Posts filed under 'Theft'

1920: Rickey Harrison, Hudson Duster

Add comment May 13th, 2017 Headsman

On this date in 1920, Rickey Harrison of the Greenwich Village “Hudson Dusters” went to the electric chair for a murder committed in the course of an armed robbery.

As befits a gaggle of old time New York hoodlums this crowd was rife with colorful nicknames — Goo Goo Knox, Circular Jack, Ding Dong — and hired out its thrashings in service of Tammany Hall‘s rude electoral manipulations. Their signal achievement was earning a popular doggerel tribute that rang in the streets in its day, by beating senseless a beat cop who’d had the temerity to arrest some of their number.

Says Dinny [patrolman Dennis Sullivan], “Here’s me only chance
To gain meself a name;
I’ll clean up the Hudson Dusters,
And reach the hall of fame.”*
He lost his stick and cannon,
and his shield they took away.
It was then he remembered,
Every dog had his day.

At their peak the Hudson Dusters could rank as one of the brighter stars in the dizzying constellation of Big Apple crooks. Herbert Asbury’s classic The Gangs of New York notes that “perhaps fifty small groups … operated south of Forty-second street [and] owed allegiance to the Gophers, Eastmans, Five Pointers, Gas Housers, and Hudson Dusters … Each of these small gangs was supreme in its own territory, which other gangs under the same sovereighty might not invade, but its leader was always responsible to the chieftain of the larger gang, just as a prince is responsible to his king.” Allegedly future Catholic social justice activist Dorothy Day, then a teenage radical journalist just moved to New York City, enjoyed carousing with the Dusters in the 1910s.

Despite political pull through Tammany (and heavenly pull through Dorothy) arrests and gang wars dusted the Dusters over the first two decades of the 20th century.

Our man Rickey Harrison, a pipsqueak Irishman with a substandard nickname (“Greenwich Village Terror” … lame), led a gangland raid on a high-stakes poker game at the Knickerbocker Waiters Club on September 7, 1918, and shot dead a Canadian soldier who refused to give up his boodle. Harrison would go to his grave insisting that it was not he who fired the fatal shot, although he was markedly less scrupulous about accounting the undetected and unprosecuted crimes of his career.

As a last indignity, Harrison and another murderer named Chester Cantine — who preceded the gangster to the electric chair — had to brace themselves for eternity within earshot of a raucous Sing Sing vandeville show where prisoners and 800 visitors were “applauding and roaring with laughter in an improvised theatre a few feet away … comic sketches [and] jazz music resounded throughout the prison.” (New York Times, May 14, 1920)

Harrison’s last sentiment — “Let us hope and pray they will never do this thing to another man, innocent or guilty” — still awaits fulfillment a century later.

* The apparent allusion is to the Hall of Fame for Great Americas, a civic pantheon opened in 1900 that is now part of Bronx Community College. This outdoor colonnade, still extant but largely forgotten, imported its busts-of-great-men concept from Bavaria; the Hall’s popularity in its time makes it the ancestor of the innumerable Halls of Fame that have since come to litter the North American civic landscape.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Electrocuted,Execution,History,Murder,New York,Organized Crime,Pelf,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Theft,USA

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1801: Franz Troglauer

Add comment May 6th, 2017 Headsman

On this date in 1801, robber prince Franz Troglauer was hanged at Amberg.

A lifelong picaro, Troglauer had several brushes with the law at his back when around 1790 he formed up the Fürth Diebesbande, or Great Franconian Robbers’ Band.

This lot delivered what their name promised throughout the 1790s. Troglauer’s* gang took enterprising advantage of the emerging technologies that were driving the classical outlaw figure into myth and memory, setting up their own printing press to churn out forged papers and compassing a vast shadow economy ranging from thieves to fences to look-the-other-way inkeepers. Troglauer’s most famous caper was engineering the heist of a Bamberg bishop’s vestments. (And more significantly, his silver plate.)

Some in the latter-day Upper Palatinate aspire to make his haunts into a tourist attraction a la Troglauer’s Rhenish contemporary Schinderhannes, but his life is surprisingly ill-documented and so his fame has little spread to the wider world. (That’s why all the links here are in German.)

The gang was betrayed and broken up in 1798. Troglauer managed to escape and briefly resume his career, but his overt threats to assassinate a prominent landlord who had been involved in his previous prosecutions helped to intensify the search that brought him once more to prison and at last to the gallows.

* This is a network rather than a hierarchy; Jakob Meusel was another important leader, and it’s sometimes also called the Meusel Band after him.

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Germany,Hanged,Holy Roman Empire,Outlaws,Public Executions,Theft

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1725: John Coamber

Add comment May 5th, 2017 Headsman

The Dublin hanging of John Coamber on this date in 1725 for the previous year’s notorious mugging/murder of a city counselor named Richard Hoar(e) arrives to us, as have several previous posts, via James Kelly’s Gallows Speeches From Eighteenth-Century Ireland.

In this instance, Kelly gives us two rival “last speeches.” It’s a genre that he says was exploding in the 1720s, with the burgeoning of print culture and the importation of similar purported gallows unburdenings.

And as we saw in a 1726 exemplar from the same book, the publishers who flooded this burgeoning market were at daggers drawn with one another over precedence for inside information and autobiographical authenticity. This is another case where one of the documents — Cornelius Carter’s — takes space to take a shot at the rival tract.

We also see here in Carter’s more detailed (and here, sarcastic) narrative that two different, innocent, men were hanged for the murder some time before one of the three real killers saved his own neck by shopping Coamber.


The Last Speech, Confession and Dying Words of
John Comber

who is to be Hang’d and Quarter’d this present Wednesday, being the 5th, of this Inst. May 1725. Near St. Stephen’s-Green; for Murdering Councellor Hoar, in January last.

Good Christians,

My Heart has been so hard hitherto, that I had no Manner of thought of either Soul or Body, but now I seeing Death plainly before my Face, causes me to consider of my latter End; and praise God for giving so much Grace so to do; therefore I am resolv’d to make a Publick Confession of my past Life and Conversation, which is as follows.

As to my Birth and Parentage, it is but a folly to relate, yet I can say I came from very honest Parents, who took what Care they could to bring me up in the Love and Fear of God, but I contrary to the Laws of God and Man, have gon [sic] astray, and follow’d Loose Idle Company, which brought me to this untimely Death; and how it came to pass was thus.

