NUMBER I. For the said YEAR.
Sold by M. COOPER, in Pater-noster Row. M.DCC.LIX.
THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE's ACCOUNT of the Behaviour, Confession, and Dying Words, &c.
BY virtue of his majesty's commission of the Peace, Oyer and Terminer, and at the general sessions of goal delivery of Newgate, holden for the city of London and county of Middlesex, at Justice-hall in the Old Bailey, before the Right Hon. Sir Richard Glynn, Knight and Bart. Lord Mayor; the Right Hon. William Lord Mansfield, Lord chief justice of his majesty's court of King's Bench; the Hon. Sir Sidney Statfford Smythe, Knt. one of the Barons of his majesty's court of Exchequer ; The Hon. Sir John Eardley Wilmot Knt. one of the Justices of his majesty's court of King's Bench ; the worshipful Sir William Moreton Knt. Recorder of the city of London and others his Majesty's justices of Oyer and Terminer for the said city, and county on Wednesday the 24th; Thursday 25th, and Friday 26th of October 1759, in the thirty-third year of his majesty's reign: John Ayliffe, esq; was capitally convicted for forgery: James Piddington was convicted for stealing a gelding the property of Thomas Hill, esq; and William Piddington for being an accessary before the fact to that felony.
On Wednesday the 7th of November the report of the said three malefactors, was made to his majesty, when
Mr. Ayliffe however, being respited for a week, the night before the appointed day of execution, he was not executed ' till Monday the 19th instant.
John Ayliffe was indicted by the name of John Ayliffe late of London, esq; for that, after the 29th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twenty nine; to wit, on the 13th day of April, in the thirty second year of the reign of our sovereign Lord George the second, king of Great Britain, &c. with force and arms at London, that is to say, at the inner Temple, in London aforesaid, he feloniously and falsely did make, forge, and counterfeit, and cause and procure to be falsely made, forged and counterfeited, and did willingly act and assist in the false making, forging, and counterfeiting a certain deed with the name H. Fox thereunto subscribed, purporting to be a lease from the right hon. Henry Fox to him the said John Ayliffe, and to have been signed by him the said Henry Fox, and to have been sealed and delivered by him the said Henry Fox: which said false, forged, and counterfeited deed is to the purport and effect recited at large in the indictment. Being a lease bearing date the 22d. day of November 1758, of a certain messuage or tenement and farm called and known by the name of Rusley Park in the parish of Bishopstone in the county of Wills, together with about one hundred and twenty acres of arable and pasture land, late in the occupation of Henry Willoughby, esq; to commence from the 25th of March then last past for the term of 99 years, if the said John Ayliffe, Sarah his wife, or John their son or any or either of them should happen so long to live, at the yearly rent of five pounds, free of all taxes and outgoings whatsoever (this sum being inserted in this forged lease, instead of thirty five pounds a year as it was really expressed in the original lease.) In witness whereof, the parties to these presents have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seals the day and year first above written, H. Fox. Sealed and delivered, being first duly stamped, in the presence of John Fannen, James Hobson, with intention to defraud the said Henry Fox, against the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace of our Lord the King, his crown and dignity.
The indictment further charged the said John Aylife with the felonious publication of such forged deed as a true deed (knowing the same to be forged) with intent to defraud the said Henry Fox, against the statute.
It is obvious to remark on hearing or reading the trial of this indictment, that nothing could be more fairly, clearly, and unexceptionably proved, than all the several articles of it were proved; that the evidence, even his own evidence was all against, and nothing material for the prisoner: that his own council, tho' able and eminent gentlemen were much surprized and disappointed as they found themselves misled by their briefs from his misrepresenting the state of his case, and deceiving his attorney, by insisting on his innocence even to them; contrary to a received maxim, never to deceive your own advocate or council; for how can they defend if they know not the weak part, as well as the strength of the cause?
When brought to the bar to receive sentence, he was told that his monstrous ingratitude to his benefactor, had rendered, " the very sight of him shocking to " the court;" that this was aggravated by his foolish conduct with respect to his own felicity, which tho' so much put in his own power, he had so absurdly betrayed and cast away. - It was added, " he was no object of compassion," and being very seriously and pathetically exhorted to repentance by the recorder, sentence of death was pronounced against him.
At all which dreadful rebukes and strokes of justice, as also on his trial, he appeared too unconcerned; too little affected indeed, for a person who could make no answer to all these heavy charges.
I own it then struck me, what I found afterwards to be his distinguishing character - That he was a very weak man, with some thing worse blended, and wrought up, with that weakness.
On enquiry, it appears from good authority, that Mr. Ayliffe's father was a servant of the better class in the family of Goddard Smith, esq; a justice of peace of Tockenham in the county of Wills , and that his son, John Ayliffe was the issue of a marriage with the house-keeper in the same family, and was born at Tockenham aforesaid - That the last heir male of the Ayliffe family being asked whether the father of John Ayliffe was a-kin to his family? he replied, no, he was not, for that he was of a spurious line. This stands upon the same authority.
When he had been taught the first rudiments of learning at home - it is said, he was sent to Harrow on the hill, to be farther educated, whether as a companion to a young gentleman (as some think) or in a state less dependent, doth not appear. - His next step was teaching a small free-school at Lineham in Wiltshire worth about 10 l. a year.
In this situation he married, about 16 years ago, a young gentlewoman the daughter of a clergyman at Tockenham aforesaid, with whom, he had a portion of five hundred pounds; by her he has left one son about eleven years of age; 'tis said, this was a stolen match, that he consumed his wife's fortune by
extravagance, and that she died about December last; and since the beginning of his troubles, about six months after, he married the person who is now left his widow.
