THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE'S ACCOUNT of the Behaviour, Confession, and Dying Words, OF SIX MALEFACTORS, VIZ.
LORD MAYOR of the CITY of LONDON.
NUMBER II. for the said Year.
Printed for J. COOKE, at Shakespear's Head, in Pater-noster Row, and Sold by all Booksellers and News Carriers. Price 6d.]
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 gaol-delivery of Newgate, holden for the city of London and county of Middlesex, at Justice-hall in the Old-Bailey, before the Right Honourable William Bridgen, Esq; Lord-Mayor of the city of London ; Sir Richard Adams, Knt. one of the Barons of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer ; James Eyre, Esq; Recorder , and others of his Majesty's Justices of oyer and terminer of the city of London, and gaol-delivery of Newgate, holden for the said city and county of Middlesex, on Wednesday the 7th, Thursday the 8th, Friday the 9th, Saturday the 10th, and Monday the 12th of December, in the fourth year of his Majesty's reign, six persons were capitally convicted and received sentence of death, for the several crimes in their indictments set forth, viz.
And on or about Friday the 16th of December the report of the said malefactors being made to his Majesty, by Mr. Recorder, two of them were respited, namely, John Edinburgh, for horse-stealing; and Mary Williams, for being concerned with Charles Reily and Mary Robinson in the robbery of Peter Manchester; and the remaining four ordered for execution on Wednesday December the 28th, and were accordingly executed.
1. John Brannon was indicted, for that he, on the King's highway, on Thomas Worley did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person one pair of silver shoe-buckles, value 10s. his property; and Jane Blake, otherwise Buckley, spinster , for receiving the same, wellknowing them to have been stolen, October 17.
The prisoner Brannon was one of five in a desperate gang, who attacked the prosecutor Worley, and another, John Paget, in Church-lane, White-chapel, about 12 at night. Having searched them and found no money on them, they took a pair of silver buckles from each, and a handkerchief from Paget: Mean time Esq; Gore's chariot passing by, they fired two pistols at it, because the coachman would not stop. Brannon was positively sworn to, as one of the two first that came up to the prosecutor, and held a pistol to him while he was robbed. He was detected and taken the next day by means of Jane Blake offering the buckles to a pawn-broker, Mr. Samuel Spencer, who stopped them, secured her, and sent constables to search her lodgings, where they took Brannon, found the other pair
of buckles and the handkerchief beforementioned, and also a pair of horse pistols loaded.
His behaviour after sentence was in general such as became his unhappy condition; but being under the influence and direction of the church of Rome, he gave no account to me of his accomplices, or any other fact: Nor did he pretend to deny this, either at his trial or afterwards, as indeed there was no room for it. He appeared to be about thirty years of age, was born in Dublin, was by trade a Carver , and had served six years in the Royal Navy .
2. Joseph Jervis was indicted, for that he, on the 14th day of November, about the hour of two in the night, on the same day, the dwelling house of Joseph Hill did break and enter, and steal one silver spoon, value 1s. the property of the said Joseph in his dwelling.
This convict lived in King-street, Spitalfields; but how he supported himself there, whether by any honest labour, doth not appear either by his own confession, or the evidence of several witnesses for him, who gave only a negative character, that they never heard any ill of him. And supposing he had practised this wicked scheme of breaking into houses, and plundering them in the hour of deep sleep undiscovered for a time, 'tis hard to imagine how they could hear any ill of him, however criminal. As to the present fact, he had prowled away as far as Kingsland, a mile or two, at midnight, to perpetrate it. But here, luckily for the publick safety, he was mistaken in his mark, and fell upon a house well inhabited by a master Carpenter and his workmen: The former, awakened by the noise of wrenching open the frame of a cellar window, alarmed two or three of his men, who came upon him, and with some difficulty seized and secured him; in effecting of which, by means of his resisting and endeavouring to escape in the dark, he had received two unlucky strokes, one with a pistol and another with a hanger, both on the head; by which he was wounded, and made more deaf and stupid than he was before, for he laboured under both those defects during the time between sentence and execution. After he was apprehended, he was found to be furnished with a tinder-box, a dark-lantern, a candle, and an iron bar flatted at one end. A silver spoon was also found upon him, the property of Mr. Hill, the prosecutor.
