THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE his ACCOUNT, Of the Behaviour, Confession, and dying Words of the Malefactors, who were Executed on Wednesday the 22d, of this Instant March, 1727, at Tyburn.
AT the King's Commission of Oyer and Terminer, and Jail Delivery of Newgate, held (before the Right Honourable Sir JOHN EYLES, Knt . and Bart . Lord Mayor of the City of London: The Honourable Mr. Justice Price, the Honourable Mr. Justice Probin, the Honourable Mr. Baron Comins, the Honourable Mr. Baron Thompson, Recorder of the City of London, and John Raby, Serjeant at Law ; and others of his Majesty's Justices of Jail-Delivery, and Oyer and Terminer aforesaid: Together with several of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the said City of London, and County of Middlesex) at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bailey; on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, being 22d, 23d, 24th, and 25th, of February, 1727, in the Thirteenth Year of his Majesty's Reign.
While under Sentence, they were instructed in the most essential Points of Christianity, the nature of the Divinity, the Salvation of Mankind, only through the merits and intercession of Jesus Christ, a sincere and hearty Repentance for all their Sins; particularly, those for which they then suffer'd much Shame and Sorrow, and the absolute necessity of turning unto God with their whole Heart, from whom they had so deeply revolted, as appear'd manifestly from the tenour of their past Life and Conversation, the wickedness whereof had undoubtedly brought them to condign Punishment. And in order to prepare them for Death, as from several texts of Scripture, I spoke much upon that Subject, so especially from Rev. 14, ver. 13. And I heard a voice from Heaven, saying unto me, write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth, yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their Labours, and their works do follow them. From this having show'd them what it is to die in the Lord, I let them see, how happy those are, who with Conscience of a well spent Life do die in the Lord, and how miserable their condition is, who have nothing but a naughty course of Life to perplex them, when they come to die. When these and such like instructions were given them, John Fox was always apparently Devout and serious: Welsh (the only one of the three who could read, and who in the Hold read to the other two, till another Person, who often voluntarily shuts himself up in the Hold with the condemn'd Criminals, took upon him to perform that Office. Wheeler the black Boy, most part of the time, was oppress'd with grievous Sickness, but when he attended in Chapel, he was always very grave, but otherways very stupid and grosly Ignorant of Christian Principles.
Upon Saturday the 18th, of this instant March, the Report of the above three Malefactors being made to his Majesty in Council; James Welsh, for stealing from a Countryman Gold and Silver to the value of 18 l. out of his Breeches, when he was in Bed at the Bear and Ragged Staff-Inn in West-smithfield, receiv'd his Majesty's most gracious Reprieve. The remaining two, viz. John Fox, and Thomas Wheeler, a Black were order'd for Execution.
John Fox, about 56 years of Age, was descended of mean Parentage, had having got Education at School, so that he could not read, which made him, though otherways he appear'd to be a Man of good Sense. He was not put to any particular Employment, when of Age, but past his time when young, in the Wars in Flanders, in the first Regiment of Guards , till the Peace of Ryswick, after which he took his Discharge, and kept a publick House in Town; where (as he said) he was very well known, and had been abundantly obliging in the Neighbourhood, having been always very careful of keeping his Family in good Order; and likewise good Education to his Children; (the loss of which he was very sensible of with respect to himself) and putting them to suitable
Employments. He always behav'd himself with abundance of gravity, civility and good manners. Once he thought the Prayers short, after all the ordinary Prayers of the Church, and some more had been used. I told him, that it was not the length of Prayers, but the Devotion of the Petitioner made them acceptable to God, thro' Christ, with which he was satisfy'd. He said, that he never had been a loose Liver, but that he had always kept within the bounds of Decency. I never saw one in his unhappy Circumstances, more averse to particular confessions of Crimes. I urg'd the necessity of an ingenuous Confession, from several Texts of Scripture; the Apostle St. James, advising us to confess our Sins, or Faults one to another; and