1718: Stepan Glebov, lover of the tsarina

1 comment March 15th, 2017 Headsman

On this date in 1718,* the vengeful tsar Peter the Great staged a horrible execution on Moscow’s Red Square.

Stepan Glebov was the collateral damage of Peter’s ferocious conflict with his ill-favored crown prince Tsarevich Alexei — the whelp who had only recently been repatriated to his glowering father after fleeing Russia altogether, to cap a lifetime of letting dad down. Alexei was back in Peter’s clutches, and a few months from the events in this post would be shockingly knouted to death at Peter’s orders.

This Freudian clash also mapped sharply onto Russia’s political schisms (and many of the links in this post are to Russian pages). Alexei was the son of Peter’s first wife, Eudoxia [or Evdokia] Feodorovna Lopukhina, a princess whom the teenage Peter had been required to wed as part of the political logrolling involved in overcoming the 1680s regency of his sister Sofia.

Peter had achieved that victory, definitively, and once it was secured it didn’t take him long to tire of both Eudoxia and of the stagnant boyar class she represented. Peter was all about westernizing the motherland; what better way to start than by immuring his Russian bride in a monastery** and grabbing a German merchant’s daughter for a mistress?


Out. (Painting by Evgeny Alexandrovich Demakov, from this Russian-language page)

The blows were borne together by Eudoxia, by her devout son Alexei, and by that part of traditional and Orthodox Russia horrified by Peter’s innovations. Resentments ran along the familiar channels, here to an immoderate fantasy of deliverance come Peter’s death and there to dangerous plans to immanentize same.

When exposed by to Peter’s hostile gaze little distance would there seem between these varietals.

When Alexei returned to face Peter’s investigation, the old man turned his harsh scrutiny on the ex, knowing her to be a locus of opposition. She was found living outside the monastery in secular garb, having taken an officer named Stepan Glebov as her lover. Their correspondence was ransacked by persecutors determined to discover indicia of treasonable scheming therein. Dozens of associates and monastery monks and nuns would be caught up in the affair, damned for anything from failing to prevent the former queen’s dalliance to plotting against the life of Tsar Peter. Most were stripped of rank and sent to exile with various forms of corporal punishment — whipping, severed nostrils, tongues sliced out — but several would be tortured to death or executed on the breaking-wheel including Dositheus, Bishop of Rostov, a confidante of Eudoxia who had allegedly prophesied Alexei’s triumph over his father, and Alexander Kikin, a mentor of Alexei’s who had helped to arrange his escape from Russia.

But upon Glebov, miserable man, Peter would give free rein to his amazing talent for cruelty: the lover to be impaled alive on a stake artfully inserted to miss all vital organs so as to maximize his suffering; some accounts even give it out that the naked Glebov was bundled in furs for the freezing winter’s execution, that he might endure his pains the longer.

Glebov survived impalement for over 14 hours, only dying after 7 a.m. on the morning of March 16. Folklore (it’s probably just that) has it that, importuned on that stake by the tsar to admit to the treasonable conspiracy, Glebov justifiably retorted that he had refused such a confession under unspeakable torment in Peter’s dungeons, so why would he break now? “Depart, and let me die in peace so that you may live without peace.”

Eudoxia’s brother Avram was also put to death in December 1718. She herself was shut up in Shlisselburg fortress for the balance of Peter’s life, but she would survive to see her grandson (Alexei’s son) take the throne in 1727 as Peter II.

* Julian date: it was March 26 on the Gregorian calendar.

** Suzdal‘s Pokrovsky Monastery.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 18th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Gruesome Methods,History,Impaled,Power,Public Executions,Russia,Sex,Soldiers,Torture,Treason

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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.

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1719: Richard Worley, pirate

Add comment February 17th, 2017 Charles Johnson

(Thanks to Captain Charles Johnson — perhaps a pseudonym for Daniel Defoe — for the guest post. It was originally Chapter XIII “Of Captain WORLEY, And his Crew” in Johnson’s magnum and only opus, A General History of the Pyrates.)

[Richard Worley‘s] Reign was but short, but his Beginning somewhat particular, setting out in a small open Boat, with eight others, from New-York. This was as resolute a Crew as ever went upon this Account: They took with them a few Biscuits, and a dry’d Tongue or two, a little Cag of Water, half a dozen old Muskets and Ammunition accordingly. Thus provided, they left New-York the latter End of September 1718, but it cannot be supposed that such a Man of War as this, could undertake any considerable Voyage, or attempt any extraordinary Enterprize; so they stood down the Coast, till they came to Delaware River, which is about 150 Miles distant, and not meeting with any Thing in their Way, they turn’d up the same River as high as Newcastle, near which Place they fell upon a Shallop belonging to George Grant, who was bringing Houshold Goods, Plate, &c. from Oppoquenimi to Philadelphia; they made Prize of the most valuable Part of them, and let the Shallop go. This Fact could not come under the Article of Pyracy, it not being committed super altum Mare, upon the High-Sea, therefore was a simple Robbery only; but they did not stand for a Point of Law in the Case, but easing the Shallop Man of his Lading, the bold Adventurers went down the River again.

The Shallop came straight to Philadelphia, and brought the ill News thither, which so alarm’d the Government, as if War had been declared against them; Expresses were sent to New-York, and other Places, and several Vessels fitted out against this powerful Rover, but to no manner of Purpose; for after several Days Cruize, they all return’d, without so much as hearing what became of the Robbers.

Worley and his Crew, in going down the River, met with a Sloop of Philadelphia, belonging to a Mulatto, whom they call’d Black Robbin; they quitted their Boat for this Sloop, taking one of Black Robin’s Men along with them, as they had also done from George Grant, besides two Negroes, which encreased the Company one Third. A Day or two after, they took another Sloop belonging to Hull, homeward bound, which was somewhat fitter for their Purpose; they found aboard her, Provisions and Necessaries, which they stood in need of, and enabled them to prosecute their Design, in a manner more suitable to their Wishes.

