On this date in 1741 ended at Dorchester “a young Man of great Hope, who was of a proper Stature, and of a handsome Personage, of a gentle and winning Disposition, chearful in his Temper, of a noble Nature, a kind and benevolent Mind; he had a pleasant Wit, speaking very gracefully and pertinently that made him pleasant to all Company; of an Industry in Business not to be tired; and what is remarkable, tho’ he spent his Youth among Seafaring People, yet he seldom drank any Thing else but Water of Small Beer, he abhorr’d Drunkenness in others, and could not endure any light or prophane Words, with whatever Sharpness of Wit it was cover’d; in his Engagements in Trade he was regular; in his Promises punctual; to his Servants he was kind; to his Wife very loving, and so courteous and affable to all Men, that he had many Friends, and few Enemies; he preserved a Reputation in his Neighbourhood, and was esteem’d and beloved through the Circle of his Acquaintance.”
Seems like a pretty great guy, except for the part where, concealing his marriage, he debauched and impregnated a serving-girl with the unrealizable promise of wedlock — a promise poor Jane Mew was disabused of by accidentally meeting his wife.
What occurred next is only to be inferred, for the very respectable Smith (or Smythee, as the pamphlet attached to this post has it) denied the circumstantial case against him to the last. Smith directed his lover to a lying-in place to give birth in secret but Jane Mew turned up in a field with her throat slashed en route. Perhaps Smith would have stood a better chance of convincing people that she had fallen as prey to some random highway robber or a desperate suicide had he not taken flight upon the discovery of her incriminating corpse.
In the reign of King Charles I a strolling musician, a poor piper, named John Bartendale, was brought, in 1634, before the Assizes, and was convicted of felony.
He received sentence, and on March 27th was hung on the gallows, outside Micklegate Bar, York. There were no houses there at that time — it was open country. After he had remained swinging for three-quarters of an hour, and was to all appearance dead, he was cut down, and buried near the place of execution. The officers of justice had accomplished their work carelessly in both particulars, as it afterwards transpired, for he had been neither properly hung nor properly buried.
Earth has a peculiarly invigorating and restorative effect, as has been recently discovered; and patients suffering from debility are by some medical men now-a-days placed in earth baths with the most salutary effects. In the case of gangrened wounds a little earth has been found efficacious in promoting healthy action of the skin. John Bartendale was now to experience the advantages of an earth-bath.
That same day, in the afternoon, a gentleman, one of the Vavasours of Hazlewood, was riding by, when he observed the earth moving in a certain place. He ordered his servant to alight; he himself descended from his horse; and together they threw off the mould, and discovered the unfortunate piper alive. He opened his eyes, sat up, and asked where he was, and how he came there. Mr. Vavasour and his servant helped him out of his grave, and seated him on the side. The man was sent for water and other restoratives, and before long the news had spread about down Micklegate that the poor piper was come to life again. A swarm of wondering and sympathising people poured out to congratulate John the Piper on his resurrection, and to offer their assistance. A conveyance was obtained, and as soon as Bartendale was in a sufficient condition to be moved he was placed in it covered with Mr. Vavasour’s cloak, — for he had been stripped by the executioner before he was laid in the earth — and was removed again to York Castle.
It was rather hard that the poor fellow, after he had obtained his release, should have been returned to his prison; but there was no help for it. The resurrection of the piper was no secret; otherwise Mr. Vavasour would doubtless have removed him privately to a place of security till he was recovered, and then have sent him into another part of the country.
At the following Assizes, Bartendale was brought up again. It was a nice point of law whether the man could be sentenced to execution again after the Sheriff had signed his affidavit that the man had been hung till he was dead. Mr. Vavasour was naturally reluctant to supply the one link in the chain of evidence which established the identity of the prisoner with the piper who had been hung and buried for felony; he made earnest intercession that the poor fellow might be reprieved, popular sympathy was on his side, the judge was disposed to mercy, and Bartendale was accorded a full and free pardon; the judge remarking that the case was one in which the Almighty seemed to have interfered in mercy to frustrate the ends of human justice, and that therefore he was not disposed to reverse the decree of Providence according to the piper a prolongation of his days on earth.
Drunken Barnaby in his “Book of Travels” alludes to Bartendale, when he stops at York:
Here a piper apprehended,
Was found guilty and suspended;
Being led to t’fatal gallows,
Boys did cry, “Where is thy bellows?
Ever must thou cease thy tuning,”
Answered he, “For all your cunning,
You may fail in your prediction.”
Which did happen without fiction;
For cut down, and quick interred,
Earth rejected what was buried;
Half alive or dead he rises,
Got a pardon next Assizes,
And in York continued blowing —
Yet a sense of goodness showing.
After his wonderful deliverance the poor fellow turned hostler, and lived very honestly afterwards.
When asked to describe his sensations on being hung, he said that when he was turned off, flashes of fire seemed to dart before his eyes, and were succeeded by darkness and a state of insensibility.
From the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, March 31, 1823.
SHOCKING MURDER — At Shrewsbury Assizes, on Saturday, John Newton, a Farmer, living at Severn-Hall, near Bridgenorth, was tried for the Wilful Murder of his wife, Sarah Newton, by violently beating and striking her, by throwing her down on a sledge, and by kicking her, (she being five months gone with child), in consequence of which she languished three hours and then expired.
The provocation on her part was — having misapplied the trifling sum of three shillings.
Her children stood by at the time (the eldest not more than eight years of age) and exclaimed — “O dear! do not dad!”
The evidence clearly proved the initial act of the prisoner.
Mr. Justice Best, in passing sentence, spoke to the following effect: —
John Newton, you have been convicted, upon the clearest and most satisfactory evidence, of the dreadful crime of murder — a crime upon which Heaven has imposed a sentence. It was recorded in Holy Writ, that, “Whosoever shed a man’s blood, by man his blood should be shed.” You have deprived of life one whom it was your duty to protect and cherish: and for what cause? Why, because your wife had misapplied the trifling sum of three shillings.
Your humane and kind-hearted creditor had endeavoured to prevent you exercising your brutal chastisement upon your wife, and he told you he would rather lose this trifling sum than you should punish your wife. You promised him that you would not beat her. Notwithstanding this promise, notwithstanding she was in a state that not even a monster would have laid violent hands upon her, the dreadful threat you had uttered four hours before was put into execution.
You beat her to the ground; you kicked her on a part of her body which might almost in all cases have caused death, but especially in the state she was in. You acted as a most inhuman father, destroying that life which owed its origin to you; and you killed your wife at a time when it might be thought that the most savage, the most ferocious of mankind would be disarmed.
When she was lying in an alarming state from the bruises she had received at your hands, you refused to send for medical advice, and when she was lying on the floor you abused her in addition to your cruel conduct.
After thirty years’ experience in Courts of Justice, I confess I have never witnessed such savage conduct as yours. I hope to God you will obtain that mercy you were not disposed to show here. May you apply to him with a contrite and repentant heart, who is the distributor of all mercy, during the very short time you have to live; for no mercy can you obtain on this side the grave. You will have the assistance of a clergyman, who is better qualified than I am to teach you true repentance: and may God of his infinite mercy, so dispose your heart that it may be better fitted for another world.
There now remains for me only the painful duty of passing the sentence of the law — which is, that you be taken hence to the place whence you came, and thence to the place of execution, on Monday next, where you shall be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and your body shall then be given to the surgeons for dissection, and may God have mercy on your soul!
The prisoner, who is a robust-looking man of forty, showed little emotion during the trial, or when the verdict was given: but while the Judge was addressing him he seemed bewildered — looking wildly about him — moved, as if involuntarily, up and down as sick and once or twice attempted to turn away. He once put his handkerchief to his face, but did not want to shed tears.
THE question, Whether society has a right to punish individuals, especially to the extent of death, which is well denominated in Latin “ultimum supplicium — the last or utmost punishment,” has been treated with great attention and ingenuity by a number of casuists in law and in morals. And of late it has been discussed with elegant ability by the Marquis di Marco, an Italian nobleman of Mantua, whose performance well becomes that celebrated city, while it shews that in modern times the descendants of those whom we are taught from our early years to admire, are yet worthy of admiration. So that we may quote from Addison‘s beautiful letter from Italy,
And still I seem to tread on classick ground.
