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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
Author: Hayward, Arthur L.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "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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The assailant is strangling his victim with a whip-thong; nearby is a
typical roadside gallows with two highwaymen dangling from the

(_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 1735_





Volume One

Preface--Jane Griffin--John Trippuck, Richard Cane and Richard
Shepherd--William Barton--Robert Perkins--Barbara Spencer--Walter
Kennedy--Matthew Clark--John Winship--John Meff--John Wigley--William
Casey--John Dykes--Richard James--James Wright--Nathaniel Hawes--John
Jones--John Smith--James Shaw, _alias_ Smith--William Colthouse--William
Burridge--John Thomson--Thomas Reeves--Richard Whittingham--James
Booty--Thomas Butlock--Nathaniel Jackson--James Carrick--John
Molony--Thomas Wilson--Robert Wilkinson and James Lincoln--Mathias
Brinsden--Edmund Neal--Charles Weaver--John Levee--Richard Oakey and
Matthew Flood--William Burk--Luke Nunney--Richard Trantham--John Tyrrell
and William Hawksworth--William Duce--James Butler--Captain John
Massey--Philip Roche--Humphrey Angier--Captain Stanley--Stephen
Gardiner--Samuel Ogden, John Pugh, William Frost, Richard Woodman and
William Elisha--Thomas Burden--Frederick Schmidt--Peter Curtis--Lumley
Davis--James Harman--John Lewis--The Waltham Blacks--Julian, a Black
Boy--Abraham Deval--Joseph Blake, _alias_ Blueskin--John Shepherd--Lewis
Houssart--Charles Towers--Thomas Anderson--Joseph Picken--Thomas
Packer--Thomas Bradely--William Lipsat--John Hewlet--James Cammell and
William Marshal--John Guy--Vincent Davis--Mary Hanson--Bryan
Smith--Joseph Ward--James White--Joseph Middleton

Volume Two

Preface--William Sperry--Robert Harpham--Jonathan Wild--John
Little--John Price--Foster Snow--John Whalebone--James Little--John
Hamp--John Austin, John Foster and Richard Scurrier--Francis
Bailey--John Barton--William Swift--Edward Burnworth, etc.--John
Gillingham--John Cotterel--Catherine Hayes--Thomas Billings--Thomas
Wood--Captain Jaen--William Bourn--John Murrel--William Hollis--Thomas
Smith--Edward Reynolds--John Claxton--Mary Standford--John
Cartwright--Frances Blacket--Jane Holmes--Katherine Fitzpatrick--Mary
Robinson--Jane Martin--Timothy Benson--Joseph Shrewsberry--Anthony
Drury--William Miller--Robert Haynes--Thomas Timms, Thomas Perry and
Edward Brown--Alice Green--An Account of the Murder of Mr. Widdington
Darby--Joshua Cornwall

Volume Three

John Turner, _alias_ Civil John--John Johnson--James Sherwood, George
Weldon and John Hughs--Martin Bellamy--William Russell, Robert Crough and
William Holden--Christopher Rawlins, etc.--Richard Hughes and Bryan
MacGuire--James How--Griffith Owen, Samuel Harris and Thomas
Medline--Peter Levee, etc.--Thomas Neeves--Henry Gahogan and Robert
Blake--Peter Kelley--William Marple and Timothy Cotton--John
Upton--Jephthah Bigg--Thomas James Grundy--Joseph Kemp--Benjamin
Wileman--James Cluff--John Dyer--William Rogers, William Simpson and
Robert Oliver--James Drummond--William Caustin and Geoffrey
Younger--Henry Knowland and Thomas Westwood--John Everett--Robert
Drummond and Ferdinando Shrimpton--William Newcomb--Stephen
Dowdale--Abraham Israel--Ebenezer Ellison--James Dalton--Hugh
Houghton--John Doyle--John Young--Thomas Polson--Samuel
Armstrong--Nicholas Gilburn--James O'Bryan, Hugh Morris and Robert
Johnson--Captain John Gow




Murder on Hounslow Heath
Matthew Clark cutting the throat of Sarah Goldington
A Prisoner Under Pressure in Newgate
The Hangman arrested when attending John Meff to Tyburn
Stephen Gardiner making his dying speech at Tyburn
Jack Sheppard in the Stone Room in Newgate
Trial of a Highwayman at the Old Bailey
Jonathan Wild pelted by the mob on his way to Tyburn
A Condemned Man drawn on a Sledge to Tyburn
The Murder of John Hayes:
  Catherine Hayes, Wood and Billings cutting off the head
  John Hayes's Head exhibited at St. Margaret's, Westminster
  Catherine Hayes burnt for the murder of her husband
Joseph Blake attempting the life of Jonathan Wild
An Execution in Smithfield Market
Highway Robbery of His Majesty's Mail
A Gang of Men and Women Transports being marched from
  Newgate to Blackfriars


    _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

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

    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

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

    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

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

_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

_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

_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

_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._


    [1] 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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

    [3] 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
Housebreaker, who were all executed at Tyburn, the 29th of January,

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

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

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.


    [4] 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

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

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

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

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.


    [5] 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.

    [6] 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

    [7] 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

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

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.


    [8] 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.

    [9] 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.

   [10] This was Howel Davis, whose adventures are related at
        length in Johnson's _History of the Pirates_, chap. ix.

   [11] _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

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

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

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

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

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

    William Casey.


   [12] 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

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

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

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.


   [13] 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

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

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

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

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.


   [14] 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

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

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

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


   [15] 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,

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

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

_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.


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

   [17] 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

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.


   [18] 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

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,

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

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

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

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.


   [19] 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

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

    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

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.


   [20] 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

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

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

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.


   [21] 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.

   [22] 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

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

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.


   [23] 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.


   [24] See page 66.

   [25] His real name was Joseph Blake, see page 177.

   [26] 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.

   [27] See page 89.

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

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

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.


   [28] 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

    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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


   [29] 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._

   [30] 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

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.


   [31] A detailed account of this villain is given in Johnson's
        _History of the Pirates._

   [32] 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.


   [33] 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

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

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.


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

   [35] 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.

   [36] 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

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.


   [37] 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.

   [38] 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.

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

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

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.


   [39] See note, page 49.

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

   [41] 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.


   [42] 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

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

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.


   [43] 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
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

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

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.


   [44] 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

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

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.


   [45] See page 85.

   [46] 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."

   [47] See also the Life of Jonathan Wild, subsequently related.

The Life of the Famous JOHN SHEPHERD, Footpad, Housebreaker and

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

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]


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

   [49] 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

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

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

    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

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.


