THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE his ACCOUNT, Of the Behaviour, Confession, and dying Words of the Malefactors, who were Executed on Monday the 24th of this Instant May, at Tyburn.
AT the KING's Commission of the Peace, and Oyer and Terminer and Goal-Delivery, &c. Holden (before the Right Honourable Sir George Merttins, Knt . Lord Mayor , the Honourable Mr. Justice Fortescue, Mr. Baron Page, Sir William Thompson, Knt . Recorder , Mr. Serjeant Raby, Deputy-Recorder, besides many of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the City of London and County of Middlesex) at Justice-Hall in the Old Bailey, on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of this Instant May, five Persons were by the Jury found guilty of Capital Crimes, and received Sentence accordingly.
Of these five Malefactors, J. Plant received his Majesty's gracious Reprieve, he having been in the Royal Service from the Time he was 9 Years old, and being a Man who had suffered much in North-America, and by a Shipwreck on a Rock by Cape Sables, and by Pirates who plundered him there; and also by the Spaniards when he was settled at Malaga, till the Time that he was taken on board the Essex Man of War on the Coast of Sicily, &c. This Prisoner being exempted, the remaining four, viz. William Sperry, Robert Harpham, Jonathan Wild, and Robert Sandford, were ordered for Execution. While they continued under Condemnation they were instructed in the Nature of Equity, the Original of Right and Property, the Aggravation or Extenuations of an Offence, from the following Words of Soloman.
Let us bear the Conclusion of the whole Matter; Fear God and keep his Commandments, for this is the whole Duty of Man, Eccles. chap. xii. ver. 13. After the Instructions relating to the Sacrament, and other Duties, they were shown the Nature of Self-Murther, the Unreasonableness, Cowardice, and Danger of it; together with the fallacy of the Arguments usually offered in favour of Self-Murther, from the following Words, Job ii. 9, 10.
Then said his Wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine Integrity? Curse God and dye.
But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish Women speaketh: What, shall we receive Good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive Evil? The Prisoners seem'd attentive to these and other Discourses that were offered to them.
I am now, as usual, to give some short Account of these Malefactors, with regard chiefly to their Behaviour under Sentence of Death; for the Satisfaction of those who were concerned in bringing them to Justice: In doing this, I shall confine myself to what I judge necessary thereto, and to what was the original Design of this Paper; not endeavouring to satisfie those who are curious to know all the Actions of Malefactors Lives.
Shoes, &c. about 10 at Night, the 20th of April last.
This Prisoner, though he was a young Man, and had not been two Years in England, since his first departure at 14 Years of Age, had associated with a large Number of Youths who followed vicious Courses, and three other Indictments were at his Tryal preferr'd against him. But after his Condemnation, as he had not the least Expectation of a Reprieve, he carefully regarded his Duty. He said that his Relations being very poor, were able to give him and his Brother very little Education; but being decoy'd to America, and both sold together there into Servitude , he, after the Expiration of seven Years, improved himself, and recover'd his Reading, and while he continued at Philadelphia, a City in Pensilvania, he bought several good Books, and constantly went to the Church of England; and when he removed to another Planter's Estate, he frequented also the English Church at New Chester, tho' five Miles distant from his Master's House. But yet the Improvements he made there, did not appear to be so great as he imagin'd them; and as he mentioned his being in a Merchant-Ship , trading upon the West-India Coasts, where he was once taken Prisoner by Lowe the Pirate, and continued at Sea a considerable time, the Acquisitians he made before might be then lost. He farther said, that he was in his Majesty's Ship when Captain Fin, and the Pirates with him were taken Prisoners; and the Examples made of them Malefactors, ought to have been a Warning to him, as there he might have seen how the Judgments of God at last overtake presumptuous Offenders.
He own'd any Robberies which he committed and which he was ask'd about. What led him into those Practices, he said, was Necessity, not any Sollicitations; nor had he committed the Robberies on Mr. Walker, Mr. Colebin, Mr. Hilton, or Mr. Goulding, but in order to support his Friends, and especially his Wife, who (he added) is nigh the Time of her Travail, and destitute of almost all the Necessaries of Life.
2. ROBERT SANDFORD, of St. Giles in the Fields, was Indicted for assaulting P Goutier and J. Deblet, in the Way from Marybone, between seven and eight at Night, and robbing them of about 12 s. in Company with one James Little. The Evidence being full the Jury found Sandford guilty of the Indictment, and he received Sentence of Death, which was respited in relation to Little, in order to his making some farther Discoveries of his Accomplices. Robert Sandford, after his Condemnation, pretended he could have made much ampler Discoveries than Little; affirming that Little was concerned in few Robberies, or Assaults, except upon William Tottfield, William Tayler, and E. Tayler, and he was preparing an Information. But soon after his Conviction he was-seiz'd by Sickness, and continued in a weak Condition to the Time that he suffer'd Death. In his Sickness he loudly and earnestly call'd upon God, cry'd out upon his Crimes, and acknowledg'd the Justice of Heaven in laying those severe Agonies upon him for his debauched Course of Life, and the Train of Offences that he had committed.
