1749: Fontauban, spy

Add comment March 5th, 2019 Headsman

A spy named Fontauban was hanged at the northern city of Lille on this date in 1749.

From the scanty information to be had he appears among the more pathetic traitors. Disinherited by his father he had gone into his peculiar trade to great effect during the continent-spanning War of Austrian Succession.

Demobilization was a tough transition for spooks as for everyday soldiers; needing to maintain his income, he made an fatally unsuccessful attempt to engage service with the British — and not for any mere document-copying, but for betraying the king himself.

Despite having been open to outright regicide in exchange for a few grotes, Fontauban’s sentence was commuted to hanging (from the proposed burning and quartering) as a gesture of mercy.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 18th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Espionage,Execution,France,Hanged,History,Public Executions,Spies,Treason

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1733: Sarah Malcolm, murderer, and seven men

Add comment March 5th, 2017 Headsman

The Ordinary of Newgate, His Account of the Behaviour, Confession, and Dying Words, of the Malefactors, Who were Executed at Tyburn, On Monday the 5th of this Instant MARCH, 1733.

Being the Second Execution in the Mayoralty of the Rt. Hon. John Barber, Esq.;
Number II. For the said Year.

LONDON:
Printed and Sold by John Applebee, in Bolt-Court, near the Leg-Tavern, Fleet-street. M.DCC.XXXIII.
[Price Six-Pence.]

Books just printed for T. Worrall, at Judge Coke’s Head over against St. Dunstan’s Church in Fleetstreet.

  1. The HOUSEKEEPER’S Pocket Book, and Compleat Family Cook, containing above 300 curious and uncommon Receipts in Cookery, Pastry, Preserving, Pickling, Candying, Collaring, &c. by Mrs. Sarah Hamson of Devonshire; price 2 s. 6 d.
  2. Friendship in Death in Twenty LETTERS from the Dead to the Living: To which are added LETTERS Moral and Entertaining, in Prose and Verse, in three Parts, by the same Author; price 7 s. 6 d. bound all together.
  3. Twelve SERMONS on several Occasions, by the late Reverend and Learned WILLIAM LUPTON, D. D. Preacher to the Hon. Society of Lincoln’s-Inn , and Prebendary of Durham ; to which is prefix’d the Author’s Effigies; price 5 s.
  4. Advice from a Mother to her SON and DAUGHTER; done from the French of the celebrated Marchioness de Lambert, by a Gentleman; price 1 s. 6 d. sheep, 2 s. calf.
  5. Dr. YOUNG’S true Estimate of Human Life; in which the Passions are consider’d in a New Light. Dedicated to the QUEEN, the 3d Edit. price 1 s.
  6. DALKEITH, a POEM, Occasioned by a View of that delightful Palace and Park, the Seat of his Grace the Duke of Buccleugh; price 4 d.
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The Ordinary of Newgate, His Account of the Behaviour, Confession, &c.

At the King’s Commission of Oyer and Terminer, and Goal Delivery of Newgate, held (before the Right Honourable John Barber, Lord Mayor of the City of London; the Honourable Mr. Baron Thomson; the Honourable Mr. Justice Lee; the Worshipful Mr. Serjeant Urlin, Deputy Recorder of the City of London; and others his Majesty’s Justices of Oyer and Terminer, for the City of London; and Justices of the Goal-Delivery of Newgate, holden for the said City and County of Middlesex) at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bailey, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, being the 21st, 22d, 23d and 24th, of February, 1732, in the Sixth year of his Majesty’s Reign.

Nine Men, viz. Rowland Turner, Edward Delay, George Dawson, William West, Jonathan Curd, Joseph Fretwell, William Atterbury, Richard Norman and William Chamberlain, alias Cockey Chambers; and one Woman, viz. Sarah Malcolm, were convicted of capital Crimes, and received Sentence of Death.

While under Sentence, they were instructed in the essential Articles of our most holy Christian Faith. I show’d them, that God made Man upright, but that he had found out many inventions: For our first Parents having received a positive Law from God, not to eat of the forbidden Fruit, and transgressing that Precept, by that disobedience, they render’d not only themselves obnoxious to the divine Wrath and Vengeance both in this Life and that which is to come. The Condition of the first Covenant, that of Works being thus broken, by our first Father Adam; then it was, that God pitied Man in this deplorable State, and graciously granted him the Promise of a Messiah, i.e. our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, the Seed of the Woman, who should bruise the Serpent’s Head, i.e. who was to overturn the Kingdom of Satan, and by offering himself, a perfect Sacrifice of Attonement to the Justice of God, was to bring all his elect Children into Glory. I show’d them, how they were early Dedicated to God in Baptism, having been Baptiz’d in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and then having renounced the World, the Flesh and the Devil, they solemnly promis’d to obey the Precepts of Almighty God, and the Laws of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in every thing. From this I took occasion to show them, how far they had come short in performing those solemn Engagements, and that instead of serving their Maker, they had given themselves up to work all manner of uncleanness with greediness. Yet then, notwithstanding all the Inconveniencies, Miseries and Calamities they were invol’d in, I exposed to them the Freedom of God’s Grace, and exhorted them not to despair of God’s Mercy, which is his darling attribute, he having proclaimed himself, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping Mercy for thousands, for giving Iniquity, and Transgression, and Sin, and that will by no means clear the Guilty, Ex xxxiv. 6, 7. And therefore I told them to cast their Burthen upon the Lord, and he would sustain them: i. e. to rely upon the Mercy of God in Christ, who is a Saviour, able and willing to save unto the uttermost, all who come unto God through him. Then I earnestly advis’d them to believe in Jesus Christ, as the Son of God and the only Saviour of Sinners, with that Faith which worketh by love, bringing forth many fold Fruits into new Obedience, Holiness and Vertue; and this as I told them, includeth a sincere Repentance for all their Sins, Oiginal and Actual, of Omission and Commission. And because they could not prove their Repentance, by a subsequent Holy Life, I desir’d them to be careful of their Sincerity, since it was not Man but God they had to deal with, therefore I exhorted them, seriously to apply themselves by fervent Prayer to Almighty God, that he who made them might have Mercy upon them, not upon their own Account, but only for the sake of Jesus Christ, who came to take away the Sins of the World; and that he who is the searcher of the Hearts and trier of the Reins of the Sons and Children of Man, who searcheth Jerusalem as with Candles, would be pleased to search and try them, till he found no Iniquity in them. Then I show’d them how necessary it was, to contemn this World and all the Vanities and Pleasures thereof, and to center their Affections and desires wholly upon God, that whereas they had been in love with the Vanities of a present Life, they might love God with their whole Strength, Heart, Soul and Mind; and by this Means attaining some Habit of Holiness and Vertue, they might approve themselves, upon a sincere Repentance, with Consciences void of Offence towards God and towards Men; since without Holiness no Man can see the Lord.

I expos’d to them the greatness and notoriousness of those Sins and Crimes, of which they were convicted and for which they have died; particularly, the Sin of Theft and Robbery, which hath always a train of other base Vices attending it, viz. lying, whoring, drinking, idleing away their time, neglecting the publick and private Worship of God, &c. all of which must of necessity be attended with a bad Conscience, which keeps a Man in perpetual dread and terror, making his Life a Burthen, and Death more eligible than Life.

I instructed them in the Nature of the Christian Sacraments, and that they having broken their baptismal Vows in such a signal Manner, it was their Duty to renew themselves by Repentance, and in Evidence thereof, to partake in the blessed Sacrament of our Lord’s last Supper, where in a visible manner, Christ and all the Benefits of the new Covenant are represented, sealed and apply’d to all true believers.

They all attended in Chapel, and those who could Read made regular Responses, and all of them were very quiet, apparently serious and attentive at Prayers, Exhortations and Singing of Psalms; but they had not those outward Sings of Contrition which are necessary. William Harrison was Sick and confin’d to his Cell for some time, but behav’d himself decently, upon all occasions both publick and private.

Upon Saturday, the 24th of February, Report was made to his Majesty in Councel, of these ten Malefactors, under Sentence of Death, in the Cells of Newgate; when George Dawson, for privately stealing sixty Yards of Printed Lawn, value 4 l. 6 s. the Goods of Thomas Hodges, and Jane Turner, in their Shop, December 29th, received his Majesty’s most Gracious Reprieve. The remaining eight Men, viz. Rowland Turner, David Delly William West, Edward Curd, Joseph Fretwell, Leonard Budley alias Butler, William Harrison, and William Chamblelain, alias Cockey Chambers, were order’d for Execution.

N.B. Sarah Malcolm, convicted of Murther, Burglary and Robbery in the Temple, by a special Order, was appointed to be executed in Fleeet-street, near the Temple Gate, upon Wednesday the 7th, of this Instant March.

Rowland Turner, was Indicted, together with David Delly, for assaulting Francis Turner, in a Field or Place not far from the King’s Highway, putting him in fear and danger of his Life, and taking from him a Bundle, wherein was a quantity of Rice, Indigo and several other Goods, and Nineteen-pence Half-penny, the Goods and Money of the said Francis Turner, on June the 15th.

