The Project Gutenberg eBook of Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals Who have been Condemned and Executed for Murder, the Highway, Housebreaking, Street Robberies, Coining or other offences

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Title: Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals Who have been Condemned and Executed for Murder, the Highway, Housebreaking, Street Robberies, Coining or other offences

Editor: Arthur Lawrence Hayward

Release date: August 3, 2004 [eBook #13097]
Most recently updated: December 18, 2020

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Eloise Mason and Cally Soukup, and PG Distributed


The assailant is strangling his victim with a whip-thong; nearby is a typical roadside gallows with two highwaymen dangling from the cross-tree—(<i>From the Newgate Calendar</i>)

The assailant is strangling his victim with a whip-thong; nearby is a typical roadside gallows with two highwaymen dangling from the cross-tree
(From the Newgate Calendar)





Who have been Condemned and Executed
for Murder, the Highway, Housebreaking,
Street Robberies, Coining or other offences

Collected from Original Papers and
Authentic Memoirs, and
Published in








PrefaceJane GriffinJohn Trippuck, Richard Cane and Richard ShepherdWilliam BartonRobert PerkinsBarbara SpencerWalter KennedyMatthew ClarkJohn WinshipJohn MeffJohn WigleyWilliam CaseyJohn DykesRichard JamesJames WrightNathaniel HawesJohn JonesJohn SmithJames Shaw, alias SmithWilliam ColthouseWilliam BurridgeJohn ThomsonThomas ReevesRichard WhittinghamJames BootyThomas ButlockNathaniel JacksonJames CarrickJohn MolonyThomas WilsonRobert Wilkinson and James LincolnMathias BrinsdenEdmund NealCharles WeaverJohn LeveeRichard Oakey and Matthew FloodWilliam BurkLuke NunneyRichard TranthamJohn Tyrrell and William HawksworthWilliam DuceJames ButlerCaptain John MasseyPhilip RocheHumphrey AngierCaptain StanleyStephen GardinerSamuel Ogden, John Pugh, William Frost, Richard Woodman and William ElishaThomas BurdenFrederick SchmidtPeter CurtisLumley DavisJames HarmanJohn LewisThe Waltham BlacksJulian, a Black BoyAbraham DevalJoseph Blake, alias BlueskinJohn ShepherdLewis HoussartCharles TowersThomas AndersonJoseph PickenThomas PackerThomas BradelyWilliam LipsatJohn HewletJames Cammell and William MarshalJohn GuyVincent DavisMary HansonBryan SmithJoseph WardJames WhiteJoseph MiddletonJohn Price


PrefaceWilliam SperryRobert HarphamJonathan WildJohn LittleJohn PriceFoster SnowJohn WhaleboneJames LittleJohn HampJohn Austin, John Foster and Richard ScurrierFrancis BaileyJohn BartonWilliam SwiftEdward Burnworth, etc.John GillinghamJohn CotterelCatherine HayesThomas BillingsThomas WoodCaptain JaenWilliam BournJohn MurrelWilliam HollisThomas SmithEdward ReynoldsJohn ClaxtonMary StandfordJohn CartwrightFrances BlacketJane HolmesKatherine FitzpatrickMary RobinsonJane MartinTimothy BensonJoseph ShrewsberryAnthony DruryWilliam MillerRobert HaynesThomas Timms, Thomas Perry and Edward BrownAlice GreenAn Account of the Murder of Mr. Widdington DarbyJoshua Cornwall


John Turner, alias Civil JohnJohn JohnsonJames Sherwood, George Weldon and John HughsMartin BellamyWilliam Russell, Robert Crough and William HoldenChristopher Rawlins, etc.Richard Hughes and Bryan MacGuireJames HowGriffith Owen, Samuel Harris and Thomas MedlinePeter Levee, etc.Thomas NeevesHenry Gahogan and Robert BlakePeter KelleyWilliam Marple and Timothy CottonJohn UptonJephthah BiggThomas James GrundyJoseph KempBenjamin WilemanJames CluffJohn DyerWilliam Rogers, William Simpson and Robert OliverJames DrummondWilliam Caustin and Geoffrey YoungerHenry Knowland and Thomas WestwoodJohn EverettRobert Drummond and Ferdinando ShrimptonWilliam NewcombStephen DowdaleAbraham IsraelEbenezer EllisonJames DaltonHugh HoughtonJohn DoyleJohn YoungThomas PolsonSamuel ArmstrongNicholas GilburnJames O'Bryan, Hugh Morris and Robert JohnsonCaptain John Gow


John PerryWilliam BarwickMr. Walker and Mark SharpJacques PerrierAbraham White, Francis Sanders, John Mines alias Minsham, alias Mitchell, and Constance Buckle



Murder on Hounslow HeathFrontispiece
Matthew Clark cutting the throat of Sarah Goldington40
A Prisoner Under Pressure in Newgate63
The Hangman arrested when attending John Meff to Tyburn113
Stephen Gardiner making his dying speech at Tyburn147
Jack Sheppard in the Stone Room in Newgate187
Trial of a Highwayman at the Old Bailey225
Jonathan Wild pelted by the mob on his way to Tyburn272
A Condemned Man drawn on a Sledge to Tyburn305
The Murder of John Hayes:
Catherine Hayes, Wood and Billings cutting off the head336
John Hayes's Head exhibited at St. Margaret's, Westminster346
Catherine Hayes burnt for the murder of her husband353
Joseph Blake attempting the life of Jonathan Wild416
An Execution in Smithfield Market465
Highway Robbery of His Majesty's Mail538
A Gang of Men and Women Transports being marched from Newgate to Blackfriars593


To close the scene of all his actions he

Was brought from Newgate to the fatal tree;

And there his life resigned, his race is run,

And Tyburn ends what wickedness begun.

If there be a haunted spot in London it must surely be a few square yards that lie a little west of the Marble Arch, for in the long course of some six centuries over fifty thousand felons, traitors and martyrs took there a last farewell of a world they were too bad or too good to live in. From remote antiquity, when the seditious were taken ad furcas Tyburnam, until that November day in 1783 when John Austin closed the long list, the gallows were kept ever busy, and during the first half of the eighteenth century, with which this book deals, every Newgate sessions sent thither its thieves, highwaymen and coiners by the score.

There has been some discussion as to the exact site of Tyburn gallows, but there can be little doubt that the great permanent three-beamed erection—the Triple Tree—stood where now the Edgware Road joins Oxford Street and Bayswater Road. A triangular stone let into the roadway indicates the site of one of its uprights. In 1759 the sinister beams were pulled down, a moveable gibbet being brought in a cart when there was occasion to use it. The moveable gallows was in use until 1783, when the place of execution was transferred to Newgate; the beams of the old structure being sawn up and converted to a more genial use as stands for beer-butts in a neighbouring public-house.

The original gallows probably consisted of two uprights with a cross-piece, but when Elizabeth's government felt that more adequate means must be provided to strengthen its subjects' faith and enforce the penal laws against Catholics, a new type of gibbet was sought. So in 1571 the triangular one was erected, with accommodation for eight such miscreants on each beam, or a grand total of twenty-four at a stringing. It was first used for the learned Dr. John Story, who, upon June 1st, "was drawn upon a hurdle from the Tower of London unto Tyburn, where was prepared for him a new pair of gallows made in triangular manner". There is rather a gruesome tale of how, when in pursuance of the sentence the executioner had cut him down and was "rifling among his bowels", the doctor arose and dealt him a shrewd blow on the head. Doctor Story was followed by a long line of priests, monks, laymen and others who died for their faith to the number of some three thousand. And the Triple Tree, the Three-Legged Mare, or Deadly Never-green, as the gallows were called with grim familiarity, flourished for another two hundred years.

In the early eighteenth century it appears to have been the usual custom to reserving sentencing until the end of the sessions, but as soon as the jury's verdict of guilty was known steps were taken to procure a pardon by the condemned man's friends. They had, indeed, much more likelihood of success in those times when the Law was so severe than in later days when capital punishment was reserved for the most heinous crimes. On several occasions in the following pages mention is made of felons urging their friends to bribe or make interest in the right quarters for obtaining a pardon, or commutation of the sentence to one of transportation. It was not until the arrival of the death warrant that the condemned man felt that the "Tyburn tippet" was really being drawn about his neck.

No better description can be given of the ride to Tyburn tree, from Newgate and along Holborn, than that furnished by one of the Familiar Letters written by Samuel Richardson in 1741:

I mounted my horse and accompanied the melancholy cavalcade from Newgate to the fatal Tree. The criminals were five in number. I was much disappointed at the unconcern and carelessness that appeared in the faces of three of the unhappy wretches; the countenance of the other two were spread with that horror and despair which is not to be wondered at in men whose period of life is so near, with the terrible aggravation of its being hastened by their own voluntary indiscretion and misdeeds. The exhortation spoken by the Bell-man, from the wall of St. Sepulchre's churchyard is well intended; but the noise of the officers and the mob was so great, and the silly curiosity of people climbing into the cart to take leave of the criminals made such a confused noise that I could not hear the words of the exhortation when spoken, though they are as follows:

All good people pray heartily to God for these poor sinners, who are

now going to their deaths; for whom this great bell doth toll.

You that are condemned to die, repent with lamentable tears. Ask

mercy of the Lord for the salvation of your own souls through the

merits, death and passion of Jesus Christ, Who now sits at the right

hand of God, to make intercession for as many of you as penitently

return unto Him.

Lord, have mercy upon you! Christ have mercy upon you!

Which last words the Bell-man repeats three times.

All the way up to Holborn the crowd was so great as at every twenty or thirty yards to obstruct the passage; and wine, notwithstanding a late good order against this practice, was brought to the malefactors, who drank greedily of it, which I thought did not suit well with their deplorable circumstances. After this the three thoughtless young men, who at first seemed not enough concerned, grew most shamefully wanton and daring, behaving, themselves in a manner that would have been ridiculous in men in any circumstances whatever. They swore, laughed, and talked obscenely, and wished their wicked companions good luck with as much assurance as if their employment had been the most lawful.

At the place of execution the scene grew still more shocking, and the clergyman who attended was more the subject of ridicule than of their serious attention. The Psalm was sung amidst the curses and quarrelling of hundreds of the most abandoned and profligate of mankind, upon them (so stupid are they to any sense of decency) all the preparation of the unhappy wretches seems to serve only for subject of a barbarous kind of mirth, altogether inconsistent with humanity. And as soon as the poor creatures were half dead, I was much surprised to see the populace fall to hauling and pulling the carcasses with so much earnestness as to occasion several warm rencounters and broken heads. These, I was told, were the friends of the persons executed, or such as, for the sake of to-night, chose to appear so: as well as some persons sent by private surgeons to obtain bodies for dissection. The contests between these were fierce and bloody, and frightful to look at; so I made the best of my way out of the crowd, and with some difficulty rode back among the large number of people who had been upon the same errand as myself. The face of every one spoke a kind of mirth, as if the spectacle they had beheld had afforded pleasure instead of pain, which I am wholly unable to account for....

One of the bodies was carried to the lodging of his wife, who not being in the way to receive it, they immediately hawked it about to every surgeon they could think of; and when none would buy it they rubbed tar all over it, and left it in a field scarcely covered with earth.

In a few words, too, Swift draws a vivid picture of a rogue on his last journey through the London streets:

His waistcoat, and stockings, and breeches were white;

His cap had a new cherry ribbon to tie't.

The maids to the doors and the balconies ran,

And said, "Lack-a-day, he's a proper young man!"

But as from the windows the ladies he spied,

Like a beau in a box, he bow'd low on each side.

Execution day, or Tyburn Fair, as it was jocularly called, was not only a holiday for the ragamuffins and idlers of London; folk of all classes made their way thither to indulge a morbid desire of seeing the dying agonies of a fellow being, criminal or not. There were grand stands and scaffoldings from which the more favoured could view the proceedings in comfort, and every inch of window space and room on the neighbouring roofs was worth a pretty penny to the owners. In his last scene of the career of the Idle Apprentice Hogarth drew a picture of Tyburn Tree which no description can amplify.

As the procession drew near the hangman clambered to the cross-piece of the gallows and lolled there, pipe in mouth, until the first cart drew up beneath him. Then he would reach down, or one of his assistants would pass up, one after the other, the loose ends of the halters which the condemned men had had placed round their necks before leaving Newgate. When all were made fast Jack Ketch climbed down and kicked his heels until the sheriff, or maybe the felons themselves, gave him the sign to drive away the cart and leave its occupants dangling in mid-air. The dead men's clothes were his perquisite, and now was his time to claim them. There is a graphic description of how, on one occasion, when the murderer "flung down his handkerchief for the signal for the cart to move on, Jack Ketch, instead of instantly whipping on the horse, jumped on the other side of him to snatch up the handkerchief, lest he should lose his rights. He then returned to the head of the cart and jehu'd him out of the world".

As the cart drew away a few carrier pigeons, which were released from the galleries, flew off City-ward to bear the tidings to Newgate.

Perhaps as good a description of the actual event as can be obtained is contained in a letter from Anthony Storer to his friend George Selwyn, a morbid cynic whose cruel and tasteless bon-mots were hailed as wit by Horace Walpole and his cronies. The execution was that of Dr. Dodd, the "macaroni parson", whose unfortunate vanity led him to forgery and Tyburn. The date—June 27, 1777—is considerably after the period of our book, but the description applies as well as if it had been written expressly for it.

Upon the whole, the piece was not very full of events. The doctor, to all appearances, was rendered perfectly stupid from despair. His hat was flapped all round, and pulled over his eyes, which were never directed to any object around, nor even raised, except now and then lifted up in the course of his prayers. He came in a coach, and a very heavy shower of rain fell just upon his entering the executioner's cart, and another just at his putting on his nightcap. During the shower an umbrella was held over his head, which Gilly Williams, who was present, observed was quite unnecessary, as the doctor was going to a place where he might be dried.

He was a considerable time in praying, which some people standing about seemed rather tired with; they rather wished for a more interesting part of the tragedy. The wind, which was high, blew off his hat, which rather embarrassed him, and discovered to us his countenance, which we could scarcely see before. His hat, however, was soon restored to him, and he went on with his prayers. There were two clergymen attending on him, one of whom seemed very much affected. The other, I suppose, was the Ordinary of Newgate, as he was perfectly indifferent and unfeeling in everything he did and said.

The executioner took both the hat and wig off at the same time. Why he put on his wig again I do not know, but he did; and the doctor took off his wig a second time, and then tied on the nightcap which did not fit him; but whether he stretched that or took another, I did not perceive. He then put on his nightcap himself, and upon his taking it he certainly had a smile on his countenance, and very soon afterwards there was an end of all his hopes and fears on this side of the grave. He never moved from the place he first took in the cart; seemed absorbed in despair and utterly dejected; without any other sign of animation but in praying. I stayed until he was cut down and put in the hearse.

But the hangman's work was not always done when he had turned off his man. The full sentence for high treason, for example, provided him with much more occupation. In the first place, the criminal was drawn to the gallows and not carried or allowed to walk. Common humanity had mitigated this sentence to being drawn upon a hurdle or sledge, which preserved him from the horrors of being dragged over the stones. Having been hanged, the traitor was then cut down alive, and Jack Ketch set about disembowelling him and burning his entrails before he died. The head was then completely severed, the body quartered and the dismembered pieces taken away for exhibition at Temple Bar and other prominent places.

Here is the account of one such execution. "After the traitor had hung six minutes he was cut down, and having life in him, as he lay upon the block to be quartered, the executioner gave him several blows on his breast, which not having the effect designed, he immediately cut his throat; after which he took his head off; then ripped him open and took out his bowels and heart, and then threw them into a fire which consumed them. Then he slashed his four quarters and put them with the head into a coffin.... His head was put on Temple Bar and his body and limbs suffered to be buried."

Such proceedings were exceptional, however. In the majority of executions the body was taken down when life was considered to be extinct, and carried away to Surgeon's Hall for dissection. Sometimes the relatives used their influence to have the corpse handed over to them (often not even in a coffin) and they then carried it away in a coach for decent burial, or to try resuscitation. Occasionally, indeed, hanged men came to life again. In 1740 one Duel, or Dewell, was hanged for a rape, and his body taken to Surgeons' Hall in the ordinary routine. As one of the attendants was washing it he perceived signs of life. Steps were taken immediately and Duel was brought to, and eventually taken away in triumph by the mob, who had got wind of the affair and refused to allow the Law to re-hang their man. A little earlier something of the same sort had happened to John Smith, who had been hanging for five minutes and a quarter, during which time the hangman "pulled him by the legs and used other means to put a speedy period to his life", when a reprieve arrived and he was cut down. He was hurried away to a neighbouring tavern where restoratives were given, blood was let, and after a time he came to himself, "to the great admiration of the spectators". According to his own account of the affair, he felt a terrible pain when first the cart drew away and left him dangling, but that ceased almost at once, his last sensation being that of a light glimmering fitfully before his eyes. Yet all his previous agony was surpassed when he was being brought to, and the blood began to circulate freely again. A last ignominy, and one strangely dreaded by some of the most hardened criminals, was hanging in irons. When life was extinct the corpse was placed in a sort of iron cage and thus suspended from a gibbet, usually by the highway or near the place where the crime had been committed. There it hung until it fell to pieces from the effects of Time and the weather, and only a few hideous bones and scraps of dried flesh remained as evidence of the strong hand of the Law.

With the exception of minor alterations in punctuation and spellings this book is a complete reprint of three volumes printed and sold by John Osborn, at the Golden Ball, in Paternoster Row, 1735.

A. L. H.




The clemency of the Law of England is so great that it does not take away the life of any subject whatever, but in order to the preservation of the rest both by removing the offender from a possibility of multiplying his offences, and by the example of his punishment intending to deter others from such crimes as the welfare of society requires should be punished with the utmost severity of the Law. My intention in communicating to the public the lives of those who, for about a dozen years past have been victims to their own crimes, is to continue to posterity the good effects of such examples, and by a recital of their vices to warn those who become my readers from ever engaging in those paths which necessarily have so fatal an end. In the work itself I have, as well as I am able, painted in a proper light those vices which induce men to fall into those courses which are so justly punished by the Legislature.

I flatter myself that however contemptible the Lives of the Criminals, etc., may seem in the eyes of those who affect great wisdom and put on the appearance of much learning, yet it will not be without its uses amongst the middling sort of people, who are glad to take up with books within the circle of their own comprehension. It ought to be the care of all authors to treat their several subjects so that while they are read for the sake of amusement they may, as it were imperceptibly, convey notions both profitable and just. The adventures of those who, for the sake of supplying themselves with money for their debaucheries, have betaken themselves to the desperate trade of knights of the road, often have in them circumstances diverting enough and such as serve to show us what sort of amusements they are by which vice betrays us to ruin, and how the fatal inclination to gratify our passions hurries us finally to destruction.

I would not have my readers imagine however, because I talk of rendering books of this kind useful, that I have thrown out any part of what may be styled interesting. On the contrary, I have carefully preserved this and as far as the subject would give me leave, improved it, but with this caution always, that I have set forth the entertainments of vice in their proper colours, lest young people might be led to take them for innocent diversions, and from figures not uncommon in modern authors, learn to call lewdness gallantry, and the effects of unbridled lust the starts of too warm an imagination. These are notions which serve to cheat the mind and represent as the road of pleasure that which is indeed the highway to the gallows. This, I conceived, was the use proper to be made of the lives, or rather the deaths of malefactors, and if I have done no other good in writing them, I shall have at least this satisfaction, that I have preserved them from being presented to the world in such a dress as might render the Academy of Thieving their proper title, a thing once practised before, and if one may guess from the general practice of mankind, might probably have been attempted again, with success. How a different method will fare in the world, time only can determine, and to that I leave it. Yet considering the method in which I treat this subject, I readily forsaw one objection which occasioned my writing so long a preface as this, in order that it might be fully obviated.

Though in the body of the work itself I have carefully traced the rise of those corrupt inclinations which bring men to the committing of facts within the cognizance of the Law, it still remains necessary that my readers also become acquainted, at least in general, with what those facts are which are so severely punished. In doing this I shall not speak of matters in the style of a lawyer, but preserve the same plainness of language which, as I thought it the most proper, I have endeavoured throughout the whole piece.

The order of things requires that I should first of all take notice how the Law comes to have a right of punishing those who live under it with Death or other grievous penalties, and this in a few words arises thus. We enter into society for the sake of protection, and as this renders certain laws necessary, we are justly concluded by them in other cases for the protection of others; but of all the criminal institutions which have been settled in any nation, never was any more just, more reasonable, or fuller of clemency, than that which is called the Crown Law in England. In speaking of this it may not be improper to explain the meaning of that term, which seems to take its rise from the conclusion of indictments, which run always contra pacem dicti domini regis, coronam et dignitatem suam (against the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, his Crown and Dignity) and therefore, as the Crown is always the prosecutor against such offenders, the Law which creates the offence is with propriety enough styled the Crown Law.

The first head of Crown Law is that which concerns offences committed against God, and anciently there were three which were capital, viz., heresy, witchcraft and sodomy; but the law passed in the reign of King Charles the Second for taking away the writ de Hæretica comburendo, leaves the first not now punishable with death, even in its highest degree. However, by a statute made in the reign of King William, persons educated in the Christian religion who are convicted of denying the Trinity, the Christian religion, or the authority of the Scriptures, are for the first offence to be adjudged incapable of office, for the second to be disabled from suing in any action, and over and above other incapacities to suffer three years' imprisonment. As to witchcraft, it was formerly punished in the same manner as heresy. In the time of Edward the Third, one taken with the head and face of a dead man and a book of sorcery about him, was brought into the King's Bench, and only sworn that he would not thenceforth be a sorcerer, and so dismissed, the head, however, being burnt at his charge. There was a law made against conjurations, enchantments and witchcraft, in the days of Queen Elizabeth, but it stands repealed by a statute of King James's time, which is the law whereon all proceedings at this day are founded. By this law, any person invoking or conjuring any evil spirit, covenanting with, employing, feeding, or rewarding them, or taking up any dead person out of their grave, or any part of them, and making use of it in any witchcraft, sorcery, etc., shall suffer death as a felon, without benefit of clergy, and this whether the spirits appear, or whether the charm take effect or no. By the same statute those who take upon them by witchcraft, etc., to tell where treasure is hid, or things lost or stolen should be found, or to engage unlawful love, shall suffer for the first offence a year's imprisonment, and stand in the pillory once every quarter in that year six hours, and if guilty a second time, shall suffer death; even though such discoveries should prove false, or charms, etc., should have no effect. Executions upon this Act were heretofore frequent, but of late years, prosecutions on these heads in which vulgar opinion often goes a great way have been much discouraged and discontinued. As for the last head it remains yet capital, by virtue of a statute made in the reign of Henry VIII, which had been repealed in the first of Queen Mary, and was revived in the fifth of Queen Elizabeth, by which statute, after reciting that the laws then in being in this realm were not sufficient for punishing that detestable vice, it is enacted that such crimes for the future, whether committed with mankind or beasts, should be punished as felonies without benefit of clergy.

It is wide of my purpose to dwell any longer on those crimes which are by the laws styled properly against God, seeing none of the persons mentioned in the following work were executed for doing anything against them. Let us therefore pass on to the second great branch of the Crown Law, viz., offences immediately against the King, and these are either treasons or felonies. Of treasons there are four kinds, all settled by the Statute of the 25th of Edward the Third. The two latter only, viz., offences against the King's great or privy seal, and offences in counterfeiting money, have anything to do with our present design, and therefore we shall speak particularly of them. Not only the persons who actually counterfeit those seals, but even the aiders and consenters to such counterfeiting, are within the Act, and by a statute made in the reign of Queen Mary, counterfeiting the sign manual or privy signet, is also made high treason. By the same statute of Edward the Third, the making of false money, or the bringing it into this realm, in deceit of our Lord the King and his people, was also declared to be high treason, but this Act being found insufficient, clippers being not made guilty either of treason or of misprison of treason, it was helped in that respect by several other Acts; but the fullest of all was the Act made in the reign of the late King William, and rendered perpetual by a subsequent Law made in the reign of her late Majesty [Anne], whereby it is enacted, that whoever shall make, mend, buy, sell, or have in his possession, any mould or press for coining, or shall convey such instruments out of the King's Mint, or mark on the edges of any coin current or counterfeit, or any round blanks of base metal, or colour or gild any coin resembling the coin of this kingdom, shall suffer death as in case of high treason. At the time when these laws were made coining and clipping were at a prodigious height, and practised not only by mean and indigent persons but also by some of tolerable character and rank, insomuch that these executions were numerous for some years after passing the said Act, which as it created some new species of high treason, so it also made felony some other offences against the coin which were not so, or at least were not clearly so before, viz., to blanch copper for sale; or to mix blanch copper with silver, or knowingly or fraudulently to buy any mixture which shall be heavier than silver, and look, touch, and wear like gold, but be manifestly worse; or receive, or pay any counterfeit money at a lower rate than its denomination doth import, shall be guilty of felony.

A third head under which, in this cursory account of Crown Law, I shall range other offences that are punished capitally, are those against our fellow subjects, and they are either committed against their lives, their goods or their habitations. With respect to those against life, if one person kill another without any malice aforethought, then that natural tenderness of which the Law of England is full, interposes for the first fact, which in such a case is denominated manslaughter. Yet there is a particular kind of manslaughter which, by the first of King James, is made felony without benefit of clergy, and that is, where a person shall stab or thrust any person or persons that have not any weapon drawn (or that have not first struck the party which shall so stab or thrust), so that the person or persons so stabbed or thrust shall die within six months next following, though it cannot be proved that the same was done of malice aforethought. This Act it is which is commonly called the Statute of Stabbing.

As to murder properly so called, and taking it as a term in the English Law, it signifies the killing of any person whatsoever from malice aforethought, whether the person slain be an Englishman or not, and this may not only be done directly by a wound or blow, but also by deliberately doing a thing which apparently endangers another's life, so that if death follow thereon he shall be adjudged to have killed him. Such was the case of him who carried his sick father from one town to another against his will in a frosty season. It would be too long for this Preface, should I endeavour to distinguish the several cases which in the eye of the Law come under this denomination; having, therefore, a view to the work itself, I shall distinguish two points only from which malice prepense is presumed in Law.

(1) Where an express purpose appears in him who kills, to do some personal injury to him who is slain; in which case malice is properly to be expressed.

(2) Where a person in the execution of an unlawful action kills another, though his principal intent was not to do any personal injury to the person slain; in which case the malice is said to be implied.

As to duels where the blood has once cooled, there is no doubt but he who kills another is guilty of wilful murder; or even in case of a sudden quarrel, if the person killing appear by any circumstance to be master of his temper at the time he slew the other, then it will be murder. Not that the English Law allows nothing to the frailties of human nature, but that it always exerts itself where there appears to have been a person killed in cool blood. Far this reason the seconds at a premeditated duel have been held guilty of murder, nor will the justice of the English Law be defeated where a person appears to have intended a less hurt than death, if that hurt arose from a desire of revenge in cool blood; for if the person dies of the injury it will be murder. So, also, where the revenge of a sudden provocation is executed in a cruel manner, though without intention of death, yet if it happen, it is murder.

We come now to those kinds of killing in which the Law, from the second method of reasoning we have spoken of, implies malice, and into which slaying of others, those unfortunate persons of whom we speak in the following sheets were mostly led either through the violence of their passions, or through the necessity into which they are often drawn by the commission of thefts and other crimes. Thus, were a person to kill another in doing a felony, though it be by accident, or where a person fires at one who resists his robbing him and by such firing kills another against whom he had no design, yet from the evil intention of the first act, he becomes liable for all its consequences, and the fact, by an implication of malice, will be adjudged murder. Nay, though there be no design of committing felony, but only of breaking the peace, yet if a man be slain in the tumult they will all be guilty of murder, because their first act was a deliberate breach of the Law. There is yet another manner of killing which the Law punishes with the utmost severity, which is resisting an officer, civil or criminal, in the execution of his office (arresting a person) so that he be slain, yet though he did not produce his warrant, the offence will be adjudged murder. And if persons who design no mischief at all, do unadvisedly commit any idle wanton act which cannot but be attended with manifest danger, such as riding with a horse known to kick amongst a crowd of people, merely to divert oneself by putting them in a fright, and by such riding a death ensues, there such a person will be judged guilty of murder. Yet some offences there are of so transcendent a cruelty that the Law hath thought fit to difference them from the other murders, and these are of three sorts, viz., where a servant kills his master; where a wife kills her husband; where an ecclesiastical man kills his prelate to whom he owes obedience. In all these cases the Law makes the crimes Petit Treason.

From crimes committed against the lives of men we descend next to offences against their goods, in which, that we may be the more clearly understood, we shall begin with the lowest kind of thefts. The Law calls it larceny where there is felonious and fraudulent taking and carrying away the mere personal goods of another, so long as it be neither from his person nor out of his house. If the value of such goods be under twelvepence, then it is called petty larceny, and is punishable only by whipping or other corporal punishments; but if they exceed that value, then it is grand larceny, and is punishable with death, where benefit of clergy is not allowed.

There are a multitude of offences contained under the general title of grand larceny, and, therefore, as I intend only to give my readers such a general idea of Crown Law as may serve to render the following pages more intelligible, so I shall dwell on such particulars as are more especially useful in that respect, and leave the perfect knowledge of the pleas of the Crown to be attained by the study of the several books which treat of them directly and fully. There was until the reign of King William, a doubt whether a lodger who stole the furniture of his lodgings were indictable as a felon, inasmuch as he had a special property in the goods, and was to pay the greater rent in consideration of them. To clear this, a Statute was made in the afore-mentioned reign, by which it is declared larceny and felony for any person to steal, embezzle, or purloin any chattel or furniture which by contract he was to have the use of in lodging; and by a Statute made in the reign of Henry VIII, it is enacted that all servants being of the age of eighteen years, and not apprentices, to whom goods and chattels shall be delivered by their masters or mistresses for them to keep, if they shall go away with, or shall defraud or embezzle any part of such goods or chattels, to the value of forty shillings or upwards, then such false and fraudulent act be deemed and adjudged felony.

But besides simple larceny, which is divided into grand and petty, there is a mixed larceny which has a greater degree of guilt in it, as being a taking from the person of a man or from his house. Larceny from the person of a man either puts him in fear, and then it is a robbery, or does not put him in fear, and then it is a larceny from the person, and of this we shall speak first. It is either committed without a man's knowledge, and in such a case it is excluded from benefit of clergy, or it is openly done before the person's face, and then it is within the benefit of clergy, unless it be in a dwelling-house and to the value of forty shillings, in which case benefit is taken away by an Act made in the reign of the late Queen. Larceny from the house is at this day in several cases excluded from benefit of clergy, but in others it is allowed.

Robbery is the taking away violently and feloniously the goods or money from the person of a man, putting him in fear; and this taking is not only with the robber's own hands, but if he compel, by the terror of his assault, the person whom he robs to give it himself, or bind him by such terrible oaths, that afterwards in conscience he thinks himself obliged to give it, is a taking within the Law, and cannot be purged from any delivery afterwards. Yea, where there is a gang of several persons, only one of which robs, they are all guilty as to the circumstance of putting in fear, wherever a person attacks another with circumstances of terror, as though fear oblige him to part with his money though it be without weapons drawn, and the person taking it pretend to receive it as an alms. And in respect of punishment, though judgment of death cannot be given in any larceny whatsoever, unless the goods taken exceed twelve pence in value, yet in robbery such judgment is given, let the value of the goods be ever so small.

As to crimes committed against the habitations of men, there are two kinds, viz., burglary and arson.

Burglary is a felony at Common Law, and consists in breaking and entering the mansion house of another in the night time with an intent of committing a felony therein, whether that intention be executed or not. Here, from the best opinions, is to be understood such a degree of darkness as hinders a man's countenance from being discerned. The breaking and entering are points essential to be proved in order to make any fact burglary; the place in which it is committed must be a dwelling house, and the breaking and entering such a dwelling house must be an intent of committing felony, and not a trespass; and this much I think is sufficient to define the nature of this crime, which notwithstanding the many examples which have been made of it, is still too much practised. As to arson, by which the Law understand maliciously and voluntarily burning the house of another by night or by day; to make a man guilty of this it must appear that he did it voluntarily and of malice aforethought.

Besides these, there are several other felonies which are made so by Statute, such as rapes committed on women by force, and against their will. This offence was anciently punished by putting out the eyes and cutting off the testicles of the offenders; it was afterwards made a felony, and by a statute in Queen Elizabeth's reign, excluded from benefit of clergy. By an Act made in the reign of King Henry the Seventh, taking any woman (whether maid, wife or widow) having any substance, or being heir apparent to her ancestors, for the lucre of such substance, and either to marry or defile the said woman against her will, then such persons and all those procuring or abetting them in the said violence, shall be guilty of felony, from which, by another Act in Queen Elizabeth's reign, benefit of clergy is taken. Also by an Act in the reign of King James the First, any person marrying, their former husband or wife being then alive, such persons shall be deemed guilty of felony, but benefit of clergy is yet allowed for this offence.

As it often happens that boisterous and unruly people, either in frays or out of revenge, do very great injuries unto others, yet without taking away their lives, in such a case the Law adjudges the offender who commits a mayhem to the severest penalties. The true definition of a mayhem is such a hurt whereby a man is rendered less able in fighting, so that cutting off or disabling a man's hand, striking out his eye, or foretooth, were mayhems at Common Law. But by the Statute of King Charles the Second, if any person or persons, with malice aforethought, by lying in wait, unlawfully cut out or disable the tongue, put out an eye, slit the nose, or cut off the nose or lip of any subject of his Majesty, with an intention of maiming or disfiguring, then the person so offending, their counsellors, aiders and abetters, privy to the offence, shall suffer death, as in cases of felony, without benefit of clergy; which Act is commonly called the Coventry Act, because it was occasioned by the slitting of the nose of a gentleman of that name, for a speech made by him in Parliament.[1]

As nothing is of greater consequence to the commonwealth than public credit, so the Legislature hath thought fit, by the highest punishments, to deter persons from committing such facts for the lucre of gain, as might injure the credit of the nation. For this purpose, an Act was made in the reign of the late King William, by which forging or counterfeiting the common seal of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England, or of any sealed bank-bill given out in the name of the said Governor and Company for the payment of any sum of money, or of any bank-note whatsoever, signed by the said Governor and Company of the Bank of England, or altering or raising any bank-bill, or note of any sort, is declared to be felony, without benefit of clergy. Upon this Statute there have been several convictions, and it is hoped men are pretty well cured of committing this crime, by that care those in the direction of the Bank have always taken to bring offenders of this kind to justice.

By an Act also passed in the reign of King William, persons who counterfeit any stamp which by its mark relates to the Revenue, shall be guilty of felony without benefit of clergy, and upon this also there have been some executions.

But as the public companies established in this kingdom have often occasion to borrow money under their common seal, which bonds, so sealed, are transferable and pass currently from hand to hand as ready money, so for the greater security of the subject the counterfeiting the common seal of the South Sea Company, or altering any bond or obligation of the said company, is rendered felony without benefit of clergy. Some other statutes of the same nature in respect to lottery tickets, etc., have been made to create felonies of the counterfeiting thereof, but of these and some other later Statutes, I forbear mentioning here, because I have spoken particularly of them in the cases where persons have been punished for transgressing them.

As I have already exceeded the bounds which I at first intended should have restrained my Preface, so I forbear lengthening it in speaking of lesser crimes, few of which concern the persons whose lives are to be found in the following volume. Therefore I shall conclude here, only putting my readers once more in mind that by this work the intent of the Law, in punishing malefactors, is more perfectly fulfilled, since the example of their deaths is transmitted in a proper light to posterity.


Sir John Coventry, M. P. for Weymouth, in the course of a debate on a proposed levy on playhouses, asked "whether did the king's pleasure lie among the men or the women that acted?" This open allusion to Charles's relations with Nell Gwynn and Moll Davies enraged the Court party, and on Dec. 21, 1670, as Sir John was going to his house in Suffolk Street, he was waylaid by a brutal gang under Sir Thomas Sandys, dragged from his carriage, and his nose slit to the bone. This outrage caused great indignation, and the Coventry Act mentioned in the text was passed, 22 & 23 Car. II. The perpetrators of the deed escaped.

The Life of JANE GRIFFIN, who was Executed for the Murder of her Maid, January 29, 1719-20

Passion, when it once gains an ascendant over our minds, is often more fatal to us than the most deliberate course of vice could be. On every little start it throws us from the paths of reason, and hurries us in one moment into acts more wicked and more dangerous than we could at any other time suffer to enter our imagination. As anger is justly said to be a short madness, so, while the frenzy is upon us, blood is shed as easily as water, and the mind is so filled with fury that there is no room left for compassion. There cannot be a stronger proof of what I have been observing than in the unhappy end of the poor woman who is the subject of this chapter.

Jane Griffin was the daughter of honest and substantial parents, who educated her with very great tenderness and care, particularly with respect to religion, in which she was well and rationally instructed. As she grew up her person grew agreeable, and she had a lively wit and a very tolerable share of understanding. She lived with a very good reputation, and to general satisfaction, in several places, till she married Mr. Griffin, who kept the Three Pigeons in Smithfield[2].

She behaved herself so well and was so obliging in her house that she drew to it a very great trade, in which she managed so as to leave everyone well satisfied. Yet she allowed her temper to fly out into sudden gusts of passion, and that folly alone sullied her character to those who were witnesses of it, and at last caused a shameful end to an honest and industrious life.

One Elizabeth Osborn, coming to live with her as a servant, she proved of a disposition as Mrs. Griffin could by no means agree with. They were continually differing and having high words, in which, as is usual on such occasions, Mrs. Griffin made use of wild expressions, which though she might mean nothing by them when she spoke them, yet proved of the utmost ill consequence, after the fatal accident of the maid's death. For being then given in evidence, they were esteemed proofs of malice prepense, which ought to be a warning to all hasty people to endeavour at some restraint upon their tongues when in fits of anger, since we are not only sure of answering hereafter for every idle word we speak, but even here they may, as in this case, become fatal in the last degree.

It was said at the time those things were transacted that jealousy was in some degree the source of their debates, but of that I can affirm nothing. It no way appeared as to the accident which immediately drew on her death, and which happened after this manner.

One evening, having cut some cold fowl for the children's supper, it happened the key of the cellar was missing on a sudden, and on Mrs. Griffin's first speaking of it they began to look for it. But it not being found, Mrs. Griffin went into the room where the maid was, and using some very harsh expression, taxed her with having seen it, or laid it out of the way. Instead of excusing herself modestly, the maid flew out also into ill language at her mistress, and in the midst of the fray, the knife with which she had been cutting lying unluckily by her, she snatched it up, and stuck it into the maid's bosom; her stays happening to be unluckily open, it entered so deep as to give her a mortal wound.

After she had struck her Mrs. Griffin went upstairs, not imagining that she had killed her, but the alarm was soon raised on her falling down, and Mrs. Griffin was carried before a magistrate, and committed to Newgate. When she was first confined, she seemed hopeful of getting off at her trial, yet though she did not make any confession, she was very sorrowful and concerned. As her trial drew nearer, her apprehensions grew stronger, till notwithstanding all she could urge in her defence, the jury found her guilty, and sentence was pronounced as the Law directs.

Hitherto she had hopes of life, and though she did not totally relinquish them even upon her conviction, yet she prepared with all due care for her departure. She sent for the minister of her own parish, who attended her with great charity, and she seemed exceedingly penitent and heartily sorry for her crime, praying with great favour and emotion.

And as the struggling of an afflicted heart seeks every means to vent its sorrow, in order to gain ease, or at least an alleviation of pain, so this unhappy woman, to soothe the gloomy sorrows that oppressed her, used to sit down on the dirty floor, saying it was fit she should humble herself in dust and ashes, and professing that if she had an hundred hearts she would freely yield them all to bleed, so they might blot out the stain of her offence. By such expression did she testify those inward sufferings which far exceed the punishment human laws inflict, even on the greatest crimes.

When the death warrant came down and she utterly despaired of life, her sorrow and contrition became greater than before, and here the use and comfort of religion manifestly appeared; for had not her faith in Christ moderated her afflictions, perhaps grief might have forestalled the executioner, but she still comforted herself with thinking on a future state, and what in so short an interval she must do to deserve an happy immortality.

The time of her death drawing very near, she desired a last interview with her husband and daughter, which was accompanied with so much tenderness that nobody could have beheld it without the greatest emotion. She exhorted her husband with great earnestness to the practice of a regular and Christian life, begged him to take due care of his temporal concerns, and not omit anything necessary in the education of the unhappy child she left behind her. When he had promised a due regard should be had to all her requests she seemed more composed and better satisfied than she had been. Continuing her discourse, she reminded him of what occurred to her with regard to his affairs, adding that it was the last advice she should give, and begging therefore it might be remembered. She finished what she had to say with the most fervent prayers and wishes for his prosperity.

Turning next to her daughter, and pouring over her a flood of tears, My dearest child, she said, let the afflictions of thy mother be a warning and an example unto thee; and since I am denied life to educate and bring thee up, let this dreadful monument of my death suffice to warn you against yielding in any degree to your passion, or suffering a vehemence of temper to transport you so far even as indecent words, which bring on a custom of flying out in a rage on trivial occasions, till they fatally terminate in such acts of wrath and cruelty as that for which I die. Let your heart, then, be set to obey your Maker and yield a ready submission to all His laws. Learn that Charity, Love and Meekness which our blessed religion teaches, and let your mother's unhappy death excite you to a sober and godly life. The hopes of thus are all I have to comfort me in this miserable state, this deplorable condition to which my own rash folly has reduced me.

The sorrow expressed both by her husband and by her child was very great and lively and scarce inferior to her own, but the ministers who attended her fearing their lamentations might make too strong an impression on her spirits, they took their last farewell, leaving her to take care of her more important concern, the eternal welfare of her soul.

Some malicious people (as is too often the custom) spread stories of this unfortunate woman, as if she had been privy to the murder of one Mr. Hanson, who was killed in the Farthing-Pie House fields[3]; and attended this with so many odd circumstances and particulars, which tales of this kind acquire by often being repeated, that the then Ordinary of Newgate thought it became him to mention it to the prisoner. Mrs. Griffin appeared to be much affected at her character being thus stained by the fictions of idle suspicions of silly mischievous persons. She declared her innocence in the most solemn manner, averred she had never lived near the place, nor had heard so much as the common reports as to that gentleman's death.

Yet, as if folks were desirous to heap sorrow on sorrow, and to embitter even the heavy sentence on this poor woman, they now gave out a new fable to calumniate her in respect to her chastity, averring on report of which the first author is never to be found, that she had lived with Mr. Griffin in a criminal intimacy before their marriage. The Ordinary also (though with great reluctance) told her this story. The unhappy woman answered it was false, and confirmed what she said by undeniable evidence, adding she freely forgave the forgers of so base an insinuation.

When the fatal day came on which she was to die, Mrs. Griffin endeavoured, as far as she was able, to compose herself easily to submit to what was not now to be avoided. She had all along manifested a true sense of religion, knowing that nothing could support her under the calamities she went through but the hopes of earthly sufferings atoning for her faults, and becoming thereby a means of eternal salvation. Yet though these thoughts reconciled this ignominious death to her reason, her apprehensions were, notwithstanding, strong and terrible when it came so near.

At the place of execution she was in terrible agonies, conjuring the minister who attended her and the Ordinary of Newgate, to tell her whither there was any hopes of her salvation, which she repeated with great earnestness, and seeming to part with them reluctantly. The Ordinary entreated her to submit cheerfully to this, her last stage of sorrow, and in certain assurance of meeting again (if it so pleased God) in a better slate.

The following paper having been left in the hands of a friend, and being designed for the people, I thought proper to publish it.

I declare, then, with respect to the deed for which I die, that I did it without any malice or anger aforethought, for the unlucky instrument of my passion lying at hand, when first words arose on the loss of the key, I snatched it up suddenly, and executed that rash act which hath brought her and me to death, without thinking.

I trust, however, that my most sincere and hearty repentance of this bloody act of cruelty, the sufferings which I have endured since, the ignominious death I am now to die, and above all the merits of my Saviour, who shed His blood for me on the Cross, will atone for this my deep and heavy offence, and procure for me eternal rest.

But as I am sensible that there is no just hope of forgiveness from the Almighty without a perfect forgiveness of those who have any way injured us, so I do freely and from the bottom of my soul, forgive all who have ever done me any wrong, and particularly those who, since my sorrowful imprisonment, have cruelly aspersed me, earnestly entreating all who in my life-time I may have offended, that they would also in pity to my deplorable state, remit those offences to me with a like freedom.

And now as the Law hath adjudged, and I freely offer my body to suffer for what I have committed, I hope nobody will be so unjust and so uncharitable as to reflect on those I leave behind me on my account, and for this, I most humbly make my last dying request, as also that ye would pray for my departed soul.

She died with all exterior marks of true penitence, being about forty years of age, the 29th of January, 1719-20.


This tavern was in Butcher Hall Lane (now King Edward Street, Newgate Street), and was a favourite resort of the Paternoster Row booksellers.


The Farthing-Pie House was a tavern in Marylebone. It was subsequently re-christened The Green Man.

The Lives of JOHN TRIPPUCK, the Golden Tinman, a Highwayman; RICHARD CANE, a Footpad; THOMAS CHARNOCK, a thief; and RICHARD SHEPHERD, a Housebreaker, who were all executed at Tyburn, the 29th of January, 1719-20

The first of these offenders had been an old sinner, and I suppose had acquired the nickname of the Golden Tinman as a former practitioner in the same wretched calling did that of the Golden Farmer.[4] Trippuck had robbed alone and in company for a considerable space, till his character was grown so notorious that some short time before his being taken for the last offence, he had, by dint of money and interest, procured a pardon. However, venturing on the deed which brought him to his death, the person injured soon seized him, and being inexorable in his prosecution, Trippuck was cast and received sentence. However, having still some money, he did not lose all hope of a reprieve, but kept up his spirits by flattering himself with his life being preserved, till within a very few days of the execution. If the Ordinary spoke to him of the affairs of the soul, Trippuck immediately cut him short with, D'ye believe I can obtain a pardon? I don't know that, indeed, says the doctor. But you know one Counsellor Such-a-one, says Trippuck, prithee make use of your interest with him, and see whether you can get him to serve me. I'll not be ungrateful, doctor.

The Ordinary was almost at his wits' end with this sort of cross purposes; however, he went on to exhort him to think of the great work he had to do, and entreated him to consider the nature of that repentance which must atone for all his numerous offences. Upon this, Trippuck opened his breast and showed him a great number of scars amongst which were two very large ones, out of which he said two musket bullets had been extracted. And will not these, good doctor, quoth he, and the vast pains I have endured in their cure, in some sort lessen the heinousness of the facts I may have committed? No, said the Ordinary, what evils have fallen upon you in such expeditions, you have drawn upon yourself, and do not imagine that these will in any degree make amends for the multitude of your offences. You had much better clear your conscience by a full and ingenious confession of your crimes, and prepare in earnest for another world, since I dare assure you, you need entertain no hopes of staying in this.

As soon as be found the Ordinary was in the right, and that all expectation of a reprieve or pardon were totally in vain, Trippuck began, as most of those sort of people do, to lose much of that stubbornness they mistake for courage. He now felt all the terrors of an awakened conscience, and persisted no longer in denying the crime for which he died, though at first he declared it altogether a falsehood, and Constable, his companion, had denied it even to death. As is customary when persons are under their misfortune, it had been reported that this Trippuck was the man who killed Mr. Hall towards the end of the summer before on Blackheath, but when the story reached the Golden Tinman's ears he declared it was an utter falsity; repeating this assertion to the Ordinary a few moments before his being turned off, and pointing to the rope about him, he said, As you see this instrument of death about me, what I say is the real truth. He died with all outward signs of penitence.

Richard Cane was a young man of about twenty-two years of age, at the time he suffered. Having a tolerable genius when a youth, his friends put him apprentice twice, but to no purpose, for having got rambling notions in his head, he would needs go to sea. There, but for his unhappy temper, he might have done well, for the ship of war in which he sailed was so fortunate as to take, after eight hours sharp engagement, a Spanish vessel of immense value; but the share he got did him little service. As soon as he came home Richard made a quick hand of it, and when the usual train of sensual delights which pass for pleasures in low life had exhausted him to the last farthing, necessity and the desire of still indulging his vices, made him fall into the worst and most unlawful methods to obtain the means which they might procure them.

Sometime after this, the unhappy man of whom we are speaking fell in love (as the vulgar call it) with an honest, virtuous, young woman, who lived with her mother, a poor, well-meaning creature, utterly ignorant of Cane's behaviour, or that he had ever committed any crimes punishable by Law. The girl, as such silly people are wont, yielded quickly to a marriage which was to be consummated privately, because Cane's relations were not to be disobliged, who it seems did not think him totally ruined so long as he escaped matrimony. But the unhappy youth not having enough money to procure a licence, and being ashamed to put the expense on the woman and her mother, in a fit of amorous distraction went out from them one evening, and meeting a man somewhat fuddled in the street, threw him down, and took away his hat and coat. The fellow was not so drunk but that he cried out, and people coming to his assistance, Cane was immediately apprehended, and so this fact, instead of raising him money enough to be married, brought him to death in this ignominious way.

While he lay in Newgate, the miserable young creature who was to have been his wife came constantly to cry with him and deplore their mutual misfortunes, which were increased by the girl's mother falling sick, and being confined to her bed through grief for her designed son-in-law's fate. When the day of his suffering drew on, this unhappy man composed himself to submit to it with great serenity. He professed abundance of contrition for the wickedness of his former life and lamented with much tenderness those evils he had brought upon the girl and her mother. The softness of his temper, and the steady affection he had for the maid, contributed to make his exit much pitied; which happened at Tyburn in the twenty-second year of his age. He left this paper behind him, which he spoke at the tree.

Good People,

The Law having justly condemned me for my offence to suffer in this shameful manner, I thought it might be expected that I should say something here of the crime for which I die, the commission of which I do readily acknowledge, though it was attended with that circumstance of knocking down, which was sworn against me. I own I have been guilty of much wickedness, and am exceedingly troubled at the reflection it may bring upon my relations, who are all honest and reputable people. As I die for the offences I have done, and die in charity forgiving all the world, so I hope none will be so cruel as to pursue my memory with disgrace or insult an unhappy young woman on my account, whose character I must vindicate with my last breath, as all the justice I am able to do her, I die in the communion of the Church of England and humbly request your prayers for my departing soul.

Richard Shepherd was born of very honest and reputable parents in the city of Oxford, who were careful in giving him a suitable education, which he, through the wickedness of his future life, utterly forgot, insomuch that he knew scarce the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, at the time he had most need of them. When he grew a tolerable big lad his friends put him out as apprentice to a butcher, where having served a great part of his time, he fell in love, as they call it, with a young country lass hard by, and Dick's passion growing outrageous, he attacked the poor maid with all the amorous strains of gallantry he was able. The hearts of young uneducated wenches, like unfortified towns, make little resistance when once beseiged, and therefore Shepherd had no great difficulty in making a conquest. However the girl insisted on honourable terms, and unfortunately for the poor fellow they were married before his time was out; an error in conduct, which in low life is seldom retrieved.

It happened so here. Shepherd's master was not long before he discovered this wedding. He thereupon gave the poor fellow so much trouble that he was at last forced to give him forty shillings down, and a bond for twenty-eight pounds more. This having totally ruined him, Dick unhappily fell into the way of dishonest company, who soon drew him into their ways of gaining money and supplying his necessities at the hazard both of his conscience and his neck; in which, though he became an expert proficient, yet could he never acquire anything considerable thereby, but was continually embroiled in debt. His wife bringing every year a child, contributed not a little thereto. However, Dick rubbed on mostly by thieving and as little by working as it was possible to avoid.

When he first began his robberies, he went housebreaking, and actually committed several facts in the city of Oxford itself. But those things not being so easily to be concealed there as at London, report quickly began to grow very loud about him, and Dick was forced to make shift with pilfering in other places; in which he was (to use the manner of speaking of those people) so unlucky that the second or third fact he committed in Hertfordshire, he was detected, seized, and at the next assizes capitally convicted. Yet out of compassion to his youth, and in hopes he might be sufficiently checked by so narrow an escape from the gallows, his friends procured him first a reprieve and then a pardon.

But this proximity to death made little impression on his heart, which is too often the fault in persons who, like him, receive mercy, and have notwithstanding too little grace to make use of it. Partly driven by necessity, for few people cared after his release to employ him, partly through the instigations of his own wicked heart, Dick went again upon the old trade for which he had so lately been like to have suffered, but thieving was still an unfortunate profession to him. He soon after fell again into the hands of Justice, from whence he escaped by impeaching Allen and Chambers, two of his accomplices, and so evaded Tyburn a second time. Yet all this signified nothing to him, for as soon as he was at home, so soon to work he went in his old way, till apprehended and executed for his wickedness.

No unhappy criminal had more warning than Shepherd of his approaching miserable fate, if he would have suffered anything to have deterred him; but alas! what are advices, terrors, what even the sight of death itself, to souls hardened in sin and consciences so seared as his. He had, when taken up and carried before Col. Ellis, been committed to New Prison for a capital offence. He had not remained there long before he wrote the Colonel a letter in which (provided he were admitted an evidence) he offered to make large discoveries. His offers were accepted, and several convicted capitally at the Old Bailey by him were executed at Tyburn, whither for his trade of housebreaking, Shepherd quickly followed them.

While in Newgate Shepherd had picked up a thoughtless resolution as to dying, not uncommon to those malefactors who, having been often condemned, go at last hardened to the gallows. When he was exhorted to think seriously of making his peace with God, he replied 'twas done and he was sure of going to Heaven.

With these were executed Thomas Charnock, a young man well and religiously educated. By his friends he had been placed in the house of a very eminent trader, and being seduced by ill-company yielded to the desire of making a show in the world. In order to do so, he robbed his master's counting-house, which fact made him indeed conspicuous, but in a very different manner from what he had flattered himself with. They died tolerably submissive and penitent, this last malefactor, especially, having rational ideas of religion.


William Davis, the Golden Farmer, was a notorious highwayman, who obtained his sobriquet from a habit of always paying in gold. He was hanged in Fleet Street, December 20, 1689. His adventures are told at length in Smith's History of the Highwaymen, edited by me and published in the same series as this volume.

The Life of WILLIAM BARTON, a Highwayman

This William Barton was born in Thames Street, London, and seemed to have inherited a sort of hereditary wildness and inconstancy, his father having been always of a restless temper and addicted to every species of wickedness, except such as are punished by temporal laws. While this son William was a child, he left him, without any provision, to the care of his mother, and accompanied by a concubine whom he had long convened with, shipped himself for the island of Jamaica, carrying with him a good quantity of goods proper for that climate, intending to live there as pleasantly as the place would give him leave. His head being well turned, both for trading and planting, it was, indeed, probable enough he should succeed.

Now, no sooner was his father gone on this unaccountable voyage, but William was taken home and into favour by his grandfather, who kept a great eating-house in Covent Garden. Here Will, if he would, might certainly have done well. His grandfather bound him to himself, treated him with the utmost tenderness and indulgence, and the gentlemen who frequented the house were continually making him little presents, which by their number were considerable, and might have contented a youth like him.

But William, whose imagination was full of roving as his father's, far from sitting down pleased and satisfied with that easy condition into which Fortune had thrown him, began to dream of nothing but travels and adventures. In short, in spite of all the poor old man, his grandfather, could say to prevent it, to sea he went, and to Jamaica in quest of his father, who he fancied must have grown extravagantly rich by this time, the common sentiments of fools, who think none poor who have the good luck to dwell in the West Indies.

On Barton's arrival at Jamaica he found all things in a very different condition from what he had flattered himself with. His father was dead and the woman who went over with him settled in a good plantation, 'tis true, but so settled that Will was unable to remove her; so he betook himself to sea again, and rubbed on the best way he was able. But as if the vengeance of Heaven had pursued him, or rather as if Providence, by punishments, designed to make him lay aside his vices, Barton had no sooner scraped a little money together, but the vessel in which he sailed was (under the usual pretence of contraband goods) seized by the Spaniards, who not long after they were taken, sent the men they made prisoners into Spain. The natural moroseness of those people's temper, makes them harsh masters. Poor Barton found it so, and with the rest of his unfortunate companions, suffered all the inconveniences of hard usage and low diet, though as they drew nearer the coast of Spain that severity was a little softened.

When they were safely landed, they were hurried to a prison where it was difficult to determine which was worst, their treatment or their food. Above all the rest Barton was uneasy, and his head ever turned towards contriving an escape. When he and some other intriguing heads had meditated long in vain, an accident put it in their power to do that with ease which all their prudence could not render probable in the attempt, a thing common with men under misfortune, who have reason, therefore, never to part with hope.

Finding an old wall in the outer court of the prison weak, and ready to fall down, the keeper caused the English prisoners, amongst others, to be sent to repair it. The work was exceedingly laborious, but Barton and one of his companions soon thought of a way to ease it. They had no sooner broke up a small part of the foundation which was to be new laid, but stealing the Spanish soldiers' pouches, they crowded the powder into a small bag, placing it underneath as far as they could reach, and then gave it fire. This threw up two yards of the wall, and while the Spaniards stood amazed at the report, Barton and his associates marched off through the breach, without finding the slightest resistance from any of the keeper's people, though he had another party in the street.

But this would have signified very little, if Providence had not also directed them to a place of safety by bringing them as soon as they broke out of the door to a monastery. Thither they fled for shelter, and the religious of the place treated them with much humanity. They succoured them with all necessary provision, protected them when reclaimed by the gaoler, and taking them into their service, showed them in all respects the same care and favour they did to the rest of their domestics.

Yet honest labour, however recompensed, was grating to these restless people, who longed for nothing but debauchery, and struggled for liberty only as a preparative to the indulging of their vices; and so they began to contrive how they should free themselves from hence. Barton and his fellow engineer were not long before they fell on a method to effect it, by wrenching open the outer doors in the night, and getting to an English vessel that lay in the harbour ready to sail.

They had not been aboard long ere they found that the charitable friars had agreed with the captain for their passage, and so all they gained by breaking out was the danger of being reclaimed, or at least going naked and without any assistance, which to be sure they would have met with from their masters, if they could but have had a little patience. But the passion of returning home, or rather a vehement lust after the basest pleasures, hurried them to whatever appeared conducive to that end, however fatal in its consequence it might be.

When they were got safe into their native country again, each took such a course for a livelihood as he liked best. Whether Barton then fell into thievery, or whether he learned not that mystery before he had served an apprenticeship thereto in the Army I cannot say, but in some short space after his being at home 'tis certain that he listed himself a soldier, and served several campaigns in Flanders, during the last War. Being a very gallant fellow, he gained the love of his officers, and there was great probability of his doing well there, having gained at least some principle of honour in the service, which would have prevented him doing such base things as those for which he afterwards died. But, unhappily for him, the War ended just as he was on the point of becoming paymaster-sergeant, and his regiment being disbanded, poor Will became broke in every acceptation of the word. He retained always a strong tincture of his military education, and was peculiarly fond of telling such adventures as he gained the knowledge of, while in the Army.

Amongst other stories that he told were one or two which may appear perhaps not unentertaining to my readers. When Brussels came towards the latter end of the War to be pretty well settled under the Imperialists, abundance of persons of distinction came to reside there and in the neighborhood from the advantage natural to so fine a situation. Amongst these was the Baron De Casteja, a nobleman of a Spanish family, who except for his being addicted excessively to gaming, was in every way a fine gentlemen. He had married a lady of one of the best families in Flanders, by whom he had a son of the greatest hopes. The baron's passion for play had so far lessened their fortune that they lived but obscurely at a village three leagues from Brussels, where having now nothing to support his gaming expenses, he grew reformed, and his behaviour gained so high and general esteem that the most potent lord in the country met not with higher reverence on any occasion. The great prudence and economy of the baroness made her the theme of general praise, while the young Chevalier de Casteja did not a little add to the honours of the family.

It happened the baron had a younger brother in the Emperor's service, whose merit having raised him to a considerable rank in his armies, he had acquired a very considerable estate, to the amount of upwards of one hundred thousand crowns, which on his death he bequeathed him. Upon this accession of fortune, the Baron Casteja, as is but too frequent, fell to his old habit, and became as fond of gaming as ever. The poor lady saw this with the utmost concern, and dreaded the confounding this legacy, as all the baron's former fortune had been consumed by his being the dupe of gamesters. In deep affliction at the consideration of what might in future times become the Chevalier's fortune, she therefore entreated the baron to lay out part of the sum in somewhat which might be a provision for his son. The baron promised both readily and faithfully that he would out of the first remittance. A few weeks later he received forty thousand crowns and the baroness and he set out for Brussels, under pretence of enquiring for something proper for his purpose, carrying with him twenty thousand crowns for the purchase. But he forgot the errand upon the road, and no sooner arrived at Brussels, but going to a famous marquis's entertainment, in a very few hours lost the last penny of his money. Returning home after this misfortune, he was a little out of humour for a week, but at the end of that space, making up the other twenty thousand privately he intended to set out next day.

The poor lady, at her wit's end for fear this large sum should go the same way as the other, bethought herself of a method of securing both the cash and her son's place. She communicated her design to her major domo, who readily came into it, and having taken three of the servants and the baroness's page into the secret, he sent for Barton and another Englishman quartered near them, and easily prevailed on them for a very small sum, to become accomplices in the undertaking. In a word, the lady having provided disguises for them, and a man's suit for herself, caused the touch-holes of the arms which the baron and two servants carried with him to be nailed up, and then towards evening sallying at the head of her little troop from a wood, as he passed on the road, the baron being rendered incapable of resistance, was robbed of the whole twenty thousand crowns. With this she settled her son, and the baron was so far touched at the loss of such a provision for his family, that he made a real and thorough reformation, and Barton from this exploit fell in love with robbing ever after.

Another adventure he related was this. Being taken prisoner by the French, and carried to one of their frontier garrisons, a treaty shortly being expected to be settled, to relieve the miseries he endured, Barton got into the service of a Gascon officer who proved at bottom almost as poor as himself. However, after Barton's coming he quickly found a way to live as well as anybody in the garrison, which he accomplished thus. All play at games of chance was, in the score of some unlucky accidents proceeding from quarrels which it had occasioned, absolutely forbidden, and the provosts were enjoined to visit all quarters, in order to bring the offenders to shameful punishments. The Gascon captain took advantage of the severity of this order, and having concerted the matter with a countryman and comrade of his, a known gamester, plundered all the rest who were addicted to that destructive passion; for gaining intelligence of the private places where they met, from his friend, he putting himself, Barton and another person into proper habits, attacked these houses suddenly almost every night with a crowd of the populace at his heels, and raised swinging contributions on those who being less wicked than himself never had any suspicion of his actions, but took him and his comrades for the proper officer and his attendants.

Barton's greatest unhappiness was his marriage. He was too uxorious, and too solicitous for what concerned his wife, how well so ever she deserved of him; for not enduring to see her work honestly for her bread he would needs support her in an easy state of life, though at the hazard of the gallows. There is, however, little question to be made but that he had learned much in his travels to enable him to carry on his wicked designs with more ease and dexterity, for no thief, perhaps, in any age, managed his undertakings with greater prudence and economy. And having somewhere picked up the story of the Pirate and Alexander the Great, it became one of Will's standing maxims that the only difference between a robber and a conqueror was the value of the prize.

Being one day on the road with a comrade of his, who had served also with him abroad in the Army, and observing a stage coach at a distance, in right of the seniority of his commission as a Knight of the Pad, Barton commanded the other to ride forward in order to reconnoitre. The young fellow obeyed him as submissively as if he had been an aide de camp, and returning, brought him word that the force of the enemy consisted of four beau laden with blunderbusses, two ladies and a footman. Then, quoth Will, we may e'en venture to attack them. Let us make our necessary disposition. I will ride slowly up to them, while you gallop round that hill, and as soon as you come behind the coach, be sure to fire a pistol over it, and leave the rest to me.

Things thus adjusted, each advanced on his attack. Barton no sooner stopped the coach and presented his pistol at one window, than his companion, after firing a brace of balls over the coachman's head, did the like at the other, which so surprised the fine gentlemen within, that without the least resistance they surrendered all they had about them, which amounted to about one hundred pounds, which Barton put up. Come, gentlemen, says he, let us make bold with your fire-arms too, for you see we make more use of them than you. So, seizing a brace of pistols inlaid with silver, and two fine brass blunderbusses, Will and his subaltern rode off.

But alas, Will's luck would not last (as his rogueship used to express it). For, attempting a robbery in Covent Garden, where he was too well known, he was surprised, committed to Newgate and on his conviction ordered to be transported for seven years to his Majesty's Plantations, whither he was accordingly carried.

When he was landed, a planter bought him after the manner of that country, and paid eighteen pounds for him. Barton wanting neither understanding nor address, he soon became the darling of his master, who far from employing him in those laborious works which are usually talked of here, put upon him nothing more than merely supervising his slaves and taking care of them, when business obliged him to be absent.

One would have thought that so easy a state of life, after the toil and miseries such a man as him of whom we are speaking must have run through, would have been pleasing, and that it might have become a means of reclaiming him from those vices so heinous in the sight of God, and for which he had barely escaped the greatest punishment that can be inflicted by man. At first, it indeed made some impressions not very different from these; Barton owning that his master's treatment was such that if a man had not absolutely bent his mind on such courses as necessarily must make him unhappy, he might have enjoyed all he could have hoped for there. Of which he became so sensible that for some time he remained fully satisfied with his condition.

But alas! Content, when its basis rests not upon virtue, like a house founded on a sandy soil is incapable of continuing long. No sooner had Barton leisure and opportunity to recollect home, his friends, and above all his wife, but it soon shocked his repose, and having awhile disturbed and troubled him, it pushed him at last on the unhappy resolution or returning to England, before the expiration of his time for which he was banished. This project rolled for a very considerable space in the fellow's head. Sometimes the desire of seeing his companions, and above all things his wife, made him eager to undertake it; at others, the fear of running upon inevitable death in case of a discovery, and the consideration of the felicity he now had in his power made him timorous, at least, if not unwilling to return.

At last, as is ordinary amongst these unhappy people, the worst opinion prevailed, and finding a method to free himself from his master, and to get aboard a ship, he came back to his dearly beloved London, and to those measures which had already occasioned so great a misfortune, and at last brought him to an ignominious death. On his return, his first care was to seek out his wife, for whom he had a warm and never ceasing affection, and having found her, he went to live with her, taking his old methods of supporting them, though he constantly denied that she was either a partner in the commission, or even so much as in the knowledge of his guilt. But this quickly brought him to Newgate again, and to that fatal end to which he, like some other flagitious creatures of this stamp, seem impatient to arrive; since no warning, no admonition, no escape is sufficient to deter them from those crimes, which they are sensible the laws of their country with Justice have rendered capital.

Barton's return from transportation was sufficient to have brought him to death had he committed nothing besides; but he, whether through necessity, as having no way left of living honestly, or from his own evil inclinations, ventured upon his old trade, and robbing amongst others the Lord Viscount Lisbourn, of the Kingdom of Ireland, and a lady who was with him in the coach, of a silver hilted sword, a snuff-box and about twelve shillings in money, he was for this fact taken, tried and convicted at the Old Bailey.

He immediately laid by all hopes of life as soon as he had received sentence, and with great earnestness set himself to secure that peace in the world to come, which his own vices had hindered him from in this. He got some good books which he read with continual devotion and attention, submitted with the utmost patience to the miseries of his sad condition, and finding his relations would take care of his daughter and that his wife, for whom he never lost the most tender concern, would be in no danger of want, he laid aside the thoughts of temporal matters altogether expressing a readiness to die, and never showing any weakness or impatience of the nearest approach of death.

Much of that firmness with which he behaved in these last moments of his life might probably be owing to natural courage, of which certainly Barton had a very large share. But the remains of virtue and religion, to which the man had always a propensity, notwithstanding that he gave way to passions which brought him to all the sorrows he knew, yet the return he made, when in the shadow of death, to piety and devotion, enabled him to suffer with great calmness, on Friday the 12th of May, 1721, aged about thirty-one years.


I should never have undertaken this work without believing it might in some degree be advantageous to the public. Young persons, and especially those in a meaner state, are, I presume, those who will make up the bulk of my readers, and these, too, are they who are more commonly seduced into practices of this ignominious nature. I should therefore think myself unpardonable if I did not take care to furnish them with such cautions as the examples I am giving of the fatal consequences of vice will allow, at the same time that I exhibit those adventures and entertaining scenes which disguise the dismal path, and make the road to ruin pleasing. They meet here with a true prospect of things, the tinsel splendour of sensual pleasure, and that dreadful price men pay for it—shameful death. I hope it may be of use in correcting the errors of juvenile tempers devoted to their passions, with whom sometimes danger passes for a certain road to honour, and the highway seems as tempting to them as chivalry did to Don Quixote. Such and some other such like, are very unlucky notions in young heads, and too often inspire them with courage enough to dare the gallows, which seldom fails meeting with them in the end.

As to the particulars of the person's life we are now speaking of, they will be sufficient to warn those who are so unhappy as to suffer from the ill-usage of their parents not to fall into courses of so base a nature, but rather to try every honest method to submit rather than commit dishonest acts, thereby justifying all the ill-treatment they have received, and by their own follies blot out the remembrance of their cruel parents' crimes. For though it sometimes happens that they are reduced to necessities which force them, in a manner, on what brings them to disgrace, yet the ill-natured world will charge all upon themselves, or at most will spare their pity till it comes too late; and when the poor wretch is dead will add to their reflections on him, as harsh ones as on those from whom he is descended.

Robert Perkins was the son of a very considerable innkeeper, in or near Hempsted, in Hertfordshire, who during the life-time of his wife treated him with great tenderness and seeming affection, sending him to school to a person in a neighbouring village, who was very considerable for his art of teaching, and professing his settled resolution to give his son Bob a very good education.

But no sooner had death snatched away the poor woman by whom Mr. Perkins had our unhappy Robin, then his father began to change his measures. First of all the unfortunate lad experienced the miseries that flow from the careless management of a widower, who forgetting all obligations to his deceased wife, thought of nothing but diverting himself, and getting a new helpmate. But Robin continued not long in this state; his hardships were quickly increased by the second marriage of his father, upon which he was fetched home and treated with some kindness at first. But in a little time perceiving how things were going, and perhaps expressing his suspicions too freely, his mother-in-law soon prevailed to have him turned out, and absolutely forbidden his father's house, the ready way to force a naked uninstructed youth on the most sinful courses. Whether Robin at that time did anything dishonest is not certain, but being grievously pinched with cold one night, and troubled also with dismal apprehensions of what might come to his sister, he got a ladder and by the help of it climbed in at his mother's window. This was immediately exaggerated into a design of cutting her throat, and poor Bob was thereupon utterly discarded.

A short time after this, old Mr. Perkins died and left a fortune of several thousand pounds behind him, for which the poor young man was never a groat the better, being bound out 'prentice to a baker, and left, as to everything else, to the wide world. His inclination, joined to the rambling life which he had hitherto led, induced him to mind the vulgar pleasures of drinking, gaming, and idling about much more than his business, which to him appeared very laborious. There are everywhere companions enough to be met with who are ready to teach ignorant youths the practice of all sorts of debauchery. Perkins fell quickly among such a set, and often rambled abroad with them on the usual errands of whoring, shuffle-board, or skittle-playing, etc. The thoughts of that estate which in justice he ought to have possessed, did not a little contribute to make him thus heedless of his business, for as is usual with weak minds, he affected living at the rate his father's fortune would have afforded him, rather than in the frugal manner which his narrow circumstance actually required; methods which necessarily pushed him on such expeditions for supply as drew on those misfortunes which rendered his life miserable and his death shameful.

One day, having agreed with some young lads in the neighbourhood to go out upon the rake, they steered their course to Whitechapel, and going into a little alehouse, began to drink stoutly, sing bawdy songs, and indulge themselves in the rest of those brutal delights into which such wretches are used to plunge under the name of pleasure. In the height, however, of all their mirth, the people of the house missing out of the till a crown piece with some particular marks, they sent for a constable and some persons to assist him, who caused all the young fellows instantly to be separated and searched one by one; on which the marked crown was found in Robert Perkin's pocket, and he was thereupon immediately carried before a Justice, who committed him to Newgate. The sessions coming on soon after, and the case being plain, he was cast and ordered for transportation, having time enough, however, before he was shipped, to consider the melancholy circumstances into which his ill-conduct had reduced him, and to think of what was fitting for him to do in the present sad state he was in. At first nothing ran in his head but the cruelties which he had met with from his family, but as the time of his departure drew nearer he meditated how to gain the captain's favour, and to escape some hardships in the voyage.

Robin had the good luck to make himself tolerably easy in the ship. His natural good nature and obliging temper prevailing so far on the captain of the vessel that he gave him all the liberty and afforded him whatever indulgence it was in his power to permit with safety. But our young traveller had much worse luck when he came on shore at Jamaica, where he was immediately sold to a planter for ten pounds, and his trade of baker being of little use there, his master put him upon much the same labour as he did his negroes, Robin's constitution was really incapable of great fatigue; his master, therefore, finding in the end that nothing would make him work, sold him to another, who put him upon his own employment of baking, building an oven on purpose. But whether this master really used him cruelly or whether his idle inclinations made him think all labour cruel usage, is hard to say, but however it was, Bob ran away from this master and got on board a ship which carried him to Carolina, from whence he said he travelled to Maryland and shipped himself there, in a vessel for England. After being taken by the Spaniards, and enduring many other great hardships, he at last with much difficulty got home, as is too frequently the practice of these unhappy wretches who are ready to return from tolerable plenty to the gallows.

After his arrival in England, he wrought for near two years together at his own business, and had the settled intention to live honestly and forsake that disorderly state of life which had involved him in such calamities; but the fear he was continually in of being discovered, rendered him so uneasy and so unable to do anything, that at last he resolved to go over into the East Indies. For this purpose he was come down to Gravesend, in order to embark, when he was apprehended; and being tried on an indictment for returning from transportation, he was convicted thereon, and received sentence of death. During the time he lay under conviction, the principles of a good education began again to exert themselves, and by leading him to a thorough confidence in the mercies of Christ weaned him from that affection which hitherto he had for this sinful and miserable world, in which, as he had felt nothing but misery and affliction, the change seemed the easier, so that he at last began not only to shake off the fear of death, bur even to desire it. Nor was this calmness short and transitory, but he continued in it till the time he suffered, which was on the 5th of July, 1721, at Tyburn. He said he died with less reluctance because his ruin involved nobody but himself, he leaving no children behind him, and his wife being young enough to get a living honestly.


Before we proceed to mention the particulars that have come to our hands concerning this unhappy criminal, it may not be amiss to take notice of the rigour with which all civilised nations have treated offenders in this kind, by considering the crime itself as a species of treason. The reason of which arises thus. As money is the universal standard or measure of the value of any commodity, so the value of money is always regulated, in respect of its weight, fineness, etc., by the public authority of the State. To counterfeit, therefore, is in some degree to assume the supreme authority, inasmuch as it is giving a currency to another less valuable piece of metal than that made current by the State. The old laws of England were very severe on this head, and carried their care of preventing it so far as to damage the public in other respects, as by forbidding the importation of bullion, and punishing with death attempts made to discover the Philosopher's Stone which forced whimsical persons who were enamoured of that experiment to go abroad and spend their money in pursuit of that project there. These causes, therefore, upon a review of the laws on this head, were abrogated; but the edge in other respects was rather sharpened than abated. For as the trade of the nation increased, frauds in the coin became of worse consequence and not only so, but were more practised.

In the reign of King William and Queen Mary, clipping and coining grew so notorious and had so great and fatal influences on the public trade of the nation, that Parliament found it necessary to enter upon that great work of a recoinage[5] and in order to prevent all future inconveniences of a like nature, they at the same time enacted that not only counterfeiting, chipping, scaling, lightening, or otherwise debasing the current specie of this realm, should be deemed and punished as high treason, but they included also under the same charge and punishment the having any press, engine, tool, or implement proper for coining, the mending, buying, selling, etc., of them; and upon this Act, which was rendered perpetual by another made in the seventh year of the reign of Queen Anne, all our proceedings on this head are at this day grounded. Many executions and many more trials happened on these laws being first made, dipping, especially, being an ordinary thing, and some persons of tolerable reputation in the world engaged in it; but the strict proceedings (in the days of King William, especially) against all, without distinction, who offended in that way, so effectually crushed them that a coiner nowadays is looked upon as an extraordinary criminal, though the Law still continues to take its course, whenever they are convicted, the Crown being seldom or never induced to grant a pardon.

As to this poor woman, Barbara Spencer, she was the daughter of mean parents and was left very young to the care of her mother, who lived in the parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate. This old creature, as is common enough with ordinary people, indulged her daughter so much in all her humours, and suffered her to take so uncontrolled a liberty that all her life-time after, she was incapable of bearing restraint, but, on every slight contradiction flew out into the wildest excesses of passion and fury. When but a child, on a very slight difference at home, she must needs go out 'prentice, and was accordingly put to a mantua-maker, who having known her throughout her infancy, fatally treated her with the same indulgence and tenderness. She continued with her about two years, and then, on a few warm words happening, went away from so good a mistress, and came home again to her mother, who by that time had set up a brandy shop.

On Miss Barbara's return, a maid had to be taken, for she was much too good to do the work of the house. The servant had not been there long before they quarrelled, the mother taking the wench's part. Away went the young woman, but matters being made up and the old mother keeping an alehouse in Cripplegate parish, she once more went to live with her. This reconciliation lasted longer, but was more fatal to Barbara than her late falling out.

One day, it seems, she took into her head to go and see the prisoners die at Tyburn, but her mother meeting her at the door, told her that there was too much business for her to do at home, and that she should not go. Harsh words ensuing on this, her mother at last struck her, and said she should be her death. However, Barbara went, and the man who attended her to Tyburn, brought her afterwards to a house by St. Giles's Pound[6] where after relating the difference between herself and her mother, she vowed she would never return any more home. In this resolution she was encouraged, and soon after was acquainted with the secrets of the house, and appointed to go out with their false money, in order to vend, or utter it; which trade, as it freed her from all restraint, she was at first mightily pleased with. But being soon discovered she was committed to Newgate, convicted and fined.

About this time she first became acquainted with Mrs. Miles, who afterwards betrayed her, and upon this occasion was, it seems, so kind as to advance some money for her. On the affair for which she died, the evidence could have hardly done without Miles's assistance, which so enraged poor Barbara that even to the instant of death, she could hardly prevail with herself to forgive her, and never spoke of her without a kind of heat, very improper and unbecoming in a person in her distressful state.

The punishment ordained by our laws for treasons committed by women, whether high or petty, is burning alive.[7] This, though pronounced upon her by the judge, she could never be brought to believe would be executed, but while she lay under sentence, she endeavoured to put off the thoughts of the fatal day as much as she could, always asserting that she thought the crime no sin, for which she was condemned. It seems her mother died at Tyburn before midsummer, and this poor wretch would often say that she little thought she should so soon follow her, when she attended her to death, averring also that she suffered unjustly. As for this poor woman, her temper was exceedingly unhappy, and as it had made her uneasy and miserable all her life, so at her death it occasioned her to be impatient, and to behave inconsistently. For which, sometimes, she would apologise, by saying that though it was not in her power to put on grave looks, yet her heart was as truly affected as theirs who gave greater outward signs of contrition; a manner of speaking usually taken up by those who would be thought to think seriously in the midst of outward gaiety, and of whose sincerity in cases like these. He only can judge who is acquainted with the secrets of all hearts and who, as He is not to be deceived, so His penetration is utterly unknown to us, who are confined to appearances and the exterior marks of things.

She lost all her boldness at the near approach of death and seemed excessively surprised and concerned at the apprehension of the flames. When she went out to die, she owned her crime more fully than she had ever done. She said she had learnt to coin of a man and woman who had now left off and lived very honestly, wherefore she said she would not discover them. At the very slake she complained how hard she found it to forgive Miles, who had been her accomplice and then betrayed her, adding that though she saw faggots and brushes ready to be lighted and to consume her, yet she would not receive life at the expense of another's blood. She averred there were great numbers of London who followed the same trade of coining, and earnestly wished they might take warning by her death. At the instant of suffering, she appeared to have reassumed all her resolution, for which she had, indeed, sufficient occasion, when to the lamentable death by burning was added the usual noise and clamour of the mob, who also threw stones and dirt, which beat her down and wounded her. However, she forgave them cheerfully, prayed with much earnestness and ended her life the same day as the last mentioned malefactor, Perkins, aged about twenty-four years.


A commission was appointed to consider the debased state of the currency and, not without considerable opposition, a bill was passed in 1696, withdrawing all debased coin from circulation. This incurred an expense of some £1,200,000, which the Government met by imposing a window tax.


This was at the corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street. It was an old London landmark, from which distances were measured as from the Standard in Cornhill. It was demolished in 1765.


In practice, criminals were strangled before being burned. The last case in which this penalty was inflicted was in 1789; it was abolished the following year.


Piracy was anciently in this kingdom considered as a petty treason at Common Law; but the multitude of treasons, or to speak more properly of offences construed into treason, becoming a very great grievance to the subject, this with many others was left out in the famous Statute of the 25th Edward the Third, for limiting what thenceforth should be deemed treason. From that time piracy was regarded in England only as a crime against the Civil Law, by which it was always capital; but there being some circumstances very troublesome, as to the proofs therein required for conviction, by a statute in the latter end of the reign of Henry the Eighth it was provided that this offence should be tried by commissioners appointed by the king, consisting of the admiral and certain of his officers, with such other persons as the reigning prince should think fit, after the common course of the laws of this realm for felonies and robberies committed on land, in which state it hath continued with very small alterations to this day.

Offenders of this kind are now tried at the Sessions-house in the Old Bailey, before the judge of the Court of Admiralty, assisted by certain other judges of the Common Law by virtue of such a commission as ts before mentioned, the silver oar (a peculiar ensign of authority belonging to the Court of Admiralty) lying on the table. As pirates are not very often apprehended in Britain, so particular notice is always given when a Court like this, called an Admiralty Sessions, is to be held, the prisoners until that time remaining in the Marshalsea, the proper prison of this Court.

On the 26th of Jury, 1721, at such a sessions, Walter Kennedy and John Bradshaw were tried for piracies committed on the high seas, and both of them convicted. This Walter Kennedy was born at a place called Pelican Stairs in Wapping. His father was an anchor-smith, a man of good reputation, who gave his son Walter the best education he was able; and while a lad he was very tractable, and had no other apparent ill quality than that of a too aspiring temper. When he was grown up big enough to have gone out to a trade, his father bound him apprentice to himself, but died before his son was out of his time. Leaving his father's effects in the possession of his mother and brothers, Walter then followed his own roving inclinations and went to sea. He served for a considerable time on board a man-of-war, in the reign of her late Majesty Queen Anne, in the war then carried on against France; during which time he often had occasion to hear of the exploits of the pirates, both in the East and West Indies, and of their having got several islands into their possession, wherein they were settled, and in which they exercised a sovereign power.

These tales had wonderful effect on Walter's disposition, and created in him a secret ambition of making a figure in the same way. He became more than ordinarily attentive whenever stories of that sort were told, and sought every opportunity of putting his fellow sailors upon such relations. Men of that profession have usually good memories with respect, at least, to such matters, and Kennedy, therefore, without much difficulty became acquainted with the principal expeditions of these maritime desperadoes, from the time of Sir Henry Morgan's commanding the Buccaneers in America, to Captain Avery's more modern exploits at Madagascar[8]; his fancy insinuating to him continually that he might be able to make as great a figure as any of these thievish heroes, whenever a proper opportunity offered.

It happened that he was sent with Captain Woodes Rogers,[9] Governor of Providence [Bahama Islands], when that gentleman first sent to recover that island by reducing the pirates, who then had it in possession. At the time of the captain's arrival these people had fortified themselves in several places, and with all the care they were able, had provided both for their safety and subsistence.

It happened that some time before, they had taken a ship, on board of which they found a considerable quantity of the richest brocades, for which having no other occasion, they tore them up, and tying them between the horns of their goats, made use of them to distinguish herds that belonged to one settlement and those that belonged to another, and sight of this, notwithstanding the miserable condition which in other respects these wretches were in, mightily excited the inclination Kennedy had to following their occupation.

Captain Rogers having signified to the chiefs of them the offers he had to make of free grace and pardon, the greater number of them came in and submitted very readily. Those who were determined to continue the same dissolute kind of life, provided with all the secrecy imaginable for their safety, and when practicable took their flight out of the island. The captain being made Governor, fitted out two sloops for trade, and having given proper directions to their commanders, manned them out of his own sailors with some of these reformed pirates intermixed. Kennedy went out on one of these vessels, in which he had not long been at sea before he joined in a conspiracy some of the rest had formed of seizing the vessel, putting those to death who refused to come into their measures, and then to go, as the sailors phrase it, "upon the account", that is in plain English, commence pirates.

This villainous design succeeded according to their wish. They emptied the other vessel of whatever they thought might be of use, and then turned her adrift, as being a heavy sailer, and consequently unfit for their purpose. A few days after their entering on this new course of life, they made themselves masters of two pretty large ships, having fitted which for their purpose, they now grew strong enough to execute any project that in their present circumstances they were capable of forming. Thus Kennedy was now got in to that unhappy state of living which from a false notion of things he had framed so fair an idea of and was so desirous to engage in.

Kennedy took a particular delight in relating what happened to him in these expeditions, even after they had brought him to misery and confinement. The account he gave of that form of rule which these wretches set up, in imitation of the legal government, and of those regulations there made to supply the place of moral honesty was in substance this.

They chose a captain from amongst themselves, who in effect held little more than that title, excepting in an engagement, when he commanded absolutely and without control. Most of them having suffered formerly from the ill-treatment of their officers, provided carefully against any such evil, now they had the choice in themselves. By their orders they provided especially against any quarrels which might happen among themselves, and appointed certain punishments for anything that tended that way; for the due execution thereof they constituted other officers besides the captain, so very industrious were they to avoid putting too much power into the hands of one man. The rest of their agreement consisted chiefly in relation to the manner of dividing the cargo of such prizes as they should happen to take, and though they had broken through all laws divine and human, yet they imposed an oath to be taken for the due observance of these, so inconsistent a thing is vice, and so strong the principles imbibed from education.

The life they led at sea was rendered equally unhappy from fear and hardship, they never seeing any vessel which reduced them not to the necessity of fighting, and often filled them with apprehensions of being overcome. Whatever they took in their several prizes could afford them no other pleasure but downright drunkenness on board, and except for two or three islands there were no other places where they were permitted to come on shore, for nowadays it was become exceedingly dangerous to land, either at Jamaica, Barbadoes, or on the islands of the Bermudas. In this condition they were when they came to a resolution of choosing one Davis[10] as captain, and going under his command to the coast of Brazil.

This design they put in execution, being chiefly tempted with the hopes of surprising some vessel of the homeward bound Portuguese fleet, by which they hoped to be made rich at once, and no longer be obliged to lead a life so full of danger. Accordingly they fell in with twenty sail of those ships and were in the utmost danger of being taken and treated as they deserved. However, on this occasion their captain behaved very prudently, and taking the advantage of one of those vessels being separated from the rest, they boarded her in the night without firing a gun. They forced the captain, when they had him in one of their own ships, to discover which of the fleet was the most richly laden, which he having done through fear, they impudently attacked her, and were very near becoming masters of her, though they were surrounded by the Portuguese ships, from whence they at last escaped, not so much by the swiftness of their own sailing, as by the cowardice of the enemy. In this attempt, though they miscarried as to the prize they had proposed, yet they accounted themselves very fortunate in having thus escaped from so dangerous an adventure.

Being some time after this in great want of water, Davis at the head of about fifty of his men, very well armed, made a descent in order to fill their casks, though the Portuguese governor of the port near which they landed easily discovered them to be pirates; but not thinking himself in a condition strong enough to attack them, he thought fit to dissemble that knowledge.

Davis and his men were no sooner returned on board than they received a message by a boat from shore, that the Governor would think himself highly honoured if the captain and as many as he pleased of his ship's company would accept of an entertainment the next day at the castle where he resided. Their commander, who had hitherto behaved himself like a man of conduct, suffered his vanity to overcome him so far as to accept of the proposal, and the next morning with ten of his sailors, all dressed in their best clothes, went on shore to this collation. But before they had reached half way, they were set upon by a party of Indians who lay in ambuscade, and with one flight of their poisoned arrows laid them all upon the ground, except Kennedy and another, who escaped to the top of a mountain, from whence they leaped into the sea, and were with much difficulty taken up by a boat which their companions sent to relieve them.

