THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE. His ACCOUNT of the Behaviour, Confession, and Dying Words Of the TWO MALEFACTORS Who were executed at TYBURN On FRIDAY the20JUNE1746. BEING THE Third EXECUTION in the MAYORALTY OF THE Right Honble Sir Richard Hoare, Knt . LORD-MAYOR of the CITY of LONDON.
THE ORDINARY OF NEWGATE His ACCOUNT of the Behaviour, Confession, Etc.
BY virtue of a commission of Oyer, Terminer, and Goal-delivery of Newgate, held before the Right Honourable Sir Richard Hoare, Knt . Lord Mayor of the city of London, Mr. Justice Wright, Mr. Justice Abney, Mr. Baron Clark, John Stracey, Esq ; Recorder of the city of London, and others of his Majesty's Justices of Oyer and Terminer for the city of London, and Goal-delivery of Newgate, held for the said city of London and county of Middlesex, at Justice-hall in the Old Bailey, on Thursday the 15th, Friday,the 16th, and Saturday the 17th of May, in the ninteenth year of his Majesty's reign; three malefactors, viz. SAMUEL WATSON, SAMUEL PRIGG, and WILLIAM RUSSEL, alias SAUNDERS, were capitally convicted for several crimes, and received sentence of Death accordingly, as followeth.
SAMUEL WATSON, born of very honest parents in Whitecross-street, in the parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate, with whom he served his time honestly as breechesmaker by trade, aged 28 years; wan indicted for robbing Jane, the wife of George Morris, of a scarlet cloak, and also of robbing
George Morris of 8s. and putting them in bodily fear of their lives, on the 24Januarylast; for which he was condemned. He was also indicted for a robbery, with one James Taylor, on William Parran, taking from him one pair of silver shoe-buckles, one silk handkerchief, valued 12d. one tobacco-box tipt with silver, valued 18d. and 20s. of money: for which he received sentence of death.
After his condemnation he always denied the fact, and said, he never wronged any man in his life. The first time I spoke with him, he thought it very hard, that he should die for a crime of which he was no ways guilty. I said, You are like Apollodorus, a friend of Socrates, who expressed his grief for his dying innocent; "What!" replied the Philosopher, with a smile, "would you have me die "guilty?" I shewed him the comfort and power of a good conscience, and how it would support him to the last; but, as he was a sinner in many other respects, he must of necessity repent thereof, or perish eternally. So I heard no more of that complaint. But he could not come up to that Christian duty of Forgiveness of his enemies, who (he said) for the lucre of the reward, had sworn his life away, till he heard of the confession and discovery of Bray, and the respite of the sentence of death by his Majesty: then he was of another mind towards them.
On the 10th of June, John Stracey, Esq ; Recorder of the city of London, made his report to his Majesty of the said three malefactors; and it appearing by several affidavits, that he the said William Watson was not concerned in the said robberies, but that the same were committed by one William Bray and his accomplices, as appeared by oath of the said William Bray before the Honourable Court of Kings Bench at Westminster, and set forth in the information and voluntary confession of the said William Bray, made and sworn to before the Worshipful James Fraser, Esq ; one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace , for the county of Middlesex and the city and liberty of Westminster; his Majesty was most graciously pleased to respite his sentence of death for six weeks,, in order that the truth thereof may more fully appear.
I procured him a bible, lent him a good book, and advised him to peruse the Whole duty of Man; and to read the Preface of it over and over in the first place; for it is the best preface of all the books in the world. But they complained frequently of the darkness of the cells, that they could not read, even in the day-time, without candles. He had been a soldier five years, was in Flanders, and had the character of an honest man from all that knew him. Going to see a fellow-soldier in Clerkenwell Bridewell, he was apprehended there upon bare suspicion. He complained grievously of those that robbed his house of divers valuable goods, to the value (he says) of 30 or 40 l. when they had apprehended him.