It is indeed a question which resolves into the powerful and irresistible plea of necessity; since we are sure society could not exist without such a right. But the exercise of it, no doubt, admits of much modification, in which the wisdom and humanity of legislators has a wide field. Another Italian nobleman has done himself great honour by his admirable work “Delle de litte e delle pene,” which Voltaire has illuminated with some additional rays; and I can with pleasure mention, to the credit of our own nation, Mr. Eden‘s Principles of Penal Law.
These cursory remarks are only meant to serve the purpose of introducing into the collection of my Hypochondriack Essays, another of my former writings, which is, I think, well suited to my present title.
April 25, 1768.
To the Printer of the Publick Advertiser
THAT the people of England possess that quality called good-nature, will not be denied by any man whose mind is not fretted by some real ills, or clouded by some fanciful ones. But it must also be acknowledged that the people of England are, of all nations in the world, the most desirous of feeing spectacles of cruelty. Bull-baiting, cock-fighting, and even throwing at cocks, were for many and many a year the delight of the English; and it is not long since assemblies of good-natured people were deliberately held to see their fellow-creatures beat, bruise, and sometimes actually kill each other.
Though the desire of seeing spectacles of cruelty has peculiarly prevailed in England, it has more or less been the passion of mankind in all ages and countries. Hence the various satires against it by poets; hence the various attempts to account for it by philosophers. Lucretius, who was both a poet and a philosopher, refers it to self-love, as we may see from that celebrated passage,
Suave mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis.
He thinks that men love to behold scenes of distress, that they may hug themselves in security, and relish more their own safety and ease, by comparing themselves with those who are suffering. Though I, as well as every rational and virtuous man, must think that Lucretius is in general a very false and a very hurtful writer; yet I must candidly own that he is often ingenious and just in his observations. In the present case he certainly has a great deal of merit; though I would be for compounding his system with that of the Abbe du Bos, who accounts for our desire of seeing spectacles of cruelty from the universal wish that we all have to be moved; that is, to have our souls agitated; for to be sure there is nothing so irksome to a man of lively sensations, as to have his faculties thrown into a kind of torpor, so that in Shakespeare’s words,
They cream and mantle like a standing pool
This will more fully account for what I am endeavouring to explains and will make human nature appear not so grossly selfish as Lucretius paints it.
Of all publick spectacles, that of a capital execution draws the greatest number of spectators. And I must confess that I myself am never absent from any of them. Nor can I accuse myself of being more hard-hearted than other people. On the contrary, I am persuaded that nobody feels more sincerely for the distresses of his fellow-creatures than I do, yor would do more to relieve them. When I first attended executions, I was shocked to the greatest degree. I was in a manner convulsed with pity and terror, and for several days, but especially nights after, I was in a very dismal situation. Still, however, I persisted in attending them, and by degrees my sensibility abated; so that I can now see one with great composure, and my mind is not afterwards haunted with frightful thoughts: though for a while a certain degree of gloom remains upon it. I can account for this curiosity in a philosophical manner, when I consider that death is the most aweful object before every man, who ever directs his thoughts seriously towards futurity; and that it is very natural that we should be anxious to see people in that situation which affects us so much. It is true indeed that none of us, who go to see an execution have any idea that we are to be executed, and few of us need be under any apprehension whatever of meeting with that fate. But dying publickly at Tyburn, and dying privately in one’s bed, are only different modes of the fame thing. They are both death; they are both that wonderous, that alarming scene of quitting all that we have ever seen, heard, or known, and at once passing into a state of being totally unknown, to us, and in which we cannot tell what may be our situation. Therefore it is that I feel an irresistible impulse to be present at every execution, as I there behold, the various effects of the near approach of death, according to the various tempers of the unhappy sufferers, and by studying them I learn to quiet and fortify my own mind.
I shall never forget the last execution I saw at Tyburn, when Mr. Gibson, the attorney, for forgery, and Benjamin Payne, for an highway robbery, were executed. Poor Payne was a thin young lad of twenty, in a mean dress, and a red night-cap, with nothing to discriminate him from the many miserable beings who are penitent and half dead with fear. But Mr. Gibson was indeed an extraordinary man. He came from Newgate in a coach, with some friends attending him. I met the mournful procession in Oxford-road; and I declare that if I had not been told it, I should not have known which was Mr. Gibson. He was drawn backwards, and looked as calm and easy as ever I saw a man in my life. He was dressed in a full suit of black, wore his own hair round and in a natural curl, and a hat. When he came to the place of execution he was allowed to remain a little in the coach. A signal was then given him that it was time to approach the fatal tree. He took leave of his friends, stepped out of the coach, and walked firmly to the cart. He was helped up upon it, as he was pinioned and had not the free use of his arms. When he was upon the cart, he gave his hat to the executioner, who immediately took off Mr. Gibson’s cravat, unloosed his shirt neck, and fixed the rope. Mr. Gibson never once altered his countenance. He refreshed his mouth by sucking a sweet orange. He shewed no stupid insensibility; nor did he affect to brave it out like those hardened wretches who boast that they die hard. He appeared to all the spectators a man of sense and reflexion, of a mind naturally sedate and placid. He submitted with a manly and decent resolution to what he knew to be the just punishment of the law. Mr. Moore, the Ordinary of Newgate, discharged his duty with much earnestness, and a fervour for which I and all around me esteemed and loved him. Mr. Moore seems worthy of his office, which, when justly considered, is a very important one, if administering divine comfort to multitudes of miserable beings, be important. Poor Payne seemed to rely on that mercy which I trust has not been refused him — Mr. Gibson seemed truely devout; and, in short, from first to last, his behaviour was the most perfect that I ever saw, or indeed could conceive of one in his unhappy circumstances. — I wish, Sir, I may not have detained you too long with a letter on subjects of a serious but I will not fay of a gloomy cast, because from my manner of viewing them I do say that they become matters of curious speculation, and are relieved of their dreary ideas. I am, Sir,
Your constant reader,
After an interval of fifteen years, I have little to add to this occasional essay. But I cannot but mention in justification of myself, from a charge of cruelty in having gone so much formerly to see executions, that the curiosity which impels people to be present at such affecting scenes, is certainly a proof of sensibility not of callousness. For it is observed, that the greatest proportion of the spectators is composed of women; and I do not apprehend that my readers will impute a barbarous severity to the fair sex, though it is common for lovers to represent them as metaphorically cruel. But in the one case they are cruel to others to be kind to themselves, by avoiding what is disagreeable to them. Whereas in the other case the pleasure must be from the sufferings of others independent of any such reference. That there, however, is such a pleasure I am afraid is true; and in support of my opinion, I bring no less authority than Edmund Burke, who maintains it in his Treatise on the Sublime and Beautiful. Yet let it not be supposed that this pleasure arising from agitation, prevents the finest feelings and effects of compassion; I am sure it does not.
As the great Justinian nobly expressed himself, I should wish that as mild punishments as are consistent with terrour were always inflicted. It is indeed astonishing how men have been found willing and able to execute some of the horrible sentences which have been put in execution upon some criminals. One shudders to think of them; and I shall not wound the minds of my readers by reciting particulars. They who wish to be shocked, or to gratify a monstrous curiosity, may read the tortures of Ravaillac or Damiens. A mode of death which strikes terrour into spectators, without excruciating the unfortunate objects of legal vengeance, seems to be the most eligible. I, therefore, think that the faces of those who are hanged should not be covered, as in Britain, but exposed, as is the custom upon the continent, that the distortions may be seen, which covered or uncovered must take place. I also think that the punishment of throwing criminals from the Tarpeian rock in ancient Rome was a very judicious one. But the best I have ever discovered is one practised in Modern Rome, which is called “Macellare –to butcher.” The criminal is placed upon a scaffold, and the executioner knocks him on the head with a great iron hammer, then cuts his throat with a large knife, and lastly, hews him in pieces with an ax; in short, treats him exactly like an ox in the shambles. The spectators are struck with prodigious terrour; yet the poor wretch who is stunned into insensibility by the blow, does not actually suffer much.
But, indeed, death, simple death, when slowly and solemnly inflicted, will be fully sufficient to answer the purposes of publick punishment, as is very well demonstrated by Dr. Mandeville, in An Essay upon the Increase of Robberies, in which he has written with a very different spirit from that which prompted his very shrewd, lively, and entertaining, but dangerous Fable of the Bees.
British-occupied Egypt on this date in 1945 hanged two young Jewish assassins for slaying the British plenipotentiary to the Middle East.