   [50] 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

    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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


   [51] 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

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

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.


   [52] 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

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

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.


   [53] 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

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

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

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.


   [54] 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

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


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.


   [55] 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

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

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

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.


   [56] 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

_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

_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._


   [57] 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

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.


   [58] 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.

   [59] 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.

   [60] 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

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,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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_)]


   [61] 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.

   [62] A well-known tavern in Old Bailey.

   [63] This was the Poultry Compter.

   [64] Her name was really Statham.

   [65] See page 418.

   [66] 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.


   [67] See note, page 243.

   [68] 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

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

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.


   [69] See page 230.

   [70] 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

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.


   [71] 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

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

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.


   [72] 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

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

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

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

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

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


(_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.

Footpads, Housebreakers and Murderers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


   [73] Falcon Stairs were just east of where Blackfriars Bridge
        now stands.

   [74] 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

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

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,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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.


   [75] 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

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


(_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.

It lies between Upper and Middle Moorfields, and as people of rank, when
they turn vicious, frequent some places where, under pretence of seeing
one diversion in which perhaps there is no moral evil, they either make
assignations for lewdness, or parties for gaming or drinking, and so by
degrees ruin their estates, and leave the character of debauchees behind
them, so those of meaner rank come thither to partake of the diversions
of cudgel-playing, wrestlings, quoits, and other robust exercises which
are now softened by a game of toss-up, hustle-cap, or nine-holes, which
quickly brings on want; and the desire continuing, naturally inclines
them to look for some means to recruit. And so, when the evening is
spent in gaming, the night induces them to thieve under its cover, that
they may have wherewith to supply the expenses of the ensuing day. Hence
it comes to pass that this place and these practices hath ruined more
young people, such as apprentices, journeymen, errand-boys, etc., than
any other seminary of vice in town. But it is time that we should now
return to the affairs of him who hath occasioned this digression.

In the neighbourhood of this place Reynolds found out a little alehouse
to which he every night resorted. There were abundance of wicked persons
who used to meet there, in order to go upon their several villainous
ways of getting money; Reynolds (whose head was always full of
discovering a method by which he might live more at ease than he did by
working) listened very attentively to what passed amongst them. One
Barnham, who had formerly been a waterman, was highly distinguished at
these meetings for his consummate knowledge in every branch of the art
and mystery of cheating. He had followed such practices for near twenty
years, and commonly when they came there at night they formed a ring
about the place where he sat and listened with the greatest delight to
those relations of evil deeds, which his memory recorded.

It happened one evening, when these worthy persons were assembled
together, that their orator took it in his head to harangue them on the
several alterations which the science of stealing had gone through from
the time of his becoming acquainted with its professors. In former days,
said he, knights of the road were a kind of military order into which
none but decayed gentlemen presumed to intrude themselves. If a younger
brother ran out of his allowance, or if a young heir spent his estate
before he had bought a tolerable understanding, if an under-courtier
lived above his income, or a subaltern officer laid out twice his pay in
rich suits and fine laces, this was the way they took to recruit; and if
they had but money enough left to procure a good horse and a case of
pistols, there was no fear of their keeping up their figure a year or
two, till their faces were known. And then, upon a discovery, they
generally had friends good enough to prevent their swinging, and who,
ten to one, provided handsomely for them afterwards, for fear of their
meeting with a second mischance, and thereby bringing a stain upon their
family. But nowadays a petty alehouse-keeper, if he gives too much
credit, a cheesemonger whose credit grows rotten, or a mechanic that is
weary of living by his fingers-ends, makes no more ado, when he finds
his circumstances uneasy, but whips into a saddle and thinks to get all
things retrieved by the magic of those two formidable words, _Stand and
Deliver._ Hence the profession is grown scandalous, since all the world
knows that the same methods now makes an highwayman, that some years ago
would have got a commission.

_But hark ye_, says one of the company, _in the days of those gentlemen
highwaymen, was there no way left for a poor man to get his living out
of the road of honesty? Puh! Ay_, replied Barnham, _a hundred men were
more ingenious then than they are now, and the fellows were so dexterous
that it was dangerous for a man to laugh who had a good set of teeth,
for fear of having them stole. They made nothing of whipping hats and
wigs off at noon-day; whipping swords from folks' sides when it grew
dusk; or making a midnight visit, in spite of locks, bolts, bars, and
such like other little impediments to old misers, who kept their gold
molding in chests till such honest fellows, at the hazard of their
lives, came to set at liberty. For my part_, continued he, _I believe
Queen Anne's war swept away the last remains of these brave spirits; for
since the Peace of Utrac (as I think they call it) we have had a
wondrous growth of blockheads, even in our business. And if it were not
for Shephard and Frazier, a hundred years hence, they would not think
that in our times there were fellows bold enough to get sixpence out of
a legal road, or dare to do anything without a quirk of the law to
screen them._

All his auditors were wonderfully pleased with such discourses as these,
and when the liquor had a little warmed them, would each in their turn
tell a multitude of stories they had heard of the boldness, cunning, and
dexterity of the thieves who lived before them. In all cases whatever,
evil is much sooner learnt than good, and a night debauch makes a ten
times greater impression on the spirits than the most eloquent sermon.
Between the liquor and the tales people begin to form new ideas to
themselves of things, and instead of looking on robbery as rapine and
stealing as a villainous method of defrauding another, they, on the
contrary, take the first for a gallant action, and the latter for a
dexterous piece of cunning; by either of which they acquire the means of
indulging themselves in what best suits their inclinations, without the
fatigue of business or the drudgery of hard labour.

Reynolds, though a very stupid fellow, soon became a convert to these
notions, and lost no time in putting them in execution, for the next
night he took from a person (who it seems knew him and his haunts well
enough) a coat and a shilling, which when he came to be indicted for the
fact, he pretended they were given him to prevent his charging the
prosecutor with an attempt to commit sodomy--an excuse which of late
years is grown as common with the men, as it has long been with the
women to pretend money was given them for flogging folks, when they have
been brought to the bar for picking it out of their pockets; hoping by
this reverberation of ignominy to blacken each other so that the jury
may believe neither. However, in this case, it must be acknowledged that
Reynolds went to death with the assertion that he received the coat and
the shilling on the before-mentioned account, and that he did not take
it by violence, which was the crime whereof he was convicted.

