THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE his ACCOUNT, Of the Behaviour, Confession, and dying Words of the Malefactors, who were Executed on Wednesday the 3d of this Instant August, 1726, at Tyburn.
AT the King's Commission of Oyer and Terminer, and Jail-Delivery of Newgate, held (before the Right Honourable Sir FRANCIS FORBES, Knt . Lord Mayor of the City of London, the Honourable Mr. Justice Dormer, Mr. Justice Reynolds, Mr. Justice Denton, Mr. Baron Thomson, Knt. Recorder of the City of London, Mr. John Raby, Serjeant at Law , and other his Majesty's Justices of Jail Delivery, and Oyer and Terminer aforesaid, together with his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the said City of London, and County of Middlesex) at Justice-Hall in the Old-Baily, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, being the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th of July, 1726, in the Twelfth Year of his Majesty's Reign.
Eight Men, viz. Edward Reynolds, Richard Hinton, Thomas Smith, William Flower, Peter Piercy, John Brakes, Thomas West, and John Claxon, ( Robert Smith was also convicted Capitally, for assaulting and robbing on the Highway, upon Enfield-Chace, Robert Collinson, of a Watch val. 4 l. and 7 d. in Money, on Thursday May 26, but he dy'd before Judgment was given) and one Woman, Mary Standford, were found guilty of Capital Offences, and receiv'd Sentence of Death.
While under Sentence, William Flower, Peter Piercy, John Brakes and Thomas West, came not to Chapel above three or four times, three of them having been afflicted with grievous Sickness all the time, and Piercy in three or four Days after Sentence falling sick also, which was the reason why the said four were constantly confin'd to the Condemn'd-Hold; and Richard Hinton having had a Fever, and entering assurances of a Pardon, never attended in Chapel. Brakes dy'd in the Condemn'd-Hold of violent Convulsion Fits, and a Fever, before the Report was made to his Majesty in Council.
Of the four who came always to Chapel, excepting Thomas Smith, three were grosly ignorant of the Christian Religion, and therefore I endeavour'd to instruct them in the Principle of our most Holy Faith in the most familiar and easy Manner, representing to them, how that Man having been made a perfectly holy Creature at first, after the Image of God, in Knowledge, Righteousness, and true Holiness, had fallen from his primitive estate of Integrity and Perfection, into an abyss of Sin and Misery, from whence the Wit of Men and Angels could not have extricated him, if God, in his infinite Goodness, and Mercy, and Love, had not interpos'd; whence I exhorted them to love God, who had thus loved us, we having nothing but deformity, as the Scripture represents the Matter, we being cloath'd with Sin as with a loathsome Leprosy; there being a natural enmity in us against God and his Ways, as St. Paul says, Eph. iv. 18. Having the Understanding darkned, being alienated from the Life of God, through the Ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their Heart, who being past feeling, have given themselves over unto Lasciviousness, to work all Uncleanness with greediness. From this I enlarg'd upon the infinite Love of God, in remembering us in our low Estate, so that when there was no Hand to help us, no Eye to pity us, then God was pleas'd to say unto us, Live. When our first Parents Adam and Eve, and we in them, had unfortunately fallen, then was God's time of Love, in promising that the Seed of the Woman should bruise the Head of the Serpent; that Christ, who is there called the Seed of the Woman, should destroy the Kingdom of Satan, and bring the lost Posterity of Adam, who truly believe in him as their only Saviour, sincerely repenting of all their Sins, particularly those for which they suffer'd, and which oppress'd their Consciences, and loving God with their whole Hearts, into mansions of Bliss and Happiness, a right to which, by their apostacy and fall from God, they had forfeited and lost. I shew'd to 'em, how dangerous and pernicious the Sin of Covetousness is, as being directly opposite to the simple and pure Nature of God, estranging our Minds from God, and centering them upon the Creature, which Practise is inconsistent with the Worship and Service of God, as our Saviour says, Ye cannot serve God and Mammon, St. Mat. vi. 24. One of them having been convicted of Murder, I insisted upon the heinousness of that Sin, as being an usurpation upon the Prerogative of Almighty
God, who is the Sovereign Lord of the Life and Death of his Creatures, who alone hath power to kill and keep alive: I shew'd, that Man being made after the Image of God, he who murder'd his Neighbour was guilty of destroying God's Image; and then I let him see the Cruelty, Barbarity, and Unnaturalness of such a horrid Sin. I explain'd to them briefly the Nature of the Christian Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, how by such mean Elements were represented to us the great Misteries of our Redemption, wherein God condescended to our Capacities, by accommodating in some manner misterious Revelations, which had been hid from Ages and Generations, but are now made known to the Saints, to our outward Senses, and thus conveying 'em to our Minds in an easy way, and most agreeable to our Natures; particularly, I told them of the great Design and Usefulness of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and how fit it was to dispose them for Death by worthily partaking in it, as representing to us the Body of Christ broken, and his Blood shed for our Sins, and ascertaining to us all the Benefits proceeding from his Death and Sufferings to every true Believer.