Walter Edward Guinness was heir to the barley beer fortune and a Tory politician of near 40 years’ standing. “Lord Moyne”, to call him (as history does, and as we will henceforward) by his aristocratic honorific, allied with his former rival Winston Churchill in the 1930s as a staunch foe of placating Hitler, eventually serving several roles in Churchill’s wartime government.*
The last and perforce most famous was Resident Minister of State in Cairo from January 1944, where he directed British affairs in North Africa, Persia, and the Middle East, crucially including Mandatory Palestine.
Such a figure must necessarily represent many things to different subjects, but to Zionists he represented the hostility to their project of both his own person and (more importantly) of London. While there is endless nitpicking about the man’s precise degree of disfavor for Jewish people or interests, “Lord Moyne was the highest British official in the Middle East,” in the words of Yitzhak Shamir, the emigre terrorist who orchestrated the hit and would one day become Prime Minister of Israel. “Because we fought against the British in this area, we took him for a target. This was the main reason for his assassination.” Nothing personal. (Maybe a little personal.)
On November 6, 1944, two of Shamir’s young cadres in the late Avraham Stern‘s militantly anti-British Lehi network, Eliyahu Bet-Zuri (Ben Suri) and Eliyahu Hakim, ambushed Moyne as his limousine pulled up at his villa, and shot him dead with pistols. (They also killed Moyne’s driver, a Lance Corporal named Arthur Fuller.) Once their affiliations became apparent it was Jewry’s turn to bask in the collective censorious scowl that minorities everywhere can anticipate given any perceived ethnic affinity to the latest atrocity’s author. These sortings-out from the London Times would do almost word for word for whatever horror tomorrow’s news might bring.
London Times, Nov. 10, 1944
London Times, Jan. 29, 1945
Similarly, Lord Moyne’s killers took every pain to link their martyrdom to Jewish/Zionist patriotism, no matter any moderate rabbi’s attempt to wash his hands of it.
Raised in Mandatory Palestine, both Bet-Zuri and Hakim spoke Arabic but insisted on speaking only Hebrew in the Cairo court. They went to the gallows singing the hymn “Hatikvah” — later to become Israel’s national anthem.
In the near term, their deed hardened hearts: “If our dreams for Zionism are to end in the smoke of an assassin’s pistol, and the labors for its future produce a new set of gangsters worthy of Nazi Germany, then many like myself will have to reconsider the position we have maintained so consistently and so long in the past,” Churchill snarled to Parliament.
But in fact the British reconsideration was soon seen to run counter to the dangerous meddling policing these “gangsters” would have demanded. Within only a few years London struck its colors in the Levant. Bet-Zuri’s and Hakim’s cause triumphed, and they too with it: as Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir arranged for the hanged men’s remains to be repatriated from Egypt; today, both rest in honor at Mount Herzl.
* There was a personal side to Lord Moyne’s anti-Naziism: his son, Bryan, had been abandoned by his socialite wife Diana Mitford … who became Diana Mosley in 1936 when she married British Union of Fascists chief Oswald Mosley, in a ceremony held at Joseph Goebbels‘ home no less.
(Thanks to novelist and archaeology enthusiast Thomas Hardy for the guest post, which originally appeared in the October 9, 1908 issue of the London Times. The Tess of the d’Urbervilles author, a man we have met quite often in our pages, was a Dorset native who nursed a lifelong fascination with the noose, particularly when it was affixed to women. Mary Channing’s fate in particular haunted Hardy, and resurfaced a number of times in his work; his 1925 poem “The Mock Wife” is also based on Channing’s tragedy. -ed.)
By Thomas Hardy.
The present month sees the last shovelful filled in, the last sod replaced, of the excavations in the well-known amphitheatre at Dorchester, which have been undertaken at the instance of the Dorset Field and Antiquarian Club* and others, for the purpose of ascertaining the history and date of the ruins. The experts have scraped their spades and gone home to meditate on the results of their exploration, pending the resumption of the work next spring. Mr. St. George Gray, of Taunton, has superintended the labour, assisted by Mr. Charles Prideaux, an enthusiastic antiquary of the town, who, with disinterested devotion to discovery, has preferred to spend his annual holiday from his professional duties at the bottom of chalk trenches groping for fibulae or arrow-heads in a drizzling rain, to idling it away on any other spot in Europe.
The amphitheater today. (cc) image by Carron Brown.
As usual, revelations have been made of an unexpected kind. There was a moment when the blood of us onlookers ran cold, and we shivered a shiver that was not occasioned by our wet feet and dripping clothes. For centuries the town, the county, and England generally, novelists, poets, historians, guidebook writers, and what not, had been freely indulging their imaginations in picturing scenes that, they assumed, must have been enacted within those oval slopes; the feats, the contests, animal exhibitions, even gladiatorial combats, before throngs of people
— briefly, the Colosseum programme on a smaller scale. But up were thrown from one corner prehistoric implements, chipped flints, horns, and other remains, and a voice announced that the earthworks were of the paleolithic or neolithic age, and not Roman at all!
This, however, was but a temporary and, it is believed, unnecessary alarm. At other points in the structure, as has been already stated in The Times, the level floor of an arena, trodden smooth, and coated with traces of gravel, was discovered with Roman relics and coins on its surface: and at the entrance and in front of the podium, a row of post-holes, apparently for barriers, as square as when they were dug, together with other significant marks, which made it fairly probable that, whatever the place had been before Julius Caesar’s landing, it had been used as an amphitheatre at some time during the Roman occupation. The obvious explanation, to those who are not specialists, seems to be that here, as elsewhere, the colonists, to save labour, shaped and adapted to their own use some earthworks already on the spot. This was antecedently likely from the fact that the amphitheatre stands on an elevated site — or, in the enigmatic words of Hutchins, is “artfully set on the top of a plain,” — and that every similar spot in the neighbourhood has a tumulus or tumuli upon it; or had till some were carted away within living memory.
But this is a matter on which the professional investigators will have their conclusive say when funds are forthcoming to enable them to dig further. For some reason they have hitherto left undisturbed the ground about the southern end of the arena, underneath which the cavea or vault for animals is traditionally said to be situated, although it is doubtful if any such vault, supposing it ever to have existed, would have been suffered to remain there, stones being valuable in a chalk district. And if it had been built of chalk blocks the frost and rains of centuries would have pulvrized them by this time.
While the antiquaries are musing on the puzzling problems that arise from the confusion of dates in the remains, the mere observer who possesses a smattering of local history and remembers local traditions that have been recounted by people now dead and gone, must walk round the familiar arena, and consider. And he is not, like the archaists, compelled to restrict his thoughts to the early centuries of our era. The sun has gone down behind the avenue on the Roman Via and modern road that adjoins, and the October moon is rising on the south-east behind the parapet, the two terminations of which by the north entrance jut against the sky like knuckles. The place is now in its normal state of repose and silence, save for the occasional bray of a motorist passing along outside in sublime ignorance of amphitheatrical lore, or the clang of shunting at the nearest railroad station. The breeze is not strong enough to stir even the grass-bents with which the slopes are covered, and over which the loiterer’s footsteps are quite noiseless.
Like all such taciturn presences, Maumbury is less taciturn by night than by day, which simply means that the episodes and incidents associated therewith come back more readily in the mind in nocturnal hours. First, it recalls to us that, if probably Roman, it is a good deal more. Its history under the rule of the Romans would not extend to a longer period than 200 or 300 years, while it has had a history of 1,600 years since they abandoned this island, through which ages it may have been regarded as a handy place for early English council-gatherings, may have been the scene of many an exciting episode in the life of the Western kingdom. But for century after century it keeps itself closely curtained, except at some moments to be mentioned.
The civil wars of Charles I unscreen it a little, and we vaguely learn that it was used by the artillery when the struggle was in this district, and that certain irregularities in its summit were caused then. The next incident that flashes a light over its contours is Sir Christopher Wren‘s visit a quarter of a century later. Nobody knows what the inhabitants thought to be the origin of its elliptic banks — differing from others in the vicinity by having no trench around them — until the day came when, according to legend, Wren passed up the adjoining highway on his journey to Portland to select stone for St. Paul’s Cathedral, and was struck with the sight of the mounts. Possibly he asked some rustic at plough there for information. That all tradition of their use as an amphitheatre had been lost is to be inferred from the popular name, and one can quite undrstand how readily, as he entered and stood on the summit, a man whose studies had lain so largely in the direction of Roman architecture should have ascribed a Roman origin to the erection. That the offhand guess of a passing architect should have turned out to be true — and it does not at present seem possible to prove the whole construction to be prehistoric — is a remarkable tribute to his insight.