He had married a poor woman, who lived in very good reputation both
before and after; by her he had three children, and though he had long
associated himself with other women, and left her to provide for the
poor infants, yet he was extremely offended because she did not send him
as much money as he wanted under his confinement, and he could not
forbear treating her with very ill language when she came to see him
under his misfortunes. As he was a fellow of little parts and no
education, so his behaviour under condemnation was confused and unequal,
as it is reasonable to suppose it should be, since he had nothing to
support his hopes or to comfort him against those fears of death which
are inseparable from human nature. However, he sometimes showed an
inclination to learn somewhat of religion, would listen attentively
while Smith was reading, and as well as his gross capacity would give
him leave, would pray for mercy and forgiveness. At chapel he behaved
himself decently, if not devoutly, and being by his misfortunes removed
from the company of those who first seduced him into his vices, he began
to have some ideas of the use of life when he was going to leave it; and
his thoughts had received certain ideas (though very imperfect ones) of
death and a future state, when the punishment appointed by Law sent him
to experience them. He died on the 23rd of August, 1726, being then
upwards of twenty-six years of age.

The Life of JOHN CLAXTON, _alias_ JOHNSTON, a Thief, etc.

This unhappy malefactor was amongst the number of those who, through
want of education, was the more easily drawn into the prosecution of
such practices as became fatal to him. His father was a common sailor
belonging to the town of Sunderland, who had it not in his power to
breed him in a very extraordinary manner; and what little he was able to
do was frustrated by the evil inclinations of his son, who instead of
applying himself closely while he remained at school, loitered away his
time, and made little or no proficiency there. His head, as those of
most seamen's children do, ran continually on voyages and seeing foreign
countries, with which roving temper the father too readily complied, and
while yet a boy, unacquainted with any kind of learning and unsettled in
the principles of religion, he was sent forth into the world to pick up
either as he could.

The first voyage he made was up the Straits, where he touched at
Gibraltar, and went soon after to Leghorn, the port to which they were
bound. Being a young sprightly lad the mate carried him on shore with
him, and being a man of intrigue, made use of him to go between him and
an Irish woman, who was married to an Italian captain of a ship. The
lady's husband was in Sicily, and they therefore apprehended themselves
to be secure; she proposed to the mate the carrying off of jewels and
other things, to the amount of some thousand crowns, and then flying
with him from Italy. The project had certainly succeeded if it had not
been for their imprudence; for the mate, who passed for her cousin,
being continually in the house for three days before the ship went away,
a suspicion entered into some of the neighbours (as they often do
amongst Italians) that there was something more than ordinary concealed
under the frequency of his visits. They therefore dispatched a messenger
to Signor Stefano di Calvo, the captain's brother, with the account of
their surmises. He came immediately to Leghorn, and going directly to
his brother's house, found his sister had packed up all his valuable
effects, and having loaded the boy with as much as he could carry, was
on the point of setting out with him for the vessel. Stefano dragged her
back into an inner apartment, where he locked her in, and afterwards
fastened the doors of the outward apartment, through which they passed
thither. But Jack, seeing how things went, laid down his burden and fled
as hard as he could drive to the port, where he gave notice to the
master of their disappointment, and caused the vessel immediately to
weigh anchor and stand to sea, as fearing the consequences of the
affair, which he knew would make a great noise, and might possibly turn
to the detriment of his owners.

Claxton had hitherto done nothing that was criminal within the eye of
the Law, though while at sea he was continually employed in some
mischievous trick or other. When he came into England the ship happened
to go to Yarmouth, and as all places were alike to him, so short a stay
there engaged him to marry a young woman who had some little matter of
money, with which he proposed to do for himself some little matter at
sea, and taking the greatest part of it with him, came up to London in
order to see after a good voyage.

But this was the most fatal journey he ever made, for falling
unfortunately into the hands of bad women and their companions, they
quickly drew him to be as bad as themselves; so that forgetting the poor
woman he had married, and regardless of the business which brought him
up to town, he gave himself up entirely to the pursuit of such
villainies as they taught him, and in a short space became as expert a
proficient as any in the gang.

Some of them had consulted together to rob a woodmonger's house of a
considerable quantity of plate, but there was one difficulty to be
encountered, without overcoming which there was no hopes of success. The
woodmonger's maid carried up the keys every night to her master (the
outer court having a gate to it), and unless they could call upon some
stratagem either to prevent the gate being shut, or to gain the means of
unlocking it, their attempt was certainly in vain. In order to bring
this to pass, they put Jack, who was a neat little fellow, into a very
good habit, and found means to introduce him to the acquaintance of the
wench at a neighbouring chandler's shop, where he took lodgings. In a
fortnight's time he prevailed upon Mrs. Anne to come out at twelve of
the clock to meet him, which she could not do without leaving the great
gate ajar, having first carried up the key to her master, though for her
own conveniency she had thus left it upon a single lock. While she and
her sweetheart were drinking punch and making merry together, the rest
of the confederates got into the house and carried away silver plate to
the value of £80, leaving everything behind them in so good order that
the maid, who was a little tipsy into the bargain, discovered nothing
that night. Going to acquaint her lover with the accident as soon as it
was found out, to her great surprise she was informed that he was
removed, having carried away all the things before his landlord and
landlady were up. The girl carefully concealed the passage, knowing how
fatal it would be to her if it should reach her master's ears; but for
her spark, she heard no more of him until his commitment to Newgate for
another fact, for which he was ordered for transportation.

Being on board the vessel with the rest of the convicts, he soon
procured the favour of the master to be let to go out upon deck, and
being a strong able sailor, he ingratiated himself so far as to meet no
worse usage than any other sailor in the ship. On their arrival at the
Canaries, where by stress of weather they were obliged to put in, a
quarrel happened between the master of their vessel and the captain of a
Jamaicaman homeward bound. It ended in a duel with sword and pistol, and
the captain of the transport having carried John with him, he behaved so
well upon this occasion that he promised him his liberty as soon as they
arrived in America, which he honorably performed; and Jack was so
indefatigable in his endeavours to get home that he arrived at London
six weeks before the captain came back.

He herded again with his old crew, though before he was able to do much
mischief amongst them he was apprehended for returning from
transportation, and was at the next sessions tried and convicted. By
this time the captain who had carried him was arrived, and hearing of
John's misfortune, he made such interest as procured the sentence of
death to be changed into a second transportation.