After this they grew tired of the coast of Brazil. However, in their return to the West Indies they took some very considerable prizes, upon which they resolved unanimously to return home, in order, as they flattered themselves, to enjoy their riches. The captain who then commanded them was an Irishman, who endeavoured to bring the ship into Ireland, on the north coast of which a storm arising, the vessel was carried into Scotland and there wrecked. At that time Kennedy had a considerable quantity of gold, which he either squandered away, or had stolen from him in the Highlands. He afterwards went over into Ireland, where being in a low and poor condition he shipped himself at length for England, and came up to London. He had not been long in town before he was observed by some whose vessel had been taken by the crew with whom he sailed. They caused him to be apprehended, and after lying a considerable time in prison, he was, as I have said before, tried and convicted.

After sentence, he showed much less concern for life than is usual for persons in that condition. He was so much tired with the miseries and misfortune which for some years before he had endured, that death appeared to him a thing rather desirable than frightful. When the reprieve came for Bradshaw, who was condemned with him, he expressed great satisfaction, at the same time saying that he was better pleased than if he himself had received mercy. For, continued he, should I be banished into America as he is, 'tis highly probable I might be tempted to my old way of life, and so instead of reforming, add to the number of my sins.

He continued in these sentiments till the time of his death, when, as he went through Cheapside to his execution, the silver oar being carried before him as is usual, he turned about to a person who sat by him in the cart, and said, Though it is a common thing for us when at sea to acquire vast quantities both of that metal which goes before me, and of gold, yet such is the justice of Providence that few or none of us preserve enough to maintain us; but as you see in me, when we go to death, we have not wherewith to purchase a coffin to bury us. He died at Execution Dock, the 21st[11] of July, 1721, being then about twenty-six years of age.


Avery was one of the best known pirates of his time and told of his wonderful wealth, his capturing and marrying the daughter of the Great Mogul, and his setting up a kingdom in Madagascar. He was even the hero of a popular play—The Successful Pirate, produced at Dray Lane in 1712. The true story of his life and how he died in want, is related at length in Captain Charles Johnson's History of the Pirates edited by me, and published in the same edition as the present volume.


Woodes Rogers (d. 1732) sailed on Dampier's voyages and made a large sum of money which he devoted to buying the Bahama Islands from the proprietors on a twenty-one years' lease. He was made governor, but found himself unable to cope with the pirates and Spaniards who infested the islands, and went back to England in 1721. He returned as governor in 1728, and remained there until his death.


This was Howel Davis, whose adventures are related at length in Johnson's History of the Pirates, chap. ix.


The History of the Pirates gives the date as 19th of July. This book gives an interesting account of Kennedy, pp. 178-81.

The Life of MATTHEW CLARK, a Footpad and Murderer

Perhaps there is nothing to which we may more justly attribute those numerous executions which so disgrace our country, than the false notions which the meaner sort, especially, imbibe in their youth as to love and women. This unhappy person, Matthew Clark, of whom we are now to speak, was a most remarkable instance of the truth of this observation. He was born at St. Albans, of parents in but mean circumstances, who thought they had provided very well for their son when they had procured his admission into the family of a neighbouring gentleman, equally distinguished by the greatness of his merit and fortune.

In this place, certainly, had Matthew been inclined in any degree to good, he might have acquired from the favour of his master all the advantages, even of a liberal education; but proving an incorrigible, lazy and undutiful servant, the gentleman in whose service he was, after bearing with him a long time, turned him out of his family. He then went to plough and cart, and such other country work, but though he had been bred to this and was never in any state from which he could reasonably hope better, yet was he so restless and uneasy at those hardships which he fancied were put upon him, that he chose rather to rob than to labour; and leaving the farmer in whose service he was, used to skulk about Bushey Heath, and watch all opportunities to rob passengers.

Matthew was a perfect composition of all the vices that enter into low life. He was idle, inclined to drunkenness, cruel and a coward; nor would he have had spirit enough to attack anybody on the road had it not been to supply him with money for merry meetings and dancing bouts, to which he was carried by his prevailing passion for loose women. And these expeditions keeping him continually bare, robbing and junketting, desire of pleasure and fear of the gallows were the whole round of both his actions and his thoughts.

At last the matrimonial maggot bit his brain, and alter a short courtship, he prevailed on a young girl in the neighbourhood to go up with him to London, in order to their marriage. When they were there, finding his stock reduced so low that he had not even money to purchase the wedding ring, he pretended that a legacy of fifteen pounds was just left him in the country, and with a thousand promises of a quick return, set out from London to fetch it. When he left the town, full of uneasy thoughts, he travelled towards Neasden and Willesden Green, where formerly he had lived. He intended to have lurked there till he had an opportunity of robbing as many persons as to make up fifteen pounds from their effects. In pursuance of this resolution, he designed in himself to attack every passenger he saw, but whenever it came to the push, the natural cowardice of his temper prevailed and his heart failed him.


(From the Annals of Newgate)

While he loitered about there, the master of an alehouse hard by took notice of him and asked him how he came to idle about in haytime, when there was so much work, offering at the same time to hire him for a servant. Upon this discourse Clark immediately recollected that all the persons belonging to this man's house must be out haymaking, except the maid, who served his liquors and waited upon guests. As soon, therefore, as he had parted from the master and saw he was gone into the fields, he turned back and went into his house, where renewing his former acquaintance with the maid, who as he had guessed, was there alone, and to whom he formerly had been a sweetheart, he sat near an hour drinking and talking in that jocose manner which is usual between people of their condition in the country. But in the midst of all his expressions of affection, he mediated how to rob the house, his timorous disposition supposing a thousand dangers from the knowledge the maid had of him.

He resolved, in order absolutely to secure himself, to murder her out of the way; upon which, having secretly drawn his knife out of his sheath, and hiding it under his coat, he kissed her, designing at the same time to dispatch her; but his heart failed him the first time. However, getting up and kissing her a second time, he darted it into her windpipe; but its edge being very dull, the poor creature made a shift to mutter his name, and endeavoured to scramble after him. Upon which he returned, and with the utmost inhumanity cut her neck to the bone quite round; after which he robbed the house of some silver, but being confounded and astonished did not carry off much.

He went directly into the London Road, and came as far as Tyburn, the sight of which filled him with so much terror that he was not able to pick up courage enough to go by it. Returning back into the road again, he met a waggon, which, in hopes of preventing all suspicion, he undertook to drive up to town (the man who drove it having hurt his leg). But he had not gone far before the persons who were in pursuit of the murderer of Sarah Goldington (the maid before mentioned) came up with him, and enquired whether he had seen anybody pass by his waggon who looked suspicious, or was likely to have committed the fact. This enquiry put him into so much confusion that he was scarce able to make an answer, which occasioned their looking at him more narrowly and thereby discovering the sleeve of his shirt to be all bloody. At first he affirmed with great confidence that a soldier meeting him upon the road had insulted him, and that in fighting with him he had made the soldier's mouth bleed, which had so stained his shirt. But in a little time perceiving this excuse would not prevail, but that they were resolved to carry him back, he fell into a violent agony and confessed the fact.

At the next sessions at the Old Bailey he was convicted, and after receiving sentence of death, endeavoured all he could to comfort and compose himself during the time he lay under condemnation. His father, who was a very honest industrious man came to see him, and after he was gone Matthew spoke with great concern of an expression which his father had made use of, viz., That if he had been to die for any other offence, he would have made all the interest and friends he could to have served for his life, but that the murder he had committed was so cruel, that he thought that nothing could atone for it but his blood. The inhumanity and cruel circumstances of it did indeed in some degree affect this malefactor himself, but he seemed much more disturbed with the apprehension of being hanged in chains, a thing which from the weakness of vulgar minds terrifies more than death itself, and the use of which I confess I do not see, since it serves only to render the poor wretches uneasy in their last moments, and instead of making suitable impressions on the minds of the spectators, affords a pretence for servants and other young persons to idle away their time in going to see the body so exposed on a gibbet.

At the place of execution, Clark was extremely careful to inform the people that he was so far from having any malice against the woman whom he murdered that he really had a love for her. A report, too, of his having designed to sell the young girl he had brought out of the country into Virginia had weight enough with him to occasion his solemn denying of it at the tree, though he acknowledged at the same time that he had resolved to leave her. He declared also, to prevent any aspersions on some young men who had been his companions, that no person was ever present with, or privy to any of the robberies he had committed; and having thus far discharged his conscience, he suffered on the 28th of July, 1721, in the twenty-fourth year of his age.

The Life of JOHN WINSHIP, Highwayman and Footpad

That idleness in which youths are suffered to live in this kingdom till they are grown to that size at which they are usually put apprentice (a space of time in which they are much better employed, in many other countries of Europe) too often creates an inaptitude to work and allows them opportunity of entering into paths which have a fatal termination.

John Winship, of whom we are now to treat, was born of parents in tolerable circumstances in the parish of St. Paul's, Covent Garden. They gave him an education rather superior to his condition, and treated him with an indulgence by which his future life became unhappy. At about fourteen, they placed him as an apprentice with a carpenter, to which trade he himself had a liking. His master used him as well as he could have expected or wished, yet that inclination to idleness and loitering which he had contracted while a boy, made him incapable of pursuing his business with tolerable application. The particular accident by which he was determined to leave it shall be the next point in our relation.

It happened that returning one day from work, he took notice of a young woman standing at a door in a street not far distant from that in which his master lived. He was then about seventeen, and imagining love to be a very fine thing, thought fit, without further enquiry, to make this young woman the object of his affection. The next evening he took occasion to speak to her, and this acquaintance soon improving into frequent appointments, naturally led Winship into much greater expenses than he was able to support. This had two consequences equally fatal to this unhappy young man, for in the first place he left his master and his trade, and took to driving of coaches and like methods, to get his bread; but all the ways he could think of, proving unable to supply his expenses, he went next upon the road, and raised daily contributions in as illegal a manner as they were spent at night, in all the excesses of vice.

It is impossible to give either a particular or exact account of the robberies he committed, because he was always very reserved, even after conviction, in speaking as to these points.

However, he is said to have been concerned in robbing a Frenchman of quality in the road to Hampstead, who in a two-horsed chaise, with the coachman on his box, was attacked in the dusk of the evening by three highwaymen. They exchanged several pistols and continued the fight, till, the ammunition on both sides being exhausted, the foreigner prepared to defend himself with his sword. The rogues were almost out of all hopes of obtaining their booty, when one of them getting behind the chaise secretly cut a square hole in its back, and putting in both his arms, seized the gentleman so strongly about the shoulders that his companions had an opportunity of closing in with him, disarming him of his sword, rifling and taking a hundred and twenty pistoles. Not content with this they ripped the lace off his clothes, and took from the coachmen all the money he had about him.

Winship had been concerned in divers gangs, and being a fellow of uncommon agility of body, was mighty well received and much caressed by them, as was also another companion of his, whom they called Clean-Limbed Tom, whose true name was never known, being killed in a duel at Kilkenny in Ireland. This last mentioned person had been bred with an apothecary, and sometimes travelled the country in the high capacity of a quack doctor, at others, in the more humble station of a merry-andrew. Travelling once down into the west, with a little chest of medicines which he intended to dispose of in this matter at West Chester, at an inn about twenty miles short of that city he overtook a London wholesale dealer, who had been that way collecting debts. Tom made a shift to get into his company overnight, and diverted him so much with his facetious conversation that he invited him to breakfast with him the next morning. Tom took occasion to put a strong purge into the ale and toast which the Londoner was drinking, he himself pretending never to take anything in the morning but a glass of wine and bitters. When the stranger got on horseback, Tom offered to accompany him, For, says he, I can easily walk as fast as your horse will trot. They had not got above two miles before, at the entrance of a common, the physic began to work. The tradesman alighting to untruss a point, Tom leaped at once into his saddle, and galloped off both with his horse and portmanteau. He baited an hour at a small village three miles beyond Chester, having avoided passing through that city, then continued his journey to Port Patrick, from whence he crossed to Dublin with about four score pounds in ready money, a gold watch, which was put up in a corner of a cloak bag, linen, and other things to a considerable value besides.

But to return to Winship. His robberies were so numerous that he began to be very well known and much sought after by those who make it their business to bring men to justice for rewards. There is some reason to believe that he had been once condemned and received mercy. However, on the 25th of May, 1721, he stopped one Mr. Lowther in his chariot, between Pancras Church and the Halfway House, and robbed him of his silver watch and a purse of ten guineas; for which robbery being quickly after apprehended, he was convicted at the Old Bailey, on the evidence of the prosecutor and the voluntary information of one of his companions.

While he lay under sentence, he could not help expressing a great impatience at the miserable condition to which his follies had reduced him, and at the same time to show the most earnest desire of life, though it were upon the terms of transportation for the whole continuance of it; though he frequently declared it did not arise so much from a willingness in himself to continue in this world, as at the grief he felt for the misfortunes of his aged mother, who was ready to run distracted at her son's unhappy fate.

As he was a very personable young man strangers, especially at chapel, took particular notice of him, and were continually inquiring of his adventures; but Winship not only constantly refused to give them any satisfaction, but declared also to the Ordinary that he did not think himself obliged to make any discoveries which might affect the lives of others, showing also an extraordinary uneasiness whenever such questions were put to him. When he was asked, by the direction of a person of some rank, whether he did not rob a person dressed in such a manner in a chaise as he was watering his horse before the church door, during the time of Divine service, Winship replied, he supposed the crime did not consist in the time or place, and as to whether he was guilty of it or no, he would tell nothing.

In other respects he appeared penitent and devout, suffering at Tyburn at the same time with the afore-mentioned Matthew Clark, in the twenty-second year of his age, leaving behind him a wife, who died afterwards with grief for his execution.

The Life of JOHN MEFF, alias MERTH, a Housebreaker and a Highwayman

The rigid execution of felons who return from transportation has been found so necessary that few or none who have been tried for such illegal returning have escaped, though 'tis very hard to convince those who suffer for that offence that there is any real crime in their evading their sentence. It was this which brought John Meff, alias Merth, of whom we are now to speak, to an ignominious death, after he had once before escaped it in a very extraordinary manner, as in the process of his story shall be related.

This unhappy man was born in London of French parents, who retired into England for the sake of their religion, when Louis XIV began his furious persecution against the Protestants in his dominions. This John Meff was educated with great care, especially as to the principles of religion, by a father who had very just notions of that faith for which in banishment he suffered. When his son John grew up, he put him out apprentice to a weaver, whom he served with great fidelity, and after he came out of his time, married; but finding himself incapable to maintain his family by his labour, he unfortunately addicted himself to ill-courses. In this he was yet more unlucky, for having almost at his first setting out broke open a house, he was discovered, apprehended, tried, convicted, and put in the cart, in order to go to execution within the fortnight; but the hangman being arrested as he was going to Tyburn, he and the rest who were to have suffered with him were transported through the clemency of the Government.

On this narrow escape from death, Meff was full of many penitent resolutions, and determined with himself to follow for the future an honest course of life, however hard and laborious, as persons are generally inclined to believe all works in the plantations are. Yet no sooner was he at liberty (that is, on board the transport vessel, where he found means to make the master his friend) than much of these honest intentions were dissolved and laid aside, to which perhaps the behaviour of his companions and of the seamen on board the ship, did not a little contribute. At first their passage was easy, the wind fair and prosperous. They began to comfort one another with the hopes of living easily in the Plantations, greedily enquiring of the seamen how persons in their unhappy condition were treated by their masters, and whether all the terrible relations they had had in England were really facts, or invented only to terrify those who were to undergo that punishment.

But while these unhappy persons were thus amusing themselves a new and unlooked for misfortune fell upon them, for in the height of Bermuda they were surprised by two pirate sloops, who though they found no considerable booty on board, were very well satisfied by the great addition they made to their force, from most of those felons joining with them in their piratical undertakings. Meff, however, and eight others, absolutely refused to sign the paper which contained the pirate's engagement and articles for better pursuing their designs. These nine were, according to the barbarous practice of those kind of people, marooned, that is, set on shore on an uninhabited island. According to the custom of the people in such distress, they were obliged to rub two dry sticks together till they took fire, and with great difficulty gathered as many other sticks as made a fire large enough to yield them some relief from the inclemency of the weather. They caught some fowls with springes made of an old horsehair wig, which were very tough and of a fishy taste, but after three or four days, they became acquainted with the springes and were never afterwards to be taken by that means. Their next resource for food was an animal which burrowed in the ground like our rabbits, but the flesh of these proving unwholesome, threw them into such dangerous fluxes that five out of the nine were scarce able to go. They were then forced to take up with such fish as they were able to catch, and even these were not only very rank and unpleasant, but very small also, and no great plenty of them either.

At last, when they almost despaired of ever getting off that inhospitable island, they espied early one morning an Indian canoe come on shore with seven persons. They hid themselves behind the rocks as carefully as they could, and the Indians being gone up into the heart of the island, they went down and finding much salt provisions in the boat, they trusted themselves to the mercy of the waves.

By the providence of God they were driven in two days into an English settlement, where Meff, instead of betaking himself to any settled course, resolved to turn sailor, and in that capacity made several voyages, not only to Barbadoes, Jamaica, and the rest of the British Islands, but also to New England, Virginia, South Carolina, and other plantations. On the main, there is no doubt but he led a life of no great satisfaction in this occupation, which probably was the reason he resolved to return home to England at all hazards. He did so, and had hardly been a month in this kingdom before he fell to his old practices, in which he was attended with the same ill-fortune as formerly; that is to say, he was apprehended for one of his first acts, and committed to Newgate. Out of this prison he escaped by the assistance of a certain bricklayer, and went down to Hatfield in Hertfordshire to remain in hiding, but as he affirmed and was generally believed, being betrayed by the same bricklayer he was retaken, conveyed again to Newgate and confined the utmost severity.

At his trial there arose a doubt whether the fact he had committed was not pardoned by the Act of Indemnity then lately granted. However, the record of his former conviction being produced, the Court ordered he should be indicted for returning without lawful cause, on which indictment he was convicted upon full proof, condemned and shortly after ordered for execution.

During the space he lay under sentence he expressed much penitence for his former ill-spent life, and together with James Reading, who was in the same unhappy state with himself, read and prayed with the rest of the prisoners. This Reading had been concerned in abundance of robberies, and, as he himself owned, in some which were attended with murder; he acknowledged he knew of the killing of Mr. Philpot, the surveyor of the window-lights, at the perpetration of which fact Reading said there were three persons present, two of which he knew, but as to the third he could say nothing. This malefactor, though but thirty-five years of age, was a very old offender, and had in his life-time been concerned with most of the notorious gangs that at that time were in England, some of whom he had impeached and hanged for his own preservation; but he was at last convicted for robbing (in company with two others) George Brownsworth of a watch and other things of a considerable value, between Islington and the turnpike, and for it was executed at Tyburn, the 11th of September, 1721, together with John Meff aforesaid, then in the fortieth year of his age.

The Life of JOHN WIGLEY, a Highwayman

It is an observation which must be obvious to all my readers, that few who addict themselves to robbing and stealing ever continue long in the practice of those crimes before they are overtaken by Justice, not seldom as soon as they set out.

This man had been bred a plasterer, but seems to have fallen very early into ill courses and felonious methods of getting money, in which horrid practice he spent his years, till taking up with an old woman who sold brandy upon Finchley Common, she sometimes persuaded him, of late years, to work at his trade.

There has been great suspicions that he murdered the old husband to this woman, who was found dead in a barn or outhouse not far from Hornsey; but Wigley, though he confessed an unlawful correspondence with the woman, yet constantly averred his innocency of that fact, and always asserted that though the old man's death was sudden, yet it was natural. He used to account for it by saying that the deceased was a great brandy-drinker, by which he had worn out his constitution, and that being one evening benighted in his return home from London, he crawled into that barn where he was found dead next morning, and was currently reported to have been murdered.

Though this malefactor had committed a multitude of robberies, yet he generally chose to go on such expeditions alone, having always great aversion for those confederacies in villainy which we call gangs, in which he always affirmed there was little safety, notwithstanding any oaths, by which they might bind themselves to secrecy. For notwithstanding some instances of their neglecting rewards when they were to be obtained by betraying their companions, yet when life came to be touched, they hardly ever failed of betraying all they knew. Yet he once receded from the resolution he had made of never robbing in company, and went out one night with two others of the same occupation towards Islington, there they met with one Symbol Conyers, whom they robbed of a watch, a pair of silver spurs, and four shillings in money, at the same time treating him very ill, and terrifying him with their pistols.

For this fact, soon after it was done, Wigley was apprehended, and convicted at the ensuing sessions. When all hopes of life were lost, he seemed disposed to suffer with cheerfulness and resignation that death to which the Law had doomed him. He said, in the midst of his afflictions it was some comfort to him that he had no children who might be exposed by his death to the wide world, not only in a helpless and desolate condition, but also liable to the reflections incident from his crimes. He also observed that the immediate hand of Providence seemed to dissipate whatever wicked persons got by rapine and plunder, so as not only to prevent their acquiring a subsistence which might set them above the necessity of continuing in such courses, but that they even wanted bread to support them, when overtaken by Justice. He was near forty years of age at the time of his death, which happened on the same day as the malefactors last mentioned.

The Life of WILLIAM CASEY, a Robber

William Casey, whose life is the subject of our present discourse, was a son of one of the same name, a soldier who had served his Majesty long, and with good reputation. As is usual amongst that sort of people, the education he gave his son was such as might fit him for the same course of life, though at the same time he took care to provide him with a tolerable competency of learning, that is, as to writing and reading English. When he was about fifteen years of age, his father caused him to be enlisted in the same company in which he served for some small time before my Lord Cobham's expedition into Spain,[12] in which he accompanied him. That expedition being over, Casey returned into England, and did duty as usual in the Guards.

One night he, with some others, crossing the park a fray happened between them and one John Stone, which as Casey affirmed at his death, was occasioned by the prosecutor Stone offering very great indecencies to him, upon which they in a fury beat and abused him, from the abhorrence they pretended to have for that beastly and unnatural sin of sodomy. Whether this was really the case or no is hard to determine; all who were concerned in it with Casey being indicted (though not apprehended) with him, and their evidence consequently taken. However that matter was, Stone the prosecutor told a dreadful story on Casey's trial. He said the four men attacked him crossing the Park, who attacked, beat and cruelly trod upon and wounded him, taking from him at the same time his hat, wig, neck-cloth and five shillings in money; and that upon his arising and endeavouring to follow them, they turned back, stamped upon him, broke one of his ribs, and told him that if he attempted to stir, they would seize him and swear sodomy upon him. On this indictment Casey was convicted and ordered for execution, notwithstanding all the intercession his friends could make.

While under sentence he complained heavily of the pains a certain corporal had taken in preparing and pressing the evidence against him. He said his diligence proceeded not from any desire of doing justice, or for his guilt, but from an old grudge he owed their family, from Casey's father threatening to prosecute him for a rape committed on his daughter, then very young, and attended with very cruel circumstances; and which even the corporal himself had in part owned in a letter which he had written to the said Casey's father. However, while he lay in Newgate, he seemed heartily affected with sorrow for his misspent life, which he said was consumed as is too frequent among soldiers, either in idleness or vice. He added, that in Spain he had made serious resolutions of amendment with himself, but was hindered from performing them by his companions, who were continually seducing him into his old courses. When he found that all hopes of life were lost, he disposed himself to submit with decency to his fate, which disposition he preserved to the last.

At the place of execution he behaved with great composure and said that as he had heard he was accused in the world of having robbed and murdered a woman in Hyde Park, he judged it proper to discharge his conscience by declaring that he knew nothing of the murder, but said nothing as to the robbery. At the time of his death, which was on the 11th of September, 1721, he was about twenty years of age, and according to the character his officers gave him, a very quiet and orderly young man. He left behind him a paper to be published to the world, which as he was a dying man he averred to be the truth.

A copy of a paper left by William Casey.

Good People, I am now brought to this place to suffer a shameful and ignominious death, and of all such unhappy persons, 'tis expected by the world that they should either say something at their death, or leave some account behind them. And having that which more nearly concerns me, viz., the care of my immortal soul, I choose rather to leave these lines behind me than to waste my few precious moments in talking to the multitude. First, I declare, I die like a member, though a very unworthy one, of the Church of England as by Law established, the principles of which my now unhappy father took an early care to instruct me in. And next for the robbery of Mr. Stone, for which I am now brought to this fatal place. I solemnly do declare to God and the world, that I never had the value of one halfpenny from him, and that the occasion of his being so ill-used was that he offered to me that detestable and crying sin of sodomy.

I take this opportunity, with almost my last breath, to give my hearty thanks to the honourable Col. Pitts, and Col. Pagitt, for their endeavours to save my life, and indeed I had some small hopes that his Majesty, in consideration of the services of my whole family, having all been faithful soldiers and servants to the Crown of England, would have extended one branch of his mercy to me, and have sent me to have served him in another country. But welcome be the Grace of God, I am resigned to His will, and die in charity with all men, forgiving, hoping to be forgiven myself, through the merits of my blessed Saviour Jesus Christ. I hope, and make it my earnest request that nobody will be so little Christian as to reflect on my aged parents, wife, brother, or sisters, for my untimely end. And I pray God, into whose hands I commend my spirit, that the great number of sodomites in and about this City and suburbs, may not bring down the same judgement from Heaven as fell on Sodom and Gomorrah.

William Casey.


Sir Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham, was a distinguished general who had served under Marlborough. In 1719 he led an expedition to the north coast of Spain and seized Vigo and the neighbouring towns and harbours.

The Life of JOHN DYKES, a Thief and Highwayman

It is a reflection almost too common to be repeated that of all the vices to which young people are addicted, nothing is so dangerous as a habit and inclination to gaming. To explain this would be to swell a volume. Instances which are so numerous do it much better. Perhaps this unhappy person John Dykes is as strong a one as is anywhere to be met with. His parents were persons in middling circumstances, but he being their eldest child, they treated him with great indulgence, and to the detriment of their own fortune afforded him a necessary education. When he grew up and his friends thought of placing him out apprentice, he always found some excuse or other to avoid it, which arose only from his great indolence of temper, and his continual itching after gaming. When he had money, he went to the gaming tables about town, and when reduced by losses sustained there, would put on an old ragged coat and get out to play at chuck, and span-farthing, amongst the boys in the street, by which, sometimes he got money enough to go to his old companions again. But this being a very uncertain recourse, he made use more frequently of picking pockets; for which being several times apprehended and committed to Bridewell, his friends, especially his poor father, would often demonstrate to him the ignominious end which such practices would necessarily bring on, entreating him while there was yet time, to reflect and to leave them off, promising to do their utmost for him, notwithstanding all that was past. In the course of this unhappy life the youth had acquired an extraordinary share of cunning, and an unusual capacity of dissembling; he employed it more than once to deceive his family into a belief of his having made a thorough resolution of amendment.

Once, after having suffered the usual discipline of the horsepond, Dykes was carried before a Justice of Peace, and committed to Tothill Fields Bridewell[13]. Here he became acquainted with one Jeddediah West, a Quaker's son, who had fallen into the like practices, and for them shared the same punishment with himself. They were pretty much of a temper, but Jeddediah was the elder and much the more subtle of the two, and in this unhappy place they contracted a strict and intimate friendship. Out of shame Jeddediah forbore for two or three days to acquaint his relations, and during that time for the most part subsisted out of what Dykes got from home. But at last West picked up courage enough to send to his brother, a very eminent man in business, and by telling him a plausible story, procured not only pity and relief, but even prevailed on him to believe that he was innocent of the fact for which he was committed. He so well tutored his friend Dykes that though he could not persuade his parents into the same degree of credulity, yet his outward appearance of penitence induced them not only to pardon him but to take him home, give him a new suit of clothes, and to promise him, if he continued to do well, whatever was in their power to do for him.

Dykes and his companion being in favour with their friends, and having money in their pockets, continued their correspondence and went often to the gaming tables together. At first they had a considerable run of luck for about three weeks, but Fortune then forsaking them, they were reduced to be downright penniless, without any hopes of relief or assistance from their friends sufficient to carry on their expenses. West at last proposed an expedient for raising money, which lay altogether upon himself, and which he the next day executed in the following manner.

About the time that he knew his brother was to come home from the Exchange to dinner, he went to his house equipped in a sailor's pea-jacket, his hair cropped short to his ears, his eyebrows coloured black, and a handkerchief about his neck. As soon as he saw him in the counting-house, his brother started back, and cried, Bless me! Jeddediah, how came you in this pickle? With all signs of grief and confusion, he threw himself at his brother's feet, and told him with a flood of tears that two coiners who had accidentally seen him in Bridewell had sworn against him and three others on their apprehension, in order on the merit thereof to be admitted evidences to get off themselves. So that, dear brother, he continued, I have been obliged to take a passage in a vessel that does down next tide to Gravesend, for I have ran the hazard of my life to come and beg your charitable assistance.

The poor honest man was so much amazed and concerned at this melancholy tale, that bursting out into tears, and hanging about his brother's neck, he begged him to take a coach and begone to Billingsgate, giving him ten guineas in hand and telling him that his bills should not be protested if he drew within the compass of a hundred pounds from Dieppe, whither he said the ship was bound. West was no sooner out of the street where his brother lived, but he ordered the coach to drive to a certain place where he had appointed Dykes to meet him, and there they expressed a great deal of mutual satisfaction at the trick West had played his brother. However, the latter was no great gainer in the end, for Mr. West, senior, soon finding out the contrivance, forever renounced him, and Jeddediah being soon after arrested for twelve pounds due to his tailor, was carried to prison and remained there without the least assistance from his brother, till after his friend Dykes was hanged.

The last mentioned malefactor, unmoved by all the tender entreaties of his friends, and the glaring prospect before him of his own ruin, went still on at the old rate, and whenever gaming had brought him low in cash, took up with the road, or some such like dishonest method to recruit it. At last he had the ill-luck to commit a robbery in Stepney parish, in the road between Mile End and Bow, upon one Charles Wright, to whose bosom clapping a pistol, he commanded him to deliver peacefully, or he would shoot him through the body. The booty he took was very inconsiderable, being only a penknife, an ordinary seal, and five shillings and eightpence in money. A poor price for life, since two days after he was apprehended for this robbery, committed to Newgate and condemned the next sessions.

His behaviour under these unhappy circumstances was very mean, and such as fully showed what difference there is between courage and that resolution which is necessary to support the spirits and calm our apprehensions at the certain approach of a violent death. I forbear attempting any description of those unutterable torments which the exterior marks of a distracted behaviour fully showed that this poor wretch endured. And as I have nothing more to add of him, but that he confessed his having been guilty of a multitude of ill acts, he submitted at last with greater cheerfulness than he had ever shown during his confinement to that shameful death which the Law had ordained for his crimes, on the 23rd of October, 1721, when he was about twenty-three years of age.


This Bridewell occupied the site adjoining the north side of the Green Coat School, on the west: side of Artillery Place. Although originally intended for vagrants, early in the 18th century it was turned into a house of detention for criminals.

The Life of RICHARD JAMES, a Highwayman

The misfortune of not having early a virtuous education is often so great a one as never to be retrieved, and it happens frequently (as far as human capacity will give us leave to judge) that those prove remarkably wicked and profligate for want of it who if they had been so happy as to have received it, would probably have led an honest and industrious life. I am led to this observation at present by the materials which lay before me for the composition of this life.

Richard James was the son of a nobleman's cook, but he knew little more of his father than that he left him to the wide world while very young; and so at about twelve years of age he was sent to sea. There he had the misfortune to be taken prisoner by the Spaniards, who he acknowledged treated him with great humanity, and a house-painter taking a great liking to him, received him into his house, taught him his profession, and used him with the same tenderness as if he had been his nearest relation.

But fondness for his country exciting in him a continual desire of seeing England again, at last he found a means to return before he was seventeen; and after this, being in England but a very small time, he totally disobliged what few friends he had left, by his silly marriage to a poor girl younger than himself. As is common enough in such mad adventures, the woman's friends were as much disobliged as his, and so not knowing how to subsist together, Richard was obliged to betake him to his old profession of the sea.

The first voyage he made was to the West Indies, where he had the misfortune to be taken by pirates, and by them being set on shore, he was reduced almost to downright starving. However, begging his way to Boston in New England, he from thence found a method of returning home once again. The first thing he did was to enquire for his wife. But she, under a pretence of having received advice of his death from America, had gotten another husband; and though poor James was willing to pass that by, yet the woman, it seems, knew better when she was well, and under pretence of affection for two children which she had by this last husband, absolutely refused to leave him and return back to Dick, her first spouse. However, he did not seem to have taken this much to heart, for in a short time he followed her example and married another wife; but finding no method of procuring an honest livelihood, he took a short method of living, viz., to thieving after every manner that came in his way.

He committed a vast number of robberies in a very short space, chiefly upon the waggoners in the Oxford Road, and sometimes, as if there were not crime enough in barely robbing them, he added to it by the cruel manner in which he treated them. At this rate he went on for a considerable space, till being apprehended for a robbery of a man on Hanwell Green, from whom he took but ten shillings, he was shortly after convicted; and having no friends, from that time he laid aside all hope of life.

During the space he had to prepare himself for death, he appeared so far from being either terrified, or even unwilling to die, that he looked upon it as a very happy relief from a very troublesome and uneasy life, and declared, with all outward appearance of sincerity, that he would not, even if it were in his power, procure a reprieve, or avoid that death which could alone prove a remedy for those evils which had so long rendered life a burden. He was very earnest to be instructed in the duties of religion, and seemed to desire nothing else than to prepare himself, as well as time and his melancholy circumstances would allow him, and never from the time of his conviction showed any change in his disposition but continued still rather to wish for his death than to fear it. He made a very ample confession of all the robberies he had ever done, and seemed sorrowful enough, above all, for the inhumanity and incivility with which he had sometimes treated people.

Amongst other particulars he said that once, with his companions, having robbed a lady in some other company of a whip, and a tortoiseshell snuff-box with a silver rim, she earnestly desired to have them returned, saying that as to the money they had taken they were heartily welcome; the other thieves seemed inclinable to grant her request, but James absolutely declared that she should not have them. However, as a very extraordinary mark of his generosity, he took the snuff out of the box, and putting it into a paper, gave it her back again.

At the place of execution he repeated what he had formerly said as to his readiness of dying, adding, that if the people pitied the misfortune he fell under of dying so ignominious a death, he no less pitied them in the dangers and misfortunes they were sure to run through in this miserable world. At the time of his death he was about thirty years of age, and suffered on the same day with the criminal last mentioned.

The Life of JAMES WRIGHT, a Highwayman

James Wright, the malefactor whose life we are going to relate at present, was born at Enfield, of very honest and industrious parents, who, that he might get a living honestly, put him apprentice to a peruke-maker. At this trade, after having served his time, he set up in the Old Bailey, and lived there for some time in very good credit. But being much given up to women, and an idle habit of life, his expenses quickly outwent his profits, and thus in the space of some months reduced him to downright want. This put him upon the illegal ways he afterwards took to support himself in the enjoyment of those pleasures which even the evils he had already felt could not make him wise enough to shun.

He was very far from being a hardened criminal, hardly ever robbing a passenger without tears in his eyes, and always framing resolutions to himself of quitting that infamous manner of life, as soon as ever it should be in his power. He fancied that as the rich could better spare it than the poor, there was less crime in taking it from them, and valued himself not a little that he had never injured any poor man, but always singled out those who from their equipage were likeliest to yield him a good booty, and at the same time not be much the worse for it themselves. He had gone on for a considerable space in the commission of villainies with impunity, but at last being apprehended for a robbery committed by him in the county of Surrey, he was thereupon indicted and tried at the ensuing assizes at Kingston, and by some means or other, was so lucky as to be acquitted, no doubt to his very great joy; and on this deliverance he again renewed his vows of amendment.

After this acquittal a friend of his was so kind as to take him down to his house in the country, in hopes of keeping him out of harm's way; and indeed 'tis highly probable that he had totally given over all evil intention of that sort, when he was unfortunately impeached by Hawkins, one of his old companions, and on his evidence and that of the prosecutor whom he found out, Wright was taken up, tried and convicted at the Old Bailey. When he perceived there was no hope of life he applied himself to the great business of his soul, and behaved with the greatest composure imaginable. He declared himself a Roman Catholic, yet frequented the chapel all the time he was in Newgate, and seemed only studious how to make peace with God.

When the fatal day of execution approached, he was far from seeming amazed, notwithstanding that after mature deliberation he refused to declare his associates, or how they might be found, saying that perhaps they might repent, and he hoped some of them had done so, and he would not bring them to the same ignominious death with himself. The fact he died for, viz., robbing Mr. Towers, with some ladies in a coach in Marlborough Street, he confessed, also that his companion called out to him, What, do they resist? Shoot 'em. He suffered with all the outward signs of penitence, on the 22nd of December, 1721, being about thirty-four years of age.

The Life of NATHANIEL HAWES, a Thief and a Robber

Amongst many odd notions which are picked up by the common people, there is none more dangerous, both to themselves and unto others, than the idea they get of courage, which with them consists either in a furious madness, or an obstinate perseverence, even in the worst cause.

Nathaniel Hawes was a very extraordinary instance of this, as the following part of his life will show. He was, as he said himself, the son of a very rich grazier in Norfolk, who dying when he was but a year old, he afterwards pretended that he was defrauded of a greater part of his father's effects which should have belonged to him. However, those who took care of his education put him out apprentice to an upholsterer, with whom having served about four years, he then fell into very expensive company, which reduced him to such straits as obliged him to make bold with his master's cash, by which he injured him for some time with impunity. But proceeding, at last, to the commission of a downright robbery, he was therein detected, tried and convicted, but being then a very young man, the Court had pity on him, and he had the good luck to procure a pardon.

Natt made the old use of mercy, when extended to such sort of people, that is, when he returned to liberty he returned to his old practices. His companions were several young men of the same stamp with himself, who placed all their delight in the sensual and brutal pleasures of drinking, gaming, whoring and idling about, without betaking themselves to any business. Natt, who was a young fellow naturally sprightly and of good parts, from thence became very acceptable to these sort of people, and committed abundance of robberies in a very small space of time. The natural fire of his temper made him behave with great boldness on such occasions, and gave him no small reputation amongst the gang. Seeing himself extravagantly commended on such occasions, Hawes began to form to himself high notions of heroism in that way, and from the warmth of a lively imagination, became a downright Don Quixote in all their adventures. He particularly affected the company of Richard James, and with him robbed very much on the Oxford Road, whereon it was common for both these persons not only to take away the money from passengers, but also to treat them with great inhumanity, which for all I might know might arise in a great measure from Hawes's whimsical notions.

This fellow was so puffed up with the reputation he had got amongst his companions in the same miserable occupation, that he fancied no expedition impracticable which he thought fit to engage, and indeed the boldness of his attempts had so often given him success that there is no wonder a fellow of his small parts and education should conceive so highly of himself. It was nothing for Hawes singly to rob a coach full of gentlemen, to stop two or three persons on the highway at a time, or to rob the waggons in a line as they came on the Oxford Road to London, nor was there any of the little prisons or Bridewells that could hold him.

There was, however, an adventure of Natt's of this kind that deserves a particular relation. He had, it seems, been so unlucky as to be taken and committed to New Prison,[14] on suspicion of robbing two gentlemen in a chaise coming from Hampstead. Hawes viewed well the place of his confinement, but found it much too strong for any attempts like those he was wont to make. In the same place with himself and another man mere was a woman very genteelly dressed, who had been committed for shoplifting. This woman seemed even more ready to attempt something which might get her out of that confinement than either Hawes or her other companion. The latter said it was impracticable, and Natt that though he had broken open many a prison, yet he saw no probability of putting this in the number.

Well, said the woman have you courage enough to try, if I put you in the way? Yes, quoth Hawes, there's nothing I won't undertake for liberty; and said the other fellow, If I once saw a likelihood of performing it, there's nobody has better hands at such work than myself. In the first place, said this politician in petticoats, we must raise as much money amongst us as will keep a very good fire. Why truly, replied Hawes, a fire would be convenient in this cold weather, but I can't, for my heart, see how we should be nearer our liberty for it, unless you intend to set the gaol in flames. Tush! Tush! answered the woman, follow but my directions, and let's have some faggots and coals, and I warrant you by to-morrow morning we shall be safe oat of these regions. The woman spoke this with so much assurance that Hawes and the other man complied, and reserving but one shilling, laid out all their money in combustibles and liquor. While the runners of the prison were going to and fro upon this occasion, the woman seemed so dejected that she could scarce speak, and the two men by her directions sat with the same air as if the rope already had been about them at Tyburn. At last, as they were going to be locked up; Pray, says the woman, with a faint voice, Can't you give me something like a poker? Why, yes, says one of the fellows belonging to the gaol, if you'll give me twopence, I'll bring you one of the old bars that was taken out of the window when these new ones were put in. The woman gave him the halfpence, he delivered the bar, and the keepers having locked them up, barred and bolted the doors, and left them until next morning.

As soon as ever the people of the gaol were gone, up starts madam. Now, my lads, says she, to work; and putting her hands into her pockets and shaking her petticoats, down drops two little bags of tools. She pointed out to them a large stone at the corner of the roof which was morticed into two others, one above and the other below. After they had picked all the mortar from between them, she heated the bar red hot in the fire, and putting it to the sockets into which the irons that held the stones were fastened with lead, it quickly loosened them, and then making use of the bars as of a crow, by two o'clock in the morning they had got them all three out, and opened a fair passage into the streets, only that it was a little too high. Upon this the woman made them fasten the iron bar strongly at the angle where the three stones met, and then pulling off her stays, she unrolled from the top of her petticoats four yards of strong cord, the noose of which being fastened on the iron, the other end was thrown out over the wall, and so the descent was rendered easy. The men were equally pleased and surprised at their good fortune, and in gratitude to the female author of it, helped her to the top of the wall, and let her get safe over before they attempted to go out themselves.

It was not long after this that Hawes committed a robbery on Finchley Common, upon one Richard Hall, from whom he took about four shillings in money; and to make up the badness of the booty, he took from him his horse, in order to be the better equipped to go in quest of another which might make up the deficiency. For this robbery, being shortly after detected and apprehended, he was convicted and received sentence of death. When first confined, he behaved himself with very great levity, and declared he would merit a greater reputation by the boldness of his behaviour than any highwayman that had died these seven years. Indeed, this was the style he always made use of, and the great affectation of intrepidity and resolution which he always put on would have moved anybody (had it not been for his melancholy condition) to smile at the vanity of the man.

At the time he was taken up, he had, it seems, a good suit of clothes taken from him, which put him so much out of humour, because he could not appear, as he said, like a gentleman at the sessions-house, that when he was arraigned and should have put himself upon his trial, he refused to plead unless they were delivered to him again. But to this the Court answered that it was not in their power, and on his persisting to remain mute, after all the exhortations which were made to him, the Court at last ordered that the sentence of the press should be read to him, as is customary on such occasions; after which the Judge from the Bench spoke to him to this effect

Nathaniel Hawes,

The equity of the Law of England, more tender of the lives of its subjects than any other in the world, allows no person to be put to death, either unheard or without the positive proof against him of the fact whereon he stands charged; and that proof, too, must be such as shall satisfy twelve men who are his equals, and by whose verdict he is to be tried. And surely no method can be devised fuller than this is, as well of compassion, as of Justice. But then it is required that the person to be tried shall aver his innocence by pleading Not Guilty to his indictment, which contains the charge. You have heard that which the grand jury have found against you. You see here twelve honest men ready to enquire impartially into the evidence that shall be given against you. The Court, such is the humanity of our constitution, is counsel for you as you are a prisoner. What hinders then, that you should submit to so fair, so equal a trial; and wherefore will you, by a brutish obstinacy, draw upon you that heavy judgement which the Law has appointed for those who seem to have lost the rational faculties of men?

To this Hawes impudently made answer, that the Court was formerly a place of Justice, but now it was become a place of injustice; that he doubted not but that they would receive a severer sentence than that which they had pronounced upon him; and that for his part, he made no question of dying with the same resolution with which he had often beheld death, and would leave the world with the same courage with which he had lived in it.

Natt thought this a most glorious instance of his courage, and when some of his companions said jestingly, that he chose pressing because the Court would not let him have a good suit of clothes to be hanged in, he replied, with a great deal of warmth, that it was no such thing, but that as he had lived with the character of the boldest fellow of his profession he was resolved to die with it, and leave his memory to be admired by all the gentlemen of the road in succeeding ages. This was the rant which took up the poor fellow's head, and induced him to bear 250 pound weight upon his breast for upwards of seven minutes, and was much the same kind of bravery as that which induced the French lacquey to dance a minuet immediately before he danced his last upon the wheel, an action which made so much noise in France as engaged the Duke de Rochefoucauld to compare it with the death of Cato.

Hawes, indeed, did not persist quite so long, but submitted to that justice which he saw was unavoidable, after he had endured, as I have said before, so great a weight in the press. The bruises he received on the chest pained him so exceedingly during the short remainder of his life that he was hardly able to perform those devotions which the near approach of death made him desirous to offer up for so profligate a life. He laid aside, then, those wild notions which had been so fatal to him through the whole course of his days, and so remarkably unfortunate to him in this last age of life. He confessed frankly what crimes he could remember and seemed very desirous of acquitting some innocent persons who were at that time imprisoned, or suspected, for certain villainies which were committed by Hawes and his gang; particularly a footman, then in the Poultry Compter, and a man's son at an alehouse, who, though Hawes declared he knew no harm of him, yet at the place of execution he said that as he desired his death might be a warning to all in general, so he wished it might be particularly considered by him. Though, as I have said, he was fully convinced of the folly of those notions which he had formerly entertained, yet he did not, as most of those braves do, go from one degree of extravagance to the other, that is, from daring everything to sinking into the meanest cowardice, for Hawes went to his death very composedly, as he had received the Sacrament the day before, with all the outward marks of devotion. He suffered on the 22nd day of September, 1721, at which time he was scarce twenty years of age.


This was the Clerkenwell House of Detention, where prisoners were sent after being sentenced, pending their disposal at a House of Correction. It was originally intended for the overflow from Newgate. The prison stood in Clerkenwell Close.

The Life of JOHN JONES, a Pickpocket

There is not, perhaps, a greater misfortune to young people than that too great tenderness and compassion with which they are treated in their youth, and those hopes of amendment which their relations flatter themselves with as they grow up. If they could suffer themselves to be guided by experience, they would quickly find that sagacious minds do but increase in wickedness as they increase in years. Timely services, therefore, and proper restraints are the only methods with which such persons are to be treated, for minds disposed to such gross impurities as those which lead to such wickednesses or are rendered capital by Law, are seldom to be prevailed on by gentleness, or admonitions unseconded by harsher means. I am very far from being an advocate for great severities towards young people, but I confess in cases like these, I think they are as necessary as amputations, where the distemper has spread so far that no cure is to be hoped for by any other means. If the relations of John Jones had known and practised these methods, it is highly probable he had escaped the suffering and the shame of that ignominious death to which, after a long persisting in his crimes, he at last came.


Accused men who refused to plead to their indictment might be pressed to death. Edward Burnworth carried 424 lb. on his chest for an hour and three minutes before he consented to plead
(From the Newgate Calendar)

This malefactor was born in the parish of St. Andrew's, Holborn, of parents in tolerable circumstances, who, while a boy, indulged him in all his little humours from a wise expectation of their dropping from him all at once when he grew up. But this expectation not succeeding, as it must be owned there was no great probability it should, they were then for persuading him to settle in business. That he might do this with less reluctancy they were so kind as to put him out upon liking to three or four trades; but it happening unluckily that there was work to be done in all of them, Jones could not be brought to go apprentice to any, but idled on amongst his companions, without ever thinking of applying himself to any business whatever. His relations sent him to sea, another odd academy to learn honesty at, and on his return from thence, and refusing to go any more, his relations refused to support him any longer.

Jack was very melancholy on this score, and having but eighteenpence in the world when he received the comfortable message of his never being to expect a farthing more from his friends, he went out to take a walk in Hyde Park to divert his melancholy, when he ruminated on what he was to do next for a livelihood. In the midst of these reflections he espied an old schoolfellow of his, who used to have the same inclinations with himself. There had been a great intimacy between them; it was quickly renewed, and Jack Jones unburdened to him the whole budget of his sorrows. And is this all? says the young fellow. Why, I will put you in a way to ease this in a minute, if you will step along with me to a house hard by, where I am to meet with some of my acquaintance. Jones readily consented, and to a little blind alehouse in a dark lane they went. The woman of the house received them very kindly, and as soon as Jack's companion had informed her that he was a newcomer, she conducted him into a little room, where she entertained him with a good dinner and a bowl of punch after it. Jack was mightily taken with the courtesy of his landlady, who promised him he should never want such usage and his friend would teach him in the evening how to earn it.

Evening came, and out walked the two young men. Jack was put upon nothing at that time, but to observe how his companion managed. He was a very dexterous youth, and at seven o'clock prayers picked up, in half an hour's time, three good handkerchiefs, and a silver snuff-box. Having this readily shown him the practice, he was no less courteous in acquainting Jones with the theory of his profession, and two or three night's work made Jones a very complete workman in their way.

He lived at this rate for some months, until going with his instructor through King Street, Westminster, and passing by a woman pretty well dressed, says the other fellow to Jones, Now mind, Jack, and while jostle her against the wall, do you whip off her pocket. Jones performed tolerably well, though the woman screamed out and people were thick in the street. He gave the pocket, as soon as he had plucked it off, to his comrade, but having felt it rather weighty, would trust him no farther than the first by-alley before they stopped to examine its contents.

They had scarce found their prize consisted of no more than a small prayer-book, a needle case, and a silver thimble, when the woman with a mob at her heels bolted upon them and seized them. Jones had the pocket in his hand when they laid hold of him, and his associate no sooner perceived the danger, but he clapped hold of him by the collar and cried out as loud as any of the mob, Ay, ay, this is he, good woman, is not this your pocket? By this strategem he escaped, and Jones was left to feel the whole weight of the punishment which was ready to fall upon them. He was immediately committed to prison, and the offence being capital in its nature, he was condemned at the next sessions, and though he always buoyed himself up with hopes to the contrary, was ordered for execution. He was dreadfully amazed at death, as being, indeed, very unfit to die. However, when he found it was inevitable, he began to prepare for it as well as he was able. His relations now afforded him some little relief, and after having made as ample a confession as he was able, he suffered at Tyburn with the two above-mentioned malefactors, Hawes and Wright, being then but a little above nineteen years of age.

The Life of JOHN SMITH, a Murderer

As idleness is fatal to youth, so it and ill-company become not seldom so even to persons in years. John Smith, of whose extraction we can say nothing, had served with a very good character in a regiment of foot, during Queen Anne's wars in Flanders. His captain took a particular liking to him, and from his boldness and fierce courage, to which he himself was also greatly inclined, they did abundance of odd actions during the War, some of which may not be unentertaining to the reader, if I mention.

The army lying encamped almost over against that of the French king, foraging was become very dangerous, and hardly a party went out without a skirmish. John's master, the captain, having been out with a party, and being over powered by the French, were obliged to leave their trusses behind them. When they returned to the camp, Smith was ordered to lead his master's horse out into the field between the two camps, that the poor creature might be able to pick up a little pasture. John had not attended his horse long before, at the distance of about half a mile, he saw a boy leading two others, at the foot of a hill which joined to the French fortification. As John's livery was yellow, and he spoke Walloon bad enough to be taken for a Frenchman, he ventured to stake the Captain's horse down where it was feeding, and without the least apprehension of the risk he ran, went across to the fellow who was feeding his horses under the French lines. He proceeded with so much caution that he was within a stone's throw of the boy, before he perceived him. From the colour of his clothes, and the place where they were, immediately under the French camp, the lad took him for one of their own people, and therefore answered him very civilly when he asked what o'clock it was, and whom he belonged to. But John no sooner observed from the boy's turning his horses, that the hill lay again between them and the French soldiers, than clapping his hand suddenly upon the boy's throat and tripping up his heels, he clapped a gag in his mouth, which he had cut for that purpose; and leaving him with his hands tied behind him upon the ground, he rode clear off with the best of the horses, notwithstanding that the boy had alarmed the French camp, and he had some hundred shot sent after him.

The captain and Smith were out one day a-foraging, and one of the officers of their party who was known to have a hundred pistoles about him, was killed in a skirmish, and neither party dared to bring off the body for fear of the other, it being just dark, each expected a reinforcement from the camp. Smith told his captain that if he'd give him one half of the gold for fetching, he would venture; and his offer being gladly accepted, he accordingly crept two hundred yards upon his belly, and after he had picked the purse out of the dead man's pockets, returned without being either seen or suspected.

When the army was disbanded, Smith betook himself to the sea, and served under Admiral Byng,[15] in the fight at Messina; but on the return of that fleet from the Mediterranean, being discharged he came up to London, where having squandered his money, he did some petty thefts to get more. To this he was induced chiefly by the company of one Woolford, who was executed, and at whose execution Smith was present, and soon after cohabited with his wife. But not long after this, Smith meeting with one Sarah Thompson, an old acquaintance of his, who had it seems left him to live with another fellow, he took it into his head thereupon to use her very roughly, and clapping a pistol to her breast, threatened with abundance of ill-language to shoot her. This occasioned a great fray in the place where it happened, which was near the Hermitage towards Wapping, and several persons running to take the woman away, and to seize him, in order to prevent murder, Smith fired his pistol, and unhappily killed one Matthew Walden, who was amongst the number. The mob immediately crowded upon him and seized him, and the fact appearing very clear on his trial, he was convicted at the next sessions at the Old Bailey.

He behaved himself with great resolution, professed himself extremely sorry, as well for the many vices he had been guilty of as for that last bloody act which brought him to his shameful end. He especially recommended to all who spoke to him, to avoid the snares and delusions of lewd women; and at the place of execution delivered the following paper. He was about forty years of age when he died, being the 8th day of February, 1722, at Tyburn.

The paper delivered by John Smith at the place of execution

I was born of honest parents, bred to the sea, and lived honest, 'till I was led aside by lewd women. I then robbed on ships, and never robbed on shore. I had no design to kill the woman who jilted me, and left me for another man, but only to terrify her, for I could have shot her when the loaded pistol was at her breast, but I curbed my passion, and only threw a candle-stick at her. I confess my cruelty towards my wife, who is a woman too good for me, but I was at first forced to forsake her for debt, and go to sea. I hope in God none will reflect on her, or my poor innocent children, who could not help my sad passion, and more sad death. Written by me,

John Smith


George Byng, later created Viscount Torrington, was sent with a fleet for the protection of Sicily against the Spaniards. He found them besieging Messina, whereupon he gave their fleet battle and gained a smashing victory at Cape Passaro, 31 July, 1718.

The Life of JAMES SHAW, alias SMITH, a Highwayman and Murderer

James Shaw, otherwise Smith (for by both these names he went, nor am I able to say which was his true one) was the son of parents both of circumstances and inclination to have given him a very good education if he would have received it. The unsettledness of his temper was heightened by that indulgence with which he was treated by his relations, who permitted him to make trial of several trades, though he could not be brought to like any. Indeed, he stayed so long with a forger of gun-locks, as to learn something of his art, which sometimes he practised and thereby got money; but generally speaking he chose rather to acquire it by easier means.

I cannot take upon me to say at what time he began to rob upon the road, or take to any other villainy of that sort, but 'tis certain that if he himself were to be believed, it was in a great measure owing to a bad wife; for when he, by his labour, got nine shillings a week, and used to return home very weary in the evening, he generally found nobody there to receive him, or to get ready his supper, but everything in the greatest confusion, without any person to take care of what little he had. This, as he would have had it believed, was the source of his misfortunes and necessities, as it was also the occasion of his taking such fatal methods to relieve them.

The Hampstead Road was that in which he chiefly robbed, and he could not be persuaded that there was any great crime in taking away the superfluous cash of those who lavish it in vanity and luxury, or from those who procure it by cheating and gaming; and under these two classes Shaw pretended to rank all who frequented the Wells or Belsize, and it is to be much feared that in this respect he was not very far out. Amongst the many adventures which befell him in his expeditions on the road, there are one or two which it may not be improper to take notice of.

One evening, as he was patrolling thereabouts, he came up to a chariot in which there was a certain famous justice, who happened to have won about four hundred pounds at play, and Count Ui——n, a famous foreign gamester, that has made many different figures about this town. No sooner was the coach stopped by Shaw and another person on horseback, but the Squire slipped the money he had won behind the seat of the coach, and the Count having little to lose, seemed not very uneasy at the accident. The highwaymen no sooner had demanded their money, but the Count gave two or three pieces of foreign gold, and the gentleman, in hopes by this means of getting rid of them, presented them with twenty guineas.

Why, really, sir, said Shaw, on the receipt of the gold, this were a handsome compliment from another person, but methinks you might have spared a little more out of the long bag you brought from the gaming table. Come, gentlemen, get out, get out, we must examine the nest a little, I fancy the goldfinches are not yet flown. Upon this, they both got out of the chariot, and Shaw shaking the cushion that covered the seat hastily, the long bag fell out with its mouth open, and all its bright contents were scattered on the ground. The two knights of the road began to pick them up as fast as they could, and while the justice cursed this unlucky accident which had nicked him, after he had nicked all the gamesters at the Wells, the Count, who thought swearing an unprofitable exercise, began to gather as fast as they. A good deal of company coming in sight just as they had finished, and while they were calling upon the Count to refund, they were glad to gallop away. But returning to London they were taken, and about three hours after committing the fact, they, together with the witnesses against them, were brought before a Middlesex magistrate, who committed them.

But, pray, Sir, says Shaw, before he was taken out of the room; Why should not that French fellow suffer as well as we? He shared the booty, and please your Worship, 'tis but reasonable he should share the punishment. Well, what say you, Sir? quoth the Justice to his brother magistrate. What is this outlandish man they talk of? He is a count, Sir, replied he, returned from Naples, whither he went on some affairs of importance. He makes a very good figure here sometimes, though I do not know what his income is. I do not apprehend your Worship has anything to do with that, since I do not complain. However, replied this dispenser of justice, I have had but a very sorry account of you, yet as you are in company with my brother here, I shall take no further notice of what these men say.[16]

Shaw being after this got out of prison and having no money to purchase a horse, he endeavoured to carry on his old profession of a footpad. In this shape he robbed also several coaches and single passengers, and that with very great inhumanity, which was natural, he said, from that method of attacking, for it was impossible for a footpad to get off, unless he either maimed the man, or wounded his horse.

Meeting by chance, as he was walking across Hampstead Road, an old grave-looking man, he thought there was no danger in making up to him, and seizing him, since he himself was well armed. The old gentleman immediately begged that he would be civil and told him that if he would be so, he would give him an old pair of breeches which were filled with money and effects worth money, and, as he said, lay buried by such a tree, pointing at the same time to it with his hand. Shaw went thither directly, in hopes of gaining the miser's great prize, for the old fellow made him believe he had buried it out of covetousness, and came there to brood over it. But no sooner were they come to the place, and Shaw looping down, began to look for three pieces of tobacco pipe, which the old man pretended to have stack where they were buried, but the gentleman whipped out his sword, and made two or three passes at Shaw, wounding him in the neck, side and breast.

As the number of his robberies were very great, so it is not to be expected that we should have a very exact account of them, yet as Shaw was not shy in revealing any circumstance that related to them, we may not perhaps have been as particular in the relation of his crimes as our readers would desire, and therefore it will be necessary to mention some other of his expeditions.

At his usual time and place, viz., Hampstead Road, in the evening, he overtook a dapper fellow, who was formerly a peruke-maker but now a gamester. This man taking Shaw for a bubble, began to talk of play, and mentioned All Fours and Cribbage, and asked him whether he would play a game for a bottle or so at the Flask. Shaw pretended to be very willing, but said he had made a terrible oath against playing for anything in any house; but if to avoid it, the gentleman would tie his horse to a tree and had any cards in his pocket, he'd sit down on the green bank in yonder close, and hazard a shilling or two. The gamester, who always carried his implements in his pocket, readily accepted of the offer, and tying their horses to a post of a little alehouse on the road, over they whipped into the fields. But no sooner were they set down, and the sharper began to shuffle the cards, but Shaw starting up, caught him by the throat, and after shaking out three guineas and a half from his breeches' pocket, broke to pieces two peep boxes, split as many pair of false dice, and kicked the cards all about the ground. He left him tied hand and foot to consider ways and means to recruit his stock by methods just as honest as those by which he lost it.

The soldiers that at that time were placed on the road, passed for a great security amongst people in town, but those who had occasion to pass that way found no great benefit from their protection, for robberies were as frequent as ever, and the ill-usage of persons when robbed more so, because the rogues thought themselves in greater danger of being taken, and therefore bound or disabled those they plundered, for fear of their pursuing them.

For a fact of this kind it was that Shaw came to his death, for one Philip Pots, being robbed on horseback by several footpads and knocked off his horse near the tile kilns by Pancras, and wounded in several places of his body with his own sword, which one of the villains had taken from him, some persons who passed by soon after took him up, and carried him to the Pinder of Wakefield.[17] There, on the Monday following (this accident happening on Saturday night) he in great agonies expired. For this murder and another robbery between Highgate and Kentish Town, Shaw was taken up and soon after convicted. At first he denied all knowledge of the murder, but when his death grew near, he did acknowledge being privy to it, though he persisted in saying he had no hand in its commission.

At the time he was under condemnation, the afore-mentioned John Smith, William Colthouse, and Jonah Burgess were in the same condition. They formed a conspiracy for breaking out of the place where they were confined and to force an escape against all those who should oppose them. For this purpose they had procured pistols, but their plot being discovered, Burgess in great rage, cut his own throat and pretended that Shaw designed to have dispatched himself with one of the pistols. But Shaw, himself, absolutely denied this, and affirmed on the contrary that when Burgess said his enemies should never have the satisfaction (as they had bragged they would have) of placing themselves upon Holborn Bridge, to see him go by Tyburn, he (Shaw) exhorted him never to think of self-murder, and by that means give his enemies a double revenge in destroying both body and soul.

As Shaw had formerly declared his wife's ill-conduct had been the first occasion of his falling into those courses which had proved so fatal to him, he still retained so great an antipathy to her on that account, as not to be able to pardon her, even in the last moments of his life, in which he would neither confess, nor positively deny the murder for which he died. He was then about twenty-eight years of age, and died the same day with the last-mentioned malefactor, Smith.


This discourse between the magistrates is obscure. I have been unable to clear it.


This was the public-house at the Battle Bridge (King's Cross) end of Gray's Inn Road.

The Life of WILLIAM COLTHOUSE, a Thief and Highwayman

William Colthouse was born in Yorkshire, had a very good education for a person of his rank and especially with regard to religious principles, of which he retained a knowledge seldom to be met with among the lower class of people; but he was so unhappy as to imbibe in his youth strange notions in regard to civil government, hereditary rights having been much magnified in the latter end of the late Queen's reign. William amongst others was violent attached thereto, and fancied it was a very meritorious thing to profess his sentiments, notwithstanding they were directly opposite to those of persons then in power. Some declarations of this sort occasioned his being confined in Newgate, and prosecuted for speaking seditious words in the beginning of King George the First's reign. His Newgate acquaintances taught him quickly their arts of living, and he was no sooner at liberty than he put them into execution, he and his brother living like gentlemen on their expeditions on the road; till unfortunately committing a robbery on Hounslow Heath together, they were both closely pursued, the other taken, and William narrowly escaped by creeping into a hollow tree.

After the execution of his brother, Colthouse being terribly affected therewith, retired to Oxford, and there worked as a journeyman joiner, determining with himself to live honestly for the future, and not by a habit of ill-actions go the same way as one so nearly related to him had done before. But as his brother's death in time grew out of his remembrance, so his evil inclinations again took place, and he came up to London with a full purpose of getting money at an easier rate than working.

Soon after his arrival his Jacobite principles brought him into a great fray at an alehouse in Tothill Fields, Westminster, where some soldiers were drinking, and who on some disrespectful words said of the Prince, caught up Colthouse and threw him upon a red-hot gridiron, thereby making a scar on his cheek and under his left eye. By this he came to be taken for a person who murdered a farmer's son in Philpot Lane, in Hampshire, when he was charged with which he not only denied, but by abundance of circumstances rendered it highly probable that he did not commit it, there being, indeed, no other circumstance which occasioned that suspicion but the likeness of the scar in his face, which happened in the manner I told you.

While he lay under condemnation, a report reached his ear that his two brothers in the country were also said to be highwaymen; he complained grievously of the common practice that was made by idle people raising stories to increase the sorrows of families which were so unhappy as to have any who belonged to them come to such a death as his was to be. As to his brothers, he declared himself well satisfied that the younger was a sober and religious lad, and as for the elder, though he might have been guilty of some extravagance, yet he hoped and believed they were not of the same kind with those which had brought him to ruin. However, that he might do all the good which his present sad circumstance would allow, he wrote the following letter to his brethren in the country.

Dear Brothers,

Though the nearness of my approaching death ought to shut out from my thoughts all temporal concerns, yet I could not compose my mind into that quietness with which I hope to pass from this sinful world into the presence of the Almighty, before I had thus exorted you to take particular warning from my death, which the intent of the Law to deter others from wickedness hath decreed to be in a public and ignominious manner. Amidst the terrors which the frailty of human nature (shocked with the prospect of so terrible an end) makes my afflicted heart to feel, even these sorrows are increased, and all my woes doubled by a story which is spread, I hope without the least grounds of truth, that ye, as well as I, have lived by taking away by force the property of others.

Let the said examples of my poor brother, who died by the hand of Justice, and of me, who now follow him in the same unhappy course, deter you not only from those flagrant offences which have been so fatal unto us, but also from those foolish and sinful pleasures in which it is but too frequent for young persons to indulge themselves. Remember that I tell you from a sad experience, that the wages of sin, though in appearance they be sometimes large and what may promise outward pleasure, yet are they attended with such inward disquiet as renders it impossible for those to have received them to enjoy either quiet or ease. Work, then, hard at your employments, and be assured that sixpence got thereby will afford you more solid satisfaction than the largest acquisitions at the expense of your conscience. That God may, by His grace, enable you to follow this my last advice, and that He may bless your honest labour with plenty and prosperity is the earnest prayer of your dying brother

William Colthouse

Till the day of his execution he had denied his being accessory to the intended escape by forcing the prison, but when he came to Tyburn, he acknowledged that assertion to be false, and owned that he caused the two pistols to be provided for that purpose. He was about thirty-four years of age at the time he suffered, which was on the 8th of February, 1722, with Burgess, Shaw and Smith.

The Life of WILLIAM BURRIDGE, a Highwayman

In the course of these lives I have more than once observed that the vulgar have false notions of courage, and that applause is given to it by those who have as false notions of it as themselves, and this it was in a great measure which made William Burridge take to those fatal practices which had the usual termination in an ignominious death. He was the son of reputable people, who lived at West Haden in Northamptonshire, who after affording him a competent education, thought proper to bind him to his father's trade of a carpenter. But he, having been pretty much indulged before that time, could not by any means be brought to relish labour, or working for his bread.

Burridge was a well-made fellow, and of a handsome person, as well as great strength and dexterity, which he had often exercised in wrestling and cudgel-playing which gained him great praise amongst the country fellows at wakes and fairs, where such prizes are usually given. Therefore giving himself up almost wholly to such exercises, he used frequently to run away from his parents, and lie about the country, stealing poultry, and what else he could lay his hands on to support himself. His father trying all methods possible to reclaim him and finding them fruitless, as his last refuge turned him over to another master, in hopes that having there no mother to plead for him, a course of continued severities might perhaps reclaim him. But his hopes were all disappointed, for instead of mending under his new master, William gave himself over to all sorts of vices, and more especially became addicted to junketting with servant-wenches in the neighbourhood, who especially on Sundays when their masters were out, were but too ready to receive and entertain him at their expense.

But these adventures made him very obnoxious to others, as well as his master, who no longer able to bear his lying out of night, and other disorderly practices, turned him off, and left him to shift for himself. He went home to his friends, but going on still in the same way, they frankly advised him to ship himself on board a man-of-war in order to avoid that ill-fate which they then foresaw, and which afterwards overtook him. William, though not very apt to follow good counsel, yet approved of this at last when he saw some of his companions had already suffered for those profligate courses to which they were addicted.

He shipped himself, therefore, in a squadron then sailing for Spain under the command of Commodore Cavendish, on board whose ship he was when an engagement happened with the Spaniards in Cadiz Bay. The dispute was long and very sharp, and Burridge behaved therein so as to meet with extraordinary commendations. These had the worst effect upon him imaginable, for they so far puffed him up, that he thought himself worthier of command than most of the officers on the ship, and therefore was not a little uneasy at being obliged to obey them. This hindered them from doing him any kindness, which they would otherwise perhaps have done in consideration of his gallant behaviour against the enemy. At his return into England he was extremely ambitious of living without the toil of business, and therefore went upon the highway with great diligence, in order to acquire a fortune by it, which when he had done, he designed to have left it off, and to have lived easily and honestly upon the fruits of it. But, alas! these were vain hopes and idle expectations, for instead of acquiring anything which might keep him hereafter, he could scarce procure a present livelihood at the hazard both of his neck and his soul, for he was continually obliged to hide himself, through apprehension, and not seldom got into Bridewell or some such place, for brawls and riots.

This William Burridge was the person who with Nat Hawes made their escape out of New Prison, by the assistance of a woman, as the life of that malefactor is before related.[18] And as he saved himself then from the same ignominious death which afterwards befell him, so he escaped it another time by becoming evidence against one Reading, who died for the life offences. As to Burridge, he still continued the same trade, till being taken for stealing a bay gelding belonging to one Mr. Wragg, he was for that offence finally condemned at the Old Bailey. While under sentence, as he had been much the greatest and oldest offender of any that were under the same fate, so he seemed to be by much the most affected and the most penitent of them all; and with great signs and sorrow for the many crimes he had committed, he suffered on the 14th of March, 1722, with five other persons at Tyburn, being then about thirty-four years of age.


See page 59.

The Life of JOHN THOMSON, a thief, Highwayman, etc.

John Thomson was born at Carlisle, but was brought with his friends to London. They, it seems, were persons of no substance, and took little care of their son's education, suffering him, while a lad, to go often to such houses as were frequented by ill-people, and such as took dishonest methods to get money. Such are seldom very dose in their discourse when they meet and junket together, and Thomson, then a boy, was so much pleased with their jovial manner of life, eating well and drinking hard, that he had ever a bias that way, even when he was otherways employed, till he was fifteen years old, leading such an idle and debauched life that, as he himself expressed it, he had never heard of or read a Bible or other good book throughout all that space.

A friend of his was then so kind as to put him out apprentice to a weaver, and he might have had some chance of coming into the world in an honest and reputable way, but he had not continued with his master any long time before he listed himself in the sea service, during the Wars in the late Queen's time, and served on board a squadron which was sent up the Baltic to join the Danes. This cold country, with other hardships he endured, made him so out of humour with a sailor's life that though he behaved himself tolerably well when on board, yet he resolved never to engage in the same state, if once discharged and safe on shore.

Upon his coming back to England, he went to work at his trade of a weaver, and being for a while very sensible of the miseries he had run through on board the man-of-war, he became highly pleased with the quiet and easy way in which he got his bread by his business, thinking, however, that there was no way so proper to settle him as by marrying, which accordingly he did. But he was so unfortunate that though his wife was a very honest woman, yet the money he got not being sufficient to maintain them, he was even obliged to take to the sea again for a subsistence, and continued on board several ships in the Straits and Mediterranean for a very considerable space, during which he was so fortunate as to serve once on board an enterprising captain, who in less than a year's space, took nineteen prizes to a very considerable value. And as they were returning from their cruise, they took a French East India ship on the coast of that kingdom, whose cargo was computed at no less than a hundred thousand pounds sterling. Thomson might certainly, if he would, have saved money enough to have put himself into a creditable method of life as many of his shipmates had done, and so well did the captain improve his own good fortune that on his return he retired into the country, where he purchased an estate of fifteen hundred pounds per annum.

But Thomson being much altered from the usual bent of his temper by his being long accustomed at sea to blood and plunder, so when he returned home, instead of returning to an honest way of living, he endeavoured to procure money at the same rate by land which he had done at sea, and for that purpose associated himself with persons of a like disposition, and in their company did abundance of mischief. At last he and one of his associates passing over Smithfield between twelve and one in the morning, on the second of March, they perceived one George Currey going across that place very much in drink. Him they attacked, though at first they pretended to lead him safe home, drawing him to a proper place out of hearing of the houses, where they took from him a shirt, a wig and a hat, in doing which they knocked him down, stamped upon his breast, and in other respects used him very cruelly. Being apprehended soon after this fact, he was for it tried and convicted.

In the space between that and his death, he behaved himself very penitently, and desired with great earnestness that his wife would retire into the country to her friends, and learn by his unhappy example that nothing but an honest industry could procure the blessing of God. This he assiduously begged for her in his prayers, imploring her at the same time that he gave her this advice, to be careful of her young son she had then at her breast, not only as to his education, but also that he might never know his father's unhappy end, for that would but damp his spirits, and perhaps force him upon ill-courses when he grew up, from an apprehension that people might distrust his honesty and not employ him. He professed himself much afflicted at the past follies of his life, and with an outward appearance of true penitence, died on the fourth of May, 1722, in the thirty-third year of his age, at Tyburn.

The Life of THOMAS REEVES, a Notorious Highwayman and Footpad

As it is not to be denied that it is a singular blessing to a nation where no persecution is ever raised against persons for their religion, so I am confident that the late Free Thinking principles (as they have been called) have by their being spread amongst the vulgar, contributed greatly to the many frauds and villainies which have been so much complained of within these thirty years, and not a little to encouraging men in obtaining a subsistence and the gratification of their pleasures by rapines committed upon others rather than live in a laborious state of life, in which, perhaps, both their birth and circumstances concurred to fix them.

Thomas Reeves was a very remarkable as well as very unfortunate instance of that depravity in moral principles of which I have been speaking. By his friends he was bred a tinman, his father, who was of that profession, taking him as an apprentice but using him with the most indulgent fondness and never suffering him to want anything which was in his power to procure for him, flattered himself with the hopes of his becoming a good and happy man. It happened very unfortunately for Reeves that he fell, when young, into the acquaintance of some sceptical persons who made a jest of all religion and treated both its precepts and its mysteries as inventions subservient to priestcraft. Such notions are too easily imbibed by those who are desirous to indulge their vicious inclinations, and Reeves being of this stamp, greedily listened to all discourses of such a nature.

Amongst some of these companions who had cheated him out of his religion, he found some also inclined to practise the same freedom they taught, encouraged both by precept and example. Tom soon became the most conspicuous of the gang. His boldness and activity preferred him generally to be a leader in their adventures, and he had such good luck, in several of his first attempts, that he picked up as much as maintained him in that extravagant and superfluous manner of life in which he most of all delighted. One John Hartly was his constant companion in his debauches, and generally speaking an assistant in his crimes. Both of them in the evening of the ninth of March, 1722, attacked one Roger Worebington, near Shoreditch, as he was going across the fields on some business. Hartly gave him a blow on the head with his pistol, after which Reeves bid him stand, and whistling, four more of the gang came up, seized him, and knocked him down. They stripped him stark naked and carried away all his clothes, tying him hand and foot in a cruel manner and leaving him in a ditch hard by. However he was relieved, and Reeves and Hartly being soon after taken, they were both tried and convicted for this fact.

After the passing sentence, Reeves behaved himself with much indifference, his own principles stuck by him, and he had so far satisfied himself by considering the necessity of dying, and coined a new religion of his own, that he never believed the soul in any danger, but had very extensive notions of the mercy of God, which he thought was too great to punish with eternal misery those souls which He had created. This criminal was, indeed, of a very odd temper, for sometimes he would both pray and read to the rest of the prisoners, and at other times he would talk loosely and divert them from their duty, often making enquiries as to curious points, and to be informed whether the soul went immediately into bliss or torment, or whether, as some Christians taught, they went through an intermediate state? All which he spoke of with an unconcernedness scarce to be conceived, and as it were rather out of curiosity than that he thought himself in any danger of eternal punishment hereafter.

Hartly, on the other hand, was a fellow of a much softer disposition, showed very great fear, and looked in great confusion at the approach of death. He got six persons dressed in white to go to the Royal Chapel and petition for a pardon, he being to marry one of them in case it had been procured, but they failed in the attempt, and he appeared less sensible than ever when he found that death was not to be evaded.

At the place of execution, Reeves not only preserved that resolution with which he had hitherto borne up against his misfortunes, but when the mob pushed down one of the horses that drew the cart, and it leaning sideways so that Reeves was thereby half hanged, to ease himself of his misery he sprung over at once and finished the execution.

Hartly wept and lamented exceedingly his miserable condition, and the populace much pitied him, for he was not twenty years of age at the time he died; but Reeves was about twenty-eight years of age, when he suffered, which was at the same time with John Thomson, before mentioned.

The Life of RICHARD WHITTINGHAM, a Footpad and Street robber

Though there have been some instances of felons adhering so closely together as not to give up one another to Justice, even for the sake of saving life, yet are such instances very rare, and examples of the contrary very common.

Richard Whittingham was a young man of very good natural inclinations, had he not been of too easy a temper, and ready to yield to the inducements of bad women. His friends had placed him as an apprentice to a hot-presser, with whom he lived very honestly for some time; but at last, the idle women with whom he conversed continually pressing him for money in return for their lewd favours, he was by that means drawn in to run away from his master, and subsist by picking pockets. In the prosecution of this trade, he contracted an infamous friendship with Jones, Applebee and Lee, three notorious villains of the same stamp, with whom he committed abundance of robberies in the streets, especially by cutting off women's pockets, and such other exploits. This, he pretended, was performed with great address and regularity, for he said that after many consultations, 'twas resolved to attack persons only in broad streets for the future, from whence they found it much less troublesome to escape than when they committed them in alleys and such like close places, whereupon a pursuit once begun, they seldom or never missed being taken. He added, that when they had determined to go out to plunder, each had his different post assigned him, and that while one laid his leg before a passenger, another gave him a jolt on the shoulders, and as soon as he was down a third came to their assistance, whereupon they immediately went to stripping and binding those who were so unlucky as thus to fall into their hands. Upon Applebee's being apprehended, and himself impeached, Whittingham withdrew to Rochester, with an intent to have gone out of the kingdom, but after all he could not prevail with himself to quit his native country.

On his return to London, he fled for sanctuary to the house of his former master, who treated him with great kindness, supplied him with work, sent up his victuals privately, and did all in his power to conceal him. But Jones and Lee, his former companions, found means to discover him as they had already impeached him, and so, on their evidence and that of the prosecutor, he was convicted of robbing William Garnet, in the area of Red Lion Square, when Applebee knocked him down, and Jones and Lee held their hands upon his eyes, and crammed his own neck-cloth down his throat.

When he found he was to die, he was far from behaving himself obstinately, but as far as his capacity would give him leave, endeavoured to pray, and to fit himself for his approaching dissolution. He had married a young wife, for whom he expressed a very tender affection, and seemed more cast down with the thoughts of those miseries to which she would be exposed by his death, than he was at what he himself was to suffer.

During the time he lay in the condemned hold, he complained often of the great interruptions those under sentence of death met with from some prisoners who were confined underneath, and who, through the crevice, endeavoured as usual, by talking to them lewdly and profanely, to disturb them even in their last moments. At the place of execution he wept bitterly, and seemed to be much affrighted at death and very sorry for his having committed those crimes which brought him thither. He was but nineteen years old when he suffered, which was on the 21st of May, 1722.

The Life of JAMES BOOTY, a Ravisher

Such is the present depravity of human nature that we have sometimes instances of infant criminals and children meriting death by their crimes, before they know or can be expected to know how to do anything to live. Perhaps there was never a stronger instance of this than in James Booty, of whom we are now speaking. He was a boy rather without capacity than obstinate, whose inclinations, one would have expected, could hardly have attained to that pitch of wickedness in thought, which it appeared both by evidence and his own confessions, he had actually practised. His father was a peruke-maker in Holborn, and not in so bad circumstances but that he could have afforded him a tolerable education, if he had not been snatched away by death. Thus his son was left to the care of his mother, who put him to a cabinet-maker, where he might have been bound apprentice if the unhappy accident (for so indeed I think it may be called) had not intervened. It seemed his master had taken a cousin of his, a girl of about fifteen or somewhat more, for a servant. This girl went into the workshop where the boy lay, under pretence of mending his coat, which he had torn by falling upon a hook as he stumbled over the well of the stairs; but instead of darning the hole, she went to bed to the boy, put out the candle, and gave him the foul distemper.

Not knowing what was the matter with him, but finding continual pains in his body, he made a shift at last to learn the cause from some of the workmen. Not daring to trust even his mother with what was the matter with him, instead of applying to a proper person to be cured, he listened as attentively as he could to all discourses about that distemper, which happened frequently enough amongst his master's journeymen. There he heard some of the foolish fellows say that lying with any person who was sound would cure those who were in such a condition. The extreme anguish of body he was in excited him to try the experiment, and he injured no less than four or five children, between four years old and six, before he committed that act for which he was executed.

He one day carried his master's daughter, Anne Milton, a girl of but five years and two months old, to the top of the house, and there with great violence abused her and gave her the foul disease. The parents were not long before they made the discovery of it, and the child telling them what Booty had done to her, they sent for a surgeon who examined him, and found him in a very sad condition with venereal disease. Upon this he was taken up and committed to Newgate, and upon very full evidence was convicted at the next sessions, and received sentence of death; from which time to the day before he was executed, he was afflicted with so violent a fever as to have little or no sense. But then coming to himself, he expressed a confused sense of religion and penitence, desired to be instructed how to go to Heaven, and showed evident marks of his inclination to do anything which might be for the good of his soul.

At the place of execution he wept and looked dejected, said his mother had sought diligently for the wench who did him the injury, and was the cause of his doing it to so many others; but that although the girl was known to live in Westminster after she left his master, yet his mother was never able to find her. Thus was this young creature removed from the world by an ignominious death at Tyburn, on the 21st May, 1722, being then somewhat above fifteen years old.

The Life of THOMAS BUTLOCK, alias BUTLOGE, a Thief

The foolish pride of wearing fine clothes and making a figure has certainly undone many ordinary people, both by making them live beyond what their labour or trade would allow, and by inducing them to take illegal methods to procure money for that purpose.

Thomas Butlock, otherwise Butloge, which last was his true name, was born in the kingdom of Ireland, about thirty miles east of Dublin, whither his parents had gone from Cheshire (which was their native country) with a gentleman on whom they had a great dependence, and who was settled in Ireland. Though their circumstances were but indifferent, yet they found means to raise as much as put their son apprentice to a vintner in Dublin, and probably, had he ever set up in that business they would have done more. But he had not been long ere what little education he had was lost, and his morals corrupted by the sight of such lewd scenes as passed often in his master's house. However the man was very kind to him, and in return Thomas had so great esteem and affection for his master that when he broke and come over to hide himself at Chester, Butloge frequently stole over to him with small supplies of money and acquainted him with the condition of his family, which he had left behind.

In this precarious manner of life, he spent some time, until finding it impossible for him to subsist any longer by following his master's broken fortunes, he began to lay out for some new employment to get his bread. But after various projects had proved unsuccessful when they came to be executed, he was forced to return into Ireland again, where not long after, he had the good fortune to marry a substantial man's daughter which retrieved his circumstances once more.

But Butloge had always, as he expressed it, an aspiring temper, which put him upon crossing the seas again upon the invitation of a gentleman who, he pretended was a relation, and belonged to the Law, by whose interest he was in hopes of getting into a place. Accordingly, when he came to London, he took lodgings and lived as if he was already in possession of his expectation, which bringing his pocket low, he accepted the service of Mr. Claude Langley, a foreign gentleman, who had lodged in the same house. It cannot be exactly determined how long he had been in his service before he had committed the fact for which he died, but as to the manner it happened thus.

Mr. Langley, as well as all the rest of the family, being out at church, Butloge was sitting by himself in his master's room, looking at the drawers, and knowing that there was a good sum of ready money therein. It then came into his head what a figure he might cut if he had all that money. It occurred to him, at the same time, that his master was scarce able to speak any English, and was obliged to go over to France again in a month's time; so that he persuaded himself that if he could keep out of the way for that month, all would be well, and he should be able to live upon the spoil, without any apprehension of danger. These considerations took up his mind for half an hour; then he put his scheme into execution, broke open the drawers and took from thence twenty-seven guineas, four louis d'ors, and some other French pieces. As soon as he completed the robbery, and was got safe out of town, he went directly to Chester, that he might appear fine (as he himself said) at a place where he was known. His precaution being so little, there is no wonder that he was taken, or that the fact appearing plain, he should be convicted thereon.

After sentence was passed, he laid aside all hopes of life, and without flattering himself as too many do, he prepared for his approaching end. Whatever follies he might have committed in his life, yet he suffered very composedly on the 22nd day of July, 1722, being then about twenty-three years of age.

The Life of NATHANIEL JACKSON, a Highwayman

The various dispositions of men make frequent differences in their progress, either in virtue or vice; some being disposed to cultivate this or that branch of their duty with peculiar diligence, and others, again, plunging themselves in some immoralities they have no taste for.

But as for this unfortunate criminal, Nathaniel Jackson, he seemed to have swept all impurities with a drag net, and to have habituated himself to nothing but wickedness from his cradle. He was the son of a person of some fortune at Doncaster, in Yorkshire, who died when his son Nat was very young, but not, however, till he had given him some education. He was bound by a friend, in whose hands his father left his fortune, to a silk-weaver at Norwich, with whom he lived about three years; but his master restraining his extravagancies, and taking great pains to keep him within the bounds of moderation, Jackson at last grew so uneasy that he ran away from his master, and absconded for some time. But his guardian at last hearing where he was, wrote to him, and advised him to purchase some small place with his fortune, whereon he might live with economy, since he perceived he would do no good in trade. Jackson despised this advice, and instead of thinking of settling, got into the Army, and with a regiment of dragoons went over into Ireland.

There he indulged himself in all the vices and lusts to which he was prone, living in all those debaucheries to which the meanest and most licentious of the common soldiers are addicted; but he more especially gave himself up to lewdness and the conversation of women. This, as it led him into abundance of inconveniences, so at last it engaged him in a quarrel with one of his comrades which ended in a duel. Jackson had the advantage of his antagonist and hacked and wounded him in a most cruel manner. For this, his officers broke him, and he thereby lost the fifteen guineas which he had given to be admitted into the troop; and as men are always apt to be angry with punishment, however justly they receive it, so Jackson imputed his being cashiered to the officers' covetousness, the crime he had committed passing in his own imagination for a very trivial action.

Having from this accident a new employment to seek, he came over to his guardian and stayed with him a while. But growing very soon weary of those restraints which were put upon him there, as he had done at those under his Norwich master, he soon fell into his old courses, got into an acquaintance with lewd women and drunken fellows, with whom he often stayed out all night at the most notorious bawdy houses. This making a great noise, his friends remonstrated in the strongest terms, pointing out to him the wrong he did himself; but finding all their persuasions ineffectual, they told him plainly he must remove. Upon this he came up to London, not without receiving considerable presents from his so much abused friends.

The town was an ill place to amend a man who came into it with dispositions like his. On the contrary, he found still more opportunities for gratifying his lustful inclinations than at any time before, and these lewd debaucheries having reduced him quickly to the last extremity, he was in a fair way to be prevailed on to take any method to gain money. He was in these said circumstances when he met accidentally with John Morphew, an old companion of his in Ireland, and soon after, as they were talking together, they fell upon one O'Brian in a footman's garb, also their acquaintance in Ireland.

He invited them both to go with him to the camp in Hyde Park, and at a sutler's tent there, treated them with as much as they would drink. When he had paid the reckoning, turning about, d'ye see, boys, says he, how full my pockets are of money? Come, I'll teach you to fill yours, if you are but men of courage. Upon this out they walked towards Hampstead, between which place and St. Pancras they met one Dennet, whom they robbed and stripped, taking from him a coat and a waistcoat, two shirts, some hair, thirteen pence in money, and other things. This did not make O'Brian's promise good, all they got being but of inconsiderable value, but it cost poor Jackson his life, though he and Morphew had saved Dennet's when O'Brian would have killed him to prevent discoveries; for Jackson being not long after apprehended, was convicted of the fact, but O'Brian, having timely notice of his commitment, made his escape into Ireland.

As soon as sentence was passed, Jackson thought of nothing but how to prepare himself for another world, there being no probability that interest his friends could make to save him. He made a very ingenious confession of all he knew, and seemed perfectly easy and resigned to that end which the Law had appointed for those who, like him, had injured society. He was about thirty years old at the time of his death, which was on the 18th of July, 1722, at Tyburn.

The Life of JAMES, alias VALENTINE CARRICK, a Notorious Highwayman and Street Robber

Though it has become a very common and fashionable opinion that honour may supply the place of piety, and thereby preserve a morality more beneficial to society than religion, yet if we would allow experience to decide, it will be no very difficult matter to prove that when persons have once given way to certain vices (which in the polite style pass under the denomination of pleasures) rather than forego them they will quickly acquire that may put it in their power to enjoy them, though obtained at the rate of perpetrating the most ignominious offences. If there had not been too much truth in this observation we should hardly find in the list of criminals persons who, like James Carrick, have had a liberal education, and were not meanly descended, bringing themselves to the most miserable of all states and reflecting dishonour upon those from whom they were descended.