While these and many such like Instructions were given them, they all appear'd very sedate and attentive, although that external Sign of Penitence, which may be thought necessary for Men in their most miserable Circumstances, did not appear; only Thomas Smith at some times shew'd the outmost Concern, by shedding of Tears, and seeming to be in very great Perplexity. When I went and visited the four sick Men in the Hold, Brakes, who dy'd before the Report was made, denied that he stole the black Mare for which he was sentenc'd, but said that he was only employ'd by West to sell her in Westsmithfield; West and Flower confess'd that they stole the bay and brown Mares, for which they were found guilty; Piercy affirm'd always, that it was not he but his Comrade that murder'd Christopher Fox; all of them pretended to be very Penitent for their Sins, but some of 'em were so weak that they could scarce speak.
Upon Thursday the 28th of July, the Report was made to his Majesty in Council of the Eight Malefactors under Sentence of Death, when Peter Piercy for killing of Christopher Fox; William Flower, Richard Hinton, John Brakes, and Thomas West for Horse-stealing, receiv'd his Majesty's most gracious Reprieve; the remaining Four, viz. Edward Reynolds and Thomas Smith for Street Robberies; Mary Standford for robbing a Man of four Guineas, &c. and John Claxon for returning from Transportation, were ordered for Execution. When these who were included in the Dead-Warrant found that there was no hopes of Life, then they began to double their diligence in preparing for Death. If any concern'd desire to know about their last Confessions and Behaviour, while under Sentence, they may receive the following brief Account.
Thomas Smith (as he said) born in Southwark, of honest Parents, about 23 Years of Age. His Father died and left him young, but his Mother took care of his Education, in which he was by far superior to all his Fellow Prisoners; having been Instructed to read very well, write and cast Accompts, as also having been at the Lattin School for some time, he having had an Uncle also who was very kind to and look't after him in his younger Years; but wanting Money and the few Friends he had dying or being poor, he was not put out to any settl'd Business; so he betook himself to serve Gentlemen , one of whom took him to Ireland, where he liv'd some Years at Dublin, and returning to England, he serv'd some Gentlemen (as he alledg'd) with very much Reputation, having had the Love and Good-will of all his Masters. But of late falling Sick, which was the occasion of his being out of Business, he spent all his Money upon his Recovery, and just as this pitiful Misfortune befell for which he died, being pretty well as to his Health, he was seeking after Service. This young Man seem'd to be much more civil, and to've had a much greater Knowledge and deeper Sense of Religion and his own particular Circumstances, than the others who died with him had. He gave a reasonable account of his Faith and the Hope that was in him, with respect to a future State. He denied that he had liv'd a vicious Life, but said that he was always regular in his Conduct, keeping the Church, and been a partaker of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. He said that he was so far from assossiating himself to any Gang of Thieves or Pick Pockets, that he knew not a Thief in England, nor any where else, and that he had never stollen any the least thing in his Life, as several Gentlemen, whom he had faithfully serv'd, could testify, while he was with them. As to the Fact for which he died, he confest the Justice of the Sentence, but reflected on the Evidence, John Brown, as having sworn falsely in some particulars; for meeting with him accidentally in the Hay-Market, he was very drunk, and desir'd Smith to attend him to his Lodgings in St. Martin's Lane, but he quarrelling with the Mob by the way, one of 'em, with whom Brown was going to Fight, knock'd him down, Smith knowing none of 'em; then he gave Smith his Wig and Cane, and Neckcloath to hold, which he did, while the Mob hurried him all along from the Hay-Market to St. Martin's-Lane, where the Mob being about him he went
into some Court, and not seeking his things, Smith went away with them. Smith said also that he had no club nor offensive Weapon about him, and that the Wig and Cane were not worth above 30 or 40 Shillings at most, and that he fear'd Mr. Brown had sworn so much against him in hopes of obtaining the Praemium for apprehending a Street-Robber, which, while he visited him in Prison, he promis'd to do; which was the reason that Smith was not prepar'd for his Defence, and call'd no body to his Character, not expecting that he would have prosecuted him to Death. He confest his Error was, that he did not follow the Gentleman to the House whither he went, and that the next Day, before he was apprehended, he intended to sell the Wig and Cane, which was the cause of his Misfortune. He complain'd much of Mr. Brown's rigorous Prosecution, contrary to his frequent Promises, and having recover'd all that he lost. He was miserably poor and naked, having lost or spent all he had, during his Imprisonment, and there was no body to own or visit him, he