Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 24 July 2014), January 1679 (16790131).

Old Bailey Proceedings, 31st January 1679.

A true and perfect Relation Of the Tryal and Condemnation, Execution and last Speech of that unfortunate Gentleman Mr. Robert Foulks Late Minister of a Parish near Ludlow in Shropshire, who Received Sentence of Death in London, for Murder and Adultery, and accordingly was carried privately in a Coach to the place of Execution, on Fryday the last of January 1678/9

Also his behaviour in Prison, both before and after Sentence, with his Speech to the People at the place of Execution, and the words of his Text, Published for to satisfy all people that are incensed with base and foolish Reports on this unhappyman.

LIKEWISE

The Tryal, Condemnation and Execution of two grand Traytors, Will. Ireland and John Grove both Jesuits, being the persons that was hired to Kill his Majesty.

Let him that standeth take heed least he fall.

With Allowance.

Printed for L. White in White-cross street.

A Trew and perfect Relation of the Tryal and Condemnation, Execution and last Speech of that unfortunate Gentleman, Mr. Robert Foulks, later Minister &c.

The Impious Actors, and Inhumane contrivers of the late Hellish Plot, have in many circumstances shewn themselves so remarkably unworthy and extreamly disingenuous, that we cannot imagine but every Loyal Subject and good Christian will rejoyce to hear that the impartial hand of Over-ruling Justice hath brought any of them to their long deserved Punishment. And therefore we concluded that the Condemnation , Confession, and Execution , of those two grand Traytors William Ireland , and John Grove , whose crimes were no less than High Treason, and that too aggravated to the very heighth, any respect either for their King, Countrey or Religion; or indeed for themselves, their Estates, lives, wives, or Children; all these were subtly Level'd at in that Hellish contrivance, in which black Tragedy these, Grove and Ireland were to have Acted the most bloody part, for which they were brought to a fair Tryal at the Old Baily, where it was proved by good Evidence that they (with another) were to have Kill'd the King , for which one of them was to have 1500l. and the other thirty thousand Masses, (which he vallu'd at the same Rate) one of them presented a Pistol at him in St. James's Park , but the flint falling out, he was at that time disappointed. In fine they all three received Sentence of Death, and these two only (the other being suspended) were Drawn in a Sledge to the place of Execution, where they still continued in the same obstinacy and stubbornness as they had done in Prison. Grove said nothing but a few Prayers in private, and so was turn'd off, but Ireland made in part a Confession, for he acknowledged, he had been a Jesuite a long time, and had done all he was able to convert as many as he could to the Popish Religion: this is the summ of what in more words he there delivered. After which both he and the other were hang'd up by the Neck, and cut down whilst some life remaind in them, afterwards their breasts were ript open, their hearts taken out, their bodies quartered , and the same day buried in St. Giles in the Fields.

Before I enter on the other dismal and Tragical story, promised you in the Title, methinks I cannot but seriously contemplate How little and inconsiderable we are meerly of our selves, and how vainly we trust in our frail abilities! especially when by dayly experience I sadly observe, that the Great Almighty no sooner leaves us to the indirect motion of our natural courses, but as if we were in Love with our own Ruine, we presently run headlong into the black stream of Vice and Impiety, which is the only Current can conduct us to it; Our Reason which should be our Pilot, then serves us in no stead; no happy birth, Litterate Education, or sacred Function is able to bribe us to study our own good: but on the contrary, our predominent corruptions overruling them all, too often hurry us into those miserable premunires of Sin and Guilt, which we cannot get out of but with the vissible hazard both of Life and Soul.

This is a Truth we have sadly seen experienced by many, but particularly by this Mr. Rob. Foulks , of whom we are now about to discourse.

His living Relations, how neer soever they might be of Kin to him, could not possibly be related to his Crime, and therefore we shall let them quietly slumber in their old innocence, and only content our selves to let the Reader understand that Mr. Foulks was late Minister of a place called Stanton Hay, not far from Ludlow in Shropshire, in which Benefice he Officiated when he was first challenged with this horrid Fact. The proceedings against him at the Sessions house in the Old Bayly in London were as followeth.