He had the artifice to plead on his trial, that he was non compos, out of his mind, and knew not what he did. But being reminded by the Court that his situation was very serious, and no proof of this assertion being offered, it was urged no farther. After conviction and sentence passed, he still appeared to be very hard of hearing and dull of apprehension; so that it was a difficult task to instruct and prepare him, whether this was real or partly affected. He said he was born at Hertford, where he learned to read and write, and then was brought up to the trade of dressing flour , which he afterwards followed for several years in London, in or near Houndsditch; he was now about forty-five years of age.
After he had been daily visited, assisted with prayers, and the plainest instructions, he was now and then questioned what progress he had made in his preparation for an awful change; but could give very little satisfaction in that matter, only said, he would trust to Providence; meaning, that he would give no farther account of his past life, nor confess any other facts; tho' he did not pretend to
deny he was guilty of any other.
When he found himself included in the Death-warrant, it did not much affect him, as he seemed to expect it. Endeavours were renewed to prepare him for the holy communion; but with no better success; he pleaded he had lost his memory, as well as his apprehension; and that what he read or heard made little impression, and was quickly gone from him; so that he seemed incapable of celebrating that sacred act of remembrance. However, there seemed to be a greater want of disposition than capacity. To arouse and quicken him, therefore, to a sense of his duty in this respect, he was permitted to be present, and very near, at the administration of the communion in the chapel, the day before he suffered; so as that he could hear and see all that was spoken, or done, without admitting him to partake of it. Several intelligent good neighbours were present now, and on other occasions, who took opportunities to speak familiarly to him before and after service, in order to bring him to a better disposition. But neither did these means kindle in him that desire, which we hoped. He still continued in a languid indifference. As he could still read, and as his last evening was now come, a brief but excellent little tract on spiritual communion was put into his hands, to assist and raise his thoughts this last night of his life. He returned it to me the next morning, and said he had read it. Being asked whether he understood it, and applied it to himself? he replied, he did, as well as God gave him leave; his usual answer to such questions.
3, 4. Charles Reiley, labourer , and Mary Robinson, and Mary Williams, spinsters , were indicted for that they, in the dwelling house of Francis Talbot, near the King's high-way, on the body of Peter Manchester did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person four guineas and one half-guinea, his property, against his will, October 18.
The prosecutor, Peter Manchester, was a sailor , come to town about a week, and had received five guineas prize money the very day of this robbery. Passing along Salt-petre Bank, he was forced into this house by Williams and Robinson, shut in, and his purse violently taken from him by these two women, assisted by Charles Reiley. He was also beaten by the women, while Reily threatened to cut off his hand, if he did not let go the purse to him; by which means Reily got it, containing four guineas and a half, and he and Robinson ran off with it. The prosecutor pursued, but missed them; he then applied to two of his shipmates and a constable to assist him. By help of these, and others, the two women were found out, and apprehended the same night. Robinson being searched, had two guineas and a quarter found concealed upon her. The two guineas she confessed before the Justice next day to be the property of the prosecutor, and that they were given to her by Charles Reily, one for herself, and one for Mary Williams, to reward them for their trouble; and that he kept two guineas and a half, the remainder of the money. But luckily for Williams she had not fingered the guinea; which circumstance, together with her not being able to follow Reily, to get her share from him, seem to be the distinguishing considerations, which might turn the scale for a respite to one of these three, rather in her favour. As for Reily he was caught in the very trap for such creatures of prey. The prosecutor being at Hicks's-hall next
day, to prefer a bill of indictment against them, had intelligence that Reily was then drinking at Newgate, only as a voluntary visiter, went directly and found him there; and tho' he fled, and had a long run for it, from thence to St. Dunstan's church, he was there taken, detained in the cage at St. John's, Wapping, examined, and committed, having confessed the fact, but said it was the first.
