1943: Leen Kullman, Soviet hero

Add comment March 6th, 2018 Headsman

Soviet spy Helene (“Leen”) Kullman was shot by the Germans on this date in 1943 … or was she?

Kullman (English Wikipedia entry | the much more detailed Estonian) was just out of teaching school when the Germans occupied Estonia. She joined the Red Army and was eventually trained as an intelligence agent, infiltrated by parachute behind German lines in September 1942, and arrested by the Gestapo in January 1943.

This is where things get interesting.

According to the Soviet hagiography that resulted in her decoration as a Hero of the Soviet Union in 1965, Kullman defied her torturers and was shot by them on March 6, 1943: a standard Great Patriotic War martyr.

However, stories in post-Soviet, and heavily anti-Soviet, Estonia have circulated to the effect that Leen Kullman wasn’t killed in 1943 at all — that she cooperated with her captors and ended up dying peacefully in West Germany in 1978. One family member allegedly received a cryptic message in the 1960s, “Leen lives with the man who saved her life, and has two children. I’m not allowed to say more.”

Almost everything about her available online is in Estonian; readers with that particular proficiency might also enjoy this 1965 radio interview with her sister.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Borderline "Executions",Espionage,Estonia,Execution,Germany,History,Martyrs,No Formal Charge,Not Executed,Occupation and Colonialism,Russia,Shot,Spies,Summary Executions,USSR,Wartime Executions,Women

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1731: Six malefactors at Tyburn

Add comment March 6th, 2017 Headsman

The Ordinary of Newgate, His Account of the Behaviour, Confessions, and Dying Words, of the Malefactors, Who were Executed at Tyburn, On Monday the 6th of this Instant March, 1731.

Being the Third Execution in the Mayoralty of the Rt. Hon. Francis Child, Esq;
Number III. For the said Year.

LONDON:
Printed and Sold by JOHN APPLEBEE, in Bolt-Court, neat the Leg-Tavern, Fleet-street. M.DCC.XXXI.
[Price Three-Pence.]

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 Hon. Francis Child, Esq ; Lord Mayor of the City of London; the Hon. Mr. Baron Thompson, Recorder of the City of London; the Hon. 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 and Friday, being the 23d, 24th and 25th of February, 1731-2, in the Fifth Year of his Majesty’s Reign.

Seven Men, viz. Thomas Smith, Thomas Faxton, Thomas Past, Thomas Edwards, Edward Dale, Thomas Andrews and Samuel Burrard; and one Woman Jane French, were by the Jury capitally Convicted, and receiv’d Sentence of Death.

When under Sentence, they were Instructed in the first Principles of Religion, that the great God of Heaven and Earth created them for excellent Ends and Purposes, to glorify him, and to enjoy him forever: and that the Way to glorify God was, to serve him sincerely and with uprightness of Heart, to dedicate themselves wholly and without reserve, Souls and Bodies unto God, as a living Sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is their reasonable Service; to order their Lives and Conversations aright in a present, evil World, with consciences void of Offence towards God and towards Man; to abstain from every appearance of Evil, hating even the Garment spotted by the Flesh, as the Apostle expresseth it, i.e. abhoring and forsaking all manner of Sin, consenting to nothing forbidden by the Law of God, but endeavouring to please him in every Thing, to Walk before him as Enoch did, in all our Actions, to behave our selves as in the Presence of God, whose all-seeing Eye is still over us, and however we may conceal our doings from Men, yet they will one Day be expos’d before Angels and Men, by Almighty God who hath appointed one to judge the World in righteousness: And as we ought to abstain from all Evil, so it is our Duty to work righteousness, to perfect holiness in the Fear of God, to advance and make progress in the Ways of the Lord, from Grace to Grace, until in End Grace be consummated in Glory. I told them particularly, that this is life eternal, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent; to know God in his nature, that he is the Sovereign Supream Being, existing independantly in and of himself, who is the same to Day, Yesterday and forever; and in his attributes, that he is infinite in all his perfections of holiness, and therefore where-ever he beholds a pure Creature, endow’d with this excellent divine Quality, he loves the same, as the Resemblance of his own Image of justice, and therefore he takes vengence upon the Transgressors of his Laws, in inflicting deserved Punishments upon them, though Hand join in Hand, The Wicked shall not be unpunished: Prov. xi. 21. of his goodness, in Relieving the Oppressed, Sympathizing with the distressed, and Comforting the Comfortless, so that he hath promised to be a Father to the Fatherless, Husband to the Widow, and to help them who are Oppressed and Distressed, &c. I taught them that it was absolutely necessary to believe in Christ, this is to know hi whom God hath sent, for him hath God the Father sent to reveal and interpret the Mind and Will of God unto the Blind, ignorant World, him hath God exalted at his right Hand, to the highest Dignity in the Heavens, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give Repentance and Remission of Sins unto his People, this is the only Mediator betwixt God and Man, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself Ransome for all, to be testify’d in due Time; as St. Paul saith, He came into the World to save Sinners, of whom I am chief: While he was in the World, he went about doing good, and made it his constant Business and Employment to do Good unto the Bodies of Men, and unto their Souls; for so it is written of, him, He came to seek and to save that which was lost: He healed those who were oppressed with the Power and Possession of the Devil; he took Pity upon all those who were in Distress and Calamity, in curing all of them of their Infirmities and Diseases; and therefore it is said of him, How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with Power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the Devil; for God was with him. Acts 1[0]. 38. And not only did he thus heal Men of their bodily Diseases, but his great Work was, to rectify their Mistakes in Matters of Religion, and to reclaim them unto the Knowledge of the Truth, from which they were then turned aside, having degenerated into Idolatry, Superstition, and gross Ignorance: This he did, that their Souls in the Great Day of the Lord might be happy; and this was not only his Business, but his Delight: I delight to do thy Will, O my God, Psal. xl. 8. Yea, he took such Pleasure in this blessed Work, that he expresseth himself as afraid that he had not Time for Accomplishment thereof; I must work the Works of him that sent me, while it is Day; the Night cometh when no Man can work, St. John ix. 4.

Having instructed them in those first Principles of all Religion, and particularly of Christianity, to be holy in Heart and Life, as God is holy, and blameless in all manner of Life and Conversation; to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Example of those who through Faith and Patience have inherited the Promises: Then I show’d them, that this manner of Life was the only Way to Happiness; for without Holiness no man can see the Lord, Heb. xii. 14. This is the Way to Eternal Life; to trace the Steps of the Blessed Jesus: Holiness and Virtue, in endeavouring to keep ourselves pure and unspotted from the World, to be beneficial to the Souls and Bodies of Men, is that eternal Life begun here, the Consummation whereof is to be in Heaven hereafter, where all Sorrow and Tears shall be wiped away from our Eyes. This is the secondary, the great, the main End of our Being, to enjoy God for ever; to be eternally happy in Heaven, in the immediate Vision and Fruition of Almighty God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant; in the Company of Blessed Angels and Spirits of just Men made perfect, World without end.

Having thus represented unto them that Life which becomes a reasonable christian Man, I took occasion, in applying this Doctrine, to show them, what an irregular, vicious, abominable and corrupted Life they had led, contrary to the Light and Law of Nature, to all Revelation, and especially to our most holy Christian Faith; and therefore I exhorted them to renew themselves by a sincere Repentance, to turn unto God with their whole Hearts, to put on firm Resolutions of new Obedience, and to employ the few remaining Moments of their time in fearing, praising, and loving God, which Duties they had neglected in the preceding Part of their Lives, and which Negligence, to their Grief, Sorrow and Perplexity, had now expos’d them to all those miserable Misfortunes, Calamities and Inconveniences which they were lying under.