This unfortunate person was the son of an Irish gentleman, who lived not far from Dublin, and whom we must believe to have been a man of tolerable fortune, since he provided as well for all his children as to make even this, who was his youngest, an ensign. James was a perfect boy at the time when his commission required him to quit Ireland to repair to Spain, whither, a little before, the regiment wherein he was to serve had been commanded. As he had performed his duty towards the rest of his children, the father was more than ordinarily fond of this his youngest, whom therefore he equipped in a manner rather beyond that capacity in which he was to appear upon his arrival at the army. In his person James was a very beautiful well-shaped young man, of a middle size, and something more than ordinarily genteel in his appearance, as his father had taken care to supply him abundantly for his expenses; so when he came into Spain he spent his money as freely as any officer of twice his pay. His tent was the constant rendezvous of all the beaux who were at that time in the camp, and whenever the army were in quarters, nobody was handsomer, or made a better figure than Mr. Carrick.

Though we are very often disposed to laugh at those stories for fictions which carry in them anything very different from what we see in daily experience, yet as the materials I have for this unfortunate man's life happen both to be full and very exact, I shall not scruple mentioning some of his adventures, which I am persuaded will neither be unpleasant, nor incapable of improving my readers.

The regiment in which Carrick served was quartered at Barcelona, after the taking of that place by the English troops[19] who supported the title of the present Emperor to the crown of Spain. The inhabitants were not only civil, but to the last degree courteous to the English, for whom they always preserved a greater esteem than for any other nation. Carrick, therefore, had frequent opportunities for making himself known and getting into an acquaintance with some of the Spanish cavaliers, who were in the interest of King Charles. Amongst these was Don Raphael de Ponto, a man of fortune and family amongst the Catalans, but, as is usual with the Spaniards, very amorous and continually employed in some intrigue or other. He was mightily pleased with Carrick's humour, and conceived for him a friendship, in which the Spaniards are perhaps more constant and at the same time more zealous, than any other nation in Europe. As Carrick had been bred a Roman Catholic and always continued so, notwithstanding his professing the contrary to those in the Army, so he made no scruple of going to Mass with his Spanish friend, which passed with the English officers only as a piece of complaisance.

Vespers was generally the time when Don Raphael and his English companion used to make their appointments with the ladies, and therefore they were very punctual at those devotions, from a spirit which too often takes up young minds. It happened one evening, when after the Spanish custom they were thus gone forth in quest of adventures, a duenna slipped into Don Raphael's hand a note, by which he was appointed to come under such a window near the convent, in the street of St. Thomas, when the bell of the convent rang in the evening, and was desired to bring his friend, if he were not afraid of a Spanish lady. Don Raphael immediately acquainted his friend, who you may be sure was ready to obey the summons.

When the hour came, and the convent bell rang, our sparks, wrapped up in their cloaks, slipped to their posts under a balcony. They did not wait long there, before the same woman who delivered the note to Don Raphael made her appearance at the window, and throwing down another little billet, exhorted them to be patient a little, and they should not lose their labour. The lovers waited quiet enough for about a quarter of an hour, when the old woman slipped down, and opened a door behind them, at which our sparks entered with great alacrity. The old woman conduced them into a very handsome apartment above stairs, where they were received by two young ladies, as beautiful as they could have wished them. Compliments are not much used on such occasions in Spain, and these gentlemen, therefore, did not make many before they were for coming to the point with the ladies, when of a sudden they heard a great noise upon the stairs, and as such adventures make all men cautious in Spain, they immediately left the ladies, and retiring towards the window, drew their swords. They had hardly clapped their backs against it, before the noise on the stairs ceasing, they felt the floor tremble under their feet, and at last giving way, they both fell into a dark room underneath, where without any other noise than their fall had made, they were disarmed, gagged and bound by some persons placed there for that purpose. When the rogues had finished their search, and taken away everything that was valuable about them, even to ripping the gold lace off Carrick's clothes, they let them lie there for a considerable time, and at last removed them in two open chests to the middle of the great marketplace, where they left them to wait for better fortune. They had not remained there above a quarter of an hour, before Carrick's sergeant went the rounds with a file of musketeers. Carrick hearing his voice, made as much noise as he was able, and that bringing the sergeant and his men to the place where they were set, their limbs and mouths were immediately released from bondage.

The morning following, as soon as Carrick was up, the Spanish gentleman's major domo came to wait upon him, and told him that his master being extremely ill, had desired him to make his compliments to his English friend in order to supply the defects of the letter he sent him, which by reason of his indisposition was very short. Having said this, the Spaniard presented him with a letter, and a little parcel, and then withdrew. Carrick did not know what to make of all this, but as soon as the stranger was withdrawn, opened his packet in order to discover what it contained. He found in it a watch, a diamond ring, and a note on a merchant for two hundred pieces-of-eight, which was the sum Carrick (to make himself look great) said he had lost by the accident. The note at the same time informing him that Don Raphael de Ponto thought it but just to restore to him what he had lost by accompanying him in the former night's adventures.

After Carrick returned into England, though he had no longer his commission, or indeed any other way of living, yet he could not lay aside those vices in which hitherto he had indulged himself. When he had any money he entertained a numerous train of the most abandoned women of the town, and had also intrigues at the same time with some of the highest rank of those prostitutes. To the latter he applied himself when his pocket first began to grow low, and they supplied him as long, and as far as they were able. But, alas! their contributions went but a little way towards supporting his expenses. Happening about that time to fall into an acquaintance with Smith, his countryman, after a serious consultation on ways and means to support their manner of living, they came at last to a resolution of taking a purse on the road, and joined company soon afterwards with Butler, another Irish robber, who was executed some time before them on the evidence of this very Carrick. When Carrick's elder brother heard of this in Ireland, he wrote to him in the most moving terms, beseeching him to consider the sad end to which he was running headlong, and the shame and ignominy with which he covered his family and friends, exhorting him at the same time not to cast away all hopes of doing well, but to think of returning to Dublin, where he assured him he would meet him, and provide handsomely for him, notwithstanding all that was past.

But Carrick little regarded this good advice, or the kind overtures made him by his brother. No sooner had he procured his liberty but he returned to his old profession, and committed a multitude of robberies on Finchley Common, Hounslow and Bagshot Heaths, spending all the money he got on women of the town, at the gaming table, and in fine clothes, which last was the thing in which he seemed most to delight. But money not coming in very quick by these methods, he with Molony, Carrol and some others of his countrymen, began to rob in the streets, and by that means got great sums of money. They continued this practice for a long space of time with safety, but being one night out in Little Queen Street, by Lincoln's Inn Fields, between one and two in the morning they stopped a chair in which was the Hon. William Young, Esq., from whom they took a gold watch, valued at £50, a sword, and forty guineas in money. Carrick thrust his pistol into the chair, Carrol watched at a distance, while Molony, perceiving the gentleman hesitate a little in delivering, said with a stern voice, Your money, sir! Do you trifle? It was a very short time after the commission of this robbery that both he and his companion Molony were taken, Carrol making a timely escape to his native kingdom. While James Carrick remained in Newgate, his behaviour was equally singular and indecent, for he affected to pass his time with the same gaiety in his last moments as he had spent it in the former part of his days.

Throngs of people, as it is but too much the custom, came to see him in Newgate, to whom, as if he had intended that they should not lose their curiosity, he told all the adventures of his life, with the same air and gaiety as if he had been relating them at some gaming ordinaries. This being told about town, drew still greater heaps of company upon him, which he received with the same pleasantness; by which means he daily increased them, and by that means the gain of the keepers at Newgate, who took money to show him. Upon this he said to them merrily one day: You pay, good folks, for seeing me now, but if you had suspended your curiosity 'till I went to Tyburn, you might have seen me for nothing. This was the manner in which he talked and lived even to the last, conversing until the time of his death with certain loose women who had been his former favourites, and whom no persuasions could engage him to banish from his presence while he yet had eyes, and could behold them in his sight.

At the place of execution, where it often happens that the most daring offenders drop that resolution on which they foolishly value themselves, Carrick failed not in the least. He gave himself genteel airs (as Mr. Purney, the then Ordinary, phrases it) in placing the rope about his neck, smiled and bowed to everybody he knew round him, and continued playing a hundred little tricks of the same odd nature, until the very instant the cart drove away, declaring himself to be a Roman Catholic, and that he was persuaded he had made his peace with God in his own way. In this temper he finished his life at Tyburn, on the 18th of July, 1722, being then about twenty-seven years of age.


This was in 1705, by an expedition commanded by the Earl of Peterborough.

The Life of John MOLONY, a Highwayman and Street Robber

John Molony was an Irishman likewise, born at Dublin and sent to sea when very young. He served in the fleets which during the late Queen's reign sailed into the Mediterranean, and happening to be on board a ship which was lost, he with some other sailors, was called to a very strict account for that misfortune, upon some presumption that they were accessory thereto. Afterwards he sailed in a vessel of war which was fitted out against the pirates, and had therein so good luck that if his inclinations had been honest, he might certainly have settled very handsomely in the world. But that was far from his intention; he liked a seaman's pleasures, drinking and gaming, and when on shore, lewd women, the certain methods of being brought to such ways of getting money as end in a shameful death.

When abroad, his adventures were not many, because he had little opportunity of going on shore, yet one happened in Sicily which made a very great impression upon him, and which it may not therefore be improper to relate. There were two merchants at Palermo, both young men, and perfectly skilled in the arts of traffic; they had had a very liberal education, and had been constant friends and companions together. The intimacy they had so long continued was cemented by their marriage with two sisters. They lived very happily for the space of about two years, and in all probability might have continued to do so much longer, had not the duenna who attended one of their wives, died, and a new one been put in her place. Not knowing the young ladies' brothers, upon their speaking to them at Church, she gave notice of it to the husband of her whom she attended, and he immediately posting to his neighbour, the woman told them both that their wives, notwithstanding all she could say, were talking to two well-dressed cavaliers, which the duenna who waited on the other, notwithstanding the duties of her post, saw without taking any notice. This so exasperated the jealousy of the Sicilians that without more ado they ran to the church, and meeting with their spouses coming out from thence with an air of gaiety, seized them, and stabbed them dead with a little dagger, which for that purpose each had concealed under his coat. Then flying into the church for sanctuary, they discovered their mistake, when one of them, seized with fury at the loss of a wife of whom he was so extravagantly fond, stabbed the other, though not mortally, and with many repeated wounds murdered the duenna, whose rash error had been the occasion of spilling so much blood.

Upon Molony's return to England, he was totally out of all business, and minded nothing but haunting the gaming tables, living on the charity of his fortunate countrymen when his luck was bad, and relieving them, in turn, when he had a favourable run at dice. It was at one of these houses that he became acquainted with Carrick, and the likeness of their tempers creating a great intimacy, after a short knowledge of one another they joined with Carrol, a fellow as wicked as themselves, but much more cruel, and were all concerned in that robbery for which Carrick and Molony died.

When these two criminals came to be tried at the Old Bailey, their behaviour was equally ludicrous, silly and indecent; affecting to rally the evidence that was produced against them, and to make the people smile at their premeditated bulls. Carrick, was a lean, fair man, and stood at the left hand corner of the bar; Molony was a larger built man, who wore a browner wig. Carrick took occasion to ask Mr. Young, when he stood up to give his evidence, which side of the chair it was he stood on, when he robbed him. Mr. Young answered him, that he stood on the right side. Why now, what a lie that is, returned Carrick, you know Molony, I stood on the left. Before the people recovered themselves from laughing at this, Molony asked him what coloured wig he took him to have on at the time the robbery was committed; being answered it was much the same colour with that he had on then, There's another story, quoth Molony, you know, Carrick, I changed wigs with you that morning, and wore it all day.

Yet after sentence was passed, Molony laid aside all airs of gaiety, and seemed to be thoroughly convinced he had mistaken the true path of happiness. He did not care to see company, treated the Ordinary civilly when he spoke to him, though he professed himself a Papist, and was visited by a clergymen of that Church.

As he was going to the place of execution, he still looked graver and mote concerned; though he did not fall into those agonies of sighing and tears as some do, but seemed to bear his miserable state with great composedness and resignation, saying he had repented as well as he could in the short time allowed him, suffering the same day with the two last mentioned malefactors.

The Life of THOMAS WILSON, a Notorious Footpad

It happens so commonly in the world, that I am persuaded that none of my readers but must have remarked that there is a certain settled and stupid obstinacy in some tempers which renders them capable of persevering in any act, how wicked and villainous soever, without either reluctancy at the time of its commission, or a capacity of humbling themselves so far as to acknowledge and ask pardon for their offences when detected or discovered. Of this rugged disposition was the criminal we are now to speak of.

Thomas Wilson was born of parents not in the worst of circumstances, in the neighbourhood of London. They educated him both in respect of learning and other things as well as their capacity would give them leave; but Thomas, far from making that use of it that they desired, addicted himself wholly to ill practices, that is to idleness, and those little crimes of spoiling others, and depriving them of their property, which an evil custom has made pass for trivial offences in England. But it seems the parents of Wilson did not think so, but both reprimanded him and corrected him severely whenever he robbed orchards, or any other such like feats as passed for instances of a quick spirit and ingenuity in children with less honest and religious parents.

But these restraints grew quickly so grievous to Thomas's temper, that he, observing that his parents, notwithstanding their correction, were really fond of him, bethought himself of a method of conquering their dislike to his recreations. Therefore stealing away from his home, he rambled for a considerable space in the world, subsisting wholly upon such methods as he had before used for his recreation. But this project was so far from taking effect, that his parents, finding him incorrigible, looked very coldly upon him, and instead of fondling him the more for this act of disobedience, treated him as one whom they foresaw would be a disgrace to their family and of whom they had now very little or no hope.

Wilson perceiving this, out of the natural sourness of his temper resolved to abandon them totally, which he did, and went to sea without their consent or notice. But men of his cast being very ill-suited to that employment, where the strictest obedience is required towards those who are in command, Wilson soon brought himself into very unhappy circumstances by his moroseness and ill-behaviour; for though he was but thirteen when he went to sea, and never made but one voyage to the Baltic, yet in that space he was fourteen times whipped and pickled and six times hung by the heels and lashed for the villainies he committed on the ship.

Upon this return into England, he was so thoroughly mortified by this treatment that he went home to his friends, and as far as his surly humour would give him leave, made his submission and promised more obedience and better behaviour for the future. They then took him in, and were in some hopes that they should now reclaim him. Accordingly they placed him with a sawyer, by Fleet Ditch, which at his first coming to the business seemed to him to be a much lighter work than that he had endured in the space of his being at sea. He served four years honestly, indeed, and with as much content as a person of his unsettled mind could enjoy in any state; but at the end of that space, good usage had so far spoiled him that he longed to be at liberty again, though at the expense of another sea voyage. Accordingly, leaving his master, he went away again on board of a merchantman bound for the Straits. During the time which the ship lay in port for her loading, he contracted some distemper from the heat of the country, and his immoderate love of its wine and the fruits that grow there. These brought him very low, and he falling at the same time into company of some bad women, made an addition to his former ails by adding one of the worst and most painful of all distempers to the miseries he before endured.

In this miserable condition, more like a ghost than a man, he shipped himself at last for England in a vessel, the captain of which out of charity gave him his passage home. The air of that climate in which he was born, recovered him to a miracle. Soon after which being, I suppose, cured also of those maladies which had attended the Spanish women's favours, he fell in love with a very honest industrious young woman, and quickly prevailed with her to marry him. But her friends discovering what a profligate life he led, resolved she should not share in the misfortunes such a measure would be sure to draw upon him, wherefore they took her away from him. How crabbed soever this malefactor might be towards others, yet so affectionately fond was he of his wife that the taking of her away made him not only uneasy and melancholy, but drove him also into distraction. To relieve his grief, at first he betook himself to those companies that afterwards led him to the courses which brought on his death, and in almost all the villainies he committed afterwards he was hardly ever sober, so much did the loss of his wife, and the remorse of his course of the life he led affect him, whenever he allowed himself coolly to reflect thereon.

The crew he had engaged himself in were the most notorious and the most cruel footpads which for many years had infested the road. The robberies they committed were numerous and continual, and the manner in which they perpetrated them base and inhuman. For, seldom going out with pistols (the sight of which serves often to terrify passengers out of their money, without offering them any other injury than what arises from their own apprehensions) these villains provided themselves with large sticks, loaded at the end with lead; with these, from behind a hedge, they were able to knock down passengers as they walked along the road, and then starting from their covert, easily plunder and bind them if they thought proper. They had carried on this detestable practice for a long space in almost all those roads which lead to the little villages whither people go for pleasure from the hurry and noise of London.

Amongst many other robberies which they committed, it happened that in the road to Bow they met a footman, whom without speaking to, they knocked down as soon as they had passed him. The fellow was so stunned with the fall, and so frighted with their approach, that be made not the least resistance while they took away his money and his watch, stripped him of his hat and wig, his waistcoat and a pair of silver buckles; but when one of them perceiving a ring of some value upon his finger, went to tear it off, he begged him in the most moving terms to leave it, because it had been given to him by his lady, who would never forgive the loss of it. However it happened, he who first went to take it off, seemed to relent at the fellow's repeated entreaties, but Wilson catching hold of the fellow's hand, dragged it off at once, saying at the same time, Sirrah, I suppose you are your lady's stallion, and the ring comes as honestly to us as it did to you.

A few days after this adventure, Wilson being got very drunk, thought he would go out on the road himself, in hopes of acquiring a considerable booty without being obliged to share it with his companions. He had not walked above half an hour, before he overtook a man laden with several little glazed pots and other things, which being tied up in a cloth, he had hung upon the end of a stick and carried on his shoulder. Wilson coming behind him with one of those loaded sticks that I have mentioned, knocked him down by the side of the ditch, and immediately secured his bundle. But attempting to rifle him farther, his foot slipped, he being very full of liquor, and he tumbled backwards into the ditch. The poor man took that opportunity to get up and run away, and so soon as he could recover himself, Wilson retreated to one of those evil houses that entertain such people, in order to see what great purchase he had got; but upon opening the cloth, he was not a little out of humour at finding four pots, each filled with a pound of rappee snuff, and as many galley pots of scented pomatum.

Some nights after this expedition, he and one of his companions went out on the like errand, and had not been long in the fields before they perceived one Mr. Cowell, near Islington. Wilson's companion immediately resolved to attack him, but Wilson himself was struck with such a terror that he begged him to desist, from an apprehension that the man knew him; but that not prevailing with his associate, they robbed him of a hat and wig, and about a shilling in money. Wilson was quickly apprehended, but his companion having notice thereof, saved himself by a flight into Holland. At the ensuing sessions Wilson was indicted, not only for this fact, but for many others of a like nature, to all of which he immediately pleaded guilty, declaring that as he had done few favours to mankind, so he would never expect any.

After sentence of death was pronounced upon him, he laid aside much of his stubbornness, and not only applied himself to the duties of religion which are recommended to persons in his unhappy condition to practice, but also offered to make any discoveries he was able which might tend to satisfying the Justice of his country or the benefit of society. In pursuance of which he wrote a paper, which he delivered with much ceremony at the place of execution, and which though penned in none of the best styles, I have yet thought convenient to annex in his own words.

Being questioned with respect of several of his companions who are very well known, but whom, notwithstanding all the search had been made after them, no discovery could be made so as they might be apprehended and brought to justice, Wilson declared that as for three of the most notorious, they had made their escape into Holland some time before he was apprehended; two others were in Newgate for trivial offences, and another (whom he would not name) was retired into Warwickshire, had married there, and led a very honest and industrious life.

At the place of execution he seemed less daunted than any of the malefactors who suffered with him, showed himself several times by standing up to the spectators, before the rope was fastened about his neck, and told them that he hoped they would give no credit to any spurious accounts which might be published of him; because whatever he thought might be necessary for them to know, he had digested in a paper which he had delivered the Sunday before he died, in order to be communicated to the public. He added, that since he had been in the cart, he had been informed that one Phelps had been committed to Newgate for a robbery mentioned by him in his paper. He said, as he was a dying man, he knew nothing of Phelps, and that he was not in any manner whatsoever concerned in that robbery for which he had been apprehended. He then put the rope about his neck, and submitted to his death with great resolution, being then about twenty years of age, and the day he suffered the 26th of July, 1722.

The Paper delivered by the above mentioned criminal the day before his execution.

I, Thomas Wilson, desire it may be known that I was in a horse-way that lies between Highgate and Hornsey, where meeting a man and a woman, they enquired the way to Upper Holloway. We directed them across the fields; meantime we drank two pints of ale to hearten us, then followed them, and robbed them of two shillings and some half pence, the woman's apron, her hat and coloured handkerchief. We left them without misusing them, though there were thoughts of doing it. My companion that robbed with me is gone to Holland upon hearing I was taken up, though I should not have impeached him, but his friends lived in Holland. Another robbery we committed was by a barn in the footpath near Pancras Church of a hat and tie-wig, and cane, and some goods he was carrying, but we heard he had a considerable sum of money about him; but he ran away and I ran after him, but I being drunk he escaped, and I was glad to get off safe. We robbed two other men near Copenhagen House of a coat and waistcoat. I committed many street robberies about Lincoln's Inn. For these and for all other sins, I pray God and Man to pardon me, especially for shooting the pistol off before Justice Perry, at my friend's adversary, and am very glad I did not kill him.

The Lives of ROBERT WILKINSON and JAMES LINCOLN, Murderers and Footpads

Robert Wilkinson, like abundance of other unhappy young men, contracted in his youth a liking to idleness, and an aversion to all sorts of work and labour, and applied himself for a livelihood hardly to anything that was honest. The only employment he ever pretended to was that of a prize fighter or boxer at Hockley-in-the-Hole,[20] where, as a fellow of prodigious dexterity, though low in stature, and very small limbed, he was much taken notice of. And as is usual for persons who have long addicted themselves to such a way of living, he had contracted an inhumanity of temper which made him little concerned at the greatest miseries be saw others suffer, and even regardless of what might happen to himself. The set of villains into whose society he had joined himself, viz., Carrick who was executed, Carrol who made his escape into Ireland, Lincoln of whom we shall speak afterwards, Shaw and Burridge before mentioned, and William Lock, perpetrated together a prodigious number of villainies often attended with cruel and bloody acts.

Some of these fellows, it seems, valued themselves much on the ferocity they exerted in the war they carried on against the rest of mankind, amongst which Wilkinson might be justly reckoned, being ever ready to second any bloody proposal, and as unwilling to comply with any good-natured one. An instance of this happened in the case of two gentlemen whom Shaw, he and Burridge attacked near Highgate. Not contented with robbing them of about forty shillings, their watches and whatever else about 'em was valuable, Wilkinson, after they were dismounted, knocked one of them into a ditch, where he would have strangled him with his hand if one of his comrades had not hindered him. The man pleaded all the while the other held him, that he was without arms, incapable of making any resistance, and that it was equally base and barbarous to injure him, who neither could, nor would attempt to pursue him. Though this fact was very fully proved, yet Wilkinson strongly denied it, as indeed he did almost everything, though nothing was more notorious than that he had lived by these wicked courses for a very considerable time.

Having had occasion to mention this gang with whom Wilkinson was concerned, it may not be improper to acquaint my readers with an adventure of one Calhagan and Disney, two Irish robbers of the same crew. One of them had persuaded a gentleman's housekeeper, of about thirty-five, that he was extremely in love with her, passing at the same time for a gentleman of fortune in the kingdom of Ireland, the brogue being too strong upon his tongue for him to deny his country. He met her frequently, and made her not a few visits, even at her master's house, taking care all the while to keep up the greatest form of ceremony, as though to a person whom he designed to make his wife. His companion attended on him with great respect as his tutor or gentleman, appearing at first very much dissatisfied with his making his addresses to a woman so much beneath him, but as the affair went on pretending to be so much taken with her wit, prudence and genteel behaviour, that he said his master had made an excellent choice, and advised him to delay his marriage no longer than till he had settled his affairs with his guardian, naming as such a certain noble lord of unquestioned character and honour. These pretences prevailing on the credulity of an old maid, who like most of her species was fond of the company of young fellows, and in raptures at the thoughts of a lover, she thought it a prodigious long while till these accounts were made up, enquiring wherever she went, when such a lord would come to town. She heard, at last, with great satisfaction, that he would certainly come over from Ireland that summer.

The family in which she lived, going out of town as usual, left her in charge of the house; as there was nobody but herself and an under maid, her lover often visited her, and at last told her that on such a day my Lord had appointed to settle his affairs and to deliver up all his trust. The evening of this day, the gentleman and his tutor came and brought with them a bundle of papers and parchments, which they pretended were the instruments which had been signed on this occasion. After making merry with the housekeeper and the maid on a supper which they had sent from the tavern, the elder of them at last pulls out his watch, and said, Come, 'tis time to do business, 'tis almost one o'clock. Upon which the other arose, seized the housekeeper, to whom he had so long paid his addresses, and clapped an ivory gag into her mouth, while his companion did the same thing by the other. Then putting out all the candles, having first put one into a dark lanthorn they had brought on purpose, they next led the poor creatures up and down the house, till they had shown them the several places where the plate, linen, jewels and other valuable things belonging to the family were laid. After having bundled up these they threw them down upon the floor, tied their ankles to one another, and left them hanging, one on one side, and the other on the other side of the parlour door; in which posture they were found the next day at noon, at the very point of expiring, their blood having stagnated about their necks, which put them into the greatest danger.

But to return to Wilkinson. One night, he with his companions Lincoln and William Lock came up with one Peter Martin, a poor pensioner of Chelsea College, whom they stopped. Wilkinson held him down and Lincoln knocked him down on his crying out for help; afterwards taking him up, he would have led him along, and Wilkinson pricked him with his sword in the shoulders and buttocks for some time, to make him advance, till William Lock cried out to them, How should ye expect the man to go forward when he is dead.

For this murder and for a robbery committed by them with Carrick and Carrol they were both capitally convicted. Wilkinson behaved himself to the time of his execution very morosely, and when pressed, at the place of execution, to unburden his conscience as to the crime for which he died, he answered peremptorily that he knew nothing of the murder, nor of Lincoln who died with him, until they were apprehended; adding, that as to hanging in chains he did not value it, but he had no business to tell lies, to make himself guilty of things he never did. Three days and three nights before the time of his death, he abstained totally from meat and drink, which rendered him so faint that he had scarce strength enough to speak at the tree.

James Lincoln, who died with him for the aforesaid cruel murder, was a fellow of a more docile and gentle temper than Wilkinson, owned abundance of the offences he had been guilty of, and had designed, as he himself owned, to have robbed the Duke of Newcastle of his gaiter ornaments, as he returned from the instalment. Notwithstanding these confessions, he persisted, as well as Wilkinson, in utterly denying that he knew anything of the murder of the pensioner, and saying that he forgave William Lock who had sworn himself and them into it. Wilkinson was at the time of his execution about thirty-five years old, and James Lincoln somewhat under. They died at the same time with the afore-mentioned malefactor, Wilson, at Tyburn.


This was near Clerkenwell Green. It was a famous Bear Garden and the scene of various prize-fights to which public challenges were issued. Cunningham quotes a curious one for the year 1722:—"I, Elizabeth Wilkinson, of Clerkenwell, having had some words with Hannah Hyfield, and requiring satisfaction, do invite her to meet me on the stage and box with me for three guineas, each woman holding half-a-crown in each hand, and the first woman that drops her money to lose the battle" (this was to prevent scratching). The acceptance ran, "I, Hannah Hyfield, of Newgate Market, hearing of the resoluteness of Elizabeth Wilkinson, will not fail, God willing, to give her more blows than words, desiring home blows and from her no favour."

The Life of MATTHIAS BRINSDEN, a Murderer

Though all offences against the laws of God and the land are highly criminal in themselves, as well as fatal in their consequences, yet there is certainly some degree in guilt; and petty thieveries and crimes of a like nature seem to fall very short in comparison of the atrocious guilt of murder and the imbrueing one's hands in blood, more especially when a crime of so deep a dye in itself is heightened by aggravating circumstances.

Matthias Brinsden, who is to be the subject of our present narration, was a man in tolerable circumstances at the time the misfortune happened to him for which he died. He had several children by his wife whom he murdered, and with whom he had lived in great uneasiness for a long time. The deceased Mrs. Brinsden was a woman of a great spirit, much addicted to company and not a little to drinking. This had occasioned many quarrels between her and her husband on the score of those extravagancies she was guilty of, Mr. Brinsden thinking it hard that she should squander away his money when he had a large family, and scarce knew how to maintain it.

Their quarrels frequently rose to such a height as to alarm the neighbourhood, the man being of a cruel, and the woman of an obstinate temper, and it seemed rather a wonder that the murder had not ensued before than that it happened when it did, they seldom falling out and fighting without drawing blood, or having some grievous accident or other happening therefrom. Once he burnt her arms with a red-hot iron, and but a week before her death he ran a great pair of scissors into her skull, which covered her with blood, and made him and all who saw her think he had murdered her then. But after bleeding prodigiously she came a little to herself, and on the application of proper remedies recovered. Brinsden, in the meanwhile fled, and was hardly prevailed with to return, upon repeated assurances that she was in no danger, promising himself that if she escaped with life then, he would never suffer himself to be so far transported with passion as to do her an injury again.

The fatal occasion of that quarrel which produced the immediate death of the woman, warm with liquor, and in the midst of passion, and which soon after brought on a shameful and ignominious end to the man himself, happened by Mrs. Brinsden's drinking cheerfully with some company at home, and after their going away, demanding of her husband what she should have for supper? He answered, bread and cheese; to which the deceased replied that she thought bread and cheese once a day was enough, and as she had eaten it for dinner, she would not eat it for supper. Brinsden said, she should have no better than the rest of his family, who were like to be contented with the same, except his eldest daughter for whom he had provided a pie, and towards whom on all occasions he showed a peculiar affection, occasioned as he said, from the care she took of his other children and of his affairs, though malicious and ill-natured people gave out that it sprang from a much worse and, indeed, the basest of reasons.

On the discourse I have mentioned between him and his wife, Mrs. Brinsden in a violent passion declared she would go to the general shop and sup with her friends, who were gone from her but a little before. He, therefore, having got between her and the door, having the knife in his hand with which he cut the bread and cheese, and she still persisting with great violence in endeavouring to go out, he threw her down with one hand and stabbed her with the other. This is the account of this bloody action as it was sworn against him at his trial by his own daughter, though he persisted in it that what she called throwing down was only gently laying her on the bed after she received the blow, which as he averred happened only by chance, and her own pressing against him as the knife was in his hand. However that was, he sent for basilicon and sugar to dress the wound, in hopes she might at least recover so far as to declare there was no malice between them, but those endeavours were in vain, for she never spoke after.

In the meanwhile, Brinsden took occasion during the bustle that this sad accident occasioned, and fled to one Mr. Kegg's at Shadwell Dock, where, though for some small space he continued safe, yet the terrors and apprehensions he was under were more choking and uneasy than all the miseries he experienced after his being taken up. Such is the weight of blood, and such the dreadful condition of the wicked.

At his trial he put on an air of boldness and intrepidity, saying that though the clamour of the town was very strong against him, yet he hoped it would not make an impression to his disadvantage on the jury, since the death of his wife happened with no premeditated design. The surgeon who examined the wound, having deposed that it was six inches deep, he objected to his evidence by observing that the knife, when produced in Court, was not quite so long. He pleaded also, very strongly, the insupportable temper of his wife, and said she was of such a disposition that nothing would do with her but blows. But all this signifying little, the evidence of this daughter appearing also full and direct against him, the jury showed very small regard to his excuses, and after a short reflection on the evidence, they found him guilty.

Under sentence he behaved himself indolently and sottishly, doing nothing but eat his victuals and doze in his bed; thinking it at the same time a very great indignity that he should be obliged to take up with those thieves and robbers who were in the same state of condemnation with himself, always behaving himself towards then very distantly, and as if it would have been a great debasement to him if he had joined with them in devotion.

His daughter who had borne witness against him at his trial, came to him at chapel and begged his forgiveness, even for having testified the truth. At first he turned away from her with much indignation; the second day she came, after great entreaty and persuasion of his friends, he at last muttered out, I forgive you. But the girl coming the third day and earnestly desiring he would kiss her, which at first he refused, and at last turning to her and weeping lamentably, he took her in his arms, and said: For Christ's sake, my child, forgive me. I have robbed you of your own mother. Be a good child, rather die than steal, never be in a passion, but curb your anger. Honour your mistress, for she will be both a father and a mother to you. Pray for your father and think of him as well as you can.

At the place of execution he composed himself to suffer with as much patience as he could, and while the rest threw books and handkerchiefs to their friends, he seemed wrapped up in a profound meditation, out of which he drew himself as soon as prayers began and assisted with much cheerfulness and attention. When they were ended he stood up and desiring the Ordinary to repeat after him the following speech, which he dictated word for word as I have transcribed it, seeming most passionately affected with the reflection the world had cast on himself and daughter, as my readers will perceive from the speech itself. After the making of which, he was immediately turned off, on the sixteenth of July, 1722.

The last speech of Matthias Brinsden

I was born of kind parents, who gave me learning, and went apprentice to a fine-drawer. I had often jars which might increase a natural waspishness in my temper. I fell in love with Hannah, my late wife, and after much difficulty won her, she having five sisters at the same time. We had ten children (half of them dead) and I believe we loved each other dearly, but often quarrelled and fought. Pray good people mind, I had no malice against her, nor thought to kill her, two minutes before the deed, but I designed only to make her obey me thoroughly, which the Scripture says all wives should do. This I thought I had done, when I cut her skull on Monday, but she was the same again by Tuesday.

Good people, I request you to observe that though the world has spitefully given out that I carnally and incestuously lay with my eldest daughter, I here solemnly declare, as I am entering into the presence of God, I never knew whether she was man or woman, since she was a babe. I have often taken her in my arms, often kissed her, sometimes given her a cake or a pie, when she did any particular service beyond what came to her share, but never lay with her, or carnally knew her, much less had a child by her. But when a man is in calamities and is hated like me, the women will make surmises into certainties. Good Christians pray for me, I deserve death, I am willing to die, for though my sins are great, God's mercies are greater.

The Life of EDMUND NEAL, a Footpad

Of all the unhappy wretches whose ends I have recorded that their examples may be of the more use to mankind, there is none perhaps which be more useful, if well considered, than this of Edmund Neal Though there be nothing in it very extraordinary, yet it contains a perfect picture of low pleasures for which men sacrifice reputation and happiness, and go on in a voluptuous dream till they awake to temporal and, but for the mercy of God, to eternal death.

This Edmund Neal was the son of a father of the same name, a blacksmith in a market town in Warwickshire. He was one of those mechanics who, from a particular observance of the foibles of human nature, insinuate themselves into the good graces of those who employ them, and from being created as something even beneath a servant, grow up at last into a confidence to which it would not be improper to affix the name of a friend. This Edmund Neal senior had by this method climbed (by a little skill he had in horses) from paring off their hoofs, to directing of their riders, until in short there was scarce a sporting squire in the neighbourhood but old Edmund was of his privy council. Yet though he got a vast deal of money, he took very little care of the education of his son, whom he scarce allowed as much learning as would enable him to read a chapter; but notwithstanding this, he carried him about with him wherever he went, as if the company of gentlemen, though he was unable to converse with them, would have been sufficient to improve him.

The scenes young Neal saw at the houses whither his father carried him, filled him with such a liking to debauchery and such an irreclaimable passion for sensual pleasures, as was the source from whence his following misfortunes flowed. For what, as he himself complained, first gave him occasion to repine at his condition, and filled him with wandering inclinations of pursuing an idle and extravagant life, was the forcing of him to go apprentice to a tailor, a trade for which he had always the greatest aversion, and contempt. No sooner, therefore, was he placed out apprentice, but the young fellows of that occupation whom he had before derided and despised, now ridiculed him in their turns, and laughed at the uneasiness which they saw his new employment caused him. However, he lived about four years with his master, being especially induced thereto by the company of a young man who worked there, and who used to amuse him with stories of intrigues in London, to which Neal listened with a very attentive ear.

This London companion more and more inclined him to vice, and the history he gave of his living with a woman—who cheated her other cullies to maintain him, and at last for the sake of a new sweetheart, stripped him of all he had one night while he slept, and left him so much in debt that he was obliged to fly into the country—the relation, I say, of these adventures made such an impression on young Neal that he was never at rest until he fell into a method of copying them. And as ill-design seldom waits long for an opportunity, so the death of his first master, and his being turned over to a second, much less careful and diligent to his business, furnished Neal with the occasion he wanted. This master he both cheated of his money and defrauded of his goods, letting in loose and disorderly persons in the night, and finding a way for their going out again in the morning before his master was awake, and consequently without the least suspicion.

These practices quickly broke the man with whom he lived, and his breaking turned Edmund upon the wide world, equally destitute of money, friends and capacity, not knowing what to do, and having but two shillings in his pocket. He took a solitary walk to that end of the town which went out upon the London Road, and there by chance he met a woman who asked him to go with her to London. He not knowing what to do with himself accepted her offer, and without any more words to the bargain they set out together. The woman was very kind to him on the road, and poor Edmund flattered himself that money was so plentiful in London as to render it impossible for him to remain without it. But he was miserably mistaken when he arrived there. He went to certain public-houses of persons whom he had known in the country, who instead of using him civilly, in a day or two's time were thrusting him out of doors. Some common whores, also, finding him to be a poor country fellow, easily seduced him and kept him amongst them for a stallion, until, between their lust and their diseases, they had put him in a fair road to the grave.

Tired out with their vices, which were even too gross for a mind so corrupted as his was, he chose rather to go and live with a brewer and carry out drink. But after living for some time with two masters of that occupation, his mind still roving after an easier and pleasanter life, he endeavoured to get it at some public-house; which at last he with much ado effected at Sadlers Wells.[21] This appeared so great a happiness that he thought he should never be tired of a life where there was so much music and dancing, to which he had been always addicted; and, as he phrased it himself, he thought he was in another world when he got with a set of men and maids in a barn with a fiddle among them.

However, he at last grew tired of that also; and resolving to betake himself to some more settled and honest employment, he hired himself to a man who kept swine, and there behaved himself both with honesty and diligence. But his master breaking a little time after he had been with him, though as he affirmed without his wronging him in the least, he was reduced to look for some new way of maintaining himself. This being about the time of the late Rebellion,[22] and great encouragement being then offered for those who would enter themselves in the late king's service at sea, Neal accepted thereof, and shipped himself on board the Gosport man-of-war, which sailed to the Western Islands of Scotland. What between the cold and the hard fare he suffered deeply, and never, as be said, tasted any degree of comfort till he returned to the West of England The Rebellion being then over, Neal with very great joy accepted his discharge from the service, and once more in search of business came up to London.

The reputation of an honest servant he had acquired from the hog merchant he had formerly lived with, quickly procured him a place with another of the same trade, with him he lived too (as was said) very honestly; and having been trusted with twenty or thirty pounds at a time, was always found very trusty and faithful. But happening, unluckily, to work here with one Pincher, who in the course of his life had been as unhappy as himself, they thereupon grew very intimate together, and being a couple of fellows of very odd tempers, after having got half drunk at the Hampshire Hog, they took it into their heads that there was not in the world two fellows so unhappy as themselves. The subject began when they were maudlin, and as they grew quite drunk, they came to a resolution to go out and beat everybody they met, for being happier than themselves.

The first persons they met in this expedition were a poor old man whose name was Dormer and his wife. The woman they abused grossly, and Pincher knocked the man down, though very much in years, Neal afterwards rolling him about, and either took or shook out of his pocket all the money he had, which was but three pence farthing. For this unaccountable action they were both apprehended, tried and convicted, with three other persons, in the November sessions, 1722. But their inhuman behaviour to the old man made such an impression on the Court to their disadvantage, that when the death warrant came down, they two only were appointed for execution.

At the near approach of death, Neal appeared excessively astonished, and what between fear and concern, his senses grew disordered. However, at the place of execution he seemed more composed than he had been before, and said that it was very fit he should die, but added he suffered rather for being drunk than any design he had either to rob or use the man cruelly. As for William Pincher, his companion both in the robbery and its punishment, he seemed to be the counterpart of Neal, a downright Norfolk clown, born within six miles of Lynn and by the kindness of a master of good fortune, taken into his house with an intent to breed him up, on his father's going for a soldier. At first he behaved himself diligently and thereby got much into the favour of his master, but falling into loose company and addicting himself to sotting in alehouses, his once kind and indulgent master, finding him incorrigible, dismissed him from his service, and having given him some small matter by way of encouragement, he set out for London. Here he got into the business before mentioned, and said himself, that he might have lived very comfortably thereon, if he had been industrious and frugal; but that addicting himself to his old custom of sitting continually in an alehouse had drawn him into very great inconveniences. In order to draw himself out of these he thought of following certain courses, by which, as he had heard some company where he used say, a young man might get as much money as he could spend, let him live as extravagantly as he would. This occasioned his persuading Neal into that fatal undertaking which cost them their lives. His behaviour under sentence was irreproachable, being always taken up either in reading, praying or singing of Psalms, performing all things that so short a space would give him leave to do, and showing as evident marks of true repentance as perhaps any unhappy person ever did in his condition.

Thus these two companions in misfortune suffered together on die last day of the year 1722, Edmund Neal being then about thirty years of age, and Pincher about twenty-six.


This was opened, about 1680, by a certain Sadler, as a public music-room and house of entertainment. The discovery of a spring of mineral water in the garden attracted general attention and the place soon became a place of popular resort.


The Jacobite rising of 1715.

The Life of CHARLES WEAVER, a Murderer

Hastiness of temper and yielding to all the rash dictates of anger, as it is an offence the most unworthy a rational creature, so it is attended also with consequences as fatal as any other crime whatever. A wild expression thrown out in the heat of passion has often cost men dearer than even a real injury would have done, had it been offered to the same person. A blow intended for the slightest has often taken away life, and the sudden anger of a moment produced the sorrow of years, and has been, after all, irreparable in its effect.

Charles Weaver, of whom we are now speaking, was the son of parents in very good circumstances in the city of Gloucester, who put him apprentice to a goldsmith. He served about four years of his time with his master, and having in that space run out into so much lewdness and extravagance that his friends refused any longer to supply or to support him, he then thought fit to go into the service of the Queen, as a soldier, and in that capacity went over with those who were sent into America to quell the Indians. These people were at that time instigated by the French to attack our plantations on the main near which they lay. The greater part of these poor creatures were without European arms, yet several amongst them had fusees, powder and ball from the French, with which, being very good marksmen, they did abundance of mischief from their ambuscades in the woods.

At the time Weaver served against them, they were commanded by one Ouranaquoy, a man of a bloody disposition, great courage and greater cunning. He had commanded his nation in war against another Indian nation, from whom he took about forty prisoners, who according to the Indian custom were immediately destined to death; but being prevailed upon, by the presence of the French, to turn his arms against the English, on the confines of whose plantations he had gained his last victory, Ouranaquoy having sent for the prisoners he had taken before him, told them that if they would fall upon a village about three miles distant, he would not only give them their liberty, but also such a reward for the scalp of every Englishman, woman or child, they brought. They readily agreed on these terms and immediately went and plundered the village.

The English army lay about seven miles off, and no sooner heard of such an outrage committed by such a nation, but they immediately attacked the people to whom the prisoners belonged, marching their whole army for that purpose against the village, which if we may call it so, was the capital of their country. By this policy Ouranaquoy gained two advantages, for first he involved the English in a war with the people with whom they had entertained a friendship for twenty years, and in the next place gained time, while the English army were so employed, to enter twenty-five miles within their country, destroying fourscore whites and three hundred Indians and negroes. But this insult did not remain long unrevenged, for the troops in which Weaver served arriving immediately after from Europe, the army (who before they had done any considerable mischief to the people against whom they marched, had learnt the stratagem by which they had been deceived by Ouranaquoy) returned suddenly into his country, and exercised such severities upon the people thereof that to appease and make peace with the English the chiefs sent them the scalps of Ouranaquoy, his three brothers and nine sons.

On Weaver's return into England from this expedition, he shipped himself again as a recruit for that army which was then commanded by the Earl of Peterborough in Spain. He served also under the Duke of Ormond when his grace took Vigo, and Weaver had the good luck to get some hundred pounds for his share in the booty, but that money which he, in his thoughts, had designed for setting himself up in England, being insensibly squandered and decayed, he was obliged to list himself again, and so became a second time spectator of the taking of Vigo under the Lord Cobham.[23]

While he served in the second regiment of Foot-guards, he behaved himself so well as to engage his officer to take him into his own house, where he lived for a considerable space; and he had been twice actually reviewed in order to his going into the Life-guards, when he committed the act for which he died, which according to the evidence given at his trial happened thus. He was going into a boat in company with Eleanor Clark, widow, and Edward Morris. After they were in the boat, some words arising, the woman bid Weaver pay Morris what he owed him, upon which Weaver in a great passion got up, and endeavoured to overturn the boat with them all. But Thomas Watkins, the waterman, preventing that, Weaver immediately drew his sword, and swore he would murder them all, making several passes at them as if he had firmly intended to be as good as his word. The men defended themselves so well as to escape hurt, and endeavoured all they could to have preserved the woman, but Weaver making a pass, the sword entered underneath her left shoulder, and thereby gave her a wound seven inches deep, after which she gave but one groan and immediately expired. For this bloody fact Weaver was tried and convicted, and thereupon received sentence of death.

During the space between the passing of sentence and its execution an accident happened which added grievously to all his misfortunes. His wife, big with child, coming about a fortnight before his death to see him in Newgate, was run over by a dray and killed upon the spot. Weaver himself, though in the course of the life he had led he had totally forgot both reading and writing, yet came duly to prayers, and gave all possible marks of sorrow and repentance for his misspent life, though he all along pretended that the woman's death happened by accident, and that he had had no intent to murder her. He suffered the 8th day of February, 1722-3, being at that time about thirty years of age.


See page 49.

The Life of JOHN LEVEE, a Highwayman, Footpad, etc.

There is a certain busy sprightliness in some young people which from I know not what views, parents are apt to encourage in hopes of its one day producing great effects. I will not say that they are always disappointed in their expectations, but I will venture to pronounce that where one bold spirit has succeeded in the world, five have been ruined, by a busy turbulent temper.

This was the case with this criminal, John Levee, who, to cover the disgrace his family suffered in him, called himself Junks. His father was a French gentleman, who came over with King Charles II at the Restoration, taught French to persons of distinction in court, and particularly to some of that prince's natural children. For the convenience of his scholars, he kept a large boarding-school in Pall Mall, whereby he acquired such a fortune as enabled him to set up for a wine merchant. In this capacity he dealt with France for many years to the amount of thousands per annum. His children received the best education that could be given them and never stirred out of doors but with a footman to attend them.

But Mr. Levee, the merchant, falling into misfortunes by some of his correspondents' failures, withdrew from his family into Holland; and this son John being taken by the French Society, in order to be put out apprentice and provided for, being induced thereto by the boy's natural vivacity and warmth of temper in which he had been foolishly encouraged, they sent him to sea with a captain of a man-of-war. He was on board the Essex when Sir George Byng, now Viscount Torrington, engaged the Spaniards at Messina.[24] He served afterwards on board the squadron commanded by Sir John Norris in the Baltic, and when he returned home, public affairs being in a more quiet state, his friends thought it better for him to learn merchants' accounts than to go any more voyages, where there was now little prospect of advantage.

But book-keeping was too quiet an employment for one of Levee's warm disposition, who far from being discouraged at the hardships of sea, only complained of his ill-luck in not being in an engagement. And so, to amuse this martial disposition, he with some companions went upon the road, which they practised for a very considerable time, robbing in a very genteel manner, by putting a hat into the coach and desiring the passengers to contribute as they thought proper, being always contented with what they gave them, though sometimes part of it was farthings. Nay, they were so civil that Blueskin and this Levee, once robbing a single gentlewoman in a coach, she happening to have a basket full of buns and cakes, Levee took some of them, but Blueskin proceeded to search her for money, but found none. The woman in the meanwhile scratched him and called him a thousand hard names, giving him two or three sound slaps in the face, at which they only laughed, as it was a woman, and went away without further ill-usage, a civility she would hardly have met with from any other gentlemen of their profession.

In October, he and his great companion Blueskin,[25] met a coach with two ladies and a little miss riding between their knees, coming from the Gravel Pits at Kensington.[26] Levee stopped the coach and without more ado, ordered both the coachmen and footman to jump the ditch, or he'd shoot them. They then stripped the ladies of their necklaces, cut a gold girdle buckle from the side of the child, and took away about ten shillings in money, with a little white metal image of a man, which they thought had been solid silver, but proved a mere trifle.

At a grand consultation of the whole gang, and a report of great booties that were to be made (and that, too, with much safety) on Blackheath, they agreed to make some attempts there. Accordingly they set out, being six horsemen well armed and mounted; but after having continued about six hours upon the Heath, and not meeting so much as one person, and the same ill luck being three or four times repeated, they left off going on that road for the future. In December following, he and another person robbed a butcher on horseback, on the road coming from Hampstead. He told them he had sold two lambs there. Levee's companion said immediately, Then you have eight-and-twenty shillings about you, for lambs sold to-day at fourteen shillings apiece. After some grumbling and hard words they made him deliver and by way of punishment for his sauciness, as they phrased it, they took away his great coat into the bargain, and had probably used him worse had not Levee seen a Jew's coach coming that way, and been conscious to himself that those within it knew him; whereupon he persuaded his associates to go off without robbing it.

Levee never used anybody cruelly in any of his adventures, excepting only one Betts, who foolishly struck him three or four blows on the head, whereupon Levee with one blow of his pistol struck his eye out. One night, upon the same road, Blake and Matthew Flood being in company with this unhappy youth, they stopped the chariot of Mr. Young, the same person who hanged Molony and Carrick.[27] Blake calling out to lay hold, and Flood stopping the horses, Levee went into the coach and took from Mr. Young a gold watch and chain, one Richard Oakey also assisting, who died likewise for this fact. They robbed also Col. Cope, who was in the same chariot, of his gold watch, chain and ring, and twenty-two shillings in money. Levee said it would have been a very easy matter for the gentleman to have taken him, he going into the coach without arms, and his companions being on the other side of the hedge; but they gave him the things very readily, and it was hard to say who behaved themselves most civilly one towards the other, the gentlemen or he. One of them desired to have a cornelian ring returned, which Levee inclined to do, but that his companions would not permit him.

As they were going home after taking this booty, they met a poor man on horseback. Notwithstanding the considerable sum they had taken just before, they turned out of the road, carried him behind two haycocks because the moon shone light, and there finding that he had but two shillings in the world, the rest of his companions were for binding and beating him, but upon the man's saying that he was very sick and begging earnestly that they would not abuse him, Levee prevailed with them not only to set him on his horse again, but to restore him his two shillings, and lead him into the road where they left him.

Levee, Flood and Oakey were soon apprehended and Blake turning evidence, they were convicted the next sessions at the Old Bailey, and ordered for execution. Levee behaved himself while under condemnation very seriously and modestly, though before that time, he had acted too much the bravo, from the mistaken opinion that people are apt to entertain of courage and resolution. But when death approached near, he laid aside all this, and applied himself with great seriousness and attention to prayers and other duties becoming a person in his condition.

At the place of execution he fell into a strange passion at his hands being to be tied, and his cap pulled over his face. Passion signifying nothing there, he was obliged to submit as the others did, being at the time of his execution, aged about twenty-seven.


See page 66.


His real name was Joseph Blake, see page 177.


This was a portion of what is now the Bayswater Road, roughly between Petersburgh Place and the Notting Hill Tube Station. Swift had lodgings there and it was a fairly fashionable residential spot.


See page 89.

The Lives of RICHARD OAKEY and MATTHEW FLOOD, Street-Robbers and Footpads

The first of these criminals, Richard Oakey, had been by his friends put apprentice to a tailor. In about two years his master failed, and from thence to the day of his unhappy death, Oakey continually followed thieving in one way or other. At first he wholly practised picking of women's pockets, which he said he did in a manner peculiar to himself; for being dressed pretty genteelly, he passed by the person he intended to rob, took up their upper petticoat and cut off the pocket at once, tripping them down at the same time. Then he stepped softly on the other side of the way, walked on and was never suspected. He said that while a lad, he had committed several hundred robberies in this way. As he grew older he made use of a woman to assist him, by pushing the people against the wall, while he took the opportunity of cutting their pockets; or at other times this woman came behind folks as they were crossing the way, and catching them by the arm, cried out, There's a coach will run over ye; while Oakey, in the moment of their surprise, whipped off their pocket.

This woman, who had followed the trade for a considerable time, happened one night at a bawdy-house to incense her bully so far as to make him beat her; she thereupon gave him still more provoking language, till at last he used her so cruelly, that she roared out Murder; and not without occasion, for she died of the bruises, though the people of the house concealed it for fear of trouble, and buried her privately. Upon this Oakey was obliged to go on his old way by himself.


(From the Annals of Newgate)

The robberies he committed being numerous and successful, he bethought himself of doing something, as he called it, in a higher way; upon which, scraping acquaintance with two as abandoned fellows as himself, they took to housebreaking. In this they were so unlucky as to be detected in their second adventure, which was upon a house in Southwark near the Mint, where they stole calicoes to the value of twenty pounds and upwards. For this his two associates were convicted at Kingston assizes, he himself being the witness against them, by which method he at that time escaped. And being cured of any desire to go a-housebreaking again, he fell upon his old trade of picking pockets, till he got into the acquaintance of another as bad as himself, whom they called Will the Sailor. This fellow's practice was to wear a long sword, and then by jostling the gentleman whom they designed to rob, first created a quarrel, and while the fray lasted, gave his companion the opportunity of rubbing off with the booty. But whether Will grew tired of his companion, or of the dangerous trade which he was engaged in, certain it is that he left it off, and got again out of England on ship-board.

Oakey then got acquainted with Hawes, Milksop, Lincoln, Reading, Wilkinson, and half a dozen others, with whom one way or other he was continually concerned while they reigned in their villainies. And as they were in a short space all executed, he became acquainted with Levee, Flood, Blake and the rest of that gang, in whose association he continued until his crimes and theirs brought them together to the gallows. After condemnation his behaviour was such as became his condition, getting up in the night to pray so often and manifesting all the signs of a sincere repentance.

Matthew Flood was the son of a man who kept the Clink Prison[28] in the parish of St. Mary Overys, who had given him as good an education as was in his power, and bound him apprentice to one Mr. Williams, a lighterman. In this occupation he might certainly have done well, if he had not fallen into the company of those lewd persons who brought him to his fate. He had been about three months concerned with Blake, Levee, etc., and had committed many facts.

His behaviour under sentence was very penitent and modest, nor did he suffer the continual hopes his friends gave him of a reprieve ever to make him neglect his devotions. At the place of execution he said he was more particularly concerned for a robbery he had committed on a woman in Cornhill, not only because he took from her a good many guineas which were in her pocket, but that at the same time also he had taken a will which he burnt, and which he feared would be more to her prejudice than the loss of her money.

Oakey was about twenty-five years old at the time of his death, and Matthew Flood somewhat younger. They suffered on the same day with Weaver and the last-mentioned malefactor Levee, at Tyburn.


The Clink Prison was, until 1745, at the corner of Maid Lane, Southwark. It was originally used as a house of detention for heretics and offenders against the bishop of Winchester, whose palace stood nearby.

The Life of WILLIAM BURK, a Footpad and Highwayman

As indulgence is a very common parent of wickedness and disobedience, so immoderate correction and treating children as if they were Stocks is as likely a method as the other to make them stubborn and obstinate, and perhaps even force upon them taking ill methods to avoid usage which they cannot bear.

William Burk, the unfortunate criminal whose enterprises are to be the subject of our present narration, was born towards Wapping of parents honest and willing to give him education, though their condition in the world rendered them not able. He was thereupon put to the charity school, the master of which being of a morose temper and he a boy of very indifferent disposition, the discipline with which he was treated was so severe that it created in him an aversion towards all learning; and one day, after a more severe whipping than ordinary, he determined (though but eleven years of age) to run away.

He sought out, therefore, for a captain who might want a boy, and that being no difficult matter to find in their neighbourhood, he went on board the Salisbury, Captain Hosier, then lying at the Buoy in the Nore, bound for Jamaica. His poor mother followed him in great affliction, and endeavoured all she could to persuade him to return, but her arguments were all in vain, for he had contracted so great an antipathy to school, from his master's treatment, that instead of being glad to go back, he earnestly intreated the captain to interpose his authority and keep him on board. His request was complied with, and the poor woman was forced to depart without her son.

It was the latter end of Queen Anne's War when they sailed to Jamaica, and during the time they were out, took two Spanish galleons very richly laden. Their first engagement was obstinate and bloody, and he, though a boy, was dangerously hurt as he bustled about one way or another as the captain commanded him. The second prize carried 74 guns and 650 men, yet the Salisbury (but a 60-gun ship) took her without the loss of a single man; only a woman, who was the only one on board, going to peep at the engagement, had her head and shoulders shot off. Burk said the prize money of each sailor came but to £15, but some of the officers shared so handsomely as never to be obliged to go to sea again, being enabled to live easily on shore.

Three years he continued in the West Indies, and there (especially in Jamaica) he learned so much wickedness that when he came home, hardly any of the gangs into which he entered were half so bad, though inured to plunder, as he when he came amongst them a fresh man. From this voyage he went another in the slave trade to the coast of Guinea. Here he endured very great hardships, especially when he had the misfortune to be on board where the negroes rose upon the English, and had like to have overcome them; but at last having been vanquished, and tied down in a convenient place, they were used with severity enough. Upon his return into England from this voyage, he went into the Baltic in the Worcester man-of-war, in which he suffered prodigious hardships from the coldness of the climate and other difficulties he went through.

The many miseries he had experienced in a life at sea might possibly have induced him to the resolution he made of never going on ship-board any more. How he came to take to robbing does not very clearly appear, further than that he was induced thereto by bad women; but he behaved himself with very great cruelty, for going over the first field from Stepney, armed with a hedging-bill, he attacked one William Fitzer, and robbed him of his jacket, tobacco-box, a knife and fork, etc. He robbed, also, one James Westwood, of a coat and ten shillings in money; last of all, attacking John Andrews and Robert his son, coming over the fields, he dove the old man down. His son taking up the stick boldly attacked Burk, and a neighbour, one Perkinson, coming in at the noise, he was overpowered and apprehended. As the fact was very plainly proved, he was on a short trial convicted, and the barbarity of the fact being so great, left no room for his being omitted in the warrant for execution.

As he lay a long time under condemnation, and had no hopes of life, from the moment of his confinement he applied himself to make his peace with that Being whom he had so much offended by his profligate course of life. On all occasions he expressed his readiness to confess anything which might be for the promoting of justice or public good, in all respects manifesting a thorough sorrow and penitence for that cruelty with which he had treated poor old Andrews. At the tree he stood up in the car, beckoned for silence, and then spoke to the multitude in these terms.

Good People,

I never was concerned but in four robberies in my life. I desire all men who see my fatal end to let my death teach them to lead a sober and regular life, and above all to shun the company of ill-women, which has brought me to this shameful end and place. I desire that nobody may reflect upon my wife after my decease, since she was so far from having any knowledge of the ills I committed, that she was continually exciting me to live a sober and honest life. Wherefore I hope God will bless her, as I also pray He may do all of you.

This malefactor, William Burk, was in the twenty-second year of his age when executed at Tyburn, April the 8th, 1723.

The Life of LUKE NUNNEY, a murderer

Though drunkenness in itself is a shocking and beastly crime, yet in its consequences it is also often so bloody and inhuman that one would wonder persons of understanding should indulge themselves in a sin at once so odious and so fatal both to body and soul. The instances of persons who have committed murders when drunk, and those accompanied with circumstances of such barbarity as even those persons themselves could not have heard without trembling, are so many and so well known to all of any reading, or who have made any reflection, that I need not dwell longer than the bare narration of this malefactor's misfortunes will detain me, to warn against a vice which makes them always monsters and often murderers.

Luke Nunney, of whom we are to speak, was a young fellow of some parts, and of a tolerable education, his father, at the time of his death, being a shoemaker in tolerable circumstances, and very careful in the bringing up of his children. He was more particularly zealous in affording them due notions of religion, and took abundance of pains himself to inculcate them in their tender years, which at first had so good an effect upon this Luke that his whole thoughts ran upon finding out that method of worship in which he was most likely to please God. Sometimes, though his parents were at the Church of England, he slipped to a Presbyterian Meeting-house, where he was so much affected with the preacher's vehemency in prayer and his plain and pious method of preaching that he often regretted not being bred up in that way, and the loss his parents sustained by their not having a relish for religion ungraced with exterior ornaments. These were his thoughts, and his practice was suitable to them, until the misfortunes of his father obliged him to break up the house, and put Luke out to work at another place.

The men where Nunney went to work were lewd and profligate fellows, always talking idly or lewdly, relating stories of what had passed in the country before they came up to work in London, the intrigues they had had with vicious women, and such loose and unprofitable discourses. This quickly destroyed the former good inclinations of Luke, who first began to waver in religion, and as he had quitted the Church of England to turn to the Dissenters, so now he had some thoughts of leaving them for the Quakers; but after going often to their meetings he professed he thought their behaviour so ridiculous and absurd as not to deserve the name either of religion or Divine worship.

His instability of mind pressed him also to go out into the world, for it appeared to him a great evil that while all the rest of his companions were continually discoursing of their adventures, he should have none to mention of his own. Some of them, also, having slightingly called him Cockney and reproaching him with never having been seven miles from London, he remembered that his father had some near relations in the west of England, so he took a sudden resolution of going down thither to work at his trade. Full of these notions he went over one evening pretty late with his brother to Southwark, and meeting there with an acquaintance who would needs make him drink, they stayed pretty long at the house, insomuch that Luke got very drunk, and being always quarrelsome when he had liquor, insulted and abused everybody in the room. As he was quarrelling particularly with one James Young, William Bramston who stood by, came up and desired him to be quiet, advised him to go home with his company, and not stay and make a disturbance where nobody had a mind to quarrel but himself. Without making any reply Luke struck him a blow on the face. Bramston thereupon held up his fist as if he would have struck him, but did not. However Nunney struck him again and pushed him forwards, upon which Bramston reeled, cried out he was stabbed and a dead man, that Nunney was the person who gave him the wound, and Luke thereupon (drunk as he was) attempted to run away.

Upon this he was apprehended, committed prisoner to Newgate, and the next sessions, on the evidence of such of his companions as were present, he was convicted and received sentence of death. He behaved himself from that time as a person who had as little desire as hopes of continuing in the world, enquired diligently both of the Ordinary and of the man who was under sentence with him, how he should prepare himself for his latter end, coming constantly to chapel, and praying regularly at all times. Yet at the place of execution he declared himself a Papist. He added, that at the time the murder was committed he had no knife nor could he imagine how it was done, being so drunk that he knew nothing that had happened until the morning, when he found himself in custody. He was about twenty years of age at the time of his suffering on the 25th of May, 1723.

The Life of RICHARD TRANTHAM, a Housebreaker

Though vices and extravagancies are the common causes which induce men to fall into those illegal practices which lead to a shameful death, yet now and then it happens we find men of outward gravity and serious deportment as wicked as those whose open licenciousness renders their committing crimes of this sort the less amazing.

Of the number of these was Richard Trantham, a married man, having a wife and child living at the time of his death, keeping also a tolerable house at Mitcham in Surrey. He had been apprehended on the sale of some stolen silk, and the next sessions following was convicted of having broken the house of John Follwell, in the night-time, two years before, and taking thence a silver tankard, a silver salver, and fifty-four pounds of Bologna silk, valued at £74 and upwards. During the time which passed between the sentence and execution he behaved in a manner the most penitent and devout, not only making use of a considerable number of books which the charity of his friends had furnished him with, but also reading to all those who were in the condemned hold with them.

The morning he was to die, after having received the Sacrament, he was exhorted to make a confession of those crimes which he had committed, particularly as to housebreaking, in which he was thought to have been long concerned; thereupon he recollected himself a little, and told of six or seven houses which he had broken open, particularly General Groves's near St. James's; a stone-cutter in Chiswell Street; and Mr. Follwell's in Spitalfields, for which he died. At the place of execution, whither he was conveyed in a mourning coach, he appeared perfectly composed and submissive to that sentence which his own misdeeds and the justice of the Law had brought upon him. Before the halter was put about his neck, he spoke to those who were assembled at the gallows to see his death, in the following terms:

Good People,

Those wicked and unlawful methods by which, for a considerable time, I have supported myself, have justly drawn upon me the anger of God, and the sentence of the Law. As I have injured many and the substance I have is very small, I fear a restitution would be hard to make, even if it should be divided. I therefore leave it all to my wife for the maintenance of her and my child. I entreat you neither to reflect on her nor on my parents, and pray the blessing of God upon you all.

He was thirty years old when he died and was executed the same day with the malefactor afore-mentioned.

The Lives of JOHN TYRRELL, a Horse-dealer, and WILLIAM HAWKSWORTH, a Murderer

John Tyrrell, the first of these malefactors, was convicted for stealing two horses in Yorkshire, but selling them in Smithfield he was tried at the Old Bailey. It seem she had been an old horse-stealer as most people conjecture, though he himself denied it, and as he pretended at his trial to have bought those two for which he died at Northampton Fair, so he continually endeavoured to infuse the same notions into all persons who spoke to him at the time of his death. He had practised carrying horses over into Flanders and Germany, and there selling them to persons of the highest rank, with whom he always dealt so justly and honourably that, as it was said, his word would have gone there for any sum whatsoever that was to be laid out in horse-flesh.

He had been bred up a Dissenter, and above all things affected the character of a religious and sober man, which excepting the instances for which he died, he never seemed to have forfeited; for whatever else was said against him after he was condemned, arose merely from conjectures occasioned by the number of horses he had sold in foreign parts. He himself professed that he had always led a most regular and devout life, and in the frequent voyages he made by sea, exhorted the sailors to leave that dissolute manner of life which too generally they led. During the whole time he lay under sentence, he talked of nothing else but his own great piety and devotion, which though, as he confessed, it had often been rewarded by many singular deliverances through the hand of Providence, yet since he was suffered to die this ignominious death and thereby disgrace his family and altogether overturn that reputation of sanctity with which so much pains himself had been setting up, he inclined to atheistic notions, and a wavering belief as to the being of a God at all.

As for the other malefactor, William Hawksworth, he was a Yorkshireman by birth. His parents, reputable people who took a great care in his reputation, intended to breed him to some good trade, but a regiment of soldiers happening to come into the town, Hawksworth imagining great things might be attained to in the army, would needs go with them, and accordingly listed himself. But having run through many difficulties and much hardships, finding also that he was like to meet with little else while he wore a red coat, he took a great deal of pains and made much interest to be discharged. At last he effected it, and a gentleman kindly taking him to live with him as a footman, he there recovered part of that education which he had lost while in the army. There, also, he addicted himself for some time to a sober and quiet life, but soon after giving way to his old roving disposition, he went away from his master, and listed himself again in the army in one of the regiments of Guards.

His behaviour the last time of his being in the service was honest and regular, his officers giving him a very good character, and nobody else a bad one; but happening to be one day commanded on a party to mount guard at the Admiralty Office, by Charing Cross, they met a man and woman. The man's name was John Ransom, and this Hawksworth stepping up to the woman and going to kiss her, Ransom interposed and pushed him off, upon which Hawksworth knocked him down with the butt end of his piece, by which blow about nine o'clock that evening he died.

The prisoner insisted continually that as he had no design to kill the man it was not wilful murder. He and Tyrrell died with less confusion and seeming concern than most malefactors do. Tyrrell was about thirty and Hawksworth in the twenty-eighth year of his age, on the 17th of June, 1723.

The Life of WILLIAM DUCE, a Notorious Highwayman and Footpad

However hardened some men may appear during the time they are acting their crimes and while hopes of safety of life remains, yet when these are totally lost and death, attended with ignominy and reproach, stares them in the face, they seldom fail to lay aside their obstinacy; or, if they do not, it is through a stupid want of consideration, either of themselves or of their condition.

William Duce, of whom we are now to speak, was one of the most cruel and abandoned wretches that ever went on the road. He was born at Wolverhampton, but of what parents, or in what manner he lived until his coming up to London, I am not able to say. He had not been long here before he got in debt with one Allom, who arrested him and threw him into Newgate, where he remained a prisoner upwards of fifteen months; here it was that he learnt those principles of villainy which he afterwards put in practice.

His companions were Dyer, Butler, Rice and some others whom I shall have occasion to mention. The first of December, 1722, he and one of his associates crossing Chelsea Fields, overtook a well-dressed gentleman, a tall strong-limbed man, who having a sword by his side and a good cane in his hand they were at first in some doubt whether they should attack him. At last one went on one side and the other on the other, and clapping at once fast hold of each arm, they thereby totally disabled him from making a resistance. They took from him four guineas, and tying his wrists and ankles together, left him bound behind the hedge.

Not long after he, with two others, planned to rob in St. James's Park. Accordingly they seized a woman who was walking on the grass near the wall towards Petty France, and after they had robbed her got over the wall and made their escape. About this time his first acquaintance began with Dyer, who was the great occasion of this poor fellow's ruin, whom he continually plagued to go out a-robbing, and sometimes threatened him if he did not. In Tottenham Court Road, they attacked a gentleman, who being intoxicated with wine, either fell from his horse, or was thrown off by them, from whom they took only a gold watch. Then Butler and Dyer being in his company, they robbed Mr. Holmes of Chelsea, of a guinea and twopence, the fact for which he and Butler died.

Thinking the town dangerous after all these robberies, and finding the country round about too hot to hold them, they went into Hampshire and there committed several robberies, attended with such cruelties as have not for many years been heard of in England; and though these actions made a great noise, yet it was some weeks before any of them were apprehended.

On the Portsmouth Road it happened they fell upon one Mr. Bunch, near a wood side, where they robbed and stripped him naked; yet not thinking themselves secure, Duce turned and fired at his head. He took his aim so true that the bullet entered the man's cheek, upon which he fell with the agony of pain, turning his head downwards that the bullet might drop out of his mouth. Seeing that, Butler turned back and began to charge his pistol. The man fell down on his knees and humbly besought his life. Perceiving the villain was implacable, he took the advantage before the pistol was charged to take to his heels, and being better acquainted with the way than they, escaped to a neighbouring village which he raised, and soon after it the whole country; upon which they were apprehended. Mead, Wade and Barking, were condemned at Winchester assizes, but this malefactor and Butler were removed by an Habeas Corpus to Newgate.

While under sentence of death, Duce laid aside all that barbarity and stubbornness with which he had formerly behaved, with great frankness confessed all the villainies he had been guilty of, and at the place of execution delivered the following letter for the evidence Dyer, who as he said, had often cheated them of their shares of the money they took from passengers, and had now sworn away their lives.

The Letter of William Duce to John Dyer

It is unnecessary for me to remind you of the many wicked and barbarous actions which in your company and mostly by your advice, have been practised upon innocent persons. Before you receive this, I shall have suffered all that the law of man can inflict for my offences. You will do well to reflect thereon, and make use of that mercy which you have purchased at the expense of our blood, to procure by a sincere repentance the pardon also of God; without which, the lengthening of your days will be but a misfortune, and however late, your crimes if you pursue them, will certainly bring you after us to this ignominious place.

You ought especially to think of the death of poor Rice, who fell in the midst of his sins, without having so much as time to say, Lord have mercy on me. God who has been so gracious as to permit it to you, will expect a severe account of it, and even this warning, if neglected, shall be remembered against you. Do not however think that I die in any wrath or anger with you, for what you swore at my trial. I own myself guilty of that for which I suffer, and I as heartily and freely forgive you, as I hope forgiveness for myself, from that infinitely merciful Being, to whose goodness and providence I recommend you.


He also wrote another letter to one Mr. R. W., who had been guilty of some offences of the like nature in his company, but who for some time had retired and lived honestly and privately, was no longer addicted to such courses, nor as he hoped would relapse into them again. At the time of his execution he was about twenty-five years of age, and suffered at Tyburn on the 5th of August, 1723.

The Life of JAMES BUTLER, a Most notorious Highwayman, Footpad, etc.

James Butler was the son of a very honest man in the parish of St. Ann's, Soho, who gave him what education it was in his power to bestow, and strained his circumstances to the utmost to put him apprentice to a silversmith. James had hardly lived with him six months when his roving inclination pushed him upon running away and going to sea, which he did, with one Captain Douglass in a man-of-war.

Here he was better used than most young people are at the first setting out in a sailor's life. The captain being a person of great humanity and consideration, treated James with much tenderness, taking him to wait on himself, and never omitting any opportunity to either encourage or reward him. But even then Butler could not avoid doing some little thieving tricks, which very much grieved and provoked his kind benefactor, who tried by all means, fair and foul, to make him leave them off. One day, particularly, when he had been caught opening one of the men's chests and a complaint was thereupon made to the captain, he was called into the great cabin, and everybody being withdrawn except the captain, calling him to him, he spoke in these terms.

Butler, I have always treated you with more kindness and indulgence than perhaps anybody in your station has been used with on board any ship. You do, therefore, very wrong by playing such tricks as make the men uneasy, to put it out of my power to do you any good. We are now going home, where I must discharge you, for as I had never any difference with the crew since I commanded the Arundel, I am determined not to let you become the occasion of it now. There is two guineas for you, I will take care to have you sent safe to your mother.

The captain performed all his promises, but Butler continued still in the same disposition, and though he made several voyages in other ships, yet still continued light-fingered, and made many quarrels and disturbances on board, until at last he could find nobody who knew him that would hire him. The last ship he served in was the Mary, Capt. Vernon commander, from which ship he was discharged and paid off at Portsmouth, in August, 1721.

Having got, after this, into the gang with Dyer, Duce, Rice and others, they robbed almost always on the King's Road, between Buckingham House and Chelsea. On the 27th of April, 1723, after having plundered two or three persons on the aforesaid road, they observed a coach coming towards them, and a footman on horseback riding behind it. As soon as they came in sight Dyer determined with himself to attack them, and forced his companions into the same measures by calling out to the coachman to stop, and presenting his pistols. The fellow persisted a little, and Dyer was cocking his pistol to discharge it at him, when the ladies' footman from behind the coach, fired amongst them, and killed Joseph Rice upon the spot.

This accident made such an impression upon Butler that though he continued to rob with them a day or two longer, yet as soon as he had an opportunity he withdrew and went to hard labour with one Cladins, a very honest man, at the village called Wandsworth, in Surrey. He had not wrought there long, before some of his gang had been discovered. His wife was seized and sent to Bridewell in order to make her discover where her husband was, who had been impeached with the rest. This obliged him to leave his place, and betake himself again to robbing.

Going with his companions, Wade, Meads, Garns and Spigget, they went into the Gravesend Road, and there attacking four gentlemen, Meads thought it would contribute to their safety to disable the servant who rode behind, upon which he fired at him directly, and shot him through the breast. Not long after, they set upon another man, whom Meads wounded likewise in the same place, and then setting him on his horse, bid him ride to Gravesend. But the man turning the beast's head the other way, Meads went back again, and shot him in the face, of which wound he died.

When Butler lay under sentence of death he readily confessed whatever crimes he had committed, but he, as well as the before-mentioned criminal, charged much of his guilt upon the persuasions of the evidence Dyer. He particularly owned the fact of shooting the man at Farnham. Having always professed himself a Papist, he died in that religion, at the same time with the afore-mentioned criminal, at Tyburn.

The Life of CAPTAIN JOHN MASSEY, who died for Piracy

The gentleman of whom we are now to speak, though he suffered for piracy, was a man of another turn of mind than any of whom we have hitherto had occasion to mention. Captain John Massey was of a family I need not dwell on, since he hath at present two brothers living who make a considerable figure in their respective professions.

This unhappy person had a natural vivacity in his temper, which sometimes rose to such a height that his relations took it for a degree of madness. They, therefore, hoping by a compliance with his humours to bring him to a better sense of things, sent him into the army then in Flanders, under the command of the Duke of Marlborough; and there he assisted at the several sieges which were undertaken by the Confederate army after his arrival, viz., Mons, Douai, Bouchain, and several others. Yet though he was bold there, even to temerity, he never received so much as one wound through the whole course of the war, in which, after the siege of Lille, he commanded as a lieutenant, and that with great reputation.

On his return into England he at first wholly addicted himself to a religious sober life, the several accidents of the war having disposed him to a more serious temper by making him plainly perceive the hand of Providence in protecting and destroying, according as its wisdom seeth fit. But after a short stay in London, he unhappily fell into the acquaintance of a lewd woman, who so besotted him that he really intended to marry her, if the regiment's going to Ireland had not prevented it. But there the case was not much mended, since Captain Massey gave too much way to the debaucheries generally practised in that nation.

On his coming back from thence, by the recommendation of the Duke of Chandois, he was made by the Royal African Company a lieutenant colonel in their service, and an engineer for erecting a fort on the Coast of Africa. He promised himself great advantage and a very honourable support from this employment, but he and the soldiers under his command being very ill used by the person who commanded the ship in which he went over (being denied their proportion of provisions and in all other respects treated with much indignity) it made a great impression on Captain Massey's mind, who could not bear to see numbers of those poor creatures perish, not only without temporal necessities, but wanting also the assistance of a divine in their last moments. For the chaplain of the ship remained behind in the Maderas, on a foresight perhaps, of the miseries he should have suffered in the voyage.

In this miserable condition were things when the Captain and his soldiers came into the River Gambia, where the designed fort was to be built. Here the water was so bad that the poor wretches, already in the most dreadful condition, were many of them deprived of life a few days after they were on shore. The Captain was excessively troubled at the sight of their misfortunes and too easily in hopes of relieving them gave way to the persuasion of a captain[29] of a lighter vessel than his own, who arrived in that port, and persuaded him to turn pirate rather than let his men starve.

After repeated solicitations, Captain Massey and his men went on board this ship, and having there tolerable good provisions, soon picked up their strength and took some very considerable prizes. At the plundering of these Massey was confused and amazed, not knowing well what to do, for though he was glad to see his men have meat, yet it gave him great trouble when he reflected on the methods by which they acquired it. In this disconsolate state his night was often so troublesome to him as his days, for, as he himself said, he seldom shut his eyes but he dreamt that he was sailing in a ship to the gallows, with several others round him.

After a considerable space, the ship putting into the island of Jamaica for necessary supply of water and provision, he made his escape to the Governor, and gave him such information that he took several vessels thereby; but not being easy there, he desired leave of Sir Nicholas Laws to return home. Sir Nicholas gave him letters of recommendation, but notwithstanding those, he no sooner returned in England but he was apprehended and committed for piracy. Soon after which he was bailed; but the persons who became security growing uneasy, he surrendered in their discharge, soon after which he was tried, convicted and condemned.

During the space he remained in prison under condemnation he behaved with so much gravity, piety and composedness, as surprised all who saw him, many of whom were inclined to think his case hard. No mercy was to be had and as he did not expect it, so false hopes never troubled his repose; but as death was to cut him off from the world, so he beforehand retired all his affections from thence and thought of nothing but that state whither he was going.

In his passage to execution he pointed to the African House,[30] said, They have used me severely, but I pray God prosper and bless them in all their undertakings.

Mr. Nicholson, of St. Sepulchre's, attended him in his last moments. Just before he died he read the following speech to the people.

Good People,

I beg of you to pray for my departing soul. I likewise pray God to forgive all the evidences that swore against me, as I do from my heart. I challenge all the world to say I ever did a dishonourable act or anything unlike a gentleman, but what might be common to all young fellows in this age. This was surely a rash action, but I did not designedly turn pirate. I am sorry for it, and I wish it were in my power to make amends to the Honourable African Company for what they have lost by my means. I likewise declare upon the word of a dying man that I never once thought of molesting his Grace the Duke of Chandois, although it has been maliciously reported that I always went with two loaded pistols to dispatch his Grace. As for the Duke, I was always, while living, devoted to his service, for his good offices done unto me, and I humbly beg Almighty God, that He would be pleased to pour down His blessings upon his good family. Good people, once more I beg of you to pray for my departing soul. I desire my dying words to be printed, as for the truth and sincerity of it, I sign them as a man departing this world.

John Massey

After he had pronounced these words, he signified it as his last request that neither his wife, nor any of his relations might see his body after it was in the coffin. Then praying a few moments to himself he submitted to his fate, being at the time of his death twenty-eight years old. He suffered at high-water mark, Execution Dock, on the 26th of July, 1723, his unhappy death being universally pitied.


This was Captain George Lowther, a redoubtable pirate. A more complete Story of Massey's adventures is given in Johnson's History of the Pirates.


In Leadenhall Street, along which he would pass on the way to Wapping.

The Life of PHILIP ROCHE, a Pirate, etc.

As in the life of Captain Massey, my readers cannot but take notice of those great evils into which men are brought by over-forwardness and inconsideration, so in the life of the malefactor we are now to speak of, they will discern what a prodigious pitch of wickedness, rapine and cruelty, human nature is capable of reaching unto, when people abandon themselves to a desire of living after their own wicked inclinations, without considering the injuries they do others while they gratify their own lusts and sensual pleasures.

Philip Roche[31] was the son of a person of the same name in Ireland. His father gave him all the education his narrow circumstances would permit which extended however to reading and writing a tolerable good hand, after which he sent him to sea. Philip was a lad of ingenious parts, and instead of forgetting, as many do, all they have learnt, he on the contrary took all imaginable care to perfect himself in whatsoever he had but a slight notion of before he went to sea. He made abundance of coasting voyages about his native island, went once or twice to Barbadoes, and being a saving and industrious young fellow, picked up money enough to become first mate in a trading vessel to Nantes in France, by which being suffered to buy goods himself, he got considerably, and was in a fair way to attaining as great a fortune as he could reasonably expect. But this slow method of getting money did by no means satisfy Roche; he was resolved to grow rich at once, and not wait till much labour and many voyages had made him so.

When men once form to themselves such designs, it is not long before they find companions fit for their purpose. Roche soon met with one Neal, a fisherman of no education, barbarous but very daring, a fellow who had all the qualities that could conspire to make a dangerous villain, and who had already inured himself to the commission of whatever was black or bloody, not only without remorse but without reluctance. Neal recommended him to one Pierce Cullen, as a proper associate in those designs they were contriving; for this Cullen, as Neal informed him, was a fellow of principles and qualifications much like himself, but had somewhat a better capacity for executing them, and with Neal had been concerned in sinking a ship, after insuring her both in London and Amsterdam. But Providence had disappointed them in the success of their wicked design for Cullen having been known, or at least suspected of doing such a thing before, those with whom they had insured at London, instead of their paying the money, caused him to be seized and brought to a trial, which demolished all their schemes for cheating insurance offices.

Cullen brought in his brother to their confederacy, and after abundance of solicitation induced Wise to come in likewise. The project they had formed was to seize some light ship, and turn pirates in her, conceiving it no difficult matter afterwards to obtain a stronger vessel, and one better fitted for their purpose.

The ship they pitched on to execute this their villainous purpose was that of Peter Tartoue, a Frenchman of a very generous disposition, who on Roche and his companions telling him a melancholy story, readily entertained them; and perceiving Roche was an experienced sailor, he entrusted him upon any occasion with the care and command of the ship. Having done so one night, himself and the chief mate with the rest of the French who were on board went to rest, except a man and a boy, whom Roche commanded to go up and furl the sails. He then called the rest of his Irish associates to him upon the quarter-deck. There Roche, perceiving that Francis Wise began to relent, and fearing he should persuade others in the same measures, he told them that if every Irishman on board did not assist in destroying the French, and put him and Cullen in a capacity of retrieving the losses they had had at sea, they would treat whoever hesitated in obeying them with as little mercy as they did the Frenchmen; but if they would all assist, they should all fare alike, and have a share in the booty.

Upon this the action began, and two of them running up after the Frenchman and boy, one tossed the lad by the arm into the water, and the other driving the man down upon the deck he there had his brains dashed out by Roche and his companions. They fell next upon those who were retired to their rest, some of whom, upon the shrieks of the man and boy who were murdered, rising hastily out of their beds and running up upon deck to see what occasioned those dismal noises, were murdered themselves before they well knew where they were. The mate and the captain were next brought up, and Roche went immediately to binding them together, in order to toss them overboard, as had been consulted. 'Twas in vain for poor Tartoue to plead the kindness he had done them all and particularly Roche. They were deaf to all sentiments, either of gratitude or pity, and though the poor men entreated only so much time as to say their prayers, and recommend themselves to God, yet the villains (though they could be under no apprehensions, having already murdered all the rest of the men) would not even yield to this, but Cullen hastened Roche in binding them back to back, to toss them at once into the sea. Then hurrying down into the cabin, they tapped a little barrel of rum to make themselves good cheer, and laughed at the cries of the two poor drowned men, whom they distinctly heard calling upon God, until their voices and their breaths were lost in the waves.

After having drunk and eaten their fill, with as much mirth and jollity as if they had been at a feast, they began to plunder the vessel, breaking open the chests, and taking out of them what they thought proper. Then to drinking they went again, pleasing themselves with the barbarous expedition which they resolved to undertake as soon as they could get a ship proper to carry them into the West Indies, intending there to follow the example the buccaneers had set them, and rob and plunder all who fell into their hands. From these villainies in intention, the present state of their affairs called upon them to make some provision for their immediate safety. They turned therefore into the Channel, and putting the ship into Portsmouth, there got her new painted and then sailed for Amsterdam, Roche being unanimously recognised their captain, and all of them promising faithfully to submit to him through the course of their future expeditions.

On their arrival in Holland, they had the ship a second time new painted, and thinking themselves now safe from all discovery began to sell off Captain Tartoue's cargo as fast as they could. No sooner had they completed this, but getting one Mr. Annesley to freight them with goods to England (himself also going as a passenger) they resolved with themselves to make prise of him and his effects, as they had also done with the French captain. Mr. Annesley, poor man, little dreaming of their design, came on board as soon as the wind served; and the next night a brisk gale blowing, they tore him suddenly out of his bed and tossed him over. Roche and Cullen being with others in the great cabin, he swam round and round the ship, called out to them, and told them they should freely have all his goods if they would take him in and save his life, for he had friends and fortunes enough in England to make up that loss. But his entreaties were all vain to a set of wretches who had long ago abandoned all sentiments of humour and mercy. They therefore caroused as usual, and after sharing the booty, steered the vessel for England.

Some information of their villainies had by that time reached thither, so that upon a letter being stopped at the post office, which Roche, as soon as they had landed, had written to his wife, a messenger was immediately sent down, who brought Philip up in custody. Being brought to the Council table, and there examined, he absolutely denied either that himself was Philip Roche, or that he knew of any one of that name. But his letters under his own hand to his wife being produced, he was not able any longer to stand in that falsehood.

Yet those in authority knowing that there was not legal proof sufficient to bring these abominable men to justice, offered Roche his life, provided he gave such information that they might be able to apprehend and convict any three of his companions more wicked than himself; but he was so far from complying therewith that he suffered those of his crew who were taken to perish in custody rather than become an evidence against them. This was the fate of Neal, who perished of want in the Marshalsea, having in vain petitioned for a trunk in which was a large quantity of money, clothes and other things to a considerable value, which had been seized in Ireland by virtue of a warrant from the Lord Justice of that Kingdom, on the account of the detention of which, while he perished for want of necessaries and clothes, Neal most heavily complained, forgetting that these very things were the plunder of those unhappy persons whom they had so barbarously murdered, after having received so much kindness and civility from them.

In the meanwhile Roche, being confined in Newgate, went constantly to the chapel and appeared of so obliging a temper that many persuaded themselves he could not be guilty of the bloody crimes laid to his charge; and taking advantage of these kind thoughts of theirs, he framed a new story in defence of himself. He said that there happened a quarrel on board the ship between an Irishman and a Frenchman, and that Tartoue taking part with his own nation, threatened to lash the Irishman severely, though he was not in any way in the wrong. This, he pretended, begat a general quarrel between the two nations, and the Irish being the stronger, they overpowered and threw the French overboard in the heat of their anger, without considering what they did.

Throughout the whole time he lay in Newgate, he very much delighted himself with the exercise of his pen, continually writing upon one subject or other, and often assisting his fellow prisoners in writing letters or whatever else they wanted in that kind. When he was told that Neal, who died in the Marshalsea, gushed out at all parts of his body with Wood, so that before he expired he was as if he had been dipped in gore, Roche replied, it was a just judgment that he who had always lived in blood, should die covered with it.