I being Entimitly Acquainted with one Patrick Freel, and David McClure, with whom I went to a House in New-street, where we then (after several meetings) made a Plot to get Money, by reason it was scarce with us, at length we Consulted the 19th, of January last, to Robb the first we wou’d meet with, and being over perswaided by the Devil, I went to the House of Mr. Carter and meeting a Child of his, bid him fetch his Dady’s Pistol, and I would fetch him some sweet things, upon the same promise, the Child brought me a Pistol, and then I, in Conjunction with the above Named Persons, went towards Stephen’s-Green, where we met with Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Leeson’s Clerk, whom we Robb’d of a Ten Peney Piece, from that we proceeded to Henry-street, where we met the Deceased Gentleman, to whom I went up, and Demanded his Money, with that he moving his Arm, and I having the Pistol Cock’d, caused the same to go off, tho’ as I shall Answer my God I did not think of being his Butcher; and when I found the Pistol went off, I never staid to know whether he had Money or no, but took to my Heels as fast as I could.

Then I went to the Sign of the Black Swan in Mary’s-Lane, where I and my Comrads met; from that my Prosocuter Patrick Freel and I, went to the Country where we staid for some small Time, then I came back, and as God, who never suffers Murder to be Conceal’d, I was soon Apprehended and put to Goal, upon Suspission, where I lay as good as a Month, but a Proclamation being Isued out, concerning the Murder, he came in and made Oath that I was the Person that Shot the Councellor, which to my sorrow is True.

Having no more to say but beging the Prayers of all good Christians, I die a Roman Catholick, and in the 22d. Year of my Age, and the Lord have Mercy on my poor Soul Amen.

Dublin: Printed by C.P. 1725.


The Last Speech, Confession and Dying Words of
John Coamber

who is to be Hang’d, Drawn and Quarter’d this Day, being the 5th of this Instant May 1725. For the Murder of Councellor HOAR in Henry Street the 19th of Jan. last.
Deliver’d to the Printer hereof C. CARTER the 5th of May, and to no other, By me John Coamber. And All others are Imposing on the Publick.

All you my Spectators,

This is to give you the following Account, I was born in the Town which is Call’d Thurles, in the County of Tipperary in Munster, of very honest Parents, that brought me up in the fear of God, and Wou’d give me good Learning, but I was too Head-strong, and wou’d not be Rul’d or Guided by my tender Parents, but left ‘em and went to serve a Tobacco-twister, which I work’t at for about 5 years, being weary of that I came for Dublin, being a stranger, I turn’d Porter about Cork-hill, where I stood and follow’d that business for near 3 years, all this time I behav’d my self very honestly, and was well belov’d by all that knew me, especially in the above Neighbourhood, being weary of that, I took a fancy to Cry News about this City, which in a little time, I began to get a great many pence by it, and in sometime after, I became Acquainted with Idle and loose Company, Viz. and in the process of time I came to be acquainted with particular Persons and some others who first brought me in Company among Whores to Drink and spend my Money &c. Which was the first Cause of my Destruction.

Afterwards I went of my own Accord, and follow’d the said Evil Custom and other ill Actions, then I became as obdurate and as Wicked as the worst of my Ring-leaders.

I have Reason to Curse them Idle fellows which made me first acquainted with the whores and Pick-pockets in this City, of which there is abundance too many.

But finding Money not Answering to keep the above Company, being acquainted with one David McClure who was my chief Comrade, and who made his Escape to France after the Murder was Committed, he and I stuck together, and followed a very Idle Course of Life, and we Committed several ill Facts in this City and Liberties thereof.

All our shifts not Answering, I, McClure, and Patrick Freel (who was the first Evidence against me) Resolv’d to turn Robber, but never did design to be Guilty of Murder, and did design when we got a Sum of money that was worth While, to leave the Country.

I confess, that Patrick Freel, David McClure and I went on the 19th of January last at Night, to Henry Street, with a Design to Rob, or Plunder the first Gentleman that came that way; which was the luck of that worthy honest Gentleman Councellor Hoar, though I declare before God I did not design to hurt him, or any Man else that time.

I do also Confess that I did own to the Blind Boy, Lawrence Dugan, (who was the t’other Evidence against me) that Patrick Freel, David McClure and I myself, were all Guilty of the Murder for which I now suffer, but I wonder he did not Discover, it when one Pitts and another one Hand, had like to suffer for this Murder. (emphasis added -ed.)

I further Declare, tho’ it was falsely and Scandalously Publish’d in Print, by one Mrs. Needham and her Son Dickson; that I had got Mr. Carter’s Pistols from his young Son about 8 years of Age, (we had but one Pistol among us) and as I am a Dying Man I got no such thing from the said Child, nor none of his Family, neither did I steal any such thing out of his House in my Life time.

I accused one Daniel Field and Michael Tankard falsly, which I am heartily sorry for, but it was by the Advice of Winfred Dunn and Patrick Dunn the 2 Informers, that swore against Pitts and Hand that was Try’d the last Term for this Fact.

I beg of my great God to forgive my Prosecutors, and all my Enemies, as I do forgive them from the bottom of my heart.

I hope this my untimely End will be a Warning to my Comrades, and also to all young Men, which I pray to God it may. For my own part I own I am Guilty of the Fact for which I Die, And I hope the Lord of his infinite Goodness, will have Mercy on my Soul and forgive me.

I am about 19 Years of Age I dye a Roman Catholick, and Desires the Prayers of all Good Christians, and the Lord have Mercy on my poor Soul. Amen.

JOHN COAMBER

DUBLIN: Printed by Corn. Carter. 1725.

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Entry Filed under: 18th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,Ireland,Murder,Public Executions,Theft

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1691: William Macqueen, the Irish Teague

Add comment May 1st, 2017 Headsman

On this date in 1691, 11 hanged publicly at Tyburn.

From the Ordinary’s Account they make a fairly typical, if voluminous, assortment: an infanticide, a drunken murderer, and thieves and highwaymen of various descriptions.

Two of these rude knights of the road were “William Selwood alias Jenkins, condemned with William Mackquean a Papist,” the latter also called “Bayley, alias the Irish Teague.” Condemned for robbery on the road, Macqueen confessed to having previously murdered a soldier in a similar encounter; they were “Old Offenders” who had previously “been Reprieved, but would not take warning.”

For the veteran robber Macqueen we have a fine instance of the facts-be-damned mythmaking characteristic of the early Newgate Calendar: his entry credits him with stealing the mace of the Lord Chancellor, an outrageous caper that different criminals really did pull off many years before. Not accidentally, our rewrite version from the Whig ascendancy also edits the identity of the Lord Chancellor involved, who perforce must seem ridiculous to have lost the emblem of his station in this manner — replacing the true victim, the moderate and forgettable Earl of Nottingham, with that hated late-Stuart bete noir (and notorious hanging judge), Lord Jeffreys.