The Amphitheatre was a huge circular enclosure, with a notch at opposite extremities of its diameter north and south. From its sloping internal form it might have been called the spittoon of Jötuns … Melancholy, impressive, lonely, yet accessible from every part of the town, the historic circle was the frequent spot for appointments of a furtive kind. Intrigues were arranged there; tentative meetings were there experimented after divisions and feuds … its associations had about them something sinister … apart from the sanguinary nature of the games originally played therein, such incidents attached to its past as these: that for scores of years the town-gallows had stood at one corner; that in 1705 a woman who had murdered her husband was half-strangled and then burnt there in the presence of ten thousand spectators. Tradition reports that at a certain stage of the burning her heart burst and leapt ouf of her body, to the terror of them all, and that not one of those ten thousand people ever cared particularly for hot roast after that.
The curtain drops for another 40 years, and then Maumbury was the scene of as sinister an event as any associated with it, because it was a definite event. It is one which darkens its concave to this day. This was the death suffered there on March 21, 1705-6,** of a girl who had not yet reached her nineteenth year. Here, at any rate, we touch real flesh and blood, and no longer uncertain visions of possible Romans at their games or barbarians at their sacrifices. The story is a ghastly one, but nevertheless very distinctly a chapter of Maumbury’s experiences. This girl was the wife of a grocer in the town, a handsome young woman “of good natural parts,” and educated “to a proficiency suitable enough to one of her sex, to which likewise was added dancing.” She was tried and condemned for poisoning her husband, a Mr. Thomas Channing, to whom she had been married against her wish by the compulsion of her parents. The present writer has examined more than once a report of her trial, and can find no distinct evidence that the thoughtless, pleasure-loving creature committed the crime, while it contains much to suggest that she did not. Nor is any motive discoverable for such an act. She was allowed to have her former lover or lovers about her by her indulgent and weak-minded husband, who permitted her to go her own ways, give parties, and supplied her with plenty of money. However, at the assizes at the end of July, she was found guilty, after a trial in which the testimony chiefly went to show her careless character before and after marriage. During the three sultry days of its continuance, she, who was soon to become a mother, stood at the bar — then, as may be known, an actual bar of iron — “by reason of which (runs the account) and her much talking, being quite spent, she moved the Court for the liberty of a glass of water.” She conducted her own defence with the greatest ability, and was complimented thereupon by Judge Price, who tried her, but did not extend his compliment to a merciful summing-up. Maybe that he, like Pontius Pilate, was influenced by the desire of the townsfolk to wreak vengeance on somebody, right or wrong. When sentence was about to be passed, she pleaded her condition; and execution was postponed. Whilst awaiting the birth of her child in the old damp gaol by the river at the bottom of the town, near the White Hart inn, which stands there still, she was placed in the common room for women prisoners and no bed provided for her, no special payment and no bed provided for her, no special payment having been made to her goaler, Mr. Knapton, for a separate cell. Someone obtained for her the old tilt of a wagon to screen her from surrounding eyes, and under this she was delivered of a son, in December. After her lying-in she was attacked with an intermittent fever of a violent and lasting kind, which preyed upon her until she was nearly wasted away. In this state, at the next assizes, on the 8th of March following, the unhappy woman, who now said that she longed for death, but still persisted in her innocence, was again brought to the bar, and her execution fixed for the 21st.
On that day two men were hanged before her turn came, and then, “the under-sheriff having taken some refreshment,” he proceeded to his biggest and last job with this girl not yet 19, now reduced to a skeleton by the long fever, and already more dead than alive. She was conveyed from the gaol in a cart “by her father’s and husband’s houses,” so that the course of the procession must have been up the High-East-street as far as the Bow, thence down South-street and up the straight old Roman road to the Ring beside it. “When fixed to the stake she justified her innocence to the very last, and left the world with a courage seldom found in her sex. She being first strangled, the fire was kindled about five in the afternoon, and in the sight of many thousands she was consumed to ashes.” There is nothing to show that she was dead before the burning began, and from the use of the word “strangled” and not “hanged,” it would seem that she was merely rendered insensible before the fire was lit. An ancestor of the present writer, who witnessed the scene, has handed down the information that “her heart leapt out” during the burning, and other curious details that cannot be printed here. Was man ever “slaughtered by his fellow man” during the Roman or barbarian use of this place of games or of sacrifice in circumstances of greater atrocity?
A melodramatic, though less gruesome, exhibition within the arena was that which occurred at the time of the “No Popery” riots, and was witnessed by this writer when a small child. Highly realistic effigies of the Pope and Cardinal Wiseman were borne in procession from Fordington Hill round the town, followed by a long train of mock priests, monks, and nuns, and preceded by a young man discharging Roman candles, till the same wicked old place was reached, in the centre of which there stood a huge rick of furze, with a gallows above. The figures were slung up, and the fire blazed till they were blown to pieces by fireworks contained within them.
Like its more famous prototype, the Colosseum, this spot of sombre records has also been the scene of Christian worship, but only on one occasion, so far as the writer of these columns is aware, that being the Thanksgiving service for Peace a few years ago. The surplices of the clergy and choristers, as seen against the green grass, the shining brass musical instruments, the enormous chorus of singing voices, formed not the least impressive of the congregated masses that Maumbury Ring has drawn into its midst during its existence of a probable eighteen hundred years in its present shape, and of some possible thousands of years in an earlier form.
So large was the quantity of material thrown up in the course of the excavations at Maumbury Ring, Dorchester, especially from the prehistoric pit which was unexpectedly struck, that the work of filling in, which has been in progress eight days, is likely to last nearly a week longer. The pit, situated at the base of the bank on the north-west side, between the bank and the arena, was found at the conclusion of the excavations to be 30ft. deep, and Mr. St. George Gray thinks it is the deepest archaeological excavation on record in Britain. Of irregular shape, and apparently excavated in the solid chalk subsoil, it diminished in size from a diameter of about 6ft. at the mouth to about 18in. by 15in. at the bottom. One of the three red-deer antler picks recovered from the deposit in the pit was found resting on the solid chalk floor of the bottom, and worked flint was found within a few feet of the bottom. The picks exactly resemble those which Mr. St. George Gray found in the great fosse at Avebury last May. Roman deposits and specimens were found in the upper part of the pit down to the level of the chalk floor of the arena, but not below it.
* Hardy was himself a member of this club for amateur enthusiasts. In his novelist’s guise, Hardy glossed this very real group as the fictional Wessex Field and Antiquarian Clubs, whose meeting scaffolds the collection of short stories in his A Group of Noble Dames.
** England was keeping its official start to the new year on “Lady Day” in late March, so the year of this execution would be 1706 as we reckon it retrospectively (using January 1 as New Year’s), but 1705 to the hangman. See the footnote in this post for more (and more Hardy commentary) on the date.
On this day in 1784, 28-year-old Anne Castledine was executed at Retford, Nottinghamshire for the murder of her newborn baby.
The unmarried Castledine had been obviously pregnant, “being much alter’d in the size and shape of her belly”, then suddenly she was not pregnant but there was no baby to show for it. Suspicious neighbors alerted the authorities.
Although she maintained her innocence, the circumstances were very much against her. Just two years previously, Castledine had been charged with murdering another newborn under identical circumstances. No medical evidence was offered at the trial and she was acquitted in spite of her confession — perhaps indicative of the discomfort European courts had about delivering infanticides to the executioner. But this second time, the judge ordered Castledine to a midwife’s examination.
Castledine then admitted to having strangled her baby after birth. She had sewed its body into her mattress and slept on it for several days before her arrest.
Yet it was Anne’s body that aroused intense medico-legal interest in the Midlands. The General Evening Post recorded that both bodies were ‘taken to county hall in order to be publicly exposed and dissected’. Further source material uncovers however how gender dictated the precise medico-legal steps. Robert’s body was muscular and therefore valuable. He was opened up to be anatomically checked and later dissected in Nottingham town. Anne’s corpse was initially opened up with a ‘crucial incision’, the cross-like cut on her torso, to establish her medical death. Then it was ‘exposed on boards and tressels [sic] in front of County Hall for two days’ so that ordinary people could walk around it and see that a child killer was ‘truly dead’ … [T]he table was mobile, it could be levered up and down to take in and out of County Hall each night, and had to be erected twice on two separate days to satisfy the large crowds filing past over a forty-eight hour period. Meantime there was considerable local discussion about where to dissect such a ‘good body’. She was a fertile young woman and corpses like it attracted a lot of medical competition. In the end a decision was taken by a judge in consultation with the local medical fraternity to send her body to ‘a surgeon in Derby’.