saying that he was asham'd to send to some of those Gentlemen or their Children, whom he had formerly Serv'd. He had more knowledge of the Christian Religion and much more Sense, than almost any of these miserable People use to be Masters of. He express'd himself to be very penitent for the errors of his Life past, and said, that a Day or two before he Suffer'd, as he sought God in private by himself, some Manifestations of divine Love had been diffus'd into his Mind, which made him entertain strong hopes of Immortallity, and not doubting but God would grant his Soul for a Prey. I exhorted him in many words to repent of all his Sins, to improve his few remaining Moments to the best purpose, not to rely upon any thing of his own Performances, since after have done and can possibly do, we must acknowledge ourselves but unprofitable Servants; I advis'd him also to be impartial in endeavouring to discover the Secrets of his own Heart, so as not to suffer any Sin to lie hidden in his Breast unrepented of, for the heart of Man is deceitful and desperately Wicked. He acknowledg'd himself to be among the greatest of Sinners; that he repented heartily and sincerely (which in charity the World may think) of all his Sins; that he believ'd to be saved through the Merits of Jesus Christ his only Saviour; that he had no further Confessions to make before his Death; and that he forgave all Men the offences committed against him, as he expected forgiveness from Almighty God. He seem'd indeed to be very tender and broken hearted for Sin, and to have a strong Confidence and assurance of the love of God upon his Spirit through Faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. He died apparently a true Penitent, in love with all the World, and in Communion of this Church, of which he own'd himself an unworthy Member.
Edward Reynolds, as he said, about 26 Years of Age; when he was young his Parents put him to School, but he took no pleasure in his Book, and learn'd nothing, so that he could neither read nor write, and was grosly ignorant of the Principles of Christianity. I endeavour'd what I could, to instruct him in the first Elements of Religion, Faith in Christ, Repentance unto Life, the Love of God, and the Nature of the Christian Sacraments. He was a little deaf, and very slow of Apprehension, which made him, that he did not profit so much by means of Instructions as one would have wish'd. He confess'd that he had been a young Fellow drench'd in all those Vices, to which young Men unacquainted with the paths of virtue are too much addicted; viz, Whoring, Drinking to excess, Swearing and Blaspheming, keeping the worst of Company, which had led and advis'd him to his Destruction, neglecting the Lord's Day, and every thing which is good and virtuous, with many other Sins, the mentioning of which for brevities sake we omit. He appear'd to be very hard hearted, and not to be duly affected with a Sense of his Sin and great Guilt: Which I told him, and exhorted him to cry to God, that he would give him a broken heart and a contrite Spirit, that he might mourn and lament over the Irregularities of his past Life, that he being deeply humbl'd for his heinous Sins, he might lay hold upon his Saviour Jesus, who is able and willing to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God through him. He said that he was very sensible of his Sin, and us'd his utmost endeavours to make up his Peace with God through Christ. He was married to a Wife whom he call'd a naughty Woman, who never own'd him in the time of his Calamity; and he acknowledg'd that he had been drawn up with other lewd Women, who no doubt hasten'd him to his Exit. His Business was to make Mops which (as he said) he carried about and sold at Fairs and Markets in the Country, and by that means got abundance of Gain; but this he little minded, being mostly taken up in playing at Games in Moorfields where there is still a Nursery of the most Idle and wicked young Fellows which are to be found in or about this great City. All these and many other wicked Courses which he had follow'd, he ingenuously confest, not pretending the least degree of virtue or goodness. As to the particular Fact for which he suffer'd, he confess'd that the Coat belong'd to John Rains, but that Rains gave the Coat and a Shilling to him willingly, because Reynolds threatn'd to Swear an attempt of an unnatural Sin upon him, which (as he frequently affirm'd) Rains actually did attempt, and that he threatning
to call the Watch, Rains entreated him not to speak of such a thing, and he would give him any thing; upon which having no other thing at hand, he gave him his Coat and a Shilling. After I had several times press'd him to declare the Truth, he declar'd solemnly that it was so, as he was to answer to God. He confess'd also, that he had been much in the habit of Thieving and Stealing, but not of late. He declar'd, that he was heartily grieved for his many Offences; that he resolv'd to lead a new Life, if any longer time should have been allow'd him in the World; that he heartily forgave all the Injuries that had been done him, dying in Peace with all Mankind, and in the Faith of being saved only thro' the Merits and Righteousness of Jesus Christ.