Upon the Success of these Rovers, the Governor issued out a Proclamation, for the apprehending and taking all Pyrates, who had refused or neglected to surrender themselves, by the Time limited in his Majesty’s Proclamation of Pardon; and thereupon, ordered his Majesty’s Ship Phoenix, of 20 Guns, which lay at Sandy Hook, to Sea, to cruize upon this Pyrate, and secure the Trade to that, and the adjoining Colonies.

In all probability, the taking this Sloop sav’d their Bacons, for this Time, tho’ they fell into the Trap presently afterwards; for they finding themselves in tolerable good Condition, having a Vessel newly cleaned, with Provisions, &c. they stood off to Sea, and so missed the Phoenix, who expected them to be still on the Coast.

About six Weeks afterwards they returned, having taken both a Sloop and a Brigantine, among the Bahama Islands; the former they sunk, and the other they let go: The Sloop belonged to New-York, and they thought the sinking of her good Policy, to prevent her returning to tell Tales at Home.

Worley had by this Time encreased his Company to about five and twenty Men, had six Guns mounted, and small Arms as many as were necessary for them, and seem’d to be in a good thriving sort of a Way. He made a black Ensign, with a white Death’s Head in the Middle of it, and other Colours suitable to it.* They all signed Articles, and bound themselves under a solemn Oath, to take no Quarters, but to stand by one another to the last Man, which was rashly fulfill’d a little afterwards.

For going into an Inlet in North-Carolina, to clean, the Governor received Information of it, and sitted out two Sloops, one of eight Guns, and the other with six, and about seventy Men between them. Worley had clean’d his Sloop, and sail’d before the Carolina Sloops reached the Place, and steered to the Northward; but the Sloops just mentioned, pursuing the same Course, came in sight of Worley, as he was cruising off the Capes of Virginia, and being in the Offin, he stood in as soon as he saw the Sloops, intending thereby to have cut them off from James River; for he verily believed they had been bound thither, not imagining, in the least, they were in Pursuit of him.

The two Sloops standing towards the Capes at the same Time, and Worley hoisting of his black Flag, the Inhabitants of James Town were in the utmost Consternation, thinking that all three had been Pyrates, and that their Design had been upon them; so that all the Ships and Vessels that were in the Road, or in the Rivers up the Bay, had Orders immediately to hale in to the Shore, for their Security, or else to prepare for their Defence, if they thought themselves in a Condition to fight. Soon after two Boats, which were sent out to get Intelligence, came crowding in, and brought an Account, that one of the Pyrates was in the Bay, being a small Sloop of six Guns. The Governor expecting the rest would have followed, and altogether make some Attempt to land, for the sake of Plunder, beat to Arms, and collected all the Force that could be got together, to oppose them; he ordered all the Guns out of the Ships, to make a Platform, and, in short, put the whole Colony in a warlike Posture; but was very much surprised at last, to see all the supposed Pyrates fighting with one another.

The Truth of the Matter is, Worley gained the Bay, thinking to make sure of his two Prizes, by keeping them from coming in; but by the hoisting of the King’s Colours, and firing a Gun, he quickly was sensible of his Mistake, and too soon perceived that the Tables were turned upon him; that instead of keeping them out, he found himself, by a superiour Force kept in. When the Pyrates saw how Things went, they resolutely prepar’d themselves for a desperate Defence; and tho’ three to one odds, Worley and his Crew determined to fight to the last Gasp, and receive no Quarters, agreeably to what they had before sworn; so that they must either Dye or Conquer upon the Spot.

The Carolina Men gave the Pyrate a Broadside, and then Boarded him, one Sloop getting upon his Quarter, and the other on his Bow; Worley and the Crew, drew up upon the Deck, and fought very obstinately, Hand to Hand, so that in a few Minutes, abundance of Men lay weltering in their Gore; the Pyrates proved as good as their Words, not a Man of them cry’d out for Quarter, nor would accept of such, when offered, but were all killed except the Captain and another Man, and those very much wounded, whom they reserved for the Gallows. They were brought ashore in Irons, and the next Day, which was the 17th of February 1718-19, they were both hanged up, for fear they should dye, and evade the Punishment as was thought due to their Crimes.

* The origin of the skull-and-crossbones design we commonly associate with pirates is murky, but Worley is often credited as one of the earliest to sail under it. -ed.

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1717: Anna Maria Wagemann, the last witch burned at Fürfeld

Add comment February 5th, 2017 Headsman

Three hundred years ago today, Anna Maria Wagemann suffered the last witch execution at Fürfeld.

Conveniently available information on this case appears to derive mostly from a single German-language local history volume which is rather extensively summarized in her German Wikipedia entry.

Despite the late date — the entire cosmology of witchery was coming apart by the 18th century — she fit the classical demographic profile of a witch hunt victim. Wagemann was an aged — 66 or 67 at the time of her trial, she thought — and penniless woman who knew her way around medicinal herbs and had a pre-existing reputation for witchcraft.

When the burning times were truly aflame, marginal people like this could easily be ignited by the accusations a torturer wrung from the last luckless soul to be named to the Black Sabbath. By 1716, when Wagemann went on trial, the case strangely conjoined an ancient superstition to a ponderous Enlightenment legal process, with an 879-page codex of the interrogations with vague witness accusations endorsed by jurists at the University of Tübingen.*

There weren’t any raging famines or plagues afoot that demanded supernatural attribution. It seems in this case that before the neighbors could accuse her of drying up their cows and such, Anna Maria Wagemann was targeted thanks to the oldest enmity in the book: family politics. A daughter-in-law of our principal was either quite convinced she had married into sorcery or else quite weary of the dynamic at family meals, and it was her denunciations (supported by her 9- and 12-year-old daughters) that brought Wagemann to book. It’s difficult to piece together the chain of causation; this woman, Anna Margarethe Wagemann, was herself suspected of witchcraft and jailed for many weeks,** so her charge too might have been issued under duress. In the end, it was only Anna Maria who was tried, and Anna Margarethe gave evidence against her — although Anna Margarethe was also punished by being made to witness the execution with her young daughters, and then being expelled from Fürfeld.