David and other eminent Saints of God, confessing and crying to God, with bitterness of Spirit for the pardon of their Sins, who were so far from concealing their Faults, that they left them on Record, for a warning to future Generations, and to convince us of the frailty of sinful Mortals. I likewise told him, that it was most reasonable to confess, since that was all the satisfaction he could give to the World, for the many Injuries and Injustices he had done to others. He said, that he confess'd his Sins to God, who only could pardon them. I told him that although every Sin be principally committed against God the great Law-giver, yet in order to die in full Peace with all Mankind, we ought to acknowledge the Injuries done to them, and that it was the way to die in the Peace of the Church, which had power conditionally, and with Authority from Christ, to absolve true Penitents, Christ having declar'd, that what his Ministers bound on Earth, was bound in Heaven, and what they loosed in Earth, was loosed in Heaven. After all that could be said to him, he still continued resolute and obstinate, in refusing to make particular Confessions; only he own'd in general, that his Life had not been agreeable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it ought to have been; yet that he had never been notoriously and openly wicked, as too many are. He own'd also, when he was young, he had not follow'd the Advices and injunctions, but had been too obstreperous to the Commands of his Parents, which is the worst introduction can be of the After sense of a young Man's Life into the World: Disobedience to Parents being a Sin commonly lamented by most of the Malefactors. I inform'd him, that he was represented as a Person who for a course of many Years, if not the most part of his Life, had been in the practice of robbing People by picking their Pockets of Goods of great Value, which was a very sinful way of providing for himself and others. He said, he could not help, neither did he regard the Sentiments of the World, having a greater Judge to whom he must make an account. He desir'd the Prayers of all good People for his Soul; and falling down upon his Knees, he beg'd pardon of God and Man for his many Sins and Offences; and since his supreme Judges did not think fit to spare, but to make him a publick Example, he said, that he willingly and chearfully submitted. Upon the whole, though he would not make special Confessions, yet not having the face or conscience positively to deny that he had accustomed himself to Thieving and stealing, at which business (as is reported) he was too dextrous, it need scarce be doubted, but that had been one of the main Employments of his Life. Mr. Fox appear'd to be a Man of good Understanding, so that if his natural Parts had been improv'd by a little Learning, with some further Knowledge of divine Things, and a correspondent Practice, he had a Capacity of being beneficial to Mankind, in answering the great end of his Being, to do good in his Generation: But wordly Affections, and coveting things of a present Life, with an unbounded Desire, in whatever manner acquir'd, had prov'd his Ruin, and to take in hand the most extravagant, impious, and withall, the most disgraceful and dangerous Enterprizes, which turn'd the last Scene of his Life into a very shameful and pitiful Catastrophe.
He was indeed of such Complaisance and Address, in his own way, that his civil and hypocritical Carriage to Strangers qualify'd him much better for robbing them, by privately stealing from them Gold-watches, Snuff-boxes, and other little Things of great value, which Gentlemen and Ladies commonly have about them, and that with the greater ease, and without being suspected whence it was, that he had the Character of being the most dexterous in this Species of Thieving of any in Town, in which he excell'd all the other Practitioners in that black and Devilish Art. He knew what was absolutely necessary to be known in Christian Principles, and I cannot say any more, but I'm affraid, his Practice had come far short of his Knowledge; for, when he was in Chappel, I observ'd, that he did not know the proper and usual time of standing or kneeling, and for Responses he knew none of them, till by a pretty long Habit, and hearing of others, (the lenity and goodness of the Government having allow'd him near four Weeks time to prepare for Death) he acquir'd some Knowledge and Practice that way. He always behav'd himself at the Worship of God, and hearing of his Word read or preach'd, with a becoming Gravity and apparent Attention, both in Chappel and elsewhere, but with less concern, and much more indifference, than what one would have wish'd, for. I took much pai in Instructing him in the fundamental Principles of Christianity, Faith in Christ, and
