THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE his ACCOUNT, Of the Behaviour, Confession, and dying Words of the Malefactors who were Executed at Tyburn, on Wednesday the 11th of this Instant, September, 1728.
BY Virtue of His Majesty's Commission of the Peace, and of Oyer and Terminer, and Jail-Delivery of Newgate, at the Sessions held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bailey, (before the Right Honourable Sir EDWARD BEECHER, Knt . Lord Mayor of the City of London; the Honourable Mr. Baron Thompson, Recorder of the City of London; and John Raby, Esq ; Serjeant at Law ; with other 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) on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, being the 28th, 29th, and 30th, of August, 1728, in the Second Year of His Majesty's Reign.
Five Men, viz. James How, alias Harris, Griffith Owen, Thomas Medling, Samuel Harris, and Edward Roberts, and one Woman, viz. Eleanor Reddey, were by the Jury found Guilty of capital Crimes, and receiv'd Sentence of Death.
When under Sentence, they were instructed in the necessity of being holy, as God is holy, and blameless in all manner of Life and Conversation; for he who cometh to God, must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them who diligently seek him; and without Holiness no Man can see the Lord, Heb. 12, 14. I show'd 'em, that it was not sufficient to believe that God made and preserv'd the World, or that Jesus the Son of God vail'd himself with our Nature, and therein suffer'd and died for our Sins; for the Devils believe and tremble, St. Jam. 2, 19. But that a sincere and hearty Faith must be attended with good Works; for Faith without Works is dead being alone, St. Jam. 2. 17. And by consequence I let them see, that if we intended to enjoy God hereafter, we must be like him here, by ordering our Lives according to his holy Laws; and by imitating Christ Jesus, that perfect Pattern of Holiness and Virtue, separate from Sinners, and now (as a reward of his Obedience) made higher than the Heavens. Heb. 7. 26. I show'd them also, that they were early dedicated to God in Baptism, yet having now broken their baptismal Vows in infinite Particulars and in a heinous manner; the only remaining Duty proper to make up the great breach, which was made betwixt God and them by their most notoriously wicked lives, was to repent sincerely of all their Sins, particularly those scandalous and capital Crimes for which they then suffer'd, and for which the just Judgements of God had over taken them. I exhorted them patiently to suffer the Afflictions brought upon them, in consideration of Christ's Sufferings, who having no Sin of his own, in order to save us from Sin, and to purchase a right to eternal life for all true Believers and sincere Penitents, suffer'd the heavy load of God the Father's wrath to be poured forth upon him: And why then should a living Man complain, a Man for the punishment of his Sins? Since our Sins deserve, not only temporal, but eternal Death; if the mercy of God in Christ Jesus prevent it not. I advis'd them also to renew their baptismal Vows, by partaking in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which is a proper commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Death of Christ, and which would dispose them for the everlasting communion and fellowship of Almighty God, if they receiv'd it faithfully, believing in the Virtue and efficacy of Christ's death and sufferings. I also let them see the great evil of Theift and Robbery, from the nature of the thing, as destructive of all humane Society and good Order; and from the terrible consequences thereof, as being capital by the Laws of the Land, attended with many other the most excrable Vices, and incurring the penalty of eternal Death, if Repentance, by the Grace of God, prevent it not.
While these and many like Instructions were given, all of them appear'd very devout and attentive when in Chapel. They who could read made regular Responses. Samuel Harris was most of the time very Sick, and confin'd to the Cell, not being able to come up; but when I visited him, he declar'd himself very Penitent, as did also the other two Highway Men Owen and Medling. How attended always at Chapel, excepting three or four times, when he pretended Business: I desir'd him only to mind the one thing necessary, and to lay aside all Thoughts of this World, which could be of no service to him. He said, that he spent his Time in Reading and Praying Night and Day; but desir'd to be excus'd, because of some small Affairs which were necessary to be done. Roberts behav'd with decency, and apparent Devotion. Eleanor Reddey was an ignorant, stupid Creature.
Upon Thursday the 5th of September, the Report of the said six Malefactors was made to his Majesty in Council; when Edward Roberts of St. Paul's, Covent-Garden, for privately stealing a Silver Watch, Value 5 l. a Pearl Snuff Box, and 15 s. in Money, from the Person of Rowland Evans, receiv'd his Majesty's most gracious Reprieve. The remaining Five, viz. James How, alias Harris, Griffith Owen, Tho. Medling, Samuel Harris, and Eleanor Reddey, were order'd for Execution.