* We’ve seen this university in our pages before, involved in the case against Johannes Kepler’s mother.

** Years later, she would appeal for compensation for her wrongful imprisonment. (It’s not known whether the appeal succeeded.)

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1716: Five Mug House rioters

Add comment September 21st, 2016 Headsman

Three hundred years ago today, five Jacobites were hanged in London for raising a riot on behalf of the exiled Pretender.

The 1714 childless death of Queen Anne had put the succession question on the political map in England. The Catholic Stuarts who had been run out of the realm a generation before were still hanging around in exile, claiming the throne — now in the person of “the Old Pretender”, James Francis Edward, the son of King James II who meant to become King James III.

But the Whig party instead saw to the succession of Anne’s Protestant cousin, George I, the Elector of Hanover who would therefore become the fount of the Hanoverian dynasty — a change at in the executive that was matched by a parliamentary revolution that set the Whigs up to boss Britain for the best part of the 18th century.

Not everyone was pleased.

As conspiracies and rebellions unfolded among lords, for the London commoners the parties picturesquely (but no less violently) divided at the tavern doors. In the streets, the mobs were Tory: the importation of some German noble in preference to numerous English claimants more closely related to Anne than he had obvious grievance potential.

Whigs in their turn set up politicized tavern clubs — “Mug Houses” — as vehicles to counterpoise a pro-Hanoverian presence, and these houses became an obnoxious presence to Jacobites wont to attract violent attack. Mug House Whigs and Jacobite/Tory mobs bloodied the flagstones with street brawls in 1715-1716, not neglecting to sing taunting partisan doggerel at one another good enough to swell the cockles of any modern-day football hooligan.

Since the Tories could not fight,
And their master took his flight
They labour to keep up their faction
With a bough and a stick
And a stone and a brick
They equip their roaring crew for action.

Thus in battle-array
At the close of the day
After wisely debating their plot,
Upon windows and stalls
They courageously fall
And boast a great victory they’ve got.

But, alas! silly boys!
For all the mighty noise
Of their “High Church and Ormond for ever!”
A brave Whig, with one hand,
At George’s command,
Can make their mightiest hero to quiver.

That’s from this pdf on the London Mug Houses, which also supplies this fine cartoon:

In July of 1716, a noisy Whig party at a Mug House in Salisbury Court had been attacked by a Jacobite mob. Though the siege had been repelled on the first occasion, July 20, rioters reorganized and returned for another go and there battered in the doors and ran amok on the lower floor, while their Whig belligerents remained trapped above. Gleefully the rioters sacked their enemies’ refuge, toasting the Pretender’s health with the Whig ale before a none-too-timely arrival of gendarmes finally dispersed them.

“Many notorious Papists were seen to abet and assist in this villainous Rabble, as were other, who call themselves Churchmen,” complained the Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer (July 28, 1716). “‘Tis hoped the Magistrates will take such Methods which may prevent the like Insults for the future.”

The Magistrates did so.

Finally resolved to tamp down on the riots they had so long winked at, the crown threw the book at the rioters and got five condemned to hang on charges of burglary and assault.

Newgate Ordinary Paul Lorrain, who evidently found these goons more spiritually tractable than their behavior might suggest, describes the hangings:

1. George Purchase, condemn’d for being concern’d in the Riot in Salisbury-Court, Fleetstreet, on Tuesday the 24th of July last. He said, he was 23 Years of age, born at Puddle-Dock, London: That he serv’d an Apprentiship of 7 Years with a Shoemaker in Salisbury-Court: That when his Time was expir’d he became a Journeyman to his said Master, and never did an ill thing before this Fact for which he is condemn’d, and which he rashly committed, not considering then (as I endeavour’d now to make him sensible of) the Unlawfulness and dismal Consequences of such a Rebellious Sedition as that was, which so much tended not only to the Ruin of private Persons, but to the great Disturbance of, and Dishonour to, the whole Government. I representing both to him and his Fellow-Criminals and Sufferers, what perfect Nonsense (not to say worse) it was for them to cry-out, High-Church and Ormond; and what an unheard of Impudence and Disloyalty, what an enormous Wickedness and Impiety they all discover’d to be in their Nature, by their uttering these and the like Rebellious and Malicious Expressions; Do Hannoverian, King George, Down with the Mugg-house, &c. by which they excited and stirr’d up both themselves and others, to kill and plunder, to set the Nation in a Flame, and, in a word, to do all the Mischief they could, and to which (no doubt) they were greatly encourag’d underhand by such as neither fear GOD, nor honour the KING; nor indeed have any true Love for, or Regard to the Lives of those poor silly Tools they made use of in that Riot.

Upon this my Observation and Admonition (endeavouring to convince them, that they could have no good Intent in doing what they did, but quite contrary) this George Purchase acknowledg’d it to be a heinous Crime, himself greatly Guilty, and his Sentence just; praying GOD to forgive him this and all other his Sins, and have Mercy upon his Soul.

2. Thomas Beane, condemn’d for the same Fact. He said, he was 22 years of age; born in Salisbury-Court, where his Father formerly kept the Ship Tavern: That he was 5 Years at Sea, as Servant to the Purser of a Man of War , whom he serv’d the last of those 5 Years in the capacity of his Steward: That he was a Servant to some Gentlemen unhappily engag’d in the late Rebellion at Preston, since they were in Newgate, and not before. As to this Fact he was condemn’d for, he confest his guilt of it, acknowledging in particular that he carried part of the Mug-house Sign about the Street, and at last threw it into a Cart; but withal endeavour’d to palliate it, saying, That he inconsiderately join’d in that Riot, the dismal Consequences whereof he did not then apprehend, but now (to his great Sorrow) knew the Mischief he had thereby involv’d himself in.