Being all three convicted the 10th of December, they came up to chapel the 11th, being Sunday morning, tho' they professed all to be of the church of Rome. Yet Reily, to my surprize, joined in the service, made his responses, read his part in the Psalms and the Liturgy very distinct and intelligible, as if well acquainted with it. On questioning him, after divine service, he let me know, that he was brought up in an hospital for children on a Protestant foundation in a great city, where he received a common share of good learning and the principles of Christianity, but was now determined to die in the faith of the church of Rome; for which he could give no better reason, than that his father died in that persuasion. Endeavours were used to reason him out of this very groundless and weak resolution, and proper books put into his hands for that purpose, particularly a Protestant Catechism and a New Testament, both which he soon after returned, without suffering them to make any good impression upon him. As to the fact for which he was convicted, he said, he was not in the house when the fray began but, having his lodging there, came in, in the midst of it, and so was drawn in.
He was bred up to the sea from a lad, served his time in the Merchants service, in the New York trade ; and between six and seven years since, entered into the King's service, a volunteer , at Cork, in which he has continued ever since, till discharged about six months before from the Orford of 70 guns, in which he had been at the taking of the Havanna, from whence he came home in her; and had also a share in two Spanish prizes, the St. Jago and St. Charles, taken by the Orford in company with the Temeraire and the Alarm, a little before the peace extended thither. After he was a prisoner in Newgate, he was told that a dividend of 3l. 17s. a man was paid the 26th of October, which he did not receive, and believed he had much more due to him. In the same ship, he said, he was at the taking of Cape Breton and Quebeck, for both which he received some prize money. - He was about 30 years of age.
4. Mary Robinson was much about the same age of thirty, and had passed thro' various scenes, in her way, which was none of the best. She had been at the cities of Bath and Bristol for five years, to which she came from Dublin, where she was born. She had left her husband there, having sold his goods and quitted him, because, as she said, he had used her ill. While she was under sentence, she owned she had been a wicked sinner in all respects, except the crime of Murder.
The Morning of EXECUTION, Dec. 28.
OF the four convicts, there being only Jervis who adhered to the church of England, he went up and attended to the duties of the chapel, as well as his imperfect state of sensibility and attention would permit. He was sincere and sensible enough to acknowledge the justice of his sentence; and also owned expressly that this was not his first offence of this
nature; but would give no particulars of time, place, or persons. For, either he could not be convinced it was his duty, or else he could not be persuaded to comply with it; still persisting to say, that his memory was so bad he could not recollect any fact, or he did not see what use or satisfaction it could give the world, or any injured person, to confess it. To set this in a strong light before him, a plain case was put; Suppose you had been robbed, would it not give you satisfaction to know who did it? And what is become of him? Whether living or dead? Whether hardened and going on still in his wickedness, or penitent and reformed, at least past the power of offending any more. Would it not be a great ease and benefit to you to put an end to your doubts and suspicions? Would it not be the same to innocent persons, who might be suspected, to be cleared of those doubts and suspicions? Surely it might, to the saving of their character, their liberty, and their livelihood. Reason and justice, no less than our rational religion and our excellent church, join in requiring this mark of sincere repentance from dying criminals: And let those who teach, or think, or act otherwise, see to it.
There is the more reason to speak thus freely, because this duty is too often made a stumbling-block to several unhappy persons under sentence, whose preparation is obstructed, and rendered more difficult, by the contrary poisonous principles sown in the prison by some disguised enemy; tho' it must be owned there is no need of this, while the native pride and corruption of the human heart, unmortified, are sufficient to harden it against this duty, and every act of self-abasement.
In a word, I could form no apology in my own mind for this criminal not complying with this duty, but his defect of apprehension and memory before-mentioned.
We used the Litany, and other proper acts of devotion in the chapel, in which he joined tolerably well for the most part. After which he was directed to meditate on proper subjects, or read in the way to the place. When he went down from the chapel, which was about twenty minutes before nine, he was asked, Are you resigned? He answered in the affirmative. Do you find peace and hope in your breast, on a sure foundation? He replied faintly in the same manner.