James How, alias Harris, was indicted for feloniously stealing to the Value of 5 l. out of the House of John Spencer: To which Indictment he refus'd to plead, pretending he expected to be admitted as an Evidence; but tho' his Crimes were too notorious for that Liberty to be allowed him, yet
the Court were unwilling immediately to order him to the Punishment which the Law directs on such Occasions, but order'd the Sentence should be read to him, and indulg'd him with Time to consider of it; the Preamble is a follows:
" That the Prisoner shall be sent to the Prison from " whence he came, and put into a mean House stopt from " Light, and there shall be laid upon the bare Ground, without any Litter, Straw or other Covering, and without " any Garment about him, saving something to cover his " Privy Members; and that he shall lie upon his Back, and " his Face shall be covered, and his Feet bare; and that one " of his Arms shall be drawn with a Cord to one Side of the " House, and the other Arm to the other Side, and that his " Legs shall be used in the same Manner; and that upon his " Body shall be laid so much Iron and Stone as he can bear, " and more; and that the first Day after he shall have three " Morsels of Barley Bread, without any Drink, and the " second Day he shall drink so much as he can three Times, " of the Water which is next the Prison Door, saving running Water, without any Bread, and this shall be his Diet " until he die.
The next Morning he considered of all ill Consequence which would attend his Obstinacy, and pleaded Guilty to the Indictment.
James How, alias Harris, 37, or 38 Years of Age, born (as he said) at Windsor, of honest Parents, who gave him good Education in reading, writing, and other things needful to be known, to fit him for Business, and instructed him in the Christian Religion, which in the latter Course of his Life was the least of his Study. When of Age, he was of such an extravagant Temper, that he did not apply himself to any particular Business or Employment, till at length to screen himself from the Imputation of Idleness, he went to Sea , and there being of a robust Body and fit for hard Labour, he behav'd himself indifferently well, and to the Satisfaction of his Officers, and got some little Preferment among the Seamen, and (as he said) if he had cultivated the Favour of his Officers, particularly the Admiral, in whose Ship he was, he had a fair Prospect of further Preferment: But not loving to be confined to any particular Business, he chose rather to come home, and take himself to his rambling way of living upon Purchase, as judging it easier to rob another of a good round Sum at once, than to be oblig'd to earn his Bread in an industrious and honest Way. He had been several Times taken up and imprison'd, upon Suspicion of stealing and thieving, he being dextrous at breaking open Houses, and picking all manner of Locks, when he had got in. He was a Prisoner in Newgate some Years ago, and being then under Sentence of Transportation, he forg'd a Letter, as from a noble Lord to a Gentleman of Honour, desiring him to be set at Liberty to serve as a good Hand on Board of one of his Majesty's Ships, but the Imposture being discover'd before he got out of Prison, he was order'd to Clerkenwell Bridewell , to work at hard Labour there for two Years, but there they would not receive him, as believing him to be of a sturdy and ungovernable Temper, who would be forming Means for his Escape, whereupon he was return'd back again and confin'd in Newgate, during that Time or longer for this Villany.
This Forgery (as he said) was done by the Advice and Contrivance of two others. He own'd, that he had been profoundly Wicked from his Childhood, having been disobedient to his Parents, and unwilling to comply either with their Advice or the Council of his Friends, who wish'd him well; but being of an ungovernable, unweildy Temper, and addicting himself wholly to Covetousness, he would not keep himself in good Service, nor any Business; but still follow'd his old Trade of Thieving and Robbing, which brought him in the readiest Gain. Besides the Robbery of which he was convicted, which he confess'd judicially; he own'd that he had committed many more, he having had no other way of maintaining himself and his Family, but by the Purchases he made that way: And among others he affirm'd, that he was the Person who robb'd Mrs. Dawson in Wapping, of the Plate, Money and Papers, of which Robbery Eleanor Reddey was convicted, upon her own Confession, and upon her swearing it against William Read as her Accomplice, who was acquitted. He said, that he had several Papers of Mrs. Dawsons, and some of her Plate, which he offer'd to restore, if she would procure a Reprieve, either for himself, or for his Fellow Convict, Eleanor Reddey. I told him, that I believ'd it was not in her Power to do either of these Things, and that if he did not restore these stollen Goods to Mrs. Dawson, when it was in his Power, he could not die in Peace of the Church, and that (as Men would most justly judge according to the Tenor of the Gospel) he left the World at Enmity with God, and declar'd himself a Reprobate, as dying finally Impenitent. Whatever Arguments or Reasons could be advanced that way, he persisted obstinate. I seriously exhorted him to Repentance, and in Testimony thereof to do Justice to those he had injur'd, to the utmost of his Power. He answer'd in a civil Manner, but with an inflexible peremptory Obstinacy. He seem'd to have been a Fellow of good Understanding, and capable of good Business, if he had not employ'd his Wit in the Service of the Devil, and to the worst of Purposes. I reprov'd him also for using undecent and virulent Expressions against Persons, who were not so favourable to him as he thought they might have been, and whom it no ways became him to reproach in such a Manner, and he not having those Signs of true Repentance which were requisite. A little before he died he began to relent and turn more Flexible, but it is to be feared, that it was only in Point of Civility and good Manners, which was all I could make of it.