3. William Price, condemn’d also for the same Riot. He said, he was 21 years of age, born in the Parish of St. Andrew Holbourn: That he was bound Apprentice to a Sword-Cutler , and had now serv’d 4 years of his Time, and never committed any Crime before this Riot hapned. He confess’d, That, hearing there was a great Concourse of People in Salisbury-Court, he presently ran thither, but said withal, That it was with no ill Intent, but out of meer Curiosity; however, when he was come he join’d with others there, and assisted them in demolishing Mr. Read’s Mug-house, destroying his Goods, and crying, high Church and Ormond, &c. Upon which Confession of his, I shewing him the heinousness and mischievous Consequences of that wicked Fact, he began to be sensible, and said, he heartily repented of it, praying GOD to forgive him this, and all other his Sins. He also was much concern’d to hear that his poor Mother had been misrepresented by some Persons, who had reported, that she us’d no Endeavours to save his Life; for he was fully satisfied she did that to her utmost.

4. Richard Price, condemn’d likewise for that Fact. He said, he was 20 Years of age, born at Llangdavery in Caermarthenshire in Wales, where having serv’d his Time with a Taylor , he came up to London, and here wrought Journey-work , and never engag’d in any ill thing before this hapned; adding, That accidentally passing by that Place where the Tumult was, he unhappily fell in among ‘em, not considering the Unlawfulness and ill Consequence of such a Fact. He was very ignorant, and could not so much as read, which was a great disadvantage to him under these his melancholy Circumstances. I endeavour’d to make him sensible of his great Offence, and to beg Pardon for it, and all other his Sins; which he accordingly did with Tears.

5. John Love, condemn’d for being concern’d with the ‘forementioned Rioters. He said, he was about 16 years of age, born in White-Fryers, London: That he had learnt to make Buttons , but his chief Employment was, the helping of Bargemen and Lightermen to unlade their Boats . He further said, That he never was (nor ever deserv’d to be) brought before Justice till this Riot happen’d, in which he unfortunately involv’d himself, without considering what he then did, or what might follow thereupon. I found him a very ignorant Person, who could not read at all, and hardly knew any thing of Religion; and he was, for some Days past, so very sick and weak, that I was forced to attend him in the Condemn’d Hold; so all I could do there was, to pray for him.

At the Place of their Execution, whither they were this Day carried in two Carts from Newgate, I gave them my last Attendance, exhorting them still more and more to repent of this and all other their Sins. I pray’d and sung some Penitential Psalms with them, and made them rehearse the Apostles Creed. They desir’d, that all young Men and others would take Warning by them, and learn Wisdom from their Folly. They also desir’d the Standers-by to pray for their departing Souls: They begg’d Pardon of GOD and of the KING, and of all they had offended; and declar’d, That they dy’d in Charity with all Men; wishing that none would be so unhappy as to follow them in this, or any other Evil Course, that might bring them to an Untimely End. After this I pray’d with ‘em again, That God would grant ‘em the Pardon of their Sins, and the Salvation of their Souls; that they might have a happy Passage out of this miserable Life, and be admitted into a State of Everlasting Bliss and Glory. Then I withdrew from them, and left ‘em to their private Devotions, for which they had some Time allotted them: When that was expir’d, the Cart drew away, and they were launch’d into Eternity, they all the while praying to GOD to have Mercy on them, and receive their Souls.

This sharp show of resolve evidently did do the trick, as Mug House disturbances came to an abrupt end thereafter.

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1719: Frans Anneessens, Brussels guildmaster

Add comment September 19th, 2016 Headsman

On this date in 1719, Dutch guild chief Frans Anneessens was beheaded on Brussels’ Grand Place.

The southern Low Countries — today’s Belgium — had remained in Spanish hands when the northern part — present-day Netherlands — broke free back in the 16th century.

That meant it was one of the lots on the table when Europe bargained the Spanish patrimony by arms in the early 18th century. For geopolitical reasons (basically, as a bulwark against France, who had lost the war), this proto-Belgium was handed over to Austria.

Neither the empire nor its ward greeted this absentee-landlord arrangement with enthusiasm.

The city of Brussels at this point* was governed by the “nine nations”, nine craft guild consortiums wielding privileges dating to the medieval economy who together dominated the city. Defending these privileges against absolutist states intent on rolling them back was a major bone of contention in Brussels, even years before the Austrian handover.

Monument in Brussels to Frans Anneessens. (cc) image from EmDee

Frans Anneessens (English Wikipedia entry | Dutch | French) who was dean of the “Saint Christopher” nation (comprising dyers, cloth shearers, lacemakers and chairmakers), had a prominent part advancing the (losing) argument for maximal guild privileges.

Just what the ancient rights of the guilds embraced had long been contested with the Spanish crown, and apparently the Brussels town council kept the charters enumerating a very expansive grant of them locked up — until they were accidentally revealed thanks to a bombing in the Nine Years’ War, then published widely.

So did the guilds get these rights or no?

Anneessens in 1698-99 argued the nations’ case before the equally ancient Council of Brabant, and lost: Spanish Austria was suffered to curtail the Brussels guilds, and although the guilds provocatively refused to swear their customary oath to the new arrangement the Spanish were able to squelch the ensuing disturbances by 1700.

The tensions rested, unresolved, through the war years but come 1717 they resurfaced when the Austrian-import governor the Marquis of Prie demanded fresh oaths upon the hamstrung guild privileges, and new taxes to boot. Again the guilds refused — not only in Brussels but Ghent, Antwerp and Mechlin.