II. SAMUEL PRIG, of the parish of Christ-church, Spittle-fields was indicted for the murder of Thomas Girl, for which he received sentence of Death. He was 28 years of age, had had tolerable education, and had read a good deal. He said, he had received the blessed sacrament an hundred times in the church of England; but of late years he had dissented from it, therefore he would not receive it from me now, nor change his principles, trusting in the mercy of God, who is gracious to all forts of men; and was very reserved and unwilling to give me any account of his life and conversation. He had some dirrerence with those of the Foundery in Moorfields, because they reproached him for forsaking them; and wrote them a very sharp invective, which I saw.
He said, that his Counsellor deceived him, in forbidding him to speak one word in his own defence, but to plead guily; for, if he had laid open the provocations given him by Girl, he did not doubt but the Court would have acquitted him. He complained sadly of Girl, and said he was a vile old rogue, above 50 years of age, who made it his business to go about ruining all innocent people, whom he could allure, and had stood in the Pillory several times; and that he thought he did no crime in sending such a villain out of the world, that he might do no more mischief in it. He fell into his acquaintance a little before at an ale-house in Covent-Garden, and had seen him about nine or ten
times; but never had had any criminal conversation with him, no, nor the least thought of it. The beginning of the quarrel was, that Girl wanted five guineas of him, and because he could not get it, he went about all public-houses, detracting, slandering, and speaking all the vile things that he could, invent against him.
I told him, as to that head, that though Girl were the most impious and wicked man upon earth, he had no authority or power to take away his life, being a private person. There is nothing so valuable as Life; none can give it, or take it away, but God; and therefore he was reserved the disposal of it entirely to himself; and consequently no man may presume to take away the life of another man, but by God's commission such as the civil Magistrate of a nation, a soldier in lawful war, and any man in his own just and necessary defence, or by some accident, which we call chance-medley. In these cases God, the Lord of life and death, doth kill those persons, who by their crimes have forfeited their lives to the law of God and the land Murder is one of the most crying sins, marked out by God for vengeance, and feldom escapes deserved punishment in this life; because it is a great affront to God, in assuming the disposal of his gift, dispossessing him of his right, robbing him of his creature, his child, his servant, his subject, and particularly of his own image; for "in the image of God made " he man;" for so the injury is not only done to man, but to God himself, whose image is defaced and destroyed thereby. And therefore no satisfaction was to be taken for the life of a murderer, though the avenger of blood were willing to forgive him, because the life of the murdered is not in possession of the avenger of blood, but in God alone. This is one of the seven commandments given to Noah and obliged all Nations; and so it was observed among the heathens, how brutish soever.
Murder is also an extreme injury to man, who thereby is deprived of an invaluable good, which can by no means be recompensed, or repaired. He that loses his life loses all that he hath, and is capable of possessing for ever. The slayer robs his brother of temporal life, all the comforts and advantages of it, time of repentance and
and so he murders his soul. But this and much more had not much weight with him at that time, being enraged, in all probability a gainst that abominable and vile wretch, as he called him; though afterwards he was of a more forgiving mind.
He went to see the execution of Matthew, Henderson, little thinking that his own was so near; which should teach all men to keep that excellent advice of the apostle continually in their minds, "Let him that thinketh he stand"eth, take head left he fall," 1 Cor. x. 12. But alas! these dreadful examples of divine vengeance, which fall upon notorious criminals, make very little impression upon the spectators; they are soon forgot, and they persevering in their old sinful ways, fall very soon into the like condemnation. He was a man of good sense, be haved very devoutly, and had a stedfast faith and hope in God's mercy. I heard him say to his sorrowful and disconsolate wife, "By Friday I shall be with the "Lord." He frequently said, he was weary of this vile world, had seen the vanity of it, and desired to depart this sinful life.
III. WILLIAM RUSSEL, otherwise SAUNDERS, together with Matthias Keys, not yet taken, was indicted for committing a robbery upon the King's highway, in Chelsea road, upon William Spear, and feloniously taking from him one silver watch, value 3l. Etc. on the 15March last, between six and seven o'clock in the evening. He was indicted also a second time, for robbing Mr. Macone, near Barnet, on the16 December last, about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, of a silver watch, value 4l. He was found guilty of both Indictments, and condemned to death for the same. He was a young man about 22 years of age good education, and sense. He had previously made confessions to another person, for some considerations; and for that reason I shall say no more relating to his character.