1. Rowland Turner, about Twentyone Years of Age, of honest Parents in the Parish of St. Anne’s Westminster, who gave him good Education at School in Reading, Writing, &c. which he no ways improv’d, but idled away his Time in playing in the Streets for Money, and thus deluded his Parents, who being in a mean way of Life, could not have a strict Eye over him, but believ’d that he went to School, when he employ’d his time in the worst of Black-guard Company, about the Streets: This was the Origine of all his Misfortunes, for having contracted a Habit of Idleness, and an Intimacy with the most abandon’d Wretches, he never cared for applying himself to any settled Business, but his Father being a Coachman, sometimes in the Service of Noblemen, or Gentlemen, and at other times driving Hackney Coaches, and by such means picking up an indifferent living, for his Wife and Children, and Rowland loving an easy Life, seldom did any thing to gain a Penny for his own Subsistence, trusting all to his poor Parents who could not do much. He never was put to any Trade, but at last wearied with staying at home, and asham’d of an idle Life any longer, went to Sea , on Board one of his Majesty’s Ships, bound for the Mediterranean. If he had been good for any thing, he own’d that in the Man of War, he might have done very well, having had the Favour of his Captain, and the other Officers, who were kind to him, and would have encourag’d him in going to School, to learn Navigation and other things, proper for Seafaring Men to know; but this excellent opportunity he neglected, and chose for his Companions the meanest and vilest Fellows in the Ship, idling away his Time by Sea as he did on Shore, in a silly and insignificant Way. He was present at the Seige of Gibraltar, and was often in the Town, when the Spaniards were shooting most furiously upon it, but all dangers of that kind he escap’d, and was reserv’d to undergo a deserv’d Punishment of an ignominious Death, for his base Crimes, and the villainous Wickedness of his Life. He serv’d also in the Fleet which of late lay at Spithead, and being discharg’d, he served for some time in a Captain’s House; when he was put from that Service, he spent his time as formerly about the Streets, till some time ago hearing that his old Captain was in Commission, he writ him a Letter desiring to be lifted as one of his Men, he sent him down to the Ship to the Muster, but there he was rejected by the proper Officer, and since that time he was in no Business, excepting that sometimes, he wrought with Brickmakers. He said that about this time he fell in with bad Company, particularly of Symonds the Evidence, who (as he alledg’d) was an old Practitioner in raising Contributions on the Highway, and who never left him, till he got him persuaded to go to the Fields, in the Month of June last, and to attack the first Person they met with, who happened to be a poor Man going in the Country, with a small Bundle of Rice, Indigo, and other little Things, which they took from him, after Symonds had first knock’d him down, and wounded him desperately in two or three Places of the Head, and they got only 19 d. Halfpenny in Money, as was sworn against him.

This, as he said, was the only Robbery, or Theft he ever committed in his Life; but his utter Ruin was engaging in the Company of bad Women, who injured him, and disabled him for any Business He intended to have gone with the first Fleet going to the Mediterranean, but being oblig’d to get himself cur’d, he thought upon entering into the Lock, and when he was of this Resolution, Symonds, by Advice of one of the Thiefcatchers, went to a Justice, and gave himself up as a voluntary Evidence, and the very Day before he was appointed to go into the Lock, he was taken up upon Symonds’s Information, and kept in Goal, till he was brought to condign Punishment for his audacious Crime. He us’d to go to Church till of late, when he wholly addicted himself to the vilest of Company, and practised nothing but Cursing, drinking especially Drams in Shops, Whoring, &c. He said he never thiev’d, or stole by Sea or Land, excepting this single Instance of robbing the poor Man in Marybonfields, nigh Paddington. He was very penitent, and wept bitterly, when I examin’d him, and made strong Resolutions of Amendment of Life, declaring withal, that he sincerely repented of that Fact, and intended never to do the like again. He said, he was often sollicited to go upon the Highway, he always refus’d, and resolv’d, as soon as he was recover’d of his Health, to have gone in a Man of War, for a two or three Years Voyage. He declared his Faith in Christ, that he sincerely repented of all his Sins, particularly the scandalous Guilt for which he died; and that he was in perfect Peace with all the World.

2. David Delly, about 22 Years of Age, of honest but mean Parents, his Father having been a Journeyman Shoemaker in the Parish of St. Ann’s Westminster, educated him at School, but he was so careless, that he had forgot all. When young, he stay’d with an Uncle, but applying to no Business, he was careless of every thing Turner and he being born in the same Neighbourhood, were acquainted from their Infancy, and continued inseparable Companions to the last. He was never put to any Trade, but serv’d in Alehouses, and about Taverns, and at other Times went of Errands ; and as he affirm’d, he was always honest, and never blam’d for any criminal Action. By Means of Turner, he got Acquaintance with Symonds, who enticed them both, after they had frequently convers’d and drunk too liberally of Geneva, to take themselves to the Highway, and for that single Robbery in Marybonefields, both he and Turner, upon the Information and Evidence of Symonds, were try’d, convicted and executed; and as both of them solemnly averr’d, they were never guilty of robbing, or thieving at any other Time.

When I spoke to him, he wept bitterly, and show’d a deal of Contrition, and, as in Charity may be judg’d, of a sincere Repentance, and made strong Resolutions of Amendment, if he had been spar’d. He confess’d, that he was a great Sinner in Drinking, Swearing, Whoring, Idleness, Sabbath-breaking, &c. He behav’d under his Misfortunes christianly and decently, at all Times own’d the Justice of his Sentence, according to Law; declar’d his Faith in Christ, as the Son of God, and only Saviour of Sinners; that he was a true Penitent for the many and scandalous Offences of his Life; and that he died in Peace with all Mankind.

Leonard Budley, alias Butler, and William Harrison, of St. Giles’s in the Fields, were indicted for assaulting John Hand, upon the Highway, putting him in Fear, and taking from him a silver Watch, val. 40 s. and 4 Shillings and 2 Sixpences in Money, the Property of John Hand, January the First.

3. Leonard Budley, 22 Years of Age, of honest Parents in Stepney Parish, who gave him good Education at School, in Reading, Writing and Arithmetick, to fit him for Business; and had him instructed in Christian Principles. When of Age, he was put Apprentice to a Master Currier , whom he serv’d honestly for the Space of four Years; but not agreeing well with his Mistress, he left him about that Time, and then he serv’d an Uncle of his own for some Time, who giving up Business, he went to a Master in Fetterlane, where being in Company with his Father of the same Business, he had very good Encouragement for a young Man of his Standing: Yet not satisfy’d with his Lot, and desirous of a licencious Freedom, he left his Master, and the good Company of his Father, who always readily gave him the best of Advice, counselling him to live as becomes a Christian. And at Christmas last, having contracted Familiarity with some who belong’d to the vilest Gang of Thieves, he went to live by himself upon picking of Pockets, Stealing, Robbing, House-breaking, &c. He own’d his keeping too much Company with lewd Women, which prov’d a very great Snare to him; but he did not blame them, as having any concern in his Stealing or Robbing. He said it was his Loss, that his Master was too indulgent to him, and him he commended for a very good Man. His first Fault was, when he got any Money, to stay whole Nights with idle Company, Drinking and Debauching: His Master observing him irreclaimable in this obstinate and wicked Way, was content to let him go about his Business. He kept the Church till of late, when he renounc’d all that was Good.

Three or four Weeks ago, after he had commenc’d Street-Robber, he married a Wife; he had been very negligent of his Book, and knew but little of religious Principles, but was very desirous of instruction, which I imparted to him in the most familiar Way. He was very humble and penitent, under a deep Sight and Sense of his Sins. He own’d the Justice of his Sentence according to Law, and that they robb’d the Gentleman in Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields, as was sworn against him; and said that he was never guilty of another Highway Robbery, only that the Night following they attach’d another young Gentleman in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, who told them he had no Money, and as they were stripping him of his Cloaths, and what things he had about him, Company coming up, they were oblig’d to fly for their own Safety. He own’d also that he was guilty of a great Number of Petty Thefts in Picking of Pockets, and stealing small things out of Shops, but that he never committed any notorious Facts, but these which we have mention’d. On Tuesday Evening, the 27th of February, when I was visiting his Partner Harrisson, who was lying Sick in the Cell, Budley came up crying most bitterly and loudly; afterwards he told me the Reason was, that he had parted with his Mother and a vertuous young Woman, with whom he was in Terms of Marriage, and who told him, if he had perform’d his promises to her, that might have prevented his miserable Fate. He always behav’d decently and well, seem’d to be a young Fellow capable of Business, but who was at once ruin’d by bad Company. He declar’d his Faith in Christ; that he repented of all his Sins, and died in Peace with all the World.

4. William Harrison, Twenty-two Years of Age, of honest Parents in the Parish of St. Andrew’s Holbourn, who took care of his Education at School, to prepare him for Business, and instructed him in the Principles of our Holy Religion. When of Age he went Apprentice to a Founder , but did not serve out his time, being the most disobedient, cross and obstinate Boy to his Parents and Master in the World; who gave him a good Example, and were willing and desirous of affording him the best of instructions. Being wearied of confinement in an honest Way, at last Bartholomew-tide, he renounced all Business, took his last fair well of his Parents, Master and all that was good and vertuous and took on the Profession of a notorious Thief, Robber and Pick-Pocket, joyning himself to the most villanous Gangs about the Town, and shunning the sight of all honest People who knew any Thing of him. About this Time he married a Wife, who was his private Companion. He confessed the above nam’d Robbery with Budley, and no more of that kind; both of them blam’d Essex the Evidence, as their Promptor and Adviser to undertake such a wicked Course of Life. He own’d innumerable Thefts in Shop lifting, and every little Thing he could lay his Hands upon; as also that he was a great Drinker, Gamester, and very much giving to Women. He was very Sick and Penitent, in Evidence of which he shed Tears plentifully. He had more Knowledge of Religion than any of his Companions. He died in the Faith of Christ; Penitent, and in Peace with all Men.

William Chamberlain, alias Cockey Chambers, was indicted for assaulting (with Joseph Lambert, not taken) Richard Hull on the Highway, and taking from him a Silver hilted Sword, value 30 s. and 12 s. in Money, Feb. 2 d.

[5.] William Chamberlain, alias Cockey Chambers, of honest Parents in the Parish of St. Mary Overs in Southwark, who gave him good Education at School in Reading, Writing and Arithmetick for Business; and had him instructed in Christian Principles. When of Age, he did not go out Apprentice, but living with a Plaisterer, of him he learn’d the Business, and serv’d honestly ’till wearied of close Confinement to Business, he Ship’d himself on board a Man of War, and went to Lisbon, Gibraltar, and some Places in the Mediterranean: When he return’d, and had spent his Money, he was willing to do nothing, but took himself to the most abandon’d Life imaginable, and chose for his Companions the wickedest Thieves, Robbers and Whores. He own’d that he was guilty of innumerable Robberies and Thefts, and one of the most abandon’d Wretches in the World. He married a Wife also, tho’ he had no other way of Subsisting but by Theft and Robbery. He was inclin’d to all kind of Vices. He confess’d the Robbery in St. Paul’s-Church-Yard, of which he was convicted. He had been wholly given to up to a reprobate Sense, yet he appear’d very Penitent and humble for his heinous Sins and Crimes, and talk’d with a deal of assurance in the mercy of God through Christ. He declar’d his Faith in Christ; and sincere Repentance for his many Offences and villainous deeds; and that he freely forgave all the World.

