THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE'S ACCOUNT of the Behaviour, Confession, and Dying Words OF SARAH METYARD, AND SARAH MORGAN METYARD, her daughter, Who were Executed at Tyburn, on Monday, July 19, 1762, for the Murder of ANN NAILOR.
LORD-MAYOR of the CITY of LONDON .
NUMBER II. for the said YEAR.
Printed and sold by J. DIXWELL, in St. Martin's-Lane, near Charing-Cross, for the AUTHOR:
Also Sold by J. HINXMAN, at the Globe in Pater-noster-Row.
THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE'S ACCOUNT of the Behaviour, Confession, and Dying Words, &c.
BY virtue of the King's commission of the peace, oyer and terminer and goal delivery of Newgate, holden for the city of London and county of Middlesex, at Justice-hall in the Old Bailey, before the Right Honourable Sir Samuel Fludyer, Bart. Lord Mayor ; the Right Honourable Sir Thomas Parker, Knt. the Honourable Henry Bathurst one of the Judges of the court of Common Pleas ; Sir John Eardley Wilmot, Knt. one of the Judges of the Kings Bench ; Sir William Moreton, Knt. Recorder ; James Eyre Esq; deputy Recorder , and others, his Majesty's Justices of oyer and terminer for the said city and county; on Wednesday the 14th, Thursday the 15th, Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th of July, in the second Year of the reign of his Majesty King George the Third, Sarah Metyard and Sarah Morgan Metyard her daughter, were indicted, tried and convicted for wilfully and maliciously murdering Ann Nailor, by assaulting, beating and bruising her, and starving her to death.
As the trial is to be published with all convenient expedition, in the whole proceedings on the commission of the peace, &c. my province limits me to an account of the behaviour, &c. of the prisoners from the time they fell under my notice, which was not till five or six days before the sessions, when they were commited to Newgate by Sir John Fielding and two other justices, on the oath of Sarah Hinchman and others, whose names will appear as witnesses against them, on the trial. The animosity between this unhappy mother and daughter, ran so high by means of their mutual accusations and reproaches, that it was necessary to confine them apart, in the most distant parts of the prison; the daughter having an apartment on the Press-yard side, with a servant to attend her, while the mother was kept on the opposite side. This latter was not seen by me at chapel
more than once before her conviction, when she came with seeming reluctance, being brought up by one of the runners to be spoken to and directed in the way of preparation for eternity; when being asked why she did not attend, when first sent for, she answered, " because " she feared to expose herself;" to which it was replied, take heed you be not more exposed in a worse place.
At this first interview, she told me she kept a haberdasher 's shop in Bruton-street, in the parish of St. George's, Hanover square; that she took parish children apprentice, and taught them to make nets, mittens, and other such goods.
Though she was not questioned at this time farther than in general about the charge against her, she strongly declared her innocence, and that she was ready to con firm it on oath; she was told, that could not be admitted, and referred to a fair trial; and exhorted to prepare not only for that, but a greater tribunal, to which the event might speedily consign her; when sent for another time, she mad an excuse, that she waited for her attorney; and that her servant would come to chapel instead of her, and her daughter; the meaning of which was not very clear to me; this was Sunday morning the 11th instant. With some persuasion the daughter was prevailed on to come to chapel the same afternoon, being the Sunday before the trial, when she seemed to be much disordered with fears and horrors: but she did not scruple to tell her mother's guilt, in which she denied to have had any share except that of being privy to, and yet concealing it, which she endeavoured to extenuate by her being induced to believe that it was a part of her duty to her mother. She was told she certainly must know better; but she put the case so feelingly, asking what could I do; it was my mother; I had no other friend in the world: mentioning that she was then but 18 or 19 years of age (being about four years since) that it was hard not to make some allowance on this account, had this been all that could be proved against her. But when it was given in evidence on the trial, that she was instrumental in beating with a broomstick, and bruising, and tying up and starving the deceased child; and that by her own confession, and accusation of her mother, she was conscious to all her slow-paced and deliberate cruelty, without revealing or preventing it; on these suppositions, could justice, or even mercy, extend compassion to her?
During the trial, the evidence against these two unnatural accusers and fellow-criminals grew stronger, and threatened a conviction. It seemed doubtful on whose head the storm would break; whether on the mother, who denied the whole charge, and would represent her daughter as a monstrous false accuser and a parricide, or on the daughter, who while she accused the mother, instead of excusing herself, turned the arrows pointed at her against her own bosom; or whether the thunder would equally blast them both: their heart-burnings against each other, and their fears each for herself, betrayed themselves in the dismal pale face, and the averse behaviour of each toward the other; they could scarce stifle it even at the bar; common danger could not reconcile them, nor extinguish their resentments. This seemed to bode no light or hopeful task to their spiritual guide; it appeared a desperate under-taking to reconcile them to heaven and to each other. The natural affections
reversed, hatred for love; despair, revenge and fury, in the place of hope, peace, and charity.