The implicit parable of the Glorious Revolution is reinforced by what must surely be a fanciful vignette in which Macqueen mugs the Lady Auverquerque, the wife of one of the Dutch commanders who invaded England with William of Orange in 1688. Both parties involved are foreigners on English soil, and their awkwardness in that most naked transaction of gunpoint robbery has comedic effect. Presented with a confusingly veiled demand for a “loan,” the mistress seeks clarification: “I believe you had as good tell me at once you are come to rob me; for this is an odd way of borrowing.” Macqueen/Teague apologizes and manages crudely but effectively to the convey the point: “I am a stranger in this country, and so if I don’t know the difference between robbing and borrowing, you must excuse me; for all I mean is, to have your money.”

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Entry Filed under: 17th Century,Arts and Literature,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,England,Execution,Hanged,History,Mass Executions,Murder,Public Executions,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Theft

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1859: Oscar Jackson lynched, precipitating the Wright County War

1 comment April 25th, 2017 Meaghan

(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)

The story of what would become known as the Wright County War began on September 21, 1858, when Henry A. Wallace was found lying dead in a clump of willows on his own farm, his head bashed in. He had last been seen alive on August 27, twenty-five days earlier.

Wallace’s employee, Oscar F. Jackson, was the prime suspect in his murder. Jackson had agreed to help Wallace reap his hay crop in exchange for a portion of the harvest, and on August 27 the two men had been seen working together in the fields near where Wallace’s body was later found.

Jackson showed a curious lack of concern about his boss’s disappearance. He never even bothered to tell the authorities he was missing, and when neighbors noted that Wallace hadn’t been seen in weeks and decided to launch a search, Jackson declined to join in. An impoverished sharecropper, Jackson also seemed to have become suddenly flush with cash — an oddity because like most of the residents of Wright County, Jackson was poor, still struggling to recover from the Panic of 1857. Wallace was comparatively well-off.

A grand jury indicted Jackson for his employer’s murder, but the case against him was incredibly feeble. At the trial, Jackson’s attorneys pointed out that no one had seen the murder or could even determine the day it took place, and suggested any number of people could have visited Wallace and killed him at any time during that three-and-a-half-week period that he was missing.

The jury quite rightly gave Jackson the benefit of doubt and acquitted him on April 3, 1859, after eighteen hours of deliberation.

That night, a lynch party of fifteen men chased him into the woods. Fearing for his life, Jackson fled to St. Paul.

The local citizenry — among them Henry Wallace’s brother, Hiram — were not prepared to let the matter rest. And, horrifyingly, neither was the Wright County Sheriff, George M. Bertram,* or the justice of the peace, Cyrus Chase Jenks.

Five days after Jackson’s acquittal, the three men went to find the presumed murderer in Hennepin County. There, Hiram Wallace swore out a complaint against Jackson accusing him of theft, and Jenks issued a warrant for his arrest. Never mind that Jenks did not have jurisdiction outside of Wright County: Sheriff Bertram delivered the warrant to Alfred Brackett, the deputy sheriff of Hennepin County, and asked him to serve it.

Walter N. Trenery wrote in his 1962 book, Murder in Minnesota,

Brackett found Jackson in St. Paul’s Apollo Saloon the next day. Handcuffing his prisoner, the deputy set out with him for St. Anthony by buggy. Jackson pleaded for time to call his attorney, but at first Brackett would not allow it. On the ride Jackson insisted that his arrest was based on a false charge, the purpose of which was to get him back to Rockford [in Wright County] where he would be murdered… Brackett reconsidered. When the two men reached St. Anthony, he sent word to Jackson’s counsel and persuaded the Wright County sheriff to spend the night in town before starting back to Rockford.

The implacable Sheriff Bertram

Jackson’s lawyer hastily drew up a writ of habeas corpus and before the day was out he’d served it to Sheriff Bertram. The Hon. Isaac Atwater, a Minnesota Supreme Court justice, ordered Jackson’s release on April 11. He was immediately re-arrested, however, as by then Jenks and Bertram had realized their error, gone back to Wright County and drawn up a second warrant. Jackson’s attorney responded with a second writ of habeas corpus, and on April 13, the man was ordered released again.

His friends had pooled their money and come up with enough for him to leave Minnesota forever, but for some reason Jackson returned to Rockford instead of skipping town. The residents of Wright County still wanted to lynch him, and to that end a neighbor swore out yet another phony complaint against him and yet another justice of the peace issued yet another warrant for his arrest.

A mob virtually tore Jackson’s cabin and its contents to pieces and set several fires. They surrounded the home of Jackson’s father-in-law, George Holdship, where the fugitive was reported to be hiding, and set more fires.

On April 24, Sheriff Bertram arrived at Holdship’s residence, and after he swore Jackson would not be harmed, arrested Jackson and took him away.

According to John D. Bessler’s book Legacy Of Violence: Lynch Mobs And Executions In Minnesota,

Less than half a mile from the house an armed mob overtook Sheriff Bertram’s procession. The sheriff relinquished power without resistance and rode off with the deputies, failing to even report the incident. After taunting Jackson throughout the night, the mob strung him up, even as his wife arrived to plead for mercy. Her pleas ignored, she was sent away distraught and empty-handed. The bloodthirsty mob hauled Jackson up and down times, failing to get Jackson to confess but successfully mangling his neck. Only when Jackson was hoisted up for a third time, at 2:00 P.M. on April 25, did his neck break. Jackson’s body was left dangling from a beam that protruded from Wallace’s cabin.

A coroner’s jury was called on the same day Jackson died and decided he had met with his death at the hands of some person or persons unknown. “The jury was not likely,” Trenery noted dryly, “to accuse its own members.”

But the story didn’t end there.

At the time of Oscar Jackson’s lynching, Minnesota had been a state for less than a year; it was admitted to the Union on May 11, 1858. Their first state governor, Henry Hastings Sibley, was anxious to maintain the rule of law, which had been besmirched by the Jackson outrage. One newspaper said, a tad melodramatically, “Wright County will be painted black upon the map of Minnesota — a patch of loathsome leprosy upon the fair surface of the land.”

Sibley offered a $500 reward for the arrest and conviction of anyone concerned with the lynching. It went unclaimed and the lynching started to slip away into obscurity, until July, when Oscar Jackson’s wife spotted Emery W. Moore (called “Emory” or “Aymer” in some accounts) at a gathering in Minnehaha Falls. Moore had been a member of the lynch mob, and it was his warrant that lead to Jackson’s arrest at his father-in-law’s house.

Mrs. Jackson alerted St. Paul’s chief of police, who arrested Moore for murder, and he was sent to Rockford to stand trial.

What followed, as Trenery describes it, was something of a solemn farce:

To prevent further collusion among local officials, the governor directed Charles H. Berry, the state’s attorney general, to conduct the prosecution in person. Berry opened the preliminary examination in Monticello on July 31, 1859, with an angry mob swarming about the building, shouting and threatening the agents of law enforcement. Mrs. Jackson, testifying for the prosecution, clearly and unequivocally named the leaders of the lynch mob and described the circumstances under which her husband had died. When the Wright County sheriff took the stand to explain how the mob had overwhelmed him and took Jackson from his custody, the attorney general found the sheriff’s explanation so unsatisfactory that he ordered Bertram arrested and held as an accomplice in the lynching. Berry then discovered that certain prosecution witnesses had mysteriously disappeared before they could testify, and he was forced to adjourn the hearing before it had been in session a full day.