The Night before he died, he appear'd more Penitent and Contrite than formerly; and after many Intreaties and pressing Reasons us'd, he gave to me a large Box full of Papers belonging to Mrs. Dawson, which he desir'd me to keep carefully, they being of considerable Value, and restore them to the proper Owner. Since he made Restitution of part of what was stollen, I urg'd him to restore the Plate also; that he said he could not do, for that it was dispos'd off, and he knew not how to recover it. He died professing Penitence, Faith in Christ, and that he was in Peace with all the World. He said that he could not die with Peace in his Mind, till he gave some kind of Satisfaction to Mrs. Dawson.
Griffith Owen, was a second Time Indicted for Assaulting Doctor Edward Hulse on the Highway, putting him in Fear, and taking from him a silver Watch, value forty Shillings, Two Guineas, and Eight Shillings in Silver, on the 13th, of July last.
Richard Barker Depos'd, That having taken Observation of them drinking at the Coach and Horses at Tottenham, and suspecting them to be loose People, he knew them to be the same by the Moon-light, as they came up some time after that, to Rob him about a Mile from Edmonton- Church ; although he told them that he knew them, yet they pull'd him off his Horse, and Rob'd him of five Pound and Six-Pence, and that the next Morning he found Seven-Pence in the Place were he was Rob'd, which he suppos'd in their hurry, they had drop't.
William Hyat Depos'd, that suspecting these Three to be Highway Men, upon the Description which Doctor Hulse, and Mr. Barker gave of them; He took them up upon Suspicion, and then Mr. Barker Swore to them. Doctor Hulse Depos'd, that they Rob'd him of his Watch and Money, and that one of them, who was Owen, had a Scar in his Face.
Thomas Bennet depos'd, that the Prisoner was the Man who got upon the Coach Box and beat him, and afterwards Rob'd his Master; they could not be contented with that, tho' they beat out one of his Teeth, and then broke his own Whip about him. Henry Greenwood confirmed these Depositions; but he could Swear to none but Owen. The Jury found all the three Guilty. There was a fourth Person in Confederacy with them who is not yet taken.
Griffin Owen, not full Twenty years of Age, as he inform'd me, of honest Parents, who gave him good Education at School, in Reading and Writing, and Instructed him in Christian Principles. When of Age, they Bound him Apprentice to a Butcher in Newgate Market, with whom he Serv'd out the most part of his Time, although not with that Exactness and Respect, as he ought to have done. Till of late, he gave himself wholly up to Wickedness; leaving his Master, and joining himself with his two Associates, and Fellow-Sufferers, and a Third who made his Escape when the other Three were Apprehended, for Robbing on the Highway: Which way of Living they follow'd but a few Weeks before they were taken; having (as they said) only committed Six Robberies, of which they made about Twenty Pound, which they Spent or Divided equally among themselves. He could give no Reason, why he Engag'd Himself in such wicked Courses, especially, since he well knew the Danger of such desperate Enterprizes; but that it was a violent Temptation of the Devil, attended with an Inclination to Idleness and Bad Company; particularly Harris his Companion, who first Advis'd him; which wicked Advice, he had neither the Grace nor Sense to Resist. He own'd, that it was not the want of any Thing Necessary, which prompted him to such a bad Course, since his Parents gave him what was Needful: But the want of Consideration, and keeping themselves always in Liquor, so that they were like so many mad Men, that knew not, or gave not themselves Time to think upon what they were doing, or what would be the Consequence of it. He confess'd, that he had always been a very wicked Boy, Disobedient to his Parents, and Disrespectful to his Master; that he neglected the Ordinances of God and Man, and did not observe the Sabbath, which was a great Uneasiness to him: In short, he own'd, that he had forsaken God, and therefore that God had most justly Forsaken him, and given him up to those miserable Calamities which befel him.
He always behav'd with a deal of apparent Devotion and Sincerity, and express'd an earnest desire to partake of the Blessed Sacrament. He said, that they liv'd most Miserably, being always in Fear of being Apprehended, while they follow'd their unlawful Ways. He confess'd himself one of the chief of Sinners; declar'd that he sincerely Repented of all his Sins, believ'd in Jesus Christ his only Saviour, thro' whom he expected Salvation, and Died in Peace with all Mankind.