I likewise expos’d to them the Evil of Theft and Robbery, how contrary it was to, and how destructive of all human Society and Conversation; and therefore the Laws of all well-ordered Kingdoms and Commonwealths had found it necessary to enact Penalties against those who commit such Crimes; and how fatal it was in its Consequences, as being commonly attended with Murder, which one of themselves, (viz. Past) had been guilty of in one of his wicked Adventures, as he himself declared.

I endeavour’d also to instil into them some Knowledge of the Christian Sacraments, by showing how proper it was to participate in Christ’s Body and Blood, by receiving the Blessed Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, as a good mean to dispose and prepare them for a better World.

While many such Exhortations were given, all of them behav’d with Decency and Gravity; Past, Andrews, and Brown, al. Burrard, made regular Responses; Edwards and Dale could not read, but were quiet and attentive; Thomas Smith was opprest with Sickness, but otherwise carried himself well; Jane French came to Chappel when she was able, and was apparently serious; Faxton never came to Chappel, not being able to rise from his Bed, by reason of excessive Sickness: When I first visited him, he heard nothing; so after I had prayed for him, I was oblig’d to go away without getting Speech of him; but when he recovered his Senses, he declar’d himself penitent, and was very desirous of Prayers and Admonitions.

These three, who were sick in the Cells, when they were visited, they express’d no small Concern and Penitence; the rest did not seem so affected, as might be thought necessary; only Andrews, in coming to and going from Chappel, and in the Cells, after the Dead Warrant came out, cried and wept very much; but whether out of a sincere Repentance, or Fear of Death, we leave it to the Readers to judge upon.

Upon Friday, the 3d of March, 1731, the Report of the said 8 Malefactors was made to his Majesty in Council; when Edward Dell alias Dale, of the Liberty of the Tower, for breaking and entering the House of John Davis, and taking from thence a silk Hankerchief value 3 s. on the 11th of February about eight at Night; and Jane, alias Catherine French, for stealing 7 Moidores, 3 Broad-pieces, 2 Guineas, 2 Gold Rings, value 20 s 2 Handkerchiefs, value 3 s. and 2 Tin Canisters, value 18 d. the Money and Goods of John Smith, February the 7th, receiv’d his Majesty’s most gracious Reprieve: The other six, viz. Thomas Smith, Thomas Faxton, Thomas Past, Thomas Edwards, Thomas Andrews, and Samuel Burrard were order’d for Execution.

I. George Brown, alias Samuel Burrard, alias Johnson, (whose true Name as he said was Chairman Borrowstown) was indicted, for that he, in the 3d Year of his present Majesty, was ordered for Transportation, and that he did return before the Expiration of seven Years.

George Brown, alias Samuel Burrard, near 22 Years of Age, as he said, of honest respected Parents, born in the City of Bath, though afterwards his Father liv’d in Bristol; had good Education at School in reading English, in Latin, Writing, Arithmetick, Book-keeping, &c. to fit him for Business. When of Age, he was put on Board a Man of War to train him for the Sea, and there he served three Years with Approbation; and afterwards he serv’d in inferiour Stations in other King’s Ships, but had not patience to wait for Preferment: He also went some Voyages in Merchant-men, and at times had been over great Part of America and the West Indies, and at many other Places of the World; but he was naturally of too roving a Disposition, to keep one constant and honest Employment, being the most avow’d Imposter, Cheat, and Lyar that ever was born; so that it is a great Question, if any of the Accounts he gave of himself be true, since he brought himself into such a gross Habit of Lying, that he could scarcely speak a true Word, as he himself did own, and as I found out in some Instances. His Father observing his wicked and vicious Temper, advised him to go in the Dutch East India Service; but he said he lov’d the Air of Old England best, and that he always thought that the properest Place for the Scene of his Rogueries. However, he gave the old Man the Slip, and went a Voyage to Guinea and the West Indies; and when he came home, his next Voyage was to Turky; and, as he said, he had not been in London above two or three Days before he was taken up for returning from Transportation. He said also, he was in a fair Way to get a Ship trading to the Mediterranean or Turky, if he had been at Liberty. He likewise said, that he had served as Master of a Sloop to Boloign in Normandy; and that he was Mate of a Sloop laden with Salt, which went to Cromarty-Firth in the North of Scotland; and that at one time or other he had been over most of South and North Britain, having visited most of the eminent Cities and Towns, as Edinburgh, York, Leith, &c. so that it may be thought he had more Business by Land than by Sea, and that, according to the Accounts he gave of himself, he must have been some Years older than he gave out.

As to the Fact of which he was Convicted, he denied that he took any such Coat as they swore to, and as to the Horse he was taken up for, he said he was Lame and could not carry him out of the Way, and that he only left him with a Black-Smith to be shoed, and that upon calling for him they got him again: Otherwise he own’d that he was transported, but that he made his Escape and never went Abroad. The Cause of his Transportation was, as he said, the Pawning of the Pinnate of a King’s Ship in the River for 2 or 3 Pots of Beer, but he was so noted for lying, that he scarce knew how to speak a true Word: so that if there be any inconsistence in his Accounts, it must be imputed to his Way of Speaking. He sadly lamented his unluckly Fate, alledging that he was of better Parents than ordinary, and saying that he particularly repented of his Disobedience to his Parents, and dispising his Father’s good Advice. He behav’d always very well in Chapel and professed a deep Penitence. He said that he was an unworthy Son of an Hon. Gentleman: I sent to some Persons in Town, who knew that Family, to enquire about the Truth of this; they told me, that they knew of no such Man; upon which I concluded that he had told a Lye: And upon questioning him he own’d the Same. He came once to a Publick House in Town very well dressed asking for Lodgings; the Master of the House straiten’d for Room, recommended him to the Company of another Gentleman: No sooner was the Gentleman Asleep but he stole his Breeches, slipt down Stairs, open’d a Sash Window, gutted the Breeches of a Silver Watch, 2 Guineas and other little Things he thought convenient for him, and then he went off. This Gentleman coming to Newgate-Prison knew him; but he denied all with a Face of impudence, and abus’d the Gentleman with saucy Words; although afterwards he own’d to me that it was all true. Two or three Days before he died, three Gentlemen came from Bromley in Kent, to inquire about a Silver Watch, a Cloak and some other Things; he gave them some Satisfaction, and told them were they might recover some of their Things, one of the Bromley Men said, if he had demanded it, he would have trusted him with 500, and another with 50 or 100l. so well did he Act the Impostor. His Way was to go finely drest, with silver or gold Lace upon his Cloaths, with a fine Sword, Wig, &c. mounted upon a fine Horse, and that only borrow’d to serve his Occasion, and then in strange Towns to insinuate himself into the Company of the Richest Gentlemen or Inhabitants, from whom by cunning and artifice coming to the Knowledge of their Circumstances, he often extorted and cheated them of large Sums of Money. He always pretended that he was of great Parents and had very good Relations, having a Stock of Impudence to personate from the Prince to the Beggar.

He appeared to have been a young Man capable of Business, but own’d that he was sunk in Vice; that he was rotten with the Foul Disease;* that he had been one of the most notorious Livers and Impostors ever was; so that he may be compar’d to one who is still a living Monument of Misery, for the innumerable Villanies and Impostures of his past Life. He said, that he was such a wicked and profligate Youth, that he died justly, and did not desire to live longer. He declar’d his Faith in Christ, that he repented of all his Sins, and died in Charity with all Men.