To add insult to injury, that evening the vigilantes descended on the place where Emery Moore was confined, set him free, and melted into the darkness.

Berry returned to St. Paul and reported all this to the governor.

Fed up, Sibley declared Wright County to be “in a state of insurrection” and sent in the state militia to put a stop to mob justice and force the county officials to do their damn jobs. Three units — the Pioneer Guards, the St. Paul City Guards and the Stillwater Guards — marched in, aided by 35 special policemen.

The results were mixed. At first the militia was unable to find any members of the lynch mob, the locals just shrugged their shoulders when asked where they had gone, and the sheriff and other officials refused outright to cooperate. Only when they found out Governor Sibley was on his way over to personally take charge did the county officials “find” and arrest three suspected lynchers: Emery Moore, Hiram S. Angell, and J.E. Jenks.**

Satisfied, the governor sent the state militia home. The three-day occupation was later facetiously dubbed the Wright County War. It was a bloodless war.

The arrested men were almost immediately set free on a $500 bail, and in October, a grand jury refused to indict them. In the end, no one at all was punished for Oscar Jackson’s death, and Henry Wallace’s murder was never officially solved.

Charles Bryant groused in his History of the Upper Mississippi Valley,

And so the drama ended; the curtain fell; and the so-called “Wright county war” was a thing of the past. Its effects, however, long remained in the enormous expense incurred, which, with other criminal cases of less magnitude, created an indebtedness almost resulting in bankruptcy, and depreciating county orders to less than thirty-five cents on the dollar.

Of the principals involved in this story:

  • Sheriff Bertram left office in 1860 and was succeeded by W. Smith Brookins.
  • Cyrus Jenks died in Meeker City, Minnesota in 1897. He was almost 90 years old.
  • Governor Sibley stayed in office until 1860, and did not seek reelection. In 1862, he was appointed colonel of the Minnesota Militia and led them against the Native Americans in the Dakota War.
  • Charles Berry was later appointed as a judge in the Idaho Territory. He died in 1900.
  • Alfred Brackett fought in the Civil War, leading what would become Brackett’s Battallion, which served longer than any other Minnesota unit. The unit fought against the Confederates between 1861 and 1864, then became part of the Northwestern Indian Expedition in the Dakota Territory.
  • Hiram Angell also fought in the Civil War, with the Third Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He died in St. Louis, Kentucky on April 5, 1862.
  • J.E. Jenks got elected to Minnesota’s House of Representatives in the 1870s and served for a year.

Nearly twenty years after Henry Wallace’s death, first his gold watch and then his rifle were found near the former site of Oscar Jackson’s cabin.

* Wright County boasts a Bertram Chain of Lakes, named for Sheriff Bertram.

** J.E. Jenks was probably Cyrus Jenks’s son; records note that Cyrus had a son named John Edwin Jenks who would have been about 22 years old in 1859, which matches J.E.’s first name and age.

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Borderline "Executions",Common Criminals,Crime,Execution,Guest Writers,Hanged,History,Lynching,Minnesota,Murder,Other Voices,Public Executions,Theft,USA

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1947: Garlon Mickles, the last hanged in Hawaii

Add comment April 22nd, 2017 Headsman


Seattle Times, April 22, 1947.

On this date in 1947, U.S. Army Private Garlon Mickles was hanged at a place called “execution gulch” in Honolulu’s Schofield Barracks.

Mickles had enlisted three years before, the 16-year-old son of a St. Louis laundress. (“Tell my mother I died like a man,” were his reported words to the chaplain.)

According to Associated Press reports, army engineers frustrated peeping eyes by “put[ting] up a smoke screen to shield the gallows from the view of the curious.”

He was convicted of raping and robbing a female War Department employee on Guam, where he was stationed with the Twentieth Air Force — from which staging-point the unit conducted bombing raids on mainland Japan. (The Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, was part of the 20th.)

Mickles appears to be the last person ever executed on the Hawaiian islands, and also an unusual overlook by the Espy File of U.S. executions, from which he’s totally absent.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Children,Crime,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Guam,Hanged,Hawaii,Milestones,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Rape,Soldiers,Theft,U.S. Military,USA

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1505: One Bolognese thief hanged, and another saved by Saint Nicholas

Add comment April 15th, 2017 Cherubino Ghirardacci

(Thanks to Augustinian friar Cherubino Ghirardacci for today’s guest post, from his History of Bologna. The Saint Nicholas in question for this picturesque vignette is not Santa Claus (though that figure’s real-life inspiration also had an averted execution to his hagiography) but the medieval mystic Saint Nicholas of Tolentino … a popular Italian saint who appears to have obtained an informal niche profile as the intercessor who would help a fellow survive a hanging: he had already been credited with saving a man wrongfully accused of murder who hung four days on the gallows in 14th century Aquila. -ed.)

It has happened in these days, that is to say on April 15, Tuesday, that two thieves have been hanged; one sixty years old and one about eighteen, and the execution took place on the usual spot, that is in the cattle market; and the minister of justice ordered that they should be left hanging upon the gallows until the usual hour, when the members of the Company of the Dead came to remove them for burial, and having taken down from the gibbet the old man and having placed him on the bier, they then deposed the youth, called Pietro Antonio of Bologna. He had been adopted by one who dwelt in the Borgo of San Pietro, and was already a novice of San Jacomo; this one was found alive and of so much vivacity it seemed as though he had been reposing on his bed asleep: but however with the neck injured, because the halter had entered into it, and had almost sawn through the throat.

The bystanders, marvelling much at this unusual sight, quickly had him carried to the Hospital to care for him; and there came a messenger from the Senate to see, and to hear everything that had happened; and Pietro Antonio said that he had been helped by the glorious saint Nicholas of Tolentino, to whom he had vowed, that if he escaped this opprobrious death, he would vest himself in his habit, and that he being on the gallows, the glorious St. Nicholas supported him by holding the soles of his feet in his hands. This was considered a marvellous miracle in the city, and every one ran to visit him and hear him discourse.

