for a private Man is to judge of the Equity of the Commands of a King or Magistrate? And whither he is to obey them, if he doubts whither they are just or unjust?
THIRDLY, We consider'd the particular Reasonableness of Offenders submitting to Laws, Magistrates, &c. As Society is thereby supported; as Punishments are but the Consequences of their just Deserts, as as other Men are to be deterr'd from offending by their Examples; to satisfy in some Measure the injur'd Persons, &c. Besides which, Men of any Consideration and Reflection would not attempt by Violence to frustrate the force of Justice, from the entire improbability of Success, not one Person under Condemnation amongst us being ever known by such Methods to escape Death, tho' many vain and foolish Attempts have in all Ages and Times been made. But was it possible by Violence and Murther to save their Lives, What could their Lives be worth to them? What could but any Uneasiness after their Hands had been in such a manner drenched in Blood and Slaughter? And this, without the Consideration of a Future State, and eternity of Tonnents, and Satan contriving Misery.
Lastly, we directed them to be patient under the Misfortunes they themselves acknowledged they had justly deserv'd; for the Wages of Sin is Death: To regard rather their immortal Souls, than their Bodies, which, if they were not now to return to the Earth, must soon return; as 'tis appointed to all Men once to die: To count all leud Women or others, who continuallyd in then with the Thoughts of this World, as their Enemies: To contrive rather to make Reparation to those they had injur'd than to injure others: To give good Counsel to their Companions to be warned by them, rather than to Plot with them how to get soon from Justice: To forsake the Thoughts of this World which had now forsaken and given up to them; and to aim only at a better, where Christ was ready to receive Sinners who earnestly and passionately sued to him for Grace and Favour.
The Account of these Malefactors under Sentence of Death.
PETER CURTIS, alias Friend was indicted for breaking the House of Fluellen Aspley, in the Night, and stealing a silver Tea-pot value 9 Pound, a silver Coffee-pot, silver Candlesticks, and many other Pieces of Plate, to the value of 30 or 40l. It appearing that the Prisoner was
apprehended as he attempted to pawn some part of the Goods with Charles Shellse, and in Newgate confest the stealing them, as soon as he was inform'd that Joannah Grundy had discover'd all the remaining part of the concealed Plate; the Jury found him guilty of the Indictment.
This Prisoner, when first he was under Condemnation appear'd to be deeply touch'd with a Sense of his Condition; but afterwards, instead of being still more and more concern'd, he gradully ceas'd to regard Death, to the time he died. Yet his Behaviour was no way rude or stubborn, but at Prayers he was serious and observant. He said, tho' he was not 30 Years old, he had pass'd thro' such a vast Variety of Adventures, Accidents and Shocks in Life, as had long ago learn'd him to despise Death whenever it should approach, and in whatever shape. The beginning of his Disasters was occasion'd by his not approving of the Trade (a Ship-Carpenter ) which his Father assign'd him, when he sent him very young from the West of England, his Native Place. Before he was thoroughly arrived at Man's Estate, he married, fell off from Business; and resolved to follow no working Employ. He observ'd, that this hatred towards Labour and Industry God punished him for; For it was the source and occasion of a world of Fatigue, Labour, and Hardship which he thenceforward underwent; and from the very Day that he purpos'd and resolv'd to give himself up to Pleasure, he never enjoyed any Pleasure at all. Many good Reflections he made besides when first he was under Conviction, before certain vicious Women had turn'd his Thoughts to Cruelty, and made his Devotion a show and Pretence. He said that leaving his Employ, he enter'd into the Service of several Noblemen and Gentlemen leaving them one after another, and not being any where settled in his Mind. He was easily convinc'd that this proceeded from the Devil, who drew him from Sobriety, and led him neaer and nearer to his Destruction, of Body, and it may now justly be feared, of Soul too. He own'd that where he liv'd he had frequent Opportunities of improving himself in the knowledge of the Religion he profess'd, but neglected to make such Improvements. He complain'd indeed that the Cause why he never Read, at Chapel of Newgate, was his being laid (when committed to Newgate) in a Stone Hole, where the chill Damps impair'd his Eye-sight; but there is reason to think other things.
After he had forsaken the Services of several Noblemen, he was plung'd in Difficulties, and enlisted him as a Volunteer, for the Sea Service , (having when a Prentice been at Sea with his Master a Carpenter.) But absolutely refusing his own Trade, he was employ'd on Board as a Trumpeter in which Capacity he said he served in the Essex and in the Shrewsbury Man of War, when Admiral Bing was sent against the Spanirads in the Mediterranean. As I was told of certain bad Actions which he committed upon the Seas, I mention'd them to him, and required him to pray to God to forgive them; but instead of doing so, he denyed that he ever was guilty of such things; affimring on the contrary, that this was the first ill Action he ever committed, and that on the High-Seas he tended several sick Persons, and kept Peace among the disorderly Boys, check'd them when they swore and curs'd, and perform'd many good Offices which his Place did no way oblige him to.