Repentance unto Life, in Evidence whereof I endeavour'd to persuade him to an ingenuous Confession, it being all the Satisfaction and Restitution or Reparation he could make, for, he reiterated Injustices he had done to others through the Course of his Life. He own'd himself to have been a great Sinner, but not so notoriously wicked as many others. As to the particular Fact for what he Suffer'd, he said he took the Box off the Ground or Floor, the Truth of which I doubting very much of, inclining rather to think that he took it out of the Gentleman's Pocket; I desired him to confess at least in general Terms, if he was such a Person, as many Represented him to be, viz. one of the most cunning and artful Pick-pockets in or about the Town? At this he storm'd a little, and spoke with too much Vehemence and Passion, for one so very near his End. I desir'd him to compose himself, and not to be disturb'd, since what I propos'd to him was only for the good of his Soul, and for satisfying my own Mind, because a Minister of the Gospel of Christ cannot with a safe Conscience perform the last Divine Office to a dying Penitent unless he ingenuously confess his Sins He own'd himself a very great Sinner acknowledging the Justice of his Sentence as being convicted by his Jury, upon full Evidence; and for the Gentleman who was his Prosecutor, he declar'd that he had no prejudice at him, thanking him for his Good-will in endeavouring to save his Life, and praying that God migh Bless him, submitting to the Sentence upon him and willinglly part with that Life which the Laws of his Country had forfeited.
Since Mr. Fox was under Sentence one Mr. Richardson, Steward to the Lord Somerville, who had been rob'd of 2 or 300 l. about 2 Years ago, in Hertfordshire, came from the Country on purpose, and desir'd me to ask Mr. Fox, if he was one of the two Highwaymen who robb'd him of that Lord's Money? the Reason why he ask'd the Question was, because some People in the Country entertain'd ill Thoughts of the said Steward, as having had some collusion with the Robbers, although indeed he appear'd to be mightily concern'd for his good Name, and declar'd his Innocence in the most solemn manner, the Money having been recover'd of the County. Mr. Fox said and affirm'd solemnly upon the Words of a dying Man, that he knew nothing of that Affair, and that he had never been guilty of any Highway-Robbery in his Life, adhering to his former Asserssion, that he had never been openly Wicked in his Life, and that he never made it his Business to cheat or trick People; but was still ready to serve others and to live in good Neighbourhood. Although it is credibly reported, that he was twice capitally Convicted at the Old Bailey, once about 8 Years before this, and first of all some Year before, both which times his Friends found means to get his Life sav'd; and that three Years ago, he was try'd for his Life at Hertford, but the Evidence not being full, he was there Acquitted. So that this is the third Time he hath been capitally Convicted, but still (to do him Justice) it was for his common Practice of picking Pockets, in which part of Thieving (as is generally believ'd by them who know any thing of him) he was most Skilful. After many Exhortations to a sincere Repentance and Amendment; to wean his Thoughts and Affections wholly from a present evil World, and from the Vanities of it, to which he had been formerly too much addicted, and to settle them on things above, where Christ sits at the right Hand of God; to resign himself wholly to the Will of God, without whose over-ruling Power nothing was transacted in this World, and who would infallibly make every thing, work together for the good of those who love him, however great or many their Sins are, his Mercy being infinite, upon an unfeigned Faith in Christ, and a true Repentance and love to God, to forgive them, and not to remember them against miserable Mortals, who heartily turn to him. He acknowledg'd himself to be the Chief of Sinners, but hop'd and declar'd that he believ'd to be sav'd by the Mercy of God, thro' the Merits of Jesus Christ his only Saviour; dying in Peace with all the World, and forgiving all Mankind the Injuries done him, as he expected forgiveness from Almighty God.
THOMAS WHEELER, of the Parish of St. Mary Colechurch, was indicted of Felony and Burglary; for that he did on the 11th of February in the Nighttime, break open the House of Mr. Norris, (Druggist in Cheapside) taking from thence 5 Guineas, one Queen Elizabeth's Piece, a French Crown, a Piece of Copper, &c. the Property of Mr. Norris.