On Sunday, April 27, the Brothers of San Jacomo came in procession to the Hospital to fetch the above-mentioned Pietro Antonio and to conduct him to San Jacomo, and they pass together with the “Compagnia della Morte” behind San Petronio and before this church, and they go before the palace of the family Antiani, and below the “Madonna del Popolo”; and the condemned man is dressed in white with a black mantle, and with no cap on his head, and with the same halter round his neck with which he was hanged. When he reaches this spot, he falls on his knees and adores the Queen of Heaven, and wishing to rise, the simple women around tear off some of his clothes in devotional excitement; but being covered with another cape, he arrives at the church of San Jacopo, and there in the presence of all the city, the halter is taken from his neck and laid by him on the altar; and by the reverend prior of that said convent, Master Giovanni de Ripis, he was solemnly dressed in the Carmelite habit and called Brother Nicholas, in honour and reverence of St. Nicholas of Tolentino; and the ceremonies of vesting him being over, the friars meanwhile chanting the Te Deum Laudamus, he was presented by the said Prior to the very holy image of the glorious St. Nicholas, which is behind the choir in the chapel of St. Thomas Apostle and St. Nicholas, now called of the Madonna of Heaven, because when he made his vow he had in his mind this venerated image. Then he placed there his votive offering, his true portrait painted on canvas, and also the same halter with which he was hanged, the which things one may still see today in this said church.

He lived four years very devoutly, tending the sick; but then, tempted by the devil, he threw away his habit, and giving himself once more to thieving he was taken and hanged with the golden halter to the long balcony of the Podestà, and died for his sins.

The record of this miracle appears, with all the expenses, in an authentic book of 148 pages, in the Sacristy of these said monks, where are mentioned the sums spent on the procession, and miracle, and of the votive panel picture, which was made by master Ercolese, painter, and cost in all lire 3 and soldi 11.

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Entry Filed under: 16th Century,Arts and Literature,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Executions Survived,Guest Writers,Hanged,History,Italy,Myths,Not Executed,Other Voices,Public Executions,The Supernatural,Theft

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1900: William Pepo, the first hanged in Teton County, Montana

Add comment April 7th, 2017 Headsman

Today’s entry of the mystery man who was the maiden execution in Teton County, Montana unfolds via the period reportage of the Anaconda Standard.


Anaconda Standard, June 5, 1899

Great Falls, June 4. — William Pepo is guilty of the murder of Julius Plath. So the jury in Teton county has decided, but as his lawyers have decided to appeal the case, William may escape paying the penalty which a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree is supposed to carry.

All of the evidence was of the circumstantial kind, but it points clearly to the guilt of Pepo.

The facts of the crime, whose story has been told before in this column, are these:

One day during the last summer a ranch hand rode into the town of Choteau and sought the office of the sheriff. He said that the body of an unknown man had been found in a deserted cabin on the Muddy, with all the earmarks of foul play surrounding it.

No one knew the name of the dead man, and there was nothing to give a direct clue to it.

Several people had seen two men pass their places and one of them tallied in description with the dead man. One woman, at whose house the pair had stayed overnight, remembered that they came from Canada, and were evidently Germans.

William Hagen, the sheriff of Teton county, went to work on the case, and, following up slight clues, and helped perhaps a trifle by chance, came to the conclusion that the victim was Julius Plath of Pembroke, Ontario, who had been working on the Crows’ Nest Pass railway.

Then came the search for his companion, and after many months he was found working under an assumed name as a ranch hand near Spokane. He was arrested and brought back.

Then came some steady painstaking work, which followed the course of the two men up to where the body was found, and so thoroughly was this chain of evidence established that the denials of Pepo as to acquaintance with Plath, with the crime or with the neighborhood were not credited by the jury, although they debated the case all night before agreement.

Charles Simons, charged with having shot and killed Charles Buckley in a barroom row, was found guilty of manslaughter and the jury fixed the punishment at the minimum — one year in the penitentiary.


Anaconda Standard, Jan. 23, 1900

Special Dispatch to the Standard.

Helena, Jan. 22. — William Pepo, convicted in Teton county for the murder of Julius Plath, in the summer of 1898, will have to pay the penalty of his crime upon the gallows, unless the governor interferes, which is hardly possible, as the supreme court to-day affirmed the judgment of the lower court.

“We find no error in the record, and must affirm the judgment and order appealed from,” says the supreme court in concluding a decision by Associate Justice Hunt. The opinion deals with the various points raised by Pepo’s counsel, but finds none of them of sufficient merit to warrant an interference with the action of the lower court.

One of the errors assigned by Pepo’s counsel was the alleged misconduct of the jury, it being claimed that while the jury was deliberating on the case, the bailiff entered the jury room and remained several hours.

One of jurors, by the name of Dehass, made affidavit to that effect. The bailiff made counter affidavit to the effect that early one morning he entered the jury room, taking some lunch and bedding. All but four of the jurors were asleep. The four who were awake were talking in the other end of the room, but not about the case.

The bailiff took a two-hour nap in the room and then left. He swore positively that he heard not one word of the conversation. Some of the jurors made affidavit to the same effect.

“From the foregoing affidavits, we think it is fair to say that there was no misconduct on the part of the jury, which tended in any way to prejudice the substantial rights of this defendant,” says the court, in disposing of this contention.

Another alleged error was the action of the lower court in allowing a witness to relate a conversation between Plath and the witness, when it was claimed the defendant was not present. The decision find no error in this, since the same witness subsequently testified Pepo was present. The action of the lower court in refusing to give an instruction that a witness having a casual acquaintance with a party is not entitled to much evidence is sustained.

“We are also asked to reverse the judgment because the verdict is not sustained by the evidence,” continues the opinion. “To this assignment, we have given the most attentive consideration, and our judgment is that it is very seldom that a case presents itself which so entirely fulfills the exact requirements of the law in relation to the measure of proof demanded to sustain a conviction of murder, where the state relies upon circumstantial evidence.

Under this assignment the argument is advanced that the evidence as to the identity of the body is unreliable and unsatisfactory. Counsel makes the point that there was no direct evidence to identify the body found as that of Julius Plath, who was alleged to have been killed by the defendant, Pepo.

Section 358 of the penal code provides that ‘No person can be convicted of murder or manslaughter unless the death of the person alleged to have been killed, and the fact of the killing by the defendant as alleged, are established as independent facts: the former by direct proof and the latter beyond a reasonable doubt.’

This statute is taken from the New York code, which is identical in its language, with this exception, that the New York code provides that the death of the person alleged to have been killed and the fact of the killing of the defendant as alleged, shall each have been established as independent facts. But we think that the same rules of interpretation should be applied to the Montana statute that controls in New York. The evidence in all respects sustains the verdict of murder.

The murder of Plath was one of the mysteries of Northern Montana and a crime that was not explained for some time. In an abandoned claim on the Muddy river to the northwest of Great Falls, the body in a bad state of decomposition was found in June, 1898, by a farm hand, who went into the place to get a mower sickle

A piece of iron, covered with blood, showed the weapon used.

The body was dressed in clothing that afterwards assisted in the identification, although for the time being nothing was found to show who this murdered man was.