Prie only quelled this half-revolt in 1719 but when he did,

he took drastic measures. Five leaders, including Anneessens, were arrested. They were all locked inside the Stone Gate, and a scandalous trial followed, during which Prie did everything he could to get Anneessens, whom he viewed as the brains behind the resistance, convicted. Anneessens received a death sentence, which he proudly refused to sign, and was beheaded on 18 September 1719 [sic**]. After the execution the people of Brussels mourned and collected his blood as relics, and priests in some of the churches held requiems in spite of strenuous attempts by Prie, supported by the higher clergy (the Archbishop of Mechlin) to prevent this. Prie had wanted to “make an example” with this execution and in fact succeeded, despite the sympathy of the people of Brussels for their martyr. (Hetty Wertheim-Gijse Weenink, “Early 18th Century Uprisings in the Low Countries: Prelude to the Democratic Revolution,” History Workshop, spring 1983)

* The guild-nation governance system would persist until Belgium was occupied by France after the French Revolution.

** Literally every other source I found, including the inscription on the Anneessens monument, prefers September 19 for the man’s execution.

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1719: Patrick Carraghar and Two Arthur Quinns

Add comment February 21st, 2016 Headsman

The Last Speeches of
Patrick Carraghar, Nephew to the great Collmore, and Two Arthur Quinns

who were Executed on Saturday the 21st of this Instant February 1718-19 at Dundalk. Together with the Tryal of Capt. Collmore.

The Speech of Patrick Macallaher

Dear Christians,

I Patrick Carraghar am the Nephew of that Collmore who was Executed last Wednesday, who was the Ruin of me, who am but Eighteen Years of Age now, tho’ of these Tender years, I am very sensible of the great Follies and Sins that I have been Guilty of, my Father and Mother Liv’d in the Place call’d Loghross, in the County of Armagh, as for my Father People may say what they please of him; for he is Alive, but for my Mother she was never charg’d with anything that was ill, and the Neighbours in the Country knew her to be an honest good Woman she dy’d when I was very young, neverthleess I was bound Prentice to a Taylor, but did not serve my Master long, but followed my Uncle, which is the Cause of my coming to this untimely End, tho’ I was Try’d for keeping Company and assisting one Gillaspy M’Culum, a Proclaimed Tory, for my part I was neither Guilty of Murhter nor Robbery of my self, but I have been by when Robberry was committed, I have no more to say but that I die a Roman Catholic, and I beg of thee O my great God to have Mercy on my poor Soul. Dear Christians Pray for me.

The Speech of the Two Quins

Good Christians,

For our Parts we have but little to say for our selves, only that we were born in the Fews, in the County of Armagh, and our Parents Lived Poor and Honest, but many honest Parents has had Wick’d Idle children as we both have been very Disobedient to our Parents or Friends, which gave us good advice, but we follow’d too much of our own, which Brings too many young Fellows either to the Gallows or to be Transported, and as we are Dying Persons, we desire all young People to take the Advice of their Parents and Friends, here we die for Robbing a poor honest Man’s House in the County of Cavan, his name is one Coleman, we can’t deny the Fact, it being prov’d so home on us, though we thought what we took there did not deserve Death, but this with other wicked Sins and Crimes is the Cause of our being Brought to this shameful End, O great God we Crave Mercy, and Begs of thee O merciful Father to receive our Souls, O good People pray for us, for we die Roman Catholicks, and sweet Jesus receive us Amen. One of the Quinn’s had the Impudence to Curse and Abuse the High Sheriff, the Grand Jury and the whole Court, and told them that they Murdered him.


The Whole Tryal and Examination of Capt. Collmore a Proclaim’d Tory, and was Noted for being Guilty of Bloody Murthers, Rapes and Robberies in the County of Armagh

When Collmore was brought to the Bar to be Tryed, he denied himself to be the Man, then the Clerk of the Crown was obliged to Swear to the Proclamation where he was nam’d; so when the Jury was call’d and Sworn, he was asked several Questions, but answered to no Purpose, then one Andrew Thompson appear’d, and the Book was given him, who Swore that he was the same Charles Carraghar who Liv’d formerly with Mr. Blykes of Darcy in the Fews, and that he Stole Two Heffers from Aldarman Grimes, and was for the same Indicted and Proclaimed at Ardee[.] Collmore objected against the Evidence, because he said that Thompson had formerly forsworn himself, to which the Evidence answered, that as he was coming home late to his House one Night, that he was met by this Collmore, and was forced in Defence of his Life, which was so much threaten’d by him, to Swear that he never Presented him, the Jury immediately brought him in Guilty.

Councellor Townly gave him the following sentance, That he should be Hanged; and be Cut down before he was dead, his Privy Members to be Cut Off, his Bowels burn’d, and his Quarters to be dispos’d off at the King’s Pleasure.

When Collmore was brought to the Gallows, he Hang for a small Time, he was Cut down while alive, when the Hangman was cutting off his Privities, he cry’d out, then the Sheriff ordered his Throat to be Cut, the Hangman could not do it readily, for he strugled very much, his Head was afterwards Cut off, his Chops open’d and shut, tho’ his Head was a Yard from his Body, his Carcass was divided into 4 parts, and set up in 4 several Parts of the Country. He died very obstinately.

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1719: Collmore, Hang’d, Quarter’d and his Intrals burn’d

Add comment February 18th, 2016 Headsman

The Last Speech and Dying Words of
Charles Calahar alias Collmore
who was Try’d on Tuesday the 17th Inst. Feb. 1718/19 at the Sessions of Dundalk, for being a Proclaim’d Tory, and was the next Day Hang’d, Quarter’d and his Intrals burn’d.

Deliver’d at the Gallows to Will Moore Esq.
High Sheriff of the Country of Lowth

Good People,

Almighty God has by a just Providence brought me to this untimely End, He has been Mercifully pleas’d not to Cut me off in the midst of my Sins, but to allow me some Time to reflect on my unhappy mis spent Life, and to Implore Forgiveness for my many Iniquities, which I trust he will graciously Pardon.

And as my Crimes have been of publick crying Nature, so I think myself Bound to make a publick Confession of them both to God and my Country.