Sometime afterwards, being told that one of his companions had poisoned himself he said, Alas! that so evil an end should follow so evil a life; for his part he would suffer Providence to take its course with him, and rather die the most ignominious death than to his other crimes add that of self-murder. The rest who had been apprehended dying one by one in the same dreadful condition with Neal, that is, with the blood gushing from every part of their body, which looked so much like a judgment that all who saw it were amazed, he (Roche) began to think himself perfectly safe after the death of his companions, supposing that now there was nobody to bear any testimony against him; and therefore, instead of appearing in any way dismayed, he most earnestly desired the speedy approach of an Admiralty sessions. It was not long before it happened and when he found what evidence would be produced against him, he appeared much less solicitous about his trial than anybody in his condition would have been expected to be, for he very well knew it was impossible for them to prove him guilty of the murders and as impossible for him to be acquitted of the piracy.

After receiving sentence of death, he declared himself a Papist, and said that he could no longer comply with the service of the Church of England, and come to the chapel. He did not, however, think that he was in any danger of death, but supposed that the promises which had been made him on this first examination would now take place and prevent the execution of his sentence. When, therefore, the messenger returned from Hanover[32], and brought an express order that he should die, he appeared exceedingly moved thereat, and without reflecting at all on the horrid and barbarous treatment with Which he had used others, he could not forbear complaining of the great hardship he suffered in being put into the death warrant, after a promise had been made him of life, though nothing is more certain than that he never performed any part of those conditions upon which it was to have taken place.

At the place of execution he was so faint, confused, and in such a consternation that he could not speak either to the people, or to those who were nearer at hand, dying with the greatest marks of dejection and confusion that could possibly be seen in any criminal whatever. He was about thirty years old at the time of his execution, which was at high-water mark, Execution Dock, on the 14th of August, 1723.


A detailed account of this villain is given in Johnson's History of the Pirates.


Where the warrant had evidently been taken for the signature of the king or a minister.

The Life of HUMPHRY ANGIER, a Highwayman and Footpad

From the life of Roche, the course of those papers from which I extract these accounts leads me to mention this criminal, that the deaths of malefactors may not only terrify those who behold them dying, but also posterity, who, by hearing their crimes and the event which they brought on, may avoid falling into the one, for fear of feeling the other.

Humphry Angier was by birth of the Kingdom of Ireland, his father being a man in very ordinary circumstances in a little town a few miles distant from Dublin. As soon as this son was able to do anything, he sent him to the city of Cork, and there bound him apprentice to a cooper. His behaviour while an apprentice was so bad that his master utterly despaired to do any good with him, and therefore was not sorry that he ran away from him. However, he found a way to vex him sufficiently, for he got into a crew of loose fellows, which so far frightened the old cooper that he was at a considerable expense to hire persons to watch his house for the four years that Angier loitered about that city. At last his father even took him from thence, and brought him over into England where he left him at full liberty to do what he thought fit; resolving with himself that if his son would take to ill-courses, it should be where the fame of his villainies might not reflect upon him and his family.

He was now near eighteen years of age and being in some fear that some persons whom he had wronged might bring him into danger, he listed himself in the king's service, and went down with a new raised regiment into Scotland, where he hoped to make something by plundering the inhabitants, it being in the time of the Rebellion[33]. But he did not succeed very well there, and on his return fell into the company of William Duce, whom we have mentioned before. His conversation soon seduced him to follow the same course of life, and that their intimacy might be the more strongly knit, he married Duce's sister. Then engaging himself with all that gang, he committed abundance of robberies in their company, but was far from falling into that barbarous manner of beating the passengers which was grown customary and habitual to Mead, Butler, and some others of his and Duce's companions.

Angier told a particular story of them, which made a very great impression upon him, and cannot but give my readers of an idea of that horrible spirit which inspired those wretches. Mead and Butler came one evening to him very full of their exploits, and the good luck they had had. Mead particularly, having related every circumstance which had happened since their last parting, said that amongst others whom they had robbed they met a smooth-faced shoemaker, who said he was just married and going home to his friends. They persuaded him to turn out of the road to look in the hedge for a bird's nest, whither he was no sooner got, but they bound, gagged and robbed him, and afterwards turning back, barbarously clapped a pistol to his head and shot out his brains. After this Angier declared he would never drink in the company of Mead, and when Butler sometimes talked after the same manner, he used to reprove him by telling him that cruelty was no courage, at which Butler and some of his companions sometimes laughed, and told him he had singular notions of courage.

After this, he and his wife (Duce's sister) set up a little alehouse by Charing Cross, which soon against his will, though not without his consent, became a bawdy-house, a receptacle for thieves, etc. This sort of company rendered his house so suspicious and so obnoxious to the magistrates for the City of Westminster, that he quickly found the necessity of moving from thence. He then went and set up a brandy-shop, where the same people came, though as he pretended much to his dissatisfaction. While he kept the alehouse, there were two odd accidents befell him, which brought him for the first time to Newgate. It happened that while he was out one day, a Dutch woman picked up a gentleman and brought him to Angier's house, where, while he was asleep, she picked his pocket and left him. For this Angier and his maid were taken up, and tried at the Old Bailey. He was also at the same time tried for another offence, viz., an Irishwoman coming to his house and drinking pretty hard there, he at last carried her upstairs, and throwing her upon a bed pretended a great affection for her person; but his wife coming in and pretending to be jealous of the woman, pulled her off the bed and in so doing picked her pocket of four guineas. But of this there being no direct evidence against him, he was also acquitted. However, it ruined his house and credit, and drove him upon what was too much his inclination, the taking money by force upon the road.

He now got into an acquaintance with Carrick, Carrol, Lock, Kelly, and many others of that stamp, with whom he committed several villainies, but always pretending to be above picking pockets, which he said was practised by none of their crew but Hugh Kelly, who was a very dextrous fellow in his way. However, when Angier was in custody, abundance of people applied to him to help them to their gold watches, snuff-boxes, etc.; but as he told them, so he persisted in it always, that he knew nothing of the matter; and Kelly being gone over into America and there settled, there was no hopes of getting any of them again.

One evening he and Milksop, one of his companions, being upon the road to St. Albans, a little on this side of it, met a gentleman's coach, and in it a young man and two ladies. They immediately called to the coachman to stop, but he neglecting to obey their summons, they knocked him off from the box, having first prevented him from whipping off, by shooting one of his horses. They then dragged him under the coach, which running over him hurt him exceedingly and even endangered his life. Then they robbed the young gentleman and the ladies of whatever they had about them valuable, using them very rudely and stripping things off them in a very harsh and cruel way. Angier excused this by saying at the time he did it he was much in liquor.

In the beginning of the year '20, Angier, who had so long escaped punishment for the offences which he had committed, was very near suffering for one in which he had not the least hand; for a person of quality's coachman being robbed of a watch and some money, a woman of the town, whom Angier and one of his companions had much abused, was thereupon taken up, having attempted to pawn the fellow's watch after he had advertised it. She played the hypocrite very dexterously upon her apprehension, and said that the robbery was not committed by her, but that Angier, Armstrong and another young man were the persons who took it, and by her help they were seized and committed to Newgate. At the ensuing sessions the woman swore roundly against them, but the fellow being more tender, and some circumstances of their innocence plainly appearing, they were acquitted by the jury and that very justly in this case in which they had no hand.

During the time he lay under sentence, he behaved himself with much penitence for another offence, always calling earnestly to God for His assistance and grace to comfort him under those heavy sorrows which his follies and crimes had so justly brought upon him.

At the place of execution he did not appear at all terrified at death, but submitted to it with the same resignation which for a long space he had professed since his being under confinement. Immediately before he suffered he recollected his spirits and spoke in the following terms to that crowd which always attends on such melancholy occasions.

Good People,

I see many of you here assembled to behold my wretched end. I hope it will induce you to avoid those evils which have brought me hither. Sometime before my being last taken up, I had formed within myself most steady purposes of amendment, which it is a great comfort to me, even here that I never broke them, having lived at Henley upon Thames, both with a good reputation, and in a manner which deserved it. I heartily forgive and I hope God would do the same to Dyer, whose evidence hath taken away my life. I hope he will make a good use of that time which the price of my blood and that of others has procured him. I heartily desire pardon of all whom I have injured and declare that in the several robberies I have committed, I have been always careful to avoid committing any murder.

After this he adjusted the rope about his own neck, and submitted to that sentence which the Law directed, being at that time about twenty-nine years of age. He suffered on the 9th of September, 1723.


The Jacobite rising of 1715.

The Life of CAPTAIN STANLEY, a Murderer

There cannot be a greater misfortune than to want education, except it be the having a bad one. The minds of young persons are generally compared to paper on which we may write whatever we think fit, but if it be once blurred and blotted with improper characters, it becomes much harder to impress proper sentiments thereon, because those which were first there must be totally erased. This seems to have been too much the case with the unhappy person of whom the thread of these narrations requires that I should speak, viz., Captain Stanley.

This unhappy young gentleman was the son of an officer in the army who married the sister of Mr. Palmer, of Duce Hill, in Essex, where she was brought to bed of this unfortunate son John, in the year 1698. The first rudiments he received were those of cruelty and blood, his father at five years old often parrying and thrusting him with a sword, pricking him himself and encouraging other officers to play with him in the same manner, so that his boy, as old Stanley phrased it, might never be afraid of a point—a wretched method of bringing up a child and which was highly likely to produce the sad end he came to.

He served afterwards in the army with his father in Spain and Portugal, where he suffered hardships enough, but they did not very much affect him, who acquired by his hopeful education so savage a temper as to delight in nothing so much as trampling on the dead carcasses in the fields after an engagement.

Returning into England with his father, old Stanley had the misfortune to slab a near relation of my Lord Newbury's, in the Tilt Yard,[34] for which he was committed prisoner to Newgate. Afterwards being released and commanded into Ireland, he carried over with him this son John and procured for him an ensign's commission in a regiment there. Poor young Stanley's sprightly temper gained him abundance of acquaintance and (if it be not to profane the name) of friends amongst the young rakes in Ireland, some of whom were persons of very great quality, and had such an affection for him as to continue their visits and relieve his necessities when under his last misfortunes in Newgate. But such company involving him at that time in expenses he was no way able to support, he was obliged shortly to part for ready money with his ensign's commission, which gave his father great pain and uneasiness.

Not long after, he came again into England and to London, where he pursued the same methods, though his father importuned him to apply to General Stanhope, as a person he was sure would assist him, having been always a friend to their family, and particularly to old Stanley himself. But Jack was become a favourite with the ladies, and had taken an easier road to what he accounted happiness, living either upon the benevolence of friends, the fortune of the dice, or the favours of the sex. A continual round of sensual delights employed his time, and he was so far from endeavouring to attain any other commission or employment in order to support him, that there was nothing he so much feared as his being obliged to quit that life he loved; for old Stanley was continually soliciting for him, and as he had very good interest, nothing but his son's notorious misbehaviour made him not prevail. In the current of his extravagancies Jack fixed himself often upon young men coming into the world, and under pretence of being their tutor in the fashionable vices of the town, shared in their pleasures and helped them squander their estates.

Of this stamp was a gay young Yorkshire squire, who by the death of an uncle and by the loss of his father while a boy, had had so little education as not to know how to use it. Him Stanley got hold of, and persuaded him that nothing was so advantageous to a young gentleman as travel, and drew him to make a tour of Flanders and Holland in his company. Though a very wild young fellow, Stanley gave a very tolerable account of the places, especially the fortifications which he had seen, and sufficiently demonstrated how capable he might have been of making an exalted figure in the world, if due care had been taken to furnish him with any principles in his youth. But the neglect of that undid him, and every opportunity which he afterwards had of acquiring anything, instead of making him an accomplished gentleman, did him mischief. Thus his journey to Paris in company with the afore-mentioned gentleman helped him to an opportunity of learning to fence to the greatest perfection, so that the skill he was sensible he had in the sword made him ever ready to quarrel and seek occasions to use it.

Amongst the multitude of his amours he became acquainted and passionately fond of one Mrs. Maycock, whose husband was once an eminent tradesman upon Ludgate Hill. By her he had a child of which also he was very fond. This woman was the source of the far greater part of his misfortunes, for when his father had procured him a handsome commission in the service of the African Company, and he had received a considerable sum of money for his voyage, appearing perfectly satisfied himself, and behaving in so grave and decent a manner as filled his family and relations with very agreeable hopes, they were all blasted by Mrs. Maycock's coming with her child to Portsmouth, where he was to embark. She so far prevailed upon his inclinations as to get him to give her one half of the Company's money and to return to town with the other half himself. On his coming up to London he avoided going to his father's, who no sooner heard how dishonourably his son had behaved, but laying it more to heart than all the rest of his misfortunes, grief in a short time put an end to them all by his death.

When the news of it came to young Stanley, he fell into transports of grief and passion, which as many of his intimate companions said, so disturbed his brain that he never afterwards was in a right temper. This, indeed, appeared by several accidents, some of which were sworn at his trial, particularly that while he lodged in the house of Mr. Underhill, somebody having quoted a sentence of Latin in his company, he was so disturbed at the thoughts of his having had such opportunities of acquiring the knowledge of that language and yet continuing ignorant thereof, through his negligence and debauchery, that it made at that time so strong an impression on his spirits, that starting up, he drew a penknife and attempted to stab himself, without any other cause of passion. At other times he would fall into sudden and grievous rages, either at trifles, or at nothing at all, abuse his best friends, and endeavour to injure himself, and then coming to a better temper, begged them to forgive him, for he did not know what he did.

During the latter part of his life, his circumstances were so bad that he was reduced to doing many dirty actions which I am persuaded otherwise would not have happened, such as going into gentlemen's select companies at taverns, without any other ceremony than telling them that his impudence must make him welcome to a dinner with them, after which, instead of thanking them for their kindness, he would often pick a quarrel with them, though strangers, drawing his sword and fighting before he left the room. Such behaviour made him obnoxious to all who were not downright debauchees like himself, and hindered persons of rank conversing with him as they were wont.

In the meantime his favourite Mrs. Maycock, whom he had some time lived with as a wife and even prevailed with his mother to visit her as such, being no longer able to live at his rate, or bear with his temper, frequented a house in the Old Bailey, where it was supposed, and perhaps with truth, that she received other company. This made Stanley very uneasy, who like most young rakes thought himself at liberty to pursue as many women as he pleased, but could not forgive any liberties taken by a woman whom he, forsooth, had honoured with his affections.

One night therefore, seeing her in Fleet Street with a man and a woman, he came up to her and gently tapped her on the shoulder. She turning, cried, What! My dear Captain! And so on they went walking to his house in the Old Bailey. There some words happened about the mutual misfortunes they had brought upon one another. Mrs. Maycock reproached him with seducing her, and bringing on all the miseries she had ever felt; Stanley reflected on her hindering his voyage to Cape Coast, the extravagant sums he had spent upon her, and her now conversing with other men, though she had had three or four children by him. At last they grew very high, and Mrs. Maycock, who was naturally a very sweet-tempered woman, was so far provoked, as Stanley said, that she threw a cup of beer at him; upon which some ill-names passing between them, Stanley drew his sword and stabbed her between the breasts eight inches deep; immediately upon which he stopped his handkerchief into the wound.

He was quickly secured and committed to Wood Street Compter,[35] where he expressed very little concern at what had happened, laughing and giving himself abundance of airs, such as by no means became a man in his condition. On his commitment to Newgate, he seemed not to abate the least of that vivacity which was natural to his temper, and as he had too much mistaken vice for the characteristic of a fine gentleman, so nothing appeared to him so great a testimony of gallantry and courage as behaving intrepidly while death was so near its approach. He therefore entertained all who conversed with him in the prison, and all who visited him from without, with the history of his amours and the favours that had been bestowed on him by a multitude of fine ladies. Nay, his vanity and impudence was so great as to mention some of their names, and especially to asperse two ladies who lived near Cheapside Conduit.[36] But there is great reason to believe that part of this was put on to make his madness more probable at his trial, where he behaved very oddly, and when he received sentence of death, took snuff at the bar, and put on abundance of airs that were even ridiculous anywhere, and shocking and scandalous upon so melancholy an occasion.

After sentence, his carriage under his confinement altered not so much as one would have expected; he offering to lay wagers that he should never be hanged, notwithstanding his sentence, for he was resolved not to die like a dog on a string, when he had it in his power always to go out of the world a nobler way, by which he meant either a knife or opium, which were the two methods by one of which he resolved to prevent his fate. But when he found that all his pretences of madness were like to produce nothing, and that he was in danger of dying in every respect like a brute, he laid aside much of his ill-timed gaiety, and began to think of preparing for death after another manner.

These gentlemen who assisted him while in Newgate, were so kind as to offer to make up a considerable sum of money, if it could have been of any use; but finding that neither that nor their interest could do anything to save him, they frankly acquainted him therewith and begged him not to delude himself with false hopes. All the while he was in Newgate, a little boy whom he had by Mrs. Maycock, continued with him, and lay constantly in his bosom. He manifested the utmost tenderness and concern for that poor child, who by his rashness had been deprived of his mother, and whom the Law would, by its just sentence, now likewise deprive of its father. Being told that Mr. Bryan, Mrs. Maycock's brother on Tower Hill was dead, merely through concern at his sister's misfortunes and the deplorable end that followed them, Stanley clapped his hands together and cried, What, more death still? Sure I am the most unfortunate wretch that was ever born.

Some few days before his execution, talking to one of his friends, he said, I am perfectly convinced that it is false courage to avoid the just sentence of the Law, by executing the rash dictates of one's rage by one's own head. I am heartily sorry for the rash expression I have been guilty of, of that sort, and am determined to let the world see my courage fails me no more in my death than it has done in my life; and, my dear friend, added he, I never felt so much ease, quiet and satisfaction in all my life, as I have experienced, since my coming to this resolution.

But though he sometimes expressed himself in a serious and religious manner yet passion would sometimes break in upon him to the last and make him burst out into frightful and horrid speeches. Then again he would grow calm and cool, and speak with great seeming sense of God's providence in his afflictions.

He was particularly affected with two accidents which happened to him not long before his death, and which struck him with great concern at the time they happened. The first of these was a fall from his horse under Tyburn, in which he was stunned so that he could not recover strength enough to remount, but was helped on his horse again by the assistance of two friends. Not long after which, he had as bad an accident of the same kind under Newgate, which he said, made such an impression on him, that he did not go abroad for many mornings afterwards, without recommending himself in the most serious manner to the Divine protection.

Another story he also told, with many marks of real thankfulness for the narrow escape he then made from death, which happened thus. At a cider-cellar in Covent Garden he fell out with one Captain Chickley, and challenging him to fight in a dark room, they were then shut up together for some space. But a constable being sent for by the people of the house, and breaking the door open, delivered him from being sent altogether unprepared out of the world, Chickley being much too hard for him, and having given him a wound quite through the body, himself escaping with only a slight cut or two.

As the day of execution drew near, Mr. Stanley appeared more serious and much more attentive to his devotions than hitherto he had been. Yet could he not wholly contain himself even then, for the Sunday before he died, after sermon, at which he had behaved himself decently and modestly, he broke out into this wild expression, that he was only sorry he had not fired the whole house where he killed Mrs. Maycock. When he was reproved for these things he would look ashamed, and say, 'twas true, they were very unbecoming, but they were what he could not help, arising from certain starts in his imagination that hurried him into a short madness, for which he was very sorry as soon as he came to himself.

At the place of execution, to which he was conveyed in a mourning coach, he turned pale, seemed uneasy, and complained that he was very sick, entreating a gentleman by him to support him with his hand. He desired to be unbound that he might be at liberty to pray kneeling, which with some difficulty was granted. He then applied himself to his devotions with much fervency, and then submitted to his fate, but when the cap was drawn over his eyes he seemed to shed tears abundantly. Immediately before he was turned off he said his friends had provided a hearse to carry away his body and he hoped nobody would be so cruel as to deny his relations his dead limbs to be interred, adding, that unless he were assured of this, he could not die in peace.

Such was the end of a young man in person and capacity every way fitted to have made a reputable figure in the world, if either his natural principles, or his education had laid any restraint upon his vices; but as his passions hurried him beyond all bounds, so they brought a just end upon themselves, by finishing a life spent in sensual pleasures with an ignominious death, which happened at Tyburn in the twenty-fifth year of his age, on the 23rd of December, 1722.


This was an open space, facing the banquetting-house of old Whitehall, and included part of what is now Horse Guards' Parade.


This was one of the sheriff's compters—the other was in the Poultry—and served for debtors as well as criminals. It stood about half-way up Wood Street, on the east side.


There were two conduits in Cheapside; the Great, which stood in the middle of the street, near its junction with the Poultry, and the Little, which was at the other end, facing Foster Lane and Old Change.

The Life of STEPHEN GARDINER, a Highwayman and Housebreaker

Stephen Gardiner was the son of parents of middling circumstances, living at the time of his birth in Moorfields. This, perhaps, was the immediate cause of his ruin, since he learnt there, while a boy, to idle away his time, and to look on nothing as so great a pleasure as gaming and cudgel playing. This took up equally his time and his thoughts, till he grew up to about fourteen years old, when his friends placed him out as an apprentice to a weaver.

While he was with his master he did so many unlucky tricks as occasioned not only severe usage at home, but incurred also the dislike and hatred of all the neighbours; so that instead of interposing to preserve him from his master's correction, they were continually complaining and getting him beaten; nay, sometimes when his master was not ready enough to do it, would beat him themselves. Stephen was so wearied out with this kind of treatment, notwithstanding it arose solely from his own fault, that he determined to run away for good and all, thinking it would be no difficult matter for him to maintain himself, considering that dexterity with which he played at ninepins, skittles, etc. But experience quickly convinced him of the contrary, so in one month being much reduced after betaking himself to this life, by those misfortunes which were evident enough (though his passion for liberty and idleness hindered him from foreseeing them) that he had not so much as bread to eat.

In this distressed condition he was glad to return home again to his friends, imploring their charity, and that, forgetting what was passed, they would be so kind as to relieve him and put him in some method of providing for himself. Natural affection pleading for him, notwithstanding all his failings they took him home again, and soon after put him as a boy on board a corn vessel which traded to Holland and France; but the swearing, quarrelling and fighting of the sailors so frightened him, being then very young and unable to cope with them, that on his return he again implored the tenderness of his relations to permit his staying in England upon any terms, promising to live in a most sober and regular manner, provided that he might get his bread by hard labour at home, and not be exposed to the injuries of wind and weather and the abuses of seamen more boisterous than both. They again complied and put him to another trade, but work, it seems, was a thing no shape could reconcile to him, and so he ran away from thence, too, and once more put himself for a livelihood upon the contrivance of his own brain.

He went immediately to his old employment and old haunt, Moorfields, where as long as he had any money he played at cards, skittles, etc., with the chiefs of those villainous gangs that haunt the place; and when reduced to the want both of money and clothes, he attempted to pick pockets, or by playing with the lads for farthings to recruit himself. But pocket-picking was a trade in which he had very ill-luck, for taking a wig out of a gentleman's pocket at the drawing of the state lottery,[37] the man suffered him totally to take it out, then seized him and cried out Pickpocket. The boy immediately dropped it, and giving it a little kick with his foot protected his innocence which induced a good-natured person there present to stand so far his friend that he suffered no deeper that bout. But a month after, being taken in the same manner, and delivered over to the mob, they handled him with such cruelty as scarce to leave him life, though he often upon his knees begged them to carry him before a Justice and let him be committed to Newgate. But the mob were not so to be prevailed on, and this severity, as he said, cured him effectually of that method of thieving.

But in the course of his rambling life, becoming acquainted with two young fellows, whose names were Garraway and Sly, they invited him to go with them upon some of their expeditions in the night. He absolutely refused to do anything of that kind for a long time, but one evening, having been so unlucky as to lose not only his money but all his clothes off his back, he went in search of Sly and Garraway, who received him with open arms, and immediately carried him with them upon those exploits by which they got their living. Garraway proposed robbing of his brother for their first attempt, which succeeded so far as to their getting into the house; but they found nothing there but a few clothes of his brother and sister, which they took away. But Garraway bid them not be discouraged at the smallness of the booty, for his father's house was as well furnished as most men's, and their next attack should be upon that. To this they agreed, and plundered it also, taking away some spoons, tankards, salts and several other pieces of plate of considerable value; but a quick search being made, they were all three apprehended, and Gardiner being the youngest was admitted an evidence against the other two, who were convicted.

Some weeks after, Gardiner got his liberty, but being unwarned, he went on still at the same rate. The first robbery he committed afterwards was in the house of the father of one of his acquaintances on Addle Hill, where Gardiner stole softly upstairs into the garret, and stole from thence some men's apparel to a very considerable value. A while after this, he became acquainted with Mr. Richard Jones, and with him went (mounted upon a strong horse) into Wales upon what in the canting dialect is called "the Passing Lay," which in plain English is thus: They get countrymen into an alehouse, under pretence of talking about the sale of cattle, then a pack of cards is found as if by accident, and the two sharpers fall to playing with one another until one offering to lay a great wager on the game, staking the money down, the other shows his hand to the countryman, and convinces him that it is impossible but he must win, offering to let him go halves in the wager. As soon as the countryman lays down the money, these sharpers manage so as to pass off with it, which is the meaning of their cant, and this practice he was very successful in; the country people in Wales, where they travelled, having not had opportunity to become acquainted with such bites as those who live in the counties nearer London have, where the country fellows are often as adroit as any of the sharpers themselves.

It happened that the person with whom Stephen travelled had parted with his wife and at Bristol had received a gold watch and chain, laced clothes and several other things of value. This immediately put it into Gardiner's head that he might make his fortune at once, by murdering him and possessing himself of his goods; knowing also that besides these valuable things, he had near a hundred guineas about him. In order to effect this, he stole a large brass pestle out of a mortar, at the next inn, and carried it unperceived in his boots, intending as he and his companion rode through the woods to dash his brains out with it. Twice for this purpose he drew it, but his heart relenting just when he was going to give the stroke he put it up again. At last it fell out of his boot and he had much ado to get it pulled up unperceived by his companion. The next day it dropped again, and Gardiner was so much afraid of Jones's perceiving it, and himself being thereupon killed from a suspicion of his design, that he laid aside all further thoughts of that matter.

But he took occasion a day or two after to part with him, whereupon the other as Stephen was going away, called out to him, Hark ye, you Gardiner! I'll tell you somewhat. Gardiner therefore turning back. You are going up to London? said Jones. Yes, replied Gardiner. Then trust me, said the other, you're going up to be hanged.

Between Abergavenny and Monmouth, Gardiner took notice of a little house, the windows of which were shut up, but the hens and cocks in the back yard showed that it was inhabited. Gardiner thereupon knocked at the door several times, to see if anybody was at home, but perceiving none, he ventured to break open some wooden bars that lay across the window, and getting in thereat found two boxes full of clothes, and writings relating to an estate. He took only one gown, as not daring to load himself with clothes, for fear of being discovered on the road, being then coming up to London.

A very short space after his return he committed that fact for which he died, which was by breaking open the house of Dorcas Roberts, widow, and stealing thence a great quantity of linen; and he was soon after apprehended in bed with one of the fine shirts upon his back and the rest of the linen stowed under the bed. When carried before the Justice, he said that one Martin brought the linen to him, and gave him two fine shirts to conceal it in his brandy-shop; but this pretence being thought impossible both by the magistrate who committed him, and by the jury who tried him, he was convicted for that offence, and being an old offender he had no hopes of mercy.

He applied himself, therefore, with all the earnestness he was able, to prepare himself sufficiently for that change he was about to make. He said that an accident which happened about a year before gave him great apprehension, and for some time prevented his continuing in that wicked course of life. The accident he mentioned was this: being taken up for some trivial thing or other, and carried to St. Sepulchre's Watch-House, the constable was so kind as to dismiss him, but the bellman[38] of the parish happening to come in before he went out, the constable said, Young man, be careful, I am much afraid this bellman will say his verses over you; at which Gardiner was so much struck, he could scarce speak.

Stephen had a very great notion of mortifying his body, as some atonement for the crimes he had committed. He therefore fasted some time while under sentence, and though the weather was very cold, yet he went to execution with no other covering on him but his shroud. At Tyburn he addressed himself to the people and begged they would not reflect upon his parents, who knew nothing of his crimes. Seeing several of his old companions in the crowd, he called out to them and desired them to take notice of his death and by amending their lives avoid following him thither. He died the 3rd of February, 1723-4.


In 1720 a State Lottery was launched, with 100,000 tickets of £10 each. The prizes were converted into 3 per cent. stock. The issue was a failure and a loss of some £7,000 was incurred.


A parishioner of St. Sepulchre's bequeathed a sum of money for paying a bellman to visit condemned criminals in Newgate, on the night before their execution, and having rung his bell, to recite an admonitory verse and prayer. He was likewise to accost the cart on its way to the gallows, the following day, and give its inmates a similar admonition. The bell is still to be seen in the church.

The Lives of SAMUEL OGDEN, JOHN PUGH, WILLIAM FROST, RICHARD WOODMAN, and WILLIAM ELISHA, Highwaymen, Footpads, Housebreakers, etc.

Samuel Ogden was the son of a sailor in Southwark, who bred him to his own employment, in which he wrought honestly for many years until he fell very ill of dropsy, for the cure of which, being carried to St. Thomas's Hospital, he after his recovery applied himself to selling fish, instead of going again to sea. How he came to be engaged in the crimes he afterwards perpetrated we cannot well learn, and therefore shall not pretend to relate. However, he associated himself with a very numerous gang, such as Mills, Pugh, Blunt, Bishop, Gutteridge, and Matthews, who became the evidence against him. He positively averred that one of the robberies for which he was convicted, was the first he ever committed. He expressed the greatest horror and detestation for murder imaginable, protesting he was no ways guilty of that committed on Brixton Causeway.


This plate gives an excellent representation of an execution. The condemned man is in his shroud; the hangman is adjusting the knot, and at a signal the cart will drive away; nearby is the sheriff in his state carriage; and gazing on is a curious, morbid crowd of spectators.
(From the Newgate Calendar)

At the time of his trial at Kingston he behaved himself very insolently and audaciously; but when sentence had been passed upon him, most of that unruly temper was lost, and he began to think seriously of preparing for another world. He confessed that his sins were many, and that judgment against him was just, meekly accepting his death as the due rewards of his deeds. He was the example of seriousness and penitence to the other twelve malefactors who suffered with him, being about thirty-seven years of age at the time of his decease.

John Pugh, otherwise Blueskin, was born at Morpeth near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His father was a carrier in tolerable business and circumstance, who put him to be a servant in a silver-spinner's in Moorfields, where he soon learnt all sorts of wickedness, beginning with defrauding his master and doing any other little tricks of that kind, as opportunity would give him leave. We are told of him what perhaps can be hardly said of any other criminal who hath died in the same way for many years past, that though he was but twenty-two years of age, he had spent twelve of them in cheating, pilfering, and robbing. At last he fell into the gang that brought him to his death, for a robbery committed by several of them in the county of Surrey. Pugh, though so young a fellow, was so unaccountably stupid and wicked that though he made a large and particular confession of his guilt, yet it was done in such a manner as plainly showed his crimes made no just impression upon his heart; all he said, being in the language of the Kingston Ordinary, the sleepy apprehensions of unawakened ignorance, in which condition he continued to the last.

William Frost, a cripple, was the son of a pin-maker in Christ Church parish, Southwark, and as to his education, my account says it was in hereditary ignorance. He had wrought, it seems, while a boy at his father's trade of pin-making, but since he was thirteen or fourteen had addicted himself to that preparative trade to the gallows, shoeblacking. While he continued in this most honourable profession, abundance of opportunities offered for robbing in the night season, and we must do him the justice to say that they were not offered in vain. Thus by degrees he came on to robbing on the road and in the streets until he was apprehended, and upon the evidence of his companion was convicted.

The Sunday after this, he with the rest of the malefactors was brought to the parish church, which was the first time, as he declared, he had ever entered one, at least with an intention to hear and observe what was said. There he made a blundering sort of confession, and would perhaps have been more penitent if he had known well what penitence was; but he was a poor stupid, doltish wretch, scarce sensible even of the misfortune of being hanged. He was, however, very attentive in the cart to the prayer of those who were a little better instructed than himself, and finished a wretched life with an ignominious death at twenty-one years of age.

Richard Woodman was born at Newington, in Surrey. He got his bread some years by selling milk about, but thinking labour too great a price for victuals, he addicted himself to getting an easier livelihood by thieving. In this course he soon got in with a gang who let him want no instructions that were necessary to bring him to the gallows. Amongst them the above-mentioned lame man was his principal tutor. The last robbery but one that they ever committed was upon a poor man who had laid out his money in the purchase of a shoulder of mutton to feast his family, but they disappointed him by taking it away, and with it a bundle of clothes and other necessaries, by which the unfortunate person who lost them, though their value was not much in themselves, lost all he had.

His behaviour was pretty much of a piece with the rest of his companions, that is, he was so unaffected either with the shamefulness of his death or the danger of his soul that perhaps never any creatures went to death in a more odd manner than these did, whose behaviour cannot for all that be charged with any rudeness or want of decency. But religion and repentance were things so wholly new to them, and so unsuited to their comprehension, that there needed a much greater length of time than they had to have given them any true sense of their duty, to which it cannot be said they were so averse, as they were ignorant and incapable.

William Elisha was another of these wretches, but he seemed to have had a better education than most of them, though he made as ill use of it as any. He was once an evidence at Croydon assizes, where he convicted two of his companions, but the sight of their execution, and the consciousness of having preserved his own life merely by taking theirs, did not in the least contribute to his amendment, for he was no sooner at liberty but he was engaged in new crimes, until at last with those malefactors before mentioned, and with eight others, he was executed at Kingston, in the twenty-fourth year of his age, April 4th, 1724.

The Life of THOMAS BURDEN, a Robber

Thomas Burden was born in Dorsetshire, of parents in tolerable circumstances, who being persons getting their living by seamen, they bred up their son to that profession, and sent him very young to sea. It does not appear that he ever liked that employment, but rather that he was hurried into it when he was very young by the choice of his parents, and therefore in no condition to choose better for himself. He was up in the Straits several years, and while there in abundance of fights, at which time he had so much religion as to apply himself diligently to God in prayer for his protection, and made abundance of vows and resolutions of amendment, if it pleased the providence of God to preserve his life. But no sooner was the danger over, but all these promises were forgotten until the next time he was in jeopardy.

At this rate he went on until the war was over, and notwithstanding the aversion he always had to a military kind of life, yet such was his unconquerable aversion to labour, that he rather enlisted himself in the land service than submit thereto. Going, however, one day to Hounslow to the house of one of the staff officers of his regiment, and not finding him at home, but only a corporal who had been left at the house to give answers, with this corporal he sat chatting and talking until night; so that being obliged to stay there until the next morning, a discourse somehow or other happened between him and the person who entertained him, about William Zouch, an old man who lived alone on the common. And Burden having been drinking, it came into his head, how easily he might rob such an old man. Upon which, he immediately went to his house, and finding him sitting on the bench at his door, he began to talk with and ask him questions. The old man answered him with great mildness, until at last Burden drew an iron instrument out of his cane, threatening him with death if he did not reveal where his money was. Zouch thereupon brought it him in a pint pot, being but one-and-thirty shillings. Then tying the old man in his chair, Burden left him. But it seems he did not tie him so fast but that he easily got loose, and alarming the town, Burden was quickly taken, having fled along the Common, which was open to the eye for a long way, instead of taking into the town or the woods, which if he had, in all probability he might have escaped. When Whittington and Greenbury apprehended him, he did not deny the fact, but on the contrary offered them money to let him go.

After his conviction he manifested vast uneasiness at the thoughts of death, appearing wonderfully moved that he who had lived so long in the world with the reputation of an honest man, should now die with that of a thief, and in the manner of a dog. But as death grew nearer, and he saw there was no remedy, he began to be a little more penitent and resigned, especially when he was comforting himself with the hopes that his temporal punishment here might preserve him from feeling everlasting misery. With these thoughts having somewhat composed himself, he approached the place where he was to suffer, with tolerable temper and constancy, entreating the people who were there in very great numbers to pray for him, and begging that all by his example would learn to stifle the first motions of wickedness and sin, since such was the depravity of human nature that no man knew how soon he might fall. At the same place he delivered a paper in which he much extenuated the crime for which he suffered, and from whence he would feign have insinuated that it was a rash action committed when in drink, and which he should certainly have set right again when he was sober. In this frame of mind he suffered, on the 29th of April, 1724, being then about fifty years of age.

The Life of FREDERICK SCHMIDT, Alterer of Bank-Notes

When persons sin out of ignorance there is great room for pity, and when persons suddenly become guilty of evil through a precipitate yielding to the violence of their passions there is still room for extenuation. But when people sin, not only against knowledge but deliberately, and without the incitement of any violent passion such as anger or lust, even as nothing can be said in alleviation, so there is little or no room left for compassion.

Frederick Schmidt was a person born of a very honourable and wealthy family at Breslau, the capital of the Duchy of Silesia in the north-east of Germany. They educated this their son not only in such a manner as might qualify him for the occupation they designed him, of a merchant, but also gave him a most learned and liberal knowledge, such as suited a person of the highest rank. He lived, however, at Breslau as a merchant for many years, and at the request of his friends, when very young, he married a lady of considerable fortune, but upon some disgust at her behaviour they parted, and had not lived together for many years before his death.

He carried on a very considerable correspondence to Hamburg, Amsterdam and other places, and above a year before had been over in England to transact some affairs, and thought it, it seems, so easy a matter to live here by his wits, that he returned hither with the Baron Vanloden and the Countess Vanloden. It is very hard to say what these people really were, some people taking Schmidt for the baron's servant, but he himself affirmed, and indeed it seems most likely, that they were companions, and that both of them exerted their utmost skill in defrauding others to maintain her.

The method they took here for that purpose was by altering bank-notes, which they did so dexterously as absolutely to prevent all suspicion. They succeeded in paying away two of them, but the fraud being discovered by the cheque-book at the bank, Schmidt was apprehended and brought to a trial. There it was sworn that being in possession of a bank-note of £25 he had turned it into one of £85, and with the Baron Vanloden tendered it to one Monsieur Mallorey, who gave him goods for it, and another note of £20. It was deposed by the Baron Vanloden and Eleanora Sophia, Countess Vanloden, that Schmidt took the last mentioned note of £20 upstairs, and soon after brought it down again, the word "twenty" being taken out; upon which they drew it through a plate of gummed water, and then smoothing it between several papers with a box iron, the words "one hundred" were written in its place. Then he gave it to the Baron and the interpreter to go out with it and buy plate, which they did to the amount of £40. It appeared also, by the same witnesses, that Schmidt had owned to the Baron that he could write twenty hands, and that if he had but three or four hundred pounds, he could swell them to fifty thousand. It was proved also by his own confession that he had written over to his correspondent in Holland, to know whether English bank-notes went currently there or not. Upon which he was found guilty by a party-jury, that singular favour permitted to foreigners by the equitable leniency of the Law of England. Yet after this he could hardly be persuaded that his life was in any danger; nay, when he came into the condemned hold, he told the unhappy persons there, in as good English as he could speak, that he should not be hanged with them.

For the first two or three days, therefore, that he was under sentence, he refused to look so much as on a book, or to say a prayer, employing that time with unwearied diligence in writing a multitude of letters to merchants, foreign ministers, and German men of quality and such like, still holding fast his old opinion that his life was not in the least danger; and when a Lutheran minister was so kind as to visit him, he would hardly condescend to speak with him. But when he had received a letter from him who had all along buoyed him up with hopes of safety, in which he informed him that all those hopes were vain, he then began to apply himself with a real concern to the Lutheran minister whom he had before almost rejected, but did not appear terrified or much affrighted thereat. However, quickly after, he fell into a fit of sickness and became so very weak as not to be able to stand. He confessed, however, to the foreign divine who attended him that he was really guilty of that crime for which he was to die, though it did not appear that he conceived it to be capital at the time he did it, nor, indeed, was he easily convinced it was so, until within a few days of his execution.

There had prevailed a report about the town that he had done something of the like nature at Paris, for which he had been obliged to fly, but he absolutely denied that, and seemed to think the story derived its birth from the Baron, who, he said, was an apothecary's son, and from his acquaintance with his father's trade, knew the secret of expunging waters. He added, that his airs of innocence were very unjust, he having been guilty of abundance of such tricks, and the Countess of many more than he. Thus, as is very common in such cases, these unhappy people blackened one another. But the Baron and the Countess had the advantage, since by their testimony poor Schmidt was despatched out of the way, and 'tis probable their credit at the time of his execution, was not in any great danger of being hurt by his character of them.

When he came to Tyburn, being attended in the cart by the Lutheran minister whom I have so often mentioned, he was forced to be held up, being so weak as not to be able to stand alone. He joined with the prayers at first, but could not carry on his attention to the end, looking about him, and staring at the other prisoners, with a curiosity that perhaps was never observed in any other prisoner in his condition what-so ever; neither his looks not his behaviour seemed to express so much terror as was struck into others by the sight of his condition. So after recommending to the minister by letter, to inform his aged mother in Germany of his unhappy fate, he requested the executioner to put him to death as easily as he could. He then submitted to his fate on the 4th of April, 1724, being in the forty-fifth year of his age.

The Life of PETER CURTIS, a Housebreaker, etc.

Peter Curtis, alias Friend, was born of honest but industrious parents in the country, at a very great distance from London. Finding a method to get him put apprentice to a ship's carpenter, they were very much pleased therewith, hoping that they had settled him in a trade in which he might live well, and much beyond anything they could have expected to have done for him.

But Peter himself was of a very different opinion, for from the hour he came to it he greatly disliked his profession, and though he went to sea with his master once or twice, yet he failed not to take hold of the first opportunity to set himself at liberty by running away from him. From that time he devoted himself to live a life of pleasure, having contracted an obstinate aversion to business and to everything which looked like labour; though, as be acknowledged, the hand of Providence hindered him from accomplishing his wish, making this life that he chose a greater burden and hardship to him than that which he had relinquished.

He found means to get into gentlemen's service, and lived in them with tolerable reputation and credit for the space of several years. At last he was resolved to go to sea again, but he had so unconquerable an aversion to his own trade that he chose rather going in the capacity of a trumpeter, having learnt how to play on that instrument at one of his services. He sailed on board the Salisbury, in that expedition Sir George Byng made to the Straits of Messina, when he attacked and destroyed the Spanish Fleet.[39] There Peter had the good luck to escape without any hurt, though there were many killed and wounded on board that ship. He afterwards served in a regiment of dragoons, where by prudent management he saved no less than fourscore pounds. With this he certainly had it in his power to have put himself in some way of doing well, but he omitted it, and falling into the company of a lewd woman, she persuaded him to take lodgings with her, and they lived together for some space as man and wife.

During this time he made a shift to be bound for one of his companions, for a very considerable sum, which the other had the honesty to leave him to pay. The creditor, upon information that Curtis was packing up his awls[40] to go to sea, resolved to secure him for his debt. But not being able to catch him upon a writ, he made up a felonious charge against him, and having thereupon got him committed to the Poultry Compter, as soon as the Justice had discharged him, he got him taken for the debt, and recommitted to the same place. Here he was soon reduced to a very melancholy condition, having neither necessaries of life not any prospect of a release. The wretched company with which such prisons are always full, corrupted him as to his honesty, and taught him first to think of making himself rich by taking away the properties of others.

When he came out of prison, upon an agreement with his creditor, he soon got into service with Mr. Fluellen Aspley, a very eminent chinaman by Stocks Market.[41] When he was there, the bad woman with whom he still conversed, was continually dunning his ears with how easy a matter it was for him to make himself and her rich and easy by pilfering from his master, telling him that she and her friends in the country would help him off with a thousand pounds worth of china, if need were, and baiting him continually, not to lose such an opportunity of enriching them. The fellow himself was averse to such practices, and nothing but her continual teasing could have induced him ever to have entertained a design of so base a nature.

At last he condescended so far as to enquire how it might be done with safety. For that, replied the woman, trust to my management. I'll put you in a way to bring off the most valuable things in the house, and yet get a good character, and be trusted and valued by the family for having robbed them. At that Curtis stared, and said, if she'd but put him to such a road he did not know but he might comply with her request. She thereupon opened her scheme to him this: Here's my son, you shall lift him into the house, and after you have given him plate and what you think proper and my boy, who is a very dexterous lad, is got off with them, you have nothing to do but to put an end of a candle under the Indian cabinet in the counting-house, and leave things to themselves. The neighbourhood will soon be alarmed by the fire, and if you are apparently honest in what you take away publicly, there will be no suspicion upon you for what went before, which will be either thought to be destroyed in the fire, or to be taken away by some other means.

This appeared so shocking a project to Curtis that he absolutely refused to comply with the burning, though with much ado he was brought to stealing a large quantity of plate, which he brought to this woman, but in attempting to sell it she was stopped, and the robbery discovered. However, there being no direct evidence at first against Curtis, he was released from his confinement on suspicion, even by the intercession of Mr. Aspley himself. But a little time discovering the mistake, and that he was really the principal in the robbery, he was thereupon again apprehended, and at the next sessions tried and convicted.

While he lay under sentence of death, he behaved himself as if he had totally resigned all thoughts of the world, or of continuing in it, praying with great fervency and devotion, making full and large confession, and doing every other act which might induce men to believe that he was a real penitent, and sincerely sorry and affected for the crime he had committed.

But it seems that this was all put on, for the true source of his easiness and resignation was the assurance he had in himself of escaping death either by pardon, or by an escape; for which purpose, he and those who were under sentence with him had provided all necessaries, loosened their irons and intended to have effected it at the expense of the lives of their keepers. But their design being discovered the Saturday before their deaths, and Curtis perceiving that his hopes of pardon were ill-founded, began to apply himself to repenting in earnest. Yet there was very little time left for so great a work, especially considering that nothing but the necessity of the thing inclined him thereto, and that he had spent that respite allowed him by the clemency of the Law to prepare for death in contriving to fly from justice at the expense of the blood of others. How he performed this it is impossible for us to know, and must be left to be decided by the Great Judge to whom the secrets of all hearts are open. However, at his death he appeared tolerably composed and cheerful, and turning to the people said, You see, they who contrived to burn the house and the people in it escaped, but I, who never consented to any such thing, die as you see. Some discourse there was of his having buried a portmanteau and about fourteen hundred pounds; he was spoke to about it, and did not deny he had it. He said he hid it upon Finchley Common and that by the arms, which was the Spread Eagle, he took to be an ambassador's. As to the diamond ring he had been seen to wear, he did not affirm he came very honestly by it, but would not give any direct answer concerning it, and seemed uneasy that he should have such questions put to him at the very point of death. He suffered the 15th of June, 1724, about thirty years of age.


See note, page 49.


An old-fashioned play on the words "awl" and "all," and means, of course, packing up all his possessions.


A busy market for fish and vegetables, which occupied the site on which the present Mansion House stands. The market was moved, in 1737, to Farringdon Street.

The Life of LUMLEY DAVIS, a Highwayman

Such is the frailty of human nature that neither the best examples nor the most liberal education can warrant an honest life, or secure to the most careful parents the certainty of their children not becoming a disgrace to them, either in their lives or by their deaths.

This malefactor, of whom the course of our memoirs now obliges us to make mention, was the son of a man of the same name, viz., Lumley Davis, who was, it seems, in circumstances good enough to procure his sons being brought up in one of the greatest and best schools in England. There his proficiency procured him an election upon the establishment, and he became respected as a person whose parts would do honour even to that remarkable seminary of learning where he had been bred. But unaccountably growing fond, all on a sudden, of going to some trade or employment and absolutely refusing to continue any longer at his studies, his friends were obliged to comply with the ardency of his request and accordingly put him apprentice to an eminent vintner at the One Tun Tavern, in the Strand.

He continued there but a little while before he was as much dissatisfied with that as he had been with learning, so that leaving his master, and leading an unsettled kind of life, he fell into great debts, being unable to satisfy which, when demanded, he was arrested and thrown into the Marshalsea. There for some time he continued in a very deplorable condition, till by the charitable assistance of a friend, his debt was paid and the fees of the prison discharged. After this he went into the Mint,[42] where drinking accidentally at one of the tap-houses in that infamous place, and being very much out of humour with the low and profligate company he was obliged to converse with there, he took notice of a very genteel man, who sat at the table by himself. He inquired of some persons with whom he was drinking, who that man was. They answered that they could not tell themselves; he was lately come over for shelter amongst them; he was a gentleman, as folks said, of much learning, and though he never conversed with anybody, yet was kind enough to afford them his assistance, either with his pen, or by his advice when they asked it. On this character Davis was very industrious to become his acquaintance, and Harman, which was the other man's name, not having been able to meet with anybody there with whom he could converse, he very readily embraced the society of Davis; with whom comparing notes, and finding their case to be pretty much the same, they often condoled one another's misfortunes and as often projected between themselves how to gain some supply without depending continually upon the charity of their friends.

In the meantime, Davis was so unfortunate as to fall ill of a languishing distemper, which brought him so low as to oblige him to apply for relief to that friend who had discharged him out of the Marshalsea. He was so good as to get him into St. Thomas's Hospital, and to supply him while there with whatever was necessary for his support. When he was so far recovered as to be able to go abroad, this kind and good friend provided for him a country habitation, where he might be able to live in privacy and comfort and indulge himself in those inclinations which he began again to show towards learning.

Some time after he had been there, not being able to support longer that quiet kind of life which before he did so earnestly desire, notwithstanding the entreaties of his friends, he came up to London again, where falling into idle company, he became addicted to the vices of drinking and following bad women, things which before he had both detested and avoided. Not long after this, he again found out Mr. Harman, and renewed his acquaintance with him. He enquired into his past adventures and how he had supported himself since they last had been together, and on perceiving that they were far from being on the mending hand with him, the fatal proposal was at last made of going upon the road, and there robbing such persons as might seem best able to spare it, and at the same time furnish them with the largest booty.

The first person they attacked was one John Nichols, Esq., from whom they took a guinea and seventeen shillings, with which they determined to make themselves easy a little, and not go that week again upon any such hazardous exploits. But alas, their resolutions had little success, for that very evening they were both apprehended and on full evidence at the next sessions were convicted and received sentence of death, within a very short time after they had committed the crime.

Davis all along flattered himself with the hopes of a pardon or a reprieve and therefore was not perhaps so serious as he ought, and as he otherwise would have been. Not that those hopes made him either licentious or turbulent, but rather disturbed his meditations and hindered his getting over the terrors which death always brings to the unprepared. But when, on his name being in the death warrant, he found there was no longer any hopes, he then, indeed, applied himself without losing a moment to the great concern of saving his soul, now there was no hopes of preserving his body.

However, neither his education nor all the assistance he could receive from those divines that visited him, could bring him to bear the approach of death with any tolerable patience. Even at the place of execution, he endeavoured as much as he could to linger away the time, spoke to the Ordinary to spin out the prayers, and to the executioner to forbear doing his office as long as it was possible. However, he spoke with great kindness and affection to his companion, Mr. Harman, shook hands with those who were his companions in death, and at last submitted to his fate, being then about twenty-three years of age.


The Southwark Mint was a sanctuary for insolvent debtors and a nest of infamy in general. It stood over against St. George's church.

The Life of JAMES HARMAN, Highwayman

James Harman was the son of a merchant in the City of London, who took care to furnish his son with such an education as enabled him, when about fourteen years of age, to be removed to the University. His behaviour there was like that of too many others, spent in diversities instead of study, and in a progression of vice, instead of improving in learning. After having been there about three years, and having run into such debts as he saw no probability of discharging, he was forced to leave it abruptly; and his father, much grieved at this behaviour, bought him an ensign's commission in the army, where he continued in Jones's Regiment till it was disbanded. Then, indeed, being forced to live as he could, and the assistance of friends, though large, yet no ways suited to his expenses, he became so plunged in debt and other misfortunes that he was in necessity of going over to the Mint, where reflecting on his own follies, he became very reserved and melancholy. He would probably have quite altered his course of life if opportunity had offered, or if he had not fallen in that company which by a similarity of manner induced him to fall into the commission of such crimes as would not probably have otherwise entered his head.

The fact which he and the before-mentioned Davis committed, was their first and last attempt, but Mr. Harman, all the time he lay under sentence (without suffering himself to be amused by expectations of success from those endeavours which he knew his friends used to save his life,) accustomed himself to the thoughts of death, performing all the duties requisite from a person of his condition for atoning the evils of a misspent life, and making his peace with that Being from whom he had received so great a capacity of doing well, and which he had so much abused.

Having spent the whole time of his confinement after this manner, he did not appear in any degree shocked or confounded when his name being to the death warrant left him no room to doubt of what must be his fate. At the place of execution he appeared not only perfectly easy and serene, but with an air of satisfaction that could arise only from the peace he enjoyed within. Being asked if he had anything to say to the people, he rose up, and turning towards them said, I hope you will all make that use of my being exposed to you as a spectacle which the Law intends, and by the sight of my death avoid such acts as may bring you hither, with the same Justice that they do me.

He suffered about the twenty-fifth year of his age, the 28th of August, 1724, at Tyburn.

The Life of JOHN LEWIS, alias LAURENCE, a Thief, Highwayman, etc.

One great cause of that degeneracy we observe amongst the lower part of the human species arises from a mistake which has generally prevailed in the education of young people throughout all ages. Parents are sometimes exceedingly assiduous that their children should read well and write a good hand, but they are seldom solicitous about their making a due use of their reason, and hardly ever enquire into the opinions which, while children, they entertain of happiness or misery, and the paths which lead to either of them. This is the true and natural intent of all education whatsoever, which can never tend to anything but teaching persons how to live easily and seducing their affections to the bounds prescribed them by the law of God and their country.

John Lewis, alias Laurence, had doubtless parents who bred him somewhere, though the papers I have do not afford me light enough to say where. This indeed, I find, that he was bred apprentice to a butcher, took up his freedom in the City, and worked for a considerable space as a journeyman. For his honesty we have no vouchers for any part of that time, for in his apprenticeship he fell into the use of profligate company, who taught him all those vices which were destructive to his future life. He grew fond of everything which looked like lewdness and debauchery, drank hard, was continually idling about; above all, strumpets the most abandoned, both in their manner and discourse, were the very ultimate end of his wishes, insomuch that he would often say he had nothing to answer for in debauching modest women, for they were a set of creatures he could never so much as endure to converse with.

His usual method of living with his mistresses was this: as soon as the impudence and lewdness of a woman had made her infamous, even amongst the hackney coachmen, pickpockets, footpads and such others of his polite acquaintance, then Lewis thought her a fit person for his turn, and used to live with her for the space of perhaps a month; then growing tired of her, he went to look for another.

This practice of his grew at last so well known that he found it a little difficult to get women who would take up with him upon his terms; but there was one Moll Davis, who for her dexterity in picking of pockets amongst those of her own tribe went by the name of Diver, who was so great a scandal to her sex that the most abandoned of that low crew with whom he conversed, hated and despised her. With her Lewis went to live after his usual manner, and was very fond of her after his way, for about a fortnight; at the end of which he grew fractious, and in about nine weeks' time more he beat her. Moll wept and took on at a sad rate for his unkindness and told him that if would but promise faithfully never to live with any other woman, she should fairly present him with a brace of hundred pounds, which she had lodged in the hands of an uncle who knew nothing of her way of life, but lived reputably at such a place.

This was the right way of touching Lewis's temper. He began to put on as many good looks as his face was capable of wearing, and made use of as many kind expressions as he could remember out of the Academy of Compliments, until the day came that she was to meet her uncle at Smithfield Market. They then went very lovingly together to an inn upon the paven stones, where Moll asked very readily at the bar if Mr. Tompkins (which was the name of her uncle) was there. The woman of the house made her a low curtsy and said he was only stepped over the way to be shaved, and she would call him. She went accordingly and brought the grave old man, who as soon as he came into the room said, Well, Mary, is this thy husband? Yes, sir, answered she, this is the person I have promised to bring you. Upon which the old man thrust out his hand and said, Come, friend, as you have married my niece, you and I must be better acquainted. Lewis scraped him a good bow as he could, and giving his hand in return, the old fellow laid hold on him somewhat above the wrist, stamped with his right foot, and then closing with him got him down.

In the meanwhile, half a dozen fellows broke into the room and one of them seizing him by the arms another pulled out a small twine, and bound him; then shoving him downstairs, they had no sooner got into Smithfield, then the mob cried out, Here's the rogue! Here's the dog that held a penknife to the old grazier's throat, while a woman and another man robbed him. It seems the story was true of Moll, who by thus taking and then swearing it upon Lewis, who had never so much as heard of it, escaped with impunity, and besides that got five guineas for her pains from the brother of the old man, who upon this occasion played the part of her uncle. If the grazier had been a hasty, rash man, Lewis had certainly hanged for the fact, but looking hard upon him at his trial, he told the Court he was sure that Lewis was not the man, for though his eyes were not very good, he could easily distinguish his voice, and added that the man who robbed him was taller than himself, whereas Lewis was much shorter. By which means he had the good luck to come off, though not without lying two sessions in Newgate.

As soon as be came abroad be threatened Moll Davis hard for what she had done, and swore as soon as he could find her to cut her ears off; but she made light of that, and dared him to come and look for her at the brandy-shop where she frequented. Lewis hearing that resolved to go thither and beat her, and knowing the usual time of her coming thither to be about eleven o'clock at night, he chose that time to come also. But Moll, the day before, had made one of her crew who had turned evidence, put him into his information, and the constables and their assistants being ready planted, they seized him directly and carried him to his old lodgings in Newgate.

He was acquitted upon this next sessions, there being no evidence against him but the informer, but the Court ordered him to find security for his good behaviour. That proved two months' work, so that in all it was a quarter of a year before he got out of Newgate for the second time. Then, hearing Davis had picked a gentleman's pockets of a considerable sum, and kept out of the way upon it, he resolved to be even with her for the trouble she had cost him, and for that purpose hunted through all her old places of resort, in order to find out how to have her apprehended. Moll hearing of it, got her sister, who followed the same trade with herself, to waylay him at the brandy-shop in Fleet Street. There Susan was very sweet upon him, and being as impudent as her sister, Lewis resolved to take up with her, at least for a night; but she pretended reasons why he could not go home with her, and he complaining that he did not know where to get a lodging, she gave him half a crown and a large silver medal, which she said would pawn for five shillings, and appointed to meet him the next night at the same place. In the morning Lewis goes with the silver piece to a pawnbroker at Houndsditch; the broker said he would take it into the next room and weigh it, and about ten minutes after returned with a constable and two assistants, the medal having been advertised in the papers as taken with eleven guineas in a green purse out of a gentleman's pocket, and was the very robbery for which Moll Davis kept out of the way.

When he got over this, he went down into the country, and having been so often in prison for naught, he resolved to merit it now for something. So on the Gravesend Road he went upon the highway, and having been, as I told you, bred up a butcher, the weapon he made use of to rob with was his knife. The first robbery he attempted was upon an old officer who was retired into that part of the country to live quiet. Lewis bolted out upon him from behind the corner of a hedge, and clapping a sharp pointed knife to his breast, with a volley of oaths commanded him to deliver. This was new language to the gentleman to whom it was offered, yet seeing how great an advantage the villain had of him, he thought it the most prudent method to comply, and gave him therefore a few shillings which were in his coat-pocket. Lewis very highly resented this, and told him he did not use him like a gentleman; that he would search him himself. In order to do this, clapping his knife into his mouth as he used to do when preparing a sheep for the shambles, he fell to ransacking the gentleman's pockets. He had hardly got his hand into one of them, but the gentleman snatched the knife out of his mouth and in the wrench almost broke his jaw. Lewis hereupon took to his heels, but the country being raised upon him, he was apprehended just as he was going to take water at Gravesend. But his pride in refusing the gentleman's silver happened very luckily for him here, for on his trial at the next assizes, the indictment being laid for a robbery, the jury acquitted him and he was once more put into a road of doing well, which according to his usual method he made lead towards the gallows.

The first week he was out, he broke open a house in Ratcliff Highway, from whence he took but a small quantity of things, and those of small value, because there happened to be nothing better in the way. In a few days after this, he snatched off a woman's pocket in the open street, for which fact being immediately apprehended, he was at the next sessions at the Old Bailey, tried and convicted, but by the favour of the Court ordered for transportation.

A woman whom at this time he called his wife, happened to be under the like sentence at the same time. They went therefore together, and were each of them such turbulent dispositions that the captain of the transport thought fit to promise them their liberty in a most solemn manner, as soon as they came on shore in Carolina, provided they would be but quiet. To this they agreed, and they kept their words so well, that the captain performed his promise and released them at their arrival in South Carolina, upon which they made no long stay there, but found a method to come back in the same ship. Upon arrival in England they were actually married, but they did not live long together, Lewis finding that she conversed with other men, and being in fear, lest in hopes of favour, she should discover his return from transportation, and by convicting him save herself.

Upon these apprehensions, he thought fit to go again to sea, in a ship bound for the Straits; but falling violently sick at Genoa, they left him there. And though he might afterwards have gone to his vessel, his old thought and wishes returned and he took the advantage of the first ship to return to England. Here he found many of his old acquaintances, carrying on the business of plunder in every shape. He joined with them, and in their company broke open with much difficulty an alehouse in Fore Street, at the sign of the King of Hearts, where they took a dozen of tankards, which they apprehended to be of silver; but finding upon examination they were no better than pewter well scoured, they judged there would be more danger in selling them than they were worth. Therefore having first melted them, they threw them away; but being a little fearful of robbing in company, he took to his old method of robbing by himself in the streets. But the first attempt he made to do this was in the old Artillery Ground,[43] where he snatched a woman's pocket; and she crying out raised the neighbourhood. They pursued him, and after wounding two or three persons desperately, he was taken and committed to his old mansions in Newgate, and being tried at the next sessions was found guilty and from that time could not enjoy the least hopes of life. But he continued still very obdurate, being so hardened by a continual series of villainous actions that he seemed to have no idea whatsoever of religion, penitence or atoning by prayers, for the numerous villainies he had committed.

At the place of execution he said nothing to the people, only that he was sorry he had not stayed in Carolina, because if he had, he should never have come to be hanged, and so finished his life in the same stupid manner in which he had lived. He was near forty years of age at the time he suffered, which was on the 27th of June, 1720.


This was the exercising ground of the Train Bands and the Honourable Artillery Company. It was on the west side of Finsbury Square.

The History of the WALTHAM BLACKS and their transactions to the death of RICHARD PARVIN, EDWARD ELLIOT, ROBERT KINGSHELL, HENRY MARSHALL, JOHN PINK and EDWARD PINK, and JAMES ANSELL alias PHILLIPS, at Tyburn, whose lives are also included

Such is the unaccountable folly which reigns in too great a part of the human species, that by their own ill-deeds, they make such laws necessary for the security of men's persons and properties, as by their severity, unless necessity compelled them, would appear cruel and inhuman, and doubtless those laws which we esteem barbarous in other nations, and even some which appear so though anciently practised in our own, had their rise from the same cause.

I am led to this observation from the folly which certain persons were guilty of in making small insurrections for the sake only of getting a few deer, and going on, because they found the leniency of the laws could not punish them at present, until they grew to that height as to ride in armed troops, blacked and disguised, in order the more to terrify those whom they assaulted, and wherever they were denied what they thought proper to demand, whether venison, wine, money, or other necessaries for their debauched feasts, would by letter threaten plunder and destroying with fire and sword, whomever they thought proper.

These villainies being carried on with a high hand for some time in the years 1722 and 1723, their insolence grew at last so intolerable as to oblige the Legislature to make a new law against all who thus went armed and disguised, and associated themselves together by the name of Blacks, or entered into any other confederacies to support and assist one another in doing injuries and violences to the persons and properties of the king's subjects.

By this law it was enacted that after the first day of June, 1723, whatever persons armed with offensive weapons, and having their faces blacked, or otherwise disguised, should appear in any forest, park or grounds enclosed with any wall or fence, wherein deer were kept, or any warren where hares or conies are kept, or in any highway, heath or down, or unlawfully hunt, kill or steal any red or fallow deer, or rob any warren, or steal fish of any pond, or kill or wound cattle, or set fire to any house or outhouses, stack, etc., or cut down or any otherway destroy trees planted for shelter or profit, or shall maliciously shoot at any person, or send a letter demanding money or other valuable things, shall rescue any person in custody of any officer for any such offences, or by gifts or promise, procure any one to join with them, shall be deemed guilty of felony without benefit of clergy, and shall suffer pains of death as felons so convicted.

Nor was even this thought sufficient to remedy those evils, which the idle follies of some rash persons had brought about, but a retrospect was also by the same Act had to offences heretofore committed, and all persons who had committed any crimes punishable by this Act, after the second of February, 1722, were commanded to render themselves before the 24th of July, 1723, to some Justice of his Majesty's Court of King's Bench, or to some Justice of the Peace for the county where they lived, and there make a full and exact confession of the crimes of such a nature which they had committed, the times when, and the places where, and persons with whom, together with an account of such persons' places of abode as had with them been guilty as aforesaid, in order to their being thereupon apprehended, and brought to judgment according to Law, on pain of being deemed felons, without benefit of clergy, and suffering accordingly; but were entitled to a free pardon and forgiveness in case that before the 24th of July they surrendered and made such discovery.

Justices of Peace by the said Act were required on any information being made before them by one or more credible persons, against any person charged with any of the offences aforesaid, to transmit it under their hands and seals to one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, who by the same Act is required to lay such information and return before his Majesty in Council; whereupon an order is to issue for the person so charged to surrender within forty days. And in case he refuse or neglect to surrender within that time, then from the day in which the forty days elapsed, he is to be deemed as a felon convict, and execution may be awarded as attainted of felony by a verdict.

Every person who, after the time appointed for the surrender of the person, shall conceal, aid or succour him, knowing the circumstances in which he then stands, shall suffer death as a felon, without benefit of clergy, and that people might the more readily hazard their persons for the apprehending such offenders, it is likewise enacted that if any person shall be wounded so as to lose an eye, or the use of any limb in endeavouring to take persons charged with the commission of crimes within this law, then on a certificate from the Justices of the Peace of his being so wounded, the sheriff of the county, if commanded within thirty days after the sight of such certificate, to pay the said wounded persons £50 under pain of forfeiting £10 on failure thereof, and in case any person should be killed in seizing such persons as aforesaid, then the said £50 is to be paid to the executors of the person to be killed.

It cannot seem strange that in consequence of so extraordinary an act of legislature, many of these presumptious and silly people should be apprehended, and a considerable number of them having upon their apprehension been committed to Winchester gaol, seven of them were by Habeas Corpus, removed for the greater solemnity of their trial to Newgate, and for their offence brought up and arraigned at the King's Bench Bar, Westminster. There being convicted on full evidence, all of them of felony, and three of murder, I shall inform ye, one by one, of what has come to my hand in relation to their crimes, and the manner and circumstances with which they were committed.

Richard Parvin was master of a public-house at Portsmouth, a man of dull and dogmatic disposition, who continually denied his having been in any manner concerned with these people, though the evidence against him at his trial was as full and as direct as possibly could have been expected, and he himself evidently proved to have been on the spot where the violences committed by the other prisoners were transacted. In answer to this, he said that he was not with them, though indeed he was upon the forest, for which he gave this reason. He had, he said, a very handsome young wench who lived with him, and for that reason being admired by many of his customers, she took it in her head one day to run away. He hearing that she had fled across the forest, pursued her, and in that pursuit calling at the house of Mr. Parford, who keeps an alehouse in the forest, this man being an evidence against the other Blacks, took him it seems into the number, though as he said, he could fully have cleared himself if he had had any money to have sent for some witnesses out of Berkshire. But the mayor of Portsmouth seizing, as soon as he was apprehended, all his goods, put his family into great distress and whether he could have found them or not, hindered his being able to produce any witnesses at his trial.

He persevered in these professions of his innocency to the very last, still hoping for a reprieve, and not only feeding himself with such expectations while in prison, but also gazed earnestly when at the tree, in hopes that pardon would be brought him, until the cart drew away and extinguished life and the desire of life together.

Edward Elliot, a boy of about seventeen years of age, whose father was a tailor at a village between Petworth and Guildford, was the next who received sentence of death with Parvin. The account he gave of his coming into this society has something very odd in it, and which gives a fuller idea of the strange whims which possessed these people. The boy said that about a year before his being apprehended, thirty or forty men met him in the county of Surrey and hurried him away. He who appeared to be the chief of them told him that he enlisted him in the service of the King of the Blacks, in pursuance of which he was to disguise his face, obey orders of whatsoever kind they were, such as breaking down fish ponds, burning woods, shooting deer, taking also an oath to be true to them, or they by their art magic would turn him into a beast, and as such make him carry their burdens, and live like a horse upon grass and water.

He said, also, that in the space of time he continued with them, he saw several experiments of their witchcraft, for that once when two men had offended them by refusing to comply in taking their oath and obeying their orders, they caused them immediately to be blindfolded and stopping them in holes of the earth up to their chin, ran at them as if they had been dogs, bellowing and barking as it were in their ears; and when they had plagued them awhile in this ridiculous manner they took them out, and bid them remember how they offended any of the Black Nation again, for if they did, they should not escape so well as they had at present. He had seen them also, he said, oblige carters to drive a good way out of the road, and carry whatsoever venison or other thing they had plundered to the places where they would have them; that the men were generally so frightened with their usage and so terrified with the oaths they were obliged to swear, that they seldom complained, or even spoke of their bondage.

As to the fact for which they died, Elliot gave this account: that in the morning when that fact was committed for which he died, Marshall, Kingshell and four others came to him and persuaded him to go to Farnham Holt, and that he need not fear disobliging any gentlemen in the country, some of whom were very kind to this Elliot. They persuaded him that certain persons of fortune were concerned with them and would bear him harmless if he would go. He owned that at last he consented to go with them, but trembled all the way, insomuch that he could hardly reach the Holt. While they were engaged in the business for which they came, viz., killing the deer, the keepers came upon them. Elliot was wandered a considerable way from his companions after a fawn which he intended to send as a present to a young woman at Guildford; him therefore they quickly seized and bound, and leaving him in that condition, went in search of the rest of his associates. It was not long before they came up with them. The keepers were six, the Blacks were seven in number, so they fell to it warmly with quarter-staffs. The keepers unwilling to have lives taken, advised them to retire, but upon their refusing, and Marshall's firing a gun, by which one of the keepers belonging to the Lady How was slain, they discharged a blunderbuss and shattered the thigh of one Barber, amongst the Blacks. Upon this three of his associates ran away, and the two others, Marshall and Kingshell were likewise taken, and so the fray for the present ended.

Elliot lay bound all the while within hearing, and in the greatest agonies imaginable, at the consideration that whatever blood was spilt he should be as much answerable for it as these who shed it; in which he was not mistaken, for the keepers returning after the fight was over, carried him away bound and he never had his fetters off after, till the morning of his execution. He behaved himself very soberly, quietly and with much seeming penitence and contrition. He owned the justice of the Law in punishing him, and said he more especially deserved to suffer, since at the time of the committing this fact, he was servant to a widow lady, where he wanted nothing to make him happy or easy.

Robert Kingshell was twenty-six years old, and lived in the same house with his parents, being apprentice to his brother a shoemaker. His parents were very watchful over his behaviour and sought by every method to prevent his taking to ill courses, or being guilty of any debauchery whatever. The night before this unhappy accident fell out, as he and the rest of the family were sleeping in their beds, Barber made a signal at his chamber window, it being then about eleven o'clock. Upon this Kingshell arose and got softly out of the window; Barber took him upon his horse, and away they went to the Holt, twelve miles distant, calling in their way upon Henry Marshall, Elliot and the rest of their accomplices. He said it was eight o'clock in the morning before the keepers attacked them, he owned they bid them retire, and that he himself told them they would, provided the bound man (Elliot) was released and delivered into their hands, but that proposition being refused, the fight at once grew warm. Barber's thigh was broken, and Marshall killed the keeper with a shot; being thereupon very hard pressed, three of their companions ran away, leaving him and Marshall to fight it out. Elliot being already taken, and Barber disabled, it was not long before they were in the same unhappy condition with their companions. From the time of their being apprehended, Kingshell laid aside all hopes of life, and applied himself with great fervency and devotion to enable him in what alone remained for him to do, viz., dying decently.

Henry Marshall, about thirty-six years of age, the unfortunate person by whose hand the murder was committed, seemed to be the least sensible of any of the evils he had done, although such was the pleasure of Almighty God that till the day before his execution, he neither had his senses, nor the use of his speech. When he recovered it, and a clergyman represented to him the horrid crime of which he had been guilty, he was so far from showing any deep sense of that crime of shedding innocent blood, that he made light of it, said he might stand upon his own defence, and was not bound to run away and leave his companions in danger. This was the language he talked for the space of twenty-four hours before his death, in which he enjoyed the use of speech; and so far was he from thanking those who charitably offered him their admonitions, that he said he had not forgot himself, but had already taken care of what he thought necessary for his soul. However, he did not attempt in the least to prevaricate, but fairly acknowledged that he committed the fact for which he died, though nothing could oblige him to speak of it in any manner as if he was sorry for or repented of it, farther than for having occasioned his own misfortunes; so strong is the prejudice which vulgar minds acquire by often repeating to themselves and in company certain positions, however ridiculous and false. And sure, nothing could be more so than for a man to fancy he had a right to imbrue his hands in the blood of another, who was in the execution of his office, and endeavouring to hinder the commission of an illegal act.

These of whom I have last spoken were all concerned together in the before-mentioned fact, which was attended with murder; but we are now to speak of the rest who were concerned in the felony only, for which they with the above-mentioned Parvin suffered. Of these were two brothers, whose names were John and Edward Pink, carters in Portsmouth, and always accounted honest and industrious fellows before this accident happened. They did not, however, deny their being guilty, but on the contrary ingenuously confessed the truth of what was sworn, and mentioned some other circumstances that had been produced at the trial which attended their committing it. They said they met Parvin's housekeeper upon that road, that they forced her to cut the throat of a deer which they had just taken upon Bear Forest, gave her a dagger which they forced her to wear, and to ride cross-legged with pistols before her.

In this dress they brought her to Parvin's house upon the forest, where they dined upon a haunch of venison, feasted merrily and after dinner sent out two of their companions to kill more deer, not in the King's Forest, but in Waltham Chase, belonging to the Bishop of Winchester. One of these two persons they called their king, and the other they called Lyon. Neither of these brothers objected anything, either to the truth of the evidence given against them, or the justice of that sentence which had passed upon them, only one insinuating that the evidence would not have been so strong against him and Ansell, if it had not been for running away with the witness's wife, which so provoked him that they were sure they should not escape when he was admitted a witness.

These like the rest were hard to be persuaded that the things they had committed were any crimes in the eyes of God. They said deer were wild beasts, and they did not see why the poor had not as good a right to them as the rich. However, as the Law condemned them to suffer, they were bound to submit, and in consequence of that notion, behaved themselves very orderly, decently and quietly, while under sentence.

James Ansell, alias Stephen Philips, the seventh and last of these unhappy persons, was a man addicted to a worse and more profligate life than any of the rest had ever been; for he had held no settled employment, but had been a loose disorderly person, concerned in all sorts of wickedness for many years, both at Portsmouth, Guildford, and other country towns, as well as at London. Deer were not the only things that he had dealt in; stealing and robbing on the highway had been formerly his employment, and in becoming a Black, he did not as the others ascend in wickedness, but came down on the contrary, a step lower. Yet this criminal as his offences were greater, so his sense of them was much stronger than in any of the rest, excepting Kingshell, for he gave over all manner of hopes of life and all concerns about it as soon as he was taken.

Yet even he had no notion of making discoveries, unless they might be beneficial to himself, and though he owned the knowledge of twenty persons who were notorious offenders in the same kind, he absolutely refused to name them, since such naming would not procure himself a pardon; talking to him of the duty of doing justice was beating the air. He said, he thought there was no justice in taking away other people's lives, unless it was to save his own, yet no sooner was he taxed about his own going on the highway than he confessed it, said he knew very well bills would have been preferred against him at Guildford assizes, in case he had got off at the King's Bench, but that he did not greatly value them. Though formerly he had been guilty of some facts in that way, yet they could not all now be proved, and he should have found it no difficult matter to have demonstrated his innocence of those then charged upon him, of which he was not really guilty, but owed his being thought so to the profligate course of life he had for some time led, and his aversion to all honest employments.

Bold as the whole gang of these fellows appeared, yet with what sickness, what with the apprehension of death, they were so terrified that not one of them but Ansell, alias Philips, was able to stand up, or speak at the place of execution, many who saw them affirming that some of them were dead even before they were turned off.

As an appendix to the melancholy history of these seven miserable and unhappy persons, I will add a letter written at that time by a gentleman of the county of Essex, to his friend in London, containing a more particular account of the transactions of these people, than I have seen anywhere else. Wherefore, without any further preface, I shall leave it to speak for itself.

A letter to Mr. C. D. in London.

Dear Sir,

Amongst the odd accidents which you know have happened to me in the course of a very unsettled life, I don't know any which hath been more extraordinary or surprising than one I met with in going down to my own house when I left you last in town. You cannot but have heard of the Waltham Blacks, as they are called, a set of whimsical merry fellows, that are so mad to run the greatest hazards for the sake of a haunch of venison, and passing a jolly evening together.

For my part, though the stories told of these people had reached my ears, yet I confess I took most of them for fables, and I thought that if there was truth in any of them it was much exaggerated. But experience (the mistress of fools) has taught me the contrary, by the adventure I am going to relate to you, which though it ended well enough at last, I confess at first put me a good deal out of humour. To begin, then; my horse got a stone in his foot, and therewith went so lame just as I entered the forest, that I really thought his shoulder slipped. Finding it however impossible to get him along, I was even glad to take up at a little blind alehouse which I perceived had a yard and a stable behind it.

The man of the house received me very civilly, but when he perceived my horse was so lame as scarce to be able to stir a step, I observed he grew uneasy. I asked him whether I could lodge there that night, he told me no, he had no room, I desired him, then, to put something to my horse's foot, and let me sit up all night; for I was resolved not to spoil a horse which cost me twenty guineas by riding him in such a condition in which he was at present. The man made me no answer, and I proposed the same questions to the wife. She dealt more roughly and freely with me, and told me that truly I neither could, nor should stay there, and was for hurrying her husband to get my horse out. However, on putting a crown into her hand and promising another for my lodging, she began to consider a little; and at last told me that there was indeed a little bed above stairs, on which she should order a clean pair of sheets to be put, for she was persuaded I was more of a gentleman than to take any notice of what I saw passed there.

This made me more uneasy than I was before. I concluded now I was got amongst a den of highwaymen, and expected nothing less than to be robbed and my throat cut. However, finding there was no remedy, I even set myself down and endeavoured to be as easy as I could. By this time it was very dark, and I heard three or four horsemen alight and lead their horses into the yard. As the men returned and were coming into the room where I was, I overheard my landlord say, Indeed, brother, you need not be uneasy, I am positive the gentleman's a man of honour, to which I heard another voice reply, What could our death do to any stranger? Faith, I don't apprehend half the danger you do. I dare say the gentleman would be glad of our company, and we should be pleased with his. Come, hang fear, I'll lead the way. So said, so done, in they came, five of them, all disguised so effectually that I declare, unless it were in the same disguise, I should not be able to distinguish any one of them.

Down they sat, and he who I suppose was constituted their captain pro hac vice, accosted me with great civility, and asked me if I would honour them with my company to supper. I acknowledge I did not yet guess the profession of my new acquaintances, but supposing my landlord would be cautious of suffering either a robbery or a murder in his own house, I know not how, but by degrees my mind grew perfectly easy. About ten o'clock I heard a very great noise of horses, and soon after men's feet tramping in a room over my head. Then my landlord came down and informed us supper was just ready to go upon the table.

Upon this we were all desired to walk up, and he whom I before called the captain, presented me, with a humorous kind of ceremony, to a man more dignified than the rest who sat at the end of the table, telling me at the same time, he hoped I would not refuse to pay my respects to Prince Oroonoko, King of the Blacks. It then immediately struck into my head who those worthy persons were, into whose company I was thus accidentally fallen. I called myself a thousand blockheads for not finding out before, but the hurry of things, or to speak the truth, the fear I was in, prevented my judging even from the most evident signs.

As soon as our awkward ceremony was over, supper was brought in; it consisted of eighteen dishes of venison in every shape, roasted, boiled with broth, hashed collops, pasties, umble pies, and a large haunch in the middle, larded. I easily saw that of three ordinary rooms of which the first floor of the house consisted, ours (by taking down the partitions) was very large, and the company in all twenty-one persons. At each of our elbows there was set a bottle of claret, and the man and woman of the house sat down at the lower end. Two or three of the fellows had good natural voices, and so the evening was spent as merrily as the rakes pass theirs in the King's Arms, or the City apprentices with their master's maids at Sadler's Wells. About two the company seemed inclined to break up, having first assured me that they should take my company as a favour any Thursday evening, if I came that way.

I confess I did not sleep all night with reflecting on what had passed, and could not resolve with myself whether these humorous gentlemen in masquerade were to be ranked under the denomination of knight-errants, or plain robbers. This I must tell you, by the by, that with respect both to honesty and hardship, their life resembles much that of the hussars, since drinking is all their delight, and plundering their employment.

Before I conclude my epistle, it is fit I should inform you that they did me the honour (with a design perhaps to have received me into their order) of acquainting me with those rules by which their society was governed.

In the first place their Black Prince assured me that their government was perfectly monarchial, and that when upon expeditions he had an absolute command; but in the time of peace, continued he, and at the table, government being no longer necessary, I condescend to eat and drink familiarly with my subjects as friends. We admit no man, continued he, into our society until he has been twice drunk with us, that we may be perfectly acquainted with his temper, in compliance with the old proverb—women, children and drunken folks speak truth. But if the person who sues to be admitted, declares solemnly he was never drunk in his life, and it plainly appears to the society in such case, this rule is dispensed with, and the person before admission is only bound to converse with us a month. As soon as we have determined to admit him, he is then to equip himself with a good mare or gelding, a brace of pistols, and a gun of the size of this, to lie on the saddle bow. Then he is sworn upon the horns over the chimney, and having a new name conferred by the society, is thereby entered upon the roll, and from that day forward, considered as a lawful member.

He went on with abundance more of their wise institutions, which I think are not of consequence enough to tell you, and shall only remark one thing more, which is the phrase they make use of in speaking of one another, viz., He is a very honest fellow and one of us. For you must know it is the first article in their creed that there's no sin in deer-stealing.

In the morning, having given my landlady the other crown piece, I found her temper so much altered for the better, that in my conscience I believe she was not in the humour to have refused me anything, no, not even the last favour; and so walking down the yard and finding my horse in pretty tolerable order, I speeded directly home, much in amaze at the new people I had discovered. You see I have taken a great deal of pains in my letter; pray, in return, let me have as long a one from you, and let me see if all your London rambles can produce such another adventure.

I am, yours, etc.

Before I leave these people, I think it proper to acquaint my readers that their folly was not to be extinguished by a single execution. There were a great many young fellows of the same stamp, who were fools enough to forfeit their lives upon the same occasion. However, the humour did not run very long, though some of them were impudent enough to murder a keeper or two afterwards. Yet in the space of a twelvemonth, the whole nation of Blacks was extinguished, and these country rakes were contented to play the fool upon easier terms. The last blood that was shed on either side was that of a keeper's son at Old Windsor, whom some of these wise people fired at as he looked out of the window, by which means they drew on their own ruin and that of several numerous families by which the country was put in such terror that we have heard nothing of them since, though this Act of Parliament[44] as I shall tell you, has been by construction extended to some other criminals, who were not strictly speaking of the same kind as the Waltham Blacks.


The Black Act (9 Geo. I, cap. 2) was repealed so late as 1827.

The Life of JULIAN, a Black Boy and Incendiary

From speaking of artificial blacks, I come now to relate the unhappy death of one who was naturally of that colour. This poor creature's Julian. At the time of his execution he seemed to be about sixteen years of age, he had been stolen while young from his parents at Madras. He still retained his pagan ignorance both in respect to religion and our language.

He was brought over by one Captain Dawes, who presented him to Mrs. Elizabeth Turner, where he was used with the greatest tenderness and kindness, she often calling him to dance and sing after his manner before company; and he himself acknowledged that he had never been so happy in his life as he was there. Yet, on a sudden, he stole about twenty or thirty guineas, and then placing a candle under the sheets left it burning to fire the house, and consume the inhabitants in it. Of this, upon proof and his own confession made before Sir Francis Forbes and Mr. Turner, he was convicted.

While he remained under sentence, he was often heard to mumble in reproach and revengeful terms to himself. However, before his death he learned the Lord's Prayer, and when it was demanded whether he would be a Christian, he assented with great joy, which arose, it seems, from his having heard the common foolish opinion that when christened Blacks are to be set free. However, christened he was, and received at his baptism the name of John.

The place in which he was confined being very damp, the boy having nothing to lie on but a coat, caught so great a cold in his limbs that he almost lost the use of them before his death, and continued in a state of great pain and weakness; insomuch that when he was told he must prepare for his execution, he determined with himself to forestall it, and for that purpose desired one of the prisoners to lend him a penknife, but the man, it seems, had more grace than to grant his request, and he ended his life at Tyburn, according to his sentence.

The Life of ABRAHAM DEVAL, a Lottery Ticket Forger

Abraham Deval, who had been a clerk to the Lottery Office, at last took it into his head to coin tickets for himself, and had such good luck therein that he at one time counterfeited a certificate for £52 12s. 0d., for seven blank lottery tickets, in the year 1723. Two or three other facts of the same nature he perpetrated with the like success, but happening to counterfeit two blank tickets of the lottery in the year in which he died, they were discovered, and he thereupon apprehended and tried at the Old Bailey. On the first indictment, for want of evidence he was acquitted, upon which he behaved himself with great insolence, lolled out his tongue at the Court, and told them he did not value the second indictment. But herein he happened to be mistaken, for the jury found him guilty of that indictment and thereupon he received sentence of death accordingly.

Notwithstanding that impudence with which he had treated the Court at his trial, he complained very loudly of their not showing him favour; nay, he even pretended that he had not justice done him. This he grounded upon the score that the ticket he was indicted for was No. 39, in the 651st course of payment. Now it seems that in searching of his brother-in-law Parson's room, the original ticket was found, though very much torn, from whence Deval would have had it taken to be no more than a duplicate, and much blamed his counsel for not insisting long enough upon this point, which if he had done, Deval entertained a strong opinion that he could not have been convicted.

The apprehension of this and the uneasiness he was under with his irons made him pass his last moments with great unquietness and discontent. He said it was against the law to put men in irons, that fettering English subjects (except they attempted to break prisons) was altogether illegal. But after having raved at this rate for a small space, when he found it did him no good, and that there were no hopes of a reprieve, he even began to settle himself to the performance of those duties which became a man in his sad condition and when he did apply himself thereto, nobody could appear to have a juster sense than he of that miserable and sad condition into which the folly and wickedness of his life had brought him.

It is certain the man did not want parts, though sometimes he applied them to the worst of purposes, and was cursed with an insolent and overbearing temper which hindered him from being loved or respected anywhere, and which never did him any service but in the last moments of his life, where if it had not been for the severity of his behaviour, Julian, the black boy, would have been very troublesome, both to him and to the other person who was under sentence at the same time.

At the place of execution Deval owned the fact, but wished the spectators to consider whether for all that he was legally convicted, and so suffered in the thirtieth year of his age.

The Life of JOSEPH BLAKE, alias BLUESKIN, a Footpad and Highwayman

As there is impudence and wickedness enough in the lives of most malefactors to make persons of a sober education and behaviour wonder at the depravity of human nature, so there are sometimes superlative rogues who, in the infamous boldness of their behaviour, as far exceed the ordinary class of rogues as they do honest people; and whenever such a monster as this appears in the world, there are enough fools to gape at him, and to make such a noise and outcry about his conduct as is sure to invite others of the gang to imitate the obstinacy of his deportment, through that false love of fame, which seems inherent to human nature. Amongst the number of these, Joseph Blake, better known by his nickname of Blueskin, always deserves to be remembered as one who thought wickedness the greatest achievement, and studiously took the paths of infamy in order to become famous.

By birth he was a native of this City of London. His parents being persons in tolerable circumstances kept him six years at school, where he did not learn half as much good from his master as he did evil from his schoolfellow, William Blewitt, from whose lessons he copied so well that all his education signified nothing. When he came from school he absolutely refused to go to any employment, but on the contrary set up for a robber when he was scarce seventeen, but from that time to the day of his death was unsuccessful in all his undertakings, hardly ever committing the most trivial fact but he experienced for it, either the humanity of the mob, or of the keepers of Bridewell, out of which or some other prison, he could hardly keep his feet for a month together.

He fell into the gang of Lock, Wilkinson, Carrick[45] Lincoln and Daniel Carroll, which last having so often been mentioned, perhaps my readers may be desirous to know what became of him. I shall therefore inform them that after Carrick and Molony were executed for robbing Mr. Young, as has been before related, he fled home to his own native country of Ireland, where for a while making a great figure till he had exhausted what little wealth he had brought over with him from England, he was obliged to go again upon the old method to supply him. But street-robbing being a very new thing at Dublin, it so alarmed that city that they never ceased pursuing him, and one or two more who joined with him, till catching them one night at their employment, they pursued Carrol so closely that he was obliged to come to a close engagement with a thief-taker, so he was killed upon the spot.