The other three convicts of the church of Rome, were kept ready in their cells, not in the Press-Yard, or Little hall, as usual, for what reason, as I did not enquire, so I did not learn. But all were detained about an hour later than usual, till after ten, on account, as it was said, of some necessary part of the apparatus not being provided in time.
After the Sheriff was set off in his chariot, preceded by proper officers on horseback, then followed the first cart with Charles Reily and Mary Robinson; and in the second were John Brannon and Joseph Jervis. In a little more than an hour they arrived at the place, where they read and repeated their prayers very earnestly, with an audible voice; the last offices of prayer were performed for Jervis, while the others were exercised in their own devotions. They were all greatly affected, the woman wept and bewailed herself much, till the cart being driven away, they all resigned their lives.
BY virtue of the King's commission of the peace, oyer and terminer, and gaol-delivery of Newgate, holden for the city of London and county of Middlesex at Justice Hall in the Old Bailey, before the Right Honourable William Bridgen, Esq; Lord Mayor of the city of London ; Sir Thomas Parker, Knt. Lord Chief Baron of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer ; Sir Eardly Wilmot, Knt. one of the Judges of the Court of King's Bench ; the Honourable Henry Bathurst, one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas ; James Eyre, Esq; Recorder , and others of his Majesty's Justices of Oyer and Terminer of the city of London, and Justices of Goal-delivery of Newgate, holden for the said city and county of Middlesex on Friday the 13th, Saturday the 14th, Monday the 16th, and Tuesday the 17th of January, in the Third year of his Majesty's reign, nine persons were capitally convicted, and received sentence of death, for the several crimes in their indictments set forth, viz. Richard Jewes, William Brown, John Prince, James Anderson, Thomas Thompson, Sarah Philips, William Billett, Richard Bevas, and Elizabeth Osborn.
On Friday, February the 9th, the Death-warrant was sent down; the report of the said malefactors having been made the preceding day to his Majesty by Mr. Recorder, wherein six were ordered to be respited till his Majesty's pleasure concerning them be farther known, viz. Richard Jewes for stealing a silver tankard, the property of Edward Lloyd, at the Green Dragon in Bishopsgate-street; William Brown for a burglary and robbery in the dwelling-house of Giles Hanwell, Ringmaker , in Gutter-lane, &c. &c. Sarah Philips for stealing 22l. 1s. the money of Thomas Rogers, in his dwelling-house near Bunhill-row; William Billet and Richard Bevas for burglary and robbery in the dwelling-house of John Skelton, near Union Stairs, Wapping; and Elizabeth Osborn for the robbery of John Baily of one shilling, at a house in Cross Lane near Little Queen Street: And three were ordered for execution on Wednesday February 15, viz. John Prince, James Anderson, and Thomas Thompson. But as the execution of John Prince has been farther respited for three weeks, the evening before the day appointed for execution, his indictment and his case need not at present be set forth; hoping his future behaviour will tend to justify, to continue and confirm this great act of royal lenity and mercy; or, in case it should seem otherwise good to the Divine Disposer, and the royal wisdom, that this forbearance may better prepare him for his important change.
an assault, putting her in corporal fear and danger of her life, and violently taking from her person 4s. 9d. her property, Jan. 7.
It seems, this poor unhappy criminal was well known where he committed these little dastardly robberies, upon two poor defenceless women; for the mother of Mrs. Leesome was in company with her, and was by him robbed of 15d. at the same time; he also demanded their rings, but they had none: They called him by his name, and prayed him not to hurt them. About the same time another woman seeing him in the field, alarmed Mr. Clark, a neighbour, to run and fright him away, one of these women being heard at the same time to halloo and cry out, stop thief; he was pursued through the out-part of Marybone, by Primrose-hill, till he was taken below Hampstead church, near Belsize house, by Gosling; he had turned about in his flight, threatened and assaulted his pursuer with a piece of iron called a plowtug, the same weapon he used in the robbery, but that being wrested from him by Gosling, and receiving a wound in the head with it, he surrendered: He was brought to the Constable, Mr. Holdway, under the title of the noted Anderson, who said, he was glad to see him, as he had long looked for him. Being secured and hand-cuffed, he confessed this and other robberies. In his defence on trial he did not deny the fact; but insisted, as he had done when taken, that he got but sixpence in halfpence from the two.