And first with Shame and Confusion of Face I confess I have been Guilty of many Robberries and Thefts, and have also Seduced and Encouraged others to do the like.

I Barbarously and Unjustly Embru’d my Hands in the Blood of my Fellow Creatures, and in particular I Murder’d Martin Grey and Christopher Betty, and suffer’d that worthy honest Gent. Mr. Edmond Reily to be wrongfully Executed at Cavan Assizes for the said Murders; He being no ways Privy or Accessary to them, but entirely Innocent of that bloody Fact which was the ruin of his Wife and several small Children. [emphasis mine, not in the original -ed.]

I likewise Confess I was at the Inhumane Murders and Butchery of Bryan O’Hanlan, and M’Gibbin, for all which I most humbly beg the Almighty’s Pardon, and the Pardon of all whom I have in any way Injur’d, and declare I have a thorow sence of my former Impietys and an utter Abhorence and Detestation of them, and hope God will please to look on me, and accept of my Blood, tho’ a most unworthy Offering, since my Punishment is not half what I deserve.

I die a Member of the Church of Rome, tho’ an unworthy one, and do freely forgive every one that have Injur’d me, especially John M’Keoine who betray’d me, and I declare I wou’d have Fought my way thro’ the Soldiers who surrounded the Cabbin where I was, and had new Charged and Prim’d my Pistols in order to it, but was prevented by the Entreaties of my Nephew, and am now thankful to God for it since I have by that had opportunity to think of my Soul. I humbly Recommend into the Hands of my most Merciful Redeemer, and beg the Prayers of all good People.


After he was Executed there was 3 Kishes of Turff lighted, wherein his Harts Livers Lights and Members were Burned, and his Head set on the Goal, Two Yards higher than any of the rest, with His Hat and Wigg on; his Nephew James McCaraghar and 3 more are to be executed on Saturday 21st.

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1718: Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich condemned and fatally knouted

3 comments June 24th, 2015 Headsman

On this date in 1718,* Peter the Great’s hand-picked court condemned his son and onetime heir apparent Tsarevich Alexei to death for plotting treason.

Probably no single figure more strikingly underscored Peter’s violent rupture of the old Russia than Alexei: “timid, secretive and lacking in self-confidence,” he was Peter’s opposite in nearly every particular — his nemesis, literally from birth.

The product of Peter’s unsatisfactory first dynastic marriage to a conservative boyar princess, Alexei got abandoned along with his mother Eudoxia Lopukhina when Peter went on his years-long jag through western Europe.

Peter eventually forced the tsaritsa into a convent so he could take up with the ambitious emigre beauty Anna Mons, but the firstborn son was not so easily discarded.

Often malignantly ignored in his youth, Alexei spent his teen years being browbeaten by Peter who rightly despaired of ever making the boy into a king who could carry Peter’s legacy.

Where the father was preternaturally energetic, the son was feeble and reticent; Peter’s irritated letters to Alexei frequently complain of his laziness. (“I am incapable of exertion,” Alexei whinged.) Where the father had a curious mind for the Age of Enlightenment, the son was a dreamer who preferred the mysteries of the Orthodox religion. The boy showed little interest in politics or statecraft, but his position as the firstborn son meant that politics and statecraft were interested in him. Alexei just wanted to go to church and fool around with his Finnish mistress; he feigned or induced illness to avoid the instructional tasks his father appointed him, and once even tried to shoot himself in the hand to duck work.

The father called on all of his legendary severity fruitlessly trying to twist this malformed sapling into a sovereign when the boy’s every characteristic seemed to reproach Peter’s mission of a new and reborn Russia.

“How often have I scolded you for this, and not merely scolded but beaten you,” Peter wrote the boy when the latest assignment was not accomplished to his satisfaction. “Nothing has succeeded, nothing is any use, all is to no purpose, all is words spoken to the wind, and you want to do nothing but sit at home and enjoy yourself.” Start with scolding, proceed to beating — Peter’s philosophy of management as well as child-rearing.

Ever more fearful of his hated father, Alexei in 1716 gave Peter one final and greatest embarrassment by spurning his father’s last ultimatum to join the Russian army on campaign. Instead, the tsarevich fled to the protection of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. Charles put him up in Naples for a year until Peter’s courtier Count Tolstoy** finally persuaded Alexei to return.

Alexei hoped he had arranged to get out of the royal-succession game and live as a private citizen, but where princes of the blood are concerned this option is more easily conceived than arranged. Peter well knew that the Orthodox clergy and many aristocrats awaited his death as their opportunity to roll back his reforms; the pious Alexei was inevitably a focus of these hopes and the boy embraced rather than shunned the association. Moreover, the twerp had made Peter look the fool before all of Europe with his running-away act.

Instead, the prince — whose return to Russia under the circumstances really was quite naive — found himself faced with a cruel inquisition.


Detail view (click for the full image) of Nikolai Ge’s 1871 painting “Peter the Great Interrogating the Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich in Peterhof” (via Wikimedia Commons)

Gibbon wrote of Marcus Aurelius that in permitting his notorious son Commodus to become his heir, “he sacrificed the happiness of millions to a fond partiality for a worthless boy, [and] chose a successor in his own family, rather than in the republic.”

Peter the Great easily possessed the iron resolution that the ancient Stoic lacked.

The tsar had learned seamanship in his youth by working in European dockyards; had learned soldiery by enrolling himself in the ranks and working his way up from drummer-boy. In his childhood he had seen the palace guard run amok in the Kremlin slaughtering his own family, bided his time until he could topple the power of his half-sister and take Russia in hand, and then wrought on those mutinous soldiers a terrible revenge.

And he had set for his reign a self-consciously world-historic mission, to force an unwilling nation into the European family. This enterprise of relentless, exhausting hubris the tsar applied everywhere from the cut of his noblemen’s facial hair to the whole-cloth creation of the Westward-facing capital city St. Petersburg.