Such narrow escapes, one would have imagined, might have taught him how
dangerous a thing it was to dally with the laws of the nation in any
respect whatsoever; and yet, when he was on shore in New England, where
the master took care to provide him with as easy a service as a man
could have wished, as soon as the captain's back was turned, he found
means to give the planter the slip, and in nine months' time revisited
London a second time. Whether he intended to have gone on in the old
trade or no is impossible for us to determine, but this we are certain,
that he had not been in England many weeks ere a person who made it his
business to detect such as returned from transportation clapped him up
in his old lodging at Newgate, brought him to his trial, and convicted
him the third time. As soon as he had received sentence, he relinquished
all hopes of life, and as in all this time he had never made any enquiry
after his wife at Yarmouth, so he would not now bring an odium upon her
and her family by sending to them, and making his misfortune public in
the place where they lived.

The man seemed to be of an easy, tractable disposition, readily yielding
to whatever those who conversed with them desired to bring him to,
whether it were good or evil. He attended with great seeming piety and
devotion to the books which Thomas Smith read to his fellow prisoners,
and gained thereby a tolerable notion of the duty of repentance, and
that faith which men ought to have in Jesus Christ. Thus by degrees he
brought himself to a perfect indifference as to life or death, and at
the place of execution showed neither by change of colour, or any other
symptom any extraordinary fear of his approaching dissolution; and
having conformed very devoutly to the prayers said by the Ordinary,
after a short private devotion, he submitted to his fate with the
afore-mentioned malefactors Smith and Reynolds, being then about
twenty-eight years old or thereabouts.

The Life of MARY STANDFORD, a Pickpocket and Thief

This unfortunate woman was born of very good parents, who sent her to
school, and caused her to be bred up in every other respect so as to be
capable of performing well in her station of the world, and doing her
duty towards God, from a just notion of religion. But it happening,
unluckily, that she set her mind on nothing so much as the company of
young men and running about with them to fairs and such other country
diversions, her friends were put under the necessity of sending her to
London, a thing which they saw could not be avoided.

When she came to town, she got in one or two good places, which she soon
lost from her forward behaviour; and having been seduced by a footman,
she soon became a common street walker, and practised all the vile arts
of those women who were a scandal to their sex. When she was young, she
was tolerably handsome, and associated herself with one Black Mary,
whose true name was Mary Rawlins, a woman of notorious ill-fame, and
who, from being kept by a man of substance in the City, by her own
ill-management was turned upon the town, and reduced to getting her
bread after the infamous manner of the inmates of Drury. These two Marys
used to walk together between Temple Bar and Ludgate Hill, where
sometimes they met with foolish young fellows out of whom they got
considerable sums, though at other times their adventures produced so
little that they were obliged to part with almost every rag of clothes
they had; nay, they were now and then reduced so low that one was
obliged to stay at home while the other went out.

Mary Rawlins, contrary to the rules established amongst the sisterhood,
married a man who had been a Life-Guardsman, and so was obliged to
remove her lodgings to go with him into a little court near King
Street, Westminster. Some of my readers may perhaps imagine that either
her love for her husband, or the fear of his authority, might work a
reformation, but therein they would be highly mistaken for he proposed
no other end to himself than plundering her of those presents she
received from gallants, so that whenever evening drew on, he was very
assiduous for her to turn out (as they phrase it), that is to go upon
the street-walking account picking pockets. She had not followed this
trade long before she became so uneasy under it that one night meeting
with her old companion Standford, she persuaded her to remove into a new
quarter of the town, whither she fled to her from her husband. They
there carried on their intrigues together, and lived much more at their
ease then they had done before; for being now got towards Wapping, they
drew in the sailors when they had any money to part with for their
favours, and getting into acquaintance with some navy solicitors, they
found means to raise them cash, at the rate of 60 per cent. to the
broker, and as much to the whore.

Thus they lived till Standford took it in her head to serve her partner
as she had done her before, for finding a man mad enough to marry her,
she was fool enough to consent to the marriage. But after living with
the man for about a year, she repented her bargain, and left him, as
Rawlins had done hers. Some time after this she contracted an
acquaintance with another man, at that time servant to a person in the
City. By him she had a child, which as it increased her necessary
expense, so it plunged her into the greater difficulty of knowing how to
supply it. However, fancying her gains would be larger if she plied by
herself, she totally left the company of her former associates, and
applied herself with an infamous industry to her shameful trade of

Not long after she had entered upon this single method of
street-walking, she fell into the company of a gentleman who was more
than ordinary amorous of her, and who after treating her with a supper,
lay with her, and (as she said) gave her four guineas; but he on the
contrary charged her with picking his pocket of a shagreen book, a silk
handkerchief, and the money before mentioned. For this fact she was
committed to Newgate, and soon after tried and convicted,
notwithstanding her excuse of the man bestowing it on her as a present.

After she had received sentence, some of her friends gave her hopes of
having it changed into a transportation pardon, but this she rejected
utterly, declaring that she had rather die not only the most
ignominious, but the most cruel death that could be invented at home,
rather than be sent abroad to slave for her living. Such strange
apprehensions enter into the head of these unhappy creatures, and
hinder them from taking the advantage of the only possibility they have
left of tasting happiness on this side of the grave; and as this
aversion to the plantations has so bad effects, especially in making the
convicts desirous of escaping from the vessel, or of flying out of the
country whither they were sent, almost before they have seen it, I am
surprised that no care has been taken to print a particular and
authentic account of the manner in which they are treated in those
places. I know it may be suggested that the terror of such usage as they
are represented to meet with there has often a good effect in diverting
them from such acts as they know must bring them to transportation; yet
though I confess I have heard this more than once repeated, yet I am far
from being convinced, and I am thoroughly satisfied that instead of
magnifying the miseries of their pretended slavery, or rather of
inventing stories that make a very easy service pass on these unhappy
creatures for the severest bondage, the convicts should be told the true
state of the case, and be put in mind that instead of suffering death,
the lenity of our Constitution permitted them to be removed into another
climate no way inferior to that in which they were born, where they were
to perform no harder tasks than those who work honestly for their bread
in England do. And this, not under persons of another nation, who might
treat them with less humanity, but with those who are no less English
for their living in the New, than if they dwelt in Old England, people
famous for their humanity, justice, and, piety,[76] and amongst whom
they are sure of meeting with no variation of manners, customs, etc.,
unless in respect of the progress of their vices which are at present
more numerous there than in their motherland. I say if pains were taken
to instil into these unhappy persons such notions, at the same time
demonstrating to them that from being exposed either to want and
necessity from the loss they had sustained of this reputation, and being
thereby under a kind of force in following their old courses, and as
soon as discharged from the fears of death (supposing a free pardon
could be procured) obliged to run a like hazard immediately after, they
might probably conceive justly of that clemency which is extended
towards them, and instead of shunning transportation, flying from the
country where they are landed as soon as they have set their foot in
them, or neglecting opportunities they might have on their first coming
there, and be brought to serve their masters faithfully, to endure the
time of their service cheerfully, and settle afterwards in the best
manner they are able, so as to pass the close of their life in an
honest, easy and reputable manner. Now it too often happens that their
last end is worse than their first, because those who return from
transportation being sure of death if apprehended, are led thereby to
behave themselves worse and more cruelly than any malefactors,

But to return to Mary Standford, who led us into this digression. She
showed little or no regard for anything; no, not even for her own child,
who, she said, she hoped would be well taken care of by the parish, and
added that she had been a great sinner, for which she hoped God would
forgive her, praying as well as she could, both while under sentence and
at the place of execution. She declared that she bore no malice either
against her prosecutor, or any other person, and in this disposition she
finished her life at Tyburn, the same day with the afore-mentioned
malefactors, being at that time near thirty-six years of age.