This, with six other capital convicts, attended the service in the chapel on Sunday morning, Jan. 15, being the first or second day after their conviction, when their anguish was quick and poignant; they behaved with serious attention and deep humiliation; before they went up, immediately on their being brought down from the cells, a small pittance of halfpence was, by some charitable hand, sent to be distributed to each of them: a most seasonable relief to their present hunger and cold, in this new and shocking situation. When in chapel, a proper exhortation was applied to them in a serious manner; they were each of them greatly affected, but variously, according to their different tempers. Several of them wept, especially the two young women; others bewailed themselves with loud cries: Some wrung their hands, looking up intensely to Heaven for that mercy, which they had forfeited and lost sight of in this world. One thing was uncommon and remarkable, that of this number, not one professed to be a Papist or Dissenter; nor did either of the other two, John Prince and William Brown, who were convicted the two following days: So that all the nine daily frequented the chapel, unless one or two hindered by sickness for a few days.
On Tuesday the 17th of January, when brought to the bar to receive sentence, an occasion which commanded a deep and awful silence! a striking sense of their sad situation was pathetically impressed upon them; they were reminded, that by their several crimes they had now made the law their enemy; (that law which should be the safe-guard and protection of all honest men.) That they had now no friend but God, whose ears are ever open to the penitent; to whom they were exhorted to apply themselves for peace and reconciliation, and to whose mercy their souls were finally recommended, while their bodies were doomed to death.
Conformable to this, they seemed for the present to fall in with the design of
this heavy judgment, this most alarming call to repentance and amendment: And to awaken and assist them, proper books were put into the hands of such as could read, and they were directed to use them for their own benefit and of those who could not read, of which there were three or four. Proper Scriptures were also selected, and daily opened and applied to them, as usual. On this occasion the 26th chapter of Leviticus was read to them as a proper lesson, wherein the fears and hopes of transgressors are applied to, with the most powerful threats and promises: Considerations well adapted not only to particulars when visited with afflictions, but to this whole nation and people as dispersed from East to West over the face of the globe, now labouring under various chastisements, and justly apprehensive of more and greater, if not mercifully averted. Let such divine admonitions as these be laid to heart, and applied to this purpose. Levit. xxvi. 23 - 33. And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins; and I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant. - And when I have broken the staff of your bread - ye shall eat and not be satisfied. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you. And your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. - Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths.
But to invite and encourage us to avert or remove these terrible inflictions by a speedy and humble repentance, hearken to the gracious voice of Divine Mercy. (Ibid. ver. 40, &c.) If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they have trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me, and that I also have walked contrary unto them: - If THEN their uncircumcised hearts be hnmbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity, then will I remember my covenant. - And I will remember the land. And they shall accept the punishment of their iniquity, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. These and the like Scriptures were duly set before them, as they occurred; and tho' now and then some of them seemed to grow restive, and relapse into their foolish imaginations and evil habits, yet upon the whole a remarkable change seemed to be working among them. Some hopeful progress and improvement appeared to be made among the most hardy of them, and more so among the more pliant and tractable.
One of the former sort, who must at present be nameless, gave me to understand, on the second or third day after his conviction, that he wanted to have some private conversation with me. For this purpose an opportunity was given him the next morning before prayers, when, instead of opening his many scenes of guilt, and asking advice, direction, and comfort, he declared himself innocent of the charge he was convicted of as the child unborn, and desired to be put in a way of applying effectually to save his life. He was answered, that I was no less surprized at this declaration of his innocence, than at his entire mistaking the nature of my office, which was not to meddle with their temporal affairs, but to minister to and assist them in their more important spiritual concerns, and endeavour to secure to them a pardon and peace more lasting than this world can give: Acquainting him withal, that he might
fairly apply for mercy to the Throne, by proper persons and means, if there were a foundation for it; but cautioning him against false pleas and pretences of innocence. This reproof and advice, it is hoped, was not wholly fruitless.