2. Thomas Edwards and Thomas Past were indicted for assaulting Edward Prior, Clerk, on the Highway, putting him Fear, and taking from him a Hat, value 15 s. a Hatband, value 1 s. 6 d. a silk Scarf, value 6 s. and 4 s. in Money, January 26.

Thomas Past, 23 Years of Age, of honest Parents in Twittenham, had Education at School in reading, writing and Accompts to fit him for Business, and was instructed in religious Principles. When of Age, his Father bred him to his own Business of making of Bricks ; when he was weary of this, he learned to be a Waterman, and he followed either of these Employments when he thought fit, but neither of them to any Purpose. He used to dress himself neat for a Man of his Station, and to go to Houses in the Mint, where he met with Companies of young Women, with whom and others he spent his Time in drinking and dancing. This Practice becoming habitual made him love Idleness, and was the Foundation of his utter Ruin and Destruction; for the Companions he met with in these ill Houses advised him to the Highway, and all Sorts of wicked Courses. For three Years past he was one of the most profligate and abandon’d Wretches in the World, having spent all the Day in drinking, whoring, and gaming, and the Night in going out upon his unlawful Purchases, minding nothing of Religion or any thing that was good. He exclaimed mightily against wicked Women, and blam’d them for his Misfortunes. He married two Wives, one in Twittenham and another in Town, with whom he cohabited of late, but neither of them own’d him under his last Calamity: Besides these, whom he called his Wives, he was familiar with great Numbers of other Women. He was one of the most notorious Street-Robbers, having committed, as he believ’d, above an hundred Street-Robberies. At length he was taken up, and admitted an Evidence against Yates and some others, who were executed last Year; and he was only let out of Prison, nine or ten Weeks ago, upon his Parents and Friends promising to send him forthwith to Sea, they having provided a Captain for that Purpose; but as his Parents and some of his nearest Relations were in a publick House, intending immediately to put him on board, he went to the Door, pretending to make Water, and ran away, and they never saw him again ’till after he was taken up and capitally convicted; when last Week his old Father and Aunt coming to see him, they cried out bitterly in a Flood of Tears, whilst he stood obdurate; and his Mother, as they told me, who made him her Fondling, and indulg’d him above all her other Children, is now turned almost crazy, and cannot come Abroad, being inconsolable with Grief. Being asked by one, how he could appear so hardened when his Father and Aunt were so greatly concern’d for him? he said, he had unspeakable Grief and Vexation upon his Mind, though he could not express it outwardly. He gave an Account of some of his Villanies in writing, the Substance of which is as follows.

His own Account in writing.

Being Apprentice, I went to London to receive my Christmas-Box: At Hammersmith I met with one Mary Monny, and staid with her about a Week. My Money being spent, I went home to my Master, who receiv’d me. A Fortnight after I went to her again, but my Father brought me to my Master, and then I consented to go to Sea, and went on board; but she coming down persuaded me to leave the Ship, which I did, and liv’d with her about half a Year: after this we married, and then I went on board again, and staid till the Ship was paid off. Coming home I ply’d to my Business half a Year, but my Master would employ me no longer. Coming to London, I lodg’d in the Mint, where I broke open a Box, and took away a Wig, but no more, though several other Things were in it; for my Heart failed me: Next I went over to Shoreditch, and got in with M. V. and then I went upon the Highway.

The first Robbery we did was beyond Newington, where we took from a Footman about 12 s. We Robbed also another Man and two Women. We met also with a Man near the same Place, and stopping him he run away; he that was with me said, Shoot him, I Shot at him, and am afraid I kill’d him. A great many Robberies we did that way. Between Islington and London, we Robbed a Brewer of 13 d. 1/2 d. but missed 15 Guineas, which we hear’d he had sow’d up in the Waste-band of his Breeches. On the other side of the Water, we Robbed a Man of 8 s. then I left that Partner, and got acquainted with William Yates and John Armstrong, and went out with them. We Robb’d a Coach beyond St. Giles’s-Pound, of 13 s. and a Gold Watch; and coming into Holbourn, we Rob’d another Coach, and stopped two more Coaches, but the People crying out, we were forced to run away; and then William B. was taken. William Yates and I went to Hockley in the Hole, where we stopp’d a Chariot and Four, and took from the Gentleman 4 s. a silver Watch and a silver hilted Sword; then I was taken up, and admitted Evidence against Yates, &c. when I got out again, I and another stopp’d and rob’d a Coach by Hogsdon. After which I was soon taken up, upon George Mason’s Information. After I got last out, I went with Tom P. and Thomas Edwards and James Triplam, and Rob’d a Squire of his Hat and Wigg, and snatch’d of Hats off of Mens Heads in the Streets, especially in Bishopsgate-street. We rob’d a Parson of 4 s. and his Hat and Scarf, for which I Die.

In Shore Ditch there I did Dwell,
Where many People knows me well;
In Brandy Shops I did use,
And lewd Women I did choose.
A wicked Sinner I have been,
In Whoring and in other things;
Two Wives I have been Married to,
Which now alas! does make me rue.
I freely forgive every Body,
And hope they will forgive me.

The Man whom he says he Shot at Newington, he said, that he heard that he died of his Wound; so that he was guilty of Murther, which troubled his Conscience very much; and he could not Die in Peace till he made Confession thereof; although he at first denied it to me, that he had ever been guilty that way. I exhorted him to Repent of that Sin in particular, and to pray to God, that he might be wash’d in the Blood of Jesus, which speaks better things than that of Abel; that all his Sins, particularly that of spilling innocent Blood might be Pardon’d. He declar’d his Faith in Christ, that he repented of all his Sins, and died in Peace with all the World.

3. Thomas Edwards, not full 16 Years of Age, Born in Spittle-Fields, of honest Parents; his Father left him young, and his Mother took care of his Education, but he was of such a perverse disposition, that, although they put him to School, he would learn nothing, and continu’d in great Ignorance of Christian Principles. They put him to a Weaver, which was his Father’s Trade, but not willing to follow that, they put him to another Business, which he likewise quickly left off, and took himself to Black-guarding, Picking, Stealing, Shop-lifting, Drinking, &c. And he also got in with some infamous Women, who were so base as to bear him Company, though he was but a Child, and to advise him to those wicked courses, which speedily brought him to the Halter. He lov’d to visit the Prisoners in Newgate, where he got acquainted with Past; and after he got last out of the Prison, when they met and drank together, Past advised young Edwards to go with them upon Street-Robberies. Edwards, void of all grace and virtue, and formerly accustom’d to nothing but Pilfering, Thieving, Shop-lifting, &c. and being a villain ingrain’d, readily complied with this hellish advice; and Providence favour’d him so far, that he was prevented from doing farther mischief, he being apprehended for the first and last Fact ever he did, which was the Robbing Mr. Prior the Minister; for which both Past and he were deservedly brought to conding Punishment. He was an obstinate, obdur’d Boy, and utterly corrupted in his Morals from the Cradle. Among other things he confessed, that he was a great Drinker of Drams, and that he was often in Company with lewd Women, both before he was taken up, and in the Prison before his Trial; and that he only delighted in the company of Whores, Thieves and Robbers, and shun’d the conversation of all good and virtuous People. He professed Penitence, and sometimes cried a little. He declared that he believ’d in Christ, and died in Peace with all Mankind.