   [76] A New Hampshire law regulating the behaviour of masters
        towards their white servants enacts, "if any man smite out the
        eye or tooth of his manservant or maid-servant or otherwise maim
        or disfigure them much, unless it be mere casualty, he shall let
        him or her go free from his service and shall allow such further
        recompense as the Court of Quarter Sessions shall adjudge them."
        A good example of New England humanity and justice.

The Life of JOHN CARTWRIGHT, a Thief

This unhappy young man was born in Yorkshire, of a tolerable family, who
had been sufficiently careful in having him instructed in whatever was
necessary for a person of his condition, breeding him up to all works of
husbandry in general, and also qualifying him in every respect for a
gentleman's service; in one of which capacities they were in hopes he
would not find it difficult to get his bread. He lived with several
persons in the country with unspotted reputation, until at last a whim
came into his head of coming up to London. An uncle of his procured him
a very good service with one Mr. Charvin, a mercer in Paternoster Row,
with whom he Stayed for some time with great satisfaction on both sides;
for his master was highly pleased with the careful industry of the young
man's temper, and Cartwright on the other side had not the least reason
to complain, considering the great kindness and indulgence with which he
was used. But some young fellows of loose principles taking notice of
Cartwright's easy and tractable temper, quickly drew him into becoming
fond of their company and conversation.

Every other Sunday he was permitted to go out where he would, until nine
o'clock at night, and these young fellows meeting at a fine alehouse
not far from his master's house, whither they began to bring Yorkshire
John (as they called him), there they usually ran over the description
of the diversions of the town, and of those places round it which are
most remarkable for the resort of company. These were new scenes to poor
John, who was unacquainted with any representation better than a puppet
show, or recreation of a superior nature to bullbaitings at a country
fair; and therefore his thoughts were extremely taken up with all he
heard, and his companions were so obliging that they took abundance of
pains to satisfy such questions as he asked them, and were often
soliciting him to go and partake with them at plays, dancing-bouts, and
all the various divertisements to which young unthinking youths are
addicted. He wanted not many intreaties to comply with their request,
but money, the main ingredient in such delights, was wanting, and of
this he at last acknowledged the deficiency to one of the young men his
companions. This fellow took no notice of it at that time, farther than
to wish he had more, and to tell him that a young man of his spirit
ought never to be without and that there were ways and means enough to
get it, if a man had not as much cash as courage.

He repeated these insinuations often, without explaining them at all,
until frequent stories of the fine sights at the theatres and elsewhere
had so far raised poor John's curiosity that one evening he entreated
his companion to let him into the bottom of what he meant. The cunning
villain turned it at first into a jest and continued to banter him about
his being a country put, and so forth, until he perceived it was past
twelve o'clock, and knew that it was too late for him to get in at home;
then he told him that if he promised never to reveal it, he would tell
him what he meant. John being full of liquor swore he would not, and the
other replied, _Why, here you stand complaining of the want of money,
while I warrant you, there's a hundred or two pounds in your master's
drawer under the counter. Maybe there may_, said Cartwright, _but what's
that to me? Nay_, replied the other, _nothing, if you have not the
courage to go and fetch it; why now, you can get in I'm sure. Come, I'll
put you in a way of never being taken._

Cartwright, who was half drunk, remembered that there was a parcel of
gold in the drawer, and that it was in his power to get at a silver
watch and some plate, so that he fatally yielded to the temptations of
his companion, and thereupon the next morning, conveyed to him the
watch, fourscore pounds in money, and three silver spoons. They shared
the greatest part of the booty, of which Cartwright was quickly cheated,
and though he fled with the remainder as far as Monmouthshire, in Wales,
yet some way or other he was there detected, committed prisoner to the
county gaol and then sent up to London, where a few days after his
arrival he was tried and convicted.

Never poor wretch suffered deeper affliction than he did, in the
reflection of his follies, for giving up all hopes of life, he spent the
whole interval of time between sentence and execution in grieving for
the sorrows he had brought upon himself and the stain his ignominious
death would leave upon his family. His companion, in the meantime, was
fled far enough out of the reach of Justice, so that Cartwright had
nothing to expect but death to which he patiently submitted,
acknowledging upon all occasions the justice of that sentence which had
befallen him, and wishing that his death might be sufficient to warn
other young men in such circumstances, as his once were, from falling
into faults of that kind, which had brought him to ruin and shame. Yet
though he laid aside all desires relating to worldly things, he yet
expressed a little peevishness from the neglect shown towards him by his
friends in the country, who though they knew well enough of his
misfortunes, yet they absolutely declined doing anything for him, from a
notion perhaps that it might reflect upon themselves. Above all things
Cartwright manifested a due sense of the ingratitude he had been guilty
of towards so good a master as the gentleman whom he robbed had been to
him, he therefore prayed for his prosperity, even with his last breath,
and declared he died without malice or ill-will against any person

At the place of his execution he attended very devoutly to the prayers,
but did not say anything to the people more than to beg of them to take
warning by him, after the rope was fixed about his neck. He was executed
at Tyburn, on Monday, the 21st of September, 1726, being then about
twenty-three years of age, a remarkable instance of how far youth, even
of the best principles, is liable to be corrupted, if they are not
carefully watched over and may justify those restraints which parents
and masters, from a just apprehension of things, put upon their children
or servants.