But to return to the convict who is the immediate object of our present consideration. James Anderson was born at Wilsden, beyond Paddington, in Middlesex; not far from the place where he committed this and some other facts: This gave occasion to the prosecutors to say they knew him certainly, tho' they had not seen him for eleven years past. In his early days he was bred up there to labouring and country work , without any learning to read or write. He went to sea about eight or nine years ago, first in the Merchants service and then in the King's ; from which he was paid off a year since, out of the Sutherland of 50 guns; after which he set himself again to labour: He used to drive a team of horses , then wrought with a bricklayer as his labourer ; during this he lived at Bunhill Row near Moorfields. Being out of work, and having a wife and child to maintain, and another coming, he said he was tempted to commit this fact. While this poor ignorant fellow had hopes of life he did not acknowledge any other fact, and declared he had no accomplice.
About the end of January a petition was drawn up in his favour, signed by the proper officers and other inhabitants of the parish of St. Luke, Old Street, wherein he and his poor family had their abode, recommending him as an object of mercy. - "That he had served his " Majesty by sea six or seven years, had " been at the taking of Martinique and " the Havannah, and being discharged " on the peace, betook himself to labour " for the support of himself and family in " the said parish; - that they believed this " to be his first fact, occasioned by the " pressing wants of his poor family, &c."
The person in whose hand this petition was, and who was active in forwarding it, being a publican in the Minories, said, that Anderson had lodged some time in his house, and gave him a good character for his honesty, declaring he had many opportunities of stealing from him, but he never missed any thing; that he believed this to be his first fact; and that his friends and acquaintance would have come to his character on his trial, had they known of it. It must be owned, his aspect and manner of behaviour had the appearance of a plain, honest, poor man, however he might of late be seduced. The event shews, this petition had not the desired success.
One of his fellow-convicts who could read, Richard Jewes, having proper books put into his hands, read to him constantly in his cell, to their mutual improvement; and Anderson daily frequented the chapel, and behaved there with serious attention and devotion. Besides which, they had daily a short instruction given them in some part of the preparation previous to the holy communion. And having notice given them to observe Feb. the first as a day of humiliation, prayer, and fasting, they all willingly joined in at least an outward observance of it: wherein, besides the Psalms of the day and the second lesson being opened, and select parts of them applied as usual, a first lesson (Joel, chap. ii.) was also chosen and explained; and the Commination-office was used.
In the morning of this day, before prayers, one of the convicts applied to
me in the name of the rest, desiring to defer the administration of the holy Communion, for that they did not think themselves as yet prepared for it. This arose from a gross error in not distinguishing the Word or Office of Commination (which they had been warned to read before, in private,) from Communion; a mistake very natural to these unhappy persons, who had seldom or never used or thought on either of these two very distinct and quite different Offices. Immediate care was taken to rectify this mistake, by giving them a proper and distinct notion of the meaning and design of each Office. So gross is the ignorance of the first principles of Christianity, and the plain contents of our Common-Prayer book, which prevails among the untaught and undisciplined multitude; professing, indeed, the reformed or established Religion; but, in the present Confusion of Tongues, by different sects, names, and parties, losing the great ends of true religion, Knowledge, Love, and Obedience: and being filled with that bigotry, and uncharitable rancour ever arising from causeless divisions.
When Anderson found himself included in the Death-warrant, he was much dejected; he wept and bewailed himself, and could scarce be comforted for some days. His usual calm countenance was now disturbed and overcast. His fears and sorrows prevailed over those hopes which he lately entertained, and professed of making his peace with Heaven. He still attended the chapel, and gave heed, with some composure and attention, to those instructions and consolations offered from the holy Scriptures. On this occasion the history of the sufferings of the great sacrifice, and example for suffering sinners, fell in the course of the lessons, out of St. Mark chap. xiv. and xv. Besides which, some select chapters out of the Proverbs, Isaiah, Genesis chap. xxii. and Hebrews xii. were read to them. These and other means seemed to bring Anderson, and his fellow sufferer Thompson, to a more calm and resigned temper.