THOMAS WHEELER a black , as he said, about 17 Years of Age, born in the East Indies, near Fort St. George , of Parents who were Heathens and gross Idolaters, was Educated when a young Child in the same Profession, i. e. in gross Ignorance and no Religion at all. His Parents went and liv'd in the Town of Fort St. George, and they dying and leaving him very young, he was put to Business, but being taken up by some of the English, an Officer of a Ship brought him to England, about 7 Years ago. He serv'd some People in Town, particularly Mr. Norris whom he robb'd, but was not taught to Read or Writ, and little better was he Instructed in the Principles of Christianity. He told me that he was Baptiz'd about 3 or 4 Months ago, but when I inquir'd into what Knowledge he had attain'd, either of na
tural or reveal'd Religion, he was equally Ignorant of both, scarce knowing any thing of either. I pitty'd his Condition very much, not knowing well how to Instruct him, his time in this World being so very short, and he of a dull Capacity, and of an obstinate Temper, so that I could get him to speak but few Words; altho' he said that he had almost quite forgot his Native Language, understanding and speaking the English well enough: Yet I Instructed him in the existence of a Supreme Being, who made the World and all Things which are therein; who had given Man a Law, by which he is rul'd, upon the Disobedience of which Law Man incurr'd his Displeasure; and that he having transgress'd this Law, (as in many other Instances, particularly, in robbing his Master, a Sin expresly forbidden by the Law of God, ought to cry to God for Mercy, and repent of that Sin. I likewise Instructed him in the Knowledge of the adorable and ever blessed Trinity, that God the Father made us, God the Son redeem'd us, and God the Holy Ghost sanctifies the Elect People of God. I desir'd him to believe in Christ the Son of God, and only Saviour of Sinners, and to pray for God's Holy Spirit, who might lead him in the Ways of Truth, and uprightness. I inform'd him that he had been Baptiz'd in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to deny the Devil, the World and the Flesh, and to obey the Laws of God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ in every thing, endeavouring to convince him, how heinously he had broken his Baptismal Vows and Engagements, into which he had so lately entered. All this and much more he heard with Patience, and gave a Verbal Assent to every thing. The 2d or 3d Day after Sentence, a violent Fever, which continu'd upon him, till the Dead-Warrant came to the Prison. When I visited him in the Hold, he could scarce say any thing, and was very Sick. When he came to Chappel, he was still bad, yet by frequent hearing he answer'd some few of the first Principles of Religion. He said the Lord's Prayer and Belief after me, declar'd that he believ'd in God who made him, and in Christ who redeem'd him through whose Merits he hop'd to be Saved. He was always very Grave and apparently Attentive, both in time of Prayers and Exhortations, but very stupid and grosly Ignorant, the badness of his Health making him much more incable of receiving Instructions. He declar'd that he dy'd a Christian, in Peace with all the World, entertaining Malice in his Heart at no Person, and that he believ'd, that God who made him wold have Mercy on him for Christ's Sake.
At the Place of Execution.
WHeeler, the East Indian-Black , was mute having been always a stupid Boy, only he said that he hoped to have his Soul saved by the Mercy of God through the Merits of Jesus Christ. John Fox appear'd with an undauted Boldness, and said that he had nothing more to add, having been always unwilling to say any thing in Acknowledgment of his Guilt: He own'd himself in general to have been a great Sinner, and declar'd that he believ'd in Christ his only Saviour, hoping God would show him Mercy for his Sake: He desir'd me to pray heartily for his Soul, as he said he did. Both of them were very serious in time of Devotion, and Mr. Fox made Answers where he could, repeating much of the Prayers after me, and saying frequently, Amen, but there was a little of too indifferent an Air about them. They went of the Stage crying to the Lord Jesus to receive their Spirits, and that God would have Mercy upon their Souls for Christ's Sake.
This is all Account given by me,