The remains of the young woman were given to Mr. Fox, a surgeon, of Derby. While they lay in a barn near his residence, a strange gentleman came on horseback to view them. He took up the heart, kissed it, squeezed a drop of blood from it upon his handkerchief, and rode away. This gentleman was doubtless the seducer, who had come many miles to take a last look at the once beautiful object of his cruelty and lust.
On this date in 1824, John Smith, 25, was publicly hanged before an angry crowd at Lincoln Castle for the murder of his fiancee, 24-year-old Sarah Arrowsmith.
John and Sarah had been seeing each other for a long time. Sarah had a three-year-old son by him, and was heavily pregnant with another child. She was under the impression that the wedding banns had been published and they would marry soon, but matrimony was the furthest thing from John’s mind.
On December 4, 1823, he bought a pound of white arsenic from the chemist for nine pence, saying he was going to use it for washing sheep. Instead, Smith mixed the arsenic with some flour and gave it to Sarah. She, in turn, baked some cakes with the poisoned flour and served them to her friends for tea.
In less than a quarter of an hour, Sarah, her sister-in-law Eliza Smith, her friend and neighbour Mrs. Dobbs, and three children—two of them her younger sisters, and one of them Smith’s illegitimate child with Sarah—all suffered intense burning in their throats and excruciating pains in their stomachs. Several medical men were sent for and, immediately on arrival, the surgeons, Mr. Tyson West and Mr. Pell, set about administering antidotes and emetics. They rapidly had to admit that Sarah Arrowsmith was in a hopeless condition and sent for magistrates to take her deposition from her death bed. Sarah told them who had given her the flour and soon two constables were sent to the cottage where Smith lived in Little Steeping; they arrested him.
Although Smith presented two character witnesses at his trial who described him as a good farmhand and a sober, even-tempered and hard-working man, the evidence against him was strong and public sentiment equally so. The London Morning Chronicle reported on Dec. 27, 1823, that as Sarah Arrowsmith lay painfully expiring so heavy was the crush of gawkers that her bedroom’s only supporting cross-joint “snapped in the middle, and had not every person except the sufferer, who was in bed, made a hasty retreat, the floor would have fallen in.”
She succumbed the next day (to the poison, not to a fall) and “a great concourse of persons was assembled from all parts of the country round” to lay her to rest — “and the only feelings displayed upon the solemn occasion, were those of indignation against the unhappy wretch who was the author of the untimely death of the poor woman and her child.”
Smith could surely tell that his goose was cooked, and even as his life hung in the balance there was “an extraordinary apathy about him.” (Storey) Prior to his death he admitted his guilt.
It is believed that the other poisoning victims survived.
When Francis Osborne mused “mingle not your interest with a great one’s,” in Advice to a Son, the counsel was suggested by surveying the life of Henry Cuffe, a retainer of the disgraced Earl of Essex who, “tho’ of excellent Parts,” hanged at Tyburn on this date in 1601 on account of his late master’s rebellion. (With him hanged Essex’s stewart, Gilly Merrick.)
A child of the gentry, Cuffe’s academic brilliance landed him a (still-extant) professorship at Oxford. The vain Lord Essex, who prided himself a patron of scholarship, hired him into his retinue in the mid-1590s. Cuffe would prove to be a loyal companion. Too loyal.
He accompanied Essex on the latter’s great foreign adventures, the triumphant raid on Cadiz and the disastrous expedition to Ireland, and was entrusted as the earl’s messenger to Queen Elizabeth when the latter project began to founder. Essex was one of the great men of state and it was through him that Cuffe came in sight of those zeniths of power only dreamt by Oxford dons. But he could only scale them if Essex kept his own footing, too.
Six years or so into their association, Cuffe was all-in on restoring his patron’s favor (and with it, his own) once Essex returned from the Ireland debacle to find himself on the outs. The treason trial against Cuffe would slate him as one of the chief spirits agitating the earl, imprisoned then in Essex House, to break out with his foolhardy rebellion or coup in February 1601.
“Ere long you shall see a change: my lord is like to come in favour again, and be restored to his greatness,” recalled one Essex rebel of Cuffe’s recruitment pitch to him. Once their seizure of power got underway, “We having the face of the state, all will follow and take with us.” It was alleged that Cuffe inveigled Essex against more cautious counselors, arguing that the lord’s charisma was sure to carry the day could he but secure some personal face time with the queen — and that Cuffe stood in line to become the next Speaker of the Parliament, should the wager pay off.
Cuffe’s best argument in defense was that he, bookish lad, had never left Essex House at all on the fatal day when other conspirators attempted to march through London, and what treason was that?
“I must confess, as a servant that longed for the honour of his master, I have often wished to see his recalling to the court, and restored to her majesty’s former favour” Cuffe allowed — “but beyond the limits of these desires, my thoughts never carried me, nor aspired to other greatness than to see him again in place of a servant and worthy subject, as before he had been.”
The volume of accusations otherwise from within Essex’s inner circle overwhelmed this defense — most especially so the accusation of the very lord with whom Cuffe had so carelessly mingled his own fortunes. For, four days before Essex lost his own head, that doomed magnate had summoned his prosecutors to the Tower and bid them bring Cuffe to his chamber.
This request being granted him, and Cuffe brought before him, he [Essex] there directly and vehemently charged him; and among other speeches used these words:
Henry Cuffe, call to God for mercy, and to the queen, and deserve it by declaring truth. For I, that must now prepare for another world, have resolved to deal clearly with God and the world: and must needs say this to you; You have been one of the chiefest instigators of me to all these my disloyal courses into which I have fallen.
This is a very fine parting kick in the teeth for a devoted lickspittle. Maybe Osborne’s advice should have been to mingle not your interest with an asshole’s.
The Ordinary of Newgate His Account of The Behaviour, Confessions, and Last Speeches of the Malefactors that were Executed at Tyburn, on Wednesday the 10th of March, 1713/1714.
At the Sessions held at Justice-Hall in the Old-baily, London, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the 24th, 25th 26th, and 27th of February last, Fifteen Persons, viz. Fourteen Men, and One Woman, who were all Try’d for, and brought in Guilty of several Capital Crimes, did receive Sentence of Death accordingly. But the Woman being found pregnant, and Two of the Men having obtain’d the QUEEN’s most gracious Reprieve (which I pray GOD they may have Grace duely to improve) Twelve of them are now order’d for Execution.
While they lay under this Condemnation, I constantly visited them, and had them (twice every day) brought up to the Chapel of Newgate, where I pray’d with them, and read and expounded the Word of God to them; instructing them in the Duties of the Christian Religion, and endeavouring to perswade them to the sincere Practice of them, from the weighty Considerations, first, of God’s severe Judgments to obstinate and harden’d Sinners; and, secondly, of his boundless Mercy to them that truly repent.
On the Lord’s Day, the 28th of February last, I preach’d to them (and others there present, who were many) on Ephes. 5. 1, 2. being part, both of the Epistle appointed for the Day, and of the 2d Lesson for that Evening-Service, and the Words these, Be ye Followers of God, as dear Children; and walk in Love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us, an Offering and a Sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling Savour.
These Words I first explain’d in general; shewing that they contain,
The plain Matter of our Christian Duty. And,
The true Ground of our Christian Hope.
Which I then made out, by speaking to the several Points following, viz.
1st, Who it is we are to imitate, i. e. GOD; which the Apostle shews in these first Words of the Text, Be ye Followers of God.
2dly, Wherefore we ought to imitate Him; and that is, because we are his Children; yea, his dear Children.
3dly, Wherein we should imitate God, viz. in Love; for, says the Text, Walk in Love. Which includes Kindness in Giving, Mercy in Forgiving, Holiness in our Lives and Conversations, and Sincerity in our Endeavours to discharge all Religious and Christian Duties.