According to his own account, it is fourteen Years since he was taken into Mrs. Horner's family (to whose notice he was recommended when in distress) as her house-steward; and afterwards advanced to some share of management in her estates; and the advantage of being a commissary of the musters was added to this, by his right honourable benefactor, Mr. Fox, and from this he commenced an Esquire.
In this sunshine of favour and affluence, he could not enjoy himself without that something unpossest; the restless and unwary pursuit of which broke the neck of his fortune, hopes and life.
In this course he ran himself out, and plunged deeply in debt, by several illconcerted and unlucky projects, in which, they who best knew him, say, he was the bubble of his own avarice and imprudence, wrought on by the cunning and craft of others; while he coveted estates, which he had neither a right nor ability to come into: for example, part of Mrs. Hunt's, which, it is said, cost him 1500 l. to no purpose: again, by a connection with some Jew in the clothing-branch, whose bills he accepted to near 1000 l. value, which was all sunk: he was also tricked of six or seven hundred pounds, it is said, by endeavouring to purchase a part of 'Squire Baskerville's estate.
Thus reduced in his circumstances, and hunted by his creditors, he fell into the snare of forgery (a desperate expedient) to raise money, which proved fatal to him.
This was not immediately detected, till the inevitable chain of events brought it to light.
Mean time he was arrested, last May, at the suit of Gabriel Cruse of the Devizes, upholder, for 300 l. and in consequence, charged with other actions, to the amount of 1100 l. on which account he was detained at an officer's house in Stanhope-Street, Clare-Market, for six weeks, and then removed to the Fleet-Prison, where he lay till the first day of the Sessions in September last, when an indictment for forgery being found against him, he was removed to Newgate, but at his own instance his trial was put off.
From that time till after his conviction, he was scarce known to me, either by face, name, or state of his case; because he neither attended the chapel (which his sickness might now and then prevent) nor admitted, much less desired, any visit from me, tho' I daily passed by his chamber-door, in going up to the chapel; of which, whenever he had notice, he ordered his door to be shut, as I am since credibly informed by one who waited on him. - Once, indeed, before his trial, he desired to have one of those little books (as he called
them) addressed to prisoners for crimes; which was delivered to him by me, with an earnest request that he would make good use of it, hoping he would attend divine service, when able; which, I believe, he once complied with before his trial.
October the 27th. The second day after his conviction, the sessions being ended, allowed me time to visit him in his chamber, as he said he could not get up to chapel for the weight of his irons, which till then he had not felt, and with which he said his legs were now much swelled, being put on only since his conviction.
It was now hoped, after what appeared on the trial, that there would be little difficulty in bringing him to acknowledge and bewail his offences, and heartily repent of them - But instead of this, he denied, for some days, that he wrote that lease which had the reserved rent at 5 l. a year, but insisted that it was a counterpart of the true lease, and the sum only a mistake of the transcriber; and he said the witnesses had not a competent knowledge of his hand, who deposed it to be his writing.
To this representation, I opposed, what was proved on the trial, telling him that was the time to make his defence, and prove what he now alledged, if true.
To this, he replied, that the witnesses were entirely dependent on the prosecutor, and ready to swear any thing; and that the prosecution was intended to deprive him, his wife and son, of considerable advantages, which he feared would fall to others, by his conviction and execution, to the amount of 420 l. a year and 3000 l.
From this time Mr. Ayliffe appeared no more (being confined to his chamber by illness) till the 31st of October, when he came to chapel. - In this chain of self-delusion and dissimulation was he held till a former confession, which he had made to another gentleman, stared him in the face, and forced him to quit his hold in the following manner: - Mr. Patterson met me near Guildball, and on my repeating Mr. Ayliffe's pretences to him, authorised me to tell him that he had confessed the forgery to him, and to confront him with it to this effect, that Ayliffe had carried the original lease to a certain person (whose name I forbear to mention) to draw a mortgage by it; that when he called soon after for the mortgage, that person told him that he could raise no money on it that would answer his purpose at the rate of 35 l. a year, that therefore he most make out another at 5 l. a year; that this was done accordingly, and that he himself engrossed the lease; but that that other person, in his presence, set Mr. Fox and the witnesses names to said new lease, so forged at 5 l. a year. - This confession of Mr. Ayliffe being repeated to himself the same day by me, he acknowledged he had given the said account of it to that gentleman, and said that this was the true account: but least any undue imputation may fall on that person, I have undoubted authority to say that Aylyffe's charge in that respect was false,
and that he himself set Mr. Fox's name to this forged lease.
November 2. Having given notice of my intention to administer the holy communion, Mr. Ayliffe was asked if he had ever been a communicant? To which he answered, that he had been frequently, and that no man liv'd a more regular life, than he was known to have done for many years by his neighbourhood and acquaintance. - To which, it was replied, that if so, his lapse was the worse and more dangerous; and as for his character, it was now put in a very different shade, not only by others, but by his own conduct, now (since his trial) exposed to the world. - All this he endeavoured to palliate, by alledging, that within a year and half past he had fallen into very bad hands, and been defrauded to the value of 3 or 4000 l. of which misfortunes he promised to write some account, but never performed, to my knowledge. He added, on another occasion, that two years ago he was worth 6000 l. in effects and in the receipt of 200 l. a year, and could not account what was become of it: that the several emoluments he was possessed of were not so advantageous to him as they appeared to be: that as deputy-receiver of South-Wales, he had scarce 40 l. a year clear, a clerk residing here in town having 20 l. yearly for receiving the Cash.
At different times, in order to excite him to a true sense of his crime, he was reminded of the general odium and unpitying temper he was fallen under on account of his ingratitude to his benefactor, and the abuse of his favours, on which he might have lived comfortably. With these considerations, when he admitted them to take place, he seemed not untouched, but still endeavouring to excuse and flatter himself, that all who were acquainted with him, and the true state of his case, did compassionate him; that he doubted not but Mr. Fox himself did pity him. This it must be owned he had reason to say, by the most sensible experience; but at present he would not attempt farther to justify or condemn himself; for that others would abundantly do bth for him.