John Claxton alias Johnson, but (as he said) his true Name was Jackson, aged 28 Years; born at Sunderland of mean Parents, his Father having been a common Sailor , put him to School when he was young, but he was not willing to learn, having Inclinations to the Sea, whither he went when he was very young, and by this means lost the Opportunity of being instructed in Reading, Writing, and (which was much worse) in the Principles of our most holy Faith, of which he was very ignorant. He seem'd to be a young Man of a good easie Temper, and adviseable, appearing always very devout and attentive in Chapel, both at Prayers and Exhortations, and certainly the Cause of his Ruin was ill Company; for he was married to a Wife at Yarmouth, of whom he had heard nothing since his return from Transportation, neither had he sent word to her or any of his Friends, to disturb their Peace with the melancholly Accounts of his Misfortunes; but leaving his Wife and coming to London about his Business, he associated himself with some of the Gangs of Thieves and Pick-pockets, so that for his thievish Practices he was transported twice, but returning and being apprehended, after the lenity of the Government had once let him pass, he was now oblig'd to undergo the Penalty of the Law. He acknowledg'd himself to've been a very loose Liver, addicted to Lying, Swearing, Drinking, Whoring, Stealing, Sabbath-breaking, neglecting publick and private Duties to Almighty God, and such other Vices as are common to Malefactors. He said that he endeavour'd with all his Might to make his Peace with God thro' Christ; he was very attentive to the Prayers, and reading of good Books by Thomas Smith, his Fellow Sufferer, and another Man who has been Prisoner in Newgate 8 or 9 Years, and who shut himself in the Hold with them, by which he came to understand a little of the Principles of Christianity, necessary to Salvation, declaring, that he believ'd to be saved only thro' the Merits of Christ, repenting sincerely of all his Sins, and dying in Peace with all Mankind.
Mary Stanford, whose true Name (as she said) was Herbert, being Married to one of that Name, aged 36 Years, born not very far from the City. Her Parents (when she was young) put her to School, and taught her to read God's Word and instructed her in the principles of Christianity, and other things becoming one of her Station. But she coming to London and going to Service, afterwards took herself to the worst of Company, which prov'd her utter Ruin. For she followed the trade of Street-walking, and addicted herself to all manner of Lewdness and Wickedness, Whoring, Drinking, &c. by which means any Knowledge or practice of Religion she had acquir'd in her younger Years was almost wholly obliterated, so that I found her grosly Ignorant of any thing that is good. She said, that she did not steal the 4 Guineas and the other things from the Man, but that he stufft the Money into her Breast, as he was inducing her to commit uncleanness with him, of which ('tis not to be doubted) she was guilty at that time with her Prosecutor. She told me that the Man who pass'd for her Husband had left her, and that she had taken up with other Men; and that she had one young Child, tho' not by her Husband, about which she appear'd very indifferent, but hop'd the Parish would take care of it. She preferr'd Hanging at home, to Transportation abroad, and that she was of Opinion, that her living in foreign Parts was worse than a disgraceful and shameful Death at Home, which Opinion she would not alter. She was neither ingenious nor full in her Confessions, but appeared obstinate and self-conceited. She acknowledg'd herself among the chief of Sinners, begg'd God and the World pardon for all her Offences, hop'd to be sav'd only thro' the Mercies of God in Jesus Christ our Lord, forgiving all Men the Injuries done her, as she expected Pardon from God, and dying in Peace with all the World.
Two Nights before the Execution, the three Men turn'd all much more tender hearted than formerly, which appear'd by their Carriage in the Hold, where (as I was inform'd) they slept none, but almost constantly wept and cry'd for their Sins. The Afternoon before they suffer'd Reynold's Wife came into Chapel with a young Child in her Arms, and fell into a violent Convulsion in time of Prayer. He turn'd into a little Passion at her for her Unkindness in not doing more for him; for this I reprov'd him sharply, and told him the necessity of being reconcil'd to all Men, especially his Wife, an afflicted miserable poor and naked Woman, having three Children to provide for, and who, it may be presum'd, is not of any bad Character, as he represented, and as to doing for him she had neither Friends nor Ability. Upon this he appear'd satisfy'd, and went to her, and was heartily reconcil'd, falling out into a flood of Tears, and an hearty Sorrow for Sin, as in Charity we are bound to think.
At the Place of Execution.
All of them behav'd (to appearance) very devoutly; confess'd themselves to've been great Sinners; declar'd that they hop'd to attain everlasting Life thro' the Merits of Christ; and that they had nothing to add to their former Confessions: Jackson desir'd the Belief and Lord's Prayer to be repeated to them last of all; which, after singing part of the 51st Psalm, and Gloria Patra, was accordingly done. All of them own'd themselves of the Communion of this Church, of which they dy'd unworthy Members; crying out, Lord Jesus receive my Spirit.
This is all the Account given by me,