While these three malefactors were under sentence of death, they constantly attended divine worship in the chapel of Newgate, at morning and evening prayers every day. I frequently expounded a chapter or psalm that I had read them, which
I found to be most proper for their conditions; instructed them in the principles of the Christian saith, the blessed sacrament, the duty of forgiveness, charity, patience, resignation to the will of God, and sincere repentance for all their former sins, more especially for those for which they were sentenced to die; and they behaved very devoutly all the time.
On Sunday last, the15June, I preached in the morning upon St. Luke xv. 7. "I say un" to you, that likewise joy shall " be in heaven over one sinner " that repenteth, more than over " ninety and nine just persons, " which need no repentance." I told them, that by " ninety and " nine" that went not aftray, we may understand the holy angels, who kept their first state of innocency; a great flock indeed, but a certain for an uncertain number. By the "loft sheep," Adam and his posterity, who, through the temptation of Satan and the bad use of his own free-will and other perfections, fell from God into sin, misery, and condemnation. And by the shepherd, who went to seek this lost sheep, the ever blessed Jesus, who is the lover or souls, that came down from heaven to seek and to save that which was lost and gone astray, and is frequently called the Shepherd by the holy prophets. And when the glorious work of man's redemptio was commencing at his incarnation, the joyful song of that blessed host was, "Glory to God in " the highest, and on earth peace, " good-will towards men." As they were glad and joyful for the redemption of mankind in general, so they are likewise for every one in particular, who turns from sin to serve the living and true God: for they are so enamoured with the love of God, that every thing that is pleasing to him is delightful to them, God is the ocean of good, delights in communicating his goodness to the whole creation; and they know it: for their flaming spirits are sired with charity, and pleased to see other creatures of God made happy.
But this joy is not confined to the holy angels only; it is evident in the eternal father and the Son also, in that he sent him to offer terms of peace and reconciliation with him pardon and eternal falvation; and in the parable of the
prodigal's returning home. "This " my son was lost, and is found, was " dead, and is alive again; and they " began to be merry." And this parable of the shepherd's rejoicing after he had sound the lost sheep shews what joy our Lord has when he rescues a foul from the jaws of sin and destruction: and it was predicted by the prophet, "He " shall seed his slock like a shep" herd, he shall gather the lambs " with his arm, and carry them " in his bosom, and shall gently " lead those that are with young," Isai. xl. II. "And he shall see of " the travel of his soul, and shall " be satisfied; by his knowledge " shall my righteous servant justi" fy many," Isai. liii. II. O what tenderness of affection, love, and goodness is here! It infinitely surpasses the love of a tender mother to her sucking child: for he laid down his life to save theirs.
But that there should be more joy in heaven at the conversion of a lost sinner, than at the perseverance of the righteous, is very amazing, and yet it is very true: for the Father shewed greater joy and affection at the return of his lost son, than ever he did to the elder brother: for a man that has had a religious education and example,
like Josias, Timothy, and the young man, that kept all the commandments from his youth, was never loft to God, but one that has wandered a long time in sin and wickedness, and was just at the gates of hell and damnation, but at last is brought to see and bewail his solly, madness, and misery, and to return to his heavenly Father, must certainly offer a more acceptable sacrifice of repentance and true holiness, by enhancing the divine mercy in his forgiveness and salvation. The greater danger and misery he was delivered from, so much the more is the grace of God manifested in his deliverance. The cure of an old, rooted, and very dangerous disease, is greater mercy to the patient, and honour to the physician, than that of a flight scratch. He that hath much forgiven him loves him that forgave that, much more than he that had but little forgiven. The conversions of Manasses, St. Paul, and Mary Magdalen are glorious manifestations of God's superabundant grace and benevolence. God's grace was the more magnified, that sin had so much abounded.
Alsa! as many train up their dear babies from the cradle in swearing, lying, thieving, and all
other immoralities, it is no wonder they should come to a shameful and miserable and Such parents are nurses for hell, and tutors for the Devil; they not only damn their own souls, but those of their children. It is to be hoped, that the noble design of our Orphanhouse will meet with du encouragement which will in time rescue many souls from hell and damnation: and if ministers of parishes, church-wardens, overseers of the poor, and other religious gentlemen would look into poor, wicked families, and take these unfortunate chilren into workhouses and other proper places, where they might be blessed with a Christian education, there would be less business for executioners every where.