A locket lying on the floor and a memorandum book in the pocket of an overcoat hanging on the wall also assisted in the identification. One proved to be the property of Plath and the other of Pepo.

Pepo and his victim, it was subsequently learned, came to Montana together from the Northwest Territory.

Both left the railroad at Shelby. Plath is known to have had $120 in his possession, and this is supposed to have furnished the motive for the crime.

During the trial it developed that several persons had seen two men corresponding to Pepo and Plath. They said they were going to Choteau. A farmer directed them to the cabin where the body was found as a good place to sleep on the way.

Others remembered them by such identifications as the charm on Plath’s watch, the photographs of him sent from Canada, his clothing and other articles.

A reward by the authorities and diligent work on the part of the Teton county authorities, assisted by relatives and acquaintances of the murdered man in Canada, finally fixed Pepo as the murderer and Plath as the victim.

The murderer was arrested in Washington. This was nine months after the discovery of the body. Pepo, when arrested, was living under an assumed name. He carried the very watch that Plath was known to have owned. Pepo’s trial and conviction followed.

Judge Smith of Kalispell will probably sentence him to be hanged at Choteau in a few weeks.


Anaconda Standard, Apr. 4, 1900

Special Dispatch to the Standard.

Helena, April 3. — An appeal to Governor Smith in behalf of executive clemency for another murderer was turned down to-day, when the governor announced that he could not see his way clear to interfere with the judgment of the courts in the case of William Pepo, under sentence of death to hang at Choteau next Saturday, April 7. Pepo was convicted of killing Julius Plath in a cabin on the banks of the Muddy river, in Teton county, a few miles north of Great Falls.

The murder was committed June 14 or 15, 1898. The decomposed body of Plath was not found until several days after the crime was committed. A farm hand who had occasion to enter the cabin to procure a mowing machine sickle came across the body lying upon a bunk in a sickening state of decomposition.

There appeared to be no clew to the murderer and it was several months afterward before suspicion was attached to Pepo. He was brought back to Montana, tried and convicted. The supreme court refused to grant him a new trial and he was sentenced to expiate his crime upon the gallows.

J.G. Bair, his attorney, appealed to the governor for a commutation of sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of lack of evidence to connect Pepo with the crime. The governor has been examining the record in the case for several days and this afternoon he sent a letter to Mr. Bair stating that he could not interfere. The letter was very brief. It follows:

I have finished reading the transcript in the matter of the application for executive clemency for William Pepo. In this case the evidence is so convincing and clear the jury could not have reached any other conclusion. It shows a most cold-blooded murder and there is no doubt Pepo was the murderer. I must absolutely refuse to interfere with the sentence of the court.

Pepo is said to be without a friend in the world save the Choteau attorney who sought to save his neck. His execution will be the first legal hanging that ever took place in Teton county.


Anaconda Standard, Apr. 8, 1900

Special Dispatch to the Standard.

Great Falls, April 7. — In the yard of the county jail in Choteau this morning at 6:09 o’clock William Pepo was hanged for the murder of Julius Plath. He exhibited no nervousness or fear and his last words were:

Gentlemen, I have nothing to say, only that I am about to be hanged an innocent man.

It was the first legal execution in Teton county, and from start to finish went without the slightest hitch of any kind.

There were about 50 spectators. The only outside officer of the law present was Sheriff Hubbard of Kalispell.

After all visitors had left last night the condemned man employed his time in writing, playing cards and conversation with the death watch until 3 o’clock this morning, when he went to bed and dropped off to sleep at once.

At 5:15 a.m., when he was aroused by Deputy McDonald, he was sleeping so soundly it was necessary to call several times to awaken him. After getting up he greeted the guards pleasantly and ordered breakfast, but later countermanded the order with the remark that his time was too short to waste any of it in eating.

At his request Father Snell was admitted and talked with him alone for some time, after which he asked that Attorney Bair, who has defended him throughout, be admitted to his cell, and in a few moments’ conversation he bade him goodbye and reiterated his innocence. Rev. Cunningham next conversed with him and Pepo listened to him very attentively and answered him earnestly.

At 6 o’clock the death warrant was read to him in his cell by Under Sheriff Haggerty and he was led out into the corridor, where he bade an earnest goodbye to the officers who had been his keepers for the past 18 months, and spoke a pleasant word to each.

His arms were strapped down and the walk to the scaffold began, the condemned man walking firmly and without assistance between Deputies Devlin and Armstrong, followed by Sheriff Hagen and Under Sheriff Haggerty and Rev. Cunningham.


To the Gallows.

As they walked down the north side of the jail in the alleyway formed by the high board fence erected about the yard, the morning air was crisp and chill, and the condemned man, turning to one of the officers, said jokingly: “It’s a little cool out here; this must be like the weather they tell about in North Dakota,” and smiled pleasantly.

Some of the guards had previously been talking of North Dakota weather to him, and his last earthly joke referred to the conversation.

As he turned the angle of the building and stepped under the gallows, he faced the silent, uncovered crowd, who had been admitted a few minutes before, calmly and quietly, by far the most self-possessed man present, and looking them over, he bowed pleasantly three or four times to parties he knew and said in a low voice, though clearly and distinctly:

Gentlemen, I have nothing to say, only that I am about to be hanged an innocent man.

Sheriff Hagen placed the strap about his knees and the condemned looked down with apparent interest and carefully placed his feet together so as to assist the sheriff.

The noose was placed about his neck, but he never flinched a hair’s breadth.

Rev. Cunningham, in a low tone, recited the prayers for the dead. For a moment, Pepo closed his eyes, as if listening.

A meadow lark in the field outside the prison walls whistled its morning note loud and clear; the condemned man opened his eyes again and looked out upon the crowd of awe struck faces and uncovered heads and the early morning sunlight which he never again would see.

The voice of the minister, broken and low, sounded monotonously.

Pepo glanced up inquiringly and Sheriff Hagen dropped down over his head and face the terrible black cap, shutting out all view of the world and sunlight from William Pepo forever.

Instantly the sheriff sprang away and gave the signal to the unknown man in the box alongside the gallows; the 400 pound weight fell to the ground like a plummet and the body shot up in the air four feet and settled down again without a perceptible tremor or more sign of life than if a block of wood. His neck was broken instantly.

Drs. Brooks and Cooper watched the pulse that in 10 minutes was forever stilled, and in 20 minutes the body was cut down and placed in a coffin, and the long strain upon all the officials connected with the case was over.

For the Epworth league was left a long letter of thanks for their services to him. To Rev. Cunningham was left a letter with the superscription, “Not to be opened until after my death.” In this letter he said in part:

“I Am Not Guilty.”