Edward Curd, and William West, of St. Martin’s in the Fields, were indicted for breaking and entring the House of Richard Greener, and stealing 2 Gowns, val. 20 s. 2 Petticoats, val. 2 s. 6 d. 2 pair of Sheets, val 15 s. 2 Pieces of Silk, val. 10 s. a gold Ring, a Trunk, 3 Shirts, 2 Shifts, 2 Girdles, 3 Caps, a silk Mantle, 24 Clouts, 2 Aprons, a Coat, and a Pair of leather Breeches, the Goods of William Walker, December the 24th, about 12 at Night.

[6.] Edward Curd, 18 Years of Age, born of honest creditable Parents, in Newport market, who gave him good Education at School, in Reading, Writing, Cyphering, and such Things as were needful to accomplish him for Business; and instructed him in our Holy Religion. When of Age, he was bound Apprentice to a Goldsmith, who was a good Master, and he no less an insufficient Servant; for soon wearying of Confinement to close Business, he left his Master, after two Years, and went to Sea in a Merchantman , which went to Lisbon, Gibraltar, Barbadoes, and some other Places. He thus employ’d his Time at Sea, in this, and another Voyage, about 2 Years; and coming home with the same wicked Dispositions which he carried out with him, he took to no Business, but turn’d a profess’d Thief, left his Parents, Relations and Friends, and joyn’d to a Set of the most notorious Thieves and Robbers in or about the Town. About 4 Months ago, a little after he came home, following the Advice of such worthy Counsellors, he commenc’d this Manner of Life, and had no other Way of subsisting himself, but by Thieving and Robbing, till such Time as he was taken up, for the Burglary of which he was convicted. He went to Church till of late, when he abandon’d all the Paths of Vertue. Amidst his other Vices, he kept Company with ill Women. He imputed his Misfortunes to the wicked Conversation and Advice of 3 or 4 young Men, which utterly ruin’d him. He did not pick Pockets, but liv’d by Shoplifting for 3 or 4 Months past. He never committed any Street-Robberies, nor Burglaries, excepting that one for which he died. He said the Evidence against him went into the House, and handed out to him a great Bundle of Linnens, Gowns and other Things, and these they sold off. He complain’d upon his Partner, who made himself a voluntary Evidence, without (as he nam’d it) any Necessity; but him and all others he freely forgave. I represented to him the Atrociousness of his Crimes, as having no Pretence of Excuse, because he had good Friends to provide him every Thing. This he acknowledg’d, with Plenty of Tears in his Eyes, and trickling down his Cheeks, and declar’d himself most Penitent, owning the great Kindness of his Friends, his own excessive Wickedness, and very deserv’d Sufferings. He died in the Faith of Jesus; a Penitent for his many Sins, as having been a most obstinate and incorrigible Boy; and in Peace with all Men.

Joseph Fretwell, was indicted for assaulting Henry Madding, on the Highway, putting him in fear, and taking from him 3 d. Half-penny.

He was a second Time indicted, for assaulting Mary Child, on the Highway, putting her in fear, and taking from her 6 d. Jan. 31.

7. Joseph Fretwell, 21 years of Age, of honest Parents in Westminster, who gave him good Education at School, in Reading, Writing and Arithmetick, to accomplish him for Business; and caus’d him to be instructed in the Christian Faith: But this he made no right Improvement of, being from his Childhood a most disobedient, untractable, foolish and unadviseable Boy; so that he had almost forgot all he learn’d in his younger Years, and knew little of Religion, having reduc’d himself in some manner, into a State of insensible Stupidity; as to every thing that’s virtuous or praiseworthy. When of Age, his Father being a Pipe maker, he wrought with him for some Years, but lov’d the Streets and black-guarding ways so well, that he could never keep himself to close Work, and in disobedience to the express commands of his Parents. He often run out and stay’d away whole Nights, in the mean while associating himself with the vilest and basest Companions, that could possibly be found in the whole Town. Three or four Years ago he turn’d so perverse, having so often and so grievously provok’d his Father, who, he said, inclin’d rather to indulgence, than severity; that he was forc’d to withdraw his Bowels of compassion towards him, and let him go where he had a mind to, since by no means he would be govern’d or directed by him; for a long time he had play’d the black-guard about the Street; he went on Board a Man of War, and was in Sir Charles Wager’s Fleet, appointed to carry Don Carlos to Leghorn.

When he came home and had spent his Money in an idle, foolish Manner, without going near his Father or Mother, he went another Voyage in a Merchants Ship, and return’d again in two Months time, and after that living in his former wicked Way, and delighting in the Company of none but the meanest Black-guards and Kennel rakers, he fell into extream Misery. Upon the intercession of some Friends his Father met, but would neither speak to nor drink with him, only gave him an old Coat, a Sixpence, and some inconsiderable Triffles, and since that time he never saw or spoke with any more.

He own’d he had been a most vile young Fellow in drinking, especially of Drams, Gaming, Picking of Pockets, Whoring, Thieving and Stealing, but for the most Part they were small things, to the value of Six-pence or little more, for the supply of present Necessity. He own’d the Street Robbery for which he died, and said he got no more Booty, but to the value of a Six-pence, that he never attempted any such an audacious Fact at another time. He commended his Father, and Mother in Law as good, kind Parents, and imputed the whole of his Misfortunes to his own uuaccountably wicked Dispositions, and took Shame and Confusion of Face to himself, for his abominable Crimes and Villanies. He was Sick and much disperited, yet always came to Chapel, and behav’d himself very decently and christianity: He shed abundance of Tears and wept when I spoke to him, declar’d himself most Penitent for the most grievous Sins and Crimes of his Life, and that he firmly resolv’d to serve God for the Future, and he said, if it had not been for the Strangers coming to Chapel, who gave him Pennies in Charity, or else he had certainly perish’d of Famine. He died in the Faith, hoping to be sav’d by the Mercy of God in Christ, and in perfect Peace with all the World.

William West, of St. Martins’s in the Fields, was indicted for the same Burglary with Edward Curd, December the 12th, about 12 at Night, and found Guilty of the same.

8. William West, 16 Years and 6 Months old, of mean Parents in St. Giles’s Parish, his Father drove a Cart, and his Mother went a Scouring, put him to School a little, when he was very young; but he was naturally of such a wicked Disposition, that he was not willing to keep the School, or to be learn’d any Thing that’s Good; so that from his Infancy he became a meer Blackguard. Booth, and some others of his Companions, taught him to pick Pockets and steal, as soon as he was able to go about or do any Thing, when he was but 10 or 11 Years old; nay, he scarce remember’d at what Age he commenc’d Thief. He was bound to a Fisherman , and stay’d with him a Year or two, but he prov’d so barbarous (as he said) and cruel, that he left him, and his Master never sought after him again, being perhaps glad to get rid of him, for he own’d himself of such a covetous Temper, that every Thing he saw or touch’d naturally stuck to his Fingers. Then he join’d himself to a Company of the most mischievous Thieves and Miscreants about the Town, and the House they haunted was nigh St. Giles’s in the Fields, where there were commonly 20 or 30, and sometimes more, of the most notorious Pick-pockets, Street-robbers, House breakers, Shoplifters and common Strumpets, that could be found in or about London; and there they spent their Time in Gaming at Skittles, Shuffleboard, Cards, Dice, &c. in drinking hot Pots, and other strong Liquors, such as Drams, to an extraordinary Pitch. Bad Women (as he said) often entic’d him, but he kept free of them, only he sometimes treated them. The Landlord of that House lock’d them all up, in their Rooms, and at such a Time, he let them out again, as so many unchain’d Dogs, or Fiends going about, like the Devil, and seeking whom they may devour. His great Companions were Booth, Mead, Patrick, and some other young Fellows, who often advis’d him to go out upon the Streets and Highways, but thinking himself too young, he always rejected these Proposals; although, if he had not been cut off in the Bud, he own’d, that he would have been drawn in to go along with the rest. He gam’d and drunk at a prodigious Rate, for one of his Size; for though he frequently, in his Way of Business, purchas’d to the Value of 20 s. in a Day; yet by the next Night, when he was to go out again, it was all spent and lavish’d away, in an extravagant Manner, upon Drinking and Gaming. He was often drag’d by the Mob in Horse Ponds and at Pumps. when taken in picking Gentlemen’s Pockets; for his daily Business was to steal Handkerchiefs, Snuff-Boxes and other small Things, in which way he succeeded pretty well, till the Halter put an end to it. He told of two young Women, whom he call’d Sisters, one of them married some time ago, who live by bnying up all the Handkerchiefs they bring to them, and exposing them to publick Sale in the other end of Town. He was once Prisoner in Newgate, once in the Compter, and frequently committed to the Discipline of the Bridgwells, both in Clerkenwell and Turtel-Fields, Westminster; and in other Prisons. He went to all the Fairs near the Town, and there made Purchase of what he could steal, or pick out of Men or Women’s Pockets in the Crowd. Of all the Boys I have seen, he gave the strangest Account of himself, and his wicked Adventures.