But to return to Blake, alias Blueskin. Being one night out with his gang, they robbed one Mr. Clark of eight shillings and a silver hilted sword, just as candles were going to be lighted, and a woman looking accidentally out of a window, perceived it, and cried out, Thieves. Wilkinson fired a pistol at her which, very luckily, upon her drawing in her head, grazed upon the stone of the window, and did no other mischief. Blake was also in the company of the same gang when they attacked Captain Langley, at the corner of Hyde Park Road, as he was going to the Camp[46]; but the Captain behaved himself so well that notwithstanding they shot several times through and through his coat, yet they were not able to rob him.

Not long after this Wilkinson being apprehended impeached a large number of persons, and with them Joseph Blake and William Lock. Blake hereupon made a fuller discovery than the other before Justice Blackerby; in which information there was contained no less than seventy robberies, upon which he also was admitted a witness. And having named Wilkinson, Lincoln, Carrick, Carrol, and himself to have been the five persons who murdered Peter Martin the Chelsea pensioner, by the Park wall, Wilkinson was apprehended, tried and convicted, notwithstanding the information he had before given (which was thereby totally set aside); so that Blake himself became now an evidence against the rest of his companions, and discovered about a dozen robberies which they had committed.

Amongst these there was one very remarkable one. Two gentlemen in hunting caps were together in a chariot on the Hampstead Road, and they took from them two gold watches, rings, seals and other things to a considerable value. Junks, alias Levee, laid his pistol down by the gentleman all the while he searched him, yet he wanted either the courage or the presence of mind to seize and prevent their losing things of so great value. Not long after this, Oakey, Junks and this Blake, stopped a single man with a link before him in Fig Lane; and he not surrendering so easily as they expected, Junks and Oakey beat him over the head with their pistols, and then left him wounded in a terrible condition, taking from him one guinea and one penny. A very short time after this, Junks, Oakey and Flood were apprehended and executed for robbing Colonel Cope and Mr. Young of that very watch for which Carrick and Molony had been before executed, Joseph Blake being the evidence against them.

After this hanging work of his companions, he thought himself not only entitled to liberty but reward. Herein, however, he was mightily mistaken, for not having surrendered willingly and quietly, but being taken after long resistance and when he was much wounded, there did not seem to be the least foundation for this confident demand, he still remaining a prisoner in the Wood Street Compter, obstinately refusing to be transported for seven years, but insisting that as he had given evidence he ought to have his liberty. However, the magistrates were of another opinion, until at last by procuring two men to be bound for his good behaviour, he was carried before a wealthy alderman of the City and there discharged. At which time, somebody there present asking how long time might be given him before they should see him again at the Old Bailey, a gentleman made answer in about three sessions, in which time it seems he guessed very right, for the third session from thence, Blake was indeed brought to the Bar.

For no sooner were his feet at liberty but his hands were employed in robbing, and having picked up Jack Shepherd for a companion, they went out together to search for prey in the fields. Near the half-way house to Hampstead they met with one Pargiter, a man pretty much in liquor, whom immediately Blake knocked down into the ditch, where he must have inevitably perished if John Shepherd had not kept his head above the mud with great difficulty. For this fact, the next sessions after it happened the two brothers Brightwell in the Guards were tried, and if a number of men had not sworn them to have been upon duty at the time the robbery was committed, they had certainly been convicted, the evidence of the prosecutor being direct and full. Through the grief of this the elder Brightwell died a week after he was released from his confinement, and so did not live to see his innocence fully cleared by the confession of Blake.

A very short space after this, Blake and his companion Shepherd committed the burglary together in the house of Mr. Kneebone, where Shepherd getting into the house, let in Blake at the back door and stripped the house of a considerable value. For this, both Shepherd and he were apprehended, and the sessions before Blake was convicted his companion received sentence of death; but at the time Blake was taken up, he had made his escape out of the condemned hold.

He behaved with great impudence at his trial, and when he found nothing would save him, he took the advantage of Jonathan Wild coming to speak with him, to cut the said Wild's throat, making a large gash from the ear beyond the windpipe.[47] Of this wound Wild languished a long time, and happy had it been for him if Blake's wound had proved fatal, for then Jonathan had escaped death by a more dishonourable wound in the throat than that of a penknife; but the number of his crimes and the spleen of his enemies procured him a worse fate. Whatever Wild might deserve of others, he seems to have merited better usage from this Blake, for while he continued a prisoner in the Compter, Jonathan was at the expense of curing his wound, allowing him three shillings and sixpence a week, and after his last misfortune promised him a good coffin, actually furnishing him with money to support him in Newgate, and several good books, if he would have made any use of them; but because he freely declared to Blueskin that there was no hopes of getting him transported, the bloody villain determined to take away his life, and was so far from showing any signs of remorse when he was brought up again to Newgate, that he declared if he had thought of it before, he would have provided such a knife as should have cut his head off.

At the time that he received sentence there was a woman also condemned, and they being placed as usual in what is called the Bail Dock at the Old Bailey, Blake offered such rudeness to the woman that she cried out and alarmed the whole Bench. All the time he lay under condemnation he appeared utterly thoughtless and insensible of his approaching fate. Though from the cutting of Wild's throat, and some other barbarities of the same nature, he acquired amongst the mob the character of a brave fellow, yet he was in himself but a mean-spirited timorous wretch, and never exerted himself but either through fury and despair. His cowardice appealed manifestly in his behaviour at his death; he wept much at the chapel in the morning he was to die, and though he drank deeply to drive away fear, yet at the place of execution he wept again, trembled and showed all the signs of a timorous confusion, as well he might, who had lived wickedly and trifled with his repentance to the grave.

There was nothing in his person extraordinary. A dapper, well-set fellow of great strength, and great cruelty, equally detested by the sober part of the world for his audacious wickedness of his behaviour, and despised by his companions for the villainies he committed even against them. He was executed in the twenty-eighth year of his age, on the 11th of November, 1724.


See page 85.


An encampment was formed in Hyde Park, about 1714. Writing to Martha Blount, Pope says "The tents are carried there this morning, new regiments with new clothes and furniture, far exceeding the late cloth and linen designed by his Grace (the Duke of Marlborough) for the soldiery."


See also the Life of Jonathan Wild, subsequently related.

The Life of the Famous JOHN SHEPHERD, Footpad, Housebreaker and Prison-breaker

Amongst the prodigies of ingenious wickedness and artful mischief which have surprised the world in our time, perhaps none has made so great a noise as John Shepherd, the malefactor of whom we are now to speak. His father's name was Thomas Shepherd, who was by trade a carpenter, and lived in Spitalfields, a man of an extraordinary good character, and who took all the care his narrow circumstances would allow, that his family might be brought up in the fear of God, and in just notions of their duty towards their neighbour. Yet he was so unhappy in his children that both his son John and another took to evil courses, and both in their turns have been convicted at the bar at the Old Bailey.

After the father's death, his widow did all she could to get this unfortunate son of hers admitted into Christ's Hospital, but failing of that, she got him bred up at a school in Bishopsgate Street, where he learned to read. He might in all probability have got a good education if he had not been too soon removed, being put out to a trade, viz., that of a cane-chair-maker, who used him very well, and with whom probably he might have lived honestly. But his mother dying a short time afterwards, he was put to another, a much younger man, who used him so harshly that in a little time he ran away from him, and was put to another master, one Mr. Wood in Wych Street. From his kindness and that of Mr. Kneebone (whom he robbed) he was taught to write and had many other favours done by that gentleman whom he so ungratefully treated. But good usage or bad, it was grown all alike to him now; he had given himself up to all the sensual pleasures of low life. Drinking all day, and getting to some impudent and notorious strumpet at night, was the whole course of his life for a considerable space, without the least reflection on what a miserable fate it might bring upon him here, much less the judgment that might be passed upon him hereafter.

Amongst the chief of his mistresses there was one Elizabeth Lion, commonly called Edgeworth Bess, the impudence of whose behaviour was shocking even to the greatest part of Shepherd's companions, but it charmed him so much that he suffered her for a while to direct him in every thing, and she was the first who engaged him in taking base methods to obtain money wherewith to purchase baser pleasures. This Lion was a large masculine woman, and Shepherd a very little slight-limbed lad, so that whenever he had been drinking and came to her quarrelsome, Bess often beat him into better temper, though Shepherd upon other occasions manifested his wanting neither courage nor strength. Repeated quarrels, however, between Shepherd and his mistress, as it does often with people of better rank, created such coldness that they spoke not together sometimes for a month. But our robber could not be so long without some fair one to take up his time, and drive his thoughts from the consideration of his crimes and the punishment which might one day befall them.

The creature he picked out to supply the place of Betty Lion was one Mrs. Maggott, a woman somewhat less boisterous in her temper, but full as wicked. She had a very great contempt for Shepherd, and only made use of him to go and steal money, or what might yield money, for her to spend in company that she liked better. One night when Shepherd came to her and told her he had pawned the last thing he had for half a crown, Prithee, says she, don't tell me such melancholy stories but think how you may get more money. I have been in Whitehorse Yard this afternoon. There's a piece-broker there worth a great deal of money; he keeps his cash in a drawer under the counter, and there's abundance of good things in his shop that would be fit for me to wear. A word, you know, to the wise is enough, let me see now how soon you'll put me in possession of them. This had the effect she desired; Shepherd left her about one o'clock in the morning, went to the house she talked of, took up the cellar window bars, and from thence entered the shop, which he plundered of money and goods, to the amount of £22. He brought it to his doxy the same day before she was stirring, who thereupon appeared very satisfied with his diligence, and helped him in a short time to squander what he had so dearly earned.

However, he still retained some affection for his old favourite, Bess Lion, who being taken up for some of her tricks, was committed to St. Giles's Round-house. Shepherd going to see her there, broke the doors open, beat the keeper, and like a true knight-errant, set his distressed paramour at liberty. This heroic act got him so much reputation amongst the fair ladies in Drury Lane that there was nobody of his profession so much esteemed by them as John Shepherd, with his brother Thomas, who had taken to the same trade. Observing and being in himself in tolerable estimation with that debauched part of the sex, he importuned some of them to speak to his brother John to lend him a little money, and for the future to allow him to go out robbing with him. To both these propositions Jack (being a kind brother as he himself said) consented at the first word, and from thence forward the two brothers were always of one party: Jack having, as he impudently phrased it, lent him forty shillings to put himself in a proper plight, and soon after their being together having broke open an alehouse, where they got a tolerable booty, in a high fit of generosity, John presented it all to his brother, as, soon after, he did clothes to a very considerable extent, so that the young man might not appear among the damsels of Drury unbecoming Mr. Shepherd's brother.

About three weeks after their coming together, they broke open a linen-draper's shop, near Clare Market, where the brothers made good use of their time; for they were not in the house above a quarter of an hour before they made a shift to strip it of £50. But the younger brother acting imprudently in disposing of some of the goods, he was detected and apprehended, upon which the first thing he did was to make a full discovery to impeach his brother and as many of his confederates as he could. Jack was very quickly apprehended upon his brother's information, and was committed by Justice Parry to the Round-house, for further examination. But instead of waiting for that, Jack began to examine as well as he could the strength of the place of his confinement, which being much too weak for a fellow of his capacity, he marched off before night, and committed a robbery into the bargain, but vowed to be revenged on Tom who had so basely behaved himself (as Jack phrased it) towards so good a brother. However, that information going off, Jack went on in his old way as usual.

One day in May he and F. Benson being in Leicester Fields, Benson attempted to get a gentleman's watch, but missing his pull, the gentleman perceived it and raised a mob. Shepherd passing briskly to save his companion, was apprehended in his stead, and being carried before Justice Walters, was committed to New Prison, where the first sight he saw was his old companion, Bess Lion, who had found her way thither upon a like errand. Jack, who now saw himself beset with danger, began to exert all his little cunning, which was indeed his masterpiece. For this purpose he applied first to Benson's friends, who were in good circumstances, hoping by their mediation to make the matter up, but in this he miscarried. Then he attempted a slight information, but the Justice to whom he sent it, perceiving how trivial a thing it was, and guessing well at the drift thereof, refused it. Whereupon Shepherd, when driven to his last shift, communicated his resolution to Bess Lion. They laid their heads together the fore part of the night, and then went to work to break out, which they effected by force, and got safe off to one of Bess Lion's old lodgings, where she kept him secret for some time, frightening him with stories of great searches being made after him, in order to detain him from conversing with any other woman.

But Jack being not naturally timorous, and having a strong inclination to be out again in his old way with his companions, it was not long before he gave her the slip, and lodged himself with another of his female acquaintances, in a little by-court near the Strand. Here one Charles Grace desired to become an associate with him. Jack was very ready to take any young fellow in as a partner of his villainies, and Grace told him that his reason for doing such things was to keep a beautiful woman without the knowledge of his relations. Shepherd and he therefore getting into the acquaintance of one Anthony Lamb, an apprentice of Mr. Carter, near St. Clement's Church, they inveigled the young man to consent to let them in to rob his master's house. He accordingly performed it, and they took from Mr. Barton, who lodged there, to a very considerable value. But Grace and Shepherd quarrelling about the division, Shepherd wounded Grace in a violent manner, and on this quarrel betraying one another, they were all taken, Shepherd only escaping. But the misfortune of poor Lamb who had been drawn in, being so very young, so far prevailed upon several gentlemen who knew him, that they not only prevailed to have his sentence mitigated to transportation, but also furnished him with all necessaries, and procured an order that on his arrival there he should not be sold as the other felons were, but that he should be left at liberty to provide for himself as well as he could.

It seems that Shepherd's gang (which consisted of himself, his brother Tom, Joseph Blake, alias Blueskin, Charles Grace, James Sikes, to whose name his companions tacked their two favourite syllables, Hell and Fury) not knowing how to dispose of the goods they had taken, made use of one William Field for that purpose, who Shepherd in his ludicrous style, used to characterise thus: that he was a fellow wicked enough to do anything, but his want of courage permitted him to do nothing but carry on the trade he did, which was that of selling stolen goods when put into his hands.

But Blake and Shepherd finding Field somewhat dilatory, not thinking it always safe to trust him, they resolved to hire a warehouse and lodge their goods there, which accordingly they did, near the Horseferry in Westminster. There they placed what they had taken out of Mr. Kneebones' house, and the goods made a great show there, whence the people in the neighbourhood really took them for honest persons, who had so great a wholesale business on their hands as occasioned their taking a place where they by convenient for the water.

Field, however, importuned them (having got scent they had such a warehouse) that he might go and see the goods, pretending that he had it just now in his power to sell them at a very great price. They accordingly carried him thither and showed him the things. Two or three days afterwards, though he had not courage enough to rob anybody else, Field ventured to break open the warehouse, and took every rag that had been lodged there; and not long after, Shepherd was apprehended for the fact and tried at the next sessions of the Old Bailey.

His appearance there was very mean, and all the defence he offered to make was that Jonathan Wild had helped to dispose of part of the goods and he thought it was very hard that he should not share in the punishment. The Court took little notice of so insignificant a plea and sentence being passed upon him, he hardly made a sensible petition for the favour of the Court in the report, but behaved throughout as a person either stupid or foolish, so far was he from appearing in any degree likely to make the noise he afterwards did.

When put into the condemned hold, he prevailed upon one Fowls, who was also under sentence, to lift him up to the iron spikes placed over the door which looks into the lodge. A woman of large make attending without, and two others standing behind her in riding hoods, Jack no sooner got his head and shoulders through between the iron spikes, than by a sudden spring his body followed with ease, and the women taking him down gently, he was without suspicion of the keepers (although some of them were drinking at the upper end of the lodge) conveyed safely out of the lodge door, and getting a hackney coach went clear off before there was the least notice of his escape, which, when it was known, very much surprised the keepers, who never dreamt of an attempt of that kind before.

As soon as John breathed the fresh air, he went again briskly to his old employment, and the first thing he did was to find out one Page, a butcher of his acquaintance in Clare Market, who dressed him up in one of his frocks, and then went with him upon the business of raising money. No sooner had they set out, but Shepherd remembering one Mr. Martin, a watchmaker near the Castle Tavern in Fleet Street, he prevailed upon his companion to go thither, and screwing a gimlet fast into the post of the door, they then tied the knocker thereto with a spring, and then boldly breaking the windows, they snatched three watches before a boy that was in the shop could open the door, and so marched clear off, Shepherd having the impudence, upon this occasion, to pass underneath Newgate.

However, he did not long enjoy his liberty, for strolling about Finchley Common, he was apprehended and committed to Newgate, and was put immediately in the Stone Room, where they put him on a heavy pair of irons, and then stapled him fast down to the floor. Being left there alone in the sessions time (most of the people in the gaol then attending at the Old Bailey) with a crooked nail he opened the lock, and by that means got rid of his chain, and went directly to the chimney in the room, where with incessant working he got out a couple of stones and by that means climbed up into a room called the Red Room, where nobody had been lodged for a considerable time. Here he threw down a door, which one would have thought impossible to have been done by the strength of man (though with ever so much noise); from hence with a great deal to do, he forced his passage into the chapel. There he broke a spike off the door, forcing open by its help four other doors. Getting at last upon the leads, he from thence descended gently (by the help of the blanket on which he lay, for which he went back through the whole prison) upon the leads of Mr. Bird, a turner who lives next door to Newgate; and looking in at the garret window, he saw the maid going to bed. As soon as he thought she was asleep, he stepped downstairs, went through the shop, opened the door, then into the street, leaving the door open behind him.

In the morning, when the keepers were in search after him, hearing of this circumstance by the watchman, they were then perfectly satisfied of the method by which he went off. However, they were obliged to publish a reward and make the strictest enquiry after him, some foolish people having propagated a report that he had not got out without connivance. In the meanwhile, Shepherd found it a very difficult thing to get rid of his irons, being obliged to lurk about and lie hid near a village not far from town, until with much ado he fell upon a method of procuring a hammer and taking his irons off.


(From the Annals of Newgate)

He was no sooner freed from the encumbrance that remained upon him, than he came secretly into the town that night, and robbed Mr. Rawlin's house, a pawnbroker in Drury Lane. Here he got a very large booty, and amongst other things a very handsome black suit of clothes and a gold watch. Being dressed in this manner he carried the rest of the goods and valuable effects to two women, one of whom was a poor young creature whom Shepherd had seduced, and who was imprisoned on this account. No sooner had she taken care of the booty but he went among his old companions, pickpockets and whores in Drury Lane and Clare Market. There being accidentally espied fuddling at a little brandy-shop, by a boy belonging to an alehouse, who knew him very well, the lad immediately gave information upon which he was apprehended, and reconducted, with a vast mob, to his old mansion house of Newgate, being so much intoxicated with liquor that he was hardly sensible of his miserable fate. However, they took effectual care to prevent a third escape, never suffering him to be alone a moment, which, as it put the keepers to a great expense, they took care to pay themselves with the money they took of all who came to see him.

In this last confinement it was that Mr. Shepherd and his adventures became the sole topic of conversation about town. Numbers flocked daily to behold him, and far from being displeased at being made a spectacle of, he entertained all who came with the greatest gaiety that could be. He acquainted them with all his adventures, related each of his robberies in the most ludicrous manner, and endeavoured to set off every circumstance of his flagitious life as well as his capacity would give him leave, which, to say truth, was excellent at cunning, and buffoonery, and nothing else.

Nor were the crowds that thronged to Newgate on this occasion made up of the dregs of the people only, for then there would have been no wonder; but instead of that they were persons of the first distinction, and not a few even dignified with titles.[48] 'Tis certain that the noise made about him, and this curiosity of persons of so high a rank, was a very great misfortune to the poor wretch himself, who from these circumstances began to conceive grand ideas of himself, as well as strong hopes of pardon, which encouraged him to play over all his airs and divert as many as thought it worth their while by their presence to prevent a dying man from considering his latter end, who instead of repenting of his crimes, gloried in rehearsing them.

Yet when Shepherd came up to chapel, it was observed that all his gaiety was laid aside, and he both heard and assisted with great attention at Divine Service, though upon other occasions he avoided religious discourse as much as he could; and depending upon the petitions he had made to several noblemen to intercede with the king for mercy, he seemed rather to aim at diverting his time until he received a pardon, than to improve the few days he had to prepare himself for his last.

On the 10th of November, 1724, he was by Certiorari removed to the bar of the Court of King's Bench, at Westminster. An affidavit being made that he was the same John Shepherd mentioned in the record of conviction before him, Mr. Justice Powis awarded judgment against him, and a rule was made for his execution on the 16th.

Such was the unaccountable fondness this criminal had for life, and so unwilling was he to lose all hopes of preserving it, that he framed in his mind resolutions of cutting the rope when he should be bound in the cart, thinking thereby to get amongst the crowd, and so into Lincoln's Inn Fields, and from thence to the Thames. For this purpose he had provided a knife, which was with great difficulty taken from him by Mr. Watson, who was to attend him to death. Nay, his hopes were carried even beyond hanging, for when he spoke to a person to whom he gave what money he had remaining out of the large presents he had received from those who came to divert themselves at Shepherd's Show, or Newgate Fair, he most earnestly entreated him that as soon as possible his body might be taken out of the hearse which was provided for him, put into a warm bed, and if it were possible, some blood taken from him, for he was in great hopes that he might be brought to life again; but if he was not, he desired him to defray the expenses of his funeral, and return the overplus to his poor mother. Then he resumed his usual discourse about his robberies and in the last moments of his life endeavoured to divert himself from the thoughts of death. Yet so uncertain and various was he in his behaviour that he told one whom he had a great desire to see on the morning that he died, that he had then a satisfaction at his heart, as if he were going to enjoy two hundred pounds per annum.

At the place of execution, to which he was conveyed in a cart, with iron handcuffs on, he behaved himself very gravely, confessing his robbery of Mr. Philips and Mrs. Cook, but denied that he and Joseph Blake had William Field in their company when they broke open the house of Mr. Kneebone. After this he submitted to his fate on the 16th of November, 1724, much pitied by the mob.[49]


While in Newgate he sat for his portrait to Sir James Thornhill.


Over 200,000 persons witnessed his execution at Tyburn, and a riot which broke out concerning the disposal of his corpse was quelled by soldiers with fixed bayonets.

The Life of LEWIS HOUSSART, the French Barber, a Murderer

As there is not any crime more shocking to human nature or more contrary to all laws human and divine than murder, so perhaps there has been few committed in these last years accompanied with more odd circumstances than that for which this criminal suffered.

Lewis Houssart was born at Sedan, a town in Champaigne in the kingdom of France. His own paper says that he was bred a surgeon and qualified for that business. However that were, he was here no better than a penny barber, only that he let blood, and thereby got a little and not much money. As to the other circumstances of his life, my memoirs are not full enough to assist me in speaking thereto. All I can say of him is that while his wife, Anne Rondeau, was living, he married another woman, and the night of the marriage before sitting down to supper, he went out a little space. During the interval between that and his coming in, it was judged from the circumstances that I shall mention hereafter, that he cut the throat of the poor woman who was his first wife, with a razor. For this being apprehended he was tried at the Old Bailey, but for want of proof sufficient was acquitted.

Not long after he was indicted for bigamy, i.e., for marrying his second wife, his first having been yet alive. Scarce making any defence upon this indictment he was found guilty. He said thereupon, it was no more than he expected, and that he did not trouble himself to preserve so much as his reputation in this respect; for in the first place he knew they were resolved to convict him, and in the next, he said, where there was no fault, there was no shame; that his first wife was a Socinian, an irrational creature, and was entitled to the advantages of no nation nor people because she was no Christian, and accordingly the Scripture says, with such a one have no conversation, no, not so much as to eat with them. But an appeal was lodged against him by Solomon Rondeau, brother and heir to Anne his wife, yet that appearing to be defective, it was quashed, and he charged upon another, whereunto joining issue upon six points they came to be tried at the Old Bailey, where the following circumstances appeared upon the trial.

First, that at the time he was at supper at his new wife's house, he started on a sudden, looked aghast and seemed to be very much frightened. A little boy deposed that the prisoner gave him money to go to his own house in a little court, and fetch the mother of the deceased Anne Rondeau to a gentleman who would be at such a place and wait for her. When the mother returned from that place and found nobody wanting her, or that had wanted her, she was very much out of humour at the boy's calling her; but that quickly gave way to the surprise of finding her daughter murdered as soon as she entered the room. This boy who called her was very young, yet out of the number of persons who were in Newgate he singled out Lewis Houssart, and declared that he was the only man among them who gave him money to go on the errant for old Mistress Rondeau.

Upon this and several other corroborating proofs, the jury found him guilty, upon which he arraigned the justice of a Court which hitherto had been preserved without a taint, declaring that he was innocent, and that they might punish if they would, but they could not make him guilty, and much more to the like effect; but the Court were not troubled with that, so he scarce endeavoured to make any other defence.

While in the condemned hold amongst the rest of the criminals, he behaved himself in a very odd manner, insisted upon it that he was innocent of the fact laid to his charge, threw out most opprobious language against the Court that condemned him, and when he was advised to lay aside such heats of passionate expressions, he said he was sorry he did not more fully expose British justice upon the spot at the Old Bailey, and that now since they had tied up his hands from acting, he would at least have satisfaction in saying what he pleased.

When this Houssart was first apprehended he appeared to be very much affected with his condition, was continually reading good books, praying and meditating, and showing the utmost signs of a heart full of concern, and under the greatest emotions, but after he had once been convicted, it made a thorough change in his temper. He quite laid aside all the former gravity of his temper and gave way, in the contrary, to a very extraordinary spirit of obstinacy and unbelief. He puzzled himself continually, and if Mr. Deval, who was then under sentence, would have given leave, attempted to puzzle him too, as to the doctrines of a future state, and an identical resurrection of the body. He said he could not be persuaded of the truth thereof in a literal sense; that when the individual frame of flesh which he bore about him was once dead, and from being flesh became again clay, he did not either conceive or believe that it, after lying in the earth, or disposed of otherwise perhaps for the space of a thousand years, should at the last day be reanimated by the soul which possessed it now, and become answerable even to eternal punishment for crimes committed so long ago. It was, he said, also little agreeable to the notions he entertained of the infinite mercy of God, and therefore he chose rather to look upon such doctrines as errors received from education, than torment and afflict himself with the terrors which must arise from such a belief. But after he had once answered as well as he could these objections, Mr. Deval refused to harken a second time to any such discourses and was obliged to have recourse to harsh language to oblige him to desist.

In the meanwhile his brother came over from Holland, on the news of this dreadful misfortune, and went to make him a visit in the place of his confinement while under condemnation, going to condole with him on the heavy weight of his misfortunes. Upon which, instead of receiving the kindness of his brother in the manner it deserved, Houssart began to make light of the affair, and treated the death of his wife and his own confinement in such a manner that his brother leaving him abruptly, went back to Holland more shocked at the brutality of his behaviour than grieved for the misfortune which had befallen him.

It being a considerable space of time that Houssart lay in confinement in Newgate and even in the condemned hold, he had there, of course, abundance of companions. But of them all he affected none so much as John Shepherd, with whom he had abundance of merry and even loose discourse. Once particularly, when the sparks flew very quickly out of the charcoal fire, he said to Shepherd, See, see! I wish these were so many bullets that might beat the prison down about our ears, and then I might die like Sampson.

It was near a month before he was called up to receive sentence, after which he made no scruple of saying that since they had found him guilty of throat-cutting, they should not lie, he would verify their judgment by cutting his own throat. Upon which, when some who were in the same sad state with himself, pointed out to him how great a crime self-murder was, he immediately made answer that he was satisfied it was no crime at all; and upon this he fell to arguing in favour of the mortality of the soul, as if certain that it died with the body, endeavouring to cover his opinions with false glosses on that text in Genesis where it is said, that God breathed into man a living soul. From hence he would have inferred that when a man ceased to live, he totally lost that soul, and when it was asked of him where then it went, he said, he did not know, nor did it concern him much.

The standers-by, who notwithstanding their profligate course of life had a natural abhorrence of this theoretical impiety, reproved him in very sharp terms for making use of such expression, upon which he replied, Ay! would you have me believe all the strange notions that are taught by the parsons? That the devil is a real thing? That our good God punishes souls for ever and ever? That Hell is full of flames from material fire, and that this body of mine shall feel it? Well, you may believe it if you please, but it is so with me that I cannot.

Sometimes, however, he would lay aside these sceptical opinions for a time, talk in another strain, and appear mightily concerned at the misfortunes he had drawn upon his second wife and child. He would then speak of Providence, and the decrees of God with much seeming submission, would own that he had been guilty of many and grievous offences, say that the punishment of God was just, and desire the prayers of the minister of the place, and those that were about him.

When he reflected on the grief it would give his father, near ninety years old, to hear of his misfortunes and that his son should be shamefully executed for the murder of his wife, he was seen to shed tears and to appear very much affected; but as soon as these thoughts were a little out of his head, he resumed his former temper and was continually asking questions in relation to the truth of the Gospel dispensation, and the doctrines therein taught of rewards and punishments after this life.

Being a Frenchman and not perfectly versed in our language, a minister of the Reformed Church of that nation was prevailed upon to attend him. Houssart received him with tolerable civility, seemed pleased that he should pray by him, but industriously waved aside all discourses of his guilt, and even fell out into violent passions if confession was pressed upon him as a duty. In this strange way he consumed the time allowed him to prepare for another world.

The day before his execution he appeared more than ordinarily attentive at the public devotions in the chapel. A sermon was then made with particular regard to that fact for which he was to die; he heard that also seemingly with much care, but when he was asked immediately after to unburden his conscience in respect of the death of his wife, he not only refused it, but also expressed a great indignation that he should be tormented as he called it, to confess a thing of which he was not guilty.

In the evening of that day the foreign minister and he whose duty it was to attend him, both waited upon him at night in order to discourse with him on those strange notions he had of the mortality of the soul, and a total cessation of being after this life. But when they came to speak to him to this purpose, he said they might spare themselves any arguments upon that head, for he believed a God and a resurrection as firmly as they did. They then discoursed to him of the nature of a sufficient repentance, and of the duty incumbent upon him to confess that great crime for which he was condemned, and thereby give glory unto God. He fell at this into his old temper, and said with some passion, If you will pray with me, I'll thank you, and pray with you as long as you please; but if you come only to torture me with my guilt, I desire you would let me alone altogether.

His lawyers having pretty well instructed him in the nature of an appeal, and he coming thereby to know that he was now under sentence of death, at the suit of the subject and not of the King, he was very assiduous to learn where it was he was to apply for a reprieve; but finding it was the relations of his deceased wife from whom he was to expect it, he laid aside all those hopes, as conceiving it rightly a thing impossible to prevail upon people to spare his life, who had almost undone themselves in prosecuting him.

In the morning of the day of execution he was very much disturbed at being refused the Sacrament, which as the minister told him, could not be given him by the canon without his confession. Yet this did not prevail; he said he would die without receiving it, as he had before answered a French minister, who said, Lewis Houssart, since you are condemned on full evidence, and I see no reason but to believe you guilty, I must, as a just pastor, inform you that if you persist in this denial, and die without confession, you can look for nothing but to be d——; to which Houssart replied, You must look for damnation to yourself for judging me guilty, when you know nothing of the matter.

This confused frame of mind he continued in until he entered the cart for his execution, persisting in a like declaration of innocence all the way he went, though sometimes intermixed with short prayers to God to forgive his manifold sins and offences.

At the place of execution he turned very pale and grew very sick. The ministers told him they would not pray by him unless he would confess the murder for which he died. He said he was very sorry for that, but if they would not pray by him he could not help it, he would not confess what he was totally ignorant of. Even at the moment of being tied up he persisted and when such exhortations were again repeated, he said: Pray do not torment me, pray cease troubling me. I tell you I will not make myself worse than I am. And so saying, he gave up the ghost without any private prayer when left alone or calling upon God or Christ to receive his spirit. He delivered to the minister of Newgate, however, a paper, the copy which follows, from whence my readers will receive a more exact idea of the man from this, his draught of himself, than from any picture I can draw.

The Paper delivered by Lewis Houssart at his death.

I, Lewis Houssart, am forty years old, and was born in Sedan, a town in Champaigne, near Boullonois. I have left France above fourteen years. I was apprentice to a surgeon at Amsterdam, and after examination was allowed by the college to be qualified for that business, so that I intended to go on board a ship as surgeon, but I could never have my health at sea. I dwelt sometime at Mæstricht, in the Dutch Brabant, where my aged father and brother now dwell. I travelled through Holland and was in almost every town. My two sisters are in France and also many of my relations, for the earth has scarce any family more numerous than ours. Seven or eight years have I been in London, and here I met with Anne Rondeau, who was born at the same village with me, and therefore I loved her. After I had left her, she wrote to me, and said she would reveal a secret. I promised her to be secret, and she told me she had not been chaste, and the consequence of it was upon her, upon which I gave her my best help and assistance. Since she is dead I hope her soul is happy.

Lewis Houssart

The Life of CHARLES TOWERS, a Minter in Wapping

Notwithstanding it must be apparent, even to a very ordinary understanding, that the Law must be executed both in civil and criminal cases, and that without such execution those who live under its protection would be very unsafe, yet it happens so that those who feel the smart of its judgment (though drawn upon them by their own misdeeds, follies or misfortunes which the Law of man cannot remedy or prevent) are always clamouring against its supposed severity, and making dreadful complaints of the hardships they from thence sustain. This disposition hath engaged numbers under these unhappy circumstances to attempt screening themselves from the rigour of the laws by sheltering in certain places, where by virtue of their own authority, or rather necessities, they set up a right of exemption and endeavour to establish a power of preserving those who live within certain limits from being prosecuted according to the usual course of the Law.

Anciently, indeed, there were several sanctuaries which depended on the Roman Catholic religion, and which were, of course, destroyed when popery was done away by Law. However, those who had sheltered themselves in them kept up such exemption, and by force withstood whatever civil officers attempted to execute process for debt, and that so vigorously that at length they seemed to have established by prescription what was directly against Law. These pretended privileged places increased at last to such an extent that in the ninth year of King William, the legislature was obliged to make provision by a clause in an Act of Parliament, requiring the sheriffs of London, Middlesex, and Surrey, the head bailiff of the Dutchy Liberty, or the bailiff of Surrey, under the penalty of one hundred pounds, to execute with the assistance of the posse comitatus any writ or warrant directed to them for seizing any person within any pretended privilege place such as Whitefriars, the Savoy, Salisbury Court, Ram Alley, Mitre Court, Fuller's Rents, Baldwin's Gardens, Montague Close or the Minories, Mint, Clink, or Dead Man's Place.[50] At the same time they ordered the assistance for executing the Law, of any who obey the sheriff or other person or persons in such places as aforesaid, with very great penalties upon persons who attempt to rescue persons from the hands of justice in such place.

This law had a very good effect with respect to all places excepting those within the jurisdiction of the Mint, though not without some struggle. There, however, they still continued to keep up those privileges they had assumed, and accordingly did maintain them by so far misusing persons who attempted to execute processes amongst them, by ducking them in ditches, dragging them through privies or "lay stalls," accompanied by a number of people dressed up in frightful habits, who were summoned upon blowing a horn. All which at last became so very great a grievance that the legislature was again forced to interpose, and by an act of the 9th of the late King, the Mint, as it was commonly called, situated in the parish of St. George's, Southwark, in the county of Surrey, was taken away, and the punishment of transportation, and even death, inflicted upon such who should persist in maintaining there pretended privileges.

Yet so far did the Government extend its mercy, as to suffer all those who at the time of passing the Act were actually shelterers in the Mint (provided that they made a just discovery of their effects) to be discharged from any imprisonment of their persons for any debts contracted before that time. By this Act of Parliament, the privilege of the Mint was totally taken away and destroyed.

The persons who had so many years supported themselves therein were dissipated and dispersed. But many of them got again into debt, and associating themselves with other persons in the same condition, with unparalleled impudence they attempted to set up (towards Wapping) a new privileged jurisdiction under the title of the Seven Cities of Refuge. In this attempt they were much furthered and directed by one Major Santloe, formerly a Justice of Peace, but being turned out of commission, he came first a shelterer here, and afterwards a prisoner in the Fleet. These people made an addition to these laws which had formerly been established in such illegal sanctuaries, for they provided large books in which they entered the names of persons who entered into their association, swearing to defend one another against all bailiffs and such like. In consequence of which, they very often rescued prisoners out of custody, or even entered the houses of officers for that purposes. Amongst the number of these unhappy people, who by protecting themselves against the lesser judgments of the Law involved themselves in greater difficulties, and at last drew on the greatest and most heavy sentence which it could pronounce, was him we now speak of.

Charles Towers was a person whose circumstances had been bad for many years, and in order to retrieve them he had turned gamester. For a guinea or two, it seems, he engaged for the payment of a very considerable debt for a friend, who not paying it at his time, Towers was obliged to fly for shelter into the Old Mint, then in being. He went into the New, which was just then setting up, and where the Shelterers took upon them to act more licentiously and with greater outrages towards officers of Justice than the people in any other places had done. Particularly they erected a tribunal on which a person chosen for that purpose sat as a judge with great state and solemnity. When any bailiff had attempted to arrest persons within the limits which they assumed for their jurisdiction, he was seized immediately by a mob of their own people, and hurried before the judge of their own choosing. There a sort of charge or indictment was preferred against him, for attempting to disturb the peace of the Shelterers within the jurisdiction of the Seven Cities of Refuge. Then they examined certain witnesses to prove this, and thereupon pretending to convict such bailiff as a criminal, he was sentenced by their judge aforesaid to be whipped or otherwise punished as he thought fit, which was executed frequently in the most cruel and barbarous manner, by dragging him through ditches and other nasty places, tearing his clothes off his back, and even endangering his life.

One West, who had got amongst them, being arrested by John Errington, who carried him to his house by Wapping Wall, the Shelterers in the New Mint no sooner heard thereof, but assembling on a Sunday morning in a great number, with guns, swords, staves, and other offensive weapons, they went to the house of the said John Errington, and there terrifying and affrighting the persons in the house rescued John West, pursuant, as they said, to their oaths, he being registered as a protected person in their books of the Seven Cities of Refuge. In this expedition Charles Towers was very forward, being dressed with only a blue pea-jacket, without hat, wig or shirt, with a large stick like a quarter-staff in his hand, his face and breast being so blackened that it appeared to be done with soot and grease, contrary to the Statute made against those called The Waltham Blacks, and done after the first day of June, 1723, when that Statute took place.

Upon an indictment for this, the fact being very fully and dearly proved, notwithstanding his defence, which was that he was no more disguised than his necessity obliged him to be, not having wherewith to provide himself clothes, and his face perhaps dirty and daubed with mud, the jury found him guilty, and he thereupon received sentence of death.

Before the execution of that sentence, he insisted strenuously on his innocence as to the point on which he was found guilty and condemned, viz., having his face blacked and disguised within the intent and meaning of the Statute, but he readily acknowledged that he had been often present and assisted at such mock courts of justice as were held in the New Mint, though he absolutely denied sitting as judge when one Mr. Westwood, a bailiff, was most abominably abused by an order of that pretended court. He seemed fully sensible of the ills and injuries he had committed by being concerned amongst such people, but often said that he thought the bailiffs had sufficiently revenged themselves by the cruel treatment they had used the riotous persons with, when they fell within their power, particularly since they hacked and chopped a carpenter's right arm in such a manner that it was obliged to be cut off; had abused others in so terrible a degree that they were not able to work, or do anything for their living. He himself had received several large cuts over the head, which though received six weeks before, yet were in a very bad condition at the time of his death.

As to disguises, he constantly averred they were never practised in the New Mint. He owned they had had some masquerades amongst them, to which himself amongst others had gone in the dress of a miller, and his face all covered with white, but as to any blacking or other means to prevent his face being known when he rescued West he had none, but on the contrary was in his usual habit as all the rest were that accompanied him. He framed as well as he could a petition for mercy, setting forth the circumstances of the thing, and the hardship he conceived it to be to suffer upon the bare construction of an Act of Parliament. He set forth likewise, the miserable condition of his wife and two children already, she being also big of a third. This petition she presented to his Majesty at the Council Chamber door, but the necessity there was of preventing such combinations for obstructing justice, rendered it of no effect. Upon her return, and Towers being acquainted with the result, he said he was contented, that he went willingly into a land of quiet from a world so troublesome and so tormenting as this had been to him. Then he kneeled down and prayed with great fervency and devotion, after which he appeared very composed and showed no rage against the prosecutor and witnesses who had brought on his death, as is too often the case with men in his miserable condition.

On the day appointed for his execution, he was carried in a cart to a gallows whereon he was to suffer in Wapping, the crowd, as is not common on such occasions, lamenting him, and pouring down showers of tears, he himself behaving with great calmness and intrepidity. After prayers had been said, he stood up in the cart, and turning towards the people, professed his innocence in being in a disguise at the time of rescuing Mr. West, and with the strongest asserverations said that it was Captain Buckland and not himself who sat as judge upon Mr. Jones the bailiff, though, as he complained, he had been ill-used while he remained a prisoner upon that score. To this he added that for the robberies and thefts with which he was charged, they were falsities, as he was a dying man. Money indeed, be said, might be shaken out of the breeches pocket of the bailiff when he was ditched, but that whether it was or was not so, he was no judge, for he never saw any of it. That as to any design of breaking open Sir Isaac Tilliard's house, he was innocent of that also. In fine, he owned that the judgment of God was exceeding just for the many offences he committed, but that the sentence of the Law was too severe, because, as he understood it, he had done nothing culpable within the intent of the Statute on which he died. After this, he inveighed for some time against bailiffs, and then crying with vehemency to God to receive his spirit, he gave up the ghost on the 4th of January, 1724-5.

However the death of Towers might prevent people committing such acts as breaking open the houses of bailiffs, and setting prisoners at liberty, yet it did not quite stifle or destroy those attempts which necessitous people made for screening themselves from public justice, insomuch that the Government were obliged at last to cause a Bill to be brought into Parliament for the preventing such attempts for the future, whereupon in the 11th year of the late King, it passed into a law to this effect:

That if any number of persons not less than three, associate themselves together in the hamlet of Wapping, Stepney, or in any other place within the bills of mortality, in order to shelter themselves from their debts, after complaint made thereof by presentment of a grand jury, and should obstruct any officer legally empowered and authorised in the execution of any writ or warrant against any person whatsoever, and in such obstructing or hindering should hurt, wound or injure any person; then any offender convicted of such offence, should suffer as a felon and be transported for seven years in like manner as other persons are so convicted. And it is further enacted by the same law that upon application made to the judge of any Court, out of which the writs therein mentioned are issued, the aforesaid judge, if he see proper, may grant a warrant directly to the sheriff, or other person proper to raise the posse comitatus, where there is any probability of resistance. And if in the execution of such warrant any disturbance should happen, and a rescue be made, then the persons assisting in such rescue, or who harbour or conceal the persons so rescued, shall be transported for seven years in like manner as if convicted of felony, but all indictments upon this statute are to be commenced within six months after the fact committed.


Ram Alley was on the south side of Fleet Street, between Sergeants' Inn and Mitre Court; Fuller's Rents is now Fulwood Place, Holborn; Baldwin's Gardens runs from Gray's Inn Road to Leather Lane; Montague Close was on the Southwark side, near London Bridge; Dead Man's Place was a crooked street at the east end of Bankside.

The Life of THOMAS ANDERSON, a Scotch Thief

Amongst a multitude of tragical adventures it is with some satisfaction that I mention the life of a person who was of the number of those few which take warning in time, and having once felt the rod of affliction, fear it ever afterwards.

Thomas Anderson was the son of reputable parents in the city of Aberdeen, in Scotland. His father was of the number of those unhappy people who went over to Darien when the Scots made their settlement there in the reign of the late King William, his son Thomas being left under the care of his mother then a widow. By this his education suffered, and he was put apprentice to a glazier, although his father had been a man of some fashion, and the boy always educated with hopes of living genteelly. However, he is not the first that has been so deceived, though he took it so to heart that at first going to his master his grief was so great as had very nigh killed him. He continued, however, with his master two years, and then making bold with about nine guineas of his, and thirteen of his mother's, he procured a horse and made the greatest speed he could to Edinburgh.

Tom was sensible enough that he should be pursued, and hearing of a ship ready to sail from Leith for London, he went on board it, and in five days' time having a fair wind they arrived in the river of Thames. As soon as he got on shore Tom had the precaution to take lodging in a little street near Bur Street in Wapping, there he put his things; and his stock now being dwindled to twelve guineas, he put two of them in his fob, with his mother's old gold watch, which he had likewise brought along with him, and then went out to see the town. He had not walked far in Fleet Street, whither he had conveyed himself by boat, but he was saluted by a well-dressed woman, in a tone almost as broad as his own. Conscious of what he had committed he thought it was somebody that knew him and would have taken him up. He turned thereupon pale, and started. The woman observing his surprise, said, Sir, I beg your pardon I took you for one Mr. Johnson, of Hull, my near relation; but I see you are not the same gentleman, though you are very like him.

Anderson thereupon taking heart, walked a little way with her, and the woman inviting him to drink tea at her lodgings, he accepted it readily, and away they went together to the bottom of Salisbury Court, where the woman lived. After tea was over, so many overtures were made that our new-come spark was easily drawn into an amour, and after a considerable time spent in parley, it was at last agreed that he should pass for her husband newly come from sea; and this being agreed upon, the landlady was called up, and the story told in form. The name the woman assumed was that of Johnson, and Tom consequently was obliged to go by the same. So after compliments expressed on all sides for his safe return, a supper was provided, and about ten o'clock they went to bed together.

Whether anything had been put in the drink, or whether it was only owing to the quantity he had drunk, he slept very soundly until 11 o'clock in the morning, when he was awakened by a knocking at the door; upon getting up to open it, he was a little surprised at finding the woman gone and more so at seeing the key thrown under the door. However, he took it up and opened it: his landlady then delivered him a letter, which as soon as she was gone he opened, and found it to run in these terms:

Dear Sir,

You must know that for about three years I have been an unfortunate woman, that is, have conversed with many of your sex, as I have done with you. I need not tell you that you made me a present of what money you had about you last night, after the reckoning over the way at The George was paid. I told my landlady when I went out this morning that I was going to bring home some linen for shirts; you had best say so too, and so you may go away without noise, for as I owe her above three pound for lodging, 'tis odds but that as you said last night you were my husband, she will put you in trouble, and that I think would be hard, for to be sure you have paid dear enough for your frolic. I hope you will forgive this presumption, and I am yours next time you meet me.

Jane Johnson

Tom was not a little chagrined at this accident, especially when he found that not only the remainder of the two guineas, but also his mother's gold watch, and a gold chain and ring was gone into the bargain. However, he thought it best to take the woman's word, and so coming down and putting on the best air he could, he told his landlady he hoped his wife would bring the linen home time enough to go to breakfast, and that in the meanwhile he would go to the coffee-house, and read the news. The woman said it was very well, and Tom getting to the waterside, directed them to row to the stairs nearest to his lodging by Bur Street, ruminating all the way he went on the accident which had befallen him.

The rumours of Jonathan Wild, then in the zenith of his glory, had somehow or other reached the ears of our North Briton. He thereupon mentioned him to the watermen, who perceiving that he was a stranger, and hoping to get a pot of drink for the relation, obliged him with the best account they were able of Mr. Wild and his proceedings. As soon, therefore, as Anderson came home, he put the other two guineas in his pocket, and over he came in a coach to the Old Bailey, where Mr. Wild had just then set up in his office, Mr. Anderson being introduced in form, acquainted him in good blunt Scotch how he had lost his money and his watch. Jonathan used him very civilly, and promised his utmost diligence in recovering it. Tom being willing to save money, enquired of him his way home by land on foot, and having received instructions he set out accordingly. About the middle of Cheapside a well-dressed gentleman came up to him. Friend, says he, I have heard you ask five or six people, as I followed you, your way to Bur Street. I am going thither and so if you'll walk along with me, 'twill save you the labour of asking further questions.

Tom readily accepted the gentleman's civility, and so on they trudged, until they came within twenty yards of the place, and into Tom's knowledge. Young man, then says the stranger, since I have shown you the way home you must not refuse drinking a pint with me at a tavern hard by, of my acquaintance. No sooner were they entered and sat down, but a third person was introduced into their company, as an acquaintance of the former. A good supper was provided, and when they had drunk about a pint of wine apiece, says the gentleman who brought him thither to Anderson, You seem an understanding young fellow. I fancy your circumstances are not of the best. Come, if you have a tolerable head and any courage, I'll put you in a way to live as easy as you can wish.

Tom pricked up his ears upon this motion, and told him that truly, as to his circumstances, he had guessed very right, but that he wished he would be so good as to put him into any road of living like a gentleman. For to say the truth, sir, says he, it was with that view I left my own country to come up to London.

Well spoken, my lad, says the other, and like a gentleman thou shalt live. But hark ye, are you well acquainted with the men of quality's families about Aberdeen? Yes, sir, says he. Well then, replied the stranger, do you know none of them who has a son about your age? Yes, yes, replied Tom, My Lord J—— sent his eldest son to our college at Aberdeen to be bred, and he and I an much alike, and not above ten days difference in our ages. Why then, replied the spark, it will do, and here's to your honour's health. Come, from this time forward, you are the Honourable Mr. ——, son and heir apparent to the Right Honourable, the Lord ——.

To make the story short, these sharpers equipped him like the person they put him upon the town to be, and lodging him at the house of a Scotch merchant who was in the secret, with no less than three footmen all in proper livery to attend him. In the space of ten days' time, they took up effect upon his credit to the amount of a thousand pounds. Tom was cunning enough to lay his hands on a good diamond ring, two suits of clothes, and a handsome watch, and improved mightily from a fortnight's conversation with these gentlemen. He foresaw the storm would quickly begin, the news of his arrival under the name he had assumed, having been in the papers a week; so to prevent what might happen to himself, he sends his three footmen on different errands, and making up his clothes and some holland shirts into a bundle, called a coach and drove off to Bur Street, where having taken the remainder of his things that had been there ever since his coming to town, he bid the fellow drive him to the house of a person near St. Catherine's, to whom he had known his mother direct letters when in Scotland.

Yet recollecting in the coach that by this means he might be discovered by his relations, he called to the coachman before he reached there, and remembering an inn in Holborn, which he had heard spoken of by the Scotch merchant, where he had lodged in his last adventure, bid the fellow drive thither, saying he was afraid to be out late, and if he made haste he would give him a shilling. When he came thither and had had his two portmanteaus carried into the inn, pretending to be very sick he went immediately upstairs to bed, having first ordered a pint of wine to be burnt and brought upstairs.

Reflecting in the night on the condition he was in and the consequence of the measures he was taking, he resolved with himself to abandon his ill-courses at once and try to live honestly in some plantation of the West Indies. These meditations kept him pretty much awake, so that it was late in the morning before he arose. Having ordered coffee for his breakfast, he gave the chamberlain a shilling to go and fetch the newspapers, where the first thing he saw was an account of his own cheat in the body of the paper, and at the end of it an advertisement with a reward for apprehending him. This made him very uneasy, and the rather because he had no clothes but those which he had taken up as aforesaid; so he ordered the chamberlain to send for a tailor, and pretended to be so much indisposed that he could not get out. When the tailor came, he directed him to make him a riding suit with all the expedition he could. The tailor promised it in two days' time. The next day, pretending to be still worse, he sent the chamberlain to take a place for him in the Bristol coach, which being done, he removed himself and his things early in the morning to the inn where it lay, and set out the next day undiscovered for Bristol.

Three days after his arrival he met with a captain bound for the West Indies, with whom having agreed for a passage, he set sail for Jamaica. But a fresh gale at sea accidentally damaging their rudder, they were obliged to come to an anchor in Cork, where the captain himself and several other passengers went on shore. Anderson accompanied him to the coffee-house, where calling for the papers that last came in, he had like to have swooned at the table on finding himself to have been discovered at Bristol, and to have sailed in such a ship the day before the persons came down to apprehend him in order to his being carried back to London.

As soon as he came a little to himself, he stepped up to the man of the house and asked him for the vault [privy], which being shown him, he immediately threw the paper down; and as soon as he came out, finding the captain ready to go, he accompanied him with great satisfaction on board again, where things being set to rights, by the next day at ten o'clock they sailed with a fair wind, and without any further cross accident arrived safe at Jamaica. There Tom had the good luck to pick up a woman with a tolerable fortune, and about three years later remitted £300 home to the jeweller who had been defrauded of the watch and the ring, and directed him to pay what was over, after deducting his own debt, to the people who had trusted him with other things, and who upon his going off had recovered most of them, and were by this means made a tolerable satisfaction.

He resided in the West Indies for about five years in all, and in that time, by his own industry acquired a very handsome fortune of his own, and therewith returned to Scotland.

I should be very glad if this story would incline some people who have got money in not such honest ways (though perhaps less dangerous) to endeavour at extenuating the crimes they have been guilty of, by making such reparation as in their power, by which at once they atone for their fault, and regain their lost reputation; but I am afraid this advice may prove both unsuccessful and unseasonable and therefore shall proceed in my narrations as the course of these memoirs directs me.

The Life of JOSEPH PICKEN, a Highwayman

There cannot, perhaps, be a greater misfortune to a man than his having a woman of ill-principles about him, whether as a wife or otherwise. When they once lay aside principles either of modesty or honesty, women become commonly the most abandoned; and as their sex renders them capable of seducing, so their vices tempt them not often to persuade men to such crimes as otherwise, perhaps, they would never have thought of. This was the case of the malefactor, the story of whose misfortunes we are now to relate.

Joseph Picken was the son of a tailor in Clerkenwell, who worked hard at his employment and took pleasure in nothing but providing for, and bringing up his family. This unhappy son, Joseph, was his darling, and nothing grieved him so much upon his death-bed, as the fears of what might befall the boy, being then an infant of five years old. However, his mother, though a widow, took so much care of his education, that he was well enough instructed for the business she designed him, viz., that of a vintner, to which profession he was bound at a noted tavern near Billingsgate.

He served his time very faithfully and with great approbation, but falling in love, or to speak more properly, taking a whim of marriage in his head, he accepted of a young woman in the neighbourhood as his partner for life. Soon after this, he removed to Windsor, where he took the tap at a well-accustomed inn, and began the world in a very probable way of doing well. However, partly through his own misfortunes, and partly through the extravagance of his wife, in a little more than a twelve months' time he found himself thirty pound in debt, and in no likelihood from his trade of getting money to pay it. This made him very melancholy, and nothing added so great a weight to his load of affliction as the uneasiness he was under at the misfortunes which might befall his wife, to whom as yet this fall in his circumstances was not known.

However, fearing it would be soon discovered in another way, at last he mentioned it to her, at the same time telling her that she must retrench her expenses, for he was now so far from being able to support them that he could hardly get him family bread. Her mother and she thereupon removed to a lodging, where by the side of the bed, poor Picken used to slumber upon the boards, heavily disconsolate with the weight of his misfortunes. One day after talking of them to his wife, he said: I am now quite at my wits' end. I have no way left to get anything to support us; what shall I do? Do, answered she, why, what should a man do that wants money and has any courage, but go upon the highway.

The poor man, not knowing how else to gain anything, even took her advice, and recollecting a certain companion of his who had once upon a time offered the same expedient for relieving their joint misfortunes, Picken thereupon found him out, and without saying it was his wife's proposal, pretended that his sorrows had at last so prevailed upon him that he was resolved to repair the injuries of Fortune by taking away something from those she had used better than him. His comrade unhappily addicted himself still to his old way of thinking, and instead of dissuading him from his purpose, seemed pleased that he had taken such a resolution. He told him that for his part he always thought danger rather to be chosen than want, and that while soldiers hazarded their lives in war for sixpence a day, he thought it was cowardice to make a man starve, where he had a chance of getting so much more than those who hazarded as much as they did.

Accordingly Picken and his companion provided themselves that week with all necessaries for their expedition, and going upon it in the beginning of the next, set out and had success, as they called it, in two or three enterprises. But returning to London in the end of the week, they were apprehended for a robbery committed on one Charles Cooper, on Finchley Common, for which they were tried the next sessions, and both capitally convicted.

Through fear of death and want of necessaries, Joseph Picken fell into a low and languishing state of health, under which, however, he gave all the signs of penitence and sorrow that could be expected for the crimes he had committed. Yet though he loaded his wife with the weight of all his crimes, he forebore any harsh or shocking reproaches against her, saying only that as she had brought him into all the miseries he now felt, so she had left him to bear the weight of them alone, without either ever coming near him, or affording him any assistance. However, he said he was so well satisfied of the multitude of his own sins, and the need he had of forgiveness from God, that he thought it a small condition to forgive her, which he did freely from his heart.

In these sentiments he took the Holy Sacrament, and continued with great calmness to wait the execution of his sentence. In the passage to execution and even at the fatal tree, he behaved himself with amazing circumstances of quietness and resignation, and though he appeared much less fearful than any of those who died with him, yet he parted with life almost as soon as the cart was drawn away. He was about twenty-two years of age, or somewhat more, at the time he suffered, which was on the 24th of February, 1724-5, much pitied by the spectators, and much lamented by those that knew him.

The Life of THOMAS PACKER, a Highwayman

Thomas Packer, the companion of the last-named criminal both in his crimes and in his punishment, was the son of very honest and reputable parents, not far from Newgate Street. His father gave him a competent education, designing always to put him in a trade, and as soon as he was fit for it placed him accordingly with a vintner at Greenwich. There he served for some years, but growing out of humour with the place, be made continual instances to his friends to be removed. They, willing and desirous to comply with the young man's honours, at length after repeated solicitation prevailed with his master to consent, and then he was removed to another tavern in town. There he completed his time, but ever after being of a rambling disposition, was continually changing places and never settled.

Amongst those in which he had lived, there was a tavern where he resided as a drawer for about six weeks. Here he got into acquaintance of a woman, handsome, indeed, but of no fortune, and little reputation. His affection for this woman and the money he spent on her, was the chief occasion of those wants which prevailed upon him to join with Picken in those attempts which were fatal to them both. It cannot, indeed, be said that the woman in any degree excited him to such practices. On the contrary, the poor creature really endeavoured by every method she could to procure money for their support, and did all that in her lay (while Packer was under his misfortunes) to prevent the necessities of life from hindering him in that just care which was necessary to secure his interest in that which was to come.

Packer was in himself a lad of very great good nature, and not without just principles if he had been well improved, but the rambling life he had led, and his too tender affection for the before-mentioned woman, led him into great crimes rather than he would see her sustain great wants. The reflection which he conceived his death would bring upon his parents, and the miseries which he dreaded it would draw upon his wife and child, seemed to press him heavier than any apprehension for himself to his own sufferings, which from the time of his commitment he bore with the greatest patience, and improved to the utmost of his power. As he was sensible there was no hopes of remaining in this world, so he immediately removed his thought, his wishes and his hopes from thence, applied himself seriously to his devotions, and never suffered even the woman whom he so much loved to interfere or hinder them in any degree.

As it had been his first week of robbing, and his last too, he had little confession to make in that respect. He acknowledged, however, the fact which they had done in that space, and seemed to be heartily penitent, ashamed and sorry for his offences. At the place of execution he behaved with the same decency which accompanied him through all the sorrowful stations of his sad condition. He was asked whether he would say anything to the people, but he declined it, though he had a paper in his hand which he had designed to read, which for the satisfaction of the public, I have thought fit to annex.

The paper left by Thomas Packer.

Good People,

I see a large number of you assembled here, to behold a miserable end of us whom the Law condemns to death for our offence, and for the sake of giving you warning, makes us in our last moments, public spectacles. I submit with the utmost resignation to the stroke of the Law, and I heartily pray Almighty God that the sight of my shameful death, may inspire every one of you with lasting resolutions of leading an honest life. The facts for which both Picken and I die were really committed by us, and consequently the sentence under which we suffer, is very just. Let me then press ye again that the warnings of our deaths may not be in vain, but that you will remember our fate, and by urging that against your depraved wishes, prevent following our steps; which is all I have to say.

Thomas Packer

He was about twenty years of age at the time he suffered, which was with the afore-mentioned malefactor at Tyburn, much pitied by all the spectators.

The Life of THOMAS BRADLEY, a Street-Robber

One must want humanity and be totally void of that tenderness which denominates both a man and a Christian if we feel not some pity for those who are brought to a violent and shameful death from a sudden and rash act, excited either by necessity or through the frailty of human nature sinking under misfortune or hurried into mischief by a sudden transport of passion. I am persuaded, therefore, that the greater part, if not all of my readers will feel the same emotions of tenderness and compassion for the miserable youth of whom I am now going to speak.

Thomas Bradley was the son of an officer in the Custom-House at Liverpool. The father took care of his education, and having qualified him for a seafaring business in reading and writing, placed him therein. He came up accordingly with the master of a vessel to London, where some misfortunes befalling the said master, Thomas was turned out of his employment and left to shift for himself. Want pinched him. He had no friends, nor anybody to whom be might apply for relief, and in the anguish with which his sufferings oppressed him, he unfortunately resolved to steal rather than submit to starving or to begging. One fact he committed, but could never be prevailed on to mention the time, the person or the place.

The robbery for which he was condemned was upon a woman carrying home another woman's riding-hood which she had borrowed; and he assaulting her on the highway took it from her, which was valued at 25s. Upon this he was capitally convicted at the next sessions at the Old Bailey, nor could never be prevailed on by a person to apply for a pardon. On the contrary, he said it was his greatest grief that notwithstanding all he could do to stifle it, the news would reach his father, and break his heart. He was told that such thoughts were better omitted than suffered to disturb him, when he was on the point of going to another (and if he repented thoroughly) to a better life; at which he sighed and said their reasoning was very right, and he would comply with it if he could. From that time he appeared more composed and cheerful, and resigned to his fate. This temper he preserved to the time of his execution, and died with as much courage and penitence as is ever seen in any of those unhappy persons who suffer at the same place.

At the time of his death he was not quite nineteen years of age. He died between the last mentioned malefactor and him whose life we are next to relate.

The Life of WILLIAM LIPSAT, a Thief

William Lipsat was the son of a person at Dublin, in very tolerable circumstances, which he strained to the utmost to give this lad a tolerable education. When he had acquired this he sent him over to an uncle of his at Stockden, in Worcestershire, where he lived with more indulgence than even when at home, his uncle having no children, and behaving to him with all the tenderness of a parent. However, on some little difference (the boy having long had an inclination to see this great City of London) he took that occasion to go away from his uncle, and accordingly came up to town, and was employed in the service of one Mr. Kelway. He had not been long there before he received a letter from his father, entreating him to return to Dublin with all the speed he was able. This letter was soon followed by another, which not only desired, but commanded him to come back to Ireland. He was not troubled at thinking of the voyage and going home to his friends, but he was very desirous of carrying money over with him to make a figure amongst his relations, which not knowing how to get, he at last bethought himself of stealing it from a place in which he knew it lay. After several struggles with himself, vanity prevailed, and he accordingly went and took away the things, viz., 57 guineas and a half, 25 Caroluses,[51] 5 Jacobuses, 3 Moidores, six piece of silver, two purses valued at twelve pence. These, as he said, would have made his journey pleasant and his reception welcome, which was the reason he took them. The evidence was very dear and direct against him, so that the jury found him guilty without hesitation.

From the time of his condemnation to the day he died, he neither affected to extenuate his crime, nor reflect, as some are apt to do, on the cruelty of the prosecutors, witnesses, or the Court that condemned him. So far from it, that he always acknowledged the justice of his sentence, seemed grieved only for the greatness of his sin and the affliction of the punishment of it would bring upon his relations, who had hitherto always born the best of characters, though by his failing they were now like to be stigmatised with the most infamous crimes. However, since his grief came now too late, he resolved as much as he was able to keep such thoughts out of his head, and apply himself to what more nearly concerned him, and for which all the little time he had was rather too short. In a word, in his condition, none behaved with more gravity, or to outward appearance with more penitence than this criminal did.

He suffered with the same resignation which had appeared in everything he did from the time of his condemnation, on the 1st of February, 1724-5, with the before-mentioned malefactors, being then scarce eighteen years of age.


Carolus was a gold coin of Charles I, worth 20s.-23s.; a Jacobus, coined by James I, was of the same value; the moidore was worth about 27s.

The Life of JOHN HEWLET, a Murderer

There are several facts which have happened in the world, the circumstances attending which, if we compare them as they are related by one or other, we can hardly fix in our own mind any certainty of belief concerning them, such an equality is there in the weight of evidence of one side and of the other. Such, at the time it happened, was the case of the malefactor before us.

John Hewlet was born in Warwickshire, the son of Richard Hewlet, a butcher, and though not bred up with his father, he was yet bred to the same employment at Leicester, from which, malicious people said he acquired a bloody and barbarous disposition. However, he did not serve his time out with his master, but being a strong, sturdy young fellow, and hoping some extraordinary preferment in the army, with that view he engaged himself in the First Regiment of the Guards, during the reign of the late King William.

In the war he gained the reputation of a very brave, but a very cruel and very rough fellow, and therefore was relied on by his officers, yet never liked by them. Persons of a similar disposition generally live on good terms with one another. Hewlet found out a corporal, one Blunt, much of the same humour with himself, never pleased when in safety, nor afraid though in the midst of danger.

At the siege of Namur, in Flanders, these fellows happened to be both in the trenches when the French made a desperate sally and were beaten off at last with much loss and in such confusion that their pursuers lodged themselves in one of the outworks, and had like to have gained another, in the attack on which a young cadet of the regiment in which Blunt served was killed. Blunt observing it, went to the commanding officer and told him that the cadet had nineteen pistoles in his pocket, and it was a shame the French should have them. Why, that's true, corporal, said the Colonel, but I don't see at present how we can help it. No, replied Blunt, give me but leave to go and search his pockets, and I'll answer for bringing the money back. Why, fool, said the Colonel, dost thou not see the place covered with French? Should a man stir from hence they would pour a whole shower of small shot upon him. I'll venture that, says Blunt. But how will you know the body? added the Colonel. I am afraid we have left a score besides him behind us. Why, look ye, sir, said the Corporal, let me have no more objections, and I'll answer that, he was clapped, good Colonel, do you see, and that to some purpose; so that if I can't know him by his face, I may know him by somewhat else. Well, said the Colonel, if you have a mind to be knocked on the head, and take it ill to be denied, you must go, I think.

On which Blunt, waiting for no further orders, marched directly in the midst of the enemy's fire to the dead bodies, which law within ten yards of the muzzle of their pieces, and turning over several of the dead bodies, he distinguished that of the cadet, and brought away the prize for which he had so fairly ventured.

This action put Hewlet on his mettle. He resolved to do something that might equal it, and an opportunity offered some time after, of performing such a service as no man in the army would have undertaken. It happened thus: the engineer who was to set fire to the train of a mine which had been made under a bastion of the enemy's, happened to have drank very hard over night, and mistaking the hour, laid the match an hour sooner than he ought. A sentinel immediately came out, called out aloud, What, have you clapped fire to the train? There's twenty people in the mine who will be all blown up; it should not have been fired till 12 o'clock.

On hearing this Hewlet ran in with his sword drawn, and therewith cut off the train the moment before it would have given fire to all the barrels of powder that were within, by which he saved the lives of all the pioneers who were carrying the mines still forward at the time the wild fire was unseasonably lighted by the engineer.

At the battle of Landau he had his skull broken open by a blow from the butt end of a musket. This occasioned his going through the operation called trepanning, which is performed by an engine like a coffee-mill, which being fixed on the bruised part of the bone, is turned round, and cuts out all the black till the edges appear white and sound. After this cure had been performed upon him, he never had his senses in the same manner as he had before, but upon the least drinking fell into a passion which was but very little removed from madness.

He returned into England after the Peace of Ryswick, and being taken into a gentleman's service, he there married a wife, by whom he had nine children. Happy was it for them that they were all dead before his disastrous end.

How Hewlet came to be employed as a watchman a little before his death, the papers I have give me no account of, only that he was in that station at the time of the death of Joseph Candy, for whose murder he was indicted for giving him a mortal bruise on the head with his staff.

On the 26th of December, 1724, upon full evidences of eye-witnesses, the jury found him guilty, he making no other defence than great asservations of his innocence, and an obstinate denial of the fact. After his conviction, being visited in the condemned hold, instead of showing any marks of penitence or contrition, he raved against the witnesses who had been produced to destroy him, called them all perjured, and prayed God to inflict some dreadful judgment on them. Nay, he went so far as to desire that he ought himself have the executing thereof, wishing that after his death his apparition might come and terrify them to their graves. When it was represented to him how odd this behaviour was, and how far distant from that calmness and tranquillity of mind with which it became him to clothe himself before he went into the presence of his Maker, these representations had no effect; he still continued to rave against his accusers, and against the witnesses who had sworn at his trial. As death grew nearer he appeared not a bit terrified, nor seemed uneasy at all at leaving this life, only at leaving his wife, and as he phrased it, some old acquaintance in Warwickshire. However, he desired to receive the Sacrament, and said he would prepare himself for it as well as he could.

He went to the place of execution in the same manner in which he had passed the days of his confinement till that time. At Tyburn he was not satisfied with protesting his innocence to the people, but designing to have one of the Prayer Books which was made use of in the cart, he kissed it as people do when they take oath, and then again turning to the mob, declared as he was a dying man, he never gave Candy a blow in his life. Thus with many ejaculations he gave way to fate in an advanced age at Tyburn, at the same time with the malefactors last mentioned.

The Lives of JAMES CAMMEL and WILLIAM MARSHAL, Thieves and Footpads

James Cammel was born of parents in very low circumstances, and the misfortunes arising therefrom were much increased by his father dying while he was an infant, and leaving him to the care of a widow in the lowest circumstances of life. The consequence was what might be easily foreseen, for he forgot what little he had learned in his youngest days, loitering away his time about Islington, Hoxton, Moorfield, and such places, being continually drinking there, and playing at cudgels, skittles, and such like. He never applied himself to labour or honest working for his bread, but either got it from his mother or a few other friends, or by methods of a more scandalous nature—I mean pilfering and stealing from others, for which after he had long practised it, he came at last to an untimely death.

He was a fellow of a froward disposition, hasty and yet revengeful, and made up of almost all the vices that go to forming a debauchee in low life. He had had a long acquaintance with the person that suffered with him for their offences, but what made him appear in the worst light was that he had endeavoured to commit acts of cruelty at the time he did the robbery. Notwithstanding he insisted not only that he was innocent of the latter part of the offence but that he never committed the robbery at all, though Marshal his associate did not deny it.

They had been together in these exploits for some time, and once particularly coming from Sadlers Wells, they took from a gentlewoman a basket full of bed-child linen to a very great value, which offering to sell to a woman in Monmouth Street, she privately sent for a constable to apprehend them. One of their companions who went with them observing this, he tipped them the wink to be gone, which the old woman of the house perceiving, caught hold of Marshal by the coat; and while they struggled, the third man whipped off a gold watch, a silver collar and bells, and a silver plate for holding snuffers, and pretending to interpose in the quarrel slipped through them, and out at the door, as Cammel and Marshal did immediately after him.

Once upon a time it happened that Marshal had no money, and his credit being at a par, and a warrant out to take him for a great debt, and another to take him for picking of pockets, he was in a great quandary how to escape both. He strolled into St. James's Park, and walking there pretty late behind the trees, a woman came up to the seat directly before him, when she fell to roaring and crying. Marshal being unseen, clapped himself down behind the seat, and listened with great attention. He perceived the woman had her pocket in her hand, and heard her distinctly say that a rogue not to be contented with cutting one pocket and taking it away, but he must cut the other and let it drop at her foot. Then she wiped her eyes and laying down her pocket by her, began to shake her petticoats to see if the other pocket had not lodged between them as the former had done. So Marshal took the opportunity and secretly conveyed that away, thinking one lamentation might serve for both. Upon turning the pocket out, he found only a thread paper, a housewife and a crown piece. Upon this crown piece he lived a fortnight at a milk-house, coming twice a day for milk, and hiding himself at nights in some of the grass plots, it being summer.

But his creditor dying, and the person whose pocket he had picked going to Denmark, he came abroad again, and soon after engaged with Cammel in the fact for which they were both hanged. It was committed upon a man and a woman coming through the fields from Islington, and the things they took did not amount to above 30 shillings. After they were convicted and had received sentence of death, Cammel sent for The Practice of Piety, The Whole Duty of Man, and such other good books as he thought might assist him in the performance of their duty. Yet notwithstanding all the outward appearance of resignation to the Divine Will, the Sunday before his execution, upon the coming in to the chapel of a person whom he took to be his prosecutor, he flew into a very great passion, and expressed his uneasiness that he had no instrument there to murder him with; and notwithstanding all that could be said to him to abate his passion, he continued restless and uneasy until the person was obliged to withdraw, and then with great attention applied himself to hear the prayers, and discourse that was made proper for that occasion.

Marshal in the meanwhile continued very sick, but though he could not attend the chapel, did all that could be expected from a true penitent. In this condition they both continued until the time of their death, when Marshal truly acknowledged the fact, but Cammel prevaricated about it, and at last peremptorily denied it. They suffered on the 30th of April, 1725, Cammel appearing with an extraordinary carelessness and unconcern, desired them to put him out of the world quickly, and was very angry that they did not do it in less time.

The Life of JOHN GUY, a Deer-stealer

One would have thought that the numerous executions which had happened upon the appearance of those called the Waltham Blacks,[52] and the severity of that Act of Parliament which their folly had occasioned, would effectually have prevented any outrages for the future upon either the forests belonging to the Crown, or the parks of private gentlemen; but it seems there were still fools capable of undertaking such mad exploits.

It is said that Guy being at a public house with a young woman whom, as the country people phrase it, was his sweetheart, a discourse arose at supper concerning the expeditions of the deer-stealers, which Guy's mistress took occasion to express great admiration of, and to regard them as so many heroes, who had behaved with courage enough to win the most obdurate heart, adding that she was very fond of venison, and she wished she had known some of them. This silly accident proved fatal to the poor fellow, who engaging with one Biddisford, an old deer-stealer, they broke into such forests and parks and carried off abundance of deer with impunity. But the keepers at last getting a number of stout young fellows to their assistance, waylaid them one night, when they were informed by the keeper of an alehouse that Guy and Biddisford intended to come for deer.

I must inform my reader that the method these young men took in deer-stealing was this. They went into the park on foot, sometimes with a crossbow, and sometimes with a couple of dogs, being armed always, however, with pistols for their own defence. When they had killed a buck, they trussed him up and put him upon their backs and so walked off, neither of them being able to procure horses for such service.

On the night that the keepers were acquainted with their coming, they sent to a neighbouring gentleman for the assistance of two of his grooms; the fellows came about 11 o'clock at night, and tying their horses in a little copse went to the place where the keepers had appointed to keep guard. This was on a little rising ground, planted with a star grove, through the avenues of which they could see all round them without being discerned themselves. No sooner, therefore, had Guy and his companion passed into the forest, but suffering them to pass by one of the entries of the grove where they were, they immediately issued out upon them, and pursued them so closely that they were within a few yards of them when they entered the coppice, where the two grooms had left their horses. They did not stay so much as to untie them, but cutting the bridles, mounted them and rode off as hard as they could, turning them loose as soon as they were in safety, and got home secure, because the keepers could not say they had done anything but walk across the forest.

This escape of theirs and some others of the same nature, made them so bold that not contented with the deer in chases and such places, they broke into the paddock of Anthony Duncombe, Esq., and there killed certain fallow deer. One Charles George who was the keeper, and some of his assistants hearing the noise they made, issued out, and a sharp fight beginning, the deer-stealers at last began to fly. But a blunderbuss being fired after them, two of the balls ripped the belly of Biddisford, who died on the spot; and soon after the keepers coming up, John Guy was taken. And being tried for this offence at the ensuing sessions of the Old Bailey, he was convicted and received sentence of death, though it was some days after before he could be persuaded that he should really suffer.

When he found himself included in the death warrant, he applied himself heartily to prayer and other religious duties, seeming to be thoroughly penitent for the crimes he had committed, and with great earnestness endeavoured to make amends for his follies, by sending the most tender letters to his companions who had been guilty of the same faults, to induce them to forsake such undertakings, which would surely bring them to the same fate which he suffered, for so inconsiderable a thing perhaps as a haunch of venison. Whether these epistles had the effect for which they were designed, I am not able to say, but the papers I have by me inform me that the prisoner Guy died with very cheerful resolution, not above twenty-five years of age, the same day with the malefactors before mentioned.


See page 164.

The Life of VINCENT DAVIS, a Murderer

It is an observation made by some foreigners (and I am sorry to say there's too much truth in it) that though the English are perhaps less jealous than any nation under the heavens, yet more men murder their wives amongst us than in any other nation in Europe.

Vincent Davis was a man of no substance and who for several years together had lived in a very ill correspondence with his wife, often beating and abusing her, until the neighbours cried out shame. But instead of amending he addicted himself still more and more to such villainous acts, conversing also with other women. And at last buying a knife, he had the impudence to say that that knife should end her, in which he was as good as his word; for on a sudden quarrel he slabbed her to the heart. For this murder he was indicted, and also on the Statute of Stabbing,[53] of both of which on the fullest proof he was found guilty.

When Davis was first committed, he thought fit to appear very melancholy and dejected. But when he found there was no hopes of life, he threw off all decency in his behaviour and, to pass for a man of courage, showed as much vehemence of temper as a madman would have done, rattling and raving to everyone that came in, saying it was no crime to kill a wife; and in all other expressions he made use of, behaved himself more like a fool or a man who had lost his wits than a man who had lived so long and creditably in a neighbourhood as he had done, excepting in relation to his wife. But he was induced, with the hopes of passing for a bold and daring fellow, to carry on this scene as long as he could, but when the death warrant arrived, all this intrepidity left him, he trembled and shook, and never afterwards recovered his spirits to the time of his death.

The account he gave of the reason of his killing his wife in so barbarous a manner was this; that a tailor's servant having kept him out pretty late one night, and he coming home elevated with liquor abused her, upon which she got a warrant for him and sent him to New Prison. After this, the prisoner said, he could never endure her; she was poison to his sight, and the abhorrence he had for her was so great and so strong that he could not treat her with the civility which is due to every indifferent person, much less with that regard which Christianity requires of us towards all who are of the same religion. So that upon every occasion he was ready to fly out into the greatest passions, which he vented by throwing everything at her that came in his way, by which means the knife was darted into her bosom with which she was slain.

Notwithstanding the barbarity which seemed natural to this unhappy man, the cruelty with which he treated his wife in her last moments, the spleen and malice with which he always spoke of her, and the little regret he showed for having imbrued his hands in her blood, he yet had an unaccountable tenderness for his own person, and employed the last days of his confinement in writing many letters to his friends, entreating them to be present at his execution in order to preserve his body from the hands of the surgeons, which of all things he dreaded. And in order to avoid being anatomised, he affronted the court at the Old Bailey, at the time he received sentence of death, intending as he said to provoke them to hang him in chains, by which means he should escape the mangling of the surgeon's knives, which to him seemed ten thousand times worse than death itself. Thus confused he passed the last moments of his life, and with much ado recollected himself so as to suffer with some kind of decency, which he did on the 30th of April, at the same time with the last-mentioned malefactor.


1 Jac. I, cap. 8, "When one thrusts or stabs another, not then having a weapon drawn, or who hath not then first stricken the party stabbing, so that he dies thereof within six months after, the offender shall not have the benefit of clergy, though he did it not of malice aforethought." Blackstone.

The Life of MARY HANSON, a Murderer

Amongst the many frailties to which our nature is subject, there is not perhaps a more dangerous one than the indulging ourselves in ridiculous and provoking discourses, merely to try the tempers of other people. I speak not this with regard to the criminal of whom we are next to treat, but of the person who in the midst of his sins drew upon himself a sudden and violent death by using such silly kind of speeches towards a woman weak in her nature, and deprived of what little reason she had by drink.

This poor creature, flying into an excess of passion with Francis Peters, who was some distant relation to her by marriage, she wounded him suddenly under the right pap with a knife, before she could be prevented by any of the company; of which wound he died. The warm expressions she had been guilty of before the blow, prevailed with the jury to think she had a premeditated malice, and thereupon they found her guilty.

Fear of death, want of necessaries, and a natural tenderness of body, brought on her soon after conviction so great a sickness that she could not attend the duties of public devotion, and reduced her to the necessity of catching the little intervals of ease which her distemper allowed her, to beg pardon of God for that terrible crime for which she had been guilty.

There was at the same time, one Mary Stevens in the condemned hold (though she afterwards received a reprieve) who was very instrumental in bringing this poor creature to a true sense of herself and of her sins; she then confessed the murder with all its circumstances, reproached herself with having been guilty of such a crime as to murder the person who had so carefully took her under his roof, allowed her a subsistence and been so peculiarly civil to her, for which he expected no return but what was easily in her power to make. This Mary Stevens was a weak-brained woman, full of scruples and difficulties, and almost distracted at the thoughts of having committed several robberies. After receiving the Sacrament, she not only persuaded this Mary Hanson to behave herself as became a woman under her unhappy condition, but also persuaded two or three other female criminals in that place to make the best use of that mercy which the leniency of the Government has extended them.

There was a man suffered to go twice a day to read to them, and probably it was he who drew up the paper for Mary Hanson which she left behind her, for though it be very agreeable to the nature of her case, yet it is penned in the manner not likely to come from the hands of a poor ignorant woman. Certain it is, however, that she behaved herself with great calmness and resolution at the time of her death, and did not appear at all disturbed at that hurry which, as I shall mention in the next life, happened at the place of execution. The paper she left ran in these words, viz.:

Though the poverty of my parents hindered me from having any great education, yet I resolve to do as I know others in my unhappy circumstances have done, and by informing the world of the causes which led me to that crime for which I so justly suffer, that by shunning it they may avoid such a shameful end; and I particularly desire all women to take heed how they give way to drunkenness, which is a vice but too common in this age. It was that disorder in which my spirits were, occasioned by the liquor I had drunk, which hurried me to the committing a crime, at the thoughts of which on any other time my blood would have curdled. I hope you will afford me your prayers for my departing soul, as I offer up mine to God that none of you may follow me to this fatal place.

Having delivered this paper, she suffered at about thirty years old.

The Life of BRYAN SMITH, a Threatening Letter Writer

I have already observed how the Black Act was extended for punishing Charles Towers,[54] concerned in setting up the New Mint, who as he affirmed died only for having his face accidentally dirty at the time he assaulted the bailiff's house. I must now put you in mind of another clause in the same act, viz., that for punishing with death those who sent any threatening letters in order to affright persons into a compliance with their demands, for fear of being murdered themselves, or having their houses fired about their ears. This clause of the Act is general, and therefore did not extend only to offences of this kind when committed by deer-stealers and those gangs against whom it was particularly levelled at that time, but included also whoever should be guilty of writing such letters to any person or persons whatsoever; which was a just and necessary construction of the Act, and not only made use of in the case of this criminal, but of many more since, becoming particularly useful of late years, when this practice became frequent.

Bryan Smith, who occasions this observation, was an Irishman, of parts so very mean as perhaps were never met with in one who passed for a rational creature; yet this fellow, forsooth, took it into his head that he might be able to frighten Baron Swaffo, a very rich Jew in the City, out of a considerable sum of money, by terrifying him with a letter. For this purpose he wrote one indeed in a style I daresay was never seen before, or since. Its spelling was à la mode de brogue, and the whole substance of the thing was filled with oaths, curses, execrations and threatenings of murder and burning if such a sum of money was not sent as he, in his great wisdom, thought it fit to demand.

The man's management in sending this and directing how he would have an answer was of a piece with his style, and altogether made the discovery no difficult matter. So that Bryan being apprehended, was at the next sessions at the Old Bailey tried and convicted on the evidence of some of his countrymen, and when, after receiving sentence, there remained no hopes for him of favour, to make up a consistent character he declared himself a Papist, and as is usual with persons of that profession, was forbidden by his priest to go any more to the public chapel.

However, to do him justice as far as outward circumstances will give us leave to judge, he appeared very sorry for the crime he had committed, and having had the priest with him a considerable time the day before his death, he would needs go to the place of execution in a shroud.

As he went along he repeated the Hail Mary and Paternoster.

But there being many persons to suffer, and the executioner thereby being put into a confusion, Smith observing the hurry slipped the rope over his head, and jumped at once over the corpses in the cart amongst the mob. Had he been wise enough to have come in his clothes, and not in a shroud, it is highly probable he had made his escape; but his white dress rendering him conspicuous even at a distance, the sheriffs officers were not long before they retook him and placed him in his former situation again.

Hope and fear, desire of life, and dread of immediate execution, had occasioned so great an emotion of his spirits that he appeared in his last moments in a confusion not to be described, and departed the world in such an agony that he was a long time before he died, which was at the same time with the malefactor before-mentioned, viz., on the 30th of April, 1725.


See page 198.

The Life of JOSEPH WARD, a Footpad

There are some persons who are unhappy, even from their cradles, and though every man is said to be born to a mixture of good and evil fortune, yet these seem to reap nothing from their birth but an entry into woe, and a passage to misery.

This unhappy man we are now speaking of, Joseph Ward, is a strong instance of this, for being the son of travelling people, he scarce knew either the persons to whom he owed his birth, or the place where he was born. However, they found a way to instruct him well enough to read, and that so well that it was afterwards of great use to him, in the most miserable state of his life.

He rambled about with his father and mother until the age of fourteen, when they dying, he was left to the wide world, with nothing to provide for himself but his wits; so that he was almost under necessity of going into a gang of gipsies that passed by that part of the country where he was. These gipsies taught him all their arts of living, and it happened that the crew he got into were not of the worst sort either, for they maintained themselves rather by the credulity of the country folks, than by the ordinary practices of those sort of people, stealing of poultry and robbing hedges of what linen people are careless enough to leave there. I shall have another and more proper occasion to give my readers the history of this sort of people, who were anciently formidable enough to deserve an especial Act of Parliament[55] altered and amended in several reigns for banishing them from the Kingdom.

But to go on with the story of Ward; disliking this employment, he took occasion, when they came into Buckinghamshire, to leave them at a common by Gerrard's Cross, and come up to London. When he came here, he was still in the same state, not knowing what to do to get bread. At last he bethought himself of the sea, and prevailed on a captain to take with him a pretty long voyage. He behaved himself so well in his passage, that his master took him with him again, and used him very kindly; but he dying, Ward was again put to his shifts, though on his arrival in England he brought with him near 30 guineas to London.

He look up lodgings near the Iron Gate at St. Catherine's, and taking a walk one evening on Tower Wharf, he there met with a young woman, who after much shyness suffered him to talk to her. They met there a second and a third time. She said she was niece to a pewterer of considerable circumstances, not far from Tower Hill, who had promised, and was able to give her five hundred pounds; but the fear of disobliging him by marriage, hindered her from thinking of becoming a wife without his approbation of her spouse.

These difficulties made poor Ward imagine that if he could once persuade the woman to marriage, he should soon mollify the heart of her relation, and so become happy at once. With a great deal to do, Madam was prevailed upon to consent, and going to the Fleet they were there married, and soon returned to St. Catherine's, to new lodgings which Ward had taken, where he had proposed to continue a day or two and then wait upon the uncle.

Never man was in his own opinion more happy than Joseph Ward in his new wife, but alas! all human happiness is fleeting and uncertain, especially when it depends in any degree upon a woman. The very next morning after their wedding, Madam prevailed on him to slip on an old coat and take a walk by the house which she had shown him for her uncle's. He was no sooner out of doors, but she gave the sign to some of her accomplices, who in a quarter of an hour's time helped her to strip the lodging not only of all which belonged to Ward, but of some things of value that belonged to the people of the house. They were scarce out of doors before Ward returned, who finding his wife gone and the room stripped, set up such an outcry as alarmed all the people in the house.

Instead of being concerned at Joseph's loss they clamoured at their own, and told him in so many words that if he did not find the woman, or make them reparation for their goods, they would send him to Newgate. But alas! it was neither in Ward's power to do one, nor the other. Upon which the people were as good as their word, for they sent for a constable and had him before a Justice. There the whole act appearing, the justice discharged him and told them they must take their remedy against him at the Common Law. Upon this Ward took the advantage and made off, but taking to drinking to drive away the sorrows that encompassed him, he at last fell into ill-company, and by them was prevailed on to join in doing evil actions to get money. He had been but a short time at this trade, before he committed the fact for which he died.

Islington was the road where he generally took a purse, and therefore endeavoured to make himself perfectly acquainted with many ways that lead to that little town, which he effected so well, that he escaped several times from the strictest pursuits. At last it came into his head that the safest way would be to rob women, which accordingly he put into practice, and committed abundance of thefts that way for the space of six weeks, particularly on one Mrs. Jane Vickary, of a gold ring value twenty shillings, and soon after of Mrs. Elizabeth Barker, of a gold ring set with garnets. Being apprehended for these two facts, he was committed to New Prison, where either refusing or not being able to make discoveries, he remained in custody till the sessions at the Old Bailey. There the persons swearing positively to his face, he was after a trivial defence convicted, and received sentence of death accordingly.