In the Beginning of his present Majesty's Reign, when the Commotions commenc'd in Scotland, he was sent thither, and being (he said) in the Scotch Grey, fought under the Duke of Argile at the Battle of Dunblain. At
the beginning of the Fight, he said he had his Thigh shatter'd, and afterwards being under the Surgeon's Hands, had part of the Bone taken out, and the Wound in that manner heal'd up, which render'd him very weak on his left side: Toward the latter End of the Fight, his Horse being shot under him, and the next Soldier to him (together with his Horse) being shot dead at the same Instant, the two Horses falling crush'd him between them, and broke (as I remember) three of his Ribs. Being in a languishing Condition for some time, he affirm'd that he spent all his Hours in Prayers to God, and was continually reflecting on the Vanity of this World, and the Happiness of such Men as enjoy themselves, at Home in a quiet, regular, sober, and godly way: During this, he said, his Wages, and Ten Pounds, receiv'd for what he call'd Smart-Money, supported him very comfortably, and enabled him to be Vertuous.
After he recover'd his Strength by God's assistance, he intended, (as he added,) with Eighty Pounds that he was Master of, to put himself into a way of Business. But Providence order'd it otherwise; and now was a period in his Life, when different Uneasiness and Troubles were to arise. For after he had been bound, he said, for an Acquaintance, in a pretty large Sum of Money, the Creditor being inform'd he was going to Sea again, in order to avoid him, not having Money left to pay; he apprehended him, as for a felonious Action, but in reallity to detain him till he could regularly arrest him for Debt; which he did, when three Days were expir'd. Being committted to the Poultry-Compter, he lay in a lamentable Apartment and Condition; so that, he affirm'd, it was almost impossible for him not to be infected with the horrid Viciousness of them who were confin'd. After a long continuance there, where he combated with Hunger, Cold, Cursings, Blasphemies, Skirmishes, Drunkenness, Quarrellings. &c. he obtain'd his enlargement; and went a few Houses from the Prison, and serv'd Mr. Aspley, who was ignorant of the Course of his Life. Leaving his Service after a pretty long Continuance in it, he took up his Abode with Joannah Grundy. This Grundy was the Contriver of this Robbery, and advised him to fire the House, as he asserted, but whither his Assertion be true, I know not. He added, that he objected to the firing Mr. Aspley's House, that it was situate next an Oyl-Shop and an Apothecary's, and near the Compter, and therefore might probably burn the whole Night at least, and consume the Street, especially as the Wind was that Night extreamly boistrous and tempestuous.
Being apprehended on Suspicion, after making an offer of two Pieces of Plate, he was again committed to the Compter, afterwards try'd at the Sessions House in the Old Bayly, but acquitted for want of Evidence; after which, his said Master, (judging him innocent) was instrumental in geting him discharg'd; but a Week after, he was again apprehended; try'd, and convicted. These long Series of Disasters were worse to him, he said than Death; besides other various Hardships, never having been undrest, or in a Bed, in 22 Weeks, except the one Week he was at liberty. As he appear'd quiet and calm, he affirm'd that Composure was owing to his Resignation to the Will of God; but it at last appear'd that his Chearfulness might proceed from his fully believing he should not suffer Death; for besides his design'd Escape, he had wealthy Friends and Relations, upon whom he wholly rely'd; which made his Behaviour so much alter while he lay
under Conviction. I shall add no more concerning this unhappy Man; hoping, that whatever they who saw him judg'd of him, from his outward Deportment, he nevertheless was penitent at his Heart, and inwardly sorry for his Offences, so as to obtain the Favour and Mercy of a merciful God.
2. WILLIAM PARKINSON, was Convicted of feloniously breaking the House of Richard Goodman, on the 17th of May last, and stealing thence 20 Guinea's, &c. He was also convicted of breaking the said House a second time, and taking Goods to the value of 25 s. which Robbery was committed the 25th of April last.