He was, on another occasion, reminded of a heavy charge reported against him for betraying his deputy receiver P - g into the crime of imbezzling publick money, to the amount of 500 l. which, at Ayliffe's instance, he had let him have to answer a present demand, on his promise to repay it in due time, of which he had failed, whereby Mr. P - g lost his place, livelyhood and liberty.
The latter part of this charge he denied, asserting that he, P - g, was restored; and as to the loss of the money, that would be made up to the sufferer out of his estate, which was assigned over by a statute of bankruptcy for the benefit of his creditors.
As to the loss by the forgery, that he extenuated by saying that Mr. Clewer had another estate mortgaged to him, sufficient to repay the whole sums he had advanced, independent of the forged lease; and declared that he had never
himself, received more than 1040 l. cut of the sum of 1700 l. for which he had given a receipt on the mortgage deed, as mentioned in the trial; and that the rest of that sum was still unpaid. - Probably Mr. Ayliffe did not estimate the monies Mr. Clewer had become engaged to pay for him.
He pretended that he had laid out large sums in serving his benefactor, which he never charged, nor had any return for.
That therefore the charge of ingratitude was not so just and strong against him as many might be made to believe, and would be retorted on others.
That he was sensible he had been bought and sold like a pig. This was his low expression.
That he could not conceive why the transportation of him would not satisfy his prosecutors as well as his life.
His own conscience could have answered these articles more readily than any divine; that if he was sold, he had sold himself to work iniquity; and that the law had made his crime death, which it was not in the power of his prosecutor to change; and though that favour might have been sued for, he had taken measures which made it impracticable.
But he went on to say, that about this time twelvemonth he had spent some weeks with Mr. F - at H - dhouse on the foot of a familiar friend, and had then reason to expect any favour he thought fit to ask.
Observing he had few or no books, not so much as a bible of his own, made me ask the reason of it? He answered, that he had a pretty collection of books, among which were some of divinity, which were all sold, together with his other effects, at his house in the country to satisfy his debts.
A few days before the report was made to his Majesty, Mr. Ford delivered to me a paper wrote by Mr. Ayliffe, intitled the State of John Ayliffe's Affairs, and which paper, it seems, he had caused to be delivered to Mr. Secretary West, as a foundation for his Majesty's mercy, and in that paper, there is the following paragraph.
" Mr. Fox is now pleased to disown " the signing or setting his hand to the " lease, alledging it not to be the original, tho' he acknowledged his having signed the same lease so mortgaged as aforesaid to several persons, " and for this your petitioner is convicted, and sentenced to death."
And at the same time, Mr Ford delivered me the following letter from Ayliffe to Mr. Fox.
" Honoured Sir,
" THE faults I have been guilty of, " shocks my very soul, and particularly those, Sir, towards you, for " which I heartily ask God, and your " pardon. - The sentence I have pronounced against me, fills me with " horror, such, surely, as was never felt " by any mortal; what can I say? Oh my " good God! that I could think of any " thing I could to do induce you to have " mercy on me, and to prevail on you,
" good Sir, to intercede for my life, I " would do any thing in the whole " world, and submit to any thing for " my life, either at home or abroad; " for God's sake, good Sir, have compassion on your unhappy and unfortunate servant,
" Do, Sir, for Heaven's sake, save " my life, that I may continue a few " years longer, or as long as please " God, with my dear wife, who I love " more than life (if it can be) and my " dear little boy, for Christ's sake spare " me the ignominy of so shameful a " death, and do what you please with " me else."
These Mr. Ford delivered to me, in order that I might shew Mr. Ayliffe, and to ask him how he could trifle thus with himself, and how he could reconcile his confession in his letter, with his denial in his petition. This I accordingly did.
On setting these inconsistencies before him, he was told, the only apology I could make for him was, that his troubles had turned his head. - It was added, that he had taken a sure method to defeat all his hopes of mercy or pardon, by thus charging Mr. Fox, by whose intercession alone in this case he could expect any favour.
After which Mr. Ayliffe, it seems, wrote Mr. Ford a Letter, declaring his shame for his behaviour, and therein petitioned that gentleman's advice for his future conduct. - To which Mr. Ford sent the following answer.
" Mr. Ayliffe,
I Received your letter, soliciting my advice in your unhappy situation.
I sincerely wish the circumstances of your case were less disfavourable, that my advice might be more acceptable; but, as I scorn to deceive you, I shall speak with freedom.
His Majesty, with all His clemency, seldom pardons forgery; but besides, your defence upon your Trial and your conduct since are obstacles to His Royal Mercy insurmountable.
In that defence, and in your case since transmitted to Mr. West, you have insisted upon the forged Deed, you stand convicted of, to be the real Deed of Mr. Fox.
By this means you not only accuse all the Witnesses of perjury, but your once most worthy Benefactor and still generous Prosecutor of Murder.
Surely you cannot forget the Obligations you were under to Him as your Benefactor; I shall only remind you of those you owe him as your Prosecutor.
By his orders, you were not removed to Newgate till He was advised of its necessity; and, since your removal thither, 'twas his pleasure that, at His expence, you should have all possible indulgencies and accommodations in the Keeper's power.
At your instance, Mr. Fox readily consented to your Trial being put off till another Sessions.
Moreover, at your request, neither of the Confessions you made of this Forgery to Mr. Paterson or Mr. Stroud was given in evidence against you.
And after your conviction upon one Indictment, a second Trial was not pressed for upon the other Indictment, although it was for forging another Lease from Mr. Fox to you, of the same estate, for the same term, and for the same rent with the other forged Lease - with no other variation but only five days distance in the date.