I am not guilty and consequently should not be held responsible for the crime. If this crime is really and truly atoned for by the ator in this world while you live, I hope you will tell those that have been instrumental in fastening it on me that they have my forgiveness as I have been forgiven. When you read this I will stand before the throne of God, whose grace passes all understanding. Amen.

Those are his last written words, and from them can be seen how strongly he urged his innocence and how far from any such thing as an admission he stood.

Since the action of Rev. Warman in the matter of Hurst‘s confession he has been particularly anxious to impress upon every one his innocence and feared lest some one should allege some such thing of him after his death.

He was buried this afternoon, Rev. Cunningham conducting the services.

With the hanging of William Pepo, the man of mystery, was closed a chapter in the book of one man’s life which will never be read by mortal eye, for just as sure as was his taking off, his name was not Pepo, and some time in the past he has trod walks of life other than those which he has during the time that the evidence in his case has been traced to him.

Looking at him last night calmly smoking and chatting cheerfully with those about him it was hard to recognize about him any of the accepted tributes of the common murderer. Pleasant faced, intelligent, well read, iron nerved and ready witted, he showed by every action the man of education and good raising. He refused at all times to give any chance for his photograph being taken, even by a kodak, and his last statement to Attorney Bair, the one man nearer to him in the effort to save his life than any other, was,

They do not know my name, nor do you. I shall not bring disgrace upon my family by letting them know that I have died a felon’s death. I will carry it with me out of the world.

A Man of Mystery.

Absolutely nothing has been learned of his past life further than six years back except what he himself has told and that, when investigated, was found not to be true.

He has not asked that one human being be sent for, nor had he ever mentioned the name of a person whom he wished to know of his terrible position.

Of his past life he has been as silent as the tomb except as to the indefinite stories mentioned.

That a man of his age, intelligence, ability and strong personality should not have in the wanderings of a lifetime one single friend or relative to come forward at such an hour, if called upon, seems incredible. In speaking with Under Sheriff Haggerty yesterday he referred to the Hurst and to the Calder cases. Of Rev. Mr. Warman he spoke very bitterly for giving publicity to the Hurst confession, and said Hurst’s wife and family would curse him for his action in the case until their dying day.

Speaking of Calder, he said:

I had made up my mind to go out of the world as Calder did, cursing God and man, but Rev. Mr. Rogers’, Rev. Mr. Cunningham’s and Father Snell’s talks to me have changed my mind, and I forgive every one connected with my trial. I firmly believe there is a God and I will go to Him expecting to receive the justice in the other world which has been denied in this world.

He expressed thanks for the favors which the sheriff’s office had shown him, breaking down for a few moments and shedding tears. Yesterday, Rev. Mr. Cunningham and members of the Epworth league had services in the corridor, as they have had every day for the past week, and at his request sang certain hymns.

Not once since a week after his sentence has his appetite failed him, and his sleep has been as regular and peaceful as a child’s.

His Iron Nerve.

His favorite pastime when no visitors were present has been playing cards with the death watch, and when he won he laughed as heartily as if he never had a care in the world.

Yesterday his beard was trimmed up and he was dressed in a new suit of clothes, and when the Standard reporter visited him he was received as courteously as though an invited guest.

Pepo was smoking and politely passed a package of cigars out through the iron bars, urging acceptance with the uncanny remark that there was more than enough to last him until 7 o’clock a.m. and after that he wouldn’t need any.

In the corridor with the death watch were many who came to visit him, and as Pepo recognized each one he shook hands heartily and expressed his pleasure at his meeting them and talked pleasantly on the topics of the day, alluding every little while to his own case as though it were an incident which he did not care to have those present feel any embarrassment in commenting on.

To one of the death watch he laughingly related the fact that “Tom” was to be one of the watchers.

“Did you think of it?” he continued. “You and Tom were the death watches the first night of my sentence, and now you will be with me my last night.”

The incident did not appear to strike the death watch addressed as at all humorous, but Pepo laughed softly again at the recollection.

At first he was disinclined to speak of his case for publication, as he believed the newspapers had not treated him fairly, but later he talked quite freely. He asked his attorney, who was present, to write a contradiction of a statement which appeared in a Dupuyer paper, in which he was quoted as saying that certain men in Washington would testify that he was working in that state June 15, 1898, which was the supposed date of the murder of Plath.

He dictated the writing, took the sheet of paper and read it with satisfaction and signed his name without a tremor, asking that Under Sheriff Haggerty and the Standard men sign it as witnesses. The statement reads:

His statement.

In an interview published in your paper some time since you quoted me as having said that I could obtain evidence from Washington showing I was there, in Washington, on or about June 15, 1898. This is a mistake; I meant to say I could get witnesses there who would testify that I was in Washington at work on the date that James Hannan testified to having seen me trying to cross the mountains, namely, on July 29, 1898.

In explaining this, Pepo said:

I don’t wish any injustice done my attorney; had I been able to secure such evidence I would have told him and I would not now be here with but six or eight hours to live; such evidence would have cleared me. Men would testify I commenced work there on July 4, but that would not do. I don’t know when I commenced to work there myself, as I was drunk for a long time. When the sheriff arrested me in Washington for murder I was never so surprised in my life. They say I was seen here after the murder. I never was in Choteau in my life until brought back by the sheriff. On June 14, when I am said to have done this thing, I expressed a package in Lethbridge at the express office there. The newspapers did not treat me fairly. They condemned me before I was tried and branded me a low-browed murderer. Had I friends to call upon, and state my side, the case might have been different. I am innocent and God knows it. But it is all over now, and I don’t want to make you people sick of listening to my troubles. They will soon be over, anyhow; let what is gone by go: it can make no difference now and talking of it does no good.

And all this without the slightest attempt at bravado or whine. One of the guards offered him a whiskey cocktail, but he refused it and said, smilingly:

No; I have had one and that is enough now; I don’t want you to think I need or wish courage to meet the end.

All the evening of the many who visited him he was the most calm and unembarrassed. His voice was clear and even and at no time did he evince the slightest excitement or nervousness, and, though he referred quite frequently to his coming death, it was without regret or a semblance of more interest than if it were the getting of his morning meal.

A little white kitten romped upon the floor of his cell and he expressed concern as to what would be its fate after the morning, when he would be taken away and he could feet it no longer. One of the officials promised to look after the kitten and he seemed much relieved.

For quiet, unostentatious iron nerve and calm placidity in the face of death upon the gallows, Pepo’s every word and movement last night and also this morning must stand alone.

Either he went to death innocent, which the evidence flatly disproves, or his career in crime has sent more men than Julius Plath out of the world unshriven.

He was not in the class of most moral degenerates and must go down, if guilty, as an iron-nerved prince of criminals, who played his last card, and losing, paid the forfeit with his life without the quiver of an eyelash.