Thomas Medlin, Thirty Nine years of Age, born of mean Parents, who gave him but little Education, so that he could neither Write nor Read; he was put to some Handicraft Trade which he left, and took himself to be a Labourer to the Bricklayers , by which means he Supported himself and his Family; till falling in with wicked Women, and turning a Slave to Drink, and accustoming himself to idle Company, he could not any longer apply himself to settl'd Business: But being intimate with Harris, and complying with his Hellish and destructive Counsel, he join'd himself into the Gang of Highway Robbers, which hurried him to his Ruin. He said, that he had not been notoriously Wicked in the former part of his Life, and that till of late, he was never a Thief or Robber, and but for a few Weeks before, he was Apprehended in Company with his Fellow Sufferers on the Highway. He also own'd, that they had very poor Living during that Time, and that he justly Suffer'd for his wicked Deeds. He acknowledg'd himself a very great Sinner in Drinking, Whoring, Cursing and idling away his Time, for which the just Judgements of God had fallen upon him. He declar'd, that he was very Penitent for all his Sins, that he believ'd in Jesus Christ, to be saved through his Merits, and that he forgave all Men any Offences which have been done to him, as he expected Forgiveness from Almighty God.
Samuel Harris, Twenty-Nine Years of Age, of Honest Parents, who Educated him in Reading and Writing, and Instructed him in the Necessary Principles of Christianity, was of no particular Trade, but serv'd Bricklayers in Company with Medlin, and then it was, that the Contracted an intimate Familiarity; and that Harris propos'd first to Medlin his wicked Designs, to which Medlin and Owen, readily agreed, without thinking upon the fatal Event which they knew would befal Them. When I reprov'd Harris, for his great Wickedness in Inticing Others, to betake themselves to those desperate Courses: He said, that they were all equally Guilty, and that none of them could, or ought to Blame each other, it being our own wicked Inclinations; the Truth of which, the other Two acknowledg'd, Harris said, that he had been as wicked a Person, as any upon the Face of the Earth, that there was scarce any Sin he had not Committed, and that he was at least equal
in Impiety to the vilest Creature. He was much afflicted with Sickness, but always profest a very deep Repentance, as his two Associates did, owning that the Calamities which befell them were most Just, because of their sinning against much Light and Knowledge, and the Convictions of their own Consciences. Harris died apparently Penitent, believing to be saved thro' the Merits of Jesus Christ, and in Peace with all the World.
Eleanor Reddey, of St. Dunstans, Stepney, was indicted for privately and feloniously stealing two Silver Tankards, two Silver Mugs, a Silver Cup and Punch Ladle, and 7 l. 16 s. in Money, on the 22d of July last, the Property of Jane Dawson, in the House of Isabella and Jane Dawson aforesaid.
Isabella Dawson depos'd, that she heard Eleanor Reddey confess before Justice Jackson, that she open'd the Door of the House, when her Mistress, Jane Dawson was in Bed, and let William Read into the House, and that she stood and saw him take the Plate, whilst she watch'd to see if any Body came. Sarah Thompson depos'd to the same Effect, that she consented to his taking away the Goods, and sign'd her Confession without any Compulsion. John Hooper the present Executioner, depos'd also to the same Effect. William Read, no Evidence being against him, was acquitted, and Eleanor Reddey, found guilty. Death.
Eleanor Reddey, 38 Years of Age, of mean Parents, was a Posthumous Child, her Mother at Wapping, put her to School, but she would not be kept there, and was always of the most disobedient Temper to her in the World; altho' otherwise, as both her Mother and she said, very obliging in her Carriage to every Body else. She denied that she had ever been a Thief, or that she had otherways wrong'd any Body to the Value of a Farthing. As to her taking upon herself the robbing of Mrs. Dawson, she said it was by the Persuation of some Women in the Neighbourhood, who desir'd her to do it, and afterwards to accuse William Read, by doing whereof they assured her that she would save her own Life, if she became an Evidence against him; and being afraid that some Body would swear against herself, believing what they said, and being otherwise a silly, ignorant, and timorous Creature, comply'd with their Advice, and by this Means became the sole Author of her own Misfortunes. I exhorted her to be Ingenuous, since she was to answer to God for her Declarations in a short Time, and withal told her, that if she lied in her Confessions, the great Judgment of God came upon her, in suffering her to fall into the Snare which she laid for another. The Truth of this she own'd, but otherwise deny'd the Robbery. She was very Ignorant of religious Matters, I did what I could to instruct her, but she made but small Progress. She appeared very Penitent for her Sins, and lamented her own Folly and Wickedness, but denied that she had been notoriously Wicked in her Life. She died in the Faith of being saved through the Merits of Jesus Christ, Penitent for her Sins, and in Peace with all the World.
At the Place of Execution,
THEY were all very Devout and Serious, and adher'd to their former Confessions; only the Woman Pray'd to God to be Merciful to her Soul, and seemingly with a sincere Heartiness forgave all the World: As likewise James How, desir'd it might be Inserted in the Dying Speech, That although he had been a great Sinner, and had committed many Crimes himself; yet his Wife to whom he was lawfully Married, knew nothing of and never concurr'd with him in his villainous Practices; and therefore he hop'd that she and his Posterity should not suffer upon his Account, since they were Innocent with Respect to the Enormities of his Life.
This is all the Account given by me,