Believe me I mention not these things to aggravate your misfortunes, but with compassion to awaken you, if possible, from the lethargy you are in, to remove the anxiety you express for this life, and to fix it upon that which is to come.
That you may make that confession before men that your conscience must suggest to you will be only acceptable to God for the ease of your conscience and for the salvation of your soul are the prayers of Your wellwisher,
This letter was delivered to him by me, and read by him, and then he permitted me to read it, he did not either at that time or afterwards attempt to answer or contradict any part of it, but seemed to acquiesce in it.
As Mr. Ford has mentioned indulgencies and accommodations, I shall here specify some of them, out of many others.
1. Mr. Fox sent a physician to attend him in the fleet in his illness, and to see whether it was safe to remove him.
2. When he was advised, it might be done with safety to his health - He was removed thither in a chair that he might not be exposed.
4. Instead of irons, (at Mr. Fox's expence) a special keeper was appointed by the keeper of the goal, to take care of him, so that, altho' by the means of his trial being put off, he was in Newgate seven weeks before his trial, yet had no irons put on him till after his conviction. - And this special indulgence was brought about by means of a letter which I have seen from Mr. Ayliffe to Mr. Lodge, in which he importuned Mr. Lodge, to desire that favour of Mr. Fox.
5. And after his conviction Mr. Fox (for the keeper's security) was at the expence of proper persons to attend him, that he might not (like other unhappy convicts in that melancholy situation) be removed from his chamber, into a condemned cell.
cary and surgeon attended him in his illness, at Mr. Fox's expence.
8. Besides which, Mr. Fox paid the rent of his chamber from the time of his commitment till his unhappy exit. - For all this I have unquestionable authority.
" I have wrote to Mr. Fox, God " grant he may have compassion on " me and grant my request.
" One thing I beg you'l intreat of " Mr. Fox that I may not be ironed, " which Mr. Akerman would have done " last night, but I begged them off, " 'till I could write to Mr. Fox, and " nothing can prevent it but a line under " Mr. Fox's own hand, signifying that " he will not suffer it to be done. If " Mr. Fox writes and only says he don't " desire it, that won't do, for Mr. " Akerman told me if Mr. Fox said so, " it would be leaving it to him, and he " could not prevent it, so that Mr. Fox " must, if he pleases write peremptory, " for Christ's sake obtain this of Mr. " Fox, and bring me - 'Till I " see you I shall be all distraction, " plead my cause, Sir, and may God " and Mr. Fox have mercy on me."
I am, Your disconsolate humble Servant,
" MR. Akerman will wait only this " day, pray deliver the inclosed " to Mr. Fox, with my humble duty - " if he should be at the Pay Office, " follow him there, let me conjure you " to deliver it into his own hands.
" God bless you, get the room I " mentioned for me, if you can, this " is so confined I cannot breath in " in it, and so dark I cannot write without a candle, even in the middle of " the day."
Before the report, it seems that Mr. Ayliffe sent another petition for mercy, addressed to the right hon. Mr. Pit, one of his majesty's principal secretaries of state which I have seen, and therein he admits the forgery of the lease in question, but declaring that he had no intention to defraud; wherein he says, that about 14 years ago he became steward to Mrs. Horner, late mother of the lady Ilchester deceased, and continued so about eight years.
That he having behaved in his stewardship to the great satisfaction and approbation of Mrs. Horner, she thought proper to make a provision for the sup
port of him and his family, and she first, by a codicil annext to her will, gave him a considerable sum of money, and an annuity for the life of himself, his wife, and son; and sometime afterwards revoked that codicil, and by another codicil, gave the petitioner a greater sum and annuity, and in the year 1749, cancelled that codicil, and did by deed of gift grant the petitioner an annuity of 420 l. per annum, and a sum of 3000 l. to be paid him, at and from her decease out of her estates, by her devised to Lord Ilchester, and did also grant the petitioner several beneficial leases for the lives of himself, his wife, and son, to commence from her decease, of lands part of the Ayliffe estate, the fee whereof she had before by deed given to the said Henry Fox, and his heirs.
That Mrs. Horner was a timorous woman, and cautious of letting Lady Ilchester and relations know how she disposed of her estates, lest the same would not be approved of but resented, directed the petitioner not to disclose what she had so done for him till after her decease.
That Mr. Fox having made a purchase of a farm called Rusley Park, which let at 60 l. a year, did in November 1758, grant a lease thereof at 35 l. a year to the petitioner, and that by a misfortune, he having lost the original lease of Rusley Park granted to him by Mr. Fox, and being prest by his creditors, in April last, for payment of their demands on him, and being under a necessity (till he could get payment of the said 3000 l. and of the said annuity of 420 l. a year from Mrs. Horner's decease) of raising a sum of money sufficient for the purpose aforesaid by mortgage, and his other effects not being a sufficient security for the purpose without the lease of Rusley Park, He innocently thought that he might make a copy of the said lease of Rusley Park, without prejudice to Mr. Fox, or to the mortgagee, as he had sufficient estate and effects, when received and got in, to pay of and discharge the said mortgage again, he therefore wrote a copy of the said lease, and got Mr. Fox's name set thereto, and the names of the witnesses, and did afterwards, in April last, mortgage the said lease of Rusley, as being an original lease, with other estates to the said William Clewer, for securing the payment of the mortgage money therein mentioned, but without any intention to defraud.
I have stated so much of his petition, not only as it admits the forgery, but as it opens another scene of wickedness in his earlier days towards Mrs. Horner.
That lady it seems was possessed of very large estates, and had frequent occasions to execute leases to her tenants.
Mrs. Horner died about the latter end of the year 1757, and this grant of 420 l. per annum and 3000 l. in money did not make its appearance till eighteen or twenty months after that lady's death, as I heard him acknowledge, and the reason he assigned for concealing it was, lest it might hurt his interest with Mr.