He and a young Gentlewoman , committed to his chargs, were both call'd to the Bar, and formally Indicted of Murther , to which they pleaded Not Guilty; but the Evidence against him was very clear and apparent, for it was prov'd that Mr. Foulks was left Guardian to the Gentlewoman Arraign'd with him, and making use of some Authority might be challenged from that trust, he with that, and urgent intreaties, gaind so far on her, as at last to debauch her to his bed, and had used that familiarity so often that at last she prov'd with Child, which not willing his neighbours should be acquainted with, he brought her (under pretence of preferring her) to London, and took Lodgings for her in York Buildings in the Strand, resolving to stay with her till the pains of Delivery should be over, at length the fatal hour of her dreaded Travel approacht, and she by her lowd shrieks began to call for the welcome assistance of her own Sex, which is both decent and necessary in cases of that nature, but that it seems was utterly denied her by Mr. Foulks, who sternly oblig'd her to silence, protesting no body should perform that Office but himself. What pangs the poor woman endured by so painful a Delivery is best judg'd by those who have been experienced in those labours; but the wicked intent of this barbarous usage, could referr to nothing but the designed destruction of the unfortunate babe, whom he no sooner receiv'd into the world; but he cruelly cram'd it down a house of Office; this was absolutely prov'd against him by several witnesses, nor was it deny'd by the miserable Gentlewoman, who was altogether ignorant of what he had done, till he himself had inform'd her what he had done with the murdered infant; the next morning when as he thought he had done his business very securely, he went down into Shropshire, but had not been long there, before the indisposition of the green woman, gave her attendant sufficient evidence she had been Delivered of a Child, which at last she confest; and it being thus positively prov'd against him, he was Condemned , and she not in the least consenting to the Murder, was both pittied and acquitted .

But however obstinate Mr. Foulks seem'd in his Tryal, he quickly chang'd his carriage after Condemnation, for then he not only openly acknowledged his Guile, but very sorrowfully bewail'd the heynous nature of his horrid crime, which on better consideration he said, appeard to him in so terrible a shape, that it discompos'd and affrighted his very Soul. Being return'd to Prison, he was often heard to say, That the apprehensions of death officiously attended with the terrible Ritinue of pain and ignomie, did not half so much affright him as the suddenness of it; that it was Judgement and not death that dejected him; however, he was not so discouraged but that he presently set himself about disposing his Soul onto a fit posture to take her everlasting flight, which he concluded would have been with the Other Offenders on the next Wednesday after the Friday on which he received Sentence, so short a time of preparation therefore made him swift in it, that he would hardly afford himself time either to eat, drink or sleep, but thought every Minute ill spent wherein he did not exercise that Pennitence, Sorrow, and contrition of spirit which was becomming so great an Offender, so that like holy David, he could truly say that Tears were his meat and drink day and night. He was often heard to bemoan next to his guilt, that disgrace and ignomy his bad example might draw on the worthy Members of the Church; but he hoped that to the wise and Learned, his single failing would bring no scandal or reproach, on those wholesome Principles which utterly forbid all such wild extravagancies: and that these hopes be more comfortably persisted in, as well because of his unfeigned sorrow, and Repentance for his horrid crime, as that the Doctrine Discipline, the Orders and Canons of the Church of England do in themselves appear to all men so exactly fit for the promotion and incouragement of Holiness Sobriety, Chastity, and all kind of Christian Virtues which contribute to a good Life; that she would be able to vindicate her self against all Scandals and Reproaches which might be thrown on her either by his or any other particular members misdemeanour.

By this decent behaviour, and exceeding others in Piety and Repentance, he became generally pitted by all that came near him, or heard of him, but amongst the rest, many Eminent Divines in London came to visit him, and being incouraged by those unusual signs of remorse and penitency which they beheld in him, they agreed on a private Fast to be kept in Newgate for him, which was accordingly performed, he joining with them in a more fervent manner that ever was observed in any in his condition.