He was a most unlucky Wretch, having been depriv’d of his Parents, who were but very poor, and could do little for him in his Childhood; and being wonderfully wicked in Disposition, he then associated himself with those abominable young Creatures, whose Company was his only Pleasure, and whom he never left, till Life left him. As is said, he only pick’d Pockets, or carried away small Things, but denied, that he ever was concern’d in Street or Highway Robberies or Shop-lifting, unless in very small Things, which sometimes might stick to his Fingers. He complain’d upon the Evidence, who (as he said) swore falsely against him; he having had no concern in the Burglary, but who, in all other Respects, was a most vicious Criminal; and Edward Curd, who was convicted with him, and suffer’d for the same Fact, told me, that William West was not with him that Night, and knew nothing of the Matter; and took the whole Blame upon himself and Smithson the Evidence. West was grosly ignorant of God and Religion, having been a poor young Creature void of all vertuous Principles: I endeavour’d what I could, and as the shortness of the Time would allow to instruct him; but he was dull of hearing, and slow of Understanding. He declar’d, that he hop’d for Salvation through the Mercy of God in Christ; that he repented of all his Sins, and was in Peace with all the World.

At the Place of EXECUTION.

THEY all appear’d with great Devotion and Seriousness, both at Prayers and singing of Psalms, and adher’d to their former Confessions. William Chamberlain, desir’d me to take notice, that there are three Men in Newgate, one of them is nam’d Kemp, and two others; against whom (as he was certainly inform’d, as he said) Powers, who was Evidence against him, design’d to Swear next Sessions, with respect to the Robbery he was convicted of, which he confessed, and for which he died; but that the said Kemp and the other two Men, are innocent of that Fact. This also, he declar’d openly to the People, after I left him. William West, with Tears trickling down his Cheeks, declar’d that he was not concern’d in the Burglary, for which he died, as Smithson swore against him, neither did he know any thing of it; and this Andrew Curd, who died for the same Fact, declar’d also, as he did oftener than once to me before, upon the Words of a dying Man and a Christian. Afterwards West and he declar’d also, this to the People, that he was not in Company when the Robbery was Committed. They all kiss’d each other, and went of the Stage in charity with all Men, and Praying fervently to Almighty God to Pardon their Sins, and to receive their Souls, and saying Lord Jesus receive my Spirit.

N.B. The eight Men before Mention’d, were Executed at Tyburn, on Monday the 5th of this Instant March, George Dawson, for stealing some fine Linnen out of a Shop, having been graciously Reprieved for Transportation; and Sarah Malcolm, because of the atrociousness of her Crimes, by a special Order, and for Terror to other wickedly disposed People, was appointed to be Executed in Fleet-street, at a Place nigh where her henious Crimes were committed.

While under Sentence, she enjoy’d the Benefit of the same Instructions, with the rest of her Fellow Sufferers, and she having been of the Romish Communion, tho’ her Profession, considering the vast depravity of her Disposition, is to be made little account of; yet I advis’d her seriously, to rely only upon the Merits of Christ’s Sufferings and Death, for Life and Salvation, seeing there is no other Name given under Heaven among Men, whereby we must be saved, but the Name of Jesus, and him crucified, as we have it Acts, iv. 12. Informing her withal, that neither her own good Works, which she could not have the least Pretence to, nor Works of Supererogation, nor any thing else which she could possibly do, could be of the least avail to justify her before God, who only can Pardon Sin which is chiefly committed against himself, and therefore I exhorted her, assiduously to employ her time at the Throne of Grace, that God who made her might have Mercy upon her, for the Sake of Jesus Christ who came to take away the Sins of the World. I instructed her also in the nature of a saving Faith in Christ, that it was not merely believing, that Christ is the Son of God and that he died for Sinners, for the Devils also believe and tremble, as saith St. James, but a believing that Christ died for me, and in applying the Merits of Christ’s Death and Sufferings to my Soul, for Justification and Salvation; which Faith must be operative and productive of good Works, for Faith without Works is dead being alone, as saith the same St. James: And this Faith being the cardinal Christian Grace and Vertue, upon which all others depend, I show’d her also that it was her Duty to believe in Christ as the only Mediator between God and Man, For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 1 Tim. 2, 5, 6. Wherefore I desir’d her to be careful of praying fervently to Jesus Christ, who is our only Mediator, to mediate with God the Father for the pardon of her Sins, and that of his infinite goodness and Mercy he would give her the Gift of his holy Spirit, to lead her in the Paths of goodness, and to inspire her with a true Faith, which is the Gift of God; For by Grace are ye saved, through Faith, and that not of your selves, it is the gift of God, not of Works, least any man should boast. Eph. ii. 8, 9. Next I exhorted her to a sincere Repentance, which never fails to be a necessary concomitant of saving faith, and consisteth in a forsaking of all our Sins, and turning unto God with our whole Hearts. We ought to forsake our Sins, so as to loath, detest and abhor our selves in Dust and Ashes because of them; and to resolve, by the Grace of God, that if we have done iniquity and Sin, we shall do so no more; and in this we ought to pray unto God, that he would effectually draw us unto himself. I took occasion to exhort her to an ingenious Confession of her Sins, according to the advice of the wise Man. He that covereth his Sins, shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have Mercy, Prov. 28. 13. I show’d her the necessity of confessing her Sins, especially in case of heinous offences committed, from Scripture example in the case of Achan, the trouble of Israel, since thereby we glorify God, and take shame and confusion of Face unto our selves, for having offended so good and gracious a God, so merciful and indulgent a Father: And from Scripture precept, for our blessed Saviour commandeth us to confess our Sins to the Church, St. Mat. 18. and St. James saith, Confess your Faults one to another. And this, upon the highest Reasons, hath been esteem’d and practised as necessary, in all ages of the Church; more especially, that we may die in the Peace, and obtain the regular Absolution of the Church, which is a special Means of obtaining our absolution from, and the Favour of Almighty God.

While these, and many such like Exhortations were advanc’d, she always behav’d decently, and made regular Responses, tho’ she was of a different Communion, excepting once, she sate sullen all the Time, and look’d upon a little Book of her own. Sometimes she wept bitterly, and was in violent Commotions; which made the Generality of them who saw her, think, that there were some inward Thoughts in her Breast, at which she was frequently perplex’d: But this she would by no Means be perswaded to communicate to others.

Sarah Malcolm, alias Mallcombe, was indicted for the Murther of Ann Price, Spinster, by wilfully, and maliciously giving her with a Knife, one mortal Wound on the Throat, on the 4th of February last, of which Wound the said Ann Price instantly died.

She was a second Time indicted, for the Murther of Elizabeth Harrison, Spinster, by strangling and choaking her with a Cord, on the said 4th of February; by Reason of which strangling and choaking the said Elizabeth Harrison, she instantly died.

She was a third Time indicted, for the Murther of Lydia Duncomb, Widow, by strangling and choaking her with a Cord, on the said 4th of February, by which strangling and choaking the said Lydia Duncomb instantly died.

She was likewise indicted on the Coroner’s Inquisition for the said Murthers.

She was again indicted for breaking and entring the dwelling House of Lydia Duncomb, and stealing 20 Moidores, 18 Guineas, 1 Broad-piece, val. 25 s. 4 Broad-pieces, val. 23 s. each, 1 half Broad-piece, val. 11 s. 6 d. 25 s. in Silver, a silver Tankard, val. 40 s. a canvas Bag, val. 1 d. and 2 Smocks, val. 12 s. on the 4th Day of February last, about the Hour of 2 in the Night of the same Day.

She pleaded not Guilty to all these Indictments; but upon her Trial, she own’d herself Guilty of the Felony and Burglary, and denied all the Murthers.

She was first indicted for the Murther of Ann Price, the young Servant Maid, and upon evident circumstantial Proof, found Guilty of the Indictment. Death.

Sarah Malcolm, 22 Years of Age, in the End of May last, descended of honest, creditable Parents in the County of Durham. Her Father (as she said) had a pretty Estate, about 100 l. a Year, which he soon ran out, and then with the Reversions of it, his Wife, her Mother, being an Irishwoman, went to Dublin, and there purchas’d a publick Place of the City, liv’d in good Credit, and gave her very good Education at School, in Reading, Writing, and such other Things, as are proper for a Girl, above the meanest Rank of People. She liv’d with her Father and Mother, who made much of her, because of her sprightly Temper, a considerable Time; till some Years ago, her Parents coming to London about certain Affairs, she came with them; and some Time after that, approaching nigh to Woman’s Estate, she went to Service, and was, as I had Information, in several good Families, where she did her Business to the Satisfaction of her Mistresses, and was never blam’d for Dishonesty. Her Father returning to Dublin, where his settled Business was, a little after that her Mother died, and then unluckily for Sarah was left to her own Shifts; about which Time, by Acquaintance, she got herself made one of the Laundress es, or Chairwoman of the Temple , where she serv’d some Gentlemen for a considerable Time. Before this, she was in a Place call’d the Blackhorse Alehouse, where she cultivated her former Acquaintance with Mrs. Tracey, and where she contracted Aquaintance with the two Brothers, Thomas and James Alexander.

And she said, that Tracey and these young Men often advis’d her to rob her Master, and this she always refus’d to do. The younger of the Brothers propos’d, to go to her Mistress, and say, that Sarah having been familiar with her Master, had provided Poyson to dispatch her Mistress, thinking if such a Thing were done, the Master would marry her: But all this was only with such an Amusement, to impose upon and extort Money from the Mistress, who was too wise to be bit with such Pretences; and seeing they could get nothing, they left her, and return’d to Sarah, calling the Mistress an old cunning Woman, Cursing her, and giving her ill Names. This gave Occasion of the Story passing through the Town, that she intended to poyson her Mistress, which Thought never enter’d into her Mind, she having been against their going to her on that Account; but her allowing them to go on such a villainous Errand, certainly show’d the great Wickedness of her devilish Disposition. They alledg’d also, that she was the Person who murther’d an old Man of the other End of the Town, for which, 2 or 3 Years ago, a Barber was convicted, and who went to Death denying the Fact. She said, that there was not the least Ground of entertaining any such Suspicion upon her, but that she must be content to bear with such Censures and Reproaches, although it was hard upon her, as that the World should make her much more wicked than she really was.