Just so did Peter address himself to his truculent son.

“I will deprive you of the succession, as one may cut off a useless member,” he threatened in a come-to-Jesus letter of 1715, when Alexei was already 25 years old.

Do not fancy that, because I have no other child but you, I only write this to terrify you. I will certainly put it in execution if it please God; for whereas I do not spare my own life for my country and the welfare of my people, why should I spare you who do not render yourself worthy of either? I would rather choose to transmit them to a worthy stranger than to my own unworthy son.

Peter, to borrow a phrase redolent in Russian historiography, mourned not the cracked eggs that made his omelette.

And sometime after Alexei’s flight to Naples, Peter had clearly come to the understanding that for the good of his nation that unworthy son must indeed be spattered.

This episode places Peter in a monstrous light, just as would Marcus Aurelius appear to us had he contrived to murder the future tyrant Commodus when the latter was a mere callow youth. We do not have the luxury of seeing the path not taken, but it ought be said in the towering tsar’s defense that his disdain for the crown prince’s ability is difficult not to share. Alexei’s character stacks flaw upon flaw; no doubt Peter’s upbringing, by turns distant and brutal, was stamped upon it. Let the father bear that failure, but it does not relieve the sovereign’s choice: was he to confide his country and his legacy to the hands of this goblin? Was it even tolerable to leave this firstborn cooling his heels in a monastery, waiting for Peter’s death to cast off cowl and abdication and be acclaimed king by Old Russia?

Peter’s own youth, when he was part of an unresolved dynastic rivalry awkwardly sharing power, had been mired in plots and counterplots. Now, he could scarcely help but suspect that Alexei was also a piece of some conspiracy intending to undo Peter — whether in life or in death.

He forced the son to name his confidantes, then put those confidantes to torture and followed their accusations. In March of 1718, several men were broken on the wheel in Red Square; Alexei’s mother, long ago exiled to a convent, was menaced through her lover who was publicly impaled. Others got off with whippings, brandings, beatings, exile.

Not long after, that Finnish mistress of Alexei returned to the rodina herself. During his mission to Italy, Count Tolstoy had compromised her, and now she willingly supplied Peter the evidence of his son’s treason: that he spoke often of the succession, and how he would abandon St. Petersburg, let the navy rot, and restore the rights of the church; that he thrilled to every rumor of Peter’s illness and even to a mutiny. (Alexei would later acknowledge to his father’s face that had the mutineers acclaimed him tsar, he would have answered the summons.)

Peter empowered a very reluctant secular court to examine Alexei as a traitor without deference to his royal person. In a word, this meant torture — and on June 19, the frail Alexei was lashed 25 times with the knout, a terrible whip reinforced with metal rings that flayed a man’s back into carrion-meat and could even break the spine. Alexei managed to endure it, so on June 24 his suppurating wounds were reopened with another 15 strokes of the cruel scourge.

Under this inhuman torment, Alexei admitted wishing his father’s death — not much of an admission since he had already said as much to dad in the weeks before. But this gave his magistrates enough to condemn the tsarevich to death later that same night, for compassing the death of the king. The reality was that Alexei, vapid and indolent, had only one design on the death of his father: to await it with hope.

What we do not quite know is whether or how this sentence was actually effected. Peter wavered and did not sign the sentence — but as contemporaries saw it, God signed it.

On the morning of June 26, Peter and a number of other court dignitaries went to Peter and Paul Fortress. The fortress’s logs do not specify whether this was yet another round of torture for Alexei; stories would later circulate that Peter or a subaltern murdered the boy here by crudely beating him to death or privately beheading him, sparing the realm the spectacle of the broken crown prince mounting the scaffold.

But the official story, that an already-faltering Alexei begged Peter’s forgiveness as he succumbed to the shock notice of his condemnation, could easily be true: 40 strokes of the knout were enough to take the life of a much firmer constitution than Alexei’s.

By any measure, Peter authored the death of his son under the pall of execution, if not its literal fact — and for all the instances of royal-on-royal violence supplied by the annals, this filicide is nearly unique: Peter the Great, Emperor of All Russia, tortured his disappointing son to death.

Peter the Great died in 1725 at age 52 — according to legend, catching his death by forging into the freezing Finnish Gulf to rescue some drowning soldiers. (“I do not spare my own life for my country and the welfare of my people …”) Peter’s wives had borne him eight legitimate sons over the years, but Alexander, Pavel, Peter, another Pavel, another Peter, yet another Pavel, and yet another Peter had all died in early childhood. This was to be (after the brief reign later in the 1720s of Alexei’s sickly son Peter II) the end of the direct male line of Romanovs.

Instead, Peter was succeeded by his remarkable wife Catherine, by origin a Latvian peasant — and the 18th century would be dominated by female monarchs, culminating with Catherine the Great.

* It was June 24 by the Julian calendar still in use in Russia at that time. By the modern Gregorian calendar, Alexei Petrovich was condemned on July 5, and died on July 7.

** Ancestor of the novelist Leo Tolstoy, a man who did not like executions.

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1715: Thomas Nairne, Charles Town Indian agent

Add comment April 15th, 2015 Headsman

The generations-long conquest of indigenous peoples in North America might look from posterity like a historical ienvitability, but the 1715-1718 Yamasee War was perhaps “as close to wiping out the European colonists as ever [they] came during the colonial period.” (Gary Nash, quoted by William Ramsey in “‘Something Cloudy in Their Looks': The Origins of the Yamasee War Reconsidered”, Journal of American History, June 2003. This post draws heavily from Ramsey’s article, which is the source of any quote not otherwise attributed.) In it, not only the Yamasee but a vast coalition of peoples throughout what is today the United States Southeast nearly swept the British out of South Carolina.

And it started three hundred years ago today with some executions.