When the succeeding Wednesday, on which he thought he should have dy'd, was come, instead of the sad news of Execution, he had brought him a Reprieve, which suspended him for about Nine dayes longer, at which he was very much rejoyced, not that he had any hopes or desire to live, but that he might be the more prepared to dy, and as if he had no other thoughts indeed, he grew still more earnest and laborious to make his Cutting and Election sure than ever, imploying on himself long and voluntary Fasts, both from sleep and sustenance, that he might not lose any of that welcome time, indulgent Authority had so graciously afforded him.

And that he himself might proclaim his Repentance as low'd as the world had his crime, when he had spent great part of the day in Prayer and Ejaculations he imploy'd the other part of it and most of the night in writing down his Meditations, and what ever else he thought might be powerful to perswade all men, in time from committing his sins, lest when it is too late, they share with him in his guilt and sufferings, to which end he sent pious Letters to his Wife, Children and Parishoners, meerly for that purpose.

But still zealous that all himself could perform for the expiation of this publick, as well as other his private sins, he was careful to prepare an excellent Prayer fitted for his occasion, which he transcribed with his own hand, and caused to be sent to most Churches in London, on the 30th of January, that being a Fast day strictly kept for the Murder of King Charles the First, so that by this means he was earnestly pray'd for, through the whole City; To conclude, there was nothing of Piety omitted by him which could possibly have been performed by or expected from him, either as he was a Christian, a Minister, or one so near his end.

To Conclude, When the fatal and appointed day of Execution came, he was brought out of the Press-Find about ten of the Clock in the Morning; and in a Coach conveyed to Tyburn, accompanied thither with several Eminent Divines, who were mightily satisfied to see him cheerfully undergoe that great Work, with that constant Piety and Resolution which he had Exercised in Newgate. When he was got on the Ladder, he made a very excellent Speech to the People, to disswade them from those wicked courses which had brought him to that ignominious End. The perticulars cannot be expected here, but the sum of it was this.

My Friends and Brethren>

I Am deservedly brought hither this day to suffer Death for a crime which deserves that Punishment by the Law, and I thank my great God I am too conscious of my own guilt in the least to deny but that both by the Laws of God and man, I have thereby forfeited that Life which I am now going to lay down; the horrid sin that I was sentenced for, was its true very great in it self, but yet is much aggravated being done by one of my Function or Calling, and it is one of the greatest fears I have now left me in the world, least my Example should contract any contempt on the Renowned Clergy-men of England. Ah Sirs, it was not the Church, but one of her unworthy members that committed this heynous offence; and therefore whatever you think me, for God sake let her remain pure and unblemisht, as indeed she is, in your hearts and minds: Had I followed the wholesome Principles she enjoyes, both me and all men too, I had not been in this place upon this occasion; but here are several Learned and pious Ministers that can in part manifest my cordial and unfeigned sorrow, for having thus shamefully offended both God and her; and I hope the great God, whose face I trust I shall in a few minutes behold, doth both see my contrition, and will through the benefits of the blood of Jesus accept me for it, Oh therefore I beseech you, if my ill Example has disrepresented her, let my last Penitence and dying hatred and abhorrency of so black a sin recommend her again to your practise and obedience, without which you must never expect to be happy.

His Speech was much longer, but the greatness of the crowd hindred us from hearing all, but the substance we have here Related. After he had thus done he pray'd very earnestly, and then freely submitted to the Execution of the sentence .

His Corps were privately brought back in a Coach that Evening and decently buried at St. Giles in the Fields.

Postscript.

Thus ended this unfortunate Gentleman, who by the temptations of Satan was thus brought like Holy David into the horrid sin a Adultery, but as his sin resembled his so did his Repentance, and we hope they are both now singing Hallelujahs in the glorious Region of Eternal joy.