As to the Murthers, Burglary and Robbery, of which she was indicted and found Guilty, the Account she gave me was to the purpose following. Having been acquainted with Mary Tracey, who had been much Abroad following her Husband in the Army, in diverse Countries, and concern’d in many desperate and wicked Exploits for above five Years past; the said Mary and she contracted a great intimacy, and were often together, and Tracey often importun’d her to rob one or other; and she being in that way of Business already mention’d, in the Temple, and having serv’d the Deceas’d Mrs. Duncomb sometime before Christmass last; Tracey often press’d upon her to rob her old Mistress, who she knew never wanted a considerable Sum of Money, and several valuable Goods in the House. She was not averse to this Proposal, but heisitating upon it, she said, she should be taken and Hang’d for the same, and that it was impossible for her to do it, without the Assistance of some others. Upon this, Tracey nam’d the two Brothers Thomas and James Alexander, with whom she had been acquainted about a Year before; at last Sarah was prevail’d upon to consent, and all the four meeting together, they concerted their wicked Plot, and put it in Execution, as is too well known. On Sunday the 28th of January last, the Sunday before the Murder was committed, she met with Tracey, and treated her with Coffee in her Master’s Chambers, for he was out of Town, and there the whole of their Conversation run upon the robbing Mrs. Duncomb’s Chambers, which they agree to do, either upon that or the following Week; and in the mean time, getting the two Alexanders to engage and concur with them: They put their Design in Execution, upon Saturday Night, or Sunday Morning ensuing, which happen’d to be upon the 4th day of February last; when pretty late at Night they all met according to Appointment; and Sarah got James Alexander, the younger of the two Brothers, convey’d into the Chambers, where he hid himself under a Bed, till Mrs. Duncomb, and her old and young Maid were all compos’d to rest, and then about two in the Morning, Thomas open’d the Door and let in Mrs. Tracey and James Alexander into the Chambers, while Sarah Malcolm herself waited upon the Stairs to take notice, that no body should come to Interrupt them in their villainous Design. She insisted she knew nothing of any design of Murther, and she doubted, if they really had any such Intentions, and that the occasion of it must be accidental; after they found some of them awake, fearing a Discovery, or, if any Noise were made, that they should be apprehended in the Fact; the Devil concurring with their own wicked Minds, employ’d about such monstrous Works of Darkness, they then proceeded, in a Hurry, to the utmost Height of Wickedness, to murther three innocent Persons, the good old Lady Madam Duncomb, and her two Servants, Elizabeth Harrison and the young Maid Ann Price, who was lately come into the Service; and this they did in a very barbarous Manner, by cutting the Throat of the Maid Ann Price, from Ear to Ear, after she had made no small Struggle for her Life; and by strangling the old Gentlewoman and her ancient Maid, who were both sick, and could not make much Opposition, with a small cord; and all the three they left, in this pitiful Condition, lying upon their own Beds, and in different Rooms.

Sarah affirm’d, that she knew nothing of all this, till about two o’Clock that Sunday afternoon, about which Time the Murtherers were first discover’d. Upon which they immediately proceeded to the plundering and rifling the House, out of which (as she said) they took to the Value of 300 l. in Money, besides several other small Things, and then they immediately came out, with the Rewards of Iniquity in their Hands, and divided the Plunder pretty equally among the Four, under a Lamp in a Temple. I objected to her that there was not Time to divide such a Sum of Money equally among four, and that under a Lamp; for they might be discovered: Then she alleg’d, that they had made their Divisions in the Chambers, and came down in Haste, and threw above 50 l. Value and the Tankard in her Lap, and then left her abruptly, without telling her any Thing of the Murther, only that they had gag’d all the Three, as had been formerly agreed upon, before the Execution of their most mischievous and wicked Plot: And this she always held by, though with a small Variation: I told her, that certainly she was guilty of the Indictment, thus far, that she was one of the principal Persons in laying the whole Scheme of robbing the Chambers, that she introduced them to the Chamber, and watched while they went in, with a Design to gagg them, and then that she was a Partaker of the Spoil; which makes her accessary, and consequently a principal Person, both in the Murthers and Robbery: But how to judge upon the other Three unlucky Persons whom she blamed, and who are still detained upon the same Account, we must refer the Determination thereof to Divine Providence, which, in most Cases, brings to Light such hidden Works of Darkness. I endeavour’d, what I could, to bring her to a plain Confession of her Sins, but she always denied that she was concern’d in actually imbruing her Hands in the Blood of these three innocent Persons; alleging still, that she knew nothing of any previous Design, nor any Thing of the Murtherers, till Sunday the 4th of February, about two o’Clock in the Afternoon.

On Sunday the 4th of March Instant, when I preach’d upon the Subject of Murther, in the Forenoon, when I mentioned several Examples of God’s Vengeance upon Murtherers, insisting upon the Case of Cain’s murthering his righteous Brother Abel, she wept and cry’d most bitterly; but whether for Fear of Death, or the Shame she was to be expos’d too, or the Remorse of her Conscience, upon Account of her being really Guilty of Murther, and a due Sense of her Guilt, is what we cannot decide, and leave the same to the heart-searching God, who knows all Things.

She was a most obdur’d, impenitent Sinner, and gave no reasonable Satisfaction, with respect to her own particular Case; and what Communion she was of, having at first declar’d herself of the Romish, we cannot positively say. She was certainly of a most bold, daring, boisterous and wilful Spirit, void of all Vertue and the Grace of God; which Disposition led her from one Sin to another, till at last she was so far deserted of God, by forsaking Him and his Ways, that she fell into those abominable and vile Crimes, for which she deservedly suffer’d.

At the Place of EXECUTION.

SHE appear’d at first pretty serene and calm, reading upon a Book; and as I went to wait upon her in her last Moments, another Gentleman was their also who came, to officiate upon that Occasion, as I also desir’d him very earnestly to do, but this Request he would by no means comply with; and then, as bound in Duty, I pray’d for her, and she in Appearance was very serious in complying with the Devotion, but she could not well Compose herself, and cryed most bitterly, and pour’d out a flood of Tears all the Time: When Prayers were well nigh over, I ask’d, if she would have a Psalm Sung, as they commonly desire, but this she refus’d; and then as I was concluding the Prayers, and recommending her Soul to Almighty God, at the point of Death she fainted away, and was a good while before she recovered. What I here deliver to Mr. Applebee to publish, is the Substance of her own Words and solemn Declarations to me, upon the Sincerity (as she at least pretended) of a dying Woman, and of one who was immediately to appear before, and answer at the Tribunal of the great God: If there be any Thing Contradictory, or what may seem disingenious in this Account, it is owing to the unhappy Temper of this unfortunate Wretch Sarah Malcolm, who often varied in her Declarations concerning this barbarous Murder; but this may be depended upon, that I have here delivered my Sentiments as Comprehensive to the World as the Case of this unfortunate Woman would permit me.

Just before the Cart drew away she look’d towards the Temple, and cryed out Oh! my Master, my Master! I wish I could see him; and then looking up to Heaven often cryed, Lord have Mercy upon me, Christ have Mercy upon me, Lord Receive my Spirit, and then the Cart withdrew.

This is all the Account given by me,

JAMES GUTHERIE.
Ordinary of Newgate.

POSTSCRIPT.

AS soon as she entred Newgate she proved a true Foreseer of her own Fate, by her immediatly crying out, I am a Dead Woman. She way conveyed to the old condemned Hole, as the most proper Place for securing her, and there a Person was appointed to watch her from an Apprehension that she intended to take away her own Life. These Fears were occasion’d from her appearing to be exceedingly ill and out of order, her Sick Fits succeeded by Vomitings of gloted Blood, and her persisting during these extraordinary Ails to take any Thing which might Comfort, or even support Nature; but Mr. Snowd a Surgeon after examining into her Case, declaring his Opinion that her Illness might be occasioned by a Preternatural Hurry of Spirits, and was not Dangerous: However she would sometimes fall into strange Agonies, rouling her Eyes, clinching her Hands, &c. particularly once when a Gentleman who had been her Master came to see her, she fell into an extraordinary Disorder, grasping the Keeper’s Legs, so as scarce to be got from him, when she came to herself all the Reason she assigned was, that she could not endure to see any of her Acquaintance.

When she was informed that Mary Tracy and the two Alexanders were seiz’d, she appear’d pleased, and smiled, saying with seeming Satisfaction, I shall die now with Pleasure, since the Murtherers are taken. When the Boys and the Woman were shewn to her that she might see whither they were the Persons whom she accused, she immediately said, ay, these are the Persons who committed the Murther. And said to Mary Tracy, you know this to be true, which she pronounced with a Boldness which surprized all the Spectators. Then turning to her again, and said So Mary see what you have brought me to, it is thro’ you and the two Alexanders that I am brought to this Shame, and must die for it, you all promised me you would do no Murder, but to my great surprize I found the contrary.

Some Gentlemen who came to see her in the Press-Yard, importuning her to make a frank Discovery of the Murder, she answered with some heat, After I have been some time laid in my Grave, it will be found out. Some People of Fashion asking her, if she was settled in her Mind, and resolved to make no further Confession; she said, That as she was not concerned in the Murder, she hop’d that God would accept her Life as a Satisfaction for her manifold Sins.

On Sunday about Six o’Clock in the Afternoon as some People were with her in her Room, she fell into a grievous Agony, which lasted for sometime, with all imaginable Signs of Terror and Fright; one of the Keepers coming in said, Sarah what’s the Matter? What has happened to put you into this Disorder; she pretended it was occasioned by her being told at Chapel that she was to be hanged in Fleet-street among all her Acquaintance, which she said gave her inexpressible Pain! The Keeper replied, I’m afraid Sarah that is not the Truth, when the Dead Warrant came down I acquainted you that you were to die there, so it is not probable that should surprize you so much now. Take my Advice, make a full Confession, and you’ll find your Mind much easier, to this she said not a Word!