The manner in which this murder came out is very remarkable; after it had been concealed from about October 1758; the criminals had wrapped themselves up in security, and said, surely The bitterness of death is past. God was not in all their thoughts. Or else they said, He hideth his face, and will never require it.
The secret was only with Metyard the daughter, who had now gone out to service with Mr. R - r about two years, or more, after the fact. This person had lodged some months in Mrs. Metyard's house, but being ill at ease, and dissatisfied there, by reason of the ill behaviour of the mother both toward her daughter and the children her apprentices, he quitted the house, and the daughter consented to go and live with him. The mother alarmed at this, haunted with fears and conscious guilt, never thinking herself safe either in the presence or absence of her daughter, was a frequent, but uneasy visitor at the house where she lived, first in town, and then in the country, at Ealing. These visits, instead of being attended with mutual affection and complacency, did usually produce bickerings, reproaches, and quarrels. The mother pretended, as the ground of her quarrel, that her daughter lived in a criminal way, and therefore would persuade her to return home; while the daughter persisted to endeavour to get her livelihood apart from her, as she had long wished to do; and begged that she might be suffered to do it quietly: or else - she dropt hints which threatened a discovery. This kindled a spirit of rage and revenge in the mother; she even set her at defiance, with imprecations - said she would accuse and swear first, and being the mother, should find most credit. In the midst of this, a cry of murder was heard in the kitchen, which reached the master's ears; he called the gardiner to assist, and they coming upon them, found the daughter's cap and handkerchief torn off, and a pointed knife just thrown out of the mother's hand, which, it is said, she held to her daughter's throat. Their invectives still continued; some words which fell from the daughter were caught by the master, as, " You are the Chick lane ghost" - " remember the gully-hole at Chick-lane." After the mother's departure, this produced an explanation of the daughter to her master, under the seal of secrecy. Metyard, the mother, dreading this, wrote a letter to Mr. R - r's sister, in order to terrify him to keep silence; but it produced a discovery and a prosecution, which was little intended to affect the daughter. A letter, or advertisement of Mr. R - K - r excited the parish officers of Tottenham to apply for justice to Sir John Fielding. Mr. R - k - r met them, and attended thereon; officers were sent to bring the mother and her apprentices, who being examined, the mother was committed to New prison, about the latter end of June, and her apprentice girls were sent to the parish workhouse of St. George's Hanover square. Mean time the daughter, who in her examination had roundly impeached her mother, was at liberty for several days after, till on a second or third examination, some evidence coming out, partly from the children, which affected the daughter, she was then first committed to the Gatehouse, Westminster, about July the 5th, where she is said to have behaved herself soberly,
modestly, and industriously, and without any seeming apprehension of being found guilty; she had a good apartment provided for her, during the few days she was here. Whence, upon another examination, about the following Thursday she was sent to Newgate as before mentioned. Let us now return to the trial: the whole lasted about seven hours.
When after their conviction and sentence, they were visited, it is no easy matter to conceive or describe the anguish of soul that seized them, and the horrors that surrounded them! a mother and a daughter looking on each other, and charging each as the author of the other's destruction. And what gives a more deadly sting to the charge, both alas! too truly! had each seen her own part of the guilt in its proper colours, deep as crimson; had each heard the cry of vengeance for blood, sounding in her ear, during this long interval of divine patience and long suffering for almost four years; had they truly repented and humbled themselves as sinful dust and ashes, and returned to a life of piety, purity and charity, perhaps they had not now been visited in this manner, and brought to open shame and punishment for these crimes; or if they had, they could better have born it. But now the things belonging to their peace seem to have been hidden from their eyes! both equally persisted in denying the guilt of murder, but the daughter in the pride and confidence of her youth, was most reluctant and averse to die; to avoid this she had pleaded most pathetically with hands and eyes lifted up, and the most soothing voice, to the bench, to grant her a little respite; and this, after her legal plea of pregnancy had been set aside by a jury of matrons. Even after she was brought back to the prison, she continued her fond note of vain cries for a respite, to those who could not help nor deliver her, to the neglect and interruption of her application to him who alone is most willing and mighty to save; while the mother continued in a silent dejection of spirit bordering on a hardened impenitence.