4thly, and lastly, How, and in what manner we are to take Pattern for our Imitation of GOD in Love; and that is, Even as Christ also has loved us. Which is to be understood as to the Nature or Manner, not in the Measure or Extent of that Love; for, in this latter Sence, the Love of Christ is immitable, it passeth all Knowledge and Understanding; and is such indeed as no Tongue, either of Men or Angels, can express: For, saith our Apostle in the Text, CHRIST so loved us, that He gave Himself for us, an Offering and a Sacrifice to God, of a sweet-smelling Savour.
Upon these I enlarg’d, and then apply’d; shewing, How much we are oblig’d constantly to discharge this great Duty of Love towards all Men, the want of which being the Cause of all the Evils and Mischiefs committed in the World, and the Troubles and Miseries consequent thereupon.
On the Lord’s Day the 7th instant, I preach’d again to them, both in the Forenoon and Afternoon, upon Luke 18. 1, being part of the Second Lesson for that Morning-Service, and the Words these: And He spake a Parable unto them, to this end, That Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.
Having in general open’d and illustrated these Words of our Blessed Saviour’s, (both in Text and Context) I then proceeded to discourse in particular on this important Subject of Prayer; shewing,
The Necessity of Prayer.
Whom we ought to pray to.
What we ought to pray for.
The due Qualifications for Prayer.
and lastly, The Blessed Fruits and Effects of Prayer, both with respect to our Bodies, and to our Souls.
And on the Day following, being the 8th instant, (the Anniversary of our most Gracious QUEEN‘s happy Accession to the Throne) I did again preach to them, taking my Text out of the Epistle appointed for that solemn Day, viz. 1 Pet. 2. 13, 14. Submit your selves to every Ordinance of Man, for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the King, as Supreme; or unto Governours, as unto them that are sent by him, for the Punishment of Evil-doers, and for the Praise of them that do well.
This Text I first explain’d in general; and then I consider’d in particular these three Things resulting from it, and the great Import of them.
The Subjection and Obedience we owe, and are to pay to, our Superiours, viz. to the King, as Supreme; or unto Governours, as unto them that are sent by him; saith the Text.
The Civil and Religious Obligation incumbent on us thus to submit, and to obey, as being what God himself has appointed, and is imply’d in these Words, For the Lord’s sake; i. e. according to the Lord’s Will.
and lastly, The Reasonableness and Usefulness of our exact Performance of this Duty, and the excellent Advantages accruing from it, both to the Publick, and to Private Persons; in that a good Government (which cannot well subsist without Mens Obedience to it) is for the suppression of Sin and Vice, and the promotion of Religion and Virtue. And this is evident from the Text, wherein the Apostle declares, That Governours are ordain’d both for the Punishment of Evil-doers, and for the Praise (i. e. the Encouragement and Support) of them that do well.
On these I largely discours’d, and then observ’d how much we (of this Church and Nation) are bound to praise God for his having, as on this Day, bless’d us with so Pious, so Just, and so Excellent a Princess, to reign over us; and (according to our most indispensable Duty) heartily pray for Her MAJESTY’s Long Life, Encrease of Health, and Everlasting Prosperity.
After I had a little more enlarg’d upon this Subject, I apply’d my self with particular Admonitions and Exhortations to the Persons condemn’d; in whom I endeavour’d to raise a due Sense of the great Miseries they had brought on themselves and the much greater they were in danger of falling into hereafter, by their presumptuous Transgressions of he Laws both of GOD and of the Queen.
These Considerations I often press’d upon them, both in my publick Discourses and private Admonitions to them; of whom I am to give the Accounts following.
1. Thomas Grey, convicted of, and condemn’d for committing three Robberies on the QUEEN’s High-way. First, For Assaulting and Robbing Mrs. Baxter as she was coming from Hampsted towards London in a Coach, which he stopt near the Halfway-house, taking 3 s. from her, on the 11th of January last. Secondly, For a like Robbery he committed upon Mrs. Wilson, as she was riding (with other Passengers in a Coach) to Hampsted, taking some Money from them, on the 15th of January last. Thirdly, For such another Robbery by him committed on the same Day, upon the Person of Mr. Samuel Harding, from whom he took 9 s. in Money, about the Halfway-house on the Road to Hampsted. There was also another Robbery, which he was not Try’d for, but had committed in company with Edmund Eames (one of his Fellow sufferers) and one William Biggs, hereafter mention’d, who stopt a Coach coming from Hampsted, and took from the Passengers that were in it about 28 s. on the 2d of January last. At first indeed he was very unwilling to speak out his Guilt in these Matters, and in his faultring way of Speech went about to excuse himself, protesting his Innocency: But I exhorted him, and at last perswaded him to confess; which he did with this seeming Extenuation of these his wicked Facts, That he would never, have committed them, had he not been prompted to (and assisted in) them by William Biggs, a wicked Person, who had formerly receiv’d Sentence of Death twice, viz. once at Maidstone in Kent, and another time in the Old-baily, London. He said, he was above 50 years of age, born in the Parish of St. James Clerkenwell: That he had kept a Publick House in the City of Oxford for several Years, and of late a Salesman’s Shop in Monmouth-street in the Parish of St. Giles in the Fields; and, That tho’ in former time (i. e about 20 years ago) he had done ill things, and was then burnt in the Hand for the same, yet he had not committed any Fact worthy of Death till Christmas last, when his Poverty and Incumbrances with Debts (as he pretended) had made him comply with the wicked Insinuations of bad Men, and embrace the unhappy Opportunities of doing those Mischiefs to honest People, which he must now account and suffer for. I found him very stubborn, and very unwilling either to be ask’d, or to resolve any Question: And when I plainly perceiv’d that he prevaricated in many things, and would not shew any Remorse or Sorrow for his having liv’d to these Years, not to the Glory, but (far from it) to the Dishonour of God and Religion, I refus’d to administer the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to him: Upon which he curs’d me to the Pit of Hill, and said, That he would certainly kill me, if ever I durst venture to come to pray with him and the rest in the Cart at Tyburn. In answer to this his Threat, I told him, That I would nevertheless do my Duty to his Soul to the very last; and tho’ he Curs’d, yet I pray’d God to Bless both Him and Me, and lay not this additional Sin to his charge; adding, That I heartily pray’d for his Conversion and Salvation; and, That I much pitied him, but fear’d him not in the least.
2. Edmund Eames alias Edward Aimes, condemn’d for 3 several Robberies by him committed on the Queen’s High-way, viz. 1st, For Assaulting and Robbing Mrs. Rogers, at Pancras-Wash, on the 20th of January last, stopping the Coach wherein she was, and taking Money both from her and other Passengers with her. 2dly, For a like Assault upon Mr. Edward Yarborough, stopping the Wakefield-Coach, in which he was, near the foot of Highgate-hill, and taking 5 s. from him, on the 23d of the same Month. 3dly, For another Fact of the same nature, viz. his Assaulting Mrs. Shutter, as she was in a Coach going down the Hill near Pancras, and robbing her of 3 Gold Rings and some Money, on the 19th of February last. He said, he was this very Day (being the 10th of March) just entring upon the 32d Year of his age; That he was born at Dunstable in Bedfordshire, and there serv’d 8 Years Apprenticeship with a Surgeon; That when he was out of his Time, he came up to London, where he exerted his Art for a little while, and then went to a Gentleman’s Service: That afterwards he listed himself a Souldier , and at last arriv’d to the Post of a Surgeon’s Mate in the 2d Regiment of Guards. He at first said, he did not commit the former, but the two latter Robberies aforemention’d; yet at last he confest all, & likewise 3 or 4 more of the same nature, and about the same time; for he had not been engag’d long in that wicked Course, having enter’d upon it but since Christmas last; and that too not so much by his own Inclination, as by the pernicious Instigation and Perswasion of one William Biggs, an old Offender, (not yet taken) with whom he had robb’d a Coach coming from Hampsted, and taken from 3 or 4 Passengers in it about 28 s. in Money, which was divided among them two and Tho. Grey, before mention’d, who was concern’d with them in that Robbery, on the 2d of January last, being Sunday; and on the Tuesday following he robb’d also some Passengers in a Coach on Newington Road, and took from them 22 s. And on or about the 14th of the said Month, he set upon a Worthy Justice of Peace (an ancient Gentleman) as he was riding on Horseback towards Hampsted, taking from him a Watch and some old Gold; which, with his robbing a young Man of Half-a-Crown on the High-way near Uxbridge, on Thursday the 7th of the said January last, were all the Robberies he could reme he ever committed. And now he said, That he was very sensible that for all his unjust Practices, into which he had so foolishly suffer’d himself to be deluded, and by which (as it often happens) he had got but little (not 6 l. in all, he said) he justly deserv’d the shameful Death he was now condem’d to; and thereupon begg’d Pardon of GOD, and of the Persons he had wrong’d, earnestly imploring the Divine Mercy, thro’ the Merits of JESUS CHRIST. And to this his Confession (which he had before told me was all he had done of this nature) he did (for the clearing of the Truth, and his own Conscience, as he pretended) add this,
That he was the only Person who robb’d Mr. James Boys upon the Queen’s High-way between Pancras and Kentish Town, on the 19th of January last; taking from him an old Watch in a Tortoise-shell Case, and 11 s. in Money: And, That since the time he lay under this Condemnation, he had consider’d how to make what Amends he could for the Injuries done by him, and therefore had sent several times to Mr. Boys, to let him know where he might have his Watch again; which when he took, Mr. Boys (as he said) told him, he was very loth to part with it, tho’ it was an old Thing that would yield but little Money, not 3 l. but he valu’d it much more upon some particular Account.