3. ROBERT HARPHAM, was Indicted (together with Thomas Broom, whose Tryal is deferr'd till the next Sessions) for High-Treason, in counterfeiting the current Coin of this Kingdom: It appearing from the Deposition of William Fordham, that the Prisoner was possess'd of an Iron Press, two Dies for Guineas, two for Half Guines, &c. a cutting Instrument for forming the Blanks, and an edging Tool for indenting; which Instruments Mr. Pinkney depos'd could serve for no other Use than that of Coining: It appearing also that he had struck an Half-Guinea in the Presence of Mr. Hornby; and from the Deposition of Mr. Oakly and Mr. Yardly, that they had frequently Cast and Flatted a kind of mixt Mettal, of Copper, Brass, &c. for the Prisoner, to the Quantity of 20 or 30 Pounds at a time, &c. He was by the Jury found guilty of the Indictment, and receiv'd Sentence accordingly. Before his Condemnation, as he was ascertain'd he should be convicted, he provided many religious Books, to guide him in his Devotions, but employ'd himself most chiefly in the perusal of The Imitation of Jesus Christ. After his Conviction, he seem'd surpriz'd and shock'd at the Thoughts of continuing in the Condemn'd-Hold, till the time he was to die. He made a Resolution to fast, and receive only just as much Sustenance as wou'd support Life; which Resolution he resolutely maintain'd from the time of his Condemnation to that of his Execution. He desired that the Person who continued with the above-named Malefactors to read by them, might awake him each Morning at Three a-Clock, that he might early begin his Oraisons to Heaven; and at Twelve a-Clock each Night they concluded their last Devotions to recommend themselves to the Mercy and Protection of the Almighty. He very frequently express'd his Happiness in not lying under Condemnation with led, clamorous or profligate Men, who would neither regard their own Duty, nor allow others in the Observance of theirs; but that on the contrary his Misfortunes happen'd with such as were serious, attentive, and unoffensive in their Deportment; there being no interruption, unless the Torments of Sandford, occasion'd by his Sickness, might be an uneasiness to them. During the time that he lay under Con
viction, he never once miss'd the Prayers, or made an Excuse for not attending to the Service of God. He was very free, open and candid in answering most Questions that were proposed to him. But to a certain Person who ask'd him what Method he took in Coining, and wherein lay his Art? he reply'd, he could not see the Benefit or Usefulness of such a Question; tho' in some Cases, to make Discoveries might be advantagious to the World, yet in his it would surely be detrimental; and if he had any Art, it should die with him for the Good of his Country. Soon after his Conviction, he desired to receive the Sacrament, and that it might be repeated to him every other Day to the time of his Death. But a Belief being afterwards infused into his Mind, that it was not too late for him to hope for a Reprieve, if he would make a Discovery of other Persons concerned in Coining: he put off the continuance of the Sacrament, till he had better settled his Affairs, and could place his Thoughts upon God and Heaven alone; which did not happen till the Night before he suffered. Yet he said that he should not value a Reprieve upon his own Account, for the being a Slave abroad was no way preferable, in his Opinion, to Death; but the perplex'd and unsettled Condition he should leave his Wife in, if he so soon went out of the World, was what bore very heavy upon his Mind. But when the other Prisoners exclaim'd on account of the shortness of the Time allow'd them; He told them, they ought not to date the Time of their Preparation for Futurity from the Time of their Conviction, but from the Time of their Commitment to Prison, if not sooner, as all thoughtful Men did, and that if their Hearts were not changed in a Week, they would not in a Month. When a Person ask'd him about his Associates or Accomplices, he answer'd, that all he had to do was to send to two or three People to advise them to pursue closely the ways of Virtue and Honesty. The Day before he died, being Sunday, he earnestly desired that he might have the Prayers, the Sermon, and also the Sacrament administer'd in private, and not amidst the Crowd and Tumult of People who flock'd to the Chapel to see the Malefactors: he added, that he could not attend to the Service of God, if he was expos'd as a gazing-stock to hundreds of People during his Devotions. The Concourse of People was so great, that I found it necessary to administer the Sacrament to them in a Place near to the Chapel, to avoid the Crowd, agreeable to the Request of the Prisoners: In the Evening of the same Day I also gave the Sacrament to them and to Jon. Wild, according to their Desire.