4. Thomas Andrews, of Bishop’s-Gate, was Indicted for breaking and entering the House of John Wragg, and Stealing 8 Plates, value 9 s. 7 Dishes, value 14 s. a Tea-kettle, value 3 s. 3 brass Candlesticks, value 18 d. a Woman’s Cloak, a at, a Cloth-Coat, and other things, the Goods of John Wragg, the 17th of January last, about two in the Morning.
Thomas Andrews, 23 years of Age, of honest Parents in Shadwell-Parish, was educated at School to fit him for Business, and instructed in religious Principles. When of Age, he serv’d his Time honestly to a Glazier; and then kept a little Shop in that Parish, where the Neighbourhood look’d well upon him. Some time ago Drinking with some Soldiers, they persuaded him to take on. After this, he said, he never did more good, but gave up his Shop, and left that part of the Town. Meeting with a Country Girl, he fell in Love with her, and they agreed to Marry, and had a good Dinner provided; but the Morning of the intended Marriage Day, the Brides Mother came to Town and hurried away to New-Market; upon this disappointment, he made merry with his Friends, and Solemniz’d the nuptual Feast; but when he came to reflect on the affront he had met with, he turn’d quite crazy, and could not well apply himself (as he said) either to the Duty of a Soldier, or to his own employment. He once behaved undiscreetly to his Officer, but they looking upon him as little better than Mad, inflicted no punishment, but order’d him home to his Quarters. He said, that he never was a Thief nor Robber, although some of the evidence against him declar’d, that they suspected him Guilty of Pilfering and indirect Practices, before he committed the Burglary for which he died. He own’d the Fact of which he was convicted, as it was Sworn against him, and alledg’d that he had a mind to make away with himself, but rather chose to commit a Robbery or Burglary, which was sure way to get himself rid of the World by the Hands of another.

As to the murthering of his Uncle, he declared he never intended any such Thing; and if he spoke any Word to that Purpose, that he was certainly out of his Senses and knew nothing of it. Notwithstanding his pretended Weariness of Life, yet he often cried and wept like a Child when he saw he must die; and being asked the Reason, he could give no Account thereof, but that it was a terrible Thing to look Death in the Face. He behaved always very well in Chappel, and was apparently devout and serious; he owned that he had been a great Sinner in whoring, drinking, and Company-keeping, though not so desperately wicked, as commonly these abandon’d Wretches are: He declar’d that he believ’d in Jesus Christ his only Saviour; that he sincerely repented of all his Sins, and forgave all Injuries done him, as he expected Forgiveness from God.

5. Thomas Faxton and Thomas Smith of Hackney were indicted for assaulting William Davis on the Highway, putting him in Fear, and taking from him a Hat, value 3 s. and 9 d. half-penny in Money, the 30th of January last.

Thomas Smith, 19 Years of Age, of honest Parents, his Father dying and leaving him young, the Mother Educated him at School, but he being a vicious, sensless and cross Boy, did little or no good that Way, only when he pleased, he sold any small Thing, or went about doing any little Matter for his Mother. When of Age, his Mother put him to a Stocking-Weaver, but he not liking that Trade, soon wearied of it, vex’d and teas’d his poor Mother and left it. Then she bound him to a Fish-monger, with him he stay’d for some Time, and then his Master dying, his Mistress resolv’d to turn him over to another, but he by no Means could be persuaded to engage with a second Master, but went to Sea on Board a Man of War, was in the Fleet at Spithead, and stay’d out about three Years, having serv’d with Approbation, till such Time as the Ship was discharg’d. Then coming home, he went no more Aboad but stay’d with his Mother, and went about the Streets with a Basket, selling Pololian Puddings or Sasuages, which the Mother made for Sale. This Way he got his Bread and might have done very well, till some more settl’d Business had presented, but being of a vicious Disposition, and in his straggling Way, meeting with all sorts of idle, wicked People, he could not be content, but though beholding the miserable Fate of vile Miscreants every Day, yet he resolv’d to forsake all industry and virtue, and to follow thieving, stealing and robbing on the Highway and Streets in the City. In Prosecution of this villainous Purpose, falling into the Company of Thomas Faxton new come from Sea, they contracted an intimacy, and keeping themselves in a Merry Mood, they resolv’d to go a robbing and stopping People upon the Highway: Accordingly being a little elevated with Gin, they went out with a desperate Resolution of attacking the first Person they met with, and in the Hackney Road, they first happen’d to re-encounter with William Davis the Prosecutor, whom Smith commanded Faxton to fall upon with a drawn Knife; Faxtons Courage failing, or his Conscience checking him, upon undertaking such a desperate Attempt, Smith swore furiously at him, D-d him if he did not stop that Man, he would stab him Dead, having a sharp Knife ready drawn in his Hand for that Purpose, with which he threaten’d him; Faxton hovering, and in doubt what to do, yet in accomplishment of their wicked Resolution, and perhaps fearing that Murder might fall out between themselves, he stop’d the Man, and swore he would cut his Throat, or kill him Dead, if he did not immediately deliver, while Smith was standing by ready to receive, or take from him, what Money or Goods Davis had about him. Mr. Davis forc’d to obey, gave Smith a silver Groat, and Five-pence Half-penny, and then he took his Hat and gave him another worth nothing. This happened about Eleven o’Clock, or towards Midnight, yet William Davis meeting with some People on his Way, they pursued and took them immediately. Faxton confess’d before the Justice, hoping to be allow’d as an Evidence against Smith; on which Account, when they were going to Newgate, Smith, said, you whiddling Dog, now you have hang’d yourself and me too, but if I had a Knife, I’d cut your Throat. At an other Time, Smith expressed himself that if he were hang’d, he (meaning Faxton) should be hang’d too. And when Faxton confessed before the Justice Smith clasp’d his Hands together and said, D-m his precious Eyes and Limbs, – that Word has hang’d us both, but I won’t be hang’d alone. If I had a Knife, I would stick you this Minute, and will do it before next Sessions. Smith also said to the Prosecutor, Old Man if you’ll give me a Groat in Half-pence, I’ll tell you where you may find your silver Groat. Mr. Davis gave him what he demanded, and by his Directions he found the silver Groat at a Place in Hackney. This is the first and last Highway Robbery either of them ever committed. Faxton alledg’d that he was perswaded by Smith to go upon the Highway. I ask’d him if it was so? He called him a lying Rogue, and said they were both equally culpable. Both of them took up with Women the Night before this happen’d, and after one Nights enjoyment of their sweet Choice, they were both taken up, and their Mistresses saw them no more. They were provided with no Weapons but Knives, yet if they had liv’d, they were fully resolved to continue in the wicked Courses they had begun. Smith was very ignorant of Religion; I endeavour’d what I could to instruct him, but he was so sick and deaf, that it cannot be suppos’d, he could attain much Knowledge. He behav’d always very well both in Chapel, and when I visited him in the Cells. He had been a disobedient, cross, wicked, vicious and evil-dispos’d Boy. He declar’d that he hop’d for Salvation through the Mercy of God in Christ; that he was heartily sorry for, and sincerely repented of all the Sins of his Life; and that he was in perfect Peace with all Men.