When the Bell-man came into Newgate to give Notice to the Prisoners who were to die on Monday, somebody called to Sarah Malcolm, and bid her Mind what he said, she looking out of her Window, answered that she did, and as soon as he had done, said, d’ye hear Mr. Bellman, call for a Pint of Wine, and I’ll throw you a Shilling to pay for it, which she did accordingly.

Sunday Night about ten o’Clock, she called to Chambers, one of the Prisoners who were to die the next Day, and who was in a Cell over against her Window, she bid him be of good Comfort, and ask’d him if she should pray along with him, he answer’d, do Sarah with all our Hearts, upon which she began to pray very fervently, and continued to do so for the best part of the Night, untill all her Candles was burnt out, then she exhorted them not to go to sleep, but to pray to God to forgive them their past Offences; your Time, added she, is short, as well as mine, and I wish I were to go with you: As to the ignominy of your Fate, let not that Trouble you, none but the Vulgar will reflect either on you or your Relations; good Fathers may have unhappy Children; and pious Children may have had unworthy Parents, neither are answerable for the other, as to the suddeness of our Death, consider we have had Time to prepare for it, whereas many die so suddenly as not to have Time to call for Mercy; having finished her Speech to these her unhappy Companions, she shut her Window, and laid her self down on her Bed.

The following Letter was written by the abovemention’d Sarah Malcom.

SIR,

YOU can’t but know that Sadness is the Rack of an Affliction not to be expressed, a Judgment more prejudical than the wor’st Revenge from an Enemy’s Hand, it is like a venemous Worm, which not only Consumes the Body, but eats into the very Soul: It is a Mouth that feeds on the very Marrow and Vitals, a perpetual Executioner, torturing the Soul, and exhausting her Spirits. So, Sir, if Conscience has touched you in the least; It must certainly leave Sadness on your Spirits; and as it behoves every one at their last Hour to die in Peace with God and the World. I freely forgive you and all the World.
Sarah Malcolm.

Feb. 26th, 1733.

ADVERTISEMENTS.

This Day is Publish’d, Price 3 s. 6 d.

With a Frontispiece of the famous Jack Shepherd‘s Escape out of the Condemn’d Hole of Newgate.

THE LIVES of the most remarkable Criminals, who have been condemn’d and executed, for Murder, Highway, House-breaking, Street Robberies, Coining, or other Offences, from the Year 1720 to the present Time: Containing particularly, the Lives of, Mrs. Griffith for the Murder of her Maid, Kennedy the Pyrate; Molony and Carrick, Highwaymen; Brindsden who murder’d his Wife; Levee, and the rest of his Gang, Street Robbers; Capt. Massy for Pyracy; Roch for Pyracy and Murder, a full Account of the Waltham Blacks, the famous Jack Shephard; his Companion Blueskin; and Towers who was hang’d for setting up the new Mint. Collected from Original Papers and Authentick Memoirs. To which is prex’d, a Preface, containing a general View of the Laws of England, with respect to Capital Offences.

Printed and sold by John Applebee in Bolt Court, Fleet Street; A. Bettesworth, and C. Hitch, at the Red-Lion in Pater Noster Row; John Pemberton, at the Golden Buck against St. Dunstan’s Church, J. Isted, at the Golden Ball near Chancery-lane, in Fleet-street; E. Symon in Cornhill; R. Ware, at the Bible and Sun in Amen-Corner near Pater-Noster Row; W. Mears, at the Lamb the Corner of Bell Savage Inn on Ludgate Hill; and Richard Wellington, at the Dolphin and Crown, without Temple Bar.

The Publick may depend on the Accounts publish’d in this Work, as containing a just and faithful Narration of the Conduct of these unhappy Persons, and a true State of their respective Crimes, without any Additions of feigned and romantick Adventures, calculated meerly to entertain the Curiosity of the Reader.

N.B. Vol. II. is in the Press, and will be Publish’d with all convenient Expedition.
Where may be had of the Printer of this Paper,

The Life and Actions of JOSEPH POWIS, who was Executed on Monday the 16th of October last at Tyburn Written by himself, during his Confinement in the Cells. Price 1 s.

Taken by Execution, and to be SOLD On Saturday the 10th of March

(The very lowest Price being fix’d)


ALL the Houshold Goods, together with all the rich Stock in Trade, of Mr. Thomas Tennant, an eminent wholesale Dealer in all Manner of Houshold Furniture: The Whole consisting of Standing Beds and Bedding, fine large Glass con, Pier Glasses and Chimney Glasses in carv’d and gilt Frames, ditto in plain Walnut tree Frames, and Dressing Glasses of all Sorts; fine Walnut-tree, Mahogany, and other , Book Cases with Glass Doors; several Walnut-tree Chests upon Chests Walnut-tree Writing Desks, Buroe Dressing Tables, Walnut-tree or Mahogany; fine Walnut-tree Tables, and several curious Tables of Divers Sorts not yet expos’d; Mahogany, Dining Tables of all Sizes, Breakfast Tables, Box Tables, Corner Tables and Night Tables, Marble Tables of all Sorts and Du Waters; several fine Mahogany Chests for Cloaths; a large Quantity of fine and course Chairs, Walnut-tree, Mahogany, &c. from one Shilling a Chair to five Pounds, several fine Dressing Chairs, Shaving Chairs, Closestool Chairs, Easy Chairs, Setes and Set: Beds, fine white Callico Quilts and printed Quilts of all Sorts: fine new Whitney Blankets of all Sizes; several very good new Eight Day Clocks, Table Clocks, Stove Grates, Carpets and Pictures: And, for Conveniency of Sale, the Goods are brought from Mr. Tennant’s Warehouses in Long Lane, to Surman’s Great House in Soho Square, St. Anne’s. At the same Place is Sold the very best new white hard Metal Pewter, call’d French, Pewter, or change new for old; and for conveniency of the Buyer the Goods shall be safely deliver’d to any part of the Town on Board any Ship, or to any Inn or Place, according to Directions, within three Miles of the Place of Sale, without any Charge to the Buyer. Likewise at the same Place any Merchant or Dealer may be furnish’d with any Quantity of any of the Goods abovemention’d or truck for Mahogany Carpets or China.

N. B. If any Gentlemen, Ladies, or others, have a House of Goods to dispose of, or any Parcel of Houshold Goods. Plate, Linnen, Pictures or China, by directing to Surman’s as abovementioned, you may have a good Price and ready Money. Likewise he changes new Goods for old.
Note, He sells for ready Money, and the Sale will continue all the Winter Season.


Scorbutick Humours, is recommended, THE Antiscorbutick Purging Ticture of Scurvygrass, to be taken any Time of the Year, but more especially Spring and Fall.

It is an effectual Remedy against the Scurvy, and all scorbutick, salt, brinish, and watery Humours, and is an experienced Remedy for purging the Blood in the Spring, giving it a due Circulatian, and totally consuming any venomous Matter that may lie lurking in the Body or Blood, after the last great Sickness in the Winter, which undoubtedly may bring many intolerable Distempers upon the Body, by putrifying the Blood, and bringing Go agutation of Humours, without such an universal Cathartick and Diuretick as this is.

Its an excellent Purge for Choler, Flegm, Melancholy, windy and watery Humours, drawing them from the Head and Joints: It purges gently, and is safe in all Ages, Sexes, and Constitutions, begets an Appetite, helps Digestion, and stops Fumes from afflicting the Head, chears and comforts the Spirits, and being often used, prevents the Stone, for it alters the Morbid State of the Juices, purifies the Blood, weeten all the Fluids, cleanses them from Impurites, and many more Arthrick and Rhmatick Ailments.

Prepared and sold by the Author, a Chymist, the second House on the Right Hand in Bride-lane, next Fleet street. ‘Tis likewise Sold at Mr. Robotham’s Toyshop, near White-chapple-Bars; at Mr. Neal’s Toyshop, opposite the White-Hart-Inn, in the Borough of South wark, and Mr. Greg’s, Book seller, next Northumberland House, Charing Cross, at One Shilling a Bottle.

Where is also Sold, The Original, Inestimable, Angelical Electuary; universally esteemed for a speedy Cure of Coughs, Colds, Asthma’s, Phthisicks, Wheezings, difficult Breathing, shortness of Breath and Consumtions. One Shilling a Pot, Both Sealed above.


On Saturday next will be publish’d No. LIV. (containing two sheets in Folio) of

THE Works of Flavius Josephus which are Extant, containing.

I. The History of the Antiquites of the Jews in Twenty Books.
II. The Life of the Author, Flavius, Josephus, Writted by Himself.
III. The Wars of the Jews. In Seven Books.
IV. The Defence of the Jewish Antiquities against Apion. Two Books.
V. Of the Maccabees. One Book.

Translated from the Original Greek, according to Dr. Mudson’s Edition.

By JOHN COURT; Gent.

To which are added, a Dissertation on the Writings and Credit of Josephus, and Christopher Noldius’s History of the Life and Actions of Herod the Great, never before rendered into English. With Explanatory Notes, Tables, Maps, and a large and accurate Index.
Proposals in Substance are as follows, viz.

It is proposed whilst the said Work is Printing to deliver two sheets of it every Week, (at the Price of Two-pence) to the Subscribers own Houses.

That the above Work will contain about 200 sheets, Printed on a good Letter, and superfine Genona Paper

Note, Those who don’t care to take the above Numbers all at once, may have them deliver’d as they please, by giving in their Names as underneath.

London Printed and Sold by R. PENNY; in Wine-Office-Court, Fleet-Street; and J. JANEWAY, in White-Friars, Where Subscriptions are taken in.

Part of the Themed Set: The Ordinary of Newgate.

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1858: Lucy, vengeful slave

Add comment March 5th, 2016 Headsman

On this date in 1858, a slave named Lucy was hanged in Galveston for killing her mistress.

The innkeeper Maria Dougherty was chagrined in 1857 when her slave voiced disgruntlement by torching her Columbia Hotel. (The fire was detected in time and put out.) So, she stacked additional punishments on the dissatisfied Lucy, who in her turn escalated her revenge. In the first days of the new year, Mrs. Dougherty disappeared — next seen several days onward afloat in a cistern, skull mangled by a furious bludgeon.