British South Carolina had extensive trading contacts with the native peoples in their environs — acquiring deerskins and Indian slaves for the plantation colony — and said trading had too often been a flashpoint between alien cultures. South Carolina’s annals record a number of instances of natives crudely abused by Anglo merchants, including women whose bodies were next to sacrosanct for the matrilineal Yamasee, and traders aggressively taking slaves even from friendly tribes. Many years later a Lower Creek man would recall that “we lived as brothers for some time till the traders began to use us very ill and wanted to enslave us which occasioned a war.”

It has never been entirely clear just why and how such individual abuses, even as a pattern, triggered in 1715 something as drastic as military action; our source William Ramsey suspects that they only hint at much wider-ranging economic pressures of the Atlantic economy, which entangled native peoples in debt and warped traditional lifeways towards producing ever more deerskins for export, obtained at ever poorer prices from ever more belligerent merchants.

Just as trade relations were at their most antagonistic, the colonial capital Charles Town fell down on the diplomatic side of the job. (This is, again, per Ramsey.)

The colony had created in 1707 an office of Indian Agent.

Intended to manage the complications of its sometimes-delicate cross-cultural trade and police the traders, the post instead became a locus of bitter competition between two men: Thomas Nairne and John Wright. (There’s a 1710 account of South Carolina in Nairne’s hand available here.) These two men, South Carolina’s most expert Indian diplomats and the only two men ever to hold the Indian agent office, had by the 1713-1715 period become consumed with their internal rivalry. Wright, a trader who thought Nairne too accommodating of the natives generally and unduly meddlesome with Wright’s own commerce specifically, bombarded the latter with lawsuits; Nairne eventually had to stay in Charles Town almost permanently to protect his own affairs. The colony’s diplomatic voice fell silent — which meant that rapacious traders squeezing mounting debts on their spring rounds in 1715 were that voice.

In annoyance, one tribe returned an ultimatum to Charles Town: “upon the first Afront from any of the Traders they would down with them and soe goe on with itt.” (See The Southern Frontier, 1670-1732)

That warning got the colony’s attention.

The Indian Agent rivals Wright and Nairne were dispatched together to meet with the Yamasees at Pocotaligo and smooth things over. But just as these men stood at loggerheads professionally, they were noted for quite distinct policies towards the Indians: Nairne was the friendly hand, the man who sympathized with natives. Wright was the asshole. If their joint presence was intended to be a good cop-bad cop act, they carried it off as clumsily as their mutual antipathy might suggest.

In a famous meeting on the night of April 14, Nairne, Wright, and a number of traders seemingly reassured the Yamasees over a feast that their grievances would be redressed, and went to sleep satisfied that matters were well in hand.

It was not so for the Yamasees, who held council that night after the Europeans were tucked away. An unknown Indian leader who signed himself “the Huspaw King” would later dictate a letter to a hostage charging that at the April 14 meeting

Mr. Wright said that the white men would come and fetch [illegible] the Yamasees in one night and that they would hang four of the head men and take all the rest of them for slaves, and that he would send them all off the country, for he said that the men of the Yamasees were like women, and shew’d his hands one to the other, and what he said vex’d the great warrier’s, and this made them begin the war.

We don’t know if this was on-message for the delegation — a glimpse of the iron fist that Nairne’s politesse was to glove — or delivered privately in Wright’s going campaign to undermine his opposite number. What we do know is that the Yamasees had seen both these men in authority over colonial-Indian trade over the past several years: on the night of April 14-15, they had to decide between mixed messages. Could they count on Nairne’s reassurances of comity? Or should they believe, as Wright intimated, the increasingly obnoxious inroads of traders presaged the outright destruction of their people?

April 15th was Good Friday. And the Europeans awoke to their Calvary.

The Yamasees’ decision about the intentions of their European counterparts was far from internally unanimous — but it was instantly effected.

“The next morning at dawn their terrible war-whoop was heard and a great multitude was seen whose faces and several other parts of their bodies were painted with red and black streaks, resembling devils come out of Hell,” a plantation owner later wrote to London. Most of the Europeans were killed on the spot, Wright apparently among them. A couple of them escaped.

And for Thomas Nairne, a stake in the center of the little village awaited, with an agonizing torture-execution said to have required three days before Nairne mercifully expired on April 17th.

The red indicates War, and the black represents the death without mercy which their enemies must expect.

They threw themselves first upon the Agents and on Mr. Wright, seized their houses and effects, fired on everybody without distinction, and put to death, with torture, in the most cruel manner in the world, those who escaped the fire of their weapons. Amongst those who were there, Captain Burage (who is now in this town, and from whom I derive what I have just said) escaped by swimming across a river; but he was wounded at the same time by two bullets, one of which pierced his neck and came out of his mouth, and the other pierced his back and is lodged in his chest, without touching a vital spot. …

Another Indian Trader (the only one who escaped out of a large number) saved his life by crawling into a marsh, where he kept himself hid near the town. He heard, during the whole day, an almost continual fire, and cries and grievous groans. He often raised his head in his hiding-place, and heard and saw unheard-of things done; for the Indians burned the men, and made them die in torture. They treated the women in the most shameful manner in the world. And when these poor wretches cried O Lord! O my God! they danced and repeated the same words mocking them. Modesty forbids me to tell you in what manner they treated the women: modesty demands that I should draw a veil over this subject.

This man who had witnessed so many cruelties, stripped himself naked so as completely to resemble the Indians; and in this state, made his escape by night, crossing the town without being perceived, he heard many people talking there, and saw several candles in each house; and having avoided the sentries, God granted that he should arrive here safe and sound.

Mr. Jean Wright, with whom I had struck up a close friendship, and Mr. Nairne have been overwhelmed in this disaster. I do not know if Mr. Wright was burnt piece-meal, or not: but it is said that the criminals loaded Mr. Nairne with a great number of pieces of wood, to which they set fire, and burnt him in this manner so that he suffered horrible torture, during several days, before he was allowed to die.

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