6. Thomas Faxton, about 19 Years of Age, of honest Parents in Town, who gave him very good Education at School, in reading, writing, and Cyphering, to fit him for Business; and got him instructed in Christian Principles. When he was of Age, they bound him to a Sea Captain, whom he serv’d with Approbation for some Years, and then he went some Voyages to Sea, in Ships of War, and Merchant-men to different Places. All this time, as his Father-in-law, and Mother told me, he was still a good Child, and carried himself decently both towards his Parents, Relations and Others. Being lately come from Sea, and having Lodgings in White-Chapel, or Shoreditch Parish, he met with Thomas Smith in Brandy Shops, where they contracted their Acquaintance; and Smith gave those wicked Advices to Faxton, as is above Narrated, which suddenly brought them both to a speedy Destruction. Thomas Faxton was grievously Afflicted with Sickness, both before, and after his Conviction; so that he was never able to come to Chapel, nor to rise off of his Couch, all the short time they were under Sentence, till the Morning they died, when they carried, or help’d him up and down Stairs. As I visited him in the Cell, he could not move, was Senseless and could hear nothing, till within a day or two of his Death, he recovered a little, and seem’d somewhat better; then he could speak but little, and all the Account he gave of himself was, that he had not been so Wicked, as a number of other ill-dispos’d young Men are; and that he had always been Industrious in following his Employment; honest in all his Dealings, and respectful to his Parents; and that he went to Church sometimes, and was desirous to live in the fear of God: And the only thing Ruin’d him was, his meeting with a Company of base Valets in drinking Places, and Thomas Smith advising him to engage in such desperate Courses, as we have formerly given Account. As to the Robbery and Circumstances thereof, and their Amours preceeding the same, as is above mentioned, he could not deny the Truth thereof. He acknowledg’d, that he had been too negligent of God and Religion, and that therefore the Lord had in Justice Afflicted him for his first Crime, which prevented a great many Villainies and abominable Crimes, he probably might have committed. He appear’d to be a young Fellow of some good Dispositions, but was at once Ruin’d by bad Company. He seem’d to be a true Penitent, and declar’d his Faith in God’s Mercy through Christ: That he was heartily grieved for all the Sins of his Life, particularly those heinous Crimes for which he Suffer’d; and that he died in Peace with all the World.

At the Place of EXECUTION.

They all appear’d apparently, in a devout Manner. Thomas Past, upon his entering into the Cart at Newgate, addressed himself to the numerous Spectators in the Street, who were waiting their coming out, and earnestly desir’d all young People to take example from him, who was now to Suffer most justly and deservedly, for the unaccountable naughtiness of his Life; for his notorious disobedience to indulgent Parents, whose favours he had made an occasion of habituating himself to vile Company, which afterwards brought him into the Commission of those Crimes, for which his Days were in the Prime cut short. At the place, he own’d that he had been a most flagitious Sinner, but hop’d he had made his peace with God. When Prayers and all were over, he spoke to the Multitude, to the same purpose as before.

And last of all, he deliver’d a Paper clos’d up to some Person, but it was not to be open’d, till they came to the House where they carried his Body. Thomas Edwards, own’d himself to have been one of the most Villainous, naughty Boys that ever was. He wept and cry’d in great plenty, as he had frequently done before. Mr. Brown, said he had been a most wicked young Man, but that he sincerely repented of all his Sins, and hop’d for mercy from God, through the merits of our blessed Redeemer. Andrews, Smith and Faxton, had no more to add to their former Confessions, only that they sincerely Repented, and were in Peace with all Men. They went off the Stage, crying to God to have mercy upon them; and that the Lord Jesus would be pleas’d to receive their Spirits, Amen.

This is all the Account given by me,

JAMES GUTHRIE,
Ordinary of Newgate.

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This Day is publish’d,
(By Order of the Lord Mayor)

THE Proceedings at the Sessions of the Peace, and Oyer and Terminer for the City of London and County of Middlesex, held at the Old Baily, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the last Week in February: Containing, the Tryal of Mr. Atkinson for the Murder of his Mother, by flinging her down Stairs, (which Tryal lasted four Hours, the Evidences on both Sides being so very long) with the Tryals of the eight Persons that receiv’d Sentence of Death, viz. Thomas Edwards and Thomas Past, for robbing the Rev. Mr. Prior in the Street; Thomas Smith and Thomas Faxton, for robbing Mr. Davis on the Highway; Jane French, for Stealing out of Mr. Smith’s House 14 l. 10 s. in Money, and two Gold Rings; George Brown (with two or three alias’s to his Name) for returning from Transportation; Thomas Andrews and Edward Dale, alias Dell, for Burglary. Also the Tryals of James Tripland, for a Street-Robbery; and John Tapper for the Murder of John Cannon; with the several other Tryals of the Sessions.

Printed for J. Roberts in Warwick-Lane. Price 6 d.

Where may be had,
The former Sessions Papers of this Mayoralty. The First Contains, The Remarkable Tryals of Seven Street-Robbers, all (young Fellows) and Three notorious House-Breakers, (who were all Executed at Tyburn) also the Tryal of Duvries the Jew, for Forging an Acceptance to a Bill of Exchange for 450 l. on Peter Victorin, (for which he was sentenc’d to pay a Fine of 200 l. to stand in the Pillory at the Royal Exchange, to be Imprison’d for a Year, and to give Security for his good Behaviour for two Years more) with the Tryal of Cherry, for the Murder of Peter Longworth, in the Artillery Ground; Of Francis Hitchcock, a Hackney Coachman , for the Murder of Daniel Hickson; Of Ellis, the Turnkey of the Gatehouse, for a Rape; and of Mr. Miller, for having two Wives; wherein is shewn the true State of the Fleet Marriages, and their Clandestine Manner of doing them; with their Method of Granting Certificates, and other Trials.

Also, The Second Sessions Paper, Part I. Containing the Trial of Middleton, for stealing Leaden Coffins, and Brass Handles and Nails from Coffins, in Bow Church Vault, &c. Also the Trial of Robert Hallam, for the barbarous Murder of his own Wife, by flinging her out of the Window, when big with Child, (for which he was Executed.) Of Corbet Vezey, for locking his Wife up in a Garret, upwards of a Twelve Month, whereby she was starved to Death: And the Trial of George Scroggs, who was Executed at Tyburn, for robbing the Rev. Mr. Bellinger on the Highway, at Tottenham, and other Trials. Price 6 d.
Likewise, The Second Part, which contains a remarkable Trial of Conway and Quan, for a Street-Robbery in Fleet-Street; of Elizabeth Caton, for stealing a Gold Watch from Benj. Chaplin, be having pick’d her up. Also, the Trial of Peter Noake, for the Murder of M. Turner, by shooting him into the Head, at the King’s-Arms Tavern in the Strand, with other Trials. Price 6 d.

N.B. These Trials are taken in a fuller and larger Manner than ever any Trials yet were done in the Sessions-Paper; therefore wou’d be of great Use to Lawyers, &c. to collect together, and bind up at the Year’s End.


An ADDRESS to the GENTLEMEN, By Dr. GREGORIUS, (Noted for his Skill in Surgery and Anatomy, as well as Physick and Chymistry.)

Who having observ’d the many specious Advertisements in the News Papers, of one and another Single Medicine, said to cure all Sorts of Gleets, and Seminal Weaknesses, which their Authors confound together, as if there were no Difference between them, has been prevail’d upon, by his Friends, in this Publick Manner, to inform, and undeceive those who have unwarily been brought into either, (or both together, as it sometimes happens, of these perplexing, draining Imbecilities.

That where the Gleeting is only from a Laxity of the Glands in the Urethra, what leaks and drills away ie sensibly from them, through the Urinary Passage, and pots or smears the Linnen, although it may be yellowish yet being without Pain, or any ill-condition’d Disorder, is no more than Mucus, and must be cured one Way.

And where it is a Seminal Weakness, that which slips away involuntarily, though it be thin, watery, and unelaborate, either by itself, in the Day-time, or a Nights too frequently, or profusely in the Sleep, or with the Upine, or upon Stool, whether from an Acrimony, or Derravity of the Juices, or by over straining the Spermatick Vessels, or both, is Seed, and is to be remedied as nother, inasmuch, as that Medicine which will cure the one, will not cure the other, and (vice versa) as every Practitioner that knows the Nature, Make, and different Situation of the Parts ministring to Generation, will allow; and that for want of this due Distinction, and right Application, it is, that so many People are disappointed of Cure; and by Continuance of the Gleetings, are drain’d, as they are, into Impotencies, or Infertilities, which as it hinders their Marying, gives them great Anxiety, and the more, when attended, as in some, with Pain and Weakness in the Back and Reins; or as, in others, with Difficulty, or Dribblings of the Urine in, or after making it, which at Length comes away either foul, sharp, slimy, &c. with oftentimes much worse disorders.