As for Prince he seemed to bear the expected stroke with more equanimity. The respited convicts were removed from the cells to the other side. To assist Anderson and Thompson in private, a prisoner on the Press-yard side, named Folliott, not yet tried, who reads well, was employed and permitted to read to them in their cells, for some hours, during their three last days; they were much pleased with this help, and made some good use of it. A good account is given of their attention and piety on this occasion. About this time Anderson told me, he had strove to ask and obtain pardon of all whom he had wronged; that he had desired one of his fellow convicts to write to his prosecutors, the two women who had sworn his life away (as he expressed it) for that purpose, and that he freely forgave them, and should die in charity with them; he mentioned also a labouring farmer at Wilsden, whose house he had broke into, and robbed.
The day preceding their execution was now come, and they had not yet desired to be partakers of the holy Sacrament, tho' daily instructed for it, and reminded of their obligation to it. They seemed rather diffident and disinclined to come to it, tho' this was the last appointed day, and some good neighbours were come in to help their infirmities, and set them a good example. To remove their difficulties, scruples, and fears, two hours extraordinary were spent with them, which
at length were blessed with the intended good success; they all three, including Mr. Prince, made full and open profession of the several requisites to a due preparation, and were admitted with joy and satisfaction.
2 Thomas Thompson was indicted, for that he, on the 6th of December, about the hour of three in the night, the dwelling house of John Forbes did break and enter, and steal three woollen great coats, value 20s. four stuff waistcoats, value 20s. eight silk and cotton hankerchiefs, eight shirts, a sattin cap, four pair of stockings, a silk cardinal, six pair of leather gloves, four flannel waistcoats, nine yards of silk persian, and three yards of mantua silk, the property of the said John, in his dwelling-house; and Andrew Biass for receiving a woollen great coat and a stuff waistcoat, part of the said goods, well-knowing them to have been stolen.
This affair was brought home to the prisoner by means of the receiver Biass, and the accomplice Branch being apprehended, the former with some of the goods mentioned in the indictment, which were sworn to be the property of the prosecutor's, particularly a great coat and plaid waistcoat, which he had knowingly bought of the felons. Thompson was quickly after apprehended on the information of Branch, who was taken at Salt-Petre Bank, that hapless resort, on Christmas-day; and the following day, Monday 26th of December, gave information against Thompson and Biass. Thompson was taken in his lodging, on the Redriffe side; and earnestly suing to be admitted an evidence in preference to Branch, promised that a dozen of them should die on those terms; vowing, at the same time, that the man who owned the coat he had on, should die with him. So dangerously extensive were their connections! And so trivial, slight, and treacherous the tie which bound them together!
The general behaviour of this convict, who was totally illiterate, having been partly described in the preceding article, need not be repeated, only observing, that he was more alarmed, and more deeply touched at being named for execution in the Death-warrant, than either of the other two; whether he had thought less of preparing for this trying moment, and flattered himself more to his greater disappointment; or whether there was some hidden sting in his conscience (a quicker sense of which might now be awakened) did not yet appear.
However, a report was now brought to the prison, from an uncertain author, but which came from his own neighbourhood, about Redriffe and Wapping, that he had been concerned in two or three murders; specifying that of the coalheaver, in the New Back Road, near St. George's in the East, some months since; that of a boy thrown out of a bomb-boat (to which Thompson belonged) into the Thames; and also of some woman, not particularly described; on first hearing, it appeared to me too heavy a charge to be probably true, and yet pass hitherto undiscovered or unnoticed by any of his accomplices, who had impeached him. But without wholly slighting it, or giving too much credit to what might be a flying slander, with which the afflicted and unfortunate are too often loaded, the first opportunity was taken, in endeavouring to abate his grief, to speak to him on these very tender points in a cautious distant manner.