Fox; tho' he still insisted on the validity of it, and that the grant of it was fairly obtained, till the Sunday before his unhappy exit, when being pressed by another gentleman, to say how he came by it, and whether 'twas a forgery or an imposition, he would not even then expresly own any thing to make it null and void, but that day wrote a letter to Mr. Fox, solliciting him to procure him a respite, and therein he says;
" I have many things that I will honestly and faithfully upon the true " faith of a christian impart to Mr. " Fox, and shall unload my conscience " in every respect and hope he will extend his compassion and mercy, and " give me an opportunity of doing " so."
This letter being delivered to a gentleman in my presence the same Sunday to be forwarded to Mr. Fox. - I exhorted him to think of a better life, and took him up to chapel.
That letter having been accordingly sent by express to Mr. Fox at Windsor, that honourable gentleman was pleased to send a written answer acquainting Mr. Ayliffe, that he had long since from his heart forgiven him, and sincerely pitied him, and the more as he had amused himself with vain hopes, and lost that time which he should have applied to make his peace with God, and most seriously exhorting him to repentance.
After this answer was delivered to him, Mr. Ayliffe's hopes for a respite began to subside, and then he delivered the gentleman who brought him that answer a declaration (as I am informed) under his own hand dated the morning of his execution, purporting that that grant from Mrs. Horner to him was an imposition upon her, and that she executed the same without knowing the contents thereof.
This declaration, it seems, he gave that gentleman to be delivered to the Lord Ilchester and Mr. Fox as soon as conveniently it could be, after his death, as the last act of justice in his power to do them, and the manner of his obtaining it (as they assert) was by slipping it in with some leases which that good old lady executed without reading them, upon the confidence she placed in him.
But whoever considers the nature of the case, perhaps will be of opinion that the circumstances of it speak stronger than even his own declaration. - Can it be supposed that Mr. Ayliffe thus fairly possessed of such an ample grant, would conceal it so long and commit a forgery at the risque of his life for the sake of 30 l. a year, which is the difference of the rent between the forged lease and the real one? Thus I have thrown together what passed at different times on this subject; that it may appear in one view.
In the several conversations I had with him, after the death-warrant came, he usually kept up his spirits, and behaved himself with seeming reso
lution, unless on the mention of his wife and child, and the distresses they must undergo, which commonly threw him into deep dejection, and even melted him into tears, now and then accompanied with bitter cries and violent struggles of grief.
November 9th, being visited he seemed to join in the Litany, and other proper devotions, with a becoming seriousness; after which a little tract was put into his hand called Motives and enconragements to bear afflictions patiently.
The doctrine of the holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper had been and still was daily explained to him, and the other prisoners; the commination Office was used on a proper day, as a loud call to repentance; proper psalms and lessons were adapted and applied to his deplorable situation, in all which he seemed to be enlivened with a manly devotion, and to make his responses with an audible voice; and he now gradually began to profess an entire resignation to this kind of death, as he had been frequently instructed, that if he could but ensure his eternal interest, it was a consideration of very little moment by what kind of death he should glorify God.
We were now come to Sunday the 11th of November, the day before that fixt for his execution, which ought to have been to him a great day of preparation for things eternal, and the concerns of an immortal life, but instead of this he seemed embarassed with too many cares and anxieties for this life, to allow him that composure and freedom of mind, which was requisite to attend on this one thing needful, with out distraction.
He was asked if he had spent the foregoing night in prayer and preparing to receive the holy communion? He answered that he had, for the most part; only that he had slept three or four hours, and his wife had been disturbed with excessive grief to such a degree that she fell into several fits.
As to the fact for which he was to die, he still persisted in this story; that in his distresses he wanted to raise 1500 l, to answer present demands; for which purpose he put the securities into his attorney's hand, who destroyed that lease of Rusley Park at 35 l. a year, that he himself wrote the body of the forged lease, and that the attorney put the name H. Fox to it, as well as the names of the witnesses. There was even then too much cause to suspect that this was not entirely true, because I knew what he farther said, and endeavoured to persuade me, to be false; namely that he had never denied to me that he wrote the body of the lease; but in this he had forgot himself as appears from the former part of this account, he added, that his said attorney had confessed his part of the forgery to Mr. P - n as he told Mrs. Ayliffe his wife, but neither was this true, as I am since informed.
By these inventions, it is to be presumed he thought to evade the most malignant part of the forgery charged on him, with a view to commend himself to the favour of a respite, for which
he was now labouring with all his might.
For this purpose, he told me he was discovering a fraud or breach of trust of a certain attorney, who had confessed the matter to him in liquor; a matter amounting to the value of 5000 l. a year, and 70,000 l. in money, that the said attorney was entrusted by Mr. Estcourt to draw his last will, and instead of leaving the said estate to his only daughter, as the father ordered it to be, he for a large bribe, gave it to two infants of the same name, but not related to this family, by inserting their names as heirs, instead of the daughter's name: that there is no witness of this living but himself, except his man servant who knew no more than what little he gathered up by hearing their conversation as he attended and supplied the table with liquor; and that Mr. Newman with two other gentlemen had been with him this very morning to get him to sign all the account he could give of this matter in writing. But that he hoped the regard due to truth and justice in a matter of so much consequence, would prevail with those in power to respite him till he could give his evidence vivd voce.
As he had all along endeavoured to exculpate himself of the charge of ingratitude to his benefactor, he was now desired to reduce his apology to writing, that the public might be satisfied either that he was able to acquit himself by fair reasons; or else by a candid confession of it, and sorrow for it, testify his repentance. To this he answered, that all who best knew him, could if they pleased, acquit him, but he did not chuse to leave any thing in writing, farther than what he had done.