This young Man was, when first under Condemnation, very observant of his Duty: As the time was protracted, his Appearance of Repentance slackened; and tho' he seem'd carefully to read the Scripture, the Prayers, &c. I was inform'd that he privately made a Scoff at the word of God, and especially at the Prayer for His Majesty. Altho' when I discours'd with him, he assur'd me, that his Father was particularly careful to instruct him in his Duty; and on his Death-Bed earnestly advised him above all things to regard Sobriety and Virtue, telling him he would be left to a wicked World. After his Fathers decease, he left Leeds in Yorkshire, and his Trade (a Clothworker ) and came to London; which was the beginning of his Woe and Misfortunes; for God (he said) seem'd to have forsaken him from that very time; for he could take no delight but in Publick Houses, and in leud Company; altho', as he said, he never committed any criminal Action before the Robbery at the House of Mr. Goodman; which he never thought of, till the Hour he committed it; at which time, having been drinking till 12 o'Clock at Night, and very much disguis'd in Liquor, he repair'd Home to Mr. Goodman's, and committed the Fact. Two days before he was Executed, being requir'd to consider the Importance of his Soul, &c. he affirm'd, he did so, and would so do, but was nevertheless assured he should have a free Pardon, as well as the two old Offenders; he said, as it was discover'd they should lye several Weeks under Condemnation, certain Women advis'd them to break an Hole thro' the Wall of the Condemn'd-Hold, which length of time would give them an opportunity of doing, and so more effectually to secure their Escape: He owned that this had made him remiss and negligent of his Duty; but neither he nor Curtis could believe that to make an Escape from Justice was any Sin, provided no Murther was committed in the Attempt: Parkinson alledged the Frailty and Infirmity of Human Nature, and said, that the sight of Death made even the Son of God cry out, If it be possible let this Cup pass from me!
Being ask'd, the day before he suffer'd, if he did not believe the Reception of the Holy Sacrament would aggravate and enhance his Guilt, since, having had so long time, he had employed it more to preserve his Body than to save his Soul? He replyed, that he hoped there was Mercy for him, and he thought he might safely receive the Sacrament; but he would examine his own Heart, and declare whither it was weaned from this World and placed upon Heaven. As the Thief on the Cross was accepted at the Moment of his Death, why (he said) might not he? But he was answer'd, that the Thief on the Cross never heard of Christ before, and as soon as he did, he cry'd out, remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom; but Christians have preaching in their Streets, all Opportunities of knowing God and Christ, and ought to follow him from their Baptisms; but having neglected Religion when in Prosperity, they surely ought in Adversity to press forward toward Heaven, and esteem it the highest Mercy if God would accept them, as they did not voluntarily leave their Vices for him, but stay'd till the Edge of the Law cut them off from the Pursuit of
Sin. The day before he was executed, he shed a great many Tears in the Chapel; and both he and Curtis seem'd much to regret the time they had foolishly thrown away in endeavouring to save their Bodies. But this Parkinson was particular sorrowful at a Letter sent to his Wife from his Mother in the Country, who at the writing it suppos'd him dead; which Letter he answer'd in such a manner as show'd (how great soever his Folly had been) the natural Temper and Disposition of his Mind was relenting, good and humane; tho' that natural Disposition was much effac'd by a negligent Life, and vicious Company. What chiefly, immediately before he suffer'd Death, perplex'd his Thoughts, was, that any other Person should be saved, and he by being executed be made an Example to deter others from vicious Actions.
Their Behaviour, &c. at the Place of EXECUTION.
BEFORE these Malefactors suffer'd Death, it pleas'd God to touch their Hearts with a deep Sense of their Offences, and they received the Sacrament with the utmost Fervency, and all the Tokens of sincere Devotion. As they were carry'd to Tyburn all Persons took notice of the Decency of their Deportment. CURTIS there declared (but care not to speak aloud to the Spectators) That the Woman with whom he Lodg'd, perswaded him to rob Mr. ASPLEY, telling him her Friends in the Country would put of China Wares or Goods, to the value of , or upwards; and that her Son got into the House and let Curtis in, and the Woman receiv'd the Goods; but (added he) i my Face only to die, who sav'd the House from being fired, and theirs to Escape who advis'd it. At the same time, to show he did not repine at his Fate, he smil'd. As to the 14 Hundred Pounds, which he had buryed in a Portmanteua, he was directed to discover the true Owners, that their Effects might be restored to them; but he said he found the Portmanteua on Finchly Common, and belived it belong'd to a foreign Ambassador or Nobleman, all the Direction he could give, was, That the Coat of Arms was a Black Spread-Eagle and Dolphin. The Diamond Ring that he had been observ'd to Wear, he could not affirm he came very honestly by; but he begg'd Pardon of God for all the Offences of his Life: PARKINSON was especially peitent; in the most earnest manner invoking the Mercy of God.
This is the real Account that is given by Me, THO. PURNEY Ordinary and Chaplain.
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This Day is publish'd.
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