They were called and brought up to the chapel, where proper exhortations were applied to them and the other convicts severally, and proper prayers offered up for them with an assiduity and zeal which the suddenness of the extraordinary and dreadful occasion demanded. Chiefly they were moved and instructed to be reconciled to God, and then to each other.
The mother first seemed to endeavour to comply with this latter part of her duty; she burst into tears, prayed to God to forgive her daughter; adding, she would forgive her if she could; and hoped she should be enabled so to do: the daughter made the like professions; but still it was expedient to keep them apart; indeed they spontaneously and on purpose kept at a distance, even in the chapel.
When either of them was separately spoken to in the closet, she persisted in excusing herself and accusing the other, as if each had determined to endeavour the saving of her own life at the expence of the other, but both to reject the means of saving their own souls by a true confession; the mother insisting that her daughter had taken a rash oath against her, which she was too obstinate to retract; and the daughter aggravating her first charge against her mother, with that of hardened impenitence and denial of the truth; and notwithstanding all possible motives to truth and sincerity, clearly and strongly represented to them, thus they persisted.
This is a sad epitome of what will appear at large in too many dreadful examples on the great day of account, when all those who have counteracted, or ill discharged their relative duties of parent and child, ruler and subject, pastor and people, or any other of the superior and inferior relations in this state of trial, will look aghast at each other, in frantic despair, charging the neglect of duty, of relaxed discipline, of disobedience, and evil example to each other's account; when all that seduce and betray each other into sin, will fill up the dire and dreadful number.
Learn hence ye parents and children of every rank, the force and importance of that admonition, preparative to a general reformation of life and manners, the neglect of which is a sure presage of a general corruption and impending destruction. It is a part of the character, and subject of teaching, of St. John Baptist, the harbinger of the captain of our salvation; He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse, as the prophet Malachi foretold, ch. iv. v. 6. And St. Luke thus recorded the accomplishment of it, ch. i. v. 16, 17. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God: and he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And if any nation under heaven want such a power and spirit revived among them more than our own, may it speedily be raised up in both.
In reading the lessons to these convicts on Saturday and Sunday, some remarkable passages occurred, which seemed to point out their crime, and the method of providence in detecting and punishing it, clear as the hand-writing on the wall against Belshazzar, or as a ray of light from heaven darting to the soul.
The first part in the second chapter of the prophet Jeremiah, v. 34, 37. Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls (or the lives) of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search - Yet thou sayest, because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me: behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest I have not sinned. This was opened, explained, and applied to them on Saturday.
The subject of the other proper lesson for Sunday morning being 2 Samuel, ch. xii, was at once a reproof to those sinners, and a guide and encouragement to penitence, pardon, and peace, had they received it as spoken and applied to them, no less than to all like sinners. It is Nathan's beautiful parable address'd to king David on the murder of Uriah, &c. in the application of which are these words, v. 11, 12, 14. Thus saith the Lord, behold I will raise up evil unto thee out of thine house. - 12. For thou didst it secretly: But I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
Can any thing be more exactly applicable? Was not evil raised up against this mother out of her own house, by the mortal wound of the testimony of her own daughter and apprentices? and against the daughter from the same quarter? Nor was this crime which they did secretly found by secret search; but by their own troubled consciences, and the reproaches thence arising against each other.
Tremble then ye women that are at ease, ye careless daughters, and all secret but secure, habitual and hardened sinners, while ye contemplate this instance of a God that judgeth in the earth.
But to return to the convicts. The mother had once, on Saturday, implicitly owned, that the girl in question died in the house; but then she had devised a new cause of her death, - that a bed-post, or bed made to turn up, fell on her head, by the wound of which she lost much blood, and pined away till she died. But in following this story the next day, in order to bring her to a full confession, she relapsed into a denial of what she had so far confessed; and when by arguments laid before her, both in publick and private, she was so pressed that she could no longer withstand it, she said that for quietness sake, and to avoid farther applications, she was almost persuaded to confess a crime, of which she could not think herself guilty. Soon after this, she went down from the chapel, faint, pale, and wan; and being advised to take something to revive her, she replied, "They talk of starving, I am almost starved to death." - But why so? She answered, "I cannot swallow; I "can neither eat nor drink". This was about six or seven on Sunday evening, when she quickly fell into convulsive fits, became speechless, and in a manner senseless, and by what I could learn, spoke no more.
Mean time her daughter was sitting on a bench in the Press-yard, either not daring or not caring to go near her mother, to relieve or assist her. She was otherwise engaged; taking her leave of a friend (as she chose to call him) in a most tender and distressful manner. When spoken to, to bid farewel to all such endearments, and regards to this world, and prepare for a better, he answered for her, that "She " was innocent, and had no need to " prepare." To which it was replied, " That was beyond his knowledge and " concern, and greatly unbecoming the " present circumstances," &c. Soon after he withdrew.