The Life of FRANCES, _alias_ MARY BLACKET, a Highwaywoman

Nothing deserves observation more than the resolution, or rather
obstinacy, with which some criminals deny the facts they have committed,
though ever so evidently proved against them. There are two evils which
follow from a hasty judgment formed from this consideration; the first
is, that people either instigated through malice, or rashly and by
mistake, swear against innocent persons from a presumption that nobody
would be so wicked as to die with a lie in their mouths; the other fault
consists in imagining that the prosecutor is never in the wrong, but
believing that covetousness or revenge can never bring people to such a
pitch as to take away the life of another to gain money, or glut their
passions. Our experience convinces us that either of these notions taken
generally is wrong in itself, and that even as many have died in the
profession of falsehoods, so some have suffered though innocent of the
crime for which they died. The true use, therefore, of this reflection
is that where life is concerned, too much care cannot be taken to sift
the truth, since appearances often deceive us and circumstances are
sometimes strong where the evidence, if the whole affair were known,
would be but weak.

Mary Blacket, which was the real name of this unfortunate woman, was the
daughter of very mean parents, who yet were so careful of her education
that they brought her up to read and write tolerably well, and to do
everything which could be expected from a household servant, which was
the best station they ever expected she would arrive at. When she grew
big enough to go out, they procured for her a service in which as well
as in several others, while a single woman, she lived with very good
reputation. After this she married a sailor, and for all her neighbours
knew, lived by hard working while he was abroad. Then on a sudden she
was taken up and committed to Newgate, for assaulting William Whittle,
in the highway, and taking from him a watch value £4, and sixpence in
money, on the 6th of August, 1726.

When sessions came on, the prosecutor appeared and swore the fact
positively upon her, whereupon the jury found her guilty, though at the
bar she declared with abundance of asseverations that she never was
guilty of anything of that sort in her life, and insisted on it that the
man was mistaken in her face. While under sentence of death, she behaved
herself with great devotion, and seemed to express no concern at leaving
the world, excepting her only apprehensions that her child would neither
be taken care of nor educated so well after her decease, at the charge
of the parish, as hitherto it had been. Yet with respect to the crime
for which she was to die, she still continued to profess her innocency
thereof, averring that she had never been concerned in injuring anybody
by theft, and charging the oath of the prosecutor wholly upon his
mistake, and not upon wilful design to do her prejudice. At chapel, as
well as in the place of her confinement, she declared she absolutely
forgave him who had brought her to that ignominious end, as freely as
she hoped forgiveness from her Creator; and with these professions she
left the world at Tyburn, on the same day with the before-mentioned
malefactor, being then about thirty-four years of age, persisting even
at the place of execution in the denial of the fact.

The Life of JANE HOLMES, _alias_ BARRET, _alias_ FRAZER, a Shoplifter

In the summer of the year 1726, shoplifting became so common a practice,
and so detrimental to the shopkeepers, that they made an application to
the Government for assistance in apprehending the offenders; and in
order thereto, offered a reward and a pardon for any who would discover
their associates in such practices. It was not long before by their
vigilance and warmth in carrying on the prosecution, they seized and
committed several of the most notorious shoplifters about town, and at
the next several ensuing sessions convicted six or seven of them, which
seems to have pretty well broke the neck of this branch of thieving ever

The malefactor of whom we are now speaking pretended to have been the
daughter of a gentleman of some rank in a northern county. Certain it is
that the woman had had a tolerable education, and neither in her person,
nor in her behaviour betrayed anything of vulgar birth. Yet those whom
she called her nearest relations absolutely disowned her on her
application to them, and would not be prevailed on to take any steps
whatsoever in order to procure her a reprieve.

When between fifteen and sixteen years old, she came up to London to her
aunt, as she asserted, much against the will of her relations. At that
time she was not ugly, and therefore a young man in the neighbourhood
began to be very assiduous in his courtship to her, hoping also that the
persons she talked of, as her father and brothers in the country, would
give him a sum of money to set up his trade. Miss Jenny was a forward
lass, and the fellow being a spruce young spark, soon prevailed over her
affections, and they were accordingly privately married, though it
proved not much to her advantage. For her husband finding no money come,
began to use her indifferently, upon which she fell into that sort of
business which goes under the name of a Holland's Trader, and gave the
best opportunities of vending goods that are ill come by, at a
tolerable price, and with little danger.

Whether in the life-time of this husband or afterwards, I cannot say,
but she fell into the acquaintance of the famous Jonathan Wild, and
possibly received some of his instructions in managing her affairs in
the disposal of stolen goods; but as Jonathan's friendships were mostly
fatal, so in about a year's time afterwards she was apprehended upon
that score, and shortly after was tried and convicted, and thereupon
ordered for transportation. She continued abroad for two years or
somewhat more; and then, under pretence of love to her children,
ventured over to England again, where it was not long before she got
acquainted with her old crew, who, if they were to be believed upon
their oaths, were inferior to her in the art or mystery of shoplifting.
However it were, whether by selling stolen goods, or by stealing them,
certain it is that she ran into so much money that an Irish sharper
thought fit, about Christmas before her death, to marry her in order to
possess himself of her effects; which without ceremony he did upon her
being last apprehended, disposing of every thing she had, and taking
away particularly a large purse of old gold, which by her industry she
had collected against a rainy day.

The woman who became an evidence against her swore so positively on the
several indictments, and what she said was corroborated with so many
circumstances, that the jury found her guilty on the four following
indictments, viz.: for stealing 20 yards of straw-ground brocaded silk,
value £10, the goods of John Moon and Richard Stone, on the 1st of June,
1726; of stealing, in the shop of Mr. Mathew Herbert, 40 yards of
pink-coloured mantua silk, value £10, on the 1st of May, in the same
year; of stealing, in company with Mary Robinson, a silver cup of the
value of £5, the goods of Elizabeth Dobbinson, on the 7th January; of
stealing, in the company of Mary Robinson aforesaid, 80 yards of
cherry-coloured mantua silk value £5, the goods of Joseph Bourn and Mary
Harper, on the 24th December.

Notwithstanding the clearness of the evidence given against her, while
under sentence of death she absolutely denied not only the several facts
of which she was convicted, but of her having been ever guilty of any
theft during the whole life. Yet she confessed her acquaintance with
Jonathan Wild, nay, she went so far as to own having bought stolen
goods, and disposing of them, by which she had got great sums of money.
She was exceedingly uneasy at the thoughts of dying, and left no method
untried to procure a reprieve, venting herself in most opprobrious terms
against some whom she would have put upon procuring it for her, by
pretending to be their near relation, though the people knew very well
that she had nothing to do with them or their family; and she herself
had been reproved for nuking such pretensions by the ministers who
assist condemned persons; yet she still persisted therein, and on the
Ordinary of Newgate's acquainting her that the gentleman she called her
father died the week before, suddenly, she fell into a great agony of
crying, and as soon as she came a little to herself, reproached, though
in very modest terms, the unnatural conduct of those she still averred
to be so nearly related to her.