But those that have fallen into notorious crimes have the greatest encouragement imaginable from my text, to repent truly, and cause joy in heaven, joy and glory to themselves to eternity Let no criminals despair of pardon, for God has mercy enough, Jesus Christ has merit enogh, the Holy Ghost has power enough to save them.
In the afternoon I preached upon these words, Psal. xxiii. 4. " Yea, though I walk through the " vailcy of the shadow of death, " I will fear no evil; for thou art " with me." From which I told the auditory, that David laid down one firm and stable proposition, of God's peculair care of all his faithful people; and from thence drew many comfortable consequences, and this of the text is one. It is a glorious and comfortable blessing for a man to have a rational and well-grounded saith in God; it will carry him through all difficulties in this life, and through the dark dismal valley of death itself. David knew that he must pass through this dismal stroke of death, and so must all others.
The way into the other world is attended with great pain, horror, and dread to most men, upon several accounts. 1. From the violent agonies and pains that usually attend it. 2. From the consideration of a future state, what it is, where it is and what men's own state and condition in it shall be. 3. From the thoughts of parting with all the pleasures and enjoyments of this life. 4. From the sense of sin and guilt contracted in this life. 5. From the dreadful apprehensions of the day of judgment.
At the Place of EXECUTION.
IN the morning about 7 o clock, they were called to attend divince service in the chapel, where they accordingly came, both decently habited in deep mourning, and behaved devoutly: but Prig said his agony was so great, that he had very near lost his memory with regard to the responses, and desired that the Rev. Mr. Vilette, who attended them, would be so kind to read them to him. Russel seemed to have cried a great deal, and had tears standing in his eyes. Both of them laid their heads often upon the table, and hid their faces as men that were weeping. Russel received the blessed sacrament, but Prig refused it, saying, he belonged to the Dissenters.
Prig confessed, that he was tempted to make away with himself, by opening a vein in his wrist, but he was shocked at the advice, though prest upon him by a person in the press-yard. He had read a great deal, but for want of learning his notions were so confused, that it made him opiniated and stubborn in his way of thinking. He had been a follower of Mr. Wesley, but upon some difference left him, and returned to his former dissenting congregation. The fact for which he suffered, he was at last brought seemingly to a abhor and detest: I say " seemingly," because he could not forbear reflecting with anger and indignation on the vile actions of the Deceased, saying, he had done no more than what was properly the office of Jack Ketch; but a proper remonstrance and arguments being used by Mr. Vilette, he burst into a flood of tears, and acknowledged the heinousness of his crime.
When the service of the chapel was over, they were both conveyed to the place of execution in the same mourning-coach. The spectators, observing them often smile, as they were carrying along, concluded them to be harden'd wretches.
At the fatal tree they were put into one cart, and being tied up, were asked, if they had any thing to add to their former confessions, to which they answered in the negative. Mr. Vilette asked, if he should continue prayer for them; they answered, it was their great desire. Being then asked, whether they were in love and charity with
all men, and forgave their prosecutors; they both answered they did: but Prig, in an abrupt manner, added, "that if it were to do again " he would do it."-What! commit the same murder? "No, I " mean, were the execution re" peated, I should Wilingly submit " to it." And then turning to the executioner, he said, "This thing " is not right placed," meaning the halter. Yes, Sir, but it is But though the executioner assured him it was quite right, yet he was troubled about the fixing of it, still continuing to complain about it; and when rebuked for minding his body more than his soul, he said, " I do this thar I may not suffer " long, but be soon put out of my " misery." They could not forbear looking round and bowing to their acquaintances, but being gently reproved for this unseemly behaviour, they appeared more attentive, and when their souls were committed to the infinite mercies of God, appeared somewhat more affected with their approaching end. They bowed to the Minister, embraced each other, and as the cart was drawing away, called upon God to receive them.
This is all the Account given by me,