On the Morning of EXECUTION.
ENtering the Press-yard, it was told me, on enquiry, that Mrs. Metyard, the Mother, had continued all night in a fit, speechless, and without any motion, except strong convulsions, so that it was vain to attempt to bring her up to chapel.
These convulsions were ascribed to her long and obstinate fasting, with a view to make an end of herself before execution; for it was said, she had taken up such a resolution; and when her daughter asked, how she could stand out so long in denying the fact, she answered, she would deny it.
As to the daughter, she being very faint, was helped up to chapel, where she still persisted to deny any share in the guilt, except concealing it; and desired to receive the holy sacrament on the truth of this, and some other assertions which she made. She now repeated it, that her mother had made a practice of following her wherever she lived in service, to riot and abuse her; and at Mr. R - k - r's had called her w - re; that in the dispute, a word dropt about the gully-hole, which Mr. R - k - r heard and kept in mind till he pursued that clue to a charge and conviction of murder; that her mother dreading this, hastened it, by a threatening letter sent to his sister, as before-mentioned, concluding with some such words as these, that "his " money and his carcass should fly " then;" that her mother had all along threatened her, that if she were accused her daughter should suffer with her; and that the evidence of the two children apprentices (which had objected to her assertions) arose from their being tutored by the mother. But can this pretence find credit, when it is remembered that the mother was parted from her apprentices immediately after her apprehension and being accused? and had no opportunity of a private conversation with them afterwards; nor is it credible she would venture to tamper with them and entrust them with the secret, before the accusation.
The daughter farther confessed, that when she was but eleven years of age, her mother brought her up in a scene of wickedness, by making her privy to thefts; in order to practise which, she used to go to the pewter scullery at St. James's palace, under pretence of buying victuals, and take opportunities to steal the plates and erase the marks; and also to steal pewter pots and melt them down. This was a dozen years ago.
She added, that her mother made her go about among all her friends to raise a contribution, on pretence of her mother having gone away and forsaken her; and that her friends did help her on this occasion. That she had reason now to remember a warning which one of them gave her, when she bid her be dutiful and to behave well to her mother, but beware she did not bring her into mischief.
Before I could consent to give her the holy sacrament, I consulted a clergyman and several other serious friends,
who came to chapel on this charitable (though sad) occasion.
She was again examined whether she repented truly of all her sins, &c. and particularly of the part she had in the guilt of this murder? as also of the criminal way in which, it was said, she lived. She denied expresly that she had any part in the guilt of either, except concealing the former; and again desired to receive the holy communion on the truth of what she now said; which I was advised to comply with. But being much perplexed how to reconcile her pleading pregnancy in arrest of judgment, with her present assertion; that she had no criminal conversation with any man; at a proper interval, she was again called, and this difficulty proposed to her; to which her answer was, that she was advised to use this plea, tho' without foundation, to gain a respite. That not being on oath herself, she ventured to plead it; not expecting, or not knowing any thing of a jury of matrons being to be called to search and examine her. This assertion she also made on the holy sacrament, which I did not refuse her any longer, as she took all the consequences on herself.
Before nine they were brought out and put into the cart, the mother being laid along as if expiring. About ten they had arrived at the place of execution, which was inaccessible to me with a coach, or on foot, with any safety, because of the crowds of horse, foot, coaches and carriages surrounding it. When after much difficulty I got to them, the mother still lay in a fit scarce seeming to breath or move, excep now and then with a convulsive twitch her breast appearing greatly swelled and heaving.
The daughter still over anxious to see Mr. R - k - r and he not appearing, she was reminded to wean her thoughts from every thing in this world. The 51st. Psalm was read, and she desired the multitude would join in prayer for her, which they did, as many as were near, as well as the noise and crding would permit; she persisted at proper intervals, to assert the truth of all that she declared this morning at the holy sacrament, and added that "she died a martyr to her innocence." This, she was told, was an improper expression at this time; and prayers of contrition and penitence put in her mouth, which she repeated; she further repeated that she never had criminal conversation with the person the world called her keeper, of whom she spoke as a true and disinterested friend, and desired to remember her last duty to him. She professed to forgive her mother and all her prosecutors whom she prayed for, and desired prayers for herself, to the last moment. We parted, and they were both quickly launched into eternity. The mother was about the 44th, and the daughter about the 24th year of her age.
This is all the account given by me,
Ordinary of Newgate.