This specious and artificial Speech and formal Declaration he thought I would take as the pure Effect of an awaken’d Conscience, that was now willing to discharge itself of its Guilt, and do Right to all the World: And indeed I was at first doubtful in the matter; but I at last discover’d that herein he prevaricated; I taxed him with it, and reprov’d him for it, shewing him what a dangerous thing it was for him thus to add Sin to Sin, and how presumptuous he was, to desire (as he did) that I would administer the Holy Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to him, who solemnly attested a Lying Story to be true, at such a time when he was just going to be call’d before the dreadful Tribunal of Christ, there to give an Account (to Him who knows the inmost Thoughts of Men’s Hearts) of all his secret Imaginations, as well as Overt Acts. With that I startled him, but yet could not make him plainly confess, that John Collins (as I knew) had perswaded him to charge himself with this Robbery, by telling him it would now do him no hurt, but himself a great deal of service, in that it might save his Life. This he (the said Edmund Eams) could not absolutely deny: And so I told him, I wondred that Men under such Circumstances as theirs, whose Business it was to prepare for Eternity, would imploy their Thoughts and precious Time in such wicked Machinations, by which, instead of pacifying the Wrath of God, they provoked him more and more to let them perish in their Sins. On this I enlarg’d, but could get no great Satisfaction from him herein; therefore I shall say no more of him here, but proceed to my Account of the other, viz.
3. John Collins alias Collinson, condemn’d for breaking the House of Mr. John Holloway at Chelsea, and stealing thence 2 Exchequer Notes, value 100 l. each, 237 l. 10 s. in Money, and 194 l. in Gold, on the 23d of January last. And he was also at the same time convicted of a Robbery, on the High-way, committed upon the Person of Mr. James Boys, whose Silver-Watch, with 10 or 12 s. were taken from him, between Pancras and Kentish Town, on the 19th of the said Month of January. He said, he was not at all concern’d in this latter Fact, but Eams was the Man had done it, as he told him himself since they were condemn’d. And as to the former, he own’d thus much of it, viz. That he robb’d Mr. Holloway’s House, and took thence 107 l. (or thereabouts) in 100 l. Bag, and another smaller Bag, and no Gold, nor Money-Notes, nor any thing else: Adding, That he had spent some part of that Money before his being apprehended, but most of it, viz. 90 l. and upwards, was then taken from him, which he suppos’d Mr. Holloway has, or will have again; wishing he were able to make up his whole Loss. He said, he was 42 Years of age, born at Faustone near Hull in Northumberland; That he was brought up to no Trade, but had been a Footman to several Gentlemen, both in the Country, and here in London, and was some time a Coachman to one of them: That he had also been a Souldier for 6 Years together, and attain’d at last to the Office of a Sergeant in Colonel Wing’s Regiment; and little thought then, that he could ever have done such a thing, as should bring him to such a shameful End. He said, he heartily repented, and begg’d Pardon of GOD. And this I will say of him, That when he came nearer the Day of his Death, he outwardly behav’d himself somewhat better than I thought at first he would have done. But I discover’d him to be a great Hypocrite; who put Edmund Eams upon charging himself (as I have observ’d before) with the Robbery committed on Mr. Boys, for which the said Collins was condemn’d. I told him that I could not look on him otherwise than as a great Impostor, who endeavour’d (and that too at such a time, and under such Circumstances) to impose upon Justice, and GOD’s Minister, and be so presumptuous also, as to desire to receive the Blessed Sacrament, which upon the same Account was desir’d by, and I refus’d to Eams, and so I did to this Collins; resolving to administer it to neither of them; because I found them most unworthy of it. And this my Dealing with them (which was according to the Practice of the Primitive Church) I wish may be a Warning and Terror to other Sinners, who will not betimes repent as they should do, but erroneously fancy, that if they outwardly partake of that Divine Ordinance, they shall be safe enough, tho’ not altogether so well prepar’d as they might be either for it, or for Death. And on this occasion I must here declare, That when Malefactors (whoever they be) if any shall come under my Cure, and shall not at first open and clear their Consciences, and give me full Satisfaction, that they do truly repent, I shall never admit them to the Holy Sacrament, whatever they may do, or desire when just upon their Departure out of this World. And if they be not satisfy’d with such a Proceeding of mine, let them consult any other Orthodox Divines in the Matter. But as to this Collins, what I shall further say of him here, is that he did Yesterday attempt to poyson himself, for which I reprov’d him; shewing him the Wickedness of such a Fact, or such an Attempt.
4. Charles Weymouth, condemn’d with Christopher Dickson, and John Gibson, for assaulting and robbing Mr. Thomas Blake, Mr. Samuel Slap, and Mr. John Edwards (who was dangerously wounded by Weymouth) taking from them several Goods and Money, upon the Queen’s High-way in Stepney Parish, on the 8th of February last. This Weymouth, who (it seem’d) had endeavour’d to make himself an Evidence against his Accomplices, being disappointed therein, was very uneasy and restless, and shew’d himself all-along of a stubborn and rough Behaviour, giving little sign of Repentance, and making (as it outwardly appear’d both to my self and others) no great Preparation for Death, till he was upon the very brink of it. What Account he gave me of himself, was only this, That he was born at Redriff, and had been brought up to the Sea, and serv’d the Queen on Board some of Her Majesty’s Men of War for several Years off and on; That he was 25 Years of Age, and that he had fallen into wicked Courses only by the Inducement of others, more wicked (as he said) than himself. I told him, he should not answer for their Sins, if he were not the occasion of them; but must expect to be call’d to a very strict and severe Account for what himself had done wickedly, if he did not now undo it (as far as he could) by all possible Reparation, Repentance, and Amendment of Life. Now whether any thing that was then offer’d to him from Reason and Scripture, did work any Reformation upon him, I could not perceive, but pray’d GOD to convert him; and so left him to His Mercy, which he did not seem much to desire; or to his Judgment, which he had greatly deserv’d. This wicked Person also threaten’d to be the Death of me before he dy’d: Upon which I said to him, as I did to Thomas Grey, That I was sorry to see him in such a furious Temper, and heartily pray’d GOD to turn his Heart, for I greatly pity’d him, but fear’d him not.
5. Christopher Dickson, condemn’d for the same Robbery wherein he was concern’d with Charles Weymouth. He confess’d the Fact, and behav’d himself much better than Weymouth; and by what I could perceive, I may say, that what he told me might be true, viz. That he never did commit such Facts before. He said, he was about 22 Years of Age, born in the Parish of St. Mary Whitechappel: That he had serv’d 5 Years of Apprentiship with a Baker, and then by consent parted with him: That afterwards he was a Journeyman to another Baker, but staid not long there bad; Company (that easily wrought upon his corrupt Nature) drawing him away, and bringing him into a vicious Course; which, he said, he now heartily repented of; and I hope he did, for he seem’d very much affected, and greatly to abhor his past sinful Life, and earnestly to implore God’s Forgiveness and Mercy in Christ.