As he had no relations that he knew of, nor so much as one friend in the world, the thoughts of a pardon never distracted his mind a moment. He applied himself from the day of his sentence to a new preparation for death, and having in the midst of all his troubles accustomed himself to reading, he was of great use to his unhappy companions in reading the Scripture, and assisting them in their private devotions. He made a just use of that space which the mercy of the English Law allows to persons who are to suffer death for their crimes to make their peace with their Creator.


The manacled rogue is seen in the foreground, his head bowed in despair, as the witness by his side unfolds his damning evidence. Through one window is shown the robbery for which he is being tried; the other affords a prophetical glimpse of the villain's end at Tyburn Tree.
(From the Newgate Calendar)

There was but one person who visited this offender while under the sentence of the Law, and he, thinking that the only method by which he could do him service was to save his life, proposed to him a very probable method of escaping, which for reasons not hard to be guessed at, I shall forbear describing. He pressed him so often and made the practicability of the thing so plain that the criminal at last condescended to make the experiment, and his friend promised the next day to bring him the materials for his escape.

That night Ward, who began then to be weak in his limbs with the sickness which had lain upon him ever since he had been in the prison, fell into a deep sleep, a comfort he had not felt since the coming on of his misfortunes. In this space he dreamed that he was in a very barren, sandy place, which was bounded before him by a large deep river, which in the middle of the plain parted itself into two streams that, after having run a considerable space, united again, having formed an island within the branches. On the other side of the main river, there appeared one of the most beautiful countries that could be thought of, covered with trees, full of ripe fruit, and adorned with flowers. On the other side, in the island which was enclosed, having a large arm of water running behind it and another smaller before, the soil appeared sandy and barren, like that whereon he stood.

While he was musing at this sight, he beheld a person of a grave and venerable aspect, in garb and appearance like a shepherd, who asked him twice or thrice, if he knew the meaning of what he there saw, to which he answered, No. Well, then, says the stranger, I will inform you. This sight which you see is just your present case. You have nothing to resolve with yourself but whether you will prepare by swimming across this river immediately, forever to possess that beautiful country that lies before you; or by attempting the passage over the narrow board which crosses the first arm of the river and leads into the island, where you will be again amidst briars and thorns, and must at last pass that deep water, before you can enter the pleasant country you behold on the other side.

This vision made so strong an impression on the poor man's spirits that when his friend came he refused absolutely to make his escape, but suffered with great marks of calmness and true repentance, at Tyburn, in the twenty-seventh year of his age.


This was the statute of 1530 (22 Hen. VIII, c, 10) directed against "outlandish people calling themselves Egyptians." It was amended 1 & 2 Ph. & Mary, c. 4 and 5 Eliz., c. 10 and sundry other legislation was of a similar tenour.

The Life of JAMES WHITE, a Thief

Stupidity, however it may arise, whether from a natural imperfection of the rational faculties, or from want of education, or from drowning it wholly in bestial and sensual pleasures, is doubtless one of the highest misfortunes which can befall any man whatsoever; for it not only leaves him little better than the beasts which perish, exposed to a thousand inconveniences against which there is no guard but that of a clear and unbiased reason, but it renders him also base and abject when under misfortunes, the sport and contempt of that wicked and debauched part of the human species who are apt to scoff at despairing misery, and to add by their insults to the miseries of those who sink under their load already.

James White, who is to be the subject of the following narration, was the son of very honest and reputable parents, though their circumstances were so mean as not to afford wherewith to put their son to school, and they themselves were so careless as not to procure his admission into the Charity School. By all which it happened that the poor fellow knew hardly anything better than the beasts of the field, and addicted himself like them, to filling his belly and satisfying his lust. Whenever, therefore, either of those brutish appetites called, he never scrupled plundering to obtain what might supply the first, or using force that might oblige women to submit against their wills unto the other.

While he was a mere boy, and worked about as he could with anybody who would employ him, he found a way to steal and carry off thirty pounds weight of tobacco, the property of Mr. Perry, an eminent Virginian merchant; for which he was at the ensuing assizes at the Old Bailey, tried and convicted, and thereupon ordered for transportation, and in pursuance of that sentence sent on board the transport vessel accordingly. Their allowance there was very poor, such as the miserable wretches could hardly subsist on, viz., a pint and a half of fresh water, and a very small piece of salt meat per diem each; but that wherein their greatest misery consisted was the hole in which they were locked underneath the deck, where they were tied two and two, in order to prevent those dangers which the ship's crew often runs by the attempts made by felons to escape. In this disconsolate condition he passed his time until the arrival of the ship in America, where he met with a piece of good luck (if attaining liberty may be called good luck) without acquiring at the same time a means to preserve life in any comfort. It happened thus.

The super-cargo falling sick, under the usual distemper which visits strangers at first coming if they keep not to the exact rules of temperance and forbearance of strong liquors, ran quickly so much in debt with his physician that he was obliged immediately to go off, by doing which six felons became their own masters, of whom James White was one. He retired into the woods and lived there in a very wretched manner for some time, till he met with some Indian families in that retreat, who according to the natural uncultivated humanity of that people cherished and relieved him to the utmost of their power.

Soon after this, he went to work amongst some English servants, in order to ease them, telling them how things stood with him, viz., that he had been transported, and that for fear of being seized he fled into the woods, where he had endured the greatest hardships. The servants pitying his desperate condition relieved him often, without the knowledge of their mistress until they got him into a planter's service, where though he worked hard he was sure to fare tolerably well. But at length being ordered to carry water in large vessels over the rocks to the ship that rode in the bay underneath it, his feet were thereby so intolerably cut that he was soon rendered lame and incapable of doing it any longer. The family thereupon grew weary of keeping him in that decrepit state he was in, and so for what servile scullion-like labour he was able to do, a master of a ship took him on board and carried him to England.

On his return hither, he went directly to his friends in Cripplegate parish and told them what had befallen him, and how he was driven home again almost as much by force as he was hurried abroad. They were too poor to be able to conceal him, and he was therefore obliged to go and cry fruit about the streets publicly, that he might not want bread. He went on in this mean but honest way, without committing any new acts that I am able to learn, for the space of some months. Then being seen and known by some who were at that employed (or at least employed themselves) in detecting and taking up all such persons as returned from transportation, White amongst the rest was seized, and the ensuing sessions at the Old Bailey convicted on the Statute. He pleaded that he was only a very young man, and if the Court would have so much pity on him as to send him over again, he would be satisfied to stay all his life-time in America; but the resolution which had been taken to spare none who returned back into England, because such persons were more bloody and dangerous rogues than any other, and when prompted by despair, apt to resist the officers of justice, took place, and he was put into the death warrant.

Both before and after receiving sentence, he not only abandoned himself to stupid, heedless indolence, but behaved in so rude and troublesome a manner as occasioned his being complained of by those miserable wretches who were under the same condemnation, as a greater grievance to them than all their other misfortunes put together. He would sometimes threaten women who came into the hold to visit modestly, tease them with obscene discourse, and after his being prisoner there committed acts of lewdness to the amazement and horror of the most wicked and abandoned wretches in that dreadful place. Being however severely reprimanded for continuing so beastly a course of life, when life itself was so near being extinguished, he laid the crime to his own ignorance, and said that if he were better instructed he would behave better, but he could not bear being abused, threatened and even maltreated by those who were in the same state with himself. From this time he addicted himself to attend more carefully to religious discourses than most of the rest, and as far as the amazing dullness of his intellects would give him leave, applied to the duties of his sad state.

Before his death he gave many testimonies of a sincere and unaffected sorrow for his crimes, but as he had not the least notion of the nature, efficacy or preparation necessary for the Sacrament, it was not given him as is usually done to malefactors the day of their death. At the place of execution he seemed surprised and astonished, looked wildly round upon the people, and then asking the minister who attended him what he must do now, the person spoke to instructed him; so shutting his hands close, he cried out with great vehemence, Lord receive my soul.

His age was about twenty-five at the time he suffered, which was on the 6th day of November, 1723.

The Life of JOSEPH MIDDLETON, Housebreaker and Thief

Amongst the numbers of unhappy wretches who perish at the gallows, most pity seems due to those who, pressed by want and necessity, commit in the bitter exigence of starving, some illegal act purely to support life. But this is a very scarce case, and such a one as I cannot in strictness presume to say that I have hitherto met with in all the loads of papers I have turned over to this purpose, though as the best motive to excite compassion, and consequently to obtain mercy, it is made very often a pretence.

Joseph Middleton was the son of a very poor, though honest, labouring man in the county of Kent, near Deptford, who did all that was in his power to bring up his children. This unfortunate son was taken off his hand by an uncle, a gardener, who brought up the boy to his own business, and consequently to labour hard enough, which would, to an understanding person, appear no such very great hardship where a man had continually been inured to it even from his cradle, and had neither capacity nor the least probability of attaining anything better. Yet such an intolerable thing did it seem to Middleton that he resolved at any cost to be rid of it, and to purchase an easier way of spending his days.

In order to this, he very wisely chose to go aboard a man-of-war then bound for the Baltic. He was in himself a stupid, clumsy fellow, and the officers and seamen in the ship treated him so harshly, the fatigue he went through was so great, and the coldness of the climate so pinching to him, that he who so impatiently wished to be rid of the country work, now wished as earnestly to return thereto. Therefore, when on the return of Sir John Norris, the ship he was in was paid off and discharged, he was in an ecstacy of joy thereat, and immediately went down again to settle hard to labour as he had done before, experience having convinced him that there were many more hardships sustained in one short ramble than in a staid though laborious life.

In order, as is the common phrase, to settle in the world, he married a poor woman, by whom he had two children, and thereby made her as unhappy as himself; what he was able to earn by his hands falling much short of what was necessary to keep house in the way he lived, this reduced him to such narrowness of circumstances that he was obliged (as he would have it believed) to take illegal methods for support.

His own blockish and dastardly temper, as it had prevented his ever doing good in any honest way, so it as effectually put it out of his power to acquire anything considerable by the rapine he committed; for as he wanted spirit to go into a place where there was immediate danger, so his companions, who did the act while he scouted about to see if anybody was coming, and to give them notice, when they divided the booty gave him just what they thought fit, and keep the rest to themselves. He had gone on in this miserable way for a considerable space, and yet was able to acquire very little, his wants being very near as great while he robbed every night, as they were when he laboured every day, so that in the exchange he got nothing but danger into the bargain.

At last, he was apprehended for breaking into the house of John de Pais and Joseph Gomeroon, and taking there jewels and other things to a great value, though his innocence in not entering the place would sufficiently excuse him, for he pleaded at his trial that he was so far from breaking the house that he was not so much as on the ground of the prosecutor when it was broke, but on the contrary, as appeared by their own evidence, on the other side of the way. But it being very fully proved by the evidence that Joseph Middleton belonged to the gang, that he waited there only to give them an intelligence, and shared in the money they took, the jury found him guilty.

While he lay under conviction, he did his utmost to understand what was necessary for him to do in order to salvation. He applied himself with the utmost diligence to praying God to instruct him and enlighten his understanding, that he might be able to improve by his sufferings and reap a benefit from the chastisements of his Maker. In this frame of mind he continued with great steadiness and calmness till the time of his execution, at which he showed some fear and confusion, as the sight of such a death is apt to create even in the stoutest and best prepared breast. This Joseph Middleton, at the time of his exit, was in about the fortieth year of his age.

The Life of JOHN PRICE,[56] a Housebreaker

A profligate life naturally terminates in misery, and according unto the vices which it has most pursued, so are its punishments suited unto it. Drunkenness besots the understanding, ruins the constitution, and leaves those addicted to it in the last stages of life, in want and misery, equally destitute of all necessaries, and incapable to procure them. Lewdness and lust after loose women enervate both the vigour of the brain and strength of the body, induce weaknesses that anticipate old age, and afflict the declining sinner with so many evils, as makes him a burden to himself and a spectacle to others. But if, for the support of all these, men fall into rapacious and wicked courses, plundering others who have frugally provided for the supply of life, in order to indulge their own wicked inclinations, then indeed the Law of society interposes generally before the Law of Nature, and cuts off with a sudden and ignominious death those who would otherwise probably have fallen by the fruits of their own sins.

This malefactor, John Price, was one of these wretched people who act as if they thought life was given them only to commit wickedness and satiate their several appetites with gross impurities, without considering how far they offend either against the institutions of God or the laws of the land. It does not appear that this fellow ever followed any employment that looked like honesty, except when he was at sea. The terrors of a sick-bed alarmed even a conscience so hardened as Price's, and the effects of an ill-spent life appeared so plainly in the weak condition he found himself in, that he made, as he afterwards owned, the most solemn vows of amendment, if through the favour of Providence he recovered his former health. To this he was by the goodness of God restored, but the resolutions he made on that condition were totally forgotten. As soon as he returned home, he sought afresh the company of those loose women and those abandoned wretches who by the inconveniences into which they had formerly led him, had obliged him to seek for shelter by a long voyage at sea.

What little money he had received when the ship was paid off, was quickly lavished away, so that on the 11th of August, 1725, he with two others named Cliffe and Sparks, undertook, after having well weighed the attempt, to enter the house of the Duke of Leeds by moving the sash, and so plunder it of what was to be got. By their assistance Cliffe got in at the window, and afterwards handed out a cloak, hat, and other things to his companions Sparks and Price, but they were all immediately apprehended. Cliffe made an information by which he discovered the whole fact, and it was fully proved by Mr. Bealin that Price, when first apprehended, owned that he had been with Cliffe and Sparks. Upon the whole the jury found him guilty, upon which he freely acknowledged the justice of their verdict at the bar.

All the time he lay under conviction he behaved himself as a person convinced of his own unworthiness of life, and therefore repined not at the justice of that sentence which condemned him to death, though in his behaviour before his trial there had appeared much of that rough and boisterous disposition usual in fellows of no education, who have long practised such ways of living. Yet long before his death he laid aside all that ferocity of mind, appearing calm and easy under the weight of his sufferings, and so much dissatisfied with the trouble he had met with in the world that he appeared scarce desirous of remaining in it. He was not able himself to give any account of his age, but as far as could be guessed from his looks, he might be about thirty when executed, which was at the same time with the malefactor last mentioned; Cliffe, whose information had hanged him, being reprieved.


A fuller account of this rogue will be found on page 276.




In the Preface to my former volume I endeavoured to give my readers some idea of the English Crown Law, in order to shew how consistent it was with right reason, how perfectly just, and at the same time how full of mercy. In this, I intend to pursue the thread of that discourse, and explain the methods by which Justice in criminal cases is to be sought, and the means afforded by our Law to accuse the guilty and to prevent punishment from falling on the innocent. In order to do this the more regularly, it is fit we begin with the apprehension of offenders, and shew the care of the Legislature in that respect.

In sudden injuries, such as assaults on the highway, attempts to murder or to commit any felony whatsoever, there is no necessity for any legal officer to secure the person who is guilty, for every private man hath sufficient authority to seize and bring such criminal, either to a constable or to a Justice of the Peace, in order to have the fact clearly examined and such course taken therein as may conduce to the impartial distribution of Justice. And because men are apt to be scrupulous of interesting themselves in matters which do not immediately concern either their persons or their properties, so the Law hath provided punishments for those who, for fear of risking their private safety or advantage, suffer those who offend against the public to escape unpunished; hence hundreds are liable to be sued for suffering a robber to escape, and that method of pursuit which is called hue and cry is permitted, if no probable way may be left for felons to escape. Now a hue and cry is raised thus: the person robbed, for example, goes to the constable of the next town, tells him the case, described the felon, and the way he went. Whereupon the constable, be it day or night, is to take the assistance of those in his own town, and pursue him according to those directions immediately, at the same time sending with the utmost expedition to the neighbouring towns, who are to make like pursuit, and to send like notice until the felon be found.

So desirous is our Law of bringing offenders to Justice, and of preserving the roads free from being infested with these vermin. For the better effecting of this, besides those means prescribed by the customs of our ancestors, of later times rewards have been given to such as hazarded their own persons in bringing offenders to justice, and of these, as far as they are settled by Acts of Parliament and thereby rendered certain and perpetual, I shall speak here; though not of those given by proclamation, because they being only for a stated time, people must hereafter have been misled by our account, when that time is expired.

Highwaymen becoming, some time after the Revolution, exceedingly bold and troublesome, by an Act made in the reign of William and Mary, a reward of forty pounds is given for apprehending any one in England or Wales, and prosecuting him so as he be convicted; which forty pounds is to be paid by the sheriff on a certificate of the judge or justices before whom such a felon was convicted. And in case a person shall be killed in endeavouring to apprehend or making pursuit after such robbers, the said forty pounds shall be paid to the executors or administrators of such persons upon the like certificate. Moreover, every person who shall take, apprehend, or convict such a person, shall have as a reward the horse, furniture, arms, money or other goods of such robber as shall be taken with him, the right or title of his Majesty's bodies politic or corporate, lords of manors, or persons lending or letting the same to such robber notwithstanding; excepting only the right of those from whom such horses, furniture, arms, money, or goods were before feloniously taken.

A like reward of forty pounds was, by another Act in the same reign, given to such as shall apprehend any person convicted of any capital crime relating to the coin of this land.

By an Act also made in the reign of the late King William, persons who apprehend and prosecute to conviction any who feloniously steal goods to the value of five shillings, out of any house, shop, warehouse, coach-house or stable, or shall assist, hire or command any person to commit such offence; then such person so taking as aforesaid, shall have a certificate gratis from the Judge or Justices, expressing the parish or place where such felony was committed; which certificate shall be capable of being once assigned over, and shall exempt its proprietor or assignee from all parish and ward offices, in the parish or ward wherein the felony was committed.

By an Act made in the fifth year of the late Queen, persons apprehending one guilty of burglary, or of feloniously breaking into a house in the day-time, and prosecuting to conviction, shall receive over and above the certificate before mentioned, the sum of forty pounds, as in the case of apprehending an Highwayman.

By an Act passed in the sixth year of the late King, whoever shall discover, apprehend, or prosecute to conviction without benefit of clergy, any person for taking money or other reward, directly or indirectly, to help persons to their stolen goods (such persons not having apprehended the felon who stole the same, and brought him to trial, and given evidence against him) shall be entitled to a reward of forty pounds for every offender so convicted, and shall have the like certificate, and like payment without fee, as persons may be entitled to for apprehending highwaymen.

The next point after offenders are once apprehended, is to carry them before a proper magistrate, viz., a Justice of the Peace, and this leads us to say something of the nature and authority of that office. My Lord Chancellor, or Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, the Lord High Steward of England, the Lord Marshal, and the Lord High Constable, each of the Justices of the King's Bench, and as some say, the Lord High Treasurer of England, have, as incidental to their offices, a general authority to keep the peace throughout the realm, and to award process for their surety thereof, and to take recognizances for it. The Master of the Rolls has also a like power, either incident to his office, or at least by prescription. As to the ordinary constructors or Justices of the Peace, they are constituted by the King's Commission, which is at present granted on the same form as was settled by the Judges in the 33rd Year of Queen Elizabeth, by which they are appointed and assigned every one of then jointly and separately to keep the King's peace in such a county, and cause to be kept all statutes made for the good of the peace and the quiet government of the Kingdom, as well within liberties, as without, and to punish all those who shall offend against the said statutes, and to cause all those to come before them, or any of them, who threaten any people as to the burning their houses, in order to compel them to be kept in prison until they shall find it. As to the other powers committed to these justices, it would be too long for me to explain them, and therefore after this general Act, I shall go on to take notice of the manner in which the person accused is treated, when brought before them.

First the Justice of Peace examines as carefully as he can into the nature of the offence, and the weight there is of evidence to persuade him of the just ground there is for accusing the person before him; and after he has thoroughly considered this, if the thing appear frivolous or ill-grounded, he may discharge the person, or if he think the circumstances strong enough to require it, he may take the bail of the party accused, or if the nature of the crime be more heinous, and the proof direct and clear, he is bound by an instrument under his hand and seal called a Mittimus, to commit the offender to safe custody until he is discharged according to Law. In carrying to prison for any crime whatsoever, if the party so carried escape himself, or if he be rescued by others, he and they are guilty of a very high misdemeanor, and in some cases, those who assist in making the rescue may be guilty of felony or high treason. But if a prisoner be once committed to gaol for felony, and afterwards break that prison and escape, such breach of prison is felony, by the Statute De Frangentibus Prisonam, and shall be tried for the same as in other cases of felony, and suffer on conviction. My readers will find mention made of a case of this nature in respect to one Roger Johnson, who some years ago was tried for breaking the prison of Newgate, while he remained a prisoner there under a charge of felony, and making his escape; but so tender is the English law that when there appeared a probability that one Fisher (not then taken) broke down the wall of the prison and that Johnson took advantage of that hole and made his escape, he was found not guilty, for want of due proof that he actually did break that hole through which he escaped.

The prisoner being in safe custody, a bill is next to be preferred to the grand jury of the county, in which the nature of the crime is properly set forth, and after hearing the evidence brought by the prosecutor to support the charge, they return the bill to the Court, marked Billa Vera or Ignoramus. In the first case the prisoner is required to be tried by the petit jury of twelve, and to abide their verdict; in case of the latter, he is to be discharged and freed from that prosecution. But the grand jury must find or not find the bill entire, for a Billa Vera to one part and an Ignoramus to another renders the whole proceeding void and is of the same use to the prisoner as if they had returned an Ignoramus upon the whole.

Many without knowing the Law have taken occasion to be very free with its precedents, and to treat them as things written in barbarous Latin, in which an unreasonable, if not ridiculous nicety is sometimes required. But when this comes to be thoroughly examined, we shall find that their proceedings are exactly conformable to reason, for if care and circumspection be necessary in deeds and writings relating to civil affairs, ought it not a fortiori to be more so where the life, liberty, reputation and everything that is dear and valuable to the subject is at stake? Therefore, since there are technical words in all sciences, surely the Law is not to be blamed for preserving certain words to which they have affixed particular and determined meanings for the expressing of such crimes as are made more or less culpable by the Legislature. Thus Murdravit is absolutely necessary in an indictment charging the prisoner with a murder; Caepit is the term made use of in indictments of larceny. Mayhemaivit expresses the fact charged in an indictment of maim; Felonice is absolutely necessary in all indictments of felony of what kind soever; Burglariter is the Latin word made use of to express that breaking which from particular circumstances our Law has called burglary, and appointed certain punishment for those who are guilty thereof. Proditorie expresses the Act in indictments of treason, and even if these are not Latin words, justified by the usage of Roman authors, the certainty which they give to those charges in which they are used, and which could not be so well expressed by circumlocutions, is a full answer to that objection, since the proceedings before a Court aim not at elegancy, but at Justice. But let us now go on to the next step taken to bring the offenders to Judgment.

The bill having been found by the grand jury, the prisoner is brought into the Court where he is to be tried, and set to the bar in the presence of the judges who are to try him. Then he is usually commanded to hold up his hand, but this being only a ceremony to make the person known to the court it may be omitted, or the person indicted saying I am here, will answer the same end. Then the proper officer reads the indictment which has been found against him, in English, and when he hath so done, he demands of the prisoner whether he be guilty or not guilty of the fact alleged against him, to which the prisoner answers as he thinks fit, and this answer is styled his plea. That tenderness which the English Law on all occasions expresses towards those who are to be brought to answer for crimes alleged against them, requires that at his arraignment, the prisoner be totally free from any pain or duress which may disturb his thought and hinder his liberty of pleading as he thinks fit, and for this reason, even in cases of high treason, irons are taken off during the time the prisoner is at the bar, where he stands without any marks of contumely whatsoever.

But in case the prisoner absolutely refuses to answer, or in an impertinent manner delay or trifle with the court, then he is deemed a mute; but if he speaks not at all, nor gives any sign by which the Court shall be satisfied that he is able to speak, then an inquest of officers, that is of twelve persons who happen to be by, are to enquire whether his standing mute arises from his contempt of the Court, or be really an infirmity under which he labours from the hands of God. If it be found the latter, then the Court, as counsel for the prisoner, shall hear the evidence with relation to the fact, and proceed therein as if the prisoner had pleaded not guilty; but if, on the contrary, the Court or the inquest shall be satisfied that the prisoner remains a mute only from obstinacy, then in some cases judgment shall be awarded against him as if he had pleaded or were found guilty, and in others he shall be remitted to his penance, that is to suffer what the Law calls Peine forte et dure, which is pressing, of which the readers will find an account in the subsequent life of Burnworth, alias Frazier; and therefore I shall not treat further of it here.

If, from conviction of his own guilt and a consciousness that it may be fully proved against him, the prisoner plead guilty to the indictment, it is considered as the highest species of conviction, and as soon as it is entered on record the Court proceeds to judgment without further proceedings on the indictments. But if the prisoner plead not guilty, and put himself for trial upon his country, then a jury of twelve men are to pass upon the defendant, and upon their verdict he is either to be acquitted or convicted.

And with respect to this jury, the English Law appears again more equitable than perhaps any other in the world, for in this case as the jury comes severally to the Book to be sworn, to try impartially between the King and the prisoner of the bar, according to the evidence that is given upon the indictment, the prisoner is even then at liberty to except against, or as the law term it, to challenge, twenty of the jury peremptorily, and as many more as he thinks fit on showing just cause. So also, if the prisoner be an alien, the jury are to be half aliens and half English. So tender is our constitution, not only of the lives of its natural born subjects, but, also of those who put themselves under its protection, that it has taken every precaution which the wit of man could devise to prevent prejudice, partiality, or corruption from mingling in any degree with the sentences pronounced upon offenders, or in the proceedings upon which they are founded.

Last of all we are to speak of the evidence or testimony which is to be given for or against the prisoner at the time of his trial. And first with respect to the evidence offered for the Crown; if it shall appear that the person swearing shall gain any great and evident advantage by the event of the trial in which he swears, he shall not be admitted as a good witness against the prisoner. Thus in the case of Rhodes, tried some years ago for forging letters of attorney for transferring South Sea Stock belonging to one Mr. Heysham, the prosecutor, Mr. Heysham, was not admitted to swear himself against the prisoner because in case of conviction six thousand pounds stock must have replaced to his account. But to this, though a general rule, there are some exceptions on which the compass of this discourse will not permit us to dwell. It is also a rule that a husband or wife cannot be admitted to testify against the prisoner, but to this also there are some exceptions, as in the Lord Audley's case,[57] where he was charged with holding his lady until his servant committed a rape upon her by his command. Also in marriages contracted by force against the form of the Statute; in that case it is provided that the woman, though a wife, may be admitted as evidence, as also in some other cases which we have not room to mention.

Persons convicted of perjury, forgery, etc., are not to be admitted as legal witnesses, but that the record of their contrition must be produced at the time the objection is made, for the Court mil take no notice of hearsay and common fame in such respect. An infidel, also, that is one who believes neither the Old nor New Testament, cannot be a witness, and some other disabilities there are which being uncommon, we shall not dwell upon here Yet it is necessary to take notice that whatever is offered as proof against the defendant, shall be heard openly before him, that he may have an opportunity of falsifying it, if he be able; and as in all cases, except high treason, no council is permitted to the prisoner except in matters of law, because every man is supposed to be capable of defending himself as to matters of fact, yet the Court is always council for the prisoner and never fails of instructing and informing him of whatever may conduce to his benefit or advantage; and if any difficult points of Law arise, council are assigned him, and are permitted to argue in his behalf with the same freedom that those do who are appointed by the Crown.

From this succinct account of the method in use in England, of doing justice in criminal cases, I flatter myself my readers will very clearly see how valuable those privileges are which we enjoy as Englishmen; how equitable the proceedings of our Courts of Justice; and how well constructed every part of our constitution is for the preservation of the lives and liberties of its subjects. If there remained room for us to compare the judicious proceedings in use here with those slight, rigorous and summary methods which are practised in other countries, the value of these blessings which we enjoy would be considerably enhanced. But as this Preface already exceeds its intended length, we must refer this to a more proper opportunity, and conclude with putting our readers in mind that by the careful perusal of this and the Preface to the First Volume, they will have competent notion of the Crown Law, the reasons on which it is founded, the method in which it is prosecuted, and the judgments on criminals which are inflicted thereby; matters highly useful in themselves, as well as absolutely necessary to be known, in order to a proper understanding of the following pages.


This was Mervyn, Lord Audley, 2nd Earl of Castlehaven, a man of loathsome profligacy, who was tried by his peers on charges of unnatural offences, and executed, in 1631.

The Life of WILLIAM SPERRY, Footpad and Highwayman

There is not anything more extraordinary in the circumstances of those who from a life of rapine and plunder come to its natural catastrophe, a violent and ignominious death, than that some of them from a life of piety and religion, have on a sudden fallen into so opposite a behaviour, and without any stumbles in the road of virtue take, as it were, a leap from the precipice at once.

This malefactor, William Sperry, was born of parents in very low circumstances, who afforded him and his brother scarce any education, until having reached the age of fourteen years, he and his younger brother before mentioned, were both decoyed by one of the agents for the plantations, to consent to their being transported to America, where they were sold for about seven years.[58] After the expiration of the term, William Sperry went to live at Philadelphia, the capital of Pennsylvania, one of the best plantations the English have in America, which receives its name from William Penn, the famous Quaker who first planted it. Here, being chiefly instigated thereto by the great piety and unaffected purity of morals in which the inhabitants of that colony excel the greater part of the world, Sperry began with the utmost industry to endeavour at retrieving his reading; and the master with whom he lived favouring his inclinations, was at great pains and some expense to have him taught writing. Yet he did not swerve in his religion, nor fall into Quakerism, the predominant sect here, but went constantly to the Church belonging to the religion by Law established in England, read several good books, and addicted himself with much zeal to the service of God. Removing from the house of his kind master to that of another planter, he abated nothing in his zeal for devotion, but went constantly from his master's house to church at West Chester, which was near five miles from his home.

Happening, not long after, to have the advantage of going in a trading vessel to several ports in America, he addicted himself with great pleasure to this new life. But his happiness therein, like all other species of human bliss, very shortly faded, for one morning just as the day began to dawn, the vessel in which he sailed was clapped on board, and after a very short struggle taken by Low, the famous pirate.[59] Sperry, being a brisk young lad, Low would very fain have taken him into his crew, but the lad having still virtuous principles remaining, earnestly entreated that he might be excused. On the score of his having discovered to Low a mutinous conspiracy of his crew, the generosity of that pirate was so great that, finding no offer he could make made any impression, he caused him to be set safe on shore in the night, on one of the Leeward Islands.

Notwithstanding that Sperry did not at that time comply with the instigations of the pirate, yet his mind was so much poisoned by the sight of what passed on board, that from that time he had an itching towards plunder and the desire of getting money at an easier rate than by the sweat of his brow. While these thoughts were floating in his head, he was entertained on board one of his Majesty's men-of-war, and while he continued in the Service, saw a pirate vessel taken; and the men being tried before a Court of Admiralty in New England, every one of them was executed except five, who manifestly appeared to have been forced into the pirates' service. One would have thought this would have totally eradicated all liking for that sort of practice, but it seems it did not. For as soon as Sperry came home into England and had married a wife, by which his inclinations were chained, though he had no ability to support her, and falling into very great necessities, he either tempted others or associated himself with certain loose and abandoned young men, for as he himself constantly declared, he was not led into evil practices by the persuasions of any. However it were, the deeds he committed were many, and he became the pest of most of the roads out to the little villages about London, particularly towards Hampstead, Islington and Marylebone, of some of which as our papers serve we shall inform you.

Sperry and four more of his associates hearing that gaming was very public at Hampstead,[60] and that considerable sums were won and lost there every night, resolved to share part of the winnings, let them light where they would. In order to this, they planted themselves in a dry ditch on one side of the foot-road just as evening came on, intending when it was darker to venture into the coach road. They had hardly been at their posts a quarter of an hour before two officers came by. Some were for attacking them, but Sperry was of a contrary opinion. In the meanwhile they heard one of the gentlemen say to the other, There's D—— M——, the Gamester, behind us, he has won at least sixty guineas to-night. Sperry and his crew had no further dispute whether they should rob the gentlemen in red or no, but resolved to wait the coming of so rich a prize.

It was but a few minutes before M—— appeared in sight. They immediately stepped into the path, two before him, and two behind, and watching him to the corner of a hedge, the two who were behind him caught him by the shoulders, turned him round, and hurrying him about ten yards, pushed him into a dry ditch. This they had no sooner done, but they all four leaped down upon him and began to examine his pockets, M—— thought to have talked them out of a stricter search by pretending he had lost a great deal of money at play, and had but fifty shillings about him, which with a silver watch and a crystal ring he deemed very ready to deliver; and it very probably would have been accepted if they had not had better intelligence, but one of the oldest of the gang, perceiving after turning out all his pockets that they could discover nothing of value, began to exert the style of a highwayman upon an examination, and addressed the gamester in these terms.

Nobody but such a rogue as you would have given gentlemen of our faculty so much trouble. Sir, we have received advice by good hands from Belsize that you won sixty guineas to-day at play. Produce them immediately, or we shall take it for granted you have swallowed them; and in such a case, Sir, I have an instrument ready to give us an immediate account of the contents of your stomach.

M——, in a dreadful fright, put his hand under his arm, and from thence produced a green purse with a fifty pound bank-note and eighteen guineas. This they had no sooner taken than, tying him fast to a hedge stake, they ran across the fields in search of another booty. They spun out the time, being a moonlight night, until past eleven, there being so much company on the road that they found it impossible to attack without danger.

As they were returning home, they heard the noise of a coach driving very hard, and upon turning about saw it was that of Sir W—— B——, himself on the box, two ladies of pleasure in the coach, and his servants a great way behind. One of them seized the horse on one side, and another on the other, but Sir W—— drove so very hard that the pull of the horses brought them both to the ground, and he at the same time encouraging them with his voice and the smack of his whip. So he drove safe off without any hurt, though they fired two pistols after him.

About three weeks after this they were passing down Drury Lane, and observing a gentleman going with one of the fine ladies of the Hundreds into a tavern thereabouts, one of the gang who knew him, and that he had married a lady with a great fortune to whom his father was guardian, and that they lived altogether in a great house near Lincoln's Inn Fields, immediately thought on a project. They slipped into an alehouse, where he wrote an epistle to the old gentleman, informing him that they had a warrant to apprehend a lewd woman who was with child by his son, but that she had made her escape, and was now actually with him at a certain tavern in Drury Lane, wherefore being apprehensive of disturbance, and being unwilling to disgrace his family, rather than take rougher methods, they had informed him, in order that by his interposition the affair might be made up.

As soon as they had written this letter, they dispatched one of their number to carry it and deliver it, as if by mistake, to the young gentleman's wife. This had the desired effect, for in less than half an hour came the father, the wife, and another of her trustees, who happened to be paying a visit there when the letter came. They no sooner entered the tavern but hearing the voice of the gentleman they asked for, without ceremony they opened the door, and finding a woman there, all was believed, and there followed a mighty uproar. Two of the rogues who were best dressed, had slipped into the next room and called for half a pint. As if by accident they came out at the noise, and under pretence of enquiring the occasion, took the opportunity of picking the gentleman's pockets of twenty-five guineas, one gold watch, and two silver snuff-boxes, which it is to be presumed were never missed until the hurry of the affair was over.

The last robbery Sperry committed was upon one Thomas Golding, not far from Bromley, who not having any money about him, Sperry endeavoured to make it up by taking all his clothes. Being apprehended for this, at the next sessions at the Old Bailey he was convicted for this offence, and having no friends, could not entertain the least hopes of pardon. From the time that he was convicted, and, indeed, from that of his commitment, he behaved like a person on the brink of another world, ingenuously confessing all his guilt, and acknowledging readily the justice of that sentence by which he was doomed to death. His behaviour was perfectly uniform, and as he never put on an air of contempt towards death, so, at its nearest approach he did not seem exceedingly terrified therewith, but with great calmness of mind prepared for his dissolution.

On the day of his execution his countenance seemed rather more cheerful than ordinarily, and he left this world with all exterior signs of true penitence and contrition, on Monday, the 24th of May, 1725, at Tyburn, being then about twenty-three years of age.


There was great competition to secure white labour in the American plantations. Infamous touts circulated amongst the poor, and any who were starving or wished for personal reasons to emigrate engaged themselves with a ship-master or an office-keeper to allow themselves to be sold for a term of years in return for their passage money. On arrival at their destination these poor wretches were sent to the plantations and lived as slaves until the term for which they had contracted had expired. In Virginia and Maryland, where most of them went, they were driven to work on the tobacco fields with the negroes, and were worse treated than the blacks, as being only leasehold property whereas the negroes were freehold.


Captain Edward Low was one of the bloodied of the pirates. He served under Lowther until 1722, when he smarted on his own account. After many atrocities he was taken by the French and hanged, some time in 1724. A full account of him is given in my edition of Johnson's History of the Pirates, issued in the same series as the present volume.


Belsize House was opened as a place of amusement, about 1720, by a certain Howell, who called himself the Welsh Ambassador. At first it was a fashionable resort, but it soon became the haunt of gamblers and harpies of both sexes.

The Life of ROBERT HARPHAM, a Coiner

In my former volume I have taken occasion, in the life of Barbara Spencer, to mention the laws against coining as they stand at present in this kingdom. I shall not, therefore, detain my readers here with the unnecessary introduction, but proceed to inform them that a multitude of false guineas being talked of—the natural consequence of a few being detected—great pains were taken by the officers belonging to the Mint for detecting those by whom such frauds had been committed.

It was not long before information was had of one Robert Harpham and Thomas Broom, who were suspected of being the persons by whom such false guineas had been made. Upon these suspicions search warrants were granted, and a large engine of iron was discovered at Harpham's house, with other tools supposed to be made use of for that purpose. On this, the mob immediately gave out that a cart-load of guineas had been carried from thence, because those instruments were so cumberous as to be fetched in that manner; though the truth, indeed, was that no great number of false guineas had been coined, though the instruments undoubtedly were fitted and made use of for that purpose. Harpham, who well knew what evidence might be produced against him, never flattered himself with hopes after he came to Newgate, but as he believed he should die, so he prepared himself for it as well as he could.

At his trial the evidence against him was very full and direct. Mr. Pinket deposed flatly that the instruments produced in Court, and which were sworn to be taken from the prisoner's house, could not serve for any other purpose than that of coining. These instruments were an iron press of very great weight, a cutting instrument for forming blanks, an edging tool for indenting, with two dies for guineas and two dies for half-guineas. To strengthen this, William Fornham deposed in relation to the prisoners' possession, and Mr. Gornbey swore directly to his striking a half-guinea in his presence. Mr. Oakley and Mr. Tardley deposing further, that they flatted very considerable quantities of a mixed metal for the prisoner, made up of brass, copper, etc., sometimes to the quantity of 30 or 40 pound weight at a time.

The defence he made was very weak and trifling, and after a very short consideration the jury brought him in guilty of the indictment, and he, never entertaining any hopes of pardon, bent all his endeavours in making his peace with God. Some persons in the prison had been very civil to him, and one of them presuming thereon, asked him wherein the great secret of his art of coining lay? Mr. Harpham thanked him for the kindnesses he had received of him, but said that he should make a very bad return for the time afforded him by the law of repentance, if he should leave behind him anything of that kind which might farther detriment his country. Some instances were also made to him that he should discover certain persons of that same profession with himself, who were likely to carry on the same frauds long after his decease. Mr. Harpham, notwithstanding the answer he had made to the other gentleman, refused to comply with this request; for he said that the instruments seized would effectually prevent that, and he would not take away their lives and ruin their families, when he was sure they were incapacitated from coining anything for the future. However, that he might discharge his conscience as far as he could, he wrote several pathetic letters to the persons concerned; earnestly exhorting them for the sake of themselves and their families to leave off this wicked employment, and not hazard their lives and their salvation in any further attempt of that sort.

Having thus disengaged himself from all worldly concerns, he dedicated the last moments of his life entirely to the service of God; and having, received the Sacrament the day before his execution, he was conveyed the next noon to Tyburn in a sledge, where he was not a little disturbed, even in the agonies of death, by the tumult and insults the mob offered to Jonathan Wild, which he complained much of and seemed very uneasy at. He suffered on the same day with the last mentioned malefactor, appealing to be about two- or three-and-forty years of age.

The Life of the famous JONATHAN WILD, Thief-Taker

As no person in this collection ever made so much noise as the person we are now speaking of, so never any man, perhaps, in any condition of life whatever had so many romantic stories fathered upon him in his life, or so many fictitious legendary accounts published of him after his death. It may seem a low kind of affectation to say that the memoirs we are now giving of Jonathan Wild are founded on certainty and fact; and that though they are so founded, they are yet more extraordinary than any of those fabulous relations pushed into the world to get a penny, at the time of his death, when it was a proper season for vending such forgeries, the public looking with so much attention on his catastrophe, and greedily catching up whatever pretended to the giving an account of his actions. But to go on with the history in its proper order.

Jonathan Wild[61] was the son of persons in a mean and low state of life, yet for all that I have ever heard of them, both honest and industrious. Their family consisted of three sons and two daughters, whom their father and mother maintained and educated in the best manner they could from their joint labours, he as carpenter, and she by selling fruit in Wolverhampton market, in Staffordshire, which in future ages may perhaps become famous as the birth place of the celebrated Mr. Jonathan Wild. He was the eldest of the sons, and received as good an education as his father's circumstances would allow him, being bred at the free-school to read and write, to both of which having attained to a tolerable degree, he was put out an apprentice to a buckle-maker in Birmingham.

He served his time with much fidelity, and came up to town in the service of a gentleman of the long robe, about the year 1704, or perhaps a little later. But not liking his service, or his master being not altogether so well pleased with him, he quitted it and retired to his old employment in the country, where he continued to work diligently for some time. But at last growing sick of labour, and still entertaining a desire to taste the pleasures of London, up hither he came a second time, and worked journey-work at the trade to which he was bred. But this not producing money enough to support those expenses Jonathan's love of pleasure threw him into, he got pretty deeply in debt; and some of his creditors not being endued with altogether as much patience as his circumstances required, he was suddenly arrested, and thrown into Wood-street Compter.

Having no friends to do anything for him, and having very little money in his pocket when this misfortune happened, he lived very hardly there, scarce getting bread enough to support him from the charity allowed to prisoners, and from what little services he could render to prisoners of the better sort in the gaol. However, as no man wanted address less than Jonathan, so nobody could have employed it more properly than he did upon this occasion; he thereby got so much into the favour of the keepers, that they quickly permitted him the liberty of the gate, as they call it, and he thereby got some little matter for going on errands. This set him above the very pinch of want, and that was all; but his fidelity and industry in these mean employments procured him such esteem amongst those in power there, that they soon took him into their ministry, and appointed him an under-keeper to those disorderly persons who were brought in every night and are called, in their cant, "rats."

Jonathan now came into a comfortable subsistence, having learnt how to get money of such people by putting them into the road of getting liberty for themselves. But there, says my author, he met with a lady who was confined on the score of such practices very often, and who went by the name of Mary Milliner; and who soon taught him how to gain much greater sums than in this way of life, by methods which he until then never heard of, and will I am confident, to this day carry the charms of novelty to most of my readers. Of these the first she put upon him was going on what they call the "twang," which is thus managed: the man who is the confederate goes out with some noted woman of the town, and if she fall into any broil, he is to be at a proper distance, ready to come into her assistance, and by making a sham quarrel, give her an opportunity of getting off, perhaps after she has dived for a watch or a purse of guineas, and was in danger of being caught in the very act. This proved a very successful employment to Mr. Wild for a time. Moll and he, therefore, resolved to set up together, and for that purpose took lodgings and lived as man and wife, notwithstanding Jonathan then had a wife and a son at Wolverhampton and the fair lady was married to a waterman in town.

By the help of this woman Jonathan grew acquainted with all the notorious gangs of loose persons within the bills of mortality, and was also perfectly versed in the manner by which they carried on their schemes. He knew where and how their enterprises were to be gone upon, and after what manner they disposed of their ill-got goods, when they came into their possession. Having always an intriguing head Wild set up for a director amongst them, and soon became so useful to them that though he never went out upon any of their lays, yet he got as much or more by their crimes as if he had been a partner with them, which upon one pretence or other he always declined.

He had long ago got rid of that debt for which he had been imprisoned in the Compter, and having by his own thought projected a new manner of life, he began in a very little time to grow weary of Mrs. Milliner, who had been his first instructor. What probably contributed thereto was the danger to which he saw himself exposed by continuing a bully in her service; however, they parted without falling out, and as he had occasion to make use of her pretty often in his new way of business, so she proved very faithful and industrious to him in it, though she still went on in her old way.

'Tis now time, that both this and the remaining part of the discourse may be intelligible, to explain the methods by which thieves became the better for thieving where they did not steal ready money; and of this we will speak in the clearest and most concise manner that we can.

It must be observed that anciently when a thief had got his booty he had done all that a man in his profession could do, and there were multitudes of people ready to help them off with whatever effects he had got, without any more to do. But this method being totally destroyed by an Act passed in the reign of King William, by which it was made felony for any person to buy goods stolen, knowing them to be so, and some examples having been made on this Act, there were few or no receivers to be met with. Those that still carried on the trade took exorbitant sums for their own profit, leaving those who had run the hazard of their necks in obtaining them, the least share of the plunder. This (as an ingenious author says) had like to have brought the thieving trade to naught; but Jonathan quickly thought of a method to put things again in order, and give new life to the practices of the several branches of the ancient art and mystery called stealing. The method he took was this.

As soon as any considerable robbery was committed, and Jonathan received intelligence by whom, he immediately went to the thieves, and instead of offering to buy the whole or any part of the plunder, he only enquired how the thing was done, where the persons lived who were injured, and what the booty consisted in that was taken away. Then pretending to chide them for their wickedness in doing such actions, and exhorting them to live honestly for the future, he gave it them as his advice to lodge what they had taken in a proper place which he appointed them, and then promised he would take some measures for their security by getting the people to give them somewhat to have them restored them again. Having thus wheedled those who had committed a robbery into a compliance with his measures, his next business was to divide the goods into several parcels, and cause them to be sent to different places, always avoiding taking them into his own hands.

Things being in this position, Jonathan, or Mrs. Milliner went to the persons who were robbed, and after condoling the misfortune, observed that they had an acquaintance with a broker to whom certain goods were brought, some of which they suspected to be stolen, and hearing that the person to whom they thus applied had been robbed they said they thought it the duty of one honest body to another to inform them thereof, and to enquire what goods they were they lost, in order to discover whether those they spoke of were the same or no. People who had such losses are always ready, after the first fit of passion is over, to hearken to anything that has a tendency towards recovering their goods. Jonathan or his mistress therefore, who could either of them play the hypocrite nicely, had no great difficulty in making people listen to such terms; in a day or two, therefore, they were sure to come again with intelligence that having called upon their friend and looked over the goods, they had found part of the goods there; and provided nobody was brought into trouble, and the broker had something in consideration of his care, they might be had again. He generally told the people, when they came on this errand, that he had heard of another parcel at such a place, and that if they would stay a little, he would go and see whether they were such as they described theirs to be which they had lost.

This practice of Jonathan's, if well considered, carries in it a great deal of policy; for first it seemed to be an honest and good-natured act to prevail on evil persons to restore the goods which they had stole; and it must be acknowledged to be a great benefit to those who were robbed thus to have their goods again upon a reasonable premium, Jonathan or his mistress all the while taking apparently nothing, their advantages arising from what they took out of the gratuity left with the broker, and out of what they had bargained with the thief to be allowed of the money which they had procured him. Such people finding this advantage in it, the rewards were very near as large as the price now given by receivers (since receiving became too dangerous), and they reaped a certain security also by the bargain.

With respect to Jonathan, the contrivance placed him in safety, not only from all the laws then in being, but perhaps would have secured him as securely from those that are made now, if covetousness had not prevailed with him to take bolder steps than these; for in a short time he began to give himself out for a person who made it his business to procure stolen goods to their right owners. When he first did this he acted with so much art and cunning that he acquired a very great reputation as an honest man, not only from those who dealt with him to procure what they had lost, but even from those people of higher station, who observing the industry with which he prosecuted certain malefactors, took him for a friend of Justice, and as such afforded him countenance and encouragement.

Certain it is that he brought more villains to the gallows than perhaps any man ever did, and consequently by diminishing their number, made it much more safe for persons to travel or even to reside with security in their own houses. And so sensible was Jonathan of the necessity there was for him to act in this manner, that he constantly hung up two or three of his clients at least in a twelvemonth, that he might keep up that character to which he had attained; and so indefatigable was he in the pursuit of those he endeavoured to apprehend, that it never happened in all his course of acting, that so much as one single person escaped him. Nor need this appear so great a wonder, if we consider that the exact acquaintance he had with their gangs and the haunts they used put it out of their power almost to hide themselves so as to avoid his searches.

When this practice of Jonathan's became noted, and the people resorted continually to his house in order to hear of the goods which they had lost, it produced not only much discourse, but some enquiries into his behaviour. Jonathan foresaw this, and in order to evade any ill consequence that might follow upon it, upon such occasions put on an air of gravity, and complained of the evil disposition of the times, which would not permit a man to serve his neighbours and his country without censure. For do I not, quoth Jonathan, do the greatest good, when I persuade these wicked people who have deprived them of their properties, to restore them again for a reasonable consideration. And are not the villains whom I have so industriously brought to suffer that punishment which the Law, for the sake of its honest subjects, thinks fit to inflict upon them—in this respect, I say, does not their death show how much use I am to the country? Why, then, added Jonathan, should people asperse me, or endeavour to take away my bread?

This kind of discourse served, as my readers must know, to keep Wild safe in his employment for many years, while not a step he took, but trod on felony, nor a farthing did he obtain but what deserved the gallows. Two great things there were which contributed to his preservation, and they were these. The great readiness the Government always shows in detecting persons guilty of capital offences; in which case we know 'tis common to offer not only pardon, but rewards to persons guilty, provided they make discoveries; and this Jonathan was so sensible of that he did not only screen himself behind the lenity of the Supreme Power, but made use of it also as a sort of authority, and behaved himself with a very presuming air. And taking upon him the character of a sort of minister of Justice, this assumed character of his, however ill-founded, proved of great advantage to him in the course of his life. The other point, which, as I have said, contributed to keep him from any prosecutions on the score of these illegal and unwarrantable actions, was the great willingness of people who had been robbed to recover their goods, and who, provided for a small matter they could regain things for a considerable worth, were so far from taking pains to bring the offenders to justice that they thought the premium a cheap price to get off.

Thus by the rigour of the magistrate, and the lenity of the subject, Jonathan claimed constant employment, and according as wicked persons behaved, they were either trussed up to satisfy the just vengeance of the one, or protected and encouraged, that by bringing the goods they stole he might be enabled to satisfy the demands of the other. And thus we see the policy of a mean and scandalous thief-taker, conducted with as much prudence, caution, and necessary courage, as the measures taken by even the greatest persons upon earth; nor perhaps is there, in all history, an instance of a man who thus openly dallied with the laws, and played with capital punishment.

As I am persuaded my readers will take a pleasure in the relation of Jonathan's maxims of policy, I shall be a little more particular in relation to them than otherwise I should have been, considering that in this work I do not propose to treat of the actions of a single person, but to consider the villainies committed throughout the space of a dozen years, such especially as have reached to public notice by bringing the authors of them to the gallows. But Mr. Wild being a man of such eminence as to value himself in his life-time on his superiority to meaner rogues; so I am willing to distinguish him now he is dead, by showing a greater complaisance in recording his history than that of any other hero in this way whatsoever.

Nor, to speak properly, was Jonathan ever an operator, as they call it, that is a practicer in any one branch of thieving. No, his method was to acquire money at an easier rate, and if any title can be devised suitable to his great performance, it must be that of Director General of the united forces of highwaymen, housebreakers, footpads, pickpockets, and private thieves. Now, according to my promise, for the maxims by which he supported himself in this dangerous capacity.

In the first place, he continually exhorted the plunderers that belonged to his several gangs, to let him know punctually what goods they at any time took, by which means he had it in his power to give, for the most part, a direct answer to those who came to make their enquiries after they had lost their effects, either by their own carelessness, or the dexterity of the thief. If they complied faithfully with his instructions, he was a certain protector on all occasions, and sometimes had interest enough to procure them liberty when apprehended, either in the committing a robbery, or upon the information of one of the gang. In such a case Jonathan's usual pretence was that such a person (who was the man he intended to save) was capable of making a larger and more effectual information, for which purpose Jonathan would sometimes supply him with memorandums of his own, and thereby establish so well the credit of his discovery, as scarce to fail of producing its effect.

But if his thieves threatened to become independent, and despise his rules, or endeavour for the sake of profit to vend the goods they got some other way without making application to Jonathan; or if they threw out any threatening speeches against their companions; or grumbled at the compositions he made for them, in such cases as these Wild took the first opportunity of talking to them in a new style, telling them that he was well assured they did very ill acts and plundered poor honest people, to indulge themselves in their debaucheries; that they would do well to think of amending before the Justice of their country fell upon them; and that after such warning they must not expect any assistance from him, in case they should fall under any misfortune. The next thing that followed after this fine harangue was that they were put into the information of some of Jonathan's creatures; or the first fresh fact they committed and Jonathan was applied to for the recovery of the goods, he immediately set out to apprehend them, and laboured so indefatigably therein that they never escaped him. Thus he not only procured the reward for himself, but also gained an opportunity of pretending that he not only restored goods to the right owners, but also apprehended the thief as often as it was in his power. As to instances, I shall mention them in a proper place.

I shall now go on to another observation, viz., that in those steps of his business which was most hazardous, Jonathan made the people themselves take the first steps by publishing advertisements of things lost, directing them to be brought to Mr. Wild, who was empowered to receive them and pay such a reward as the person that lost them thought fit to offer; and in this capacity Jonathan appeared no otherwise than as a person on whose honour these sort of people could rely; by which, his assistance became necessary for retrieving whatever had been pilfered.

After he had gone on in this trade for about ten years with success, he began to lay aside much of his former caution, and gave way to the natural vanity of his temper; taking a larger house in Old Bailey than that in which he formerly lived; giving the woman who he called his wife, abundance of fine things; keeping open office for restoring stolen goods; appointing abundance of under-officers to receive goods, carry messages to those who stole them, bring him exact intelligence of the several gangs and the places of their resort, and in fine, for such other purposes as this, their supreme governor, directed. His fame at last came to that height that persons of the highest quality would condescend to make use of his abilities, when at an installation, public entry, or some other great solemnity they had the misfortune of losing watches, jewels, or other things, whether of great real or imaginary value.

But as his methods of treating those who applied to him for his assistance has been much misrepresented, I shall next give an exact and impartial account thereof, that the fabulous history of Jonathan Wild may not be imposed upon posterity.

In the first place, then, when a person was introduced to Mr. Wild's office, it was first hinted to him that a crown must be deposited by way of fee for his advice; when this was complied with a large book was brought out; then the loser was examined with much formality, as to the time, place, and manner that the goods became missing; and then the person was dismissed with a promise of careful enquiries being made, and of hearing more concerning them in a day or two. When this was adjusted, the person took his leave, with great hopes of being acquainted shortly with the fruits of Mr. Wild's industry, and highly satisfied with the methodical treatment he had met with.

But at the bottom this was all grimace. Wild had not the least occasion for these queries, except to amuse the persons he asked, for he knew beforehand all the circumstances of the robbery much better than they did. Nay, perhaps, he had the very goods in the house when the folks came first to enquire for them; though for reasons not hard to guess he made use of all this formality before he proceeded to return them. When, therefore, according to his appointment, the enquirer came the second time, Jonathan took care to amuse him by a new scene. He was told that Mr. Wild had indeed made enquiries, but was very sorry to communicate the result of them; the thief, truly, who was a bold impudent fellow, rejected with scorn the offer which pursuant to the loser's instructions had been made him, insisted that he could sell the goods at a double price, and in short would not hear a word of restitution unless upon better terms. But notwithstanding all this, says Jonathan, if I can but come to the speech of him, I don't doubt bringing him to reason.

At length, after one or two more attendances, Mr. Wild gave the definite answer, that provided no questions were asked and so much money was given to the porter who brought them, the loser might have his things returned at such an hour precisely. This was transacted with all outward appearances of friendship and honest intention on his side, and with great seeming frankness and generosity; but when the client came to the last article, viz., what Mr. Wild expected for his trouble, then an air of coldness was put on, and he answered with equal pride and indifference, that what he did was purely from a principle of doing good. As to a gratuity for the trouble he had taken, he left it totally to yourself; you might do it in what you thought fit. Even when money was presented to him he received it with the same negligent grace, always putting you in mind that it was your own act, that you did it merely out of your generosity, and that it was no way the result of his request, that he took it as a favour, not as a reward.

By this dexterity in his management he fenced himself against the rigour of the law, in the midst of these notorious transgressions of it, for what could be imputed to Mr. Wild? He neither saw the thief who took away your goods, nor received them after they were taken; the method he pursued in order to procure you your things again was neither dishonest or illegal, if you will believe his account on it, and no other than his account could be gotten. According to him it was performed after this manner: after having enquired amongst such loose people as he acknowledged he had acquaintance with, and hearing that such a robbery was committed at such a time, and such and such goods were taken, he thereupon had caused it to be intimated to the thief that if he had any regard for his own safety he would cause such and such goods to be carried to such a place; in consideration of which, he might reasonably hope such a reward, naming a certain sum. If it excited the thief to return the goods, it did not thereby fix any guilt or blame upon Jonathan; and by this description, I fancy my readers will have a pretty clear idea of the man's capacity, as well as of his villainy.

Had Mr. Wild continued satisfied with this way of dealing in all human probability he might have gone to his grave in peace, without any apprehensions of punishment but what he was to meet within a world to come. But he was greedy, and instead of keeping constant to this safe method, came at last to take the goods into his own custody, giving those that stole them what he thought proper, and then making such a bargain with the loser as he was able to bring him up to, sending the porter himself, and taking without ceremony whatever money had been given him. But as this happened only in the two last years of his life, it is fit I should give you some instances of his behaviour before, and these not from the hearsay of the town, but within the compass of my own knowledge.

A gentleman near Covent Garden who dealt in silks had bespoke a piece of extraordinary rich damask, on purpose for the birthday suit of a certain duke; and the lace-man having brought such trimming as was proper for it, the mercer had made the whole up in a parcel, tied it at each end with blue ribbon, sealed with great exactness, and placed on one end of the counter, in expectation of his Grace's servant, who he knew was directed to call for it in the afternoon. Accordingly the fellow came, but when the mercer went to deliver him the goods, the piece had gone, and no account could possibly he had of it. As the master had been all day in the shop, so there was no possibility of charging anything either upon the carelessness or dishonesty of servants. After an hour's fretting, therefore, seeing no other remedy, he even determined to go and communicate his loss to Mr. Wild, in hopes of receiving some benefit by his assistance, the loss consisting not so much in the value of the things as in the disappointment it would be to the nobleman not to have them on the birthday.

Upon this consideration a hackney-coach was immediately called, and away he was ordered to drive directly to Jonathan's house in the Old Bailey. As soon as he came into the room, and had acquainted Mr. Wild with his business, the usual deposit of a crown being made, and the common questions of the how, when, and where, having been asked, the mercer being very impatient, said with some kind of heat, Mr. Wild, the loss I have sustained, though the intrinsic value of the goods be very little, lies more in disobliging my customer. Tell me, therefore, in a few words, if it be in your power to serve me. If it is, I have thirty guineas here ready to lay down, but if you expect that I should dance attendance for a week or two, I assure you I shall not be willing to part with above half the money. Good sir, replied Mr. Wild, have a little more consideration. I am no thief, sir, nor no receiver of stolen goods, so that if you don't think fit to give me time to enquire, you must e'en take what measures you please.

When the mercer found he was like to be left without any hopes, he began to talk in a milder strain, and with abundance of intreaties fell to persuading Jonathan to think of some method to serve him, and that immediately. Wild stepped out a minute or two, as if to the necessary house; as soon as he came back he told the gentleman, it was not in his power to serve him in such a hurry, if at all; however, in a day or two he might be able to give him some answer. The mercer insisted that a day or two would lessen the value of the goods one half to him, and Jonathan insisted, as peremptorily, that it was not in his power to do anything sooner.

At last a servant came in a hurry, and told Mr. Wild there was a gentleman below desired to speak with him. Jonathan bowed and begged the gentleman's pardon, told him he would wait on him in one minute, and without staying for a reply withdrew, and clapped the door after him. In about five minutes he returned with a very smiling countenance, and turning to the gentleman, said, I protest sir, you are the luckiest man I ever knew. I spoke to one of my people just now, to go to a house where I know some lifters resort, and directed him to talk of the robbery that had been committed in your house, and to say that the gentleman had been with me and offered thirty guineas, provided the things might be had again, but declared, if he did not receive them in a very short space, he would give as great a reward for the discovery of the thief, whom he would prosecute with the utmost severity. This story has had its effect, and if you go directly home, I fancy you'll hear more news of it yourself than I am able to tell you. But pray, sir, remember one thing; that the thirty guineas was your own offer. You are at free liberty to give them, or let them alone; do which you please, 'tis nothing to me; but take notice, sir, that I have done all for you in my power, without the least expectation of gratuity.

Away went the mercer, confounded in his mind, and wondering where this affair would end. But as he walked up Southampton Street a fellow overtook him, patted him on the shoulder, and delivered him the bundle unopened, telling him the price was twenty guineas. The mercer paid it him directly, and returning to Jonathan in half an hour's time, readily expressed abundance of thanks to Mr. Wild for his assistance, and begged him to accept of the ten guineas he had saved him, for his pains. Jonathan told him that he had saved him nothing, but supposed that the people thought twenty demand enough, considering that they were now pretty safe from prosecution. The mercer still pressed the ten guineas upon Jonathan, who after taking them out of his hand returned him five of them, and assured him that was more than enough, adding: 'Tis satisfaction enough, sir, to an honest man that he is able to procure people their goods again.

This, you will say, was a remarkable instance of his moderation. I will join to it as extraordinary an account of his justice, equity, or what else you will please to call it. It happened thus.

A lady whose husband was out of the kingdom, and had sent over to her draughts for her assistance to the amount of between fifteen hundred and two thousand pounds, lost the pocket-book in which they were contained, between Bucklersbury and Magpie alehouse in Leadenhall Street, where the merchant lived upon whom they were drawn. She however, went to the gentleman, and he advised her to go directly to Mr. Jonathan Wild. Accordingly to Jonathan she came, deposited the crown, and answered the questions she asked him. Jonathan then told her that in an hour or two's time, possibly, some of his people might hear who it was that had picked her pocket. The lady was vehement in her desires to have it again, and for that purpose went so far at last as to offer an hundred guineas. Upon that Wild made answer, Though they are of much greater value to you, madam, yet they cannot be worth anything like it to them; therefore keep your own counsel, say nothing in the hearing of my people, and I'll give you the best, directions I am able for the recovery of your notes. In the meanwhile, if you will go to any tavern near, and endeavour to eat a bit of dinner, I will bring you an answer before the cloth is taken away. She said she was unacquainted with any house thereabouts, upon which Mr. Wild named the Baptist Head.[62] The lady would not be satisfied unless Mr. Wild promised to eat with her; he at last complied, and she ordered a fowl and sausages at the house he had appointed.

She waited there about three quarters of an hour, when Mr. Wild came over and told her he had heard news of her book, desiring her to tell out ten guineas upon the table in case she should have an occasion for them. As the cook came up to acquaint her that the fowl was ready, Jonathan begged she would see whether there was any woman waiting at his door.

The lady, without minding the mystery, did as he desired her, and perceiving a woman in a scarlet riding-hood walk twice or thrice by Mr. Wild's house, her curiosity prompted her to go near her. But recollecting she had left the gold upon the table upstairs, she went and snatched it up without saying a word to Jonathan, and then running down again went towards the woman in the red hood, who was still walking before his door. It seems she had guessed right, for no sooner did she approach towards her but the woman came directly up to her, and presenting her pocket book, desired she would open it and see that all was safe. The lady did so, and answering it was alright, the woman in the red riding-hood said, Here's another little note for you, madam; upon which she gave her a little billet, on the outside of which was written ten guineas. The lady delivered her the money immediately, adding also a piece for herself, and returning with a great deal of joy to Mr. Wild, told him she had got her book, and would now eat her dinner heartily. When the things were taken away, she thought it was time to go to the merchant.

Thinking it would be necessary to make Mr. Wild a handsome present, she put her hand in her pocket, and with great surprise found her green purse gone, in which was the remainder of fifty guineas she had borrowed of the merchant in the morning. Upon this she looked very much confused, but did not speak a word. Jonathan perceived it, asked if she was not well. I am tolerably in health, sir, answered she, but I am amazed that the woman took but ten guineas for the book, and at the same time picked my pocket of thirty-nine.

Mr. Wild hereupon appeared in as great a confusion as the lady, and said he hoped she was not in earnest, but if it were so, begged her not to disturb herself, she should not lose one farthing. Upon which Jonathan begging her to sit still, stepped over to his own house and gave, as may be supposed, necessary directions, for in less than half an hour a little Jew (called Abraham) that Wild kept, bolted into the room, and told him the woman was taken, and on the point of going to the Compter. You shall see, Madam, said Jonathan, turning to the lady, what exemplary punishment I'll make of this infamous woman. Then turning himself to the Jew, Abraham, says he, was the green purse of money taken on her? Yes sir, replied his agent. O la! then said the lady, I'll take the purse with all my heart; I would not prosecute the poor wretch for the world. Would not you so, Madam, replied Wild. Well, then, we'll see what's to be done. Upon which he first whispered his emissary, and then dispatched him.

He was no sooner gone than Jonathan told the lady that she would be too late at the merchant's unless they took coach; which thereupon they did, and stopped over against the Compter gate by the Stocks Market.[63] She wondered at all this, but by the time they have been in a tavern a very little space, back comes Jonathan's emissary with the green purse and the gold in it. She says, sir, said the fellow to Wild she has only broke a guinea of the money for garnish and wine, and here's all the rest of it. Very well, says Jonathan, give it to the lady. Will you please to tell it, madam? The lady accordingly did, and found there were forty-nine. Bless me! says she. I think the woman's bewitched, she has sent me ten guineas more than I should have had. No, Madam, replied Wild, she has sent you back again the ten guineas which she received for the book; I never suffer any such practices in my way. I obliged her, therefore, to give up the money she had taken as well as that she had stole. And therefore I hope, whatever you may think of her, that you will not have a worse opinion of your humble servant for this accident.

The lady was so much confounded and confuted at these unaccountable incidents, that she scarce knew what she did; at last recollecting herself, Well, Mr. Wild, says she; I think the least I can do is to oblige you to accept of these ten guineas. No, replied he, nor of ten farthings. I scorn all actions of such a sort as much as any man of quality in the kingdom. All the reward I desire, Madam, is that you will acknowledge I have acted like an honest man, and a man of honour. He had scarce pronounced these words, before he rose up, made her a bow, and went immediately down stairs.

The reader may be assured there is not the least mixture of fiction in this story, and yet perhaps there was not a more remarkable one which happened in the whole course of Jonathan's life. I shall add but one more relation of this sort, and then go on with the series of my history. This which I am now going to relate happened within a few doors of the place where I lived, and was transacted in this manner.

There came a little boy with vials in a basket to sell to a surgeon who was my very intimate acquaintance. It was in the winter, and the weather cold, when one day after he had sold the bottles that were wanted, the boy complained he was almost chilled to death with cold, and almost starved for want of victuals. The surgeon's maid, in compassion to the child, who was not above nine or ten years old, took him into the kitchen, and gave him a porringer of milk and bread, with a lump or two of sugar in it. The boy ate a little of it, then said he had enough, gave her a thousand blessings and thanks, and marched off with a silver spoon, and a pair of forceps of the same mettle, which lay in the shop as he passed through. The instrument was first missed, and the search after it occasioned their missing the spoon; and yet nobody suspected anything of the boy, though they had all seen him in the kitchen.

The gentleman of the house, however, having some knowledge of Jonathan Wild, and not living far from the Old Bailey, went immediately to him for his advice. Jonathan called for a bottle of white wine and ordered it to be mulled; the gentleman knowing the custom of his house, laid down the crown, and was going on to tell him the manner in which the things were missed, but Mr. Wild soon cut him short by saying, Sir, step into the next room a moment; here's a lady coming hither. You may depend upon my doing anything that is in my power, and presently we'll talk the thing over at leisure. The gentleman went into the room where he was directed, and saw, with no little wonder, his forceps and silver spoon lying upon the table. He had hardly taken them up to look at them before Jonathan entered. So, sir, said he, I suppose you have no further occasion for my assistance. Yes, indeed, I have, said the surgeon, there are a great many servants in our family, and some of them will certainly be blamed for this transaction; so that I am under a necessity of begging another favour, which is, that you will let me know how they were stolen? I believe the thief is not far off, quoth Jonathan, and if you'll give me your word he shall come to no harm, I'll produce him immediately.

The gentleman readily condescended to this proposition, and Mr. Wild stepping out for a minute or two, brought in the young vial merchant in his hand. Here, sir, says Wild, do you know this hopeful youth? Yes, answered the surgeon, but I could never have dreamt that a creature so little as he, could have had so much wickedness in him. However, as I have given you my word, and as I have my things again, I will not only pass by his robbing me, but if he will bring me bottles again, shall make use of him as I used to do. I believe you may, added Jonathan, when he ventures into your house again.

But it seems he was therein mistaken, for in less than a week afterwards the boy had the impudence to come and offer his vials again, upon which the gentleman not only bought of him as usual, but ordered two quarts of milk to be set on the fire, put into it two ounces of glister sugar, crumbled it with a couple of penny loaves, and obliged this nimble-fingered youth to eat it every drop up before he went out of the kitchen door, and then without farther correction hurried him about his business.

This was the channel in which Jonathan's business usually ran, but to support his credit with the magistrates, he was forced to add thief-catching to it, and every sessions or two, strung up some of the youths of his own bringing-up to the gallows. But this, however, did not serve his turn; an honourable person on the Bench took notice of his manner of acting, which being become at last very notorious, an Act of Parliament was passed, levelled directly against such practices, whereby persons who took money for the recovery of stolen goods, and did actually recover such goods without apprehending the felon, should be deemed guilty in the same degree of felony with those who committed the fact in taking such goods as were returned. And after this became law, the same honourable person sent to him to warn him of going on any longer at his old rate, for that it was now become a capital crime, and if he was apprehended for it, he could expect no mercy.

Jonathan received the reproof with abundance of thankfulness and submission, but what was strange, never altered the manner of his behaviour in the least; but on the contrary, did it more openly and publicly than ever. Indeed, to compensate for this, he seemed to double his diligence in apprehending thieves, and brought a vast number of the most notorious amongst them to the gallows, even though he himself had bred them up in the art of thieving, and given them both instructions and encouragement to take that road which was ruinous enough in itself, and by him made fatal.

Of these none were so open and apparent a case as that of Blake, alias Blueskin. This fellow had from a child been under the tuition of Jonathan, who paid for the curing his wounds, whilst he was in the Compter, allowed him three and sixpence a week for his subsistence, and afforded his help to get him out of there at last. Yet as soon after this he abandoned him to his own conduct in such matters, and in a short space caused him to be apprehended for breaking open the house of Mr. Kneebone, which brought him to the gallows. When the fellow came to be tried Jonathan, indeed, vouchsafed to speak to him, and assured him that his body should be handsomely interred in a good coffin at his own expense. This was strange comfort, and such as by no means suited Blueskin: he insisted peremptorily upon a transportation pardon, which be said he was sure Jonathan had interest enough to procure him. But Wild assured him that he had not, and that it was in vain for him to flatter himself with such hopes, but that he had better dispose himself to thinking of another life; in order to which, good books and such like helps should not be wanting.

All this put Blueskin at last into such a passion that though this discourse happened upon the leads at the Old Bailey; in the presence of the Court then sitting, Blake could not forbear taking a revenge for what he took to be an insult on him. And therefore, without ado, he clapped one hand under Jonathan's chin, and with the other, taking a sharp knife out of his pocket, cut him a large gash across the throat, which everybody at the time it was done judged mortal. Jonathan was carried off, all covered with blood, and though at that time he professed the greatest resentment for such usage, affirming that he had done all that lay in his power for the man who had so cruelly designed against his life; yet when he afterwards came to be under sentence of death, he regretted prodigiously the escape he had made then from death, often wishing that the knife of Blake had put an end to his life, rather than left him to linger out his days till so ignominious a fate befell him.

But it was not only Blake who had entertained notions of putting him to death. He had disobliged almost the whole group of villains with whom he had concern, and there were numbers of them who had taken it into their heads to deprive him of life. His escapes in the apprehending such persons were sometimes very narrow; he received wounds in almost every part of his body, his skull was twice fractured, and his whole constitution so broken by these accidents and the great fatigue he went through, that when he fell under the misfortunes which brought him to his death, he was scarce able to stand upright, and was never in a condition to go to chapel.

But we have broke a little into the thread of our history, and must therefore go back in order to trace the causes which brought on Jonathan's last adventures, and finally his violent death. This we shall now relate in the clearest and concisest manner that the thing will allow; being well furnished for that purpose, having to personal experience added the best intelligence that could be procured, and that, too, from persons the most deserving of credit.

The practices of this criminal in the manner we have before mentioned continued long after the Act of Parliament; and in so notorious a manner, at last, that the magistrates in London and Middlesex thought themselves obliged by the duty of their office to take notice of him. This occasioned a warrant to be granted against him by a worshipful alderman of the City, upon which Mr. Wild being apprehended somewhere near Wood Street, he was carried into the Rose Sponging-house. There I myself saw him sitting in the kitchen at the fire, waiting the leisure of the magistrate who was to examine him.

In the meantime the crowd was very great, and, with his usual hypocrisy, Jonathan harangued them to this purpose. I wonder, good people, what it is you would see? I am a poor honest man, who have done all I could do to serve people when they have had the misfortune to lose their goods by the villainy of thieves. I have contributed more than any man living to bringing the most daring and notorious malefactors to justice. Yet now by the malice of my enemies, you see I am in custody, and am going before a magistrate who I hope will do me justice. Why should you insult me, therefore? I don't know that I ever injured any of you? Let me intreat you, therefore, as you see me lame in body, and afflicted in mind, not to make me more uneasy than I can bear. If I have offended against the law it will punish me, but it gives you no right to use me ill, unheard, and unconvicted.

By this time the people of the house and the Compter officers had pretty well cleared the place, upon which he began to compose himself, and desired them to get a coach to the door, for he was unable to walk. About an hour after, he was carried before a Justice and examined, and I think was thereupon immediately committed to Newgate. He lay there a considerable time before he was tried; at last he was convicted capitally upon the following fact, which appeared on the evidence, exactly in the same light in which I shall state it.

He was indicted on the afore-mentioned Statute, for receiving money for the restoring stolen goods, without apprehending the persons by whom they were stolen. In order to support this charge, the prosecutrix, Catherine Stephens,[64] deposed as follows:

On the 22nd of January, I had two persons come in to my shop under pretence of buying some lace. They were so difficult that I had none below would please them, so leaving my daughter in the shop, I stepped upstairs and brought down another box. We could not agree about the price, and so they went away together. In about half an hour I missed a tin box of lace that I valued at £50. The same night and the next I went to Jonathan Wild's house; but meeting with him at home, I advertised the lace that I had lost with a reward of fifteen guineas, and no questions asked. But hearing nothing of it, I went to Jonathan's house again, and then met with him at home. He desired me to give him a description of the persons that I suspected, which I did, as near as I could; and then he told me, that he would make enquiry, and bid me call again in two or three days. I did so, and then he said that he had heard something of my lace, and expected to know more of the matter in a very little time.

I came to him again on that day he was apprehended (I think it was the 15th of February). I told him that though I had advertised but fifteen guineas reward, yet I would give twenty or twenty-five guineas, rather than not have my goods. Don't be in such a hurry, says Jonathan, I don't know but I may help you to it for less, and if I can I will; the persons that have it are gone out of town. I shall set them to quarrelling about it, and then I shall get it the cheaper. On the 10th of March he sent me word that if I could come to him in Newgate, and bring ten guineas in my pocket, he would help me to the lace. I went, he desired me to call a porter, but I not knowing where to find one, he sent a person who brought one that appeared to be a ticket-porter. The prisoner gave me a letter which he said was sent him as a direction where to go for the lace; but I could not read, and so I delivered it to the porter. Then he desired me to give the porter the ten guineas, or else (he said) the persons who had the lace would not deliver it. I gave the porter the money; he returned, and brought me a box that was sealed up, but not the same that was lost. I opened it and found all my lace but one piece.

Now, Mr. Wild, says I, what must you have for your trouble? Not a farthing, says he, not a farthing for me. I don't do these things for worldly interest, but only for the good of poor people that have met with misfortunes. As for the piece of lace that is missing, I hope to get it for you ere long, and I don't know but that I may help you not only to your money again, but to the thief too. And if I can, much good may it do you; and as you are a good woman and a widow, and a Christian, I desire nothing of you but your prayers, and for these I shall be thankful. I have a great many enemies, and God knows what may be the consequence of this imprisonment.

The fact suggested in the indictment was undoubtedly fully proved by this disposition, and though that fact happened in Newgate, and after his confinement, yet it still continued as much and as great a crime as if it had been done before; the Law therefore condemned him upon it. But even if he had escaped this, there were other facts of a like nature, which inevitably would have destroyed him; for the last years of his life, instead of growing more prudent, he undoubtedly became less so, for the blunders committed in this fact, were very little like the behaviour of Jonathan in the first years in which he carried on this practice, when nobody behaved with greater caution, as nobody ever had so much reason to be cautious. And though he had all along great enemies, yet he had conducted his affairs so that the Law could not possibly lay hold of him, nor his excuses be easily detected, even in respect of honesty.

When he was brought up to the bar to receive sentence, he appeared to be very much dejected, and when the usual question was proposed to him: What have you to say why judgment of death should not pass upon you? he spoke with a very feeble voice in the following terms.

My Lord, I hope even in the sad condition in which I stand, I may pretend to some little merit in respect to the service I have done my country, in delivering it from some of the greatest pests with which it was ever troubled. My Lord, I have brought many bold and daring malefactors to just punishment, even at the hazard of my own life, my body being covered with scars I received in these undertakings. I presume, my Lord, to say I have done merit, because at the time the things were done, they were esteemed meritorious by the government; and therefore I hope, my Lord, some compassion may be shown on the score of those services. I submit myself wholly to his Majesty's mercy, and humbly beg a favourable report of my case.

When Sir William Thomson[65] (now one of the barons of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer), as Recorder of London, pronounced sentence of death, he spoke particularly to Wild, put him in mind of those cautions he had had against going on in those practices rendered capital by Law, made on purpose for preventing that infamous trade of becoming broker for felony, and standing in the middle between the felon and the person injured, in order to receive a premium for redress. And when he had properly stated the nature and aggravations of his crime, he exhorted him to make a better use of that small portion of time, which the tenderness of the law of England allowed sinners for repentance, and desired he would remember this admonition though he had slighted others. As to the report he told him, he might depend on Justice, and ought not to hope for any more.

Under conviction, no man who appeared upon other occasions to have so much courage, ever showed so little. He had constantly declined ever coming to chapel, under pretence of lameness and indisposition; when clergymen took the pains to visit him and instruct him in those duties which it became a dying man to practice, though he heard them without interruption, yet he heard them coldly. Instead of desiring to be instructed on that head, he was continually suggesting scruples and doubts about a future state, asking impertinent questions as to the state of souls departed, and putting frequent cases of the reasonableness and lawfulness of suicide, where an ignominious death was inevitable, and the thing was perpetrated only to avoid shame. He was more especially swayed to such notions he pretended, from the examples of the famous heroes of antiquity, who to avoid dishonourable treatment, had given themselves a speedy death. As such discourses were what took up most of the time between his sentence and death, so that occasioned some very useful lectures upon this head from the charitable divines who visited him; but though they would have been of great use in all such cases for the future, yet being pronounced by word of mouth only, they are now totally lost. One letter indeed was written to him by a learned person on this head, of which a copy has been preserved, and it is with great pleasure that I give it to my readers, it runs thus:

A letter from the Reverend Dr. —— to Mr. Wild in Newgate.

I am very sorry that after a life so spent as yours is notoriously known to have been, you should yet, instead of repenting of your former offences, continue to swell their number even with greater. I pray God that it be not the greatest of all sins, affecting doubts as to a future state, and whether you shall ever be brought to answer for your actions in this life, before a tribunal in that which is to come.

The heathens, it must be owned, could have no certainty as to the immortality of the soul, because they had no immediate revelation; for though the reasons which incline us to the belief of those two points of future existence and future tribulation be as strong as any of the motives are to other points in natural religion, yet as none return from that land of darkness, or escape from the shadow of death to bring news of what passeth in those regions whither all men go, so without a direct revelation from the Almighty no positive knowledge could be had of life in the world to come, which is therefore properly said to be derived to us through Christ Jesus, who in plain terms, and with that authority which confounded his enemies, the Scribes and Pharisees, taught the doctrine of a final judgment, and by affording us the means of grace, raised in us at the same time the hopes of glory.

The arguments, therefore, which might appear sufficient unto the heathens, to justify killing themselves to avoid what they thought greater evils, if they had any force then must have totally lost it now. Indeed, the far greater number of instances which history has transmitted us, show that self-murder, even then, proceeded from the same causes as at present, viz., rage, despair, and disappointment. Wise men in all ages despised it as a mean and despicable flight from evils the soul wanted courage and strength to bear. This has not only been said by philosophers, but even by poets, too; which shows that it appeared a notion, not only rational, but heroic. There are none so timorous, says Martial, but extremity of want may force upon a voluntary death; those few alone are to be accounted brave who can support a life of evil and the pressing load of misery, without having recount to a dagger.

But if there were no more in it than the dispute of which was the most gallant act of the two, to suffer, or die, it would not deserve so much consideration. The matter with you is of far greater importance, it is not how, or in what manner you ought to die in this world, but how you are to expect mercy and happiness in that which is to come. This is your last stake, and all that now can deserve your regard. Even hope is lost as to present life, and if you make use of your reason, it must direct you to turn all your wishes and endeavours towards attaining happiness in a future state. What, then, remains to be examined in respect of this question is whether persons who slay themselves can hope for pardon or happiness in the sentence of that Judge from whom there is no appeal, and whose sentence, as it surpasses all understanding, so is it executed immediately.

If we judge only from reason, it seems that we have no right over a life which we receive not from ourselves, or from our parents, but from the immediate gift of Him who is the Lord thereof, and the Fountain of Being.

To take away our own life, then, is contradicting as far as we are able the Laws of Providence, and that disposition which His wisdom has been pleased to direct. It is as though we pretended to have more knowledge or more power than he; and as to that pretence which is usually made use of, that Life is meant as a blessing, and that therefore when it becomes an evil, we may if we think fit resign it, it is indeed but a mere sophistry. We acknowledge God to be infinite in all perfections, and consequently in wisdom and power; from the latter we receive our existence in this Life, and as to the measure it depends wholly on the former; so that if we from the shallow dictates of our reason contemptuously shorten that term which is appointed us by the Almighty, we thereby contradict all His laws, throw up all right to His promises, and by the very last act we are capable of, put ourselves out of His protection.

This I say is the prospect of the fruits of suicide, looked on with the eye only of natural religion; and the opinion of Christians is unanimous in this respect, that persons who wilfully deprive themselves of life here, involve themselves also in death everlasting. As to your particular case, in which you say 'tis only making choice of one death rather than another, there are also the strongest reasons against it, The Law intends your death, not only for the punishment of your crimes, but as an example to deter others. The Law of God which hath commanded that the magistrates should not bear the sword in vain, hath given power to denounce this sentence against you; but that authority which you would assume, defeats both the law of the land in its intention, and is opposite also unto the Law of God. Add unto all this, the example of our blessed Saviour, who submitted to be hung upon a tree, tho' He had only need of praying to His Father to have sent Him thousands of Angels; yet chose He the death of a thief, that the Will of God, and the sentence even of an unrighteous judge might be satisfied.

Let, then, the testimony of your own reason, your reverence towards God, and the hopes which you ought to have in Jesus Christ, determine you to await with patience the hour of your dissolution, dispose you to fill up the short interval which yet remains with sincere repentance, and enable you to support your sufferings with such a Christian spirit of resignation, as may purchase for you an eternal weight of glory. In the which you shall always be assisted with my Prayers to God.

Who am, etc.

Jonathan at last pretended to be overcome with the reasons which had been offered to him on the subject of self-murder. But it plainly appeared that in this he was a hypocrite; for the day before his execution, notwithstanding the keepers had the strictest eye on him imaginable, somebody conveyed to him a bottle of liquid laudanum, of which having taken a very large quantity, he hoped it would forestall his dying at the gallows. But as he had not been sparing in the dose, so the largeness of it made a speedy effect, which was perceived by his fellow-prisoners seeing he could not open his eyes at the time that prayers were said to them as usual in the condemned hold. Whereupon they walked him about, which first made him sweat exceedingly, and he was then very sick. At last he vomited, and they continuing still to lead him, he threw the greatest part of the laudanum off from his stomach. Notwithstanding that, he continued very drowsy, stupid and unable to do anything but gasp out his breath until it was stopped by the halter.

He went to execution in a cart, and instead of expressing any kind of pity or compassion for him, the people continued to throw stones and dirt all the way along, reviling and cursing him to die last, and plainly showed by their behaviour how much the blackness and notoriety of his crimes had made him abhorred, and how little tenderness the enemies of mankind meet with, when overtaken by the hand of Justice.

When he arrived at Tyburn, having by that gathered a little strength (nature recovering from the convulsions in which the laudanum had thrown him), the executioner told him he might take what time he pleased to prepare his death. He therefore sat down in the cart for some small time, during which the people were so uneasy that they called out incessantly to the executioner to dispatch him, and at last threatened to tear him to pieces if he did not tie him up immediately. Such a furious spirit was hardly ever discovered in the populace upon such an occasion. They generally look on blood with tenderness, and behold even the stroke of Justice with tears; but so far were they from it in this case that had a reprieve really come, 'tis highly questionable whether the prisoner could ever have been brought back with safety, it being far more likely that as they wounded him dangerously in the head in his passage to Tyburn, they would have knocked him on the head outright, if any had attempted to have brought mm back.

Before I part with Mr. Wild, 'tis requisite that I inform you in regard to his wives, or those who were called his wives, concerning whom so much noise has been made. His first was a poor honest woman who contented herself to live at Wolverhampton, with the son she had by him, without ever putting him to any trouble, or endeavouring to come up to Town to take upon her the style and title of Madam Wild, which the last wife he lived with did with the greatest affection. The next whom he thought fit to dignify with the name of his consort, was the afore-mentioned Mrs. Milliner, with whom he continued in very great intimacy after they lived separately, and by her means carried on the first of his trade in detecting stolen goods. The third one was Betty Man, a woman of the town in her younger days, but so suddenly struck with horror by a Romish priest that she turned Papist; and as she appeared in her heart exceedingly devout and thoroughly penitent for all her sins, it is to be hoped such penitence might merit forgiveness, however erroneous the principle might be of that Church in the communion of which she died. Wild ever retained such an impression of the sanctity of this woman after her decease, and so great veneration for her, that he ordered his body to be buried next hers in Pancras Churchyard, which his friends saw accordingly performed, about two o'clock in the morning after his execution.[66]

The next of Mr. Wild's sultana's was Sarah Perrin, alias Graystone, who survived him; then there was Judith Nunn, by whom he had a daughter, who at the time of his decease might be about ten years old, both mother and daughter being then living. The sixth and last was no less celebrated as Mrs. or Madam Wild, than he was remarkable by the style of Wild the Thief-catcher, or, by way of irony, of Benefit Jonathan. Before her first marriage this remarkable damsel was known by the name of Mary Brown, afterwards by that of Mrs. Dean, being wife to Skull Dean who was executed about the year 1716 or 1717 for housebreaking. Some malicious people have reported that Jonathan was accessory to hanging him merely for the sake of the reward, and the opportunity of taking his relict, who, whatever regard she might have for her first husband, is currently reported to have been so much affected with the misfortunes that happened to the latter, that she twice attempted to make away with herself, after she had the news of his being under sentence of death. However, by this his last lady, he left no children, and but two by his three other wives were living at the time of his decease.

As to the person of the man, it was homely to the greatest degree. There was something remarkably villainous in his face, which nature had imprinted in stronger terms than perhaps she ever did upon any other; however, he was strong and active, a fellow of prodigious boldness and resolution, which made the pusillanimity shown at his death more remarkable. In his life-time he was not at all shy in owning his profession, but on the contrary bragged of it upon all occasions; into which perhaps he was led by that ridiculous respect which was paid him, and the meanness of spirit some persons of distinction were guilty of in talking to him freely.