As this is so in Fact, and the Doctor well known to have experienc’d, in numberless Instances, the noble and neverfailing Effects of Two particular Balsamick Electuaries, which he spared no Pains or Expence to find out, the one to restrain the Mucus, and the other, the involuntary shedding of the Seed, by their respectively bracing up the Fibres, and restoring the Tone and Springiness of the relaxed Glands and Seminals, invigorating the Genitals, and fertilizing the Seed, was also perswaded to recommend their Use, that those, who, for a long while together, had tried Others Medicines for the same Weaknesses, and by their not succeeding, concluded themselves incurable, might be convinc’d by their speedy Amendment and Recovery by these, that it was not the Incurability of their Malady, but the wrong Method they had been in for Cure,

But yet, in either of the said Two Weaknesses, or where it happens that they are complicated, and have proceeded, either from Self-Abuses, excessive, or over straining Coitions, or from over Purgations in Venereal Cures, or any other Cause, as a Flux of Humours generally falls down and settles upon all weakened Parts, rendering them still the weaker, and these tender nervous Parts more especially: The first Step to be taken in order to make way for a regular and substantial Cure, (and without which it is not to be accomplished) must, in a pecular Manner, be to correct, and gently divert those Humours; and the only Medicine he could ever rely upon to do this effectually, that is to overcome the Cause, and introduce the Cure of the most difficult of these Weaknesses, (even where the Vessels had been obstructed, Manhood greatly enfeebl’d, and in some, wel igh extinct, or at least not able to touch a Woman, but ad primum labiorum contactum, semen emittunt;) has been his Preparing Pills, of which when the Patient has taken only three Doses, at due Distances he is to be gin (and not before) with one or t’other (or both together, as the Case may chance to be) of the said Two-Electuaries, which how to distinguish in, and how to proceed with, the printed Directions, wrap’d up with the Pills, do so plainly shew, that no Persons, even of the meanest Capacities, can be any Loss to understand them; but will, by their observing the easy Rules therein laid down, have their Blood and whole Body, well cleans’d and purified, the debilated Parts strengthened, and by Degrees, compleatly, and lastingly invigorated and restored, so as to be enabled quickly, and safely to Marry, without the least Need of any further, or other Advice or Medicine.

They are to be had, Price 7 s. 6 d. the Box, sealed up, ready to be deliver’d to any Messenger, upon only asking for, A Box of Pills, at Mr. Payn’s, a Bookseller, at the Crown, near Ivy Lane, in Paternoster Row; and will also; upon being taken as the Directions show, certainly and quickly Cure all fresh Injuries.

Note, The said Two Electuaries, viz, Numb, 1 for Gleets, and Numb. 2 for Seminal and Genital Weaknesses, are to be had there also Price 7 s 6 d each Pot and are likewise sealed up and to be asked for by Electuary Number 1, or Electuary Number 2.

Electuarium Mirable; or the Admirable Electuary, which infallibly cures all Degrees and Symptoms of the Secret Disease, with more Ease, Speed, and Safety, than any Medicine yet published. Any old Running, &c. tho’ of several Years standing, whether occasion’d by an Overstrain, Weakness of the Seminals or the Relicts of a former Infection, is certainly cured in a short Time, without a Minutes Confinement, Suspicion, or the Use of Astringents; being a Medicine so wonderfully pleasant and easie in its Operation, that the nicest Palate, or weakest Constitution may take it with Delight. Two Pots are generally sufficient to compleat Cure in most Cases, To be had (with Directions at large) holy of the Author, Dr. C A M, a graduate Physician, who has published it Thirty Years, and is constantly to be advised with at his House, at the Golden-Ball in Bow-Church-yard, Cheap side, at Half a Guinea the Pot.

N.B. Since nothing is more requisite, in the Cure of any Distemper, than for a Patient to have free access to his Physician; therefore beware of buying Medicines from Toy-shops, Book-sellers-shops, &c. the Authors of which are always conceal’d, and not to be Spoke with, on any Occasion: And tho’ by their specious Pretences) you are promised a cheap Cure, you’ll certainly find it very Dear in the End.

Verbum sat sapienti.

See his Books lately publish’d, viz. His Rational and Useful Account of the Secret Disease. Price 1 s. His Practicae Treatise; or Second Thoughts on the Consequences of the Venereal Disease. In Three Parts. viz. I. On the Simple Gonorrhaea Gleets and other Weaknesses, whether from Venereal Embraces Self-pollution, improperly call’d Onanism, or Natural Imbecility. II. On the Virulent Gonorrhaea, or Clap. III. On the Venereal Lues, or Grand Pox, &c. Price 2 s. His Essay on th Rheumatism and Gout. Price 6 d. His Discourse on Convulsions. Price 6 d. And his Vindication of the Practice of Salivating. Price 1 s. All sold by G. Strathan in Cornhil, E. Midwinter in St. Paul’s Church-yard, and at the Author’s House before-mentioned.


BOOKS Printed and Sold by John Applebee, in Bolt Court, near the Leg Tavern in Fleet-Street.

I. The Life of Catherine Hayes (who was Executed at Tyburn on the 9th of May, 1726, for the barbarous Murder of her Husband) giving a true and perfect Account of her Parentage, Birth, Education, &c. from the Time of her Birth, to the Hour of her Death: Together with every minute Circumstance relating to that horrid Affair. To which is added, the Lives of Thomas Wood and Thomas Billings, the two Persons concern’d with her in committing the said Murder; the Whole taken from the Mouths of the several Criminals themselves, during their Confinement in Newgate. Price Six-pence.

II. An Account of all the Robberies, Escapes, &c. of John Sheppard, giving an exact Description of the manner of his wonderful Escape from the Castle in Newgate, and of the Methods he took afterwards for his Security. Written by himself during his Confinement in the middle Stone-Room, after his being re-taken in Drury-Lane. To which is prefix’d, a true Representation of his Escape from the Condemn’d Hold, curiously engraven on a Copper Plate. Price Six-pence.

III. A true and exact Account of the Lives of Edward Burnworth, alias Frasier, William Blewit, Thomas Berry, and Emanuel Dickenson, who were Executed at Kingston on the 6th of April 1726, for the barbarous Murder of Thomas Ball in St. George’s Fields. Price Six-pence.

IV. A genuine Narative of the memorable Life and Actions of John Dyer, a notorious Highwayman and House breaker, who was Executed at Tyburn on Fryday the 21st of November, 1729, Price Six-pence.

* “The foul disease” is most easily presumed to be syphilis, but Kevin Patrick Siena cautions against glib retroactive application of modern diagnoses. “One single diagnotic term — ‘the venereal disease’ — served to describe a host of conditions that we now separate. There was one recognized venereal disease, the pox, which had a plethora of ‘symptoms,’ which included conditions like gonorrhea. It is impossible to say what individual patients ‘actually’ suffered from … [the term syphilis] was hardly ever used in the period. Far more common were the terms ‘the veneral disease,’ ‘lues venerea,’ ‘the pox,’ ‘the French Disease’ or ‘the foul disease,’ all of which stood for the same single disease-concept.”

Part of the Themed Set: The Ordinary of Newgate.