4. JONATHAN WILD, of St. Andrew's Holborn, was Indicted for feloniously receiving of Katherine Stetham the Sum of 10 Guineas, on account of recovering for the said Katherine Stetham 11 pieces of Lace, which had been privately stolen in her Shop by Persons unknown, and not at the same time apprehending, or causing to be apprehended the Felons concern'd in the said Robbery, so that they might be brought to Justice; the Evidence being clear and full against him, the Jury found him guilty of the Indictment, and he receiv'd Sentence of Death accordingly. This Malefactor, after his Conviction, affirmed that he had fasted upwards of four Days, which, together with his Lameness and Indisposition, had render'd him unable to attend the Service of God in the Chapel. He endeavour'd to convince People, that at Wolverhampton he knew several Persons that would have proved his Friends, had he thought his Case dangerous, and timely applied to them; but as he had carried on the same Practices above a dozen Years, and was now growing old, he could not be made to believe he should suffer Death at last for what he had publickly done unpunish'd so long. But he was then told by a Gentleman, that he had artfully evaded the Law and escaped Justice, which Justice had some time since overtaken one Thompson, who was executed for carrying on such Practices but a very short time. He was also told that he ought to have taken warning when he was first of all committed Prisoner to the Compter, where he should have abserved the misery of vicious People, instead of learning their Ways, and endeavouring to understand them and their Practices, and afterwards associating with them: To this he reply'd, that his Business was doing good, in recovering lost Goods; that as he had regain'd Things of great Value for Dukes, Earls and Lords, he thought he deserved well. He also, before his Conviction, affirm'd that he had apprehended the greatest and most pernicious Robbers and Plunderers the Nation ever was molested by; as in particular Ragg, White, Thurland and Dun, for murdering Mrs. Knapp, and Robbing T. Middlethwait, Esq; James Lincoln and Robert Wilkinson for robbing and murdering Peter Martin, a Chelsea-Pensioner near Hide-Park Gate. James Shaw, convicted of murdering and robbing Mr. Potts by Jon. Wild, But apprehended by others: Humphry Angier for robbing Mr. Lewin, City-Marshal; John Lavie and Mat. Flood, for robbing Mr. Young and Coll. Cope; Richard Oakey, for robbing Mr. Betts near Fg Lane; John Sheppard and Joseph Blake, for breaking the House of Mr. Kneebone, &c. That in apprehending the above-mentioned Robbers, together with many others, he had Wounds and Scars still remaining in his Head, Body and Legs. He appeared to be very much disordered and confused in his Thoughts, which he said was owing to those Wounds, and in particular to two fractures in his Skull, which disordered his Brain, tho' cover'd with silver Plates. He never went to the
Chapel during the whole time that he continued under Sentence of Death, saying, he was lame and unable to support himself on his Legs, and much more unable to go up so far; another Reason he added, was, that certain Enemies of his, among the Crowd, would not only interrupt his Prayers by pointing, whispering, &c. but would, he had reason to believe, insult him, and, if they dared would raise a Tumult and Riot upon his Account; therefore, as he knew that to pray to God without Attention or Regard to God, was worse than wholly to omit Prayers, and as he knew he could not attend to his Duty amidst so vast a Crowd as appeared at the Chapel, he earnestly desired he might never be carried to the Chapel, and accordingly he was not. During the whole Time that he lay under Condemnation, he kept the other Malefactors in Order and Regularity, Silence and Quiet being preserved among them; and no Interruptions happening, either at the time of the Prayers, or when the Word of God was reading. The Day before he died he desired he might receive the Sacrament, at which time he enquired the meaning of the Words, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a Tree, where the Apostle is comforting Sinners by assuring them, that Christ had freed and delivered them from the Curse of the Law, by being made a Curse for them, or by becoming unhappy with regard to this Life for their Sakes. He also asked concerning the Disposition of the Soul when first separated from the Body, and the local situation of the other World, &c. He was answered hereto by the Words of Dr. Sherlock, in his Discourse upon Death, who saith, That the next World is not at such a distance as we commonly imagine; to be in the Body is to be in this World, and to be out of the Body is to be in the next World; as soon as the Soul is eased and unloaded of its Tabernacle of Flesh it can see God, the Angels, Cherubim and Seraphim, without any local Motion, or exchanging its Situation. He was inclined to ask more Questions of such a Nature but he was answered, that they were Matters of less actual Moment and Importance than other things he might employ his Time about; he was advised rather to repent of all his Sins and Offences, to read and study upon Christ's Passion, Merits and Attonement, and the infinite Justice, as well as unlimitted Mercy of Almighty God. He appeared somewhat attentive to the Prayers, especially before he had some expectations of a Reprieve, and after he found that all Expectations were vain; but whether his Devotions were so earnest and fervent as his unhappy Course of Life requir'd, I am not to judge. The Evening before he suffered, he enquired how the noble Greeks and famous Romans, who slew themselves, came to be so glorious in History, it Self murder be a Crime; for such Actions are recorded in History, as Matters of Bravery and Courage? He was desired to consider that the wisest and most learned Heathens in their Writings call'd Self-murder Cowardice, in not sustaining the Misfortunes that Providence laid upon human Nature; and that Christianity is much more exprest against Suicide: The Prisoner confest that Self-murder was impiety; but his Confession appeared to be Hypocrisy; for about two of the Clock in the Morning he endeavoured to prevent his Execution by drinking Laudanum; but the largeness of the Draught, together with his having fasted before, instead of destroying him immediately, was the Occasion of his not dying by it.
At the Place of Execution, R. Harpham was very composed and very fervent in his Devotions; Wild had render'd himself delirious by Poyson, but began to recover himself. They all united in the Publick Prayers, as well as the Tumult and Clamour of the Occasion would give them leave.
This is all the Account that is given by me,
T. PURNEY, Ordinary and Chaplain.
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