The crime for which William Pepo to-day suffered the death penalty was the murder of Julius Plath in a cabin on the Muddy river, about 20 miles from Choteau, in Teton county, about the 15th of June, 1898. The case throughout was circumstantial and most remarkably illustrates that “murder will out,” no matter how carefully guarded.

Pepo and Julius Plath were acquainted in Canada, and early in June, 1898, left Lethbridge together to come to the United States, Plath having $120 in currency on his person.

They came in over the narrow guage [sic] and beat their way over the railroad as far as Pondera, where they left the railway and started together for Choteau.

The last seen of them was June 14, when they were directed to the cabin where the murder was committed.

On June 29, parties finding the cabin door fastened forced it open and found the body of a man who the evidence afterwards tended to show was Plath. The dead man had been killed while asleep by having his skull crushed by a large iron bolt, which was found lying near.

All the dead man’s clothes were taken charge of by the authorities and afterwards identified as belonging to Plath. Near the body was found an overcoat, in the pocket of which was a memorandum book belonging to and written in by Pepo.

The dead man was unidentified and was buried unknown.

Months after, when the murder had almost been forgotten, a letter came from Plath’s brother in Toronto, Canada, asking for the whereabouts of Julius, and by chance it fell into the hands of some one who thought it worth while to refer it to the authorities.

Further inquiry brought a photograph of the dead man, and this photograph was the first link in the chain which brought William Pepo to the gallows to-day and gave Sheriff Hagen the first ray of light upon a murder whose darkness seemed impenetrable.

The dead man when found was too badly decomposed for identification, but a man who had seen Pepo and Plath traveling together identified the photograph as being that of the smaller of the two men.

The clothing shown in the photograph also corresponded exactly with that found upon the dead man. The photograph was taken by Neapole, Pembroke, Canada, and is marked “exhibit D.” Later Plath’s brother came from Canada and identified the clothing as that of his brother Julius.

Then began the search for Pepo, who had disappeared as completely as though the earth had swallowed him up. Search was unavailing, until one day a letter came from a young lady to friends in Canada, who stated that she had met Pepo, but that he was going under the name of William Ferris and did not wish her to say anything about it.

The letter was from Davenport, Wash., and the young lady was unaware that Pepo was wanted on any charge; and again the hand of fate pointed out the murderer when all chances of discovery seemed buried forever.

The information was correct. Pepo was found in Davenport under the name of William Ferris, and was promptly arrested in May last and brought to Choteau, where link by link the evidence was forged against him, and last June he was found guilty of the murder of Julius Plath and sentenced to hang on July 17.

John G. Bair of Choteau was appointed to the defense of Pepo and County Attorney Erickson prosecuted. On both sides the battle was a stubborn one and well contested, but the evidence for the prosecution was too strong to overcome.

After the sentence Pepo’s attorney continued the fight and carried the case to the supreme court on appeal, and the doomed man was given a brief respite, but the judgment of the lower court was sustained, and on the 6th of last month Pepo was again called before Judge Smith in the court room at Choteau and for the second time listened to the death sentence, which was carried out to-day.

During the trial and after Pepo refused to allow his picture to be taken and in going to and from the court house pulled his coat collar above his neck to baffle any chance for snap shots. The accompanying pictures is a very good one and is from a pen sketch done by W.H. Clinkerbread, the Choteau artist. [Unfortunately the picture alluded to does not in fact appear in the paper. -ed.]

Pepo was a German and had not a friend, relative or acquaintance in the United States. He was a man of large frame, weighing about 180 pounds, and being 5 foot 10. He was 40 years of age.

After his second sentence for a while he refused to eat and expressed the intention of starving himself, but his fortitude was unequal to the task and he gave the trial up.

Although without money, his case was fought by his attorney to a finish just the same, and 10 days ago Mr. Bair went to Helena and personally appeared before Governor Smith and made a plea for life imprisonment for his client on the grounds of the evidence being circumstantial throughout and that there was a chance for a reasonable doubt.

When Mr. Bair appeared before the governor the case of Hurst, who was hanged at Glendive, had just been presented, with petitions containing 7,000 names, asking for clemency. For Pepo the case was different. He was unknown, without a dollar and had not a relative or friend in the state but his attorney to speak for him; but the result was the same.

The governor refused to commute the sentence of either man — the one with relatives and thousands of friends petitioning, the other without a friend save his faithful attorney. Hurst was hanged on March 30 and Pepo to-day. In refusing to commute the death sentence in Pepo’s case Governor Smith wrote his attorney Tuesday:

Mr. J.B. Bair, Choteau, Mont. —

Dear Sir: I have finished reading the transcript in th ematter of the application for executive clemency for William Pepo. In this case the evidence is so convincing and clear the jury could not have reached any other conclusion. It shows a most cold-blooded murder, and there is no doubt Pepo was the murder. I must absolutely refuse to interfere with the sentence of the court. I am, very respectfully,

ROBERT B. SMITH, Governor.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,Known But To God,Montana,Murder,Theft,USA

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1768: James Gibson and Benjamin Payne, impressing James Boswell

Add comment March 23rd, 2017 James Boswell

(Thanks to James Boswell for the guest post. The Dr. Johnson biographer was a ravenous gallows-haunt whom we have encountered repeatedly in these pages; even in his guise as a barrister, Boswell personally lost a client to the hangman. No fool when it came to content repurposing, Boswell in 1768 wrote the Publick Advertiser about the March 23, 1768 double hanging of John Gibson and Benjamin Payne; then, in 1783, he recycled the entirety of this bygone letter to extend his musings on the spectacle of public executions, for the occasion of Tyburn’s abolition. We reprint here the 1783 article, a comment within a comment, within the very comment that is this dreary site. -ed.)

LONDON MAGAZINE,<br />
FOR MAY, 1783.<br />
THE HYPOCHONDRIACK. No. LXVIII.<br />
Mitiores Poena nobis semper placuere. Justinian.,<br />
'We have always preferred mild punishments.'

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

Sir,

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,
MORTALIS.

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.

On this day..

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1714: A Tyburn dozen

Add comment March 10th, 2017 Headsman

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,

  1. The plain Matter of our Christian Duty. And,
  2. 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,

  1. The Necessity of Prayer.
  2. Whom we ought to pray to.
  3. What we ought to pray for.
  4. The due Qualifications for Prayer.
  5. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Just Publish’d, The Third Edition of the 1st and 2d Volumes of the History of Highwaymen, Footpad, &c. And next Week will be publish’d a 3d Volume, continued to this last Sessions. [Here are all three volumes -ed: Volume 1 (part 1) | Volume 1 (part 2) | Volume 2 (part 1) | Volume 2 (part 2) | Volume 3 (part 1) | Volume 3 (part 2)]

Part of the Themed Set: The Ordinary of Newgate.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 18th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,England,Execution,Hanged,History,Mass Executions,Public Executions,Theft

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