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

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845: The 42 Martyrs of Amorium

8 comments March 6th, 2016 Headsman

March 6 is the feast date of the 42 Martyrs of Amorium, the day in the year 845 when they submitted to the caliphate’s executioners in preference to conversion.

Though they were people of rank in their lifetimes, most of them are not known to posterity by name or even position. Devotionally, they govern no special sphere of intercession; iconographically, they have no special device. When depicted (itself unusual) it is simply as a gaggle of generic courtiers.*

It seems a fitting fate for mere individuals ground up between states and faiths; even so, their weedy tombs mark a fork on the path trod by Byzantium.

The 42 earned their martyrs’ crowns at the end of seven years’ imprisonment, so it is to the Byzantine war with the Abbasid Caliphate in 837-838 that we must return to unravel their story. This war was itself merely the resumption of a conflict that had been ongoing between the civilizations for two centuries since Arab conquerors emerged from the desert to found an empire.

With the connivance, encouragement, or cajoling of anti-caliphate rebel Babak Khorramdin, the young Byzantine emperor Theophilos broke four years of tense peace with destructive effect in 837, ravaging the Upper Euphrates.

“He captured and burned the fortress of Zapetra, putting to death the male population and carrying off the women and children,” John Bury wrote in A History of the Eastern Empire from the fall of Irene to the Accession of Basil I. Upon his return to the mandatory official Triumph, “[t]roops of children with garlands of flowers went out to meet the Emperor as he entered the capital. In the Hippodrome he competed himself in the first race, driving a white chariot and in the costume of a Blue charioteer;** and when he was crowned as winner, the spectators greeted him with the allusive cry, ‘Welcome, incomparable champion!'” Because the one thing 200 years of engaging the Arabs in back-and-forth raids, counterattacks, and suits for peace had taught Byzantium was that victories would surely prove durable.

In truth this war was also politics by other means — domestic politics, that is.

Theophilos really did aspire to incomparable championhood of something far more important than the position of the frontier: in matters religious, he was a stringent iconoclast and he meant to win Christendom firmly over to this philosophy.

The century-old schism within the communion — pitting iconoclasts, like Theophilos, who condemned as idolatrous the veneration of religious imagery against iconophiles or iconodules who embraced it — itself likely owed much to the stunning march of Arab arms and the wound Caliphate success had inflicted on a state and faith that had formerly presumed itself hegemonic. It was certainly the case that Roman superstition† perceived in the battlefield results of imperial adherents to the rival icon’isms a going divine referendum. God says go with whichever icon policy starts beating Islam!

Well might the triumphant Theophilos preen, then — right before the fall, like the Good Book says. Gibbon charged that Theophilos “was rash and fruitless” and “from his military toils he derived only the surname of the Unfortunate.”

The caliph al-Mu’tasim counterattacked the Unfortunate ruthlessly in 838, invading Anatolia in two huge columns that converged on a major city, Amorium.‡ There, they penetrated the city’s walls and put her to the sack — slaughtering unnumbered thousands and carrying away most survivors as slaves, outrageously unmolested by the chastisement of any Byzantine army.


12th century illustration from the Madrid Skylitzes, an edition of the chronicle written by 11th century Greek historian John Skylitzes. The volume was produced in Sicily; it’s got “Madrid” in the name because that’s where the sole surviving copy of it resides today.

Byzantium might have been fortunate on this occasion that, before he could extend his conquest, al-Mu’tasim’s domestic politics promptly recalled him to the caliphate to deal with plots against his own throne. But the raid devastated the martial credibility of Theophilos the incomparable champion, and with it the credibility of iconoclasm. Nor can there have been much fortune reckoned by the thousands of prisoners marched out of the smouldering ruins of Amorium to the new Arab capital Samarra — among whom we find this post’s titular 42 martyrs.

They were, or at least seemed, the crown jewels among the captives, meaning the ones with cash value. Constantinople and Samarra would engage in periodic negotiations over the next several years to exchange them; the Caliphate’s insistence on obtaining for their return a treasure equal to the cost it had incurred to attack Amorium in the first place put an unbridgeable gap between the sides.

The nameless and rankless commoners among them went to their nameless destinies; undoubtedly their experience was cruel and many died or were killed, but for those who endured the tribulations there was a return to hearth and home in a prisoner exchange in 841.

For the VIPs, deliverance sank into the Mesopotamian mud.

Both Theophilos and al-Mu’tasim died in 842 and sometime around there the respective empires seem to have given up trying to resolve the impasse about the Amorium ransom. A few more years on with no apparent relief forthcoming from the annoyance of maintaining these now-useless prisoners of war, someone in Samarra decided to dispose of them with the ultimatum.

Their martyrs’ glory assured their afterlife in Byzantine religious propaganda. Yes, these two Christian sects had made martyrs of one another within the empire. But iconoclasm really hinged on one crucial argument fatally undone by the 42 martyrs: victory. The pro-icon emperors from 797 to 813 had been associated with retreat and humiliation;§ one had even been killed on campaign in the Balkans leaving the Bulgar king Krum to fashion the imperial skull into a ceremonial goblet. That the iconoclast rulers of the succeeding generation had at least stabilized the situation was their ultimate scoreboard taunt. Amorium dispelled that glow of providential favor, especially when followed by the years-long abandonment of that razed city’s noble hostages to the heathen dungeon.

Little could the monk Euodios know that his iconoclasm-tweaking hagiography of these martyrs would prove a redundant step.

The late Theophilos had only an infant son, so governance after his death fell to a regency led by the empress Theodora. Despite her dead husband’s scruples, Theodora didn’t mind an icon one bit, and restored icon veneration to a favor it would never again lose for the six centuries remaining to Byzantium.

* See for example the leftmost group on the second row in this image. (Located here)

** One of the principal charioteering teams/factions that had, centuries before, nearly overthrown Justinian and Theodora.

† Among the Romans themselves for whom supernatural causation was an assumed fact on the ground, superstitio had a more attenuated meaning, contrasting with religio. That is far afield for this post; I use the term here advisedly from a post-Enlightenment cosmology.

‡ Amorium is no more today: just a ruin buried under a village. But not because of this siege.

§ Charlemagne being crowned “Holy Roman Emperor” in 800 was also a gesture of disregard for a weakened (and at that moment, female-ruled) Byzantium, which dignified itself the Roman Empire despite having long since abandoned Rome itself.

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Entry Filed under: Beheaded,Byzantine Empire,Caliphate,Early Middle Ages,Execution,God,History,Iraq,Known But To God,Martyrs,Mass Executions,No Formal Charge,Nobility,Politicians,Religious Figures,Soldiers

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2014: Amin Abdullah Mohammed Al-Mu’alimi, an American spy in the Arabian peninsula

Add comment March 6th, 2015 Headsman

On this day last year, Al-Qaeda’s Ansar Al-Sharia group (Partisans of Islamic Law) executed an alleged American spy in the town of Shahr, in southeast Yemen.

Al-Qaeda also released a video (titled “An American Spy in the Arabian Peninsula”) in which a man calling himself Amin Abdullah Mohammed Al-Mu’alimi denounced himself as a spy and saboteur, who had placed tracking chips that enabled the U.S. to target militants with drones.

His bullet-riddled body was found lashed to the goalposts on a dirt football pitch.

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Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Borderline "Executions",Espionage,Execution,Gibbeted,Mature Content,No Formal Charge,Ripped from the Headlines,Shot,Spies,Yemen

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1868: Joseph Eisele, honest, kind-hearted triple murderer

Add comment March 6th, 2014 Headsman

On this date in 1868, several thousand folk braved knee-deep mud to converge on Parkersburg, West Virginia for the last public hanging in Wood County.