It was urged to him, that the beneficial appointments he had received from his honourable master ought to be considered not only as an equivalent for the surrender of the lease of 85 l. a year which he so much insisted on, but also lay him under farther obligations: he replied, that the services he had been performing, at great expence, for twelve or thirteen years past, and never made any charge of in all that time, tho' he might, to the amount of some thousands, were more than a return for any emoluments which he received, or had ever enjoyed. After this conversation he was hardy enough to join in the duties of the chapel with seeming devotion.
In the afternoon, when called upon again by me to attend divine service, he quickly left his company and his morsel of dinner which he was eating, and went up with me, leaving his wife and her sister in tears, in his chamber, the former just then returned from court where she had been to deliver a petition to his majesty.
Our service, and devotions in the chapel being ended, in which proper psalms and lessons were read, explained and applied to him; he was farther questioned about the means and interest by which he hoped to obtain a respite: he then acknowledged, that besides what he had opened in the morning he
had farther proposed to discover some matters of great consequence to his King and country, in which he had been entrusted. - On this occasion he was told that whatever he could now devise of that kind could have little weight and less credit, as it would be understood to proceed from a desire of life, by any means, or a principle of revenge, or both. - It was urged to him, that if this pretended discovery sprung from a love of his King and country, and a regard to truth and justice, it should have been made before he was in his present circumstances. He answered that he had promised never to discover it.
He made use of great and noble names who, he said, had introduced his wife, with her petition, and read it to the King: that he expected an answer to his several applications about four o' clock this afternoon; he added that he was related to a certain countess whom he named, and who he hoped had made interest for him; he was seized with so violent an agony of grief at this moment that he could utter no more, and his heart seemed ready to burst.
It was between nine and ten on Sunday night, when the news of a respite for a week was brought him by a messenger, with whom Mr. Akerman went up to Mr. Ayliffe's room. This, it is said, did not affect him with any sudden joy, both because some notice of it had been sent two hours before, and because of the message delivered with it, " That it was granted him only for a week, without the " least intention of a renewal, but only " to allow him time to ease his mind: " if he had any thing on his conscience " that disturbed him." Neither of these particulars, did he ever mention to me, nor did I hear of them, till by enquiry since his execution, they came to my knowledge. Had I been called on, in order to hear the message, it would have been a guide to me in directing him what use to make of his time. But I did not see him till next morning, when he appeared flushed with hope and joy at this indulgence of life, however short; of which he was earnestly admonished to make a good use, and to be truly thankful for it; and accordingly he, with his company, (three in number, came up to the chapel to join in prayers, and return thanks to Almighty God for this renewal of his forfeited life; especially as he seemed to flatter himself that it would be continued to him, tho' his acquaintance who came to chapel with him, and assumed the merit of soliciting and procuring this favour, allowed that the shortness of it was a bad symptom, that it was a great chance whether it would be renewed, and therefore joined with me in warning him not to trust to it.
In the course of this last week he was daily visited and called upon, but did not as duly attend. One day explaining and applying to the prisoners the 77th Psalm; the subject of the 6th verse, In the night I commune with mine heart, and search out my spirits, naturally led to speak of sincerity in the use of our great privilege of prayer and address to the throne of grace; as well as in our me
ditations, and other mental intercourse with the great searcher of hearts, at the same time exposing the guilt and absurdity of hypocrisy and self-deceit.
Mr. Ayliffe when called on next day, would not go to prayers, but made an excuse, which afterwards appeared to be feigned.
When towards the expiration of his respite he seemed impatient, motives to patience and resignation suited to his present circumstances were used to quiet him. He answered, that he feared he must suffer by Dr. Heinzey's conduct; who, as he surmised, having made use of an artifice, to gain a respite, by proposing to make discoveries, and when first examined refusing to discover any thing before he had an absolute promise of pardon; which being obtained, it was found, on his examination that he had nothing to discover; this, he feared had put them on their guard against a like proposal of his, as judging it to be a scheme of the like nature.
As little credit could be given by me to his pretended knowledge of what passed between the right hon. privy council and Dr. Heinzey, so his sentiments thereon were a good key to the scheme and design of his own pretended secret intelligence; which this conversation and his own character and behaviour suggested to me to be forged on the supposed plan which he imputed to Dr. Heinzey.
After I had written the preceding account, a letter of Ayliffe's was shewn me, written to an acquaintance of his, pressing him to burn the other forged lease (for which he was likewise indicted) of the same estate of Rusley at 5 l a year, and which he had put into his hand to raise money upon; but which (on enquiry being made about it) he thought safest to destroy. From my own short knowledge of Mr. Ayliffe's hand writing, I can venture to affirm the said letter to be his writing. The lease, having escaped the fate he condemned to, I also saw, with the names of the lessor and witnesses thereto set, most probably by Ayliffe's hand, for being compared with the true names written by the parties themselves, they appeared to me a manifest forgery, being but a bad imitation.
Another wicked and artful forgery of Ayliffe's came to my knowledge by favour of a gentleman who had the grant so forged in his custody, and permited me to lay the matter of it before the public as a proper antidote against other such infernal contrivances whether of Ayliffe or others of his stamp.
The affair was thus, he wanted to induce a clergyman of respectable character, but moderate income, to become his security, and also to marry a certain young woman: in order to this, he actually forged a grant of the next presentation to the rectory or parish of Brinkworth in Wilts, as made to himself, (which, to make it a temptation, must be valuable) under the name of the Right Hon. Henry Fox, Esq; whose name together with that of the subscribing witness he also forged: with the prospect of which next presen
tation he prevailed on the said clergyman to be his security (but for some reason the match did not take place) whereby on Ayliffe's failure he must have been inevitably ruined had he survived it; but it broke his heart: and soon after his death, the following letter was found in his pocket book.
July 29, 1759.
I am surprised that you can write to me, after you have robbed and most barbarously murdered me, Oh Brinkworth.