6. John Gibson, condemn’d for being concern’d also in the Robbery before-mention’d with Charles Weymouth and Christopher Dickson. He said, he was about 20 years of age, born at Newcastle under Line; and he readily own’d his being Guilty of this Fact; but said it was his first; which I could not gainsay. Only I advised him to look back upon, and seriously examine his past Life between God and his own Conscience, and tell me how he found himself, and what he thought of himself. Upon this, he confess’d, That he had been a loose Liver, much addicted to Swearing, excessive Drinking, Lasciviousness, and suchlike Vices, too too common among Men of his Profession, he being a Seafaring Man , that had for these several years past been employ’d both in the Queen’s Royal Navy, and Merchant’s Service at Sea; and, that he had little minded or regarded the wonderful Works of God in the Deep; for which he was now very much grieved, and wish’d he had been wiser and better; praying God to forgive him his Sins, and have Mercy upon his Soul, and (to that end) give him a New Heart.
7. Alexander Petre, condemn’d for privately stealing a great quantity of Copper of the value of 20 l. out of the Warehouse of Mr. Thomas Chambers, on the 26th of January last. He readily confess’d, That he was guilty of this Fact; but told me it was his first, and that one Powell (the Evidence against him) was the Person that induc’d him to the Commission of it. He said, That he was (as it appear’d) but a young Man, about 22 years of age; yet acknowledg’d, that he had Years, Descretion, and Understanding enough to know, That what he did ought not to be done; and therefore asked Pardon of God, and the Persons he had any ways offended; praying for Mercy and Forgiveness. The place of his Birth, he said, was Newcastle upon Tyne, his Calling a Sailor, who had for these 12 years past been employ’d on board several of Her Majesty’s Men of War; and the last of them on board which he served, was the New Advice, a 4th Rate. He was very tractable, and seem’d to be Penitent.
8. Thomas Koome, condemn’d for breaking open the House of Mr. John Garret, and stealing from thence a Riding-Hood, a Suit of Curtains, and other Goods, on the 17th of January last. He said he was 21 years of age, born at Hackney near London, and had served at Sea , sometimes in the Royal Navy, and at other times in Merchant-Men, for the most part of his Life. He confess’d the Fact for which he was condemn’d; but said it was his first. For which saying I reprov’d him, knowing he had lately been whipt for a Felony he was then convicted of; which he was forc’d to acknowledge, saying, that the keeping of bad Company had heretofore been the Occasion of his committing many Sins, and now proved his Ruin. I perceiv’d his Friends had given him good Education, and I hope it was not quite lost upon him; for it dispos’d him so much the better to understand the Things of Religion that were laid before him, and to apply himself to the Practice of them, while under this Condemnation. Yet I cannot say, that he made at first so good use of his time as he might have, and I wish he had done.
9. Samuel Denny, alias Appleby, condemn’d for stealing a Gelding from Mr. John Scagg, and robbing him of 27 s. in Money, on the Queen’s Highway, the 31st of January last. He said, That he was 23 years of age, born at Braintree in Essex, and a Wheelwright by his Trade; but had served four years as a private Sentinel in the Army . He own’d the Fact he was to die for, (which he said was the first he ever committed) and pray’d God to forgive him, both that and all other his Sins, and give him Grace so to repent that he might be saved. By what I could all-along observe in him, or get from him, I found he had not been a greater Offender than now he appear’d a Penitent: And therefore, at his earnest Desire, I administer’d the Holy Sacrament to him yesterday: Which I also did, at the same time, to the Three last mention’d, viz. Christopher Dickson, John Gibson, and Alexander Petre; whose Behaviour, from first to last, was (to the best of my Observation) such as became true Penitents.
10. John Winteringham, condemn’d for stealing a Gold-Watch, a Perruke, some Linnen and Apparel out of his Master (Thomas Wynn Esq.) his Lodgings, and some Plate from Mr. James Montjoy, the Landlord of the House where his said Master lodg’d. He own’d himself Guilty of this Fact; but said he never committed the like before; and that he had been (at times) a Servant to other Gentlemen before he came to live with Mr. Wynn, and never wrong’d them to the value of a Farthing; and that being brought up to no Trade, he had for the most part of his Life been a Domestick-Servant in several worthy Families, both in the Country and in London. He said he was but 25 years of age, born at Pomfret (or rather Pontefract) in Yorkshire, and little thought once he should ever come to end his Life in this shameful manner, which (however) he could not but acknowledge was what he had wilfully brought upon himself, and did highly deserve. It seems he was the first Person condemn’d upon the Act lately made against such wicked Servants as rob their Masters. [A 1713 act that made theft of goods valued at 40s. (£2) a capital crime, even without a break-in -ed.] Which I hope will be an effectual Warning to others, so as to teach them to be wiser and more just.
11. Christopher Moor, condemn’d for Burglary in Breaking open the House of Mr. Thomas Wright, and taking thence a pair of Silver-Branches, 8 Tea-Spoons, 2 Tea-Pots, a Lamp, and a large quantity of other Plate, on the 13th of February last. He said, he was but 20 years of age, born in the Parish of St. Giles in the Fields; That for the most part of his Life, he had been a Servant in some Victualling-Houses in and about London, had lived a very loose Life, and done many ill things, besides the Fact he was condemn’d for, which he confess’d; but would give no particular Account of any thing else he had been guilty of, nor discover where the Plate he had stoln might be found, that the right Owner of it might have it again: And when I press’d him to make such Discovery, if he could, he did not so much alledge his Incapacity, as he plainly shew’d his Unwillingness of doing it; saying, that tho’ he could do it, yet he would make no such Discovery, if he were sure he should be damned for it: So desparately wicked he then shew’d himself to be, on whom no Admonitions could at first prevail: But I hope he did at last come to understand better Things. And yet this I must say of him, That his Obstinacy in Iniquity, and Impudent Behaviour towards myself and others, were such, as I never met with the like in any of the Malefactors, whom I have had under my Cure for almost these 14 years I have been in this melancholy and difficult Office. When he saw that he must certainly die, then he remembred what I had told him of another World, and of our necessary Preparation for it. Now he seem’d to be willing to do something to clear his Conscience, and save his Soul; giving attention to my Admonitions, and the Information desir’d of him about the Plate he had stoln. And here (among other things) he told me, That about a Month ago, at Night, he robb’d a House in Grey-Fryars, near Christ-Hospital, by lifting up the Sash-Window, and entring the Parlour, and taking from thence 6 Silver Tea-Spoons and a Strainer, with a Silk-Handkerchief Ell-wide, which he sold for 3 s. tho’ it was worth more: And that as for the Plate, he sold it with a larger Parcel (amounting to 100 ounces) for 4 s. per ounce. And further, he said, that he had wrong’d Mr. Johnson, a Working Silver-Smith, and begg’d his Pardon (before me) for his having (about 18 Months ago) falsly sworn against him, That he the said Mr. Johnson had bought of him and Roderick Awdry, some Plate, which they had stoln out of my Lady Edwin’s House; praying God to forgive him such his Perjury, which I endeavour’d to make him sensible was a most heinous Crime.
12. Daniel Hughes, condemn’d for the Fact last mention’d, in which he was concerned with Christopher Moor, and own’d he was so. He said, he was about 16 years of age, born at Gravesend in Kent, and brought up to the Sea, and that he had been a very loose young Man, addicted to many Vices. He was very stupid, foolish and unconcern’d, and gave no great Signs of his Penitence for his Offences against God and his Neighbour, nor of the Punishment he deserved for them, both in this World, and in the next, till he came within the Borders of Death.
At the Place of Execution, to which they were this Day carry’d from Newgate, in four Carts, I attended them for the last time, and endeavour’d to perswade them (who had lived such vicious Lives) throughly to clear their Consciences, and strive to obtain God’s Grace, to make a good End in this World, that they might be received into that State of Bliss and Glory in the next, which shall have no end. To this purpose I earnestly spoke to them, and pray’d for them. Then I made them rehearse the Apostles Creed, and sung some Penitential Psalms with them; and finally having recommended their Souls to God, I withdrew from them; leaving them to their private Devotions, for which they had some little time allow’d them. And after that, the Cart drawing away, they were turn’d off: all of them bitterly crying unto God to have Mercy upon their departing Souls.
Before they were turn’d off, I thought (as I exhorted them) that some of them should make a further Confession, but they did not: Only those that had been rude to me, and threaten’d my Life, begg’d my Pardon, and thank’d me for the Pains I took for their Souls: And all of them declar’d that they dy’d in Charity with all the World.
This is all the Account here to be given of these Dying Malefactors, by me,
PAUL LORRAIN, Ordinary .
Wednesday, Mar. 10. 1713-14.
London Printed, and are to be Sold by J. Morphew near Stationers-hall.