“Yes, I killed her, and I would do it again!” Lucy allegedly exulted.

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1684: John Dick, Covenanter

Add comment March 5th, 2015 Headsman

Covenanter John Dick was hanged at the Grassmarket in Edinburgh on this date in 1684. He had been condemned for rebellion just the day before.

This divinity student had been due to swing the previous September, but broke out of Canongate Tolbooth with 24 others. Upon his re-arrest, the existing sentence was simply reinstated by the judges; Dick had only a single night between that sentence and his execution.

From the time the Protestant Reformation had launched 160-odd years prior to Dick’s death, the customary prerogative of the condemned to make a rostrum of the scaffold had become contested territory. Where once condemned thieves and murderers would make a last reconciliation with their fellows, now heretics made of their own deaths blazing confessional placards by seizing the language of martyrdom. (Paul Friedland addresses this phenomenon as part of the evolution of the execution “spectacle” in his excellent Seeing Justice Done: The Age of Spectacular Capital Punishment in France. We previously interviewed Friedland here.)

Scottish Covenanters too had this tradition — and likewise the authorities that put them to death the tradition of silencing the wrong message. All the more true given the intense partisan-religious alignments on the eve of the Glorious Revolution; the Whig party name derives from the Whiggamores — Covenanter raiders, whose association was meant to smear that faction.*

Dick, according to a friend who visited him in jail on the day of his hanging, was asked if he would pray at his gallows. “Yes, if ye permitt [sic] me,” he replied.

“You must not reflect upon authority in your prayers, so as there may be no offence taken,” one of Dick’s gaolers replied.

“I will pray no limited prayers; I will pray as Christ has taught me.”

Upon this response, there was a debate among Dick’s keepers. “Some were for suffering him to pray, and stopping him if he pleased them not,” our observer recorded, “but that was not thought fit, so he prayed none there [at the gallows].”

Although Dick had to be circumspect at his hanging, his fellow Presbyterians’ alignment with the soon-to-be-triumphant side in the Glorious Revolution would soon make Covenanter martyrologies a hot publication.

The 1714 A Cloud of Witnesses for the Prerogative of Jesus Christ, or The Last Speeches and Testimonies of Those Who Have Suffered for the Truth in Scotland since 1680 celebrates dozens of Presbyterian martyrs.


Illustration of Covenanter punishments (not Dick’s specifically) from A Cloud of Witnesses.

In Dick’s entry, we have a firm of heart last letter to his father penned on the morning of the devout youth’s execution.

Dear Sir, —

This hath been one of the pleasantest nights I have had in my lifetime. The competition is only betwixt it and that I got eleven years ago at Nesbit in Northumberland, where and when, in a barley ridge upon the Saturday’s night and Sabbath morning before the last communion I did partake of in Ford Church, the Lord firmly laid the foundation-stone of grace in my heart, by making me with my whole soul close with Him upon His own terms, that is, to take Him to be my King, Priest, and Prophet, yea, to be my all in all ; to renounce my own righteousness, which at best is but rotten rags, and to rest upon His righteousness alone for salvation; as also, to give myself entirely, without reserve, in soul, body, heart, affections, and the whole faculties of my soul and powers of my body, to be by Him disposed at His pleasure for the advancement of His glory, and the upbuilding of my own soul, and the souls of others; inserting this clause (being conscious to myself of great infirmity) that the fountain of free grace and love should stand open for me so long, and so oft as my case should call for it.

This my transaction with my ^whole soul, without the least ground of suspicion of the want of sincerity, which I found had been amissing in endeavours of that nature formerly, now my blessed Lord helped me to, or rather made in me, and solemnised that night and morning ere I came off that ridge.

I confirmed it no less than ten or twelve times, and the oftener I reiterated, the gale continued so fresh and vigorous, that I was forced to cry, Hold, Lord, for the sherd is like to burst: so that I hope my dearest Lord is now a-coming, and that the hands of Zerubbabel, who hath laid this foundation, is now about to finish it ; and, indeed, He is building very fast, for which my soul blesseth Him, desiring you may join with me in so necessary a work.

I hope, ere long, the copestone shall be put on, the result of all which shall be praises and shouting to Him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb throughout all the ages of eternity, of long-lasting eternity.

This, with my earnest prayers while in the body, that the Lord would help you to mind His glory, and your own soul’s eternal welfare, is all the legacy you can expect from him who is both,

Your affectionate son and Christ’s prisoner,

John Dick.

P.S. — I hope, ere I come home, to get another sight of you. Let none see this till I be in my grave. The Lord gave me to you freely, so I entreat you, be frank in giving me to Him again, and the more free this be, the less cause you shall have to repent.

* “Tories” comes from a word for an Irish (and Catholic) outlaw, and was conferred by the Whigs as a reciprocal calumny. It is not accidental that each term throws a non-English shade.

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1687: The first of the Martyrs of Eperjes

Add comment March 5th, 2014 Headsman

On this date in 1687, the Austrian empire made the first of its many Protestant martyrs in Eperjes — the Hungarian name for the city now in Slovakia, where it is known as Prešov.

In the wake of the unsuccessful Zrinski-Frankopan Hungarian conspiracy against Hapsburg absolutism, the arch-Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Leopold did some cracking down.

Leopold suspended the Hungarian constitution and rounded up Protestant pastors, who “were not executed, but the choice of those convicted was between recantation and serving as galley slaves.” (Source)

Rough handling pushed the most aggrieved Hungarians into outright revolt in the 1670s, eventually led by the nobleman Imre Thököly.*

Thokoly enjoyed fantastic success, carving by force of arms a Principality of Upper Hungary roughly corresponding to present-day Slovakia. Squeezed as he was between the great powers of the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Turks, Thokoly allied himself with Sultan Mehmed IV and aided the Turks’ 1683 siege of Vienna.

That meant that his followers would share the downfall of that enterprise.

After the siege was thrown off, Thokoly’s rebellion was gradually quashed, culminating in a 1685 battle at Presov — one of Thokoly’s major bastions. (Hungarian link)

Thereafter, Thokoly himself would be a ward of the Ottomans, alternately a prisoner or a vassal captain in the field. (He would briefly establish himself as Prince of Transylvania with Ottoman backing in 1690.)

Pope John Paul II and Evangelical bishop Jan Midriak prayed together at a monument to the Presov martyrs in 1995.(cc) image from Jozef Kotulic.

For Presov and those misfortunate enough to be caught there, matters were worse.

The Hapsburg military governor of the former rebel territory, Antonio Caraffa, set up a star chamber to deliver some harsh justice.

From February 1687, Presov Protestants trying to raise money to re-establish war-damaged schools were accused of conspiring to rise again and subjected to a series of torture-driven show trials.

The first four of these, Sigmund Zimmermann, Caspar Rauscher, Andreas Keczer and Franz Baranyay, were beheaded and quartered on March 5, 1687. All told, some two dozen would die over the course of 1687 in this hunt, most of them on the scaffold — the Martyrs of Eperjes. (German link.)


Statue of Imre Thokoly at Budapest’s Heroes’ Square. (cc) image from Hungarian Snow.

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1780: Colonel Hamilton Ballendine, if that was his real name

Add comment March 5th, 2013 Headsman

According to some newspaper accounts deemed credible enough by almanacs and registers of the time, a British officer named Hamilton Ballendine was hanged by the Americans during the Siege of Charleston. The good colonel had thought he was approaching his own British sentries after a reconnoiter of Charleston’s defenses, and when hailed he provided this name.

His name, or his alias, or his password — whatever it was, it was not recognized by the sentries, who turned out in fact to be the colonial pickets. At that point, he was a spy caught red-handed, and these folks tended to get short shrift during the American Revolution.

This event has struck some observers as conspicuous by its absence from any of the numerous firsthand diarists’ accounts within the besieged city. The account in this footnote, recopied in its entirety below, appears to be the sum of the information on the matter. Judge accordingly, gentle reader.


In the Siege of Charlestown (Munsell), 68, we find the following: —

EXECUTION OF COLONEL HAMILTON BALLENDINE.

(From Dunlop’s Packet of April, 1780.)

WILLIAMSBURG IN VIRGINIA, APRIL 18.

On the 5th Ult. was hanged at Charlestown, South Carolina, Colonel Hamilton Ballendine, for drawing Draughts of the town and Fortifications. He was taken by a Picquet Guard, which General Lincoln sent out that Night to Stono, as he was making his Way to the enemy; and when he was hailed by the Guard his Answer was, ‘Colonel Hamilton Ballendine.’ The Guard told him that would not do, and carried him to the commander of the Picquet, upon which he pulled out of his pocket the Draughts. The Officer told him he was mistaken, and carried him to General Lincoln, who ordered him for Execution.” —New York Royal Gazette, April 16.

See, also, Moore’s Diary of the Revolution, vol. II, 260. The story is also incorporated in the text of the Annual Register for 1780 (London), vol. XXIII, 222, in which it is said that Ballendine suffered “the unpitied death of a traitor.” Both Simms (So. Ca. in the Revolutionary War, 177) and Draper (King’s Mountain and its Heroes, 22, note) call attention to the fact that the story is mentioned by none of the South Carolina historians, nor any of the Charlestown diarists or letter writers. Draper seems to doubt if there was any such person. In the So. Ca. and Am. Gen. Gazette, June 9, 1775, Hamilton Ballentine advertises a power of attorney to receive a legacy due and collect the assets of an estate. There was therefore doubtless such a person, but what became of him is not further known. His name is not on the list of those whose estates were confiscated (Statutes of So. Ca., vol. VI), where it probably would be found had the story been true. It is scarcely possible that such an event would have been overlooked by all the writers and diarists of the time, and not have been preserved by local tradition; and yet the particularity of the statement, and its acceptance by the Annual Register at the time, would suggest that there must have been some foundation for the statement.