Nothing could be more fond than she was of her children, who were
brought to Newgate to see her, and over whom she wept bitterly, and
expressed great concern at her not having saved wherewith to support
them in their tender years. At last, when she lost all hopes of life,
instead of growing calmer and better reconciled to death, as is frequent
enough with persons in that sad condition, on the contrary, she became
more impatient than ever, flew out into excessive passions and behaved
herself with such vehemency and flights of railing, that she did not a
little disturb those who lay under sentence in the same place with her.
For this she was reprimanded by the keepers, and exhorted to alter her
behaviour by the minister of the place, which had at last so good an
effect upon her that she became more quiet for the two or three last
days of her life; in which she professed herself exceedingly grieved for
the many offences of her misspent life, declaring she heartily forgave
the woman who was an evidence against her, and who she believed was much
wickeder than herself, because as this criminal pretended, she had
varied not a little from the truth. At the place of execution she was
more composed than could have been expected, and with many prayers that
her life might prove a warning to others, she yielded up her last
breath, at Tyburn, on the same day with the before-mentioned
malefactors, being then about thirty-four years of age.

The Life of KATHERINE FITZPATRICK, _alias_ GREEN, _alias_ BOSWELL, a
notorious Shoplift

After once the mercers had got Burton, who was the evidence, into their
hands, she quickly detected numbers of her confederates, several of whom
were apprehended, and chiefly on her evidence, convicted. Amongst the
rest was this Katherine Fitzpatrick, who was born in Lincolnshire, of
parents far from being in low circumstances, and who were careful in
bestowing on her a very tolerable education. In the country she
discovered a little too much forwardness, and though London was a very
improper place in which to hope for her amendment, yet hither her
friends sent her, where she quickly fell into such company as deprived
her of all sentiments, either of virtue or honesty. What practices she
might pursue before she fell into shoplifting I have not been able to
learn, and will not therefore impose upon my readers at the expense of a
poor creature, who is so long ago gone to answer for her offences,
which, as they were doubtless many of themselves, so they shall never be
increased by me.

Being a woman of a tolerable person, notwithstanding her not having the
best of characters, she got a man in the mind to marry her, to whom she
made an indifferent good wife; and though he was not altogether clear
from knowing of her being concerned with shoplifters, yet he was so far
from giving her the least encouragement therein that they were on the
contrary continually quarrelling upon this subject; and whenever, from
any circumstances, he guessed she had been thieving, he beat her
severely. Yet all this was to no purpose, she still continued to treat
in the old path and associated herself with a large number of women, who
were at this time busy in stealing silks out of the shops, either in the
absence of the master, or under the pretence of seeing others. It is
observable not only of Katherine Fitzpatrick, of whom we are now
speaking, but also of all the persons who died for this offence, that
they were extremely shy of making detailed confessions, though ready
enough to confess in general that they had been grievous sinners, and
that the punishment they were to undergo was very just from the hand of
God. Fitzpatrick, as well as the former criminal Holmes, charged Burton
the evidence with disingenuity in what she delivered on her oath against
them, and yet Fitzpatrick could not absolutely deny having been guilty
of a multitude of offences as to shoplifting, so that it is highly
probable, even if the evidence erred a little in immaterial
circumstances, that in the main she swore truth.

The particular facts on which Fitzpatrick was convicted, were: (1)
stealing 19 yards of green damask valued at £9, the goods of Joseph
Giffard and John Ravenal, on July the 29th, 1724; (2) Taking 10 yards of
green satin out of the shop of John Moon and Richard Stone, value £3, on
the 10th February, 1724/25; (3) Stealing, in company with another
person, 50 yards of green mantua, value £10, the goods of John Autt, May
the 5th, 1725; (4) Stealing 63 yards of modena and pink italian mantua,
the goods of Joshua Fairy, February 24, 1724/25. These dates were all of
them somewhat more than a twelvemonth before the time of her
apprehension, and she insisted on it that she had left off committing
any such thing for a considerable space, which made the evidence envy
her, and so brought on the prosecution.

As she was a woman of good natural parts, and had not utterly lost that
education which had been bestowed upon her, she was not near so much
confuted at the apprehensions of death as people in her circumstances
usually are. She said she was glad she had some reformation in her life
before this great evil came upon her, because she hoped her repentance
was the more sincere as it had not proceeded from force; yet she was
very desirous of life when first condemned, and, like Mrs. Holmes,
pleaded her belly, in hopes her pregnancy might have prevented her
execution. But a jury of matrons found neither of them to be quick with
child; yet both to the time of their death averred they were so, and
seemed exceedingly uneasy that their children should die violent deaths
within them.

When the time of her execution drew very near, she called her thoughts
totally off from worldly affairs, and seemed to apply herself to the
great business which lay before her, with an earnestness and assiduity
seldom to be seen in such people. The assistance she had from her
friends abroad were not large, but she contented herself with a very
spare diet, being unwilling that anything should call her off from
penitence and religious duties. She seemed to have entirely weaned her
affections from the desire of life, and never showed any extraordinary
emotions, except on the visit of her youngest child, in the nurse's
arms, at the first sight of which she fell into strong convulsion fits,
from which she was not brought to herself without great difficulty. She
sometimes expressed a little uneasiness at the misfortunes which had
befallen her after she had left off that way of living, but upon her
being spoken to by several reverend persons, who explained and
vindicated the wisdom and justice of Providence, she acquiesced under
its decrees, and without murmuring submitted to her fate.

A little before she died, she, with the rest of the shoplifters, was
asked some questions concerning one Mrs. Susanna, who was suspected of
having been in some degree concerned with her. Mrs. Fitzpatrick and Mrs.
Holmes each of them declared that they knew nothing evil about her. Mrs.
Fitzpatrick did indeed say that she had some little acquaintance with
the woman, and knew that she got her living by selling coffee, tea, and
some other little things, yet never was concerned in any ill practices
in relation to them, or anybody else she knew of. After having done
this public justice, she, with great meekness, yielded up her breath at
Tyburn, the 6th of September, 1726, being then about thirty-eight years
of age.

The Life of MARY ROBINSON, a Shoplift

The indiscretions of youth are always pitied, and often excused even by
those who suffer most by them; but when persons grown up to years of
discretion continue to pursue with eagerness the most flagitious
courses, and grow in wickedness as they grow in age, pity naturally
forsakes us, and they appear in so execrable a light that instead of
having compassion for their misfortunes we congratulate our country on
being rid of such monsters, whom nothing could tame, nor the approach
even of death in a natural way hinder them from anticipating it by
drawing on a violent one through their crimes.