Yours T. E - d.
Here, you may see into what depths of deceit, and dissimulation, hardened cruelty, and unrelenting wickedness, the crime of forgery will draw the man who once gives way to the temptation and practice of it.
If you consider the nature and the consequences of this crime, you will shudder and start back at the thought of it! That it is a complicated falsehood and injustice, confounding the distinction of true and false, right and wrong; that it is one of the worst and most dangerous kinds of theft, bereaving a person of his nearest and most undoubted property, even his hand-writing, which is the key of all he possesses or enjoys; and destroying all mutual credit and confidence among men: that to cover or defend it when committed, you must add a train of misrepresentatation, lying, subornation, perjury, or any other villainy and impiety; which you cannot do, without bidding defiance to every good principle in your own soul: but which, as sure as you live, will return upon you, and be too strong for you! will every now and then haunt you; or once for all appear against you, like the hand-writing at Belshazzar's feast, denouncing a sure and sudden vengeance ready to fall upon you, and seize your devoted head, and and your distracted heart!
Can this black crime be marked out in stronger or more horrid characters than to have been made the direful weapon of Robbery and Murder, committed on his security, and perhaps his companion, his spiritual guide, his familiar friend: unless to make it more desperate and irremissible, you add hypocrisy, and ingratitude, to a kind and generous benefactor, such as appear in the strongest colours, in the case now before you.
They who have felt, or fear to feel, the torture of this iron rod of forgery, need no arguments to warrant them against it, or fill them with an utter abhorrence of it.
But let those beware of it who are tempted to it; whether by their boasted skill in writing, and the art of imitation, or by their opportunities and connections, and who, by their bad inclinations, and worse conduct, are involved in unlucky circumstances, and want vir
ture, resolution, and grace to withstand such like temptations; let all such remember, that however subtle their contrivances, and strong their confederacies, Tho' hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished.
Let them know there is a ray of light and knowledge, ten thousand times brighter than the sun, beholding the evil and the good.
Let them know that the same wise and powerful hand by which the human frame is amazingly formed, who, to answer the ends of society, and to display his manifold wisdom, hath made a wonderful variety in men's faces and hand-writings, is concerned to detect and punish the base impostor who dares to defeat the great and glorious scheme of his dominion and providence over human affairs.
And though they fear not the eye or hand of human justice, which they may sometimes escape for the present, let them dread the surer sanctions of divine judgments, and be assured that sooner or later their sin will find them out.
The Morning of his EXECUTION.
IT is much to be wished we could assure the publick he had spent the last night like a true penitent, sensible of the approaching period of his life! The decisive moment! in which his last lot must be cast for eternity. But, alas! no such matter; For,
On enquiry, it was said he had been calling for his wife, ranting, raving, talking out of the window, more like one out of his senses than in his right mind; that though often intreated by one of the keepers (who watched with him) to be quiet and betake himself to his devotions, or to his rest, he could not be prevailed on either to read or pray; that they were alarmed at seeing him attempt to take something out of a bottle, which, on their doubt, and endeavour to prevent, the prisoner told them was only a little medicine, but which, on tasting, was found to be a glass of some warm cordial to keep up his drooping heart; and that he did not sleep above two hours in the whole night. It was added, that one of the keepers had helped him to several pints of water, which he drank in the nighttime; the expected agonies of such a death having set him on fire, and parched him with thirst: And oh! that he could have said, with an ardent thirst for the Fountain of living waters,
As pants the hart for cooling streams,
When heated in the chase,
So longs my soul for thee, O God,
And thy refreshing grace.
For thee my God, the living God,
My thirsty soul doth pine;
O when shall I behold thy face,
Thou Majesty Divine?
But though he could not compose himself to read or pray, he said to the keeper, " Peter pray for me;" which he did; during which Ayliffe fell asleep. Tho', while awake, he often and earnestly wished for a few days more to make his peace; as he had been so much interrupted in his preparation by the incidents of the preceding week; but chiefly by his own aversion to the thoughts of his dissolution, and his endeavour to save this present life, by means however base and injurious and wicked, even at the hazard of eternal happiness; as may be too strongly inferred from one expression of his, repeated to me by one who heard him say it, " That for the sake of living one seven " years longer with his wife he would " submit to live in hell to the end of " the world."
These particulars did not come to my knowledge till after his execution.
However, on my going to his chamber, he appeared (after some little discourse and consolation) composed. - He readily went up to chapel and joined in the necessary devotions, received the holy communion with apparent attention, seriousness, and decency.
After which a proper book of devotions was put into his hands, together with his Prayer-book; and he was desired to meditate on the most comfortable articles of our precious faith, and to pray for the graces most necessary for a dying person, as the most proper support and employment, all the way to the place of execution; putting him in mind to set before his eyes the pattern of a suffering Saviour, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.
Some paper unsealed, about the size of a common letter, was given to another clergyman in the press-yard (soon after his coming down) who had communicated with us.
This paper I offered him to take charge of, at parting with him in his chamber, but he made some excuse, saying, he was to deliver it to another. - But when he came down to the press-yard, he being at a loss to whom to entrust it, gave it to that gentleman, with a request that he would not read it. - This I had from the gentleman's own mouth.
This treatment to his pastor was the more remarkable, as uncommon labour and pains had been laid out on him, extraordinary compassion shewn him, and unusual compliances made to him all along; and particularly this morning, by indulging him in a new request - After all the usual and proper offices of devotion and administration had been performed for him in the chapel, he desired I would abide with him some time in his chamber (after we had parted and taken leave in the chapel.) By this perhaps he partly intended to favour his hope of a reprieve. While these minutes were spent in private prayer, he was repeatedly sent for, and obliged at last to go down and have his irons knocked off, in order to be put
in the cart. - This was not done till about half an hour after nine; an hour later than usual. - An instance of the worshipful sheriff's great humanity and tenderness to the unhappy prisoner.