Common report has swelled the number of malefactors executed through his means to no less than one hundred and twenty; certain it is that they were very numerous in reality as in his own reckoning. The most remarkable of them were these: White, Thurland, and Dunn, executed for the murder of Mrs. Knap, and robbing Thomas Mickletwait, Esq.; James Lincoln and Robert Wilkinson, for robbing and murdering Peter Martin, the Chelsea Pensioner (but it must be noted that they denied the murder even with their last breath); James Shaw, convicted by Jonathan, for the murder of Mr. Pots, though he had been apprehended by others; Humphrey Angier, who died for robbing Mr. Lewin, the City Marshal; John Levee and Matthew Flood, for robbing the Honourable Mr. Young and Colonel Cope, of a watch and other things of value; Richard Oakey, for robbing of Mr. Betts, in Fig Lane; John Shepherd and Joseph Blake, for breaking the house of Mr. Kneebone; with many others, some of which, such as John Malony and Val Carrick, were of an older date.

It has been said that there was a considerable sum of money due to him for his share in the apprehension of several felonies at the very time of his death, which happened, as I have told you, at Tyburn, on Monday, the 24th day of May, 1725; he being then about forty-two years of age.


(From the Newgate Calendar)


A few additional particulars concerning Wild may be of interest. Soon after he came to London he opened a brothel in the infamous Lewkenor's Lane, in partnership with Mary Milliner; after a time they quitted it to take an alehouse in Cock Alley, Cripplegate. He then drifted into business as a receiver and instigator of thefts, organizing regular gangs which operated in every branch of the thieving trade. On account of the number of criminals he brought to justice (as a result of their disloyalty to himself) the authorities winked at and tolerated his proceedings; and in January, 1724, he had the impudence to petition for the freedom of the City, as some recognition for the good services he had rendered in this direction. A few months later, however, his reputation became sadly blown upon, and in January, 1725, he was implicated in an affair with one of his minions, a sailor named Johnson, who had been arrested and had appealed to Wild for help. A riot was engineered, in which Johnson made his escape, but information was laid against the thief-taker, himself, who, after lying in hiding for three weeks, was arrested and committed to Newgate, which he only left to attend his trial and to take his last ride to Tyburn.


A well-known tavern in Old Bailey.


This was the Poultry Compter.


Her name was really Statham.


See page 418.


Soon after burial his body was disinterred and the head and body separated. Wild's skull and the skeleton of his trunk were exhibited publicly as late as 1860.

The Life of JOHN LITTLE, a Housebreaker and Thief

The papers which I have in relation to this malefactor speak nothing with regard to his parents and education. The first thing that I with concerning him is his being at sea, where he was at the time my Lord Torrington, then Sir George Byng, went up the Mediterranean, as also in my Lord Cobham's expedition to Vigo; and in these expeditions he got such a knack of plundering that he could never bring himself afterwards to thinking it was a sin to plunder anybody. This wicked principle he did not fail to put in practice by stealing everything he could lay his hands on, when he afterwards went into Sweden in a merchant-ship. Indeed, there is too common a case for men who have been inured to robbing and maltreating an enemy, now and then to receive the same talents at home, and make free with the subjects of their own Sovereign as they did with those of the enemy. Weak minds sometimes do not really so well apprehend the difference, but thieve under little apprehension of sin, provided they can escape the gallows; others of better understanding acquire such an appetite to rapine that they are not afterwards able to lay it aside; so that I cannot help observing that it would be more prudent for officers to encourage their men to do their duty against the enemy from generous motives of serving their country and vindicating its rights, rather than proposing the hopes of gain, and the reward arising from destroying those unhappy wretches who fall under their power. But enough of this, and perhaps too much here; let us return again to him of whom we are now speaking.

When he came home into England, he fell into bad company, particularly of John Bewle, alias Hanley, and one Belcher, who it is to be supposed inclined him by idle discourse first to look upon robbing as a very entertaining employment, in which they met with abundance of pleasure, and might, with a little care, avoid all the danger. This was language very likely to work upon Little's disposition, who had a great inclination to all sorts of debauchery, and no sort of religious principles to check him. Over above all this he was unhappily married to a woman of the same ways of living, one who got her bread by walking the streets and picking of pockets. Therefore, instead of persuading her husband to quit such company as she saw him inclined to follow, on the contrary she encouraged, prompted and offered her assistance in the expedition she knew they were going about.

Thus Little's road to destruction lay open for him to rush into without any let or the least check upon his vicious inclinations.

He and his wicked companions became very busy in the practice of their employment. They disturbed most of the roads near London, and were particularly good customers to Sadler's Wells, Belsize,[67] and the rest of the little places of junketting and entertainment which are most frequented in the neighbourhood of this Metropolis. Their method upon such occasions was to observe who was drunkest, and to watch such persons when they came out, suffering them to walk a little before them till they came to a proper place; then jostling them and picking a quarrel with them, they fell to fighting, and in conclusion picked their pockets, snatched their hats and wigs, or took any other methods that were the most likely to obtain something wherewith to support their riots in which they spent every night.

At last, finding their incomings not so large as they expected, they took next to housebreaking, in which they had found somewhat better luck. But their expenses continuing still too large for even their numerous booties to supply them, they were continually pushed upon hazarding their lives, and hardly had any respite from the crimes they committed, which, as they grew numerous, made them the more known and consequently increased their danger, those who make it their business to apprehend such people having had intelligence of most of them, which is generally the first step in the road to Hyde Park Corner.[68]

It is remarkable that the observation which most of all shocks thieves, and convinces them at once both of the certainty and justice of a Providence is this, that the money which they amass by such unrighteous dealings never thrives with them; that though they thieve continually, they are, notwithstanding that, always in want, pressed on every side with fears and dangers, and never at liberty from the uneasy apprehensions of having incurred the displeasure of God, as well as run themselves into the punishments inflicted by the law. To these general terrors there was added, to Little, the distracting fears of a discovery from the rash and impetuous tempers of his associates, who were continually defrauding one another in their shares of the booty, and then quarrelling, fighting, threatening, and what not, till Little sometimes at the expense of his own allotment, reconciled and put them in humour.

Nor were his fatal conjectures on this head without cause; for Bewle, though as Little always declared he had drawn him into such practices, put him into an information he made for the sake of procuring a pardon. A few days after, Little was taken into custody, and at the next sessions indicted for breaking open the house of one Mr. Deer, and taking from thence several parcels of goods expressed in the indictment. Upon this trial the prosecutor swore to the loss of his goods and Bewle, who had been a confederate in the robbery, gave testimony as to the manner in which they were taken. As he was conscious of his guilt, Little made a very poor defence, pretending that he was utterly unacquainted with this Bewle, hoping that if he could persuade the jury to that, the prosecutor's evidence (as it did not affect him personally) might not convict him. But his hope was vain, for Bewle confirmed what he said by so many circumstances that the jury gave credit to his testimony, and thereupon found the prisoners guilty. Little, though he entertained scarce any hopes of success, moved the Court earnestly to grant transportation; but as they gave him no encouragement upon the motion, so it must be acknowledged that he did not amuse himself with any vain expectations.

During the time he remained under conviction, he behaved with great marks of penitence, assisted constantly at the public devotions in the chapel, and often prayed fervently in the place where he was confined; he made no scruple of owning the falsehood of what he had asserted upon his trial, and acknowledging the justice of that sentence which doomed him to death. He seemed to be under a very great concern lest his wife, who was addicted to such practices, should follow him to the same place; in order to prevent which, as far as it lay in his power, he wrote to her in the most pressing terms he was able, intreating her to take notice of that melancholy condition in which he then lay, miserable through the wants under which he suffered, and still more miserable from the apprehensions of a shameful death, and the fear of being plunged also into everlasting torment. Having finished this letter, he began to withdraw his thoughts as much as possible from this world, and to fix them wholly where they ought to have been placed throughout his life; praying to God for His assistance, and endeavouring to render himself worthy of it by a sincere repentance. In fine, as he had been enormously wicked through the course of his life, so he was extraordinarily penitent throughout the course of his misfortunes, deeply affected from the apprehensions of temporal punishment, but apparently more afflicted with the sense of his sins, and the fear of that punishment which the justice of Almighty God might inflict upon him. Therefore, to the day of his execution, he employed every moment in crying for mercy, and with wonderful piety and resignation submitted to that death which the law had appointed for his offences; on the 13th of September, 1725, at Tyburn. As to his own age, that I am not able to say anything of, it not being mentioned in the papers before me.


See note, page 243.


That is, Tyburn tree.

The Life of JOHN PRICE, a Housebreaker and Thief[69]

Amongst the ordinary kind of people in England, debauchery is so common, and the true principles of honesty and a just life so little understood, that we need not be surprised at the numerous sessions we see so often held in a year at the Old Bailey, and the multitudes which in consequence of them are yearly executed at Tyburn. Fraud, which is only robbery within the limits of the Law, is at this time of day (especially amongst the common people) thought a sign of wit, and esteemed as fair a branch of their calling as their labours. Mechanics of all sorts practise it without showing any great concern to hide it, especially from their own family, in which, on the contrary, they encourage and admire it. Instead of being reproved for their first essays in dishonesty, their children are called smart boys, and their tricks related to neighbours and visitors as proofs of their genius and spirit. Yet when the lads proceed in the same way, after being grown up a little, nothing too harsh, or too severe can be inflicted upon them in the opinion of these parents, as if cheating at chuck, and filching of marbles were not as real crimes in children of eight years old, as stealing of handkerchiefs and picking of pockets, in boys of thirteen or fourteen. But with the vulgar, 'tis the punishment annexed to it, and not the crime, that is dreaded; and the commandments against stealing and murder would be as readily broke as those against swearing and Sabbath-breaking, if the civil power had not set up a gallows at the end of them.

John Price, of whom we are now to speak, has very little preserved concerning him in the memoirs that lie before me; all that I am able to say of him is that by employment he was a sailor. In the course of his voyages he had addicted himself to gratifying such inclinations as he had towards drink or women, without the least concern as to the consequences, here or hereafter; he said, indeed, that falling sick at Oporto, in Portugal, and becoming very weak and almost incapable of moving himself, the fear of death gave him apprehensions of what the Justice of God might inflict on him through the number and heinousness of his sins. This at last made so great an impression on his mind that he put up a solemn vow to God of thorough repentance and amendment, if it should please Him to raise him once more from the bed of sickness, and restore him again to his former health. But when he had recovered, his late good intentions were forgotten, and the evil examples he had before his eyes of his companions, who, according to the custom of Portugal, addicted themselves to all sorts of lewdness and debauchery, prevailed. He returned like the dog to the vomit, and his last state was worse than his first.

On his return into England he had still a desire towards the same sensual enjoyments, was ever coveting debauches of drink, accompanied with the conversation of lewd women; but caring little for labour, and finding no honest employment to support these expenses into which his lusts obliged him to run, he therefore abandoned all thoughts of honesty, and took to thieving as the proper method of supporting him in his pleasures. When this resolution was once taken, it was no difficult thing to find companions to engage with him, houses to receive him, and women to caress him. On the contrary, it seemed difficult for him to choose out of the number offered, and as soon as he had made the choice, he and his associates fell immediately into the practice of that miserable trade they had chosen.

How long they continued to practice it before they fell into the hands of Justice, I am not able to say, but from several circumstances it seems probable that there was no long time intervening; for Price, in company with Sparks and James Cliff, attempted the house of the Duke of Leeds, and thrusting up the sash-window James Cliff was put into the parlour and handed out some things to Price and Sparks. But it seems they were seen by Mr. Best, and upon their being apprehended, Cliff confessed the whole affair, owned that it was concerted between them, and that himself handed out the things to his companions, Price and Sparks.

At the ensuing sessions, Price was tried for that offence, and upon the evidence of Mr. Best, the confession of James Cliff, and Benjamin Bealin deposing that he himself, at the time of his being apprehended, acknowledged that he had been in company with Cliff and Sparks, the jury found him guilty, as they did Cliff also, upon his own confession. Under sentence he seemed to have a just sense of his preceding wicked life, and was under no small apprehensions concerning his repentance, since it was forced and not voluntary. However, the Ordinary having satisfied his scruples of this sort, as far as he was able, recommended it to him without oppressing his conscience with curious fears and unnecessary scruples, to apply himself to prayer and other duties of a dying man. To this he seemed inclinable enough, but complained that James Cliff, who was in the condemned hold, prevented both him and the rest of the criminals from their duty, by extravagant speeches, wild and profane expressions, raving after the woman he had conversed with, and abusing everybody who came near him, which partly arose from the temper of that unhappy person, and was also owing to indisposition of body, as all the while he lay in the hole he was labouring under a high fever. Another great misfortune to Price, in the condition in which he was, consisted in his incapacity to supply the want of ministers through his incapacity of reading; however, he endeavoured to make up for it as well as he could by attending constantly at chapel, and not only behaving gravely at prayers, but listening attentively at sermon, by which means he constantly brought away a great part, and sometimes lost very little out of his memory of what he heard there.

In a word, all the criminals who were at this time under sentence (excepting Cliff) seemed perfectly disposed to make a just use of that time which the peculiar clemency of the English Law affords to malefactors, that they may make their peace with God, and by their sufferings under the hands of men, prevent eternal condemnation. They expressed, also, a great satisfaction that their crimes were of an ordinary kind and occasioned no staring and whispering when they came to chapel, a thing they were very much afraid of, inasmuch as it would have hindered their devotions, and discomposed the frame of their minds.

At the same time with Price, there lay under condemnation one Woolridge, who was convicted for entering the house of Elizabeth Fell, in the night time, with a felonious intent to take away the goods of Daniel Brooks; but it seems he was apprehended before he could so much as open the chest he had designed to rob. The thieves in Newgate usually take upon them to be very learned in the Law, especially in respect to what relates to evidence, and they had persuaded this unhappy man that no evidence which could be produced against him would affect his life. There is no doubt, but his conviction came therefore upon him with greater surprise, and certain it is that such practices are of the utmost ill consequence to those unhappy malefactors. However, when he found that death was inevitable, by degrees he began to reconcile himself thereto; and as he happened to be the only one amongst the criminals who could read, so with great diligence he applied himself to supply that deficiency in his fellow-prisoners. Even after he was seized with sickness, which brought him exceedingly low, he ceased not to strive against the weakness of the body, that he might do good to his fellow-convicts.

In a word, no temptation to drink, nor the desire of pleasing those who vend it[70], circumstances which too often induce others in that condition to be guilty of strange enormities, ever had force enough to obtrude on them more than was necessary to support life, and to keep up such a supply of spirits as enabled them to perform their duties; from whence it happened that the approach of death did not affect them with any extraordinary fear, but both suffered with resignation on the same day with the former criminals at Tyburn.


See page 230.


The gaolers and others in prisons had an interest in furnishing prisoners with liquor and not only looked askance at those who refused but made it highly uncomfortable for all who avoided debauchery.

The Life of FOSTER SNOW, a Murderer

There cannot be anything more dangerous in our conduct through human life, than a too ready compliance with any inclination of the mind, whether it be lustful or of an irascible nature. Either transports us on the least check into wicked extravagancies, which are fatal in their consequences, and suddenly overwhelm us with both shame and ruin. There is hardly a page in any of these volumes, but carries in it examples which are so many strong proofs of the veracity of this observation. But with respect to the criminal we are now speaking of, he is a yet more extraordinary case than any of the rest; and therefore I shall in the course of my relation, make such remarks as to me seem more likely to render his misfortunes, and my account of them, useful to my readers.

Foster Snow was the son of very honest and reputable parents, who gave him an education suitable to their station in life, and which was also the same they intended to breed him up to, viz., that of a gardener, in which capacity, or as a butler, he served abundance of persons of quality, with an untainted reputation. About fourteen years before the time of his death, he married and set up an alehouse, wherein his conduct was such that he gained the esteem and respect of his neighbours, being a man who was without any great vices, except only passions, in which he too much indulged himself. Whenever he was in drink, he would launch out into unaccountable extravagancies both in words and actions. However, it is likely that this proceeded in a great measure from family uneasiness, which undoubtedly had for a long time discomposed him before committing that murder for which he died. Though, when sober, he might have wisdom enough to conceal his resentment, yet when the fumes of wine had clouded his reason, he (as it is no uncommon case) gave vent to his passion, and treated with undistinguished surliness all who came in his way.

Now, as to the source of these domestic discontents, it is apparent from the papers I have that they were partly occasioned by family mismanagement, and partly from the haughty and impudent carriage of the unfortunate person who fell by his hands; for it seems the woman who Snow married had a daughter by a former husband This daughter she brought home to live with the deceased Mr. Snow, who was so far from being angry therewith, or treating her with the coldness which is usual to fathers-in-law, that, on the contrary, he gave her the sole direction of his house, put everything into her hands, and was so fond of the young daughter she had, that greater tenderness could not have been shown to the child if she had been his own.

It seems the deceased Mr. Rawlins had found a way to ingratiate himself with both the mother and the daughter, but especially the latter, so that although his circumstances were not extraordinary, they gave him very extensive credit; and as he had a family of children, they sometimes suffered them to get little matters about their house; and thereby so effectually entailed them upon them, that at last they were never out of it.

Mr. Snow, it seems, took umbrage at this, and spared not to tell Mr. Rawlins flatly, that he did not desire he should come thither, which was frequently answered by the other in opprobrious and under-valuing terms, which gave Mr. Snow uneasiness enough, considering that the man at the same time owed him money; and this carriage on both sides having continued for a pretty while, and broken out in several instances, it at last made Mr. Snow so uneasy that he could not forbear expressing his resentment to his wife and family. But it had little effect, they went on still at the same rate; Mr. Rawlins was frequently at the house, his children received no less assistance there than before, and in short, everything went on in such a manner that poor Mr. Snow had enough to aggravate the suspicions which he entertained.

At last it unfortunately happened that he, having got a little more liquor in his head than ordinary, when Mr. Rawlins came into the house, he asked him for money, and upbraided him with his treatment in very harsh terms, to which the other making no less gross replies, it kindled such a resentment in this unfortunate man that, after several threats which sufficiently expressed the rancour of his disposition, he snatched up a case knife, and pursuing the unfortunate Mr. Rawlins, gave him therewith a mortal wound, of which he instantly died. For this fact he was apprehended and committed to Newgate.

At the next sessions he was indicted, first for the murder of Thomas Rawlins, by giving him with a knife a mortal wound of the breadth of an inch, and of the depth of seven inches, whereby he immediately expired; he was a second time indicted on the Statute of Stabbing[71]; and a third time also on the coroner's inquest, for the same offence. Upon each of the which indictments the evidence was so dear that the jury, notwithstanding some witnesses which he called to his reputation, and which indeed deposed that he was a very civil and honest, and peaceable neighbour, found him guilty on them all, and he thereupon received sentence of death.

In passing this sentence, the then deputy-recorder, Mr. Faby, took particular notice of the heinousness of the crime of murder, and expatiated on the equity of the Divine Law, whereby it was required that he who had shed man's blood, by man should his blood be shed; and from thence took occasion to warn the prisoner from being misled into any delusive hopes of pardon, since the nature of his offence was such as he could not reasonably expect it from the Royal breast, which had ever been cautious of extending mercy to those who had denied it unto their fellow-subjects.

Under sentence of death this unhappy man behaved himself very devoutly, and with many signs of true penitence. He was, from the first, very desirous to acquaint himself with the true nature of that crime which he had committed, and finding it at once repugnant to religion, and contrary to even the dictates of human nature, he began to loath himself and his own cruelty, crying out frequently when alone. Oh! Murder! Murder! it is the guilt of that great sin which distracts my soul. When at chapel he attended with great devotion to the duties of prayer and service there; but whenever the Commandments came to be repeated, at the words, Thou shalt do no murder, he would tremble, turn pale, shed tears, and with a violent agitation of spirit pray to God to pardon him that great offence.

To say truth never any man seemed to have a truer sense or a more quick feeling of his crimes, than this unhappy man testified during his confinement. His heart was so far from being hardened, as is too commonly the case with those wretches who fall into the same condition, that he, on the contrary, afflicted himself continually and without ceasing, as fearing that all his penitence would be but too little in the sight of God, for destroying His creature and taking away a life which he could not restore. Amidst these apprehensions, covered with terrors and sinking under the weight of his afflictions, he received spiritual assistance of the Ordinary and other ministers, with much meekness, and it is to be hoped with great benefit; since they encouraged him to rely on the Mercy of God, and not by an unseasonable diffidence to add the throwing away his own soul by despair, to the taking away the life of another in his wrath.

What added to the heavy load of his sorrows, was the unkindness of his wife, who neither visited him in his misfortunes, and administered but indifferently to his wants. It seems the quarrels they had, had so embittered them towards one another that very little of that friendship was to be seen in either, which makes the marriage bond easy and the yoke of matrimony light. His complaints with respect to her occasioned some enquiries as to whether he were not jealous of her person; such suspicions being generally the cause of married people's greatest dislikes. What he spoke on this head was exceedingly modest, far from that rancour which might have been expected from a man whom the world insinuated had brought himself to death by a too violent resentment of what related to her conduit; though no such thing appeared from what he declared to those who attended him. He said he was indeed uneasy at the too large credit she gave to the deceased, but that it was her purse only that he entertained suspicions of, and that as he was a dying man, he had no ill thought of her in any other way. But with regard to his daughter, he expressed a very great dislike to her behaviour, and said her conduct had been such as forced her husband to leave her; and that though he had treated her with the greatest kindness and affection, yet such was the untowardness of her disposition that he had received but very sorry returns. However, to the last he expressed great uneasiness lest after his decease his little grand-daughter-in-law might suffer in her education, of which he had intended to take the greatest care; his dislike to the mother being far enough from giving him any aversion to the child. It seems from the time he had taken it home he had placed his affections strongly upon it, and did not withdraw them even to the hour of his departure.

As death grew near, he was afflicted with a violent disease, which reduced him so low that he was incapable of coming to the chapel; and when it abated a little it yet left his head so weak that he seemed to be somewhat distracted, crying out in chapel the Sunday before he died, like one grievously disturbed in mind, and expressing the greatest agonies under the apprehension of his own guilt, and the strict justice of Him to whom he was shortly to answer. However, he forgave with all outward appearance of sincerity, all who had been in any degree accessory to his death.

Being carried in a mourning coach to the place of execution, he appeared somewhat more composed than he had been for some time before. He told the people that, except the crime for which he died, he had never been guilty of anything which might bring him within the fear of meeting with such a death. And in this disposition of mind he suffered at Tyburn, on the 3rd day of November, 1725, being about fifty-five years of age. Immediately after his death a paper was published under the title of his case, full of circumstances tending to extenuate his guilt but such as in no way appeared upon his trial.

The Court of Old Bailey at the next sessions taking this paper into their consideration, were of opinion that it reflected highly on the justice of those who tried him, and therefore ordered the printer to attend them to answer for this offence. Accordingly he attended the next day, and being told that the Court was highly displeased with his publishing a thing of that nature, in order to misrepresent the justice of their proceedings, and that they were ready to punish him for his contempt in the aforesaid publication of such a libel; Mr. Leech thought fit to prevent it by making his most humble submission, and asking pardon of the Court for his offence, assuring them that it proceeded only from inadvertency, and promising never to print anything of the like sort again. Whereupon the Court were graciously pleased to dismiss him only with a reprimand, and to admonish others of the same profession, that they should be cautious for the future of doing anything which might reflect in any degree upon the proceedings had before them.


See note, page 218.

The Life of JOHN WHALEBONE, alias WELBONE, a Thief, etc.

This malefactor was born in the midst of the City of London, in the Parish of St. Dionis Back Church. His parents were persons in but mean circumstances, who however strained them to the uttermost to give this their son a tolerable education. They were especially careful to instruct him in the principles of religion, and were therefore under an excessive concern when they found that neglecting all other business, he endeavoured only to qualify himself for the sea. However, finding this inclinations so strong that way, they got him on board a man-of-war, and procured such a recommendation to the captain that he was treated with great civility during the voyage, and if he had had any inclinations to have done well, he might in all probability have been much encouraged. But after several voyages to sea, he took it as strongly in his head to go no more as he had before to go, whether his parents would or no.

He then cried old clothes about the streets; but not finding any great encouragement in that employment, he was easily drawn in by some wicked people of his acquaintance, to take what they called the shortest method of getting money, which was in plain English to go a-thieving. He had very ill-luck in his new occupation, for in six weeks' time, after his first setting out on the information of one of his companions, he was apprehended, tried, convicted, and ordered for transportation.

It was his fortune to be delivered to a planter in South Carolina, who employed him to labour in his plantations, afforded him good meat and drink, and treated him rather better than our farmers treat their servants here. Which leads me to say something concerning the usage such people met with, when carried as the Law directs to our plantations, in order to rectify certain gross mistakes; as if Englishmen abroad had totally lost all humanity, and treated their fellow-creatures and fellow-countrymen as slaves, or as brutes.

The Colonies on the Continent of America are those which now take off the greatest part of those who are transported for felony from Britain, most of the Island Colonies having long ago refused to receive them. The countries into which they now go, trading chiefly in such kind of commodities as are produced in England (unless it be tobacco), the employment, therefore, of persons thus sent over, is either in attending husbandry, or in the culture of the plant which we have before mentioned. They are thereby exposed to no more hardships than they would have been obliged to have undergone at home, in order to have got an honest livelihood, so that unless their being obliged to work for their living is to pass for great hardship, I do not conceive where else it can lie, since the Law, rather than shed the blood of persons for small offences, or where they appear not to have gone on for a length of time in them, by its lenity changes the punishment of death into sending them amongst their own countrymen at a distance from their ill-disposed companions, who might probably seduce them to commit the same offences again. It directs also, that this banishment shall be for such a length of time as may be suitable to the guilt of the crime, and render it impracticable for them on their return to meet with their old gangs and acquaintance, making by this means a happy mixture both of justice and clemency, dealing mildly with them for the offence already committed and endeavouring to put it ever out of their own power by fresh offences, to draw a heavier judgment upon themselves.

But to return to this Whalebone. The kind usage of his master, the easiness of the life which he lived, and the certainty of death if he attempted to return home, could not all of them prevail upon him to lay aside the thoughts of coming back again to London, and there giving himself up to those sensual delights which he had formerly enjoyed. Opportunities are seldom wanting where men incline to make use of diem; especially to one who had been bred as he was to the sea. So that in a year and a half after ms being settled there, he took such ways of recommending himself to a certain captain as induced him to bring him home, and set him safe on shore near Harwich. He travelled on foot up to London, and was in town but a very few days before being accidentally taken notice of by a person who knew him, he caused him to be apprehended, and at the next sessions at the Old Bailey, he was convicted of such illegal return, and ordered for execution.

At first he pretended that he thought it no crime for a man to return to his own country, and therefore did not think himself bound to repent of that. Whatever arguments the Ordinary made use of to persuade him to sense of his guilt I know not. But because this is an error into which such people are very apt to fall; and as there want not some of the vulgar who take it for a great hardship, also making it one of those topics upon which they take occasion to harangue against the severity of a Law that they do not understand, I think it will not, therefore, be improper to explain it.

Transportation is a punishment whereby the British law commutes for offences which would otherways be capital, and therefore a contract is plainly presumed between every felon transported and the Court by whose authority he is ordered for transportation, that the said felon shall remain for such term of years as the Law directs, without returning into any of the King's European dominions; and the Court plainly acquaints the felon that if, in breach of his agreement, he shall so return, that in such case the contract shall be deemed void, and the capital punishment shall again take place. To say, then, that a person who enters into an agreement like this, and is perfectly acquainted with its conditions, knowing that no less than his life must be forfeited by the breach of them, and yet wilfully breaks them, to say that such a person as this is guilty of no offence, must in the opinion of every person of common understanding be the greatest absurdity that can be asserted; and to call that severity which only is the Law's taking its forfeit, is a very great impropriety, and proceeds from a foolish and unreasonable compassion. This I think so plain that nothing but prepossession or stupidity can hinder people from comprehending it.

As to Whalebone, when death approached, he laid aside all these excuses and applied himself to what was much more material, the making a proper use of that little time which yet remained for repentance. He acknowledged all the crimes which he had committed in the former part of his life, and the justice of his sentence by which he had been condemned to transportation; and having warned the people at his execution to avoid of all things being led into ill company, he suffered with much seeming penitence, together with the afore-mentioned malefactors, at Tyburn, being then about thirty-eight years of age.

The Life of JAMES LITTLE, a Footpad and Highwayman

James Little was a person descended from parents very honest and industrious, though of small fortune. They bred him up with all the care they were able, and when he came to a fit age put him out to an honest employment. But in his youth having taken peculiar fancy to his father's profession of a painter, he thereto attained in so great a degree as to be able to earn twelve or fifteen shillings in a week, when he thought fit to work hard. But that was very seldom, and he soon contracted such a hatred to working at all that associating with some wild young fellows, he kept himself continually drunk and mad, not caring what he did for money, so long as he supplied himself with enough to procure himself liquor.

Amongst the rest of those debauched persons with whom he conversed there was especially one Sandford, with whom he was peculiarly intimate. This fellow was a soldier, of a rude, loose disposition, who took a particular delight in making persons whom he conversed with as bad as himself. Having one Sunday, therefore, got Little into his company and drank him to such a pitch that he had scarce any sense, he next began to open to him a new method of living, as he called it, which was neither more than less than going on the highway. Little was so far gone in his cups that be did not so much as know what he was saying; at last Sandford rose up, and told him it was a good time now to go out upon their attempts. Upon this Little got up, too, and went out with him. They had not gone far before the soldier drew out a pair of pistols, and robbed two or three persons, while Little stood by, so very drunk that he was both unable to have hurt the persons, or to have defended himself, he said.

He robbed no more with the soldier, who was soon after taken up and hanged at the same time with Jonathan Wild, yet the sad fate of his companion had very little effect upon this unhappy lad. He fell afterwards into an acquaintance with some of John Shepherd's mistresses, and they continually dinning in his ears what great exploits that famous robber had committed, they unfortunately prevailed upon him to go again into the same way. But it was just as fatal to him as it had been to his companion; for Little having robbed one Lionel Mills in the open fields, put him in fear, and taken from him a handkerchief, three keys and sixteen shillings in money, not contented with this he pulled the turnover off from his neck hastily, and thereby nearly strangled him. For this offence the man pursued him with unwearied diligence, and he being taken up thereupon was quickly after charged with another robbery committed on one Mr. Evans, in the same month, who lost a cane, three keys, and twenty pounds in money. On these two offences he was severally convicted at the next sessions at the Old Bailey; and having no friends, could therefore entertain little expectation of pardon; especially considering how short a time it was since he received mercy before; being under sentence at the same time with the soldier before-mentioned and Jonathan Wild, and discharged then upon his making certain discoveries.

He pretended to much penitence and sorrow, but it did not appear in his behaviour, having been guilty of many levities when brought up to chapel, to which perhaps the crowds of strangers, who from an unaccountable humour desire to be present on these melancholy occasions, did not a little contribute; for at other times, it must be owned, he did not behave himself in any such manner, but seemed rather grave and willing to be instructed, of which he had indeed sufficient want, knowing very little, but of debauchery and vice. How ever, he reconciled himself by degrees to the thoughts of death, and behaved with tranquility enough during that small space that was left him to prepare for it. At the place of execution, he looked less astonished though he spoke much less to the people than the rest, and died seemingly composed, at the same time with the other malefactors Snow, and Whalebone, being at the time of his execution in his seventeenth year.

The Life of JOHN HAMP, Footpad and Highwayman

This unhappy person, John Hamp, was born of both honest and reputable parents in the parish of St. Giles-without-Cripplegate. They took abundance of pains in his education, and the lad seemed in his juvenile years to deserve it; he was a boy of abundance of spirit, and his friends at his own request put him out apprentice to a man whose trade it was to lath houses. He did not stay out his time with him, but being one evening with some drunken companions at an alehouse near the Iron Gate by the Tower, three of them sailors on board a man-of-war (there being at that time a great want of men, a squadron being fitted out for the Baltic), these sailors, therefore, observing all the company very drunk, put into their heard to make an agreement for their going altogether this voyage to the North. Drink wrought powerfully in their favour, and in less than two hours time, Hamp and two other of his companions fell in with the sailors' motion, and talked of nothing but braving the Czar, and seeing the rarities of Copenhagen. The fourth man of Hamp's company stood out a little, but half an hour's rhodomantade and another bowl of punch brought him to a sailor, upon which one of the seamen stepped out, and gave notice to his lieutenant, who was drinking not far off, of the great service he had performed, the lieutenant was mightily pleased with Jack Tar's diligence, promised to pay the reckoning, and give each of them a guinea besides. A quarter of an hour after, the Lieutenant came in. The fellows were all so very drunk that he was forced to send for more hands belonging to the ship, who carried them to the long-boat, and there laying them down and covering them with men's coats, carried them on board that night.

There is no doubt that Hamp was very surprised when he found the situation he was in next morning, but as there was no remedy, he acquiesced without making any words, and so began the voyage cheerfully. Everybody knows that there was no fighting in these Baltic expeditions, so that all the hardships they had to combat with were those of the sea and the weather, which was indeed bad enough to people of an English constitution, who were very unfit to bear the extremity of cold.

While they by before Copenhagen, an accident happened to one of Hamp's great acquaintance, which much affected him at that time, and it would have certainly have been happy for him if he had retained a just sense of it always. There was one Scrimgeour, a very merry debonair fellow, who used to make not only the men, but sometimes the officers merry on board the ship. He was particularly remarkable for being always full of money, of which he was no niggard, but ready to do anybody a service, and consequently was very far from being ill-beloved. This man being one day on shore and going to purchase some fresh provisions to make merry with amongst his companions, somebody took notice of a dollar that was in his hand, and Scrimgeour wanting change, the man readily offered to give smaller money. Scrimgeour thereupon gave him the dollar, and having afterwards bargained for what he wanted, was just going on board when a Danish officer with a file of men, came to apprehend him for a coiner. The fellow, conscious of his guilt, and suspicious of their intent, seeing the man amongst them who had changed the dollar, took to his heels, and springing into the boat, the men rowed him on board immediately, where as soon as he was got, Scrimgeour fancied himself out of all danger.

But in this he was terribly mistaken, for early the next morning three Danish commissaries came on board the admiral, and acquainted him that a seaman on board his fleet had counterfeited their coin to a very considerable value, and was yesterday detected in putting off a dollar; that thereupon an officer had been ordered to seize him, but that he had made his escape by jumping into the long-boat of such a ship, on board of which they were informed he was; they therefore desired he might be given up in order to be punished. The admiral declined that, but assured them that, upon due proof, he would punish him with the greatest severity on board; and having in the meanwhile dispatched a lieutenant and twenty men on board Scrimgeour's ship, with the Dane who detected him in putting off false money, he was secured immediately. Upon searching his trunk they found there near a hundred false dollars, so excellently made that none of the ship's crew could have distinguished them from the true.

He was immediately carried on board the admiral, who ordered him to be confined. Soon after a court-martial condemned him to be whipped from ship to ship, which was performed in the view of the Danish commissaries, with so much rigour that instead of expressing any notion of the Englishmen showing favour to their countryman upon any such occasion, they interposed to mitigate the fellow's sufferings, and humbly besought the admiral to omit lashing him on board three of the last ships. But in this request they were civilly refused, and the sentence which had been pronounced against him was executed upon him with the utmost severity; and it happening that Hamp was one of the persons who rowed him from ship to ship, it filled him with so much terror that he was scarce able to perform his duty; the wretch, himself, being made such a terrible spectacle of misery that not only Hamp, but all the rest who saw him after his last lashing, were shocked at the sight. And though it was shrewdly suspected that some others had been concerned with him, yet this example had such an effect that there were no more instances of any false money uttered from that time.

It was near five years after Hamp went first to sea that he began to think of returning home and working at his trade again; and after this thought had once got into his head, as is usual with such fellows, he was never easy until he had accomplished it. An opportunity offered soon after, the ship he belonged to being recalled and paid off. John had, however, very little to receive, the great delight he took in drinking made him so constant a customer to a certain officer in the ship that all was near spent by the time he came home. That, however, would have been no great misfortune had he stuck close to his employment and avoided those excesses of which he been formerly guilty. But alas! this was by no means in his power; he drank rather harder after his return than he had done before, and if he might be credited at that time when the Law allows what is said to pass for evidence, viz., in the agony of death, it was this love of drink that brought him, without any other crime, to his shameful end. The manner of which, I shall next fully relate.

Hamp, passing one night very drunk through the street, a woman, as is usual enough for common street-walkers to do, took him by the sleeve, and after some immodest discourse, asked him if he would not go into her mother's and take a pot with her. To this motion Hamp readily agreed, and had not been long in the house before he fell fast asleep in the company of James Bird (who was hanged with him), the woman who brought him into the house, and an old woman, whom she called her mother. By and by certain persons came who apprehended him and James Bird for being in a disorderly house; and having carried them to the watch house, they were there both charged with robbing and beating, in a most cruel and barbarous manner, a poor old woman near Rag Fair.[72]

At the next Old Bailey sessions they were both tried for the fact, and the woman's evidence being positive against them, they were likewise convicted. Hamp behaved himself with great serenity while under sentence, declaring always that he had not the least knowledge of Bird until the time they were taken up; that in all his life time he had never acquired a halfpenny in a dishonest manner, and that although he had so much abandoned himself to drinking and other debaucheries, yet he constantly worked hard at his employment, in order to get money to support them. As to the robbery, he knew no more of it than the child unborn, that he readily believed all that the woman swore to be true, except her mistake in the persons; and that as to Bird, he could not take upon himself to say that he was concerned in it.

A divine of eminency in the Church, being so charitable as to visit him, spoke to him very particularly on this head; he told him that a jury of his countrymen on their oaths had unanimously found him guilty; that the Law upon such a conviction had appointed him to death, and that there appeared not the least hopes of his being anyways able to prevent it; that the denying of his guilt therefore, could not possibly be of any use to him here, but might probably ruin him for ever hereafter; that he would act wisely in this unfortunate situation into which his vices had brought him, if he would make an ample acknowledgment of the crime he had committed, and own the justice of Providence in bringing him to condemnation, instead of leaving the world in the assertion of a falsehood, and rushing into the presence of Almighty God with a lie in his mouth.

This exhortation was made publicly, and Hamp after having heard it with great attention, answered it in the following terms. I am very sensible, sir, of your goodness in affording me this visit and am no less obliged to you for your pressing instances to induce me confession. But as I know the matter of fact, so I am sure, you would not press me to own it if it be not true; I aver that the charge against me is utterly false in every particular. I freely acknowledge that I have led a most dissolute life, and abandoned myself in working all kind of wickedness; but should I so satisfy some persons' importunities as to own also the justice of my present sentence, as arising from the truth of the fact, I should thereby become guilty of the very crime you warn me of, and go out of the world, indeed, in the very act of telling an untruth. Besides, of what use would it be to me, who have not the least hopes of pardon, to persist in a lie, merely for the sake of deceiving others, who may take my miserable death as a piece of news, and at the same time cheat myself in what is my last and greatest concern? I beg, therefore, to be troubled no more on this head, but to be left to make my peace with God for those sins which I have really committed, without being pressed to offend Him yet more, by taking upon me that which I really know nothing of.

The Ordinary of Newgate hereupon went into the hold to examine Bird, who lay there in a sick and lamentable condition. He confirmed all that Hamp had said, declared he never saw him in his life before the night in which they were taken up, acknowledged himself to be a great sinner, and an old offender, that he had been often taken up before for thefts; but as to the present case, he peremptorily insisted on his innocence, and that he knew nothing of it.

At the place of execution, Hamp appeared very composed and with a cheerfulness that is seldom seen in the countenances of persons when they come to the tree, and are on the very verge of death. He spoke for a few moments to the people saying that he been a grievous sinner, much addicted to women, and much more to drinking; that for these crimes, he thought the Justice of God righteous in bringing him to a shameful death; but as to assaulting the woman in Rag Fair, he again protested his innocence, and declared he never committed any robbery whatsoever, desired the prayers of the people in his last moments, and then applied himself to some short private devotions. He resigned himself with much calmness to his fate, on Wednesday, the 22nd of December, 1725, at Tyburn, being then in the twenty-fifth year of his age. Bird confirmed, as well as the craziness of his distempered head would give him leave, the truth of what Hamp had said.


This was in Rosemary Lane, Wellclose Square, Whitechapel—"a place near the Tower of London where old clothes and frippery are sold"—according to Pope.

The Lives of JOHN AUSTIN, a Footpad, JOHN FOSTER, a Housebreaker, and RICHARD SCURRIER, a Shoplifter

Amongst the number of those extraordinary events which may be remarked in the course of these melancholy memoirs of those who have fallen martyrs to sin, and victims to justice, there is scarce anything more remarkable than the finding a man who hath led an honest and reputable life, till he hath attained the summit of life, and then, without abandoning himself to any notorious vices that may be supposed to lead him into rapine and stealth in order to support him, to take himself on a sudden to robbing on the highway, and to finish a painful and industrious life by a violent and shameful death. Yet this is exactly the case before us.

The criminal of whom we are first to speak, viz., John Austin, was the son of very honest people, having not only been bred up in good principles, but seeming also to retain them. He was put out young to a gardener, in which employment being brought up, he became afterwards a master for himself, and lived, as all his neighbours report it, with as fair character as any man thereabout. On a sudden he was taken up for assaulting and knocking down a man in Stepney Fields, with a short, round, heavy club, and taking from him his coat, in the beginning of November, 1725, about seven o'clock in the morning. The evidence being very clear and direct, the jury, notwithstanding the persons he called to his character, found him guilty. He received sentence of death accordingly, and after a report had been made to his Majesty he was ordered for execution.

During the space he lay under conviction, he at first denied, then endeavoured to extenuate his crime, by saying he did indeed knock the man down, but that the man struck him first with an iron rod he had in his hand; and in this story for some time he firmly persisted. But when death made a nearer approach he acknowledged the falsity of these pretences, and owned the robbery in the manner in which he had been charged therewith. Being asked how a man in his circumstances, being under no necessities, but on the contrary, in a way very likely to do well, came to be guilty of so unaccountable an act as the knocking down a poor man and taking away his coat, he said that though he was in a fair way of living, and had a very careful and industrious wife, yet for some time past, he had been disturbed in his mind, and that the morning he committed the robbery he took the club out of his own house, being an instrument made use of by his wife in the trade of a silk-throwster, and from a sudden impulse of mind attacked the man in the manner which had been sworn against him.

He appeared to be a person of no vicious principles, had been guilty of very few enormous crimes, except drinking to excess sometimes, and that but seldom. The sin which most troubled him was (his ordinary practice) as a gardener, in spending the Lord's day mostly in hard work, viz., in packing up things for Monday's market. He was very penitent for the offence which he had committed; he attended the service of chapel daily, prayed constantly and fervently in the place of his confinement, and suffered death with much serenity and resolution; averring with his last breath, that it was the first and last act which he had ever committed, being at the time of death about thirty-seven years old.

The second of these malefactors, John Foster, was the son of a very poor man, who yet did his utmost to give his son all the education that was in his power; and finding he was resolved to do nothing else, sent him with a very honest gentleman to sea. He continued there about seven years, and as he met with no remarkable accidents in the voyages he made himself, my readers may perhaps not be displeased if I mention a very singular one which befell his master. His ship having the misfortune to fall into the hands of the French, they plundered it of everything that was in the least degree valuable, and then left him, with thirty-five men, to the mercy of the waves. In this distressed condition, he with much difficulty made the shore of Newfoundland, and had nothing to subsist on but biscuit and a little water. Knowing it was no purpose to ask those who were settled there for provisions without money or effects, he landed himself and eighteen men, and carried off a dozen sheep and eight pigs. They were scarce returned on board, before it sprung up a brisk gale, which driving them from their anchors, obliged them to be put to sea. It blew hard all that day and the next night; the morning following the wind abated and they discovered a little vessel before them which, by crowding all the sails she was able, endeavoured to bear away. The captain thereupon gave her chase, and coming at last up with her, perceived she was French, upon which he gave her a broadside, and the master knowing it was impossible to defend her, immediately struck. They found in her a large quantity of provisions and in the master's cabin a bag with seven hundred pistoles. No sooner had the English taken out the booty, but they gave the captain and his crew liberty to sail where they pleased, leaving them sufficient provisions for a subsistance, themselves standing in again for Newfoundland, where the captain paid the person who was owner of the sheep and hogs he had taken as much as he demanded, making him also a handsome present besides; thereby giving Foster a remarkable example of integrity and justice, if he had had grace enough to have followed it.

When the ship came home, and its crew were paid off, Foster betook himself to loose company, loved drinking and idling about, especially with ill women. At last he was drawn in by some of his companions to assist in breaking open the house of Captain Tolson, and stealing thence linen and other things to a very great value. For this offence being apprehended, some promises were made him in case of discoveries, which, as he said, he made accordingly, and therefore thought it a great hardship that they were not performed. But the gentleman, whoever he was, that made him those promises, took no further notice of him, so that Foster being tried thereupon, the evidence was very dear against him, and the jury, after a very short consideration, found him guilty.

Under sentence he behaved with very great sorrow for his offence; he wept whenever any exhortations were made to him, confessed himself one of the greatest of sinners, and with many heavy expressions of grief, seemed to doubt whether even from the mercy of God he could expect forgiveness. Those whose duty it was to instruct him how to prepare himself for death, did all they could to convince him that the greatest danger of not being forgiven arose from such doubtings, and persuaded him to allay the fears of death by a settled faith and hope in Jesus Christ. When he had a while reflected on the promises made in Scripture on the nature of repentance itself, and the relation there is between creatures and their Creator, he became at last better satisfied, and bore the approach of death with tolerable cheerfulness.

When the day of execution came, he received the Sacrament, as is usual for persons in his condition. He declared, then, that he heartily forgave him who had injured him, and particularly the person who, by giving him hopes of life, had endangered his eternal safety. He submitted cheerfully to the decrees of Providence and the Law of the land; being at the time he suffered about thirty-seven years of age.

Richard Scurrier was the son of a blacksmith of the same name, at Kingston-upon-Thames. He followed for a time his father's business, but growing totally weary of working honestly for his bread, he left his relations, and without any just motive or expectation came up to London. He here betook himself to driving a hackney-coach, which, as he himself acknowledged, was the first inlet into all his misfortunes, for thereby he got into loose and extravagant company, living in a continued series of vice, unenlightened by the grace of God, or any intervals of a virtuous practice.

Such a road of wickedness soon induced him to take illegal methods for money to support it. The papers which I have in my hands concerning him, do not say whether the fact he committed was done at the persuasion of others, or merely out of his own wicked inclinations; nay, I cannot be so much as positive whether he had any associates or no; but in the beginning of his thievish practices, he committed petit larceny, which was immediately discovered. He thereupon was apprehended and committed to Newgate. At the next sessions he was tried, and the fact being plain, he was convicted; but being very young, the Court, through its usual tenderness, determined to soften his punishment into a private whipping. But before that was done, he joined with some other desperate fellows, forced the outward door of the prison as the keeper was going in and escaped.

He was no sooner at liberty but he fell to his old trade, and was just as unlucky as he was before; for taking it into his head to rub off with a firkin of butter, which he saw standing in a cheesemonger's shop, he was again taken in the fact, and in the space of a few weeks recommitted to his old lodging. At first he apprehended the crime to be so trivial that he was not in the least afraid of death, and therefore his amazement was the greater when he was capitally convicted. During the first day after sentence had been pronounced, the extremity of grief and fear made him behave like one distracted; as he came a little to himself, and was instructed by those who charitably visited him, he owned the justice of his sentence, which had been passed upon him, and the notorious wickedness of his misspent life. He behaved with great decency at chapel, and as well as a mean capacity and a small education would give him leave, prayed in the place of his confinement.

As there is little remarkable in this malefactor's life, permit me to add an observation or two concerning the nature of crimes punished with death in England, and the reasonableness of any project which would answer the same end as death, viz., securing the public from any of their future rapines, without sending the poor wretches to the gallows, and pushing them headlong into the other world for every little offence. The galleys in other nations serve for this purpose and the punishment seems very well suited to the crime; for his life is preserved, and he, notwithstanding, effectually deprived of all means of doing further mischief. We have no galleys, it is true, in the service of the crown of Britain, but there are many other laborious works to which they might be put so as to be useful to their country. As to transportation, though it may at first sight seem intended for their purpose, yet if we look into it with ever so little attention, we shall see that it does not at all answer the end; for we find by experience that in a year's time, many of them are here again, and are ten times more dangerous rogues than they were before; and in the plantations they generally behave themselves so ill that many of them have refused to receive them, and have even laid penalties on the captains who shall land them within the bounds of their jurisdiction. It were certainly therefore, more advantageous to the public that they worked hard here, than either forced upon the planters abroad, or left in a capacity to return to their villainies at home, where the punishment being capital, serves only to make them less merciful and more resolute. This I propose only, and pretend not to dictate.

But it is now time we return to the last mentioned criminal, Richard Scurrier, and inform ye that at the time he suffered, he was scarce eighteen years of age, dying with the malefactors Hamp, Bird, Austin and Foster, before-mentioned, on the 22nd of December, 1725, at Tyburn.

The Life of FRANCIS BAILEY, a notorious Highwayman

That bad company and an habitual course of indulging vicious inclinations, though of a nature not punishable by human laws, should at last lead men to the commission of such crimes as from the injury done to society require capital sufferings to be inflicted, is a thing we so often meet with, that its frequency alone is sufficient to instruct men of the danger there is in becoming acquainted, much more of conversing familiarly, with wicked and debauched persons.

This criminal, Francis Bailey, was one of the number of those examples from whence this observation arises. He was born of parents of the lowest degree, in Worcestershire, who were either incapable of giving him any education, or took so little care about it that at the time he went out into the world he could neither read or write. However, they bound him apprentice to a baker, and his master took so much care of him that he was in a fair way of doing well if he would have been industrious; but instead of that he quitted his employment to fall into that sink of vice and laziness, the entering into a regiment as a common soldier. However, it were, he behaved himself in this state so well that he became a corporal and serjeant, which last, though a preferment of small value, is seldom given to persons of no education. But it seems Bailey had address enough to get that passed by, and lived with a good reputation in the army near twenty years. During this space, with whatever cover of honesty he appeared abroad, yet he failed not to make up whatever deficiencies the irregular course of life might occasion, by robbing upon the highway, though he had the good luck never to be apprehended, or indeed suspected till the fact which brought him to his end.

His first attempt in this kind happened thus. The regiment in which he served was quartered at a great road town; Bailey having no employment for the greatest part of his time, and being incapable of diverting himself by reading or innocent conversation, knew not therefore how to employ his hours. It happened one evening, that among his idle companions there was one who had been formerly intimate with a famous highwayman. This fellow entertained the company with the relation of abundance of adventures which had befallen the robber on the road, till he had saved about seven hundred pounds, wherewith he retired (as this man said) to Jamaica, and lived there in great splendour, having set up a tavern, and by his facetious conversation, acquired more custom thereto than any other public house had in the Island.

As Bailey listened with great attention to this story, so it ran in his head that night that this was the easiest method of obtaining money, and that with prudence there was no great danger of being detected. Money at that time ran low, and he resolved the next day to make the experiment. Accordingly he procured a horse and arms in the evening and at dusk sallied out, with an intent of stopping the first passenger he should meet. A country clergyman happened to be the man. No sooner had Bailey approached him with the usual salutation of Stand and Deliver, but putting his hand in his pocket, and taking out some silver, he, in a great fright, and as it were trembling, put it into Bailey's hat, who thereupon carelessly let go the reins of his horse, and went to put the money up in his own pocket. The parson upon seeing that, clapped spurs to his horse, and thrust his right elbow with all his force under Bailey's left breast, and gave him such a blow as made him tumble backwards off his horse, the parson riding off as hard as he could with a good watch and near forty pounds in gold in his purse.

So ill a setting out might have marred a highwayman of less courage than him of whom we are speaking; but Frank was not to be frightened either from danger or wickedness, when he once got it into his head. So that as soon as he came a little to himself, and had caught his horse, he resolved, by looking more carefully after the next prize, to make up what he fancied he had lost by the parson. With this intent he rode on about a mile, when he met with a waggon, in which were three or four young wenches, who had been at service in London and were going to several places in the country to see their relations. Bailey, notwithstanding there were three men belonging to the waggon, stopped it, and rifled it of seven pounds, and then very contentedly retired to his quarters.

Flushed with this success, he never wanted money but he took this method of supplying himself, managing, after the affair of the parson, with so much caution that though he robbed on the greatest road, he was never so much as once in danger of a pursuit. Perhaps he owed his security to the newer taking any partner in the commission of his villainies to which he was once inclined, though diverted from it by an accident which to a less obstinate person might have proved a sufficient warning to have quitted such exploits for good and all.

Bailey being one day at an alehouse, not far from Moorfields, fell into the conversation of an Irishman, of a very gay alert temper perfectly suited to the humour of our knight of the road. They talked together with mutual satisfaction for about two hours, and then the Stranger whispered Bailey that if he would step to such a tavern, he would give part of a bottle and fowl. Thither, accordingly, he walked; his companion came in soon after; to supper they went and parted about twelve in high good humour, appointing to meet the next evening but one. Bailey, the day after, was upon the Barnet Road, following his usual occupation, when looking by chance over the hedge, he perceived the person he parted with the night before, slop a chariot with two ladies in it, and as soon as he had robbed them, ride down a cross lane. Bailey, hereupon, after taking nine guineas from a nobleman's steward, whom he met about a quarter of an hour after, returned to his lodgings at a little blind brandy-shop in Piccadilly, resolving the next day to make a proposal to his new acquaintance of joining their forces. With this view he staid at home all day, and went very punctually in the evening to the place of their appointment; but to his great mortification the other never came, and Bailey, after waiting some hours, went away.

As he was going home, he happened to step into an alehouse in Fore Street, where recollecting that the house in which he had first seen this person, was not far off, it came into his head that if he went thither, he might possibly hear some news of him. Accordingly he goes to the place, where he had hardly called for a mug of drink and a pipe of tobacco, but the woman saluted him with, O lack, sir! Don't you remember a gentleman in red you spoke to here the other day? Yes, replied Bailey, does he live hereabouts? I don't know, says the woman, where he lives, but he was brought to a surgeon's hard by, about three hours ago, terribly wounded. My husband is just going to see him.

Though Bailey could not but perceive that there might be danger in his going thither, yet his curiosity was so strong that he could not forbear. As soon as he entered the room the wounded man, who was just dressed, beckoned to him, and desired to speak with him. He went near enough not to have anything overheard, when the man in a low voice, told him that he was mortally wounded in riding off after robbing a gentleman's coach, and advised him to be cautious of himself, For, says the dying man, I knew you to be a brother of the road as soon as I saw you; and if ever you trust any man with that secret, you may even prepare yourself for the hands of justice. In half an hour he fell into fainting fits, and then became speechless, and died in the evening, to the no little concern of his new acquaintance Bailey.

Some months after this, Frank was apprehended for breaking open a house in Piccadilly and stealing pewter, table-linen, and other household stuff to a very considerable value. He was convicted at the ensuing sessions at the Old Bailey for this crime, upon the oath of a woman who had no very good character; though he acknowledged abundance of crimes of which there was no proof against him, yet he absolutely denied that for which he was condemned, and persisted in that denial to his death, notwithstanding that the Ordinary and other ministers represented to him how great a folly, as well as sin, it was for him to go out of the world with a lie in his mouth. He said, indeed, he had been guilty of a multitude of heinous sins and offences for which God did with great justice bring him unto that ignominious end. Yet he persisted in his declaration of innocence as to housebreaking, in which he affirmed he had never been at all concerned; and with the strongest asservations to this purpose, he suffered death at Tyburn, the fourteenth of March, 1725, being then about thirty-nine years old, in company with Jones, Barton, Gates and Swift, of whose behaviour under sentence we shall have occasion to speak by and by.

The Life of JOHN BARTON, a Robber, Highwayman and Housebreaker

Education is often thought a trouble by persons in their junior years, who heartily repent of their neglect of it in the more advanced seasons of their lives. This person, John Barton, who is to be the subject of our discourse, was born at London, of parents capable enough of affording him tolerable education, which they were also willing to bestow upon him, if he had been just enough to have applied himself while at school. But he, instead of that, raked about with boys of his own age, without the least consideration of the expense his parents were at, idled away his time, and forgot what little he learned almost as soon as he had acquired it.

It is a long time before parents perceive that in their children which is evident to everyone else; however, Barton's father soon saw no good was to be done with him at school; upon which he took him away, and placed him apprentice with a butcher. There he continued for some time, behaving to the well-liking of his master; yet even then he was so much out of humour with work that he associated himself with some idle young fellows who afterwards drew him into those illegal acts which proved fatal to his reputation and his life. However, he did make a shift to pass through the time of his apprenticeship with a tolerable character, and was afterwards, through the kindness of his friends, set up as a butcher; in which business he succeeded so well as to acquire money enough thereby to have kept his family very well, if he could have been contented with the fruits of his honest labour. But his old companions, who by this time were become perfectly versed in those felonious arts by which money is seemingly so easy to be attained, were continually soliciting him to take their method of life, assuring him that there was not half so much danger as was generally apprehended, and that if he had but resolution enough to behave gallantly, he need not fear any adventure whatsoever.

Barton was a fellow rather of too much than too little courage. He wanted no encouragements of this sort to egg him to such proceedings; the hopes of living idly and in the enjoyment of such lewd pleasures as he had addicted himself to, were sufficient to carry him into an affair of this sort. He therefore soon yielded to their suggestions, and went into such measures as they had before followed, especially housebreaking, which was the particular branch of villainy to which he had addicted himself. At this he became a very dextrous fellow, and thereby much in favour with his wicked associates, amongst whom to be impious argues a great spirit, and to be ingenious in mischief is the highest character to which persons in their miserable state can ever attain.

Amongst the rest of Barton's acquaintance there was one Yorkshire Bob, who was reckoned the most adroit housebreaker in town. This fellow one day invited Barton to his house, which at that time was not far from Red Lion Fields, and proposed to him two or three schemes by which some houses in the neighbourhood might be broke open. Barton thought all the attempts too hazardous to be made, but Bob, to convince him of the possibility with which such things might be done, undertook to rob without assistance a widow lady's house of some plate, which stood in the butler's room at noon-day.

Accordingly thither he went dressed in the habit of a footman belonging to a family which were well acquainted there; the servants conversed with him very freely, as my Lady Such-a-one's new man, while he entertained them with abundance of merry stories, until dinner was upon the table. Then taking advantage of that clutter in which they were, he slily lighted a fire-ball at the fire-side, clapped it into a closet on the side of the stairs in which the foul clothes were kept, and then perceiving the smoke, cried out with the utmost vehemence, Fire, fire. This naturally drew everybody downstairs, and created such a confusion that he found little or no difficulty in laying hold of the silver plate which he aimed at. He carried it away publicly, while the smoke confounded all the spectators, and until the next morning nobody had the least suspicion of him; but upon sending to the lady for the plate which her new servant carried away the night before, and she denying that she had any servant in the house that had not lived with her a twelvemonth, they then discovered the cheat, though at a time too late to mend it.

Barton, however, did not like his master's method entirely, choosing rather to strike out a new one of his own, which he fancied might as little mischief him as that audacious impudence of the other did in his several adventures. For which reason, he was very cautious of associating with this fellow who was very dextrous in his art, but was more ready in undertaking dangerous exploits than any of the crew at that time about town. John's way was by a certain nack of shifting the shutters, whereby he opened a speedy entrance for himself; and as he knew in how great danger his life was from each of these attempts, so he never made them but upon shops or houses where so large a booty might be expected as might prevent his being under necessity of thieving again in a week or two's time. Yet when he had in this manner got money, he was so ready to throw it away on women and at play, that in a short space his pocket was at as low an ebb as ever. When his cash was quite gone, he associated himself sometimes with a crew of footpads, and in that method got sufficient plunder to subsist until something offered in his own way, to which he would willingly have kept.

At last, hearing of a goldsmith's not far from where he lodged, who had a very considerable stock of fine snuff-boxes, gold chains, rings, etc., he fancied he had now an opportunity of getting provision for his extravagancies for at least a twelvemonth. The thoughts of this encouraged him so far that he immediately went about it, and succeeded to his wish, obtaining two gold chains, five gold necklaces, seventy-two silver spoons, and a numberless cargo of little things of value.

Yet this did not satisfy him. He ventured a few days afterwards having a proper opportunity, on the house and shop of one Mrs. Higgs, from whence he took an hundred pair of stockings, and other things to a large value. But as is common with such persons, his imprudence betrayed him in the disposing of them, and by the diligence of a constable employed for that purpose, he was caught and committed to Newgate. At the next sessions he was convicted for these facts, and as he had no friends, so it was not in any degree probable that he should escape execution; and therefore it is highly possible he might be the projector of that resistance which he and the rest under sentence with him made in the condemned hold, and which we shall give an exact account under the next life.

The peculiar humour of Barton was to appear equally gay and cheerful, though in these sad circumstances, as he had ever done in the most dissolute part of his foregoing life. In consequence of which foolish notion he smiled on a person's telling him his name was included in the death-warrant, and at chapel behaved in a manner very unbecoming one who was so soon to answer at the Bar of the Almighty for a life led in open defiance both of the laws of God and man. Yet that surprise which people naturally express at behaviour of such a kind on such an occasion seemed in the eyes of this poor wretch so high a testimony in favour of his gallantry, that he could not be prevailed on, either by the advice of the ministers, or the entreaties of his relations, to abate anything of that levity which he put on when he attended at Divine Service. Though he saw it disturbed some of his fellow sufferers at first, who were inclined to apply themselves strictly to their duties, so fatal is evil communication, even in the latest moments of our life, that his ludicrous carriage corrupted the rest, and instead of reproving him as they had formerly done, they now seemed careful only of imitating his example; and in this disposition he continued, even to the last minute of his life, which ended at Tyburn, on the 14th of March, 1725, he being then hardly twenty-three years of age.

The Life of WILLIAM SWIFT, a Thief, etc.

Amongst the multitude of other reasons which ought to incline men to an honest life, there is one very strong motive which hitherto has not, I think, been touched upon at all, and that is the danger a man runs from being known to be of ill-life and fame, of having himself accused from his character, only of crimes which he, though guiltless of, in such a case might find it difficult to get his innocence either proved or credited if any unlucky circumstance should give the least weight to the accusation.

The criminal whose life exercises our present care was a fellow of this case. He was born of but mean parents, had little or no education, and when he grew strong enough to labour, would apply himself to no way of getting his bread but by driving a wheelbarrow with fruit about the streets. This led him to the knowledge of abundance of wicked, disorderly people, whose manners agreeing best with his own, he spent most of his time in sotting with them at their haunts, when by bawling about the streets, he had got just as much as would suffice to sot with. There is no doubt, but that he now and then shared with them in what amongst such folks, at least, pass for trivial offences, but that he engaged in the great exploits of the road did not appear to any other case than that for which he died, viz., taking four table cloths, eight napkins, two shirts and other things, from Mary Cassell. The woman swore positively to him upon his trial, and his course of life being such as I have represented it, nobody appeared to his reputation so as to bring the thing in to the least suspense with the jury; whereupon he was convicted and received sentence of death.

The concern Swift was under when he found not the least hopes of life remaining, he having no friends who were capable (had they been willing) to have solicited a pardon or reprieve, shocked him so much that he scarce appeared to have his senses; however, he persisted obstinately in denying that he had the least hand in the robbery which was sworn against him. And as he made no scruple of acknowledging a multitude of other crimes, his denial of this gained some belief, more especially when Barton confessed that himself with two or three others were the persons who committed the robbery on the woman who swore against this criminal. It must be acknowledged that there was no appearance of any sinister motive, at least in Barton, to take upon himself a crime of which otherwise he would never have been accused; and the behaviour of Swift was at first of such a nature that it is not easy to conceive why, when all hopes of safety were lost, and he was full of acknowledgment as to the justice of his sentence for the many other evil deeds he had done, he should yet obdurately persist in denying this, if there had been no truth at all in his allegations.

As this fellow had neither natural courage, nor had acquired any religious principles from his education, there is no wonder to be made that he behaved himself so poorly in the last moments of his life; in which terror, confusion, and self-condemnation wrought so strongly as to make the ignominy of the halter the least dreadful part of his execution.


(From the Newgate Calendar)

The day on which the three last-mentioned persons, together with Yates or Gates, alias Vulcan, a deer-stealer, and Benjamin Jones (for house breaking) were to have been executed, these miserable persons framed to themselves the most absurd project of preserving their lives that could possibly have entered into the heads of men; for getting, by some means or other, an iron crow into the hold, they therewith dug out a prodigious quantity of rubbish and some stones, which it is hardly credible could have been removed with so small assistance as they had. With these they blocked up the door of the condemned hold so effectually that there was no possibility of getting it open by any force whatsoever on the outside. The keepers endeavoured to make them sensible of the folly of their undertaking, in hopes they would thereby be induced to prevent any firing upon them; which was all that those who had the custody of them were now capable of doing, to bring them to submission. The Ordinary also joined in dissuading them from thus misspending the last moments of their lives, which were through the mercy of the Law extended to them for a better purpose. But they were inexorable, and as they knew their surrender would bring them immediately to a shameful death, so they declared positively they were determined to kill or to be killed in the position in which they were.

Sir Jeremiah Murden, one of the sheriffs for the time being, was so good as to go down upon this occasion to Newgate. The keepers had opened a sort of trap-door in the room over the hold, and from thence discharged several pistols loaded with small shot, but to no purpose, the criminals retiring to the farther end of the room, continuing there safe and out of reach; though Barton and Yates received each of them a slight wound in crowding backwards. Sir Jeremy went himself to this place, and talked to them for a considerable space, and one of the fellows insisting to see his gold chain, that they might be sure they were treating with the sheriffs themselves, his condescension was so great as to put down part of it through the hole, upon which they consulted together, and at last agreed to surrender. Whereupon they began immediately to remove the stones, and as soon as the door was at liberty, one of the keepers entered. Just as he was within it, Barton snapped a steel tobacco-box in his face, the noise of which resembling a pistol, made him start back, upon which Barton said, D——n you, you was afraid.

When they were brought out, Sir Jeremy ordered the Ordinary to be sent for, and prayers to be said in the chapel, where he attended himself. But whether the hurry of this affair, or that stench which is natural to so filthy a place as the condemned hold, affected the sheriff's constitution, is hard to say, but upon his return home, he was seized with a violent fever, which in a very short space took away his life.

But to return to Swift. When they came to Tyburn, and the minister had performed his last office towards them, this criminal made a shift in a faint tone to cry out, Good People, I die as innocent of the crime for which I suffer, as the child unborn; which Barton, with a loud voice, confirmed saying, I am the man who robbed the person for which this man dies; he was not concerned with me, but one Capell and another were companions with me therein. Swift, at the time of his execution, was about twenty-seven years of age, or a little over.


As society intends the preservation of every man's person and property from the injuries which might be offered unto him from others, so those who in contempt of its laws go on to injure the one, and either by force or fraud to take away the other are, in the greatest proprieties of speech, enemies of mankind; and as such are reasonably rooted out, and destroyed by every government under heaven. In some parts of Europe, certain outlaws, Banditti, or whatever other appellation you'll please to bestow on them, have endeavoured to preserve themselves by force from the punishments which should have been executed upon them by justice, and finding mankind, from a spirit of self preservation, were become their enemies, they exerted themselves the utmost they were capable of in order to render their bodies so formidable as still to carry on their ravages with impunity, and in open defiance of the laws made against them. But an attempt of this sort was scarce ever heard of in Britain, even in the most early times, when, as in all other governments the hands of the Law wanted strength most; so that from the days of Robin Hood and Little John to those of the criminals of whom we are now writing, there was never any scheme formed for an open resistance of Justice, and carrying on a direct war against the lives and properties of mankind.

Edward Burnworth, alias Frazier, was the extraordinary person who framed this project for bringing rapine into method, and bounding even the practice of licentiousness with some kind of order. It may seem reasonable therefore, to begin his life preferable to the rest, and in so doing we must inform our readers that his father was by trade a painter, though so low in his circumstances as to be able to afford his son but a very mean education. However, he gave him as much as would have been sufficient for him in that trade to which he bound him apprentice, viz., to a buckle-maker in Grub Street, where for some time Edward lived honestly and much in favour with his master. But his father dying and his unhappy mother being reduced thereby into very narrow circumstances, restraint grew uneasy to him, and the weight of a parent's authority being now lost with him, he began to associate himself with those loose incorrigible vagrants, who frequent the ring at Moorfields, and from idleness and debauchery, go on in a very swift progression to robbery and picking of pockets.

Edward was a young fellow, active in his person and enterprising in his genius; he soon distinguished himself in cudgel playing, and such other Moorfields exercises as qualify a man first for the road and then for the gallows. The mob who frequented this place, where one Frazier kept the ring, were so highly pleased with Burnworth's performances that they thought nothing could express their applause so much as conferring on him the title of Young Frazier. This agreeing with the ferocity of his disposition, made him so vain thereof, that, quitting his own name, he chose to go by this, and accordingly was so called by all his companions.

Burnworth's grand associates were these, William Blewit, Emanuel Dickenson, Thomas Berry, John Levee, William Marjoram, John Higgs, John Wilson, John Mason, Thomas Mekins, William Gillingham, John Barton, William Swift, and some others that it is not material here to mention. At first he and his associates contented themselves with picking pockets, and such other exercises in the lowest class of thieving, in which however they went on very assiduously for a considerable space, and did more mischief that way than any gang which had been before them for twenty years. They rose afterwards to exploits of a more hazardous nature, viz., snatching women's pockets, swords, hats, etc.

The usual places for their carrying on such infamous practices were about the Royal Exchange, Cheapside, St. Paul's Churchyard, Fleet Street, the Strand and Charing Cross. Here they stuck a good while, nor is it probable they would ever have risen higher if Burnworth, their captain, had not been detected in an affair of this kind, and committed thereupon to Bridewell, from whence, on some apprehension of the keepers, he was removed to New Prison, where he had not continued long before he projected an escape, which he afterwards put into execution.

During this imprisonment, instead of reflecting on the sorrows which his evil course of life had brought upon him, he meditated only how to engage his companions in attempts of a higher nature than they had hitherto been concerned in; and remembering how large a circle he had of wicked associates, he began to entertain notions of putting them in such a posture as might prevent their falling easily into the hands of justice, which many of them within a month or two last past had done—though as they were sent thither on trivial offences, they quickly got discharged again.

Full of such projects, and having once more regained his freedom, he took much pains to find out Barton, Marjoram, Berry, Blewit and Dickenson, in whose company he remained continually, never venturing abroad in the day-time unless with his associates in the fields, where they walked with strange boldness, considering warrants were out against the greatest part of the gang. In the night time Burnworth strolled about in such little bawdy-houses as he had formerly frequented, and where he yet fancied he might be safe.

One evening having wandered from the rest, he was so bold as to go to a house in the Old Bailey, where he heard the servants and successors of the famous Jonathan Wild were in close pursuit of him, and that one of them was in the inner room by himself. Burnworth loaded his pistol under the table, and having primed it, goes with it ready cocked into the room where Jonathan's foreman was, with a quartern of brandy and a glass before him. Hark ye, says Edward, you fellow, who have served your time to a thief-taker; what business might you have with me or my company? Do you think to gain a hundred or two by swearing our lives away? If you do you are much mistaken; but that I may be some judge of your talent that way, I must hear you curse a little, on a very particular occasion. Upon which, filling a large glass of brandy, and putting a little gunpowder into it, he clapped it into the fellow's hands, and then presenting his pistol to his breast, obliged him to wish most horrid mischiefs upon himself, if ever he attempted to follow him or his companions any more. No sooner had he done this, but Frazier knocking him down, quitted the room, and went to acquaint his companions with his notable adventure, which, as it undoubtedly frightened the new thief-taker, so it highly exalted his reputation for undaunted bravery amongst the rest of the gang, a thing not only agreeable to Burnworth's vanity, but useful also to his design, which was to advance himself to a sort of absolute authority amongst them from whence he might be capable of making them subservient to him in such enterprises as he designed. His associates were not cunning enough to penetrate his views, but without knowing it suffered them to take effect; so that instead of robbing as they used to do (as accident directed them, or they received intelligence of any booty) they now submitted themselves to his guidance, and did nothing but as he directed or commanded them.

The morning before the murder of Thomas Ball, Burnworth, and Barton, whom we have before mentioned, pitched upon the house of an old Justice of the Peace of Clerkenwell, to whom they had a particular pique for having formerly committed Burnworth, and proposed it to their companions to break it open that night, or rather the next morning (for it was about one of the clock). They put their design in execution and executed it successfully, carrying off some things of real value, and a considerable parcel of what they took to be silver plate. With this they went into the fields above Islington, and from thence to Copenhagen House, where they spent the greatest part of the day. On parting the booty Burnworth perceived what they had taken for silver was nothing more than a gilt metal, at which he in a rage would have thrown it away; Barton opposed it, and said they should be able to sell it for something, to which Burnworth replied that it was good for nothing but to discover them, and therefore it should not be preserved at any rate. Upon this they differed, and while they were debating, came Blewit, Berry, Dickenson, Higgs, Wilson, Levee, and Marjoram, who joined the company. Burnworth and Barton agreed to toss up at whose disposal the silver ware should be, they did so, and it fell to Burnworth to dispose of it as he thought fit, upon which he carried it immediately to the New River side, and threw it in there, adding that he was sorry he had not the old Justice himself there, to share the same fate, being really as much out of humour at the thing as if the Justice had imposed upon them in a fair sale of the commodity, so easy a thing is it for men to impose upon themselves.

As it happened they were all present pretty full of money, and so under no necessity of going upon any enterprise directly, wherefore they loitered up and down the fields until towards evening, when they thought they might venture unto town, and pass the time in their usual pleasures of drinking, gaming, and whoring. While they were thus (as the French say) murdering of time, a comrade of theirs came up puffing and blowing as if ready to break his heart. As soon as he reached them, Lads, says he, beware of one thing; the constables have been all about Chick Lane in search of folk of our profession, and if ye venture to the house where we were to have met to-night, 'tis ten to one but we are all taken.

This intelligence occasioned a deep consultation amongst them, what method they had best take, in order to avoid the danger which threatened them so nearly. Burnworth took this occasion to exhort them to keep together, telling them that as they were armed with three or four pistols apiece, and short daggers under their clothes, a small force would not venture to attack them. This was approved by all the rest, and when they had passed the afternoon in this manner, and had made a solemn oath to stand by one another in case of danger, they resolved, as night grew on, to draw towards town, Barton having at the beginning of these consultations, quitted them and gone home.

As they came through Turnmill Street, they accidentally met the keeper of New Prison, from whom Burnworth had escaped about six weeks before. He desired Edward to step across the way with him, adding that he saw he had no arms, and that he did not intend to do him any prejudice. Burnworth replied that he was no way in fear of him, nor apprehensive of any injury he was able to do him, and so concealing a pistol in his hand, he stepped over to him, his companions waiting for him in the street. But the neighbours having some suspicion of them, and of the methods they followed to get money, began to gather about them; upon which they called to their companion to come away, which he, after making a low bow to the captain of New Prison, did. Finding the people increase they thought it their most advisable method to retire back in a body into the fields. This they did keeping very close together; and in order to deter the people from making any attempts, turned several times and presented their pistols in their faces, swearing they would murder the first man who came near enough for them to touch him. And the people being terrified to see such a gang of obdurate villains, dispersed as they drew near the fields, and left them at liberty to go whither they would.

As soon as they had dispersed their pursuers, they entered into a fresh consultation as to what manner they would dispose of themselves. Burnworth heard what every one proposed, and said at last, that he thought the best thing they could do was to enter with as much privacy as they could, the other quarter of the town, and so go directly to the waterside. They approved his proposal, and accordingly getting down to Blackfriars, crossed directly into Southwark; and retired at last into St. George's Fields, where their last counsel was held to settle the operation of the night. There Burnworth exerted himself in his proper colours, informing them that there was no less danger of their being apprehended there, than about Chick Lane; for that one Thomas Ball (who kept a gin-shop in the Mint, and who was very well acquainted with most of their persons) had taken it into his head to venture upon Jonathan Wild's employment, and was for all that purpose indefatigable in searching out all their haunts, that he might get a good penny to himself apprehending them. He added that but a few nights ago, he narrowly missed being caught by him, being obliged to clap a pistol to his face, and threatened to shoot him dead if he offered to lay his hands on him. Therefore, continued Burnworth, the surest way for us to procure safety, is to go to this rogue's house, and shoot him dead upon the spot. His death will not only secure us from all fears of his treachery, but it will likewise so terrify others that nobody will take up the trade of thief-catching in haste; and if it were not for such people who are acquainted with us and our houses of resort there would hardly one of our profession in a hundred see the inside of Newgate.

Burnworth had scarce made an end of his bloody proposal, before they all testified their assent to it with great alacrity, Higgs only excepted; who seeming to disapprove thereof, it put the rest into such a passion that they upbraided him in the most opprobious terms with being a coward and a scoundrel, unworthy of being any longer the companion of such brave fellows as themselves. When Frazier had sworn them all to stick fast by one another, he put himself at their head, and away they went directly to put their designed assassination into execution. Higgs retreated under favour of the night, being apprehensive of himself when their hands were in, since he, not being quite so wicked as the rest, might share the fate of Ball upon the first dislike to him that took them.

As for Burnworth and his party, when they came to Ball's house and enquired of his wife for him, they were informed that he was gone to the next door, a public house, and that she would step and call him, and went accordingly. Burnworth immediately followed her and meeting Ball at the door, took him fast by the collar, and dragged him into his own house, and began to expostulate with him as to the reason why he had attempted to take him, and how ungenerous it was for him to seek to betray his old friends and acquaintances. Ball, apprehending their mischievous intentions, addressed himself to Blewit, and begged of him to be an intercessor for him, and that they would not murder him; but Burnworth with an oath replied, he would put it out of the power of Ball ever to do him any further injury, that he should never get a penny by betraying him, and thereupon immediately shot him.

Having thus done, they all went out of doors again, and that the neighbourhood might suppose the firing of the pistol to have been done without any ill-intention, and only to discharge the same, Blewitt fired another in the street over the tops of the houses, saying aloud, they were got safe into town and there was no danger of meeting any rogues there. Ball attempted to get as far as the door, but in vain, for he dropped immediately, and died in a few minutes afterwards.

Having this executed their barbarous design, they went down from Ball's house directly towards the Falcon,[73] intending to cross the water back again. By the way they accidentally met with Higgs, who was making to the waterside likewise. Him they fell upon and rated for a pusilanimous cowardly dog (as Burnworth called him) that would desert them in an affair of such consequence, and then questioned whether Higgs himself would not betray them. Burnworth proposed it to the company to shoot their old comrade Higgs, because he had deserted them in their late expedition; which it is believed, in the humour Burnworth was then in, he would have done, had not Marjoram interposed and pleaded for sparing his life. From the Falcon stairs they crossed the water to Trig Stairs[74]; and then consulting how to spend the evening, they resolved to go to the Boar's Head Tavern, in Smithfield, as not being at a distance from the waterside, in case any pursuit should be made after them, on account of the murder by them committed. At which place they continued until near ten of the clock, when they separated themselves into parties for that night, viz., one party towards the Royal Exchange, the second to St. Paul's Churchyard, the third to Temple Bar, in pursuit of their old trade of diving.

This murder made them more cautious of appearing in public, and Blewit, Berry and Dickenson soon after set out for Harwich, and went over in a packet boat from thence for Helveot-Sluys. Higgs also being daily in fear of a discovery, shipped himself on board the Monmouth man-of-war, at Spithead, where he thought himself safe, and began to be a little at ease; but Justice quickly overtook him, when he thought himself safest from its blow; for his brother who lived in town, having wrote a letter to him, and given it to a ship's mate of his to carry to him at Spithead, this man accidentally fell into company with one Arthur, a watchman belonging to St. Sepulchre's Parish, and pulling the letters by chance out of his pocket, the watchman saw the direction, and recollected that Higgs was a companion of Frazier's. Upon this he sent word to Mr. Delasay, Under-Secretary of State, and being examined as to the circumstances of the thing, proper persons were immediately dispatched to Spithead, who seized and brought him up in custody. Wilson, another of the confederates, withdrew about the same time, and had so much cunning as to preserve himself from being heard of for a considerable time.

Burnworth, in the meanwhile, with some companions of his, continued to carry on their rapacious plunderings in almost all parts of the town; and as they kept pretty well united, and were resolute fellows, they did a vast deal of mischief, and yet were too strong to be apprehended. Amongst the rest of their pranks they were so audacious as to stop the Earl of Scarborough, in Piccadilly, but the chairmen having courage enough to draw their poles and knock one of the robbers down, the earl at the same time coming out of the chair, and putting himself upon his defence, after a smart dispute in which Burnworth shot one of the chairmen in the shoulder and thereby prevented any pursuit, they raised their wounded companion and withdrew in great confusion.

About this time their robberies and villainies having made so much noise as to deserve the notice of the Government, a proclamation was published for the apprehending Burnworth, Blewit, etc., it being justly supposed that none but those who were guilty of these outrages could be the persons concerned in the cruel murder of Ball. A gentleman who by accident had brought one of these papers, came into the alehouse at Whitecross Street, and read it publicly. The discourse of the company turning thereupon, and the impossibility of the persons concerned making their escape, and the likelihood there was that they would immediately impeach one another. Marjoram, one of the gang, was there, though known to nobody in the room; weighing the thing with himself, he retired immediately from the house into the fields, where loitering about till evening came on, he then stole with the utmost caution into Smithfield, and going to a constable there, surrendered himself in a way of obtaining a pardon, and the reward promised by the proclamation.

That night he was confined in the Wood Street Compter, his Lordship not being at leisure to examine him. The next day, as he was going to his examination, the noise of his surrender being already spread all over the town, many of his companions changed their lodgings and provided for their safety; but Barton thought of another method of securing himself from Marjoram's impeachment, and therefore planting himself in the way as Marjoram was carrying to Goldsmiths' Hall, he popped out upon him at once, though the constable had him by the arm, and presenting a pistol to him, said, D——n ye, I'll kill you. Marjoram, at the sound of his voice, ducked his head, and he immediately firing, the ball grazed only on his back, without doing him any hurt. The surprise with which all who were assisting the constable in the execution of his office were all struck upon this occasion gave an opportunity for Barton to retire, after his committing such an insult on public justice, as perhaps was never heard of. However, Marjoram proceeded to his examination, and made a very full discovery of all the transactions in which he had been concerned. Levee being taken that night by his directions in White Cross Street, and after examination committed to Newgate.

Burnworth was now perfectly deprived of his old associates, yet he went on at his old rate, even by himself; for a few nights after, he broke open the shop and house of Mr. Beezely, a great distiller near Clare Market, and took away from thence notes to a great value, with a quantity of plate, which mistaking for white metal he threw away. One Benjamin Jones picked it up and was thereupon hanged, being one of the number under sentence when the Condemned Hold was shut up, and the criminals refused to submit to the keepers. Burnworth was particularly described in the proclamation, and three hundred pounds offered to any who would apprehend him; yet so audacious was he as to come directly to a house in Holborn, where he was known, and laying a loaded pistol down on the table, called for a pint of beer, which he drank and paid for, defying anybody to touch him, though they knew him to be the person mentioned in the proclamation. It would be needless to particularise any other bravadoes of his, which were so numerous that it gave no little uneasiness to the magistrates, who perceived the evil consequences that would show if such things should become frequent; they therefore doubled their diligence in endeavouring to apprehend him, yet all their attempts were to little purpose, and it is possible he might have gone on much longer if he had not betrayed the natural consequence of one rogue's trusting another.

It happened at this time, that one Christopher Leonard was in prison for some such feats as Burnworth had been guilty of, who lodged at the same time with the wife and sister of the fellow. Kit Leonard, knowing in what state he himself was, and supposing nothing could so effectually recommend to him the mercy and favour of the Government as the procuring Frazier to be apprehended, who had so long defied all the measures they had taken for that purpose, he accordingly made the proposal by his wife to persons in authority. And the project being approved they appointed a sufficient force to assist in seizing him, who were placed at an adjoining alehouse, where Kate, the wife of Kit Leonard, was to give them the signal.

About six of the clock in the evening of Shrove Tuesday, Kate Leonard and her sister and Burnworth being all together (it not being late enough for him to go out upon his nightly enterprises) Kate Leonard proposed they should fry some pancakes for supper, which the other two approved of, accordingly her sister set about them. Burnworth took off his surtout coat, in the pocket of the lining whereof he had several pistols. There was a little back door to the house, which Burnworth usually kept upon the latch, in order to make his escape if he should be surprised or discovered to be in that house. Unperceived by Burnworth, and whilst her sister was frying the pancakes, Kate went to the alehouse for a pot of drink, when having given the men who were there waiting for him the signal, she returned, and closed the door after her, but designedly missed the staple. The door being thus upon the jar only, as she gave the drink to Burnworth, the six persons rushed into the room. Burnworth hearing the noise and fearing the surprise, jumped up, thinking to have made his escape at the back door, not knowing it to be bolted; but they were upon him before he could get it open, and holding his hands behind him, one of them tied them, whilst another, to intimidate him, fired a pistol over his head. Having thus secured him, they immediately carried him before a Justice of the Peace, who after a long examination committed him to Newgate.

Notwithstanding his confinement in that place, he was still director of such of his companions as remained at liberty, and communicating to them the suspicions he had of Kate Leonard's betraying him, and the dangers there were of her detecting some of the rest, they were easily induced to treat her as they had done Ball. One of them fired a pistol at her, just as she was entering her own house, but that missing, they made two or three other attempts of the same nature, until the Justice of the Peace placed a guard thereabouts, in order to secure her from being killed, and if possible to seize those who should attempt it, after which they heard no more of these sorts of attacks. In Newgate they confined Burnworth to the Condemned Hold, and took what other necessary precautions they thought proper in order to secure so dangerous a person, and who they were well enough aware meditated nothing but how to escape.

He was in this condition when the malefactors before-mentioned, viz., Barton, Swift, etc., were under sentence, and it was shrewdly suspected that he put them upon that attempt of breaking out, of which we have given an account before. There were two things which more immediately contributed to the defeating their design; the one was, that though five of them were to die the next day, yet four of them were so drunk that they were not able to work; the other was that they were so negligent in providing candles that two hours after they were locked up they were forced to lie-by for want of light.

As we have already related the particulars of this story, we shall not take up our reader's time in mentioning them again, but go on with the story of Burnworth. Upon suspicion of his being the projector of that enterprise the keepers removed him into the Bilbow Room, and there loaded him with irons, leaving him by himself to lament the miseries of his misspent life in the solitude of his wretched confinement; yet nothing could break the wicked stubbornness of his temper, which, as it had led him to those practices justly punished with so strait a confinement, so it now urged him continually to force his way through all opposition, and thereby regain his liberty, in order to practice more villainies of the same sort, with those in which he had hitherto spent his time.

It is impossible to say how, but by some method or other he had procured saws, files, and other instruments for this purpose; with these he first released himself from his irons, then broke through the wall of the room in which he was lodged, and thereby got into the women's apartment, the window of which was fortified with three tier of iron bars. Upon these he went immediately to work, and in a little time forced one of them; while he was filing the next, one of the women, to ingratiate herself with the keepers, gave notice, whereupon they came immediately and dragged him back to the Condemned Hold and there stapled him down to the ground.

The course of our memoirs leads us now to say something of the rest of his companions, who in a very short space came most of them to be collected to share that punishment which the Law had so justly appointed for their crimes. We will begin, then, with William Blewit, who, next to Frazier, was the chief person in the gang. He was one of St. Giles's breed, his father a porter, and his mother, at the time of his execution selling greens in the same parish. They were both of them unable to give their son education or otherwise provide for him, which occasioned his being put out by the parish to a perfumer of gloves; but his temper from his childhood inclining him to wicked practices, he soon got himself into a gang of young pickpockets, with whom he practised several years with impunity. But being at last apprehended in the very act, he was committed to Newgate, and on plain proof convicted the next sessions, and ordered for transportation. Being shipped on board the vessel with other wretches in the same condition, he was quickly let into the secret of their having provided for an escape by procuring saws, files, and other implements, put up in a little barrel, which they pretended contained gingerbread, and such other little presents which were given them by relations. Blewitt immediately foresaw abundance of difficulties in their design, and therefore resolved to make a sure use of it for his own advantage. This he did by communicating all he knew to the captain, who thereupon immediately seized their tools, and thereby prevented the loss of his ship, which otherwise in all probability would have been effected by the conspirators.

