Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 26 November 2015), September 1674 (16740909).

Old Bailey Proceedings, 9th September 1674.

News from the Sessions, OR, A True Relation of all the PROCEEDINGS AT THE Sessions in the Old bayly, Sep. 9th 1674.

Where there were Twenty One persons Cast.

With the Number and Particular Crimes of the Persons to be Executed, and all other things there Transacted.


Especially the Tryal & Behaviour of Iohn Randal

That lately Kill'd the Woman in Houlbourn.

Printed for Phillip Brecksby , 1674.


Newgate hath not for a long time been more thronged, nor a greater Goal-delivery been known, then at the Last Sessions: though for the most part the Crimes were so foul, and the proofs so pregnant, that the whole business was dispatcht in three days time.

Amongst the Criminals, John Randal may be reckoned one of the most Notorious, who was charged with two Indictments, one for Fellony for stealing several pieces of Plate, and other Goods belonging to Esq; Blacke , and the other for Murder, Killing his House-Keeper . The Case appeared briefly upon Evidence thus; This Randal having been formerly Butler to the Squire, took his opportunity when he and all the rest of his family were out of Town, to visit this woman, and there in the Evening Murthered her, and rifled the House, carrying several pieces of Plate away to his Lodging in White-Cross-Street. And coming two days after to a Rag-Shop, being next Door, he was taken upon Suspicion, and upon search of his Lodging, the Plate was found in his trunck, whereupon he Confessed that he Knockt the woman Down with his fist, and that he committed the Robbery, &c. Yet now at the Bar he Pleaded, Not Guilty, to both Indictments. But upon Reading his aforesaid Confession, at his Examination before the Justice ah Commited him, and the Evidence that he was the last seen go into the House that Night the Murther was Commited, and proof of the taking the stoln Plate in his Trunk as aforesaid, he was Convicted and Sentenced to Dye .

The next may be rankt Two others, though of a different Sex, yet Guilty of the like Horrid sin of Murther, and that upon their own Children , whose crimes being so nearly resembling each other we may place them together in this Narrative; For being both Young Wenches , they were it seems inticed to Folly, and at last got with Child, and to cover one sin with a greater, most Unnaturally, and Barbarously, Murthered their Infants, one of them casting hers into an House of Office, and the other endeavouring to Bury hers in a Celler: but being both discovered by certain Symtomes usually visible in that condition, upon strait search, the whole matter came to be disclosed, and they respectively Commited. They had little to say for themselves besides the common Plea, that their Children were Still-born, but upon Reading the Statute whereby it is provided in such Cases that unless the same be proved by, at least one Credible witness, it shall be reputed and punished as Murder, and they were both Condemned to Dye .

After them we may reckon another who was proved guilty of killing a Brewers Servant in White-cross-street , but the same being found to be only Manslaughter , and not done with any repeise malice (as Lawyers speak) upon his earnest begging the favour of his Book, he was admitted to the benefit of his Clergy; but after all was not capable to read, and so received sentence of Death .

But a remarkable instance of incorrigible wickedness, appeared in another , who but the very last Sessions was burnt in the hand, and yet took thereby so little warning that he was now in again, and found guilty of a Fellony and Burglary .

For which crime three other Men were likewise arraigned and condemned, having had the Brand already . And a Woman who formerly had been (an old offender in such cases) with another her Companion were convicted also of a Burglary, but only the former condemned to Dye , the last pleading her belly, and by a Jury of Matrons was returned to be with child .

But there was none to be preferred to him , who for want of witness proved himself guilty of a Robbery near High-gate upon a Country Higler , who being coming to Market to London with some Poultry one morning very early was set upon by four of the Foot-padd, who took away some of his Poultrey, for money he had none, or very little about him, but Company coming by they were forced to run away, and thereupon the Person rob'd, and others after some time pursuing after them, they at last took one of them, which was the Prisoner now at the Bar, who being arraigned for the same, resolutely denied that he was any of them, or knew any thing of or concerning the Fact charged against him; and persisted therein for a long time with so much seeming earnestness and obstinacy, that the prosecutor began to suspect his Eyes, and think that he might be mistaken in the person, till at last the Prisoner desired that since the witness had declared he was robbed by four persons, whereof two came before his Horse, and two behind him, he would declare in which rank he then was, whither before or behind, To which he answering that he was behind: The Criminal suddenly and more loudly than wisely, cry'd out. My Lord! this is a perjur'd Villain, and you ought not to believe a Word he sayes, for by - I was at that time one of the 2 that came up before him, whereby he confest himself concerned, and was accordingly found Guilty .

In brief there was in all 21 convicted of Fellony, or cast, but several got off, some by being burnt in the hand, and some by Transportation, amongst which there were two Boys that were Brothers both by nature and in wickedness, one not above eleven years old, but able in depth of all kind of Roguery, to supply the want of years.

There was eight in all burnt in the Hand, six ordered for Transportation, three sentenced to be whipt, and one to the Pillory for a Cheat.

But for the particularities of Petty Larcetines and smaller Rogueries, it would be too tedious here to relate them. Let us rather conclude with hearty wishes that all would take warning by these unhappy presidents to avoid the like evil Courses, seeing the miseries they thereby bring upon themselves. These crooked paths of impiety, though at first entrance they may seem strewed with Roses, and with delight, leading infallibly in the end to ruine and destruction.