He had before acquainted me that he was born in Store-house Yard, near the Glass-house, Ratcliffe, in the parish of Stepney; served his time to a waterman at Coal-stairs, Shadwell, for two years and a half, till impressed into his Majesty's service by sea , in which he served five years during the late war, partly in the Princess Royal guardship, where he belonged to the press-gang; and partly in the Bienfaisante, a French prize. Being questioned how long he had been concerned in such practices, as that for which he was convicted; he told me he was but lately drawn in by the evidence Branch, an old offender, as he said, about a week before he was discovered, in which time they had committed five such facts. That immediately before this he had been sick for near a month, was then recovering, but reduced to great distress by want, which exposed him to this temptation. He was reminded that this was a great aggravation of his ingratitude, to distrust that good Providence, who had raised him from the bed of sickness, and to seek relief by wicked ways. This he seemed sensible of, and acknowledged the wickedness of it.
It was now again laid before him a-new, that it was his duty to open his guilt, in respect of any other notorious crimes he might have been guilty of, as ever he expected pardon and peace; particularly, whether he had been on the highway, or elsewhere for such wicked purposes? He fell on his knees, and declared, he had never stopt man, woman or child, with intent to rob, in any street, highway, or field; and wished he might never find mercy if he ever had: But owned that when he plied in his bomb-boat he had been concerned in taking goods (as tobacco and sugar) out of lighters in the River, and expressed great sorrow at the remembrance of it. He also solemnly declared his innocence of any such deeds of murder, as were before-mentioned to be reported against him; and this he persisted in to the last, on the most serious and trying occasions; and procured several letters to be written, and sent to his wife and his acquaintance, to clear himself of these false and groundless charges, as he asserted them to be.
On the Morning of Execution.
THE two prisoners were brought down from their cells about seven, calm and resigned, and behaved very properly. It was now known that the execution of Mr. Prince was respited for three weeks, but by whose means, or for what particular reasons, seemed unknown even to himself. He chose, however, to make a right use of this forbearance, by going up to chapel with his fellow convicts, and doing his duty, as if he were to suffer with them; an act of gratitude and thanksgiving to Heaven, which the other six respited convicts have hitherto neglected. May it even now enter into their hearts, that the goodness and long suffering of God leadeth them to repentance, with obligations more prevailing to the humane and liberal mind than his severity.
After prayers and administration of the holy Sacrament, in the chapel, at which were present one or two clergymen, and another serious and compassionate person, they were reminded to keep and cherish that blessing in their hearts, which they had now received, and not regard any thing that passed around them. They went down to the Press-yard, and while they were preparing to be put in the cart, behaved themselves with remarkable composure and resignation, professing they
were not afraid, but ready and willing to die, for that they had been well advised, and prepared. This happy change for the better was the more favourable to them, now when their hour was at hand, as they had lately been in a different temper, and felt the pangs of grief, when it was more distant. Thus may all those who now sow in tears, at length reap in joy.
About nine they were put into one cart hung round with black, which some of the spectators observed to be a decent distinction; they got to the place of execution about a quarter past ten, and when tied up, were again prayed for, near half an hour, in which many of the surrounding people joined.
Thompson had promised to deliver to me here the copy of a letter, written to vindicate himself from the charge of murder before-mentioned, but now excused himself, by saying, he could not get it written the last night, and now again declared he knew nothing of those murders.
Anderson being also questioned, whether he was ever guilty of any such fact, or privy to it, particularly the murder of the gate-keeper at Marybone turnpike, which it came into mind to ask him, because his facts were done near that quarter; he seemed at first not to take my meaning, but then denied that he knew any thing of it. Having made profession of their faith and charity, and received the final blessing, we parted, and they quickly suffered their sad sentence. The knot of Anderson's rope sliding upwards, when turned off, he was suspended lower by half his height than Thompson.
This is all the account given by me,
ORDINARY of Newgate.