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1945: Lena Baker

3 comments March 5th, 2012 Headsman

What I done, I did in self-defense, or I would have been killed myself. Where I was I could not overcome it.

-Lena Baker’s final statement

The state of Georgia has only ever electrocuted a single woman: African-American maid Lena Baker, put to death on this date in 1945 for murdering her abusive employer.

Baker was a sharecropper and a former sex worker hired to care for white mill owner Ernest Knight as he recuperated from a broken leg. This, as Baker’s biographer Lela Bond Phillips puts it, “developed into a sexual relationship.”

A twisted, sometimes-violent relationship.

Both Knight and Baker were alcoholics, and the Knight liked to keep his domestic in the gristmill for days on end.*

As an interracial liason, it was also entirely taboo; Knight’s son tried everything to separate his dad from this scandalous arrangement, including moving the family and beating up Baker.

Knight pere was even more committed to keeping her.

On the night of April 29-30, 1944, the elder Knight locked Baker up in the mill, after she’d attempted to flee him. Baker testified that after Knight got back from church — it was Sunday, after all — Baker tried to leave over Knight’s threats. The two fought over Knight’s pistol, and the fight ended when the pistol discharged through Knight’s head. As to how it went off or who pulled the trigger, Baker said she didn’t know.

Although the irascible, hard-drinking Knight wouldn’t have won any popularity contests among his white neighbors, this breach of the color line was prosecuted both vigorously and speedily: a one-day trial that August (the all-white, all-male jury goes without saying, right?) sufficed to send the maid to her death.**

She’s (obviously) the subject of the 2008 film Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story.

* Virtual imprisonment of domestic labor: not a thing of the past.

** In 2005, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles — which turned down Baker’s clemency application in early 1945 — issued a posthumous pardon suggesting that a non-death penalty manslaughter charge would have been the more appropriate conviction. Baker’s family and defenders read that as vindication; there’s a detailed NPR story about it here.

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1413: Francesco Baldovino, to enjoy the emoluments of office

Add comment March 5th, 2011 Headsman

From History of the Venetian Republic: Her Rise, Her Greatness, and Her Civilization:


Francesco Baldovino was a gentleman in affluent circumstances, of a handsome person, and of engaging manners. His domestic establishment was princely. He had a large sum in the Funds. In short, every adventitious advantage, which fortune brings, was within his reach, excepting one; Baldovino was not a noble.

It is said that, at the period of the War of Chioggia, he desired to become, among the rest, a candidate for the honours of the peerage. But, his paternal ancestor having been implicated in some manner in the Bocconio conspiracy of 1300, the family laboured under a certain obloquy, and Baldovino was a disappointed man.

Among his numerous acquaintance was one Bartolomeo D’Anselmo, also a cittadino of great wealth, and also an unsatisfied expectant of nobility. It happened on Friday, the 4th March, 1413, that Baldovino and D’Anselmo met at the Minorites, and began to discuss their common grievance. “We,” cried Baldovino, at once launching into diatribe, “pay taxes enough forsooth; yet those of the Council enjoy the emoluments of office.”

“True,” returned his companion, “and indeed we ought to make it our business to see if we cannot get for ourselves a share in the administration. Devise some plan in which I may co-operate.”

“The way would be,” whispered Baldovino, “to collect a company of our following, and to massacre them as they are leaving the Council, particularly the College, the Decemvirs, and the Avogadors.”

D’Anselmo said, “That is an excellent plan. How then do you purpose to find your men?”

“I intend,” the other continued, “to seek a good many trusty fellows, who will be at my elbow to compass this matter for us on Sunday that is coming.”

“I, too,” rejoined D’Anselmo, “will bring some.”

So they parted.

Bartolomeo D’Anselmo was not a bad man; but he was a man of no steady principle, and of an exceedingly nervous temperament. He had hardly bidden farewell to Baldovino, when the treasonable dialogue which had passed between them began to haunt his imagination. He found himself a prey to a variety of unwholesome and chimerical fancies. The echoes of his own words grated on his ears. The sound of his own voice threw him into a cold sweat.

He conceived it more than possible that they might have been overheard, and that they were betrayed. He pictured himself arrested, dragged before the Ten and into the chamber of torture, put to the question, condemned to an infamous and horrid punishment. If there had been eavesdroppers, he was pretty sure that this would be his destiny; and he knew that there was only one method of escaping from the danger.

He was base enough to pursue that method; D’Anselmo turned evidence, on the same day, against his friend.

The informer was pardoned and ennobled.

The man, whom with such vile and pitiful cowardice he had denounced, was taken into custody, examined under the cord, and on Saturday morning the 5th, at eight o’clock, was executed between the Red Columns, where he was left hanging three days, as a warning to traitors.

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1986: Mamman Jiya Vatsa, warrior-poet

2 comments March 5th, 2010 Headsman

On this date in 1986,* Nigerian Major-General Mamman Jiya Vatsa was shot (along with nine others) by command of his childhood friend — the dictator Ibrahim Babangida, whom Vatsa was allegedly plotting to overthrow.

A gifted writer since youth, Vatsa was just a nameless twenty-something junior officer in the early 1970s when he emerged onto the national literary scene.

In the 15 years before his death, Vatsa churned out 20-plus volumes, mostly poetry. He had a special inclination for writing for children.

Simultaneously, his star ascended in his professional sphere.

Risen to General, Vatsa was part of the Supreme Military Council of the previous dictator.

But by December of that year,
Vatsa and dozens of others were arrested.

Testimony against them — much of it of the speculative or torture-induced variety — described a ring of officers piqued at the Babangida coup (Vatsa was out of the country when it occurred) and keen to undo it. The scheme would have been only one of many such hatched or imagined in an unstable political situation that surely made the new big man nervous.

In the end, “only” ten (the nine others are named here) were stood up against the wall for the alleged plot. Many others, however, were imprisoned or purged, a lasting injury to the Nigerian brass that particularly crippled its air force.

Babangida, of course, rejected clemency appeals from the Vatsa family he knew well. He has since justified his harshness by arguing that Vatsa would have continued plotting against him in prison or in forced retirement. “Rawlings did it in Ghana,” Babangida said. “And you know Vatsa was very stubborn.”

The fatal tribunal’s judge** is less certain, and is hardly the only one to doubt Vatsa’s guilt outright.

I don’t know, nobody ever asked.
That was how some heroes died.
They died.

-Vatsa, “They Died” (Voices from the Trench)

* Some sources give March 6 as the execution date, but contemporaneous western press reports (admittedly an impeachable source) prefer the 5th. For instance, the March 6 Chicago Tribune says the executions occurred on “Wednesday” (the 5th).

** Ironically, Vatsa himself had once sat on a tribunal for another group of failed putschists, the 1976 Dimka coup.

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1880: Ippolit Mlodetsky, Loris-Melikov’s would-be assassin

Add comment February 22nd, 2010 Headsman

If you were a person of any privilege or official authority in late 19th century Russia, chances are that Narodnaya Volya was planning to take a shot at you.

If you were General Loris-Melikov, a Ukrainian Jew did that to you two days before this date in 1880.*

And if you were that errant assassin, Ippolit Mlodetsky, this was your execution date.

Even though Melikov rated as something of a liberal on the Russian autocracy spectrum, he had no qualms about ordering legal proceedings barely this side of summary.

Gen. Melikoff, on Wednesday evening, ordered a court-martial to assemble on Thursday morning. The trial of the prisoner was opened at 11 o’clock in the morning. The prisoner was insolent in his language and demeanor, and refused to stand up or take any part in the proceedings. He said he had nothing to add … that he did not want to be troubled any more, and wanted the matter finished. … at 1 o’clock … judgment was pronounced against him. The judgment on the prisoner sentenced him to be hanged, and his execution was appointed for 10 o’clock this (Friday) morning on the Simeonofsky Plain, near the Tsarskoe-selo Railway terminus.

And so he was.

Mlodetsky’s public hanging was witnessed by novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky in the very square where Dostoyevsky himself had faced mock-execution for revolutionary activity 30 years before.

Dostoyevsky was, even then, pulling together his magnum opus, The Brothers Karamazov.

The very day Mlodetsky tried to kill Melikov found Fyodor Mikhailovich chatting with fellow reactionary journalist Aleksey Suvorin about the plague of terrorism and its accompanying social malaise.

On the day of the attempt by Mlodetsky on Loris Melikov I was with F. M. Dostoyevsky.

… Neither he nor I knew anything about the assassination. But our conversation presently turned to political crimes in general, and a [recent] explosion in the Winter Palace in particular. In the course of talking about this, Dostoyevsky commented on the odd attitude of the public to these crimes. Society seemed to sympathize with them, or, it might be truer to say, was not too clear about how to look upon them … (Quoted here.)

Dostoyevsky in this conversation revealed that for the planned sequel to The Brothers Karamazov — never to be realized in the event —

he was going to write a novel with Alyosha Karamazov as the hero. He planned to bring him out of the monastery and make a revolutionary of him. He would commit a political crime. He would be executed.

(Much more about this sequel in this paper.)

Melikov’s brush with death did not dissuade him from continuing to push for constitutional reforms as the antidote to terrorism, including introduction of a parliament. Tsar Alexander II was on the point of implementing that proposal … when he himself was assassinated by Narodnaya Volya, precipitating a political backlash.

That murder of Alexander II helped put the kibosh on the Karamazov sequel, which would thereafter have become politically problematic.

Nor was that the only artistic casualty of the Russian terrorists.

A discomfiting thematic similarity in Mlodetsky’s execution with that of the protagonist resulted in the cancellation of a just-opened opera: The Merchant Kalashnikov. (It would be a few more decades before that connection could appear ironic.)

* The assassination attempt occurred on February 20, with the execution on February 22, according to the Julian calendar still in use in Russia at that time. By the then-12-days-later Gregorian calendar, the dates were March 3 and March 5, respectively.

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Assassins,Attempted Murder,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Hanged,History,Jews,Notable for their Victims,Public Executions,Revolutionaries,Russia,Terrorists

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