In the way, it is said, he appeared sometimes reading and sometimes meditating in a quiet posture, without any emotion of body or mind till he came to the place of execution, when he appeared on his knees in the cart. - Soon after his arrival there, by some unaccountable accident, whether of words spoken, or a paper appearing to be handed about, the word a reprieve was cried, caught and repeated by some part of the surrounding multitude, till the belief prevailed for a minute or two, that he was reprieved, so far that some distant spectators went away directly and reported it in town, where I heard it after my return, and was obliged to explain and confute it.
Mean time the poor man continued (apparently unconcerned and regardless of this outcry) on his knees, for which the executioner had given him an unusual liberty, by relaxing the rope on this rumour of a reprieve; while the spectators imagined he was returning thanks, for this sudden (I will not say unexpected) deliverance from the jaws of death.
Some explain this incident to be the effect of a contrivance between himself and a correspondent who sent him a letter, in hopes either of the mob taking the alarm at the word reprieve, and attempting to realize it by a rescue: or else that he might at least gain a little time, in which he imagined it possible a reprieve might come. This may account for his not being moved or surprised at the cry, as being in the secret; and seems to shew that he had a schemeing head to the last, resolved to try every means,
Flectere si superosnequeo, acheronta movebo. " Is Heav'n unmov'd? infernal powers " I'll try."
In this interval a message was brought me to the coach, by a servant in livery, written with a pencil on a scrip of paper; " If Mr. Ayliffe has a desire to speak to " Mr. Fannen (who was one of the principal witnesses against him) " he " is just at hand, and will come to him, " and prays God to forgive him and " have mercy on his soul."
An answer was returned that I would deliver the message, and also a signal was agreed on by which to call him, if Mr. Ayliffe desired it.
The message of Mr. Fannen was delivered by me to Mr. Ayliffe; upon which he desired to speak with Mr. Fannen, who then, by the signal agreed on, came to the end of the cart, where he stood, and after some expressions of tenderness and condolence, Mr. Ayliffe said to him, " Pray give my duty to " Mr. Fox and Lady Caroline, and tell " them I am extremely sorry I offended " Mr. Fox so far as to make him bring " me to this sad end," or words to that purpose. What farther passed between them I cannot say, being intent on preparing him for his immediate departure; and for that purpose we prayed together for twenty or thirty minutes, in which time he stood up and confessed his faith,
by repeating audibly the several articles of the apostles creed, to all which, he seemed heartily to assent. We returned to prayer again, in which were offered up, Acts of Submission to the Divine Will; Acts of Charity, in which he was very explicit, when examined, that he forgave all mankind, as he hoped to be forgiven; together with prayers for several graces necessary for a dying person; and at his own particular request, on my proposing it to him, we used prayers for pardon, with a litany imploring God's Mercy. At proper intervals he was asked, whether he found hope and comfort in his prayers? he answered that he did. Whether he had a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ? he answered that he had. Whether he had any thing real and important to discover in the affair of Miss Estcourt, had he survived? he answered that he had: As to any other matters which he pretended to know, I repeatedly told him, before that, I desired to hear nothing of them, but warned him on all occasions to be true and sincere in his repentance, as he hoped for mercy; frequently guarding him against every kind of inconsistency and dissimulation, in which, as it appears from the foregoing account, he had too often been detected, and so was therefore still the more justly to be suspected, which I could not fail to observe, made him the more reserved and diffident in all his behaviour to me.
After all, he was most humbly and earnestly recommended to the divine mercy and protection, putting a good prayer in his mouth, to be offered up at the moment of his departure.
P. S. Mr. Fannen being more particular and a better judge of what passed in the forementioned conversation between himself and Mr. Ayliffe than I can be, gave the following account of it, the latter part of which did probably pass, after our joint prayers were ended, and I had left him and gone to the coach; for after that, and his private prayers being ended, for which he desired farther time, I heard he made some request concerning his burial, and the place of it, immediately before his execution; and I must add that I saw a hearse and four horses in waiting, which, on enquiry, I was told Mr. Fox's agent had provided, and was to pay for.
The following is Mr. Fannen's account given me in writing, and signed by himself.
" When Mr. Fannen came to the " cart, Mr. Ayliffe said, Oh, dear Mr. " Fannen, dear Mr. Fannen, pray give " my duty to Mr. Fox and Lady Caroline and thank them, and I am very " sorry I ever did any thing to make " Mr. Fox bring me to this end. I " hope Mr. Fox forgives me. I answered, Mr. Fox had forgave him " from his heart long since, and I " hoped he would find the same forgiveness from God Almighty, and that " I hoped God would be merciful to " him. He then said, Do pray for me, " or do pray with me; after prayers, " when he stood up, he said aloud, Oh
" dear Mr. Fannen pray what is to come " of my body? I answered him really " Mr. Ayliffe I don't know. I hope " Mr. Fox will let me be buried; I " made answer, that I dared say he had " no objection to it.
" He then said again, Oh dear, dear " Mr. Fannen, pray desire Mr. Fox to " let me be buried at Redbourn in Hartfordshire, it is the place of my wife's " nativity, and she will be buried there " with me. I answered I would tell " Mr. Fox his request. About one minute before he was turned off, (or not " so long quite) he cried out, Oh dear " Mr. Fannen, dear Mr. Fannen, as if " he wanted to say somewhat more."
This is all the Account given by me,
IN this account are inserted some other forgeries of Mr. Ayliffe, original papers and letters, several incidents tending to shew his true character and disposition, interwoven with proper thoughts on the malignant nature and dreadful consequences of forgery; with earnest cautions against it, drawn from those topics, and also from the inevitable discovery and punishment which pursues it.