In return for this service, Blewit obtained his freedom, which did not serve him for any better purpose than his return to London as soon as be was able. Whether he went again upon his old practices before he was apprehended, we cannot determine, but before he had continued two months in town, somebody seized him, and committed him to Newgate. At the next sessions he was tried and convicted for returning from transportation, but pleading, when he received sentence of death, the service he had done in preventing the attempt of the other malefactors, execution was respited until the return of the captain, and on his report the sentence was changed into a new transportation, and leave given him also to go to what foreign port he would. But he no sooner regained his liberty than he put it to the same use as before, and took up the trade of snatching hats, wigs, etc., until he got into acquaintance with Burnworth and his gang, who taught him other methods of robbing than he had hitherto practised. Like most of the unhappy people of his sort, he had to his other crimes added the marriage of several wives, of which the first was reputed a very honest and modest woman, and it seems had so great a love for him, notwithstanding the wickedness of his behaviour, that upon her visiting him at Newgate, the day before they set out for Kingston, she was oppressed with so violent a grief as to fall down dead in the lodge. Another of his wives married Emanuel Dickenson and survived them both.

His meeting Burnworth that afternoon before Ball's murder was accidental, but the savageness of his temper led him to a quick compliance with that wicked proposition; but after the commission of that fact, he with his companions before mentioned went over in the packet boat to Holland. Guilt is a companion which never suffers rest to enter any bosom where it inhabits; they were so uneasy after their arrival there, lest an application should be made from the Government at home, that they were constantly perusing the English newspapers as they came over to the coffee houses in Rotterdam, that they might gain intelligence of what advertisements, rewards, or other methods had been taken to apprehend the persons concerned in Ball's murder; resolving on the first news of a proclamation, or other interposition of the State on that occasion, immediately to quit the Dominions of the Republic. But as Burnworth had been betrayed by the only persons from whom he could reasonably hope assistance; Higgs seized on board a ship where he fancied himself secure from all searches; so Blewit and his associates, though they daily endeavoured to acquaint themselves with the transactions at London relating to them, fell also into the hands of Justice, when they least expected it. So equal are the decrees of providence, and so inevitable the strokes of Divine vengeance.

The proclamation for apprehending them came no sooner to the hands of Mr. Finch, the British resident at the Hague, but he immediately caused an enquiry to be made, whether any such persons as were therein described had been seen at Rotterdam. Being assured that there had, and that they were lodged at the Hamburgh's Arms on the Boom Keys in that City, he sent away a special messenger to enquire the truth thereof; of which he was no sooner satisfied, than he procured an order from the States General for apprehending them anywhere within the Province. By virtue of this order the messenger, with the assistance of the proper officers for that purpose in Holland, apprehended Blewit at the house whither they had been directed; his two companions Dickenson and Berry, had left him and were gone aboard a ship, not caring to remain any longer in Holland. They conducted their prisoner to the Stadt House Prison in Rotterdam, and then went to the Brill, where the ship on board which his companions were, not being cleared out, they surprised them also, and having handcuffed them, sent them under a strong guard to Rotterdam, where they put them in the same place with their old associate Blewit. We shall now therefore take an opportunity of speaking of each of them, and acquainting the reader with those steps by which they arose to that unparalleled pitch of wickedness which rendered them alike the wonder and detestation of all the sober part of mankind.

Emanuel Dickenson was the son of a very worthy person, whose memory I shall be very careful not to stain upon this occasion. The lad was ever wild and ungovernable in his temper, and being left a child at his father's death, himself, his brother, and several sisters were thrown all upon the hands of their mother, who was utterly unable to support them in those extravagancies to which they were inclined. Whereupon they unfortunately addicted themselves to such evil courses as to them seemed likely to provide such a supply of money as might enable them to take such licentious pleasures as were suitable to their vicious inclinations. The natural consequence of which was that they all fell under misfortunes, especially Emanuel of whom we are speaking, who addicted himself to picking of pockets, and such kind of facts for a considerable space. At last, attempting to snatch a gentleman's hat off in the Strand, he was seized with it in his hand, and committed to Newgate, and at the next sessions convicted and ordered for transportation. But his mother applying at Court for a pardon, and setting forth the merit of his father, procured his discharge. The only use he made of this was to associate himself with his old companions, who by degrees led him into greater villainies than any he had till that time been concerned in; and at last falling under the direction of Burnworth, he was with the rest drawn into the murder of Ball. After this he followed Blewit's advice, and not thinking himself safe even in Holland, he and Berry (as has been said) were actually on ship board, in order to their departure.

Thomas Berry was a beggar, if not a thief, from his cradle, descended from parents in the most wretched circumstances, who being incapable of giving him an honest education suffered him on the contrary to idle about the streets, and to get into such gangs of thieves and pickpockets as taught him from his infancy the arts of diving (as they in their cant call it). And as he grew in years they still brought him on to a greater proficiency in such evil practices, in which however he did not always meet with impunity; for besides getting into the little prisons about town, and being whipped several times at the houses of correction, he had also been thrice in Newgate, and for the last fact convicted and ordered for transportation. However, by some means or other, he got away from the ship, and returned quickly to his old employment; in which he had not continued long, before falling into the acquaintance of Burnworth, it brought him first to the commission of a cruel murder, and after that with great justice to suffer an ignominious death. Having been thus particular on the circumstances of each malefactor distinctly, let us return to the thread of our story, and observe to what period their wicked designs and lawless courses brought them at the last.

After they were all three secured, and safe confined in Rotterdam, the resident dispatched an account thereof to England; whereupon he received directions for applying to the States-General for leave to send them back. This was readily granted, and six soldiers were ordered to attend them on board, besides the messengers who were sent to fetch them. Captain Samuel Taylor, in the Delight sloop, brought them safe to the Nore, where they were met by two other messengers, who assisted in taking charge of them up the river. In the midst of all the miseries they suffered, and the certainty they had of being doomed to suffer much more as soon as they came on shore, yet they behaved themselves with the greatest gaiety imaginable, were full of their jests and showed as much pleasantness as if their circumstances had been the most happy. Observing a press-gang very busy on the water, and that the people in the boat shunned them with great care, they treated them with the most opprobrious language, and impudently dared the lieutenant to come and press them for the service. On their arrival at the Tower, they were put into a boat with the messengers, with three other boats to guard them, each of which was filled with a corporal and a file of musqueteers; and in this order they were brought to Westminster. After being examined before Justice Chalk and Justice Blackerby they were all three put into a coach, and conducted by a party of Foot-guards to Newgate through a continued line of spectators, who by their loud huzzas proclaimed their joy at seeing these egregious villains in the hands of justice; for they, like Jonathan Wild, were so wicked as to lose the compassion of the mob.

On their arrival at Newgate, the keepers expressed a very great satisfaction, and having put on each a pair of the heaviest irons in the gaol, and taken such other precautions as they thought necessary for securing them, they next did them the honour of conducting them upstairs to their old friend Edward Burnworth. Having congratulated them on their safe arrival and they condoled with him on his confinement, they took their places near him, and had the convenience of the same apartment and were shackled in the like manner. They did not appear to show the least sign of contrition or remorse for what they had done; on the contrary they spent their time with all the indifference imaginable. Great numbers of people had the curiosity to come to Newgate to see them, and Blewit upon all occasions made use of every opportunity to excite their charity, alleging they had been robbed of everything when they were seized. Burnworth, with an air of indifference replied, D——n this Blewit, because he had got a long wig and ruffled shirt he takes the liberty to talk more than any of us. Being exhorted to apply the little time they had to live in preparing themselves for another world, Burnworth replied that if they had any inclination to think of a future state, it was impossible in their condition, so many persons as were admitted to come to view them in their present circumstances must needs divert any good thoughts. But their minds were totally taken up with consulting the most likely means to make their escape and extricate themselves from the bolts and shackles with which they were clogged and encumbered; and indeed all their actions showed their thoughts were bent only on enlargement, and that they were altogether unmindful of death, or at least careless of the future consequence thereof.

On Wednesday, the 30th of March, 1726, Burnworth, Blewit, Berry Dickenson, Levee, and Higgs, were all put into a waggon, handcuffed and chained, and carried to Kingston under a guard of the Duke of Bolton's horse. At their coming out of Newgate they were very merry, charging the guard to take care that no misfortune happened to them, and called upon the numerous crowd of spectators, both at their getting into the waggon, and afterwards as they passed along the road, to show their respect they bore them by halloaing, and to pay them the compliments due to gentlemen of their profession, and called for several bottles of wine that they might drink to their good journey. As they passed along the road they endeavoured to show themselves very merry and pleasant by their facetious discourse to the spectators, and frequently threw money amongst the people who followed them, diverting themselves with seeing the others strive for it. And particularly Blewit, having thrown out some halfpence amongst the mob, a little boy who was present picked up one of them, and calling out to Blewit, told him, that as sure as he (the said Blewit) would be condemned at Kingston, so sure would he have his name engraved thereon; whereupon Blewit took a shilling out of his pocket and gave it to the boy, telling him there was something towards defraying the charge of engraving and bid him be as good as his word, which he promised he would.

On the 31st of March, the assizes were opened, together with the commission of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery for the county of Surrey, before the Right Hon. the Lord Chief Justice Raymond, and Mr. Justice Denton; and the grand jury having found indictments against the prisoners, they were severally arraigned thereupon, when five of them pleaded not guilty. Burnworth absolutely refused to plead at all; upon which, after being advised by the judge not to force the Court upon that rigour which they were unwilling at any time to practice, and he still continuing obstinate, his thumbs (as is usual in such cases) were tied and strained with pack thread. This having no effect upon him, the sentence of the press, or as it is sailed in Law, of the Peine Fort et Dure, was read to him in these words: You shall go to the place from whence you came, and there being stripped naked and laid flat upon your back on the floor, with a napkin about your middle to hide your privy members, and a cloth on your face, then the press is to be laid upon you, with as much weight as, or rather more than you can bear. You are to have three morsels of barley-bread in twenty-four hours; a draught of water from the next puddle near the gaol, but not running water. The second day two morsels and the same water, with an increase of weight, and so to the third day until you expire.

This sentence thus passed upon him, and he still continuing contumacious, he was carried down to the stock-house, and the press laid upon him, which he bore for the space of one hour and three minutes, under the weight of three hundred, three quarters, and two pounds [424 lb.]. Whilst he continued under the press, he endeavoured to beat out his brains against the floor, during which time the High Sheriff himself was present, and frequently exhorted him to plead to the indictment. This at last he consented to do; and being brought up to the Court, after a trial which lasted from eight in the morning until one in the afternoon, on the first day of April, they were all six found guilty of the indictment, and being remanded back to the stock-house, were all chained and stapled down to the floor.

Whilst they were under conviction, the terrors of death did not make any impression upon them; they diverted themselves with repeating jests and stories of various natures, particularly of the manner of their escapes before out of the hands of justice, and the robberies and offences they had committed. And it being proposed, for the satisfaction of the world, for them to leave the particulars of the several robberies by them committed, Burnworth replied that were he to write all the robberies by him committed, a hundred sheets of paper, write as close as could be, would not contain them. Notwithstanding what had been alleged by Higgs of his forsaking his companions in the field, it appeared by other evidence that he followed his companions to Ball's house, and was seen hovering about the house during the time the murder was committed, with a pistol in his hand.

As for Burnworth, after conviction, his behaviour was as ludicrous as ever; and being as I said, a painter's son, he had some little notion of designing, and therewith diverted himself in sketching his own picture in several forms; particularly as he lay under the press. This being engraved in copper, was placed in the frontispiece of a sixpenny book which was published of his life, and the rest seemed to fall no way short of him in that silly contempt of death, which with the vulgar passes for resolution.

On Monday, the 4th day of April, they were brought up again from the stock-house to receive sentence of death. Before he passed it upon them Mr. Justice Denton made a very pathetic speech, in which he represented to them the necessity there was of punishing crimes like theirs with death, and exhorted them not to be more cruel to themselves than they had obliged the law to be severe towards them, by squandering away the small remainder of their time, and thereby adding to an ignominious end, an eternal punishment hereafter. When sentence was passed, they entreated leave for their friends to visit them in the prison, which was granted them by the Court, but with a strict injunction to the keeper to be careful over them. After they returned to the prison, they bent their thought wholly on making their escape, and to that purpose sent to their friends, and procured proper implements for the execution of it: Burnworth's mother being surprised with several files, etc., about her, and the whole plot discovered by Blewit's mother who was heard to say that she had forgot the opium.

It seems the scheme was to murder the two persons who attended them in the gaol, together with Mr. Eliot, the turnkey; after they had got out they intended to have fired a slack of bavins [firewood] adjoining to the prison, and thereby amused the inhabitants while they got clear off. Burnworth's mother was confined for this attempt in his favour, and some lesser implements that were sewed up in the waistband of their breeches being ripped out, all hopes whatsoever of escape were now taken away. Yet Burnworth affected to keep up the same spirit with which he had hitherto behaved, and talked in a rhodomantade to one of his guard, of coming in the night in a dark entry, and pulling him by the nose, if he did not see him decently buried.

About ten of the clock, on Wednesday morning, together with one Blackburn, who was condemned for robbing on the highway, a fellow grossly ignorant and stupid, they were carried out in a cart to their execution, being attended by a company of foot to the gallows. In their passage thither, that audacious carriage in which they had so long persisted totally forsook them, and they all appeared with all that seriousness and devotion which might be looked for from persons in their condition. Blewit perceiving one Mr. Warwick among the spectators desired that he might stop to speak to him; which being granted, he threw himself upon his knees, and earnestly intreated his pardon for having once attempted his life by presenting a pistol at him, upon suspicion that Mr. Warwick knowing what his profession was had given information against him.

When at the place of execution and tied up, Blewit and Dickenson, especially, prayed with great fervour and with a becoming earnestness, exhorted all the young persons they saw near them to take warning by them, and not follow such courses as might in time bring them to so terrible an end. Blewit acknowledged that for sixteen years last past he had lived by stealing and pilfering only. He had given all the clothes he had to his mother, but being informed that he was to be hung in chains, he desired his mother might return them to prevent his being put up in his shirt. He then desired the executioner to tie him up so that he might be as soon out of his pain as possible; then he said the Penitential Psalm, and repeated the words of it to the other criminals. Then they all kissed one another, and after some private devotions the cart drew away and they were turned off. Dickenson died very hard, kicking off one of his shoes, and loosing the other.

Their bodies were carried back under the same guard which attended them to their execution. Burnworth and Blewit were afterwards hung in chains over against the sign of the Fighting Cocks, in St. George's Fields, Dickenson and Berry were hung up on Kennington Common, but the sheriff of Surrey had orders at the same time to suffer his relations to take down the body of Dickenson in order to be interred, after its hanging up one day, which favour was granted on account of his father's service in the army, who was killed at his post in the late war. Levee and Higgs were hung up on Putney Common, beyond Wandsworth, which is all we have to add concerning these hardened malefactors who so long defied the justice of their country, and are now, to the joy of all honest people, placed as spectacles for the warning of their companions who frequent the places where they are hung in chains.


Falcon Stairs were just east of where Blackfriars Bridge now stands.


Trig Lane ran from Thames Street to the water's edge, near Lambeth Hill.

The Life of JOHN GILLINGHAM, an Highwayman and Footpad, etc.

As want of education hath brought many who might otherwise have done very well in the world to a miserable end, so the best education and instructions are often of no effect to stubborn and corrupt minds. This was the case of John Gillingham, of whom we are now to give an account. He had been brought up at Westminster School, but all he acquired there was only a smattering of learning and a great deal of self-conceit, fancying labour was below him, and that he ought to live the life of a gentleman. He associated himself with such companions as pretended to teach him this art of easily attaining money. He was a person very inclinable to follow such advices, and therefore readily came into these proposals as soon as they were made. Amongst the rest of his acquaintance, he became very intimate with Burnworth, and made one of the number in attacking the chair of the Earl of Scarborough, near St. James's Church, and was the person who shot the chairman in the shoulder.

As he was a young man of a good deal of spirit, so he committed abundance of facts in a very short space; but the indefatigable industry which the officers of Justice exerted, in apprehending Frazier's desperate gang, soon brought him to the miserable end consequent from such wicked courses. He was indicted for assaulting Robert Sherly, Esq., upon the highway, and taking from him a watch value £20. He was a second time indicted for assaulting John du Cummins, a footman, and taking from him a silver watch, a snuff-box, and five guineas in money. Both of which facts he steadily denied after his conviction, but there was a third crime of which he was convicted, viz., sending a letter to extort money from Simon Smith, Esq., and which follows in these words:

Mr. Smith.

I desire you to send me twenty guineas by the bearer, without letting him know what it is for, he is innocent of the contents if your offer to speak of this to anybody—— My blood and soul, if you are not dead man before monday morning; and if you don't send the money, the devil dash my brains out, if I don't shoot you the first time you stir out of doors, or if I should be taken there are others that will do your business for you by the first opportunity, therefore pray fail not ——. Strike me to instant D—— if I am not as good as my word.

To Mr. Smith in Great George Street over against the Church near Hanover Square.

He confessed that he knew of the writing and sending this epistle, but denied that he did it himself, and indeed the indictment set forth that it was in company with one John Mason, then deceased, that the said conspiracy was formed. Under sentence of death, he behaved himself very sillily, laughing and scoffing at his approaching end, and saying to one of his companions, as the keeper went downstairs before them, Let us knock him down and take his keys from him. If one leads to heaven, and the other to hell, we shall at least have a chance to get the right! Yet when death with all its horror stared him in the face, he began to relent in his behaviour, and to acknowledge the justness of that sentence which had doomed him to death. At the place of execution he prayed with great earnestness, confessed he had been a grievous sinner, and seemed in great confusion in his last moments. He was about twenty years of age when he died, which was on the 9th of May, 1726, at Tyburn.

The Life of JOHN COTTERELL, a Thief, etc.

The miseries of life are so many, so deep, so sudden, and so irretrievable, that when we consider them attentively, they ought to inspire us with the greatest submission towards that Providence which directs us and fills us with humble sentiments of our own capacities, which are so weak and incapable to protect us from any of those evils to which from the vicissitudes of life we are continually exposed.

John Cotterell, the subject of this part of our work, was a person descended of honest and industrious parents, who were exceedingly careful in bringing him up as far as they were able, in such a manner as might enable him to get his bread honestly and with some reputation. When he was grown big enough to be put out apprentice, they agreed with a friend of theirs, a master of a vessel, to take him with him two or three voyages for a trial. John behaved himself so well that he gained the esteem of his master and the love of all his fellow-sailors. When he had been five years at sea, his credit was so good, both as to his being an able sailor and an honest man, that his friends found it no great difficulty to get him a ship, and after that another. The last he commanded was of the burthen of 200 tons, but he sustained great losses himself, and greater still, in supporting his eldest son, who dealt in the same way, and with a vessel of his own carried on a trade between England and Holland. Through these misfortunes he fell into circumstances so narrow that he lay two years and a half in Newgate, for debt. Being discharged by the Act of Insolvency, and having not wherewith to sustain himself, he broke one night into a little chandler's shop, where he used now and then to get a halfpenny-worth of that destructive liquor gin; and there took a tub with two pounds of butter, and a pound of pepper in it. But before he got out of the shop he was apprehended, and at the next sessions was found guilty of the fact.

While under sentence of death he behaved with the greatest gravity, averred that it was the first thing of that kind he had ever done; indeed, his character appeared to be very good, for though his acquaintance in town had done little for him hitherto, yet when they saw that they should not be long troubled with him, they sent him good books, and provided everything that was necessary for him; so that with much resignation he finished his days, with the other malefactors, at Tyburn, in the fifty-second year of his age, on the 9th day of May, 1726.

The Life of CATHERINE HAYES, a bloody and inhuman Murderess, etc.

Though all crimes are in this nature foul, yet some are apparently more heinous, and of a blacker die than others. Murder has in all ages and in all climates been amongst the number of those offences held to be most enormous and the most shocking to human nature of any other; yet even this admits sometimes of aggravation, and the laws of England have made a distinction between the murder of a stranger, and of him or her to whom we owe a civil, or natural obedience. Hence it is that killing a husband, or a master is distinguished under the name of petit treason. Yet even this, in the story we are about to relate, had several heightening circumstances, the poor man having both a son and a wife imbrueing their hands in his blood.

Catherine Hall, afterwards by her marriage, Catherine Hayes, was born in the year 1690, at a village in the borders of Warwickshire, within four miles of Birmingham. Her parents were so poor as to receive the assistance of the parish and so careless of their daughter that they never gave her the least education. While a girl she discovered marks of so violent and turbulent a temper that she totally threw off all respect and obedience to her parents, giving a loose to her passions and gratifying herself in all her vicious inclinations.

About the year 1705, some officers coming into the neighbourhood to recruit, Kate was so much taken with the fellows in red that she strolled away with them, until they came to a village called Great Ombersley in Warwickshire, where they very ungenerously left her behind them. This elopement of her sparks drove her almost mad, so that she went like a distracted creature about the country, until coming to Mr. Hayes's door, his wife in compassion took her in out of charity. The eldest child of the family was John Hayes, the deceased; who being then about twenty-one years of age, found so many charms in this Catherine Hall that soon after he coming into the house he made proposals to her of marriage. There is no doubt of their being readily enough received, and as they both were sensible how disagreeable a thing it would be to his parents, they agreed to keep it secret. They quickly adjusted the measures that were to be taken in order to their being married at Worcester; for which purpose Mr. John Hayes pretended to his mother that he wanted some tools in the way of his trade, viz., that of a carpenter, for which it was necessary he should go to Worcester; and under this colour he procured also as much money as, with what he had already had, was sufficient to defray the expense of the intended wedding.

Catherine having quitted the house without the formality of bidding them adieu, and meeting at the appointed place, they accompanied each other to Worcester, where the wedding was soon celebrated. The same day Mrs. Catherine Hayes had the fortune to meet with some of her quondam acquaintance at Worcester. They understanding that she was that day married, and where the nuptials were to be solemnized, consulted among themselves how to make a penny of the bridegroom. Accordingly deferring the execution of their intentions until the evening, just as Mr. Hayes was got into bed to his wife, coming to the house where he lodged, they forcibly entered the room, and dragged the bridegroom away, pretending to impress him for her Majesty's service.

This proceeding broke the measures Mr. John Hayes had concerted with his bride, to keep their wedding secret; for finding no redemption from their hands, without the expense of a larger sum of money than he was master of, he was necessitated to let his father know of his misfortune. Mr. Hayes hearing of his son's adventures, as well of his marriage and his being pressed at the same time, his resentment for the one did not extinguish his affection for him as a father, but that he resolved to deliver him from his troubles; and accordingly, taking a gentleman in the neighbourhood along with him, he went for Worcester. At their arrival there, they found Mr. John Hayes in the hands of the officers, who insisted upon detaining him for her Majesty's service; but his father and the gentleman he brought with him by his authority, soon made them sensible of their errors, and instead of making a benefit of him, as they proposed, they were glad to discharge him, which they did immediately. Mr. Hayes having acted thus far in favour of his son, then expressed his resentment for his having married without his consent; but it being too late to prevent it, there was no other remedy but to bear with the same. For sometime afterwards Mr. Hayes and his bride lived in the neighbourhood, and as he followed his business as a carpenter, his father and mother grew more reconciled. But Mrs. Catherine Hayes, who better approved of a travelling than a settled life, persuaded her husband to enter himself a volunteer in a regiment then at Worcester, which he did, and went away with them, where he continued for some time.

Mr. John Hayes being in garrison in the Isle of Wight, Mrs. Hayes took an opportunity of going over thither and continued with him for some time; until Mr. Hayes, not content with such a lazy indolent life (wherein he could find no advantage, unless it were the gratifying his wife) solicited his father to procure his discharge, which at length he was prevailed upon to consent to. But he found much difficulty in perfecting the same, for the several journeys he was necessitated to undertake before it could be done, and the expenses of procuring such discharge, amounted to sixty pound. But having at last, at this great expense and trouble, procured his son's release, Mr. John Hayes and his wife returned to Worcestershire; and his father the better to induce him to settle himself in business in the country, put him into an estate of ten pound per annum, hoping that, with the benefit of his trade, would enable them to live handsomely and creditably, and change her roving inclinations, he being sensible that his son's ramble had been occasioned through his wife's persuasions. But Mr. John Hayes representing to his father that it was not possible for him and his wife to live on that estate only, persuaded his father to let him have another also, a leasehold of sixteen pound per annum; upon which he lived during the continuance of the lease, his father paying the annual rent thereof until it expired.

The characters of Mr. John Hayes and his wife were vastly different. He had the repute of a sober, sedate, honest, quiet, peaceable man, and a very good husband, the only objection his friends would admit of against him was that he was of too parsimonious and frugal temper, and that he was rather too indulgent of his wife, who repaid his kindness with ill usage, and frequently very opprobious language. As to his wife, she was on all hands allowed to be a very turbulent, vexatious person, always setting people together by the ears, and never free from quarrels and controversies in the neighbourhood, giving ill advice, and fomenting disputes to the disturbance of all her friends and acquaintance.

This unhappiness in her temper induced Mr. John Hayes's relations to persuade him to settle in some remote place, at a distance from and unknown to her for some time, to see if that would have any effect upon her turbulent disposition; but Mr. Hayes would not approve of that advice, nor consent to a separation. In this manner they lived for the space of about six years, until the lease of the last-mentioned farm expired; about which time Mrs. Hayes persuaded Mr. John Hayes to leave the country and come to London, which about twelve months afterwards, through her persuasions he did, in the year 1719. Upon their arrival in town they took a house, part of which they let out in lodging, and sold sea coal, chandlery-ware, etc., whereby they lived in a creditable manner. And though Mr. Hayes was of a very indulgent temper, yet she was so unhappy as to be frequently jarring, and a change of climate having made no alteration in her temper, she continued her same passionate nature, and frequent bickerings and disputes with her neighbours, as well as before in the country.

In this business they picked up money, and Mr. Hayes received the yearly rent of the first-mentioned estate, though in town; and by lending out money in small sums, amongst his country people improved the same considerably. In speaking of Mr. Hayes to his friends and acquaintance she would frequently give him the best of characters, and commend him for an indulgent husband; notwithstanding which, to some of her particular cronies who knew not Mr. Hayes's temper, she would exclaim against him, and told them particularly (above a year before the murder was committed) that it was no more sin to kill him (meaning her husband) than to kill a mad dog, and that one time or other she might give him a jolt.

Afterwards they removed into Tottenham Court Road, where they lived for some time, following the same business as formerly; from whence about two years afterwards, they removed into Tyburn Road,[75] a few doors above where the murder was committed. There they lived about twelve months, Mr. Hayes supporting himself chiefly in lending out money upon pledges, and sometimes working at his profession, and in husbandry, till it was computed he had picked up a pretty handsome sum of money. About ten months before the murder they removed a little lower to the house of Mr. Whinyard, where the murder was committed, taking lodgings up two pairs of stairs. There it was that Thomas Billings, by trade a tailor, who wrought journey-work in and about Monmouth Street; under pretence of being Mrs. Hayes's countryman came to see them. He did so, and continued in the house about six weeks before the death of Mr. Hayes.

He (Mr. Hayes) had occasion to go a little way out of town, of which his wife gave her associates immediate notice, and they thereupon flocked thither to junket with her until the time they expected his return. Some of the neighbours out of ill-will which they bore the woman, gave him intelligence of it as soon as he came back, upon which they had abundance of high words, and at last Mr. Hayes gave her a blow or two. Maybe this difference was in some degree the source of that malice which she afterwards vented upon him.

About this time Thomas Wood, who was a neighbour's son in the country, and an intimate acquaintance both of Mr. Hayes and his wife, came to town, and pressing being at that time very hot he was obliged to quit his lodgings; and thereupon Mr. Hayes very kindly invited him to accept of the convenience of theirs, promising him moreover, that as he was out of business, he would recommend him to his friends, and acquaintances. Wood accepted the offer, and lay with Billings. In three or four days' time, Mrs. Hayes having taken every opportunity to caress him, opened to him a desire of being rid of her husband, at which Wood, as he very well might, was exceedingly surprised, and demonstrated the business as well as cruelty there would be in such an action, if committed by him, who besides the general ties of humanity, stood particularly obliged to him as his neighbour and his friend. Mrs. Hayes did not desist upon this, but in order to hush his scruples would fain have persuaded him that there was no more sin in killing Hayes than in killing a brute-beast for that he was void of all religion and goodness, an enemy to God, and therefore unworthy of his protection; that he had killed a man in the country, and destroyed two of his and her children, one of which was buried under an apple tree, the other under a pear tree, in the country. To these fictitious tales she added another, which perhaps had the greatest weight, viz., that if he were dead, she should be the mistress of fifteen hundred pounds. And then, says she, you may be master thereof, if you will help to get him out of the way. Billings has agreed too, if you'll make a third, and so all may be finished without danger.

A few days after this, Wood's occasions called him out of town. On his return, which was the first day of March, he found Mr. Hayes and his wife and Billings very merry together. Amongst other things which passed in conversation, Mr. Hayes happened to say that he and another person once drank as much wine between them as came to a guinea, without either of them being fuddled. Upon this Billings proposed a wager on these terms, that half a dozen bottles of the best mountain wine should be fetched, which if Mr. Hayes could drink without being disordered, then Billings should pay for it; but if not, then it should be at the cost of Mr. Hayes. He accepting of this proposal, Mrs. Hayes and the two men went together to the Brawn's Head, in New Bond Street, to fetch the wine. As they were going thither, she put them in mind of the proposition she had made them to murder Mr. Hayes, and said they could not have a better opportunity than at present, when he should be intoxicated with liquor. Whereupon Wood made answer that it would be the most inhuman act in the world to murder a man in cool blood, and that, too, when he was in liquor. Mrs. Hayes had recourse to her old arguments, and Billings joining with her, Wood suffered himself to be overpowered.

When they came to the tavern they called for a pint of the best mountain, and after they had drank it ordered a gallon and a half to be sent home to their lodgings, and Mrs. Hayes paid ten shillings and sixpence for it, which was what it came to. Then they all came back and sat down together to see Mr. Hayes drink the wager, and while he swallowed the wine, they called for two or three full pots of beer, in order to entertain themselves. Mr. Hayes, when he had almost finished the wine, began to grow very merry, singing and dancing about the room with all the gaiety which is natural to having taken a little too much wine. But Mrs. Hayes was so fearful of his not having his dose, that she sent away privately for another bottle, of which having drunk some also, it quite finished the work, by depriving him totally of his understanding; however, reeling into the other room, he there threw himself across the bed and fell fast asleep. No sooner did his wife perceive it than she came and excited the two men to go in and do the work; whereupon Billings taking a coal-hatchet in his hand, going into the other room, struck Mr. Hayes therewith on the back of the head. This blow fractured the skull, and made him, through the agony of the pain, stamp violently upon the ground, in so much that it alarmed the people who lay in the garret; and Wood fearing the consequence, went in and repeated the blows, though that was needless since the first was mortal in itself, and he already lay still and quiet. By this time Mrs. Springate, whose husband lodged over Mr. Hayes's head, on hearing the noise came down to enquire the reason of it, complaining at the same time that it so disturbed her family that they could not rest. Mrs. Hayes thereupon told her that her husband had had some company with him, who growing merry with their liquor were a little noisy, but that they were going immediately, and desired she would be easy. Upon this she went up again for the present, and the three murderers began immediately to consult how to get rid of the body.

The men were in so much terror and confusion that they knew not what to do; but Mrs. Hayes quickly thought of an expedient in which they all agreed. She said that if the head was cut off, there would not be near so much difficulty in carrying off the body, which could not be known. In order to put this design in execution, they got a pail and she herself carrying the candle, they all entered the room where the deceased lay. Then the woman holding the pail, Billings drew the body by the head over the bedside, that the blood might bleed the more freely into it; and Wood with his pocket penknife cut it off. As soon as it was severed from the body, and the bleeding was over, they poured the blood down a wooden sink at the window, and after it several pails of water, in order to wash it quite away that it might not be perceived in the morning. However, their precautions were not altogether effectual, for the next morning Springate found several clots of blood, but not suspecting anything of the matter, threw them away. Neither had they escaped letting some tokens of their cruelty fall upon the floor, stain the wall of the room, and even spin up against the ceiling, which it may be supposed happened at the giving the first blow.

When they had finished the decollation, they again consulted what was next to be done. Mrs. Hayes was for boiling it in a pot till nothing but the skull remained, which would effectually prevent anybody's knowing to whom it belonged; but the two men thinking this too dilatory a method, they resolved to put it in a pail, and go together and throw it in the Thames. Springate, hearing a bustling in Mr. Hayes's room for some time, and then somebody going down stairs, called again to know who it was and what was the occasion of it (it being then about eleven o'clock). Mrs. Hayes answered that it was her husband, who was going a journey into the country, and pretended to take a formal leave of him, expressing her sorrow that he was obliged to go out of town at that time of night, and her fear least any accident should attend him in his journey.

Billings and Wood being thus gone to dispose of the head, went towards Whitehall, intending to have thrown the same into the river there, but the gates being shut, they were obliged to go forward as far as Mr. Macreth's wharf, near the Horseferry at Westminster, where Billings setting down the pail from under his great coat, Wood took up the same with the head therein, and threw it into the dock before the Wharf. It was expected the same would have been carried away by the tide, but the water being then ebbing, it was left behind. There were also some lighters lying over against the dock, and one of the lightermen walking then on board, saw them throw the pail into the dark; but by the obscurity of the night, the distance, and having no suspicion, they did not apprehend anything of the matter. Having thus done, they returned home again to Mrs. Hayes's where they arrived about twelve o'clock and being let in, found Mrs. Hayes had been very busily employed in washing the floor, and scraping the blood off from it, and from the walls, etc. After which, they all three went into the fore room, Billings and Wood went to bed there, and Mrs. Hayes sat by them till morning.

On the morning of the second of March, about the dawning of the day, one Robinson a watchman saw a man's head lying in the dock, and the pail near it. His surprise occasioned his calling some persons to assist in taking up the head, and finding the pail bloody, they conjectured the head had been brought thither in it. Their suspicions were fully confirmed therein by the lighterman who saw Billings and Wood throw the same into the dock, as before mentioned.

It was now time for Mrs. Hayes, Billings, and Wood to consider how they should dispose of the body. Mrs. Hayes and Wood proposed to put it in a box, where it might lie concealed till a convenient opportunity offered for removing it. This being approved of, Mrs. Hayes brought a box; but upon their endeavouring to put it in, the box was not big enough to hold it. They had before wrapped it up in a blanket, out of which they took it; Mrs. Hayes proposed to cut off the arms and legs, and they again attempted to put it in, but the box would not hold it. Then they cut off the thighs, and laying it piecemeal in the box, concealed them until night.

In the meantime Mr. Hayes's head, which had been found as before, had sufficiently alarmed the town, and information was given to the neighbouring justices of the peace. The parish officers did all that was possible towards the discovery of the persons guilty of perpetrating so horrid an action. They caused the head to be cleaned, the face to be washed from the dirt and blood, and the hair to be combed, and then the head to be set upon a post in public view in St. Margaret's churchyard, Westminster, so that everybody might have free access to see the same, with some of the parish officers to attend, hoping by that means a discovery of the same might be attained. The high constable of Westminster liberty also issued private orders to all the petty constables, watchmen, and other officers of that district, to keep a strict eye on all coaches, carts, etc., passing in the night through their liberty, imagining that the perpetrators of such a horrid fact would endeavour to free themselves of the body in the same manner as they had done the head.

These orders were executed for some time, with all the secrecy imaginable, under various pretences, but unsuccessfully; the head also continued to be exposed for some days in the manner described, which drew a prodigious number of people to see it, but without attaining any discovery of the murderers. It would be impertinent to mention the various opinions of the town upon this occasion, for they being founded upon conjecture only, were far wide of the truth. Many people either remembered or fancied they had seen that face before, but none could tell where or who it belonged to.

On the second of March, in the evening, Catherine Hayes, Thomas Wood, and Thomas Billings took the body and disjointed members out of the box, and wrapped them up in two blankets, viz., the body in one, and the limbs in the other. Then Billings and Wood first took up the body, and about nine o'clock in the evening carried it by turns into Marylebone Fields, and threw the same into a pond (which Wood in the day time had been hunting for) and returning back again about eleven o'clock the same night, took up the limbs in the other old blanket, and carried them by turns to the same place, throwing them in also. About twelve o'clock the same night, they returned back again, and knocking at the door were let in by Mary Springate. They went up to bed in Mrs. Hayes's fore-room, and Mrs. Hayes stayed with them all night, sometimes sitting up, and sometimes lay down upon the bed by them.

The same day one Bennet, the king's organ-maker's apprentice, going to Westminster to see the head, believed it to be Mr. Hayes's, he being intimately acquainted with him; and thereupon went and informed Mrs. Hayes, that the head exposed to view in St. Margaret's churchyard, was so very like Mr. Hayes's that he believed it to be his. Upon which Mrs. Hayes assured him that Mr. Hayes was very well and reproved him very sharply for forming such an opinion, telling him he must be very cautious how he raised such false and scandalous reports, for that he might thereby bring himself into a great deal of trouble. This reprimand put a stop to the youth's saying anything about it, and having no other reason than the similitude of faces, he said no more about it. The same day also Mr. Samuel Patrick, having been at Westminster to see the head, went from thence to Mr. Grainger's at the Dog and Dial in Monmouth Street, where Mr. Hayes and his wife were intimately acquainted, they and most of their journeymen servants being Worcestershire people. Mr. Patrick told them that he had been to see the head, and that in his opinion it was the most like to their countryman Hayes of any he ever saw.

Billings being there then at work, some of the servants replied it could not be his, because there being one of Mrs. Hayes's lodgers (meaning Billings) then at work, they should have heard of it by him if Mr. Hayes had been missing, or any accident had happened to him; to which Billings made answer, that Mr. Hayes was then alive and well, and that he left him in bed, when he came to work in the morning. The third day of March, Mrs. Hayes gave Wood a white coat and a pair of leathern breeches of Mr. Hayes's, which he carried with him to Greenford, near Harrow-on-the-Hill. Mrs. Springate observed Wood carrying these things downstairs, bundled up in a white cloth, whereupon she told Mrs. Hayes that Wood was gone down with a bundle. Mrs. Hayes replied it was a suit of clothes he had borrowed of a neighbour, and was going to carry them home again.

On the fourth of March, one Mrs. Longmore coming to visit Mrs. Hayes, enquired how Mr. Hayes did, and where he was. Mrs. Hayes answered, that he was gone to take a walk, and then enquired what news there was about town. Her visitor told her that most people's discourse run upon the man's head that had been found at Westminster; Mrs. Hayes seemed to wonder very much at the wickedness of the age, and exclaimed vehemently against such barbarous murderers, adding, Here is a discourse, too, in our neighbourhood, of a woman who has been found in the fields, mangled and cut to pieces. It may be so, replied Mrs. Longmore, but I have heard nothing of it.

The next day Wood came again to town, and applied himself to his landlady, Mrs. Hayes, who gave him a pair of shoes, a pair of stockings and a waistcoat of the deceased, and five shillings in money, telling him she would continue to supply him whenever he wanted. She informed him also of her husband's head being found, and though it had been for some time exposed, yet nobody had owned it.

On the sixth of March, the parish officers considering that it might putrify if it continued longer in the air, agreed with one Mr. Westbrook, a surgeon, to have it preserved in spirits. He having accordingly provided a proper glass, put it therein, and showed it to all persons who were desirous of seeing it. Yet the murder remained still undiscovered; and notwithstanding the multitude which had seen it, yet none pretended to be directly positive of the face, though many agreed in their having seen it before.


Catherine Hayes assisting Wood and Billings to cut off the head from her husband's corpse
(From the Annals of Newgate)

In the meantime Mrs. Hayes quitted her lodgings, and removed from where the murder was committed to Mr. Jones's, a distiller in the neighbourhood, with Billings, Wood, and Springate, for whom she paid one quarter's rent at her old lodgings. During this time she employed herself in getting as much of her husband's effects as possibly she could, and amongst other papers and securities, finding a bond due to Mr. Hayes from John Davis, who had married Mr. Hayes's sister, she consulted how to get the money. To which purpose she sent for one Mr. Leonard Myring, a barber, and told him that she, knowing him to be her husband's particular friend and acquaintance, and he then being under some misfortunes, through which she feared he would not presently return, she knew not how to recover several sums of money that were due to her husband, unless by sending fictitious letters in his name, to the several persons from whom the same were due. Mr. Myring considering the consequences of such a proceeding declined it. But she prevailed upon some other person to write letters in Mr. Hayes's name, particularly one to his mother, on the 14th of March, to demand ten pounds of the above-mentioned Mr. Davis, threatening if he refused, to sue him for it. This letter Mr. Hayes's mother received, and acquainting her son-in-law Davis with the contents thereof, he offered to pay the money on sending down the bond, of which she by a letter acquainted Mrs. Hayes on the twenty-second of the same month.

During these transactions, several persons came daily to Mr. Westbrook's to see the head. A poor woman at Kingsland, whose husband had been missing the day before it was found, was one amongst them. At first sight she fancied it bore some resemblance to that of her husband, but was not positive enough to swear to it; yet her suspicion at first was sufficient to ground a report, which flew about the town, in the evening, and some enquiries were made after the body of the person to whom it was supposed to belong but to no purpose.

Mrs. Hayes, in the meanwhile, took all the pains imaginable to propagate a story of Mr. Hayes's withdrawing on account of an unlucky blow he had given to a person in a quarrel, and which made him apprehensive of a prosecution, though he was then in treaty with the widow in order to make it up. This story she at first told with many injunctions of secrecy, to persons who she had good reason to believe would, notwithstanding her injunctions, tell it again. It happened, in the interim, that one Mr. Joseph Ashby, who had been an intimate acquaintance of Mr. Hayes, came to see her. She, with a great deal of pretended concern, communicated the tale she had framed to him. Mr. Ashby asked whether the person he had killed was him to whom the head belonged; she said, No, the man who died by Mr. Hayes's blow was buried entire, and Mr. Hayes had given or was about to give, a security to pay the widow fifteen pounds per annum to hush it up. Mr. Ashby next enquired where Mr. Hayes was gone; she said to Portugal, with three or four foreign gentlemen.

He thereupon took his leave; but going from thence to Mr. Henry Longmore's, cousin of Mr. Hayes, he related to him the story Mrs. Hayes had told him and expressed a good deal of dissatisfaction thereat, desiring Mr. Longmore to go to her and make the same enquiry as he had done, but without saying they had seen one another. Mr. Longmore went thereupon directly to Mrs. Hayes's, and enquired in a peremptory tone for her husband. In answer she said that she had supposed Mr. Ashby had acquainted him with the misfortune which had befallen him. Mr. Longmore replied he had not seen Mr. Ashby for a considerable time and knew nothing of his cousin's misfortune, not judging of any that could attend him, for he believed he was not indebted to anybody. He then asked if he was in prison for debt. She answered him, No, 'twas worse than that. Mr. Longmore demanded what worse could befall him. As to any debts, he believed he had not contracted any. At which she blessed God and said that neither Mr. Hayes nor herself owed a farthing to any person in the world. Mr. Longmore again importuning her to know what he had done to occasion his absconding so, said I suppose he has not murdered anybody? To this she replied, he had, and beckoning him to come upstairs, related to him the story as before mentioned.

Mr. Longmore being inquisitive which way he was gone, she told him into Herefordshire, that Mr. Hayes had taken four pocket pistols with him for his security, viz., one under each arm, and two in his pockets. Mr. Longmore answered, 'twould be dangerous for him to travel in that manner; that any person seeing him so armed with pistols, would cause him to be apprehended on suspicion of being a highwayman. To which she assured him that it was his usual manner; the reason of it was that he had like to have been robbed coming out of the country, and that once he was apprehended on suspicion of being an highwayman, but that a gentleman who knew him, accidentally came in, and seeing him in custody, passed his word for his appearance, by which he was discharged. To that Mr. Longmore made answer that it was very improbable of his ever being stopped on suspicion of being an highwayman, and discharged upon a man's only passing his word for his appearance; he farther persisted which way he was supplied with money for his journey. She told him she had sewn twenty-six guineas into his clothes, and that he had about him seventeen shillings in new silver. She added that Springate, who lodged there, was privy to the whole transaction, for which reason she paid a quarter's rent for her at her old lodgings, and the better to maintain what she had averred, called Springate to justify the truth of it. In concluding the discourse, she reflected on the unkind usage of Mr. Hayes towards her, which surprised Mr. Longmore more than anything else she had said yet, and strengthened his suspicion, because he had often been a witness to her giving Mr. Hayes the best of characters, viz., of a most indulgent, tender husband.

Mr. Longmore then took leave of her and returned back to his friend Mr. Ashby; when, after comparing their several notes together, they judged by very apparent reasons that Mr. Hayes must have had very ill play shown him. Upon which they agreed to go to Mr. Eaton, a Life Guardman who was also an acquaintance of Mr. Hayes's, which accordingly they did, intending him to have gone to Mrs. Hayes also, to have heard what relation she would give him concerning her husband. They went and enquired at several places for him, but he was not then to be found; upon which Mr. Longmore and Mr. Ashby went down to Westminster to see the head at Mr. Westbrook's. When they came there, Mr. Westbrook told them that the head had been owned by a woman from Kingsland, who thought it to be her husband, but was not certain enough to swear it, though the circumstances were strong, because he had been missing from the day before the head was found. They desired to see it and Mr. Ashby first went upstairs to look on it, and coming down, told Mr. Longmore he really thought it to be Mr. Hayes's head, upon which Mr. Longmore went up to see it, and after examining it more particularly than Mr. Ashby, confirmed him in his suspicion. Then they returned to seek out Mr. Eaton, and finding him at home, informed him of their proceedings, with the sufficient reasons upon which their suspicions were founded, and compelled him to go with them to enquire into the affair.

Mr. Eaton pressed them to stay to dinner with him, which at first they agreed to, but afterwards altering their minds, went all down to Mr. Longmore's house and there renewed the reasons of their suspicions, not only of Mr. Hayes's being murdered (being satisfied with seeing the head) but also that his wife was privy to the same. But in order to be more fully satisfied they agreed that Mr. Eaton should in a day or two's time go and enquire for Mr. Hayes, but withal taking no notice of his having seen Mr. Longmore and Mr. Ashby. In the meantime Mr. Longmore's brother interfered, saying, that it seemed apparent to him that his cousin (Mr. Hayes) had been murdered, and that Mrs. Hayes appeared very suspicious to him of being guilty with some other persons, viz., Wood and Billings (who she told him, had drunk with him the night before his journey). He added, moreover, that he thought time was not to be delayed, because they might remove from their lodgings upon the least apprehensions of a discovery.

His opinion prevailed as the most reasonable, and Mr. Longmore said they would go about it immediately. Accordingly he immediately applied to Mr. Justice Lambert and acquainted him with the grounds of their suspicions and their desire of his granting a warrant for the apprehension of the parties. On hearing the story the justice not only readily agreed with them in their suspicions, and complied with their demand, but said also he would get proper officers to execute it in the evening, about nine o'clock, putting Mrs. Hayes, Thomas Wood, Thomas Billings, and Mary Springate into a special warrant for that purpose.

At the hour appointed they met, and Mr. Eaton bringing two officers of the Guards along with them, they went altogether to the house where Mrs. Hayes lodged. They went directly in and upstairs, at which Mr. Jones, who kept the house, demanded who and what they were. He was answered that they were sufficiently authorised in all they did, desiring him at the same time to bring candles and he should see on what occasion they came. Light being thereupon brought they went all upstairs together. Justice Lambert rapped at Mrs. Hayes's door with his cane; she demanded who was there, for that she was in bed, on which she was bid to get up and open it, or they would break it open.

After some time taken to put on her clothes, she came and opened it. As soon as they were in the room they seized her and Billings, who was sitting upon her bedside, without either shoes or stockings on. The justice asked whether he had been in bed with her. She said no, but that he sat there to mend his stockings. Why, then, replied Mr. Lambert, he has very good eyes to see to do it without fire or candle, whereupon they seized him too. And leaving persons below to guard them, they went up and apprehended Springate. After an examination in which they would confess nothing, they committed Billings to New Prison, Springate to the Gate House, and Mrs. Hayes to Tothill Fields Bridewell.

The consciousness of her own guilt made Mrs. Hayes very assiduous in contriving such a method of behaviour as might carry the greatest appearance of innocence. In the first place, therefore, she entreated Mr. Longmore that she might be admitted to see the head, in which request she was indulged by Mr. Lambert, who ordered her to have a sight of it as she came from Tothill Fields Bridewell to her examination. Accordingly Mr. Longmore attending the officers to bring Mrs. Hayes from thence the next day to Mr. Lambert's, ordered the coach to stop at Mr. Westbrook's door. And as soon as he entered the house, being admitted into the room, she threw herself down upon her knees, crying out in great agonies, Oh, it is my dear husband's head! It is my dear husband's head! and embracing the glass in her arms kissed the outside of it several times. In the meantime Mr. Westbrook coming in, told her that if it was his head she should have a plainer view of it, that he would take it out of the glass for her to have a full sight of it, which he did, by lifting it up by the hair and brought it to her. Taking it in her arms, she kissed it, and seemed in great confusion, withal begging to have a lock of his hair; but Mr. Westbrook replied that he was afraid she had had too much of his blood already. At which she fainted away, and after recovering, was carried to Mr. Lambert's, to be examined before him and some other Justices of the Peace. While these things were in agitation, one Mr. Huddle and his servant walking in Marylebone Fields in the evening, espied something lying in one of the ponds in the fields, which after they had examined it they found to be the legs, thighs, and arms of a man. They, being very much surprised at this, determined to search farther, and the next morning getting assistance drained the pond, where to their great astonishment they pulled out the body of a man wrapped up in a blanket; with the news of which, while Mrs. Hayes was under examination, Mr. Crosby, a constable, came down to the justices, not doubting but this was the body of Mr. Hayes which he had found thus mangled and dismembered.

Yet, though she was somewhat confounded at the new discovery made hereby of the cruelty with which her late husband had been treated, she could not, however, be prevailed on to make any discovery or acknowledgment of her knowing anything of the fact; whereupon the justices who examined her, committed her that afternoon to Newgate, the mob attending her thither with loud acclamations of joy at her commitment, and ardent wishes of her coming to a just punishment, as if they were already convinced of her guilt.

Sunday morning following, Thomas Wood came to town from Greenford, near Harrow, having heard nothing further of the affair, or of the taking up of Mrs. Hayes, Billings, or Springate. The first place he went to was Mrs. Hayes's old lodging; there he was answered that she had moved to Mr. Jones's, a distiller, a little farther in the street. Thither he went, where the people suspected of the murder said Mrs. Hayes was gone to the Green Dragon in King Street, which is Mrs. Longmore's house; and a man who was there told him, moreover, that he was going thither and would show him the way; Wood being on horseback followed him, and he led him the way to Mr. Longmore's house. At this time Mr. Longmore's brother coming to the door, and seeing Wood, immediately seized him, and unhorseing him, dragged him indoors, sent for officers and charged them with him on suspicion of the murder. From thence he was carried before Mr. Justice Lambert, who asked him many questions in relation to the murder; but he would confess nothing, whereupon he was committed to Tothill Fields Bridewell. While he was there he heard the various reports of persons concerning the murder, and from those, judging it impossible to prevent a full discovery or evade the proofs that were against him, he resolved to name an ample confession of the whole affair. Mr. Lambert being acquainted with this, he with John Madun and Thomas Salt, Esqs., two other justices of the peace, went to Tothill Fields Bridewell, to take his examination, in which he seemed very ingenuous and ample declaring all the particulars before mentioned, with this addition that Catherine Hayes was the first promoter of, and a great assistance in several parts of this horrid affair; that he had been drawn into the commission thereof partly through poverty, and partly through her crafty insinuations, who by feeding them with liquors, had spirited them up to the commission of such a piece of barbarity. He farther acknowledged that ever since the commission of the fact he had had no peace, but a continual torment of mind; that the very day before he came from Greenford he was fully persuaded within himself that he should be seized for the murder when he came to town, and should never see Greenford more; notwithstanding which he could not refrain coming, though under an unexpected certainty of being taken, and dying for the fact. Having thus made a full and ample confession, and signed the same on the 27th March, his mittimus was made by Justice Lambert, and he was committed to Newgate, whither he was carried under a guard of a serjeant and eight soldiers with muskets and bayonets to keep off the mob, who were so exasperated against the actors of such a piece of barbarity that without that caution it would have been very difficult to have carried him thither alive.

On Monday, the 28th of March, after Mrs. Hayes was committed to Newgate, being the day after Wood's apprehension, Joseph Mercer going to see Mrs. Hayes, she told him that as he was Thomas Billings's friend as well as hers; she desired he would go to him and tell him 'twas in vain to deny any longer the murder of her husband, for they were equally guilty, and both must die for it. Billings hearing this and that Wood was apprehended and had fully confessed the whole affair, thought it needless to persist any longer in a denial, and therefore the next day, being the 29th of March, he made a full and plain discovery of the whole fact, agreeing with Wood in all the particulars; which confession was made and signed in the presence of Gideon Harvey and Oliver Lambert, Esqs., two of his Majesty's justices of peace, whereupon he was removed to Newgate the same day that Wood was.

Wood and Billings, by their several confessions, acquitting Springate of having any concern in the aforesaid murder, she was soon discharged from her confinement.

This discovery making a great noise in the town, divers of Mrs. Hayes's went to visit her in Newgate and examine her as to the and motives that induced her to commit the said fact. Her acknowledgment in general was: that Mr. Hayes had proved but an indifferent husband to her; that one night he came home drunk and struck her; that upon complaining to Billings and Wood they, or one of them, said such a fellow (meaning Mr. Hayes) ought not to live, and that they would murder him for a halfpenny. She took that opportunity to propose her bloody intentions to them, and her willingness that they should do so; she was acquainted with their design, heard the blow given to Mr. Hayes by Billings, and then went with Wood into the room; she held the candle while the head was cut off, and in excuse for this bloody fact, said the devil was got into them all that made them do it. When she was made sensible that her crime in law was not only murder, but petty treason, she began to show great concern indeed, making very strict enquiries into the nature of the proof which was necessary to convict, and having possessed herself with a notion that it appeared she murdered him with her own hands, she was very angry that either Billings or Wood should, by their confession, acknowledge her guilty of the murder, and thereby subject her to that punishment which of all others she most feared, often repeating that it was hard they would not suffer her to be hanged with them! When she was told of the common report that Billings was her son, she affected, at first, to make a great mystery of it; said he was her own flesh and blood, indeed, but that he did not know how nearly he was related to her himself; at other times she said she would never disown him while she lived, and showed a greater tenderness for him than for herself, and sent every day to the condemned hold where he lay, to enquire after his health. But two or three days before her death, she became as the ordinary tells us a little more sincere in this respect, affirming that he was not only her child, but Mr. Hayes's also, though put out to another person, with whom he was bred up in the country and called him father.

There are generally a set of people about most prisons, and especially about Newgate, who get their living by imposing on unhappy criminals, and persuading them that guilt may be covered, and Justice evaded by certain artful contrivances in which they profess themselves masters. Some of these had got access to this unhappy woman, and had instilled into her a notion that the confession of Wood and Billings could no way affect her life. This made her vainly imagine that there was no positive proof against her, and that circumstantials only would not convict her. For this reason she resolved to put herself upon her trial (contrary to her first intentions; for having been asked what she would do, she had replied she would hold up her hand at the bar and plead guilty, for the whole world could not save her). Accordingly, being arraigned, she pleaded not guilty, and put herself upon her trial. Wood and Billings both pleaded guilty, and desired to make atonement for the same by the loss of their blood, only praying the Court would be graciously pleased to favour them so much (as they had made an ingenuous confession) as to dispense with their being hanged in chains. Mrs. Hayes having thus put herself upon her trial, the King's Counsel opened the indictment, setting forth the heinousness of the fact, the premeditated intentions, and inhuman method of acting it; that his Majesty for the more effectual prosecution of such vile offenders, and out of a tender regard to the peace and welfare of all his subjects, and that the actors and perpetrators of such unheard of barbarities might be brought to condign punishment, had given them directions to prosecute the prisoners. Then Richard Bromage, Robert Wilkins, Leonard Myring, Joseph Mercer, John Blakesby, Mary Springate, and Richard Bows, were called into Court; the substance of whose evidence against the prisoner was that the prisoner being interrogated about the murder, when in Newgate, said, the devil put it into her head, but, however, John Hayes was none of the best of husbands, for she had been half starved ever since she was married to him; that she did not in the least repent of anything she had done, but only in drawing those two poor men into this misfortune; that she was six weeks importuning them to do it; that they denied it two or three times, but at last agreed; her husband was so drunk that he fell out of his chair, then Billings and Wood, carried him into the next room, and laid him upon the bed; that she was not in that room but in the fore room on the same floor when he was killed, but they told her that Billings struck him twice on the head with a pole-axe, and that then Wood cut his throat; that when he was quite dead she went in and held the candle whilst Wood cut his head quite off, and afterwards they chopped off his legs and arms; that they wanted to get him into an old chest, but were forced to cut off his thighs and arms, and then the chest would not hold them all; the body and limbs were put into blankets at several times the next night, and thrown into a pond, that the devil was in them all, and they were all drunk; that it would signify nothing to make a long preamble, she could hold up her hand and say she was guilty, for nothing could save her, nobody could forgive her; that the men who did the murder were taken and confessed it; that she was not with them when they did it; that she was sitting by the fire in the shop upon a stool; that she heard the blow given and somebody stamp; that she did not cry out, for fear they should kill her; that after the head was cut off, it was put into a pail, and Wood carried it out; that Billings sat down by her and cried, and would lie all the rest of the night in the room with the dead body; that the first occasion of this design to murder him was because he came home one night and beat her, upon which Billings said this fellow deserved to be killed, and Wood said he would be his butcher for a penny; that she told them they might do as they would do it that night it was done; that she did not tell her husband of the design to murder him, for fear he should beat her; that she sent to Billings to let him know it was in vain to deny the murder of her husband any longer, for they were both guilty, and must both die for it.

Many other circumstances equally strong with those before mentioned appeared, and a cloud of witnesses, many of whom (the thing appearing so plain) were sent away unexamined. She herself confessed at the bar her previous knowledge of their intent several days before the fact was committed; yet foolishly insisted on her innocence, because the fact was not committed by her own hands. The jury, without staying long to consider of it, found her guilty, and she was taken from the bar in a very weak and faint condition. On her return to Newgate, she was visited by several persons of her acquaintance, who yet were so far from doing her any good that they rather interrupted her in those preparations which it became a woman in her sad condition to make.

When they were brought up to receive sentence, Wood and Billings renewed their former requests to the Court, that they might not be hung in chains. Mrs. Hayes also made use of her former assertion, that she was not guilty of actually committing the fact, and therefore begged of the Court that she might at least have so much mercy shown her as not to be burnt alive. The judges then proceeded in the manner prescribed by Law, that is, they sentenced the two men, with the other malefactors, to be hanged, and Mrs. Hayes, as in all cases of petty treason, to die by fire at a stake; at which she screamed, and being carried back to Newgate, fell into violent agonies. When the other criminals were brought thither after sentence passed, the men were confined in the same place with the rest in their condition, but Mrs. Hayes was put into a place by herself, which was at that time the apartment allotted to women under condemnation.

Perhaps nobody ever kept their thoughts so long and so closely united to the world, as appeared by the frequent messages she sent to Wood and Billings in the place where they were confined, and that tenderness which she expressed for both of them seemed preferable to any concern she showed for her own misfortunes, lamenting in the softest terms of having involved those two poor men in the commission of a fact for which they were now to lose their lives. In which, indeed, they deserved pity, since, as I shall show hereafter, they were persons of unblemished characters, and of virtuous inclinations, until misled by her.

As to the sense she had of her own circumstances, there has been scarce any in her state known to behave with so much indifference. She said often that death was neither grievous nor terrible to her in itself, but was in some degree shocking from the manner in which she was to die. Her fondness for Billings hurried her into indecencies of a very extraordinary nature, such as sitting with her hand in his at chapel, leaning upon his shoulder, and refusing upon being reprimanded (for giving offence to the congregation) to make any amendment in respect of these shocking passages between her and the murderers of her husband, but on the contrary, she persisted in them to the very minute of her death. One of her last expressions was to enquire of the executioner whether he had hanged her dear child, and this, as she was going from the sledge to the stake, so strong and lasting were the passions of this woman.


The murdered man's head is exhibited in the churchyard of St. Margaret's, Westminster

The Friday night before her execution (being assured she should die on the Monday following) she attempted to make away with herself; to which purpose she had procured a bottle of strong poison, designing to have taken the same. But a woman who was in the place with her, touching it with her lips, found that it burnt them to an extraordinary degree, and spilling a little on her handkerchief, perceived it burnt that also; upon which suspecting her intentions, she broke the phial, whereby her design was frustrated.

On the day of her execution she was at prayers, and received the Sacrament in the chapel, where she still showed her tenderness to Billings. About twelve, the prisoners were severally carried away for execution; Billings with eight others for various crimes were put into three carts, and Catherine Hayes was drawn upon a sledge to the place of execution; where being arrived, Billings with eight others, after having had some time for their private devotions, were turned off.

After which Catherine Hayes being brought to the stake, was chained thereto with an iron chain running round her waist and under her arms and a rope about her neck, which was drawn through a hole in the post; then the faggots, intermixed with light brush wood and straw, being piled all round her, the executioner put fire thereto in several places, which immediately blazing out, as soon as the same reached her, with her arms she pushed down those which were before her. When she appeared in the middle of the flames as low as her waist, the executioner got hold of the end of the cord which was round her neck, and pulled tight, in order to strangle her, but the fire soon reached his hand and burnt it, so that he was obliged to let it go again. More faggots were immediately thrown upon her, and in about three or four hours she was reduced to ashes.

In the meantime, Billings's irons were put upon him as he was hanging on the gallows; after which being cut down, he was carried to the gibbet, about one hundred yards distance, and there hung up in chains.


The old name for Oxford Street.

The Life of THOMAS BILLINGS, a Murderer.

We have said so much of this malefactor in the foregoing life, yet it was necessary, in order to preserve the connection of that barbarous story, to leave the particular consideration of these two assistants in the murder of Mr. Hayes to particular chapters, and therefore we will begin with Billings. Mrs. Hayes, some time before her execution, confidently averred that he was the son both of Mr. Hayes and of herself, that his father not liking him, he was put out to relations of hers and took the name of Billings from his godfather. But Mr. Hayes's relations confidently denying all this, and he himself saying he knew nothing more than that he called his father a shoemaker in the country, who some time since was dead. He was put apprentice to a tailor with whom he served his time, and then came up to London to work journey-work, which he did in Monmouth Street, lodging at Mr. Hayes's and believed himself nearly related to his wife, who from the influence she always maintained over him, drew him to the commission of that horrid fact.

But the most certain opinion is that he was found in a basket upon the common, near the place where Mrs. Hayes lived before she married Mr. Hayes, that he was at that time of his death about twenty-two or twenty-three years old; whereas it evidently appeared by her own confession, that she had been married to Mr. Hayes but twenty years and eight months. He was put out to nurse by the charge of the parish, to people whose names were Billings, and when he was big enough to go apprentice, was bound to one Mr. Wetherland, a tailor, to whom the parish gave forty shillings with him. It is very probable he might be a natural son of Mrs. Hayes's, born in her rambles (of which we have hinted) before her marriage, and dropped by her in the place where he was found.

As to the character of Billings in the country he was always reputed a sober, honest, industrious young man. During the time he had worked in town, he had done nothing to impeach that reputation which he brought up with him, and might possibly have lived very happily, if he had not fallen into the temptation of this unfortunate woman, who seems to have been born for her own undoing and for the destruction of others. Whatever knowledge he might have of that relation in which he stood to Mrs. Hayes, certain it is that she always preserved such an authority over him that in her presence he would never answer any questions but constantly referred himself to her, or kept an obstinate silence; he affected, also, a strange fondness for her, kissing her cheek when she fainted in the chapel at Newgate, and behaving himself when near her, in such a manner as gave great offence to the spectators. As to the remorse he had for the horrid crime he had committed, those who had occasion to know him while under confinement thought him sincere therein; but the Ordinary, whose place it is to be supreme judge in these matters, told the world in his account of the behaviour and confession of the malefactors, that he was a confused, hard-hearted fellow, and had few external signs of penitence; and a little farther, when possibly he was in a better humour, he says that in all appearance he was very penitent for his sins, and died in the Communion of the Church of England, of which he owned himself an unworthy member.

Life of THOMAS WOOD, a Murderer

This malefactor, Thomas Wood, was born at a place called Ombersley, between Ludlow and Worcester, of parents in very indifferent circumstances, who were therefore able to give him but little education. He was bred up to no settled business, but laboured in all such country employments as require only a robust body for their performance. When the summer's work was over, he used to assist as a tapster at inns and alehouses in the neighbourhood of the village where he was born, and by the industry, care, and regularity which he observed in all things, gained a very great reputation as an honest and faithful servant with all that knew him.

His mother having been left in a needy condition, with several small children, she set up a little alehouse in order to get bread for them. Thomas was very dutiful, and as his diligence enabled him to save a little money, so he was by no means backwards in giving her all the assistance that was in his power. Some few months before his death, he grew desirous of coming to London, which he did accordingly, and worked at whatsoever employment he could get both with fidelity and diligence; but a fleet being then setting out for the Mediterranean, press-warrants were granted for the manning thereof, and the diligence that was used in putting them in execution gave great uneasiness to Wood, who, having no settled business, was afraid of falling into their hands. Whereupon he bethought himself of his countryman, Mr. Hayes, to whom he applied for his advice and assistance. Mr. Hayes kindly invited him to live with them in order to avoid that danger, and he accordingly lay with Mr. Billings, as has been before related. Mr. Hayes was moreover so desirous of doing him service that he applied himself to finding out such persons as wanted labourers in order to get him into business, while Mrs. Hayes, in the meantime, made use of every blandishment to seduce the fellow into following her wicked inclinations. Perceiving that both Billings and he had religious principles then in common with ordinary persons, she artfully made even those persons' dispositions subservient to her brutal and inhuman purpose.

It seems that Mr. Hayes had fallen, within a few years of his death, into the company of some who called themselves Free-thinkers and fancy an excellency in their own understandings because they are able to ridicule those things which the rest of the world think sacred. Though it is no great conquest to obtrude the belief of anything whatsoever on persons of small parts and little education, yet they triumph greatly therein and communicate the same honour of boasting in their pupils. Mr. Hayes now and then let fall some rather rash expression, as to his disbelief of the immortality of the soul, and talked in such a manner on religious topics that Mrs. Hayes persuaded Billings and Wood that he was an Atheist, and as he believed his own soul of no greater value than that of a brute beast, there could be no difference between killing him and them. It must be indeed acknowledged that there was no less oddity in such propositions than in those of her husband; however, it prevailed, it seems, with these unfortunate men; and as she had already persuaded them it was no sin, so when they were intoxicated with liquor she found it less difficult than at any other time, to deprive them also of the humanity, and engage them in perpetrating a fact so opposite not only to religion but to the natural tenderness of the human species. Wood, as he yielded to her persuasions with reluctance, so he was the first who showed any true remorse of conscience for that cruel act of which he had been guilty; his confession of it being free and voluntary, and at the same time full and ingenious. Two days after receiving sentence, his constitution began to give way to the violence of a feverish distemper, which by a natural death prevented his execution, he dying in Newgate, in the twenty-eighth year of his age, much more pitied than either Billings or Mrs. Hayes who suffered at Tyburn. And thus with Wood we put a period to the relation of a tragedy which surprised the world exceedingly at the same time it happened, and will doubtless be read with horror in succeeding generations.

The Life of CAPTAIN JAEN, a Murderer

Though there is not perhaps any sin so opposite to our nature as cruelty towards our fellow creatures, yet we see it so thoroughly established in some tempers, that neither education nor a sense of religion are strong enough to abate it, much less to wear it out. The person of whom we are speaking, John Jaen, was the son of parents in very good circumstances at Bristol, who they bred him up to the knowledge of everything requisite to a person who was to be bred up in trade, and he grew a very tolerable proficient as well in the knowledge of the Latin tongue, as in writing and accounts, for his improvement in all which he was put under the best masters. When he had finished that course of learning which his friends thought would qualify him for what they designed him, he was immediately put apprentice to a cooper in Bristol, where he served his time with both fidelity and industry. When it was expired, he applied himself to trade with the same diligence, and sometimes went to sea, till in the year '24 he became master of a ship called the Burnett, fitted out by some merchants at Bristol, for South Carolina. In his return from this voyage he committed the murder for which he died.

On the 25th April, 1726, an Admiralty Sessions was held at the Old Bailey, before the Hon. Sir Henry Penrice, Judge of the High Court of Admiralty, assisted by the Honourable Mr. Baron Hale, at which Captain Greagh was indicated for feloniously sinking the good ship called the Friendship, of which he was commander; but as there appeared no grounds for such a charge, he was acquitted. Afterwards Captain John Jaen, of Bristol, was set to the bar, and arraigned on an indictment for wilfully and inhumanly murdering one Richard Pye, who had been cabin-boy, in the month of March, in the year 1724. It appeared by the evidence produced against him that he either whipped the boy himself or caused him to be whipped every day during the voyage; that he caused him to be tied to the mainmast with ropes for nine days together, extending his arms and legs to the utmost, whipping him with a cat (as it is called) of five small cords till he was all bloody, then causing his wounds to be several times washed with brine and pickle. Under this terrible usage the poor wretch grew soon after speechless. The Captain, notwithstanding, continued his cruel usage, stamping, beating and abusing him, and even obliging him to eat his own excrements, which forcing its way upwards again, the boy in his agony of pain made signs for a dram, whereupon the captain in derision took a glass, carried it into the cabin, and made water therein, and then brought it to the boy to drink, who rejected the same. The lamentable condition in which he was made no impression on the captain, who continued to treat him with the same severity, by whipping, pickling, kicking, beating, and bruising him while he lingered out his miserable life. On the last day of this he gave him eighteen lashes with the aforesaid cat of five tails, in a little time after which the boy died. The evidence farther deposed that when the boy's body was sewn up in a hammock to be thrown overboard it had in it as many colours as there are in a rainbow, that his flesh in many places was as soft as jelly, and his head swelled as big as two. Upon the whole it very fully appeared that a more bloody premeditated and wilful murder was never committed, and Sir Henry Penrice declared, that in all the time he had had the honour of sitting on the Bench he never heard anything like it, and hoped that no person who should sit there after him should hear of such an offence.

Under sentence of death he behaved with a great deal of piety and resignation though he did not frequent the public chapel for two reasons, the first because the number of strangers who were admitted thither to stare at such unhappy persons as are to die are always numerous and sometimes very indiscreet; the second was, that he had many enemies who took a pleasure in coming to insult him, and as he was sure either of these would totally interrupt his devotions, he thought it excusable to receive the assistance of the minister in his own chamber. As to the general offences of his life, he was very open in his confession, but as to the particular fact for which he suffered, he endeavoured to excuse it by saying he never intended to murder the boy, but only to correct him as he deserved, he being exceedingly wicked and unruly; he charged him with thieving in their voyage out, being yet worse as they came home, and that particularly one evening when he was asleep in the cabin, the lad broke open his lockers, and took out a bottle of rum, of which he drank near a pint, making himself therefor so drunk that his excrements fell involuntarily from him, which stunk so abominably that it awakened him (the Captain), whereupon he called in several of his men, who found the boy in a sad condition, and were obliged to sit down and smoke tobacco in order to overcome the stench he had raised. This produced the terrible punishment of tying him to the mast for several days and the offering him his excrements which he rejected.

Notwithstanding the captain owned all this, yet he could not forbear reflections on those who gave testimony against him at his trial, charging them with perjury and conspiracy to ruin him, though nothing like it appeared from the manner in which they delivered their testimony. As the time of his death approached nearer, the fear thereof, and remorse of conscience, brought the captain into so weak and low a state that he could scarce speak or attend to any discourses of others, but lay in a languishing condition, often fainting, and in fine appearing not unlike a person who had taken something to produce a sudden death, in order to prevent an ignominious one. Yet when such suspicions were mentioned to him, he declared that they were without ground, that he had never suffered such a thought once to enter into his head. His wife, who attended him constantly while in prison, said she loved him too well to become his executioner, and that she was positive since his commitment, he had had nothing unwholesome administered to him.


(From the Annals of Newgate)

As he was carried to execution, he was so very much spent, that it was thought he would hardly have lived to have reached it. There he had the assistance of a minister of distinction, who prayed with him till the instant he was thrown off, which was on the 13th day of May, 1726, being then about twenty-nine years of age. As soon as he was cut down, he was put in chains, in order to be hung up.

The Life of WILLIAM BOURN, a Notorious Thief

As the want of education, from a multitude of instances, seems to be the chief cause of many of those misfortunes which befall persons in the ordinary course of life, so there are some born with such a natural inaptitude thereto, that no care, no pains, is able to conquer the stubborn stupidity of their nature, but like a knotty piece of wood, they defy the ingenuity of others to frame anything useful out of such cross-grained materials. This, as he acknowledged himself upon all occasions, was the case of the malefactor we are now speaking of, who was descended of honest and reputable parents, who were willing in his younger years to have furnished him with a tolerable share of learning; but he was utterly incorrigible, and though put to a good school, would never be brought to read or write at all, which was no small dissatisfaction to his parents, with whom in other respects he agreed tolerably well.

When of age to be put out apprentice, he was placed with a hatter in the city of Dublin, to whom he served his time honestly and faithfully; as soon as he was out of his time, he came up to London in order to become acquainted with his business. He had the good luck, though a stranger, to get into good business here, but was so unfortunate as to fall into the acquaintance of two lewd women, who fatally persuaded him that thieving was an easier way of getting money to supply their extravagant expenses than working. He being a raw young lad, unacquainted with the world, was so mad as to follow their advice, and in consequence thereof snatched a show-glass out of the shop of Mr. Lovell, a goldsmith in Bishopsgate Street, in which there was four snuff-boxes, eight silver medals, six pairs of gold buttons, five diamond rings, twenty pairs of ear-rings, sixty-four gold rings, several gold chains, and other rich goods, to the amount of near £300, with all of which he got safe off, though discovered soon afterwards by his folly in endeavouring to dispose of them.

He threw aside all hopes of life as soon as he was apprehended, as having no friends to make intercession likely to procure a pardon. He was, indeed, a poor young creature, rather stupid than wicked and his vices more owing to his folly than to the malignity of his inclinations. He seemed to have a just notion both of the heinousness of that crime which he had committed and of the shame and ignominy he had brought upon himself and his relations. He was particularly affected with the miseries which were likely to fall upon his poor wife for his folly, and when the day of his death came, he seemed very easy and contented under it, declaring, however, at last that he died in the communion of the Church of Rome. This was on the 27th of June, 1726, being then not much above eighteen years old.

The Life of JOHN MURREL, a Horse-Stealer

This malefactor was descended of very honest and reputable parents in the county of York, who took care not only that he should read and write tolerably well, but also that he should be instructed in the principles of religion. They brought him up in their own way of business, which was grazing of cattle (both black cattle and horses), and afterwards selling them at market. As he grew up a man, he settled in the same occupation, farming what is called in Yorkshire a grazing room, for which he paid near a hundred pounds a year rent, and dealt very considerably himself in the same way which had been followed by his parents. He married also a young woman with a tolerable fortune, who bore him several children, five of which were alive at the time of his execution, and lived with their mother upon some little estate she had of her own.

For some years after his marriage he lived with tolerable reputation in the country, but being lavish in his expenses, he quickly consumed both his own little fortune and what he had with his wife, and then failing in his business, a whim took him in the head to come to London, whither also he brought his son. Here he soon fell into bad company, and getting acquaintance with a woman whom he thought was capable of maintaining him, he married her, or at least lived with her as if they had been married, for a considerable space; the news of which reaching his wife in the country, affected her so much that she had very nigh fallen into a fit of sickness. Thereupon her friends demonstrated to her, in vain, how unreasonable a thing it was for her to give herself so much pain about a man who treated her at once with unkindness and injustice; in spite of their remonstrances she came up to London, in hopes that her presence might reclaim him. But herein she was utterly mistaken, for he absolutely denied her to be his wife, and even persuaded his son to deny her also for his mother, which the boy with much fear and confusion did; and the poor woman was forced to go down into the country again, overwhelmed with sorrow at the ingratitude of the one and the undutifulness of the other. However, Murrel still went on in the same way with the woman he had chosen for his companion.

There is all the reason imaginable to suppose that he did not take the most honest ways of supporting himself and his mistress. However, he fell into no trouble nor is there any direct evidence of his having been guilty of any dishonesty within the reach of the Law, until he ran away with a mare from a man in town, as to which he excused himself by saying that she had formerly been his own, and that there having nothing more than a verbal contract between them, he thought fit to carry her off and sell her again. Sometime afterwards, going down to Newcastle Fair (for he still continued to carry on some dealing in horse-flesh) he fell there into the company of some merchants in the same way, who found means to get gains and sell very cheap, by paying nothing at the first hand. Among these, there was a country man of his who went by the name of Brown, with whom Murrel had formerly had an acquaintance. This fellow knowing the company in general to be persons of the same profession, began to talk very freely of his practices in that way (viz., of horse stealing), and amongst other stories related this. He said he once rode away with an officer's horse, who had just bought it with an intent to ride him up to London; he carried the creature into the West, and having made such alterations in his mane and tail as he thought proper, sold him there to a parson for thirteen guineas, which was about seven less than the horse was worth. But knowing the doctor had another church about eight miles from the parish in which he lived, and that there was a little stable at one angle of the churchyard, where the horse was put up during service, he resolved to make bold with it again. Accordingly, when the people were all at church, having provided himself with a red coat and a horse-soldier's accoutrements, he picked the stable door, clapped them on the priest's beast, and rode him without the least suspicion as hard as conveniently he could to Worcester. There he laid aside the habit of a cavalier, and transforming himself into the natural appearance of a horse-courser, he sold the horse to a physician, telling him at the time he bought it, that it would be greatly the better for being suffered to run at grass a fortnight or so. No doubt on it, said he; but I had some design of so doing.

Yet they were much sooner executed than at first they were intended to have been, by an accident which happened the very day after the beast came into the hands of the physician; for one evening as Brown was taking a walk in the skirts of the city, who should he perceive but his old Cornish parson and his footman, jogging into town. Guilt struck him immediately with apprehensions at their errand relating to him, so that walking up and down, nor daring to go into the town for fear of being taken up and at last supposing it the only way to rid him of danger, he caught the horse once more in the doctor's close, and having stolen a saddle and bridle out of the inn where he lodged, he rode on him as far as Essex.

There he remained until Northampton Fair, where he sold the horse for the third time, for twenty-seven guineas, to an officer in the same regiment with him from whom it had been first stolen, on whose return from Flanders it was owned and the captain who bought it (though he refused to lose his money) yet gave as good description as he could of the person who sold it. Upon this the other officer put out an advertisement, describing both the man and the horse, and offering a reward of five guineas for whoever should apprehend him. This advertisement roused both the parson and the doctor, and the former took so much pains to discover him that he was at length apprehended in Cornwall, where at the assizes he was tried and convicted for the fact. But the captain who was the original possessor of the horse was so much pleased with his ingenuity that he procured a reprieve for him, and carried him abroad with him where he continued until the peace of Utrecht, when he returned home and fell to his old way of living, by which he had submitted himself unto the time in which he fell into company with Murrel, and had then bought five or six horses which had been stolen from the South, to be disposed of at the fair.

Murrel liked the precedent, and put it in practice immediately by stealing a brown mare which belonged to Jonathan Wood, for which he was shortly after apprehended and committed to Newgate. At the next sessions at the Old Bailey he was tried and convicted on very clear evidence, and during the space in which he lay under condemnation, testified a true sorrow for his sins, though not so just a sense of that for which he died as he ought to have had, and which might have been reasonably expected. For as horse-stealing did not appear any very great sin to him at the time of his committing it, so now, when he was to die for it, such an obstinate partiality towards ourselves is there naturally grafted in human nature that he could not forbear complaining of the severity of the Law, and find fault with its rigour which might have been avoided. What seemed most of all to afflict him under his misfortune was that be saw his son and nearest relations forsake him, and as much as they could shun having anything to do with his affairs. Of this he complained heavily to the minister of the place, during his confinement in Newgate, who represented to him how justly this had befallen him for first slighting his family, and leaving them without the least tenderness of respect, either to the ties of a husband, or the duty of a parent; so he began to read his sin in his punishment, and to frame himself to a due submission to what he had so much merited by his follies and his crimes.

When he was first brought up to receive sentence, he counterfeited being dead so exactly that he was brought back again to Newgate, but this cheat served only to gain a little time; for at the next sessions he was condemned and ordered for execution, which he suffered on the 27th of June, 1726, being then between forty and fifty years of age.

The Life of WILLIAM HOLLIS, a Thief and an Housebreaker

This unhappy lad was born in Portugal, while the English army served there in the late war. His father was drum-major of a regiment, but had not wherewith to give his child anything but food, for intending to bring him up a soldier, he perhaps thought learning an unnecessary thing to one of that profession. During the first years of his life the poor boy was a constant campaigner, being transported wherever the regiment removed, with the same care and conveniency as the kettle [drum] and knapsack, the only thing besides himself which make up the drum-major's equipage. When he grew big, he got, it seems, on board a man-of-war in the squadron that sailed up the Mediterranean. This was a proper university for one who had been bred in such a school; so that there is no wonder he became so great a proficient in all sorts of wickedness, gaming, drinking, and whoring, which appear not to such poor creatures as sins, but as the pleasures of life, about which they ought to spend their whole care; and, indeed, how should it be otherwise, where they know nothing that better deserves it.

When he came home to England his father dying, he was totally destitute, except what care his mother-in-law was pleased to take of him, which was, indeed, a great deal, if he would have been in any degree obedient to her instructions. But instead of that he looked upon all restraints on his liberty as the greatest evil that could befall him. Wherefore, leaving his mother's house, he abandoned himself to procuring money at any rate to support those lewd pleasures to which he had addicted himself.

It happened that he lodged near one John Mattison, a working silversmith, into whose house he got, and stole from thence no less than one hundred and forty silver buckles, the goods of one Samuel Ashmelly. For this offence he was apprehended, and committed to Newgate; at the next sessions he was tried, and on the evidence of the prosecutor, which was very full and direct, he was convicted, and having no friends, he laid aside all hopes of life, and endeavoured as far as poor capacity would give him leave to improve himself in the knowledge of the Christian Faith, and in preparing for that death to which his follies and his crimes had brought him. The Ordinary, in the account he gives of his death, says that he was extremely stupid, a thing no ways improbable considering the wretched manner in which he had spent the years of his childhood and his youth. However, at last either his insensibility or having satisfied himself with the little evil there is in death compared with living in misery and want, furnished him with so much calmness that he suffered with greater appearance of courage than could have been expected from him. Just before he died he stood up in the cart, and turning himself to the spectators, said, Good people, I am very young, but have been very wicked. It is true I have had no education, but I might have laboured hard and lived well for all that; but gaming and ill-company were my ruin. The Law hath justly brought me where I am, and I hope such young men as see my untimely fate will avoid the paths which lead unto it. Good people, pray for our departing souls, as we do, that God may give you all more grace than to follow us thither. He suffered with the malefactors before-mentioned, being at the time of his execution between seventeen and eighteen years old.

The Life of THOMAS SMITH, a Highwayman

There is a certain commendable tenderness in human nature towards all who are under misfortunes, and this tenderness is in proportion to the magnitude of those evils which we suppose the pitied person to labour under. If we extend our compassion to relieving their necessities, and feeling a regret for those miseries which they undergo, we undoubtedly discharge the duties of humanity according to the scheme both of natural religion and the laws laid down in the Gospel. Perhaps no object ever merited it from juster motives than this poor man, who is the subject of the following pages. His parents were people in tolerable circumstances in Southwark; his father was snatched from him by death, while he was yet a child, but his mother, as far as she was able, was very careful that he should not pass his younger days without instruction, and an uncle he then had, being pleased with the docile temper of the youth, was at some expense also about his education. By this means he came to read and write tolerably well, and gained some little knowledge of the Latin tongue; and having a peculiar sweetness in his behaviour, it won very much upon his relations, and encouraged them to treat him with great indulgence.

But unfortunately for him, by the time he grew big enough to go out apprentice, or to enter upon any other method of living, his friends suddenly dropped off, and, by their death becoming in great want of money, he was forced to resign all the golden hopes he had formed and for the sake of present subsistance submit to becoming footman to a gentleman, who was, however, a very good and kind master to him, till in about a year's time he died also, and poor Smith was again left at his wits' end. However, out of this trouble he was relieved by an Irish gentleman, who took him into his service, and carried him over with him to Dublin. There he met with abundance of temptations to fall into that loose and lascivious course of life which prevails more in that city, perhaps, than in any other in Europe. But he had so much grace at that time as to resist it, and after a stay there of twenty months, returned into England again, where he came into the service of a third master, no less indulgent to him than the two former had been. In this last service an odd accident befell him, in which, though I neither believe myself, nor incline to impose on my readers that there was anything supernatural in the case of it, yet I fancy the oddness of the thing may, under the story I am going to tell, prove not disagreeable.

In a journey which Thomas had made into Herefordshire, with his first master, he had contracted there an acquaintance with a young woman, daughter to a farmer, in tolerable circumstances. This girl without saying anything to the man, fell it seems desperately in love with him, and about three months after he left the country, died. One night after his coming to live with this last master, he fancied he saw her in a dream, that she stood for some time by his bedside, and at last said, Thomas, a month or two hence you will be in danger of a fever, and when that is over of a greater misfortune. Have a care, you have hitherto always behaved as an honest man; do not let either poverty or misfortunes tempt you to become otherwise; and having so said, she withdrew. In the morning the fellow was prodigiously confounded, yet made no discovery of what had happened to any but the person who lay with him, though the thing made a very strong impression on his spirits, and might perhaps contribute not a little to his falling ill about the time predicted by the phantom he had seen.

This fever soon brought him very low, and obliged him to make away with most of his things in order to support himself. Upon recovery he found himself in lamentable circumstances, being without friends, without money, and out of business. Unfortunately for him, coming along the Haymarket one evening, he happened to follow a gentleman somewhat in liquor, who knowing him, desired that he would carry him home to his house in St. Martin's Lane, to which Thomas readily agreed. But as they were going along thither, a crowd gathered about the gentleman, who became as quarrelsome as they, and took it into his head to box one of the mob, in order to do which more conveniently, he gave Smith his hat and cane, and his wig. Smith held them for some time, the mob forcing them along like a torrent, till the gentleman, whose name was Brown, made up a court near Northumberland House, and Smith thereupon marched off with the things, the necessity he was under so far blinding him that he made no scruple of attempting to sell them the next day; by which means Mr. Brown hearing of them, he caused Smith to be apprehended as a street-robber, and to be committed to Newgate, though he had the good luck, notwithstanding, to get all his things again. It seems he visited the poor man in prison, and if he did not prevaricate at his death, made him some promises of softening at least, if not of dropping the prosecution, which, as Smith asserted, prevented his making such a preparation for his defence as otherwise he might have done; which proved of very fatal consequence to him, since on the evidence of the prosecutor he was convicted of the robbery and condemned.

Never poor creature suffered more or severer hardships in the road of death than this poor man did, for by the time sentence was passed, all that he had was gone, and he had scarce a blanket to cover him from downright nakedness, during the space he lay in the hold under sentence. As he was better principled in religion than any of the other malefactors, he had retained his reading so well as to assist them in their devotions, and to supply in some measure the want of somebody constantly to attend them in their preparation for another world. So he picked up thereby such little assistances from amongst them as prevented his being starved before the time appointed for their execution came.

As this man did not want good sense, and was far from having lost what learning he had acquired in his youth, so the terrors of an ignominious death were quickly over with him, and instead of being affrighted with his approaching fate, he considered it only as a relief from miseries the most piercing that a man could feel, under which he had laboured so long that life was become a burden, and the prospect of death the only comfort that was left. He died with the greatest appearance of resolution and tranquillity on the 3rd August, 1726, being then about twenty-three years of age.

The Life of EDWARD REYNOLDS, a Thief, etc.

Notwithstanding the present age is so much celebrated for its excellency in knowledge and politeness, yet I am persuaded both these qualities, if they are really greater, are yet more restrained than they have been any time herefore whatsoever. The common people are totally ignorant, almost even of the first principles of religion. They give themselves up to debauchery without restraint, and what is yet more extraordinary, they fancy their vices are great qualifications, and look on all sorts of wickedness as merit.

This poor wretch who is the subject of our present page was put to school by his parents, who were in circumstances mean enough; but from a natural aversion to all goodness he absolutely declined making any proficiency therein. Whether he was educated to any business I cannot take upon me to say, but he worked at mop-making and carried them about to the country fairs for sale, by which he got a competency at least, and therefore had not by any means that ordinary excuse to plead that necessity had forced him upon thieving. On the contrary, he was drawn to the greatest part of those evils which he committed, and which consequently brought of those which he suffered, by frequenting the ring at Moorfields—a place which since it occurs so often in these memoirs, put me under a kind of necessity to describe it, and the customs of those who frequent it.