I am drawn to this observation from the fate of the miserable woman of
whom we are now speaking. What her parents were, or what her education
it is impossible to say, since she was shy of relating them herself; and
being seventy years old at the time of her execution, there was nobody
then living who could give an account about her. She was indicted for
stealing a silver cup, in company with Jane Holmes, and also stealing
eighty yards of cherry-coloured mantua silk, value five pounds, in
company with the aforesaid Jane Holmes, the property of Joseph Brown and
Mary Harper, on the 24th of December. On these facts she was convicted
as the rest were, in the evidence of Burton, whom, as is usual in such
cases, they represented as a woman worse than themselves, and who had
drawn many of them into the commission of what she now deposed against

As to this old woman Mary Robinson, she said she had been a widow
fourteen years, and had both children and grandchildren living at the
time of her execution; she said she had worked as hard for her living as
any woman in London. Yet when pressed thereupon to speak the truth and
not wrong her conscience in her last moments, she did then declare she
had been guilty of thieving tricks; but persisted in it that the
evidence Burton had not been exactly right in what she had sworn against
her. It was a melancholy thing to see a woman of her years, and who
really wanted not capacity, brought into those lamentable circumstances,
and going to a violent and ignominious death, when at a time when she
could not expect it would be any long term before she submitted to a
natural one.

Possibly my readers may wonder how such large quantities of silk were
conveyed away. I thought, therefore, proper to inform them that the
evidence Burton said they had a contrivance under their petticoats, not
unlike two large hooks, upon which they laid a whole roll of silk, and
so conveyed it away at once, while one of their confederates amused the
people of the shop in some manner or other until they got out of reach;
and by this means they had for many years together carried on their
trade with great success and as much safety, until the losses of the
tradesmen ran so high as to induce them to take the method
before-mentioned, which quickly produced a discovery, not only of the
persons of the offenders, but of the place also where they had deposited
the goods. By this means a good part of them were recovered, and those
who had so long lived by this infamous practice were either detected or
destroyed; so that shoplifting has been thereby kept under ever since,
or at least the offenders have not ventured in so large a way as before.

But to return to the criminal of whom we are to treat. She said she was
not afraid of death at all, though she confessed herself troubled as to
the manner in which she was to die, and reflected severely upon Burton,
who had given evidence against her. By degrees she grew calmer, and on
the day of her execution appeared more composed and cheerful than she
had done during all her troubles. She suffered at the same time with the
malefactors before mentioned, and in her years looked as if she had been
the mother of those with whom she died.

The Life of JANE MARTIN, _alias_ LLOYD, a Cheat and a Thief, etc.

This woman was the daughter of parents in very good reputation, about an
hundred miles off in the country. While they lived they took care to
breed her to understand everything as became a gentlewoman of a small
fortune, and in her younger years she was tractable enough; but her
parents dying while Jane was but a girl, she came into the hand of
guardians who were not altogether so careful as they ought. Before she
was of age she married a young gentleman who had a pretty little
fortune, which he and she quickly confounded; insomuch that he became a
prisoner in the King's Bench for debt. Being thus destitute, and in
great want of money, she set her wits to work to consider ways and
means of cheating people for her support, in which she became as
dexterous as any who ever followed that infamous trade. Yet her husband
(as she herself owned) was a man of strict honour, and so much offended
at these villainies that he used her with great severity thereupon, but
that had no effect, for she still continued the old trade, putting on
the saint until people trusted her, and pulling off the mask as soon as
she found there was no more to be got by keeping it on.

Amongst the rest of her adventures in this way she once took it in her
head that it was possible for her to set up a great shop, entirely upon
credit, for except some good clothes she had nothing else to go to
market with. Accordingly she first took a shop not far from Somerset
House, and having caused some bales of brick-bats to be made up, sent
them thither in a cart with one of her confederates, which was safely
deposited in that which was to pass for the warehouse. A carpenter was
sent for, who was employed in making shelves, drawers, and other
utensils for a haberdasher's shop. Then going to the wholesale people in
that way, she found means to draw them in to six or seven hundred pounds
worth of goods to the house which she had taken. All of this stuff the
Saturday night following, she caused to be carried over into the Mint, a
practice very common with the infamous shelterers there who preserve
their pretended privileges.

Mrs. Martin having got some acquaintance in a tolerable family, and
having a very fair tongue, she quickly wheedled them into a belief of
her being able to do great matters by her interest with some person of
distinction, whose name she made use of on this occasion, and thereby
got several presents and small sums of money, and (if she herself were
to be believed) among the rest a silver cup. Whether her failing in her
promises really provoked the people to swearing a theft upon her, or
whether (which is more probable) she took an opportunity of conveying it
secretly away, certain it is that for this she was prosecuted, and the
fact appearing clear enough to the jury, was thereupon convicted and
ordered for transportation. This afflicted her at least as much as if
she had been condemned to instant death, and therefore she applied
herself continually to thinking which way it might be eluded, and she
might escape. Soon after her going abroad, she effected what she so
earnestly desired, and unhappily for her returned again into England.

The numerous frauds she had committed had exasperated many people
against her, who as soon as it was rumoured that she was come back
again, never left searching for her until they found her out, and got
her committed to Newgate; and on the record of her conviction being
produced the next sessions, and the prosecutor swearing positively that
she was the same person, the jury, after a short consultation, brought
her in guilty, and she received sentence of death, from which, as she
had no friends, she could not hope to escape. When she found death was
inevitable, she fell into excessive agonies and well-nigh into despair.
The reflection on the many people she had injured gave her so great
grief and anxiety of mind that she could scarce be persuaded to get down
a sufficient quantity of food to preserve her life until the time of her
execution. But the minister at Newgate having demonstrated to her the
wickedness and the folly of such a course, she by degrees came to have a
better sense of things; her mind grew calmer, and though her repentance
was accompanied with sighs and tears, yet she did not burst out into
those lamentable outcries by which she before disturbed both herself and
those poor creatures who were under sentence with her. In this
disposition of mind she continued until the day of her death, which was
on the 12th of September, 1726, being between twenty-seven-and-eight
years of age, in the company of the before-mentioned malefactors,
Cartwright, Blacket, Holmes, Fitzpatrick, Robinson, and William Allison,
a poor country lad of about twenty-five, apparently of an easy gentle
temper who had been induced into the fact, partly through covetousness,
and partly through want.

The Life of TIMOTHY BENSON, a Highwayman

Amongst the