Joseph Eisele was a German immigrant who worked at a furniture shop. He had, he would admit, manifested a predilection for crime from his childhood in Germany, on account of which he’d begun going by “John Schafer” once he pulled up stakes for America.

“Joseph Eisele is five feet nine inches high, stoutly built, somewhat round shouldered, and weighs one hundred and seventy pounds,” ran the introduction to Joseph Eisele’s own confessional pamphlet about Joseph Eisele.* “He is thirty-four years of age, with a complexion quite fair and florid, his light brown hair is worn short, and his beard shaved clean, except a light moustache, which gracefully shades a slightly sensual, though well shaped mouth, his nose is straight, well cut and proportioned, his gray eyes are somewhat deep set, and of a mingled expression of sadness and timidity, not in keeping with the open, genial brow, square jaw, strong chin, and other features of his manly and prepossessing countenance.”

It’s a description aiming to suggest a physiognomy of queer contrasts, mirroring the cold-blooded series of crimes committed by a seemingly conscientious and thoughtful man.

Even while “prowling around nightly with his terrible hatchet in his pocket, seeking more victims, he was sustaining a character for industry, frugality, temperance, honesty, kind-hearted liberality, and all the house-hold and domestic virtues, together with a dignity, modesty and intelligence rare among men in his walk of life,” a correspondent mused to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Eisele murdered three men, Joseph Lilienthal, Aloys Ulrich, and Rudolph Tsutor, and robbed them, and did so with a carelessness for his own safety that would astonish once it became public. Lilienthal he killed in daylight behind an occupied boarding house. Ulrich’s distinctive possessions were sold off with little attempt to disguise them. Tsutor Eisele slew at his home at 10 in the morning, miraculously without being observed coming or going. Then the killer paid out his debts that same day.

Since it looks like Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t be on this case, it would be up to Eisele’s prey to help themselves.

Finally in early January 1868, Eisele clobbered a creditor across the neck in an attempt to take his fourth victim. John White fought back with “almost superhuman strength and courage” as his attacker later put it admiringly. The melee careened out into the street where finally, finally, Eisele was detected in his crime. He managed to flee the scene as bystanders came running, but was arrested shortly after.

At this point, the dignity, modesty, and intelligence stuff resurfaced.

Eisele’s trial began at 2 p.m. on January 20, and so ready was the defendant to expiate his guilt that the verdict was in the books before dinner. In a prepared statement that a translator read from Eisele’s native German (which also begged his adoptive countrymen not to think ill of Germans), Eisele foreswore any defense.

I want no witness and no defense, and can not really give any reason for my misdeeds, except that the evil spirit led me into temptation, and I could not resist it. I am willing to sacrifice my blood and life for my crimes, and hope the Almighty God will forgive me, and after death receive me into his kingdom. I therefore beg the people present for their forgiveness. I have no enmity towards any one in the world, and acknowledge that I deserve all that may befall me and am ready to bear it all with patience.**

There’s apparently some sentiment to mark the spot of the historic hanging in Parkersburg.

* As of this writing, Eisele’s book is available on Amazon! The quotes from it source to the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, March 11, 1868.

** Cincinnati Daily Gazette, Jan. 27, 1868.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,Murder,Public Executions,USA,West Virginia

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1673: The effigy of Charles Alexis dit Dessessards

Add comment March 6th, 2013 Headsman

According to this registry of events in French Quebec before the English conquest, one Charles Alexis dit Dessessards was ordered broken on the wheel by Quebec’s high executioner on this date in 1673.

He had been convicted of murdering a fur-trapping buddy named Herme, and plundering his pelts.

In the terrifying words of the sentence, he was at 3 p.m. to have “arms and legs broken with four blows, then be strangled and thrown on a wheel to remain there until seven o’clock in the evening. His body will then be brought to the gallows, there to remain until entirely consumed” by the elements. On top of everything, he had a 200-livre fine to pay.

There was just one bit of good news for the murderer Charles Alexis dit Dessessards:

“Until the said Charles Alexis is apprehended, the aforesaid sentence will be executed upon his effigy.”

MARS

Le 6. — “Charles Alexis dit Dessessards, convaincu d avoir tué de guet-à-pens le nommé Herme, son camarade de voyage, et d’avoir volé ses hardes et pelleteries, sera conduit sur la grande place de cette vile (Québec), par l;exécuteur de la haute justice, un lundi, à trois heures après-midi, et là, sur un échafaud qui y sera dressé à cet effet, y aura les bras et les jambes rompues de quatre coups qu’il recevra vif; sera ensuite étranglé et jeté sur une roue pour y demeurer jusqu’à sept heures du soir. Son corps sera porté sur les fourches patibulaires pour y demeurer jusqu’à parfaite consommation. Condamne en outre à deux cents livres d’amende envers le Roy, à la restitution des choses volées et le surplus de ses biens confisqué. Et en attendant que le dit Charles Alexis soit appréhendé, sera exécuté en effigie aux fourches patibulaires, un lundi, à l’heure que dessus.

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Entry Filed under: 17th Century,Broken on the Wheel,Canada,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Executed in Effigy,Execution,France,Gibbeted,Gruesome Methods,History,Murder,Not Executed,Occupation and Colonialism,Pelf,Public Executions,Quebec,Theft

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1906: The would-be assassins of General Rafael Reyes

Add comment March 6th, 2012 Headsman

BOGOTA, Colombia, Tuesday, March 6. — The three men who on Feb. 10 attempted to assassinate Gen. Reyes, the President of the Republic of Colombia, were shot to-day at the spot where the attack took place.

-New York Times, March 8

Reyes had parlayed a successful military career into politics (Spanish link), and was the elected-ish but also dictatorial president of Colombia.

He had the misfortune to ascend to this illustrious post on the heels of a bitter civil war that had seen its Panama department break clean away. To Reyes’ administration would fall a variety of civil society infrastructure projects (more Spanish): constitutional reform, military modernization, a central bank, reconciliation with the Liberal party.

Marco Salgar (left) and Roberto Gonzalez, two of the failed assassins.

He couldn’t make these omelets without breaking a few eggs and his authoritarian power was challenged with at least two coup attempts and multiple assassination plots, as well as a bid by other Colombian territories to break away and join up with Panama.

But the most notorious angry-with-Reyes event was the 10th of February 1906 — also the title (Spanish again) of a book of photographs documenting the incident — when three gunmen ambushed Reyes on the outskirts of Bogota and somehow all managed to miss both the president and his daughter.

Reyes’ vengeance was extrajudicially old-school: the executions he arranged were not permitted under Colombian law at all, and by having them publicly shot at the scene of the crime, he added a downright medieval twist of lese-majeste.


Images from here. These are the three shooters mentioned by the Times, as well as a fourth accomplice.

However rough his methods, Reyes did accomplish some important reforms for his country, and he did have the grace to resign his position in 1909 under fire for financial and diplomatic mismangement. (The man’s five-year administration has its own periodization in Colombian historiography: the quinquenio.) There have been worse entries in the annals of dictatorship.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Assassins,Attempted Murder,Capital Punishment,Colombia,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Notable for their Victims,Public Executions,Shot,Wrongful Executions

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1561: Cardinal Carlo Carafa, papal nephew

1 comment March 4th, 2012 Headsman

On this date* in 1561, the once-powerful Cardinal Carlo Carafa was put to death by strangulation in Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo — victim of deadly Vatican politics.

Fruit of a powerful Neapolitan noble house — it was a Carafa who stuck fig leafs on Michelangelo nudes — Carlo Carafa went out on campaign in the dynastic wars chewing up the peninsula in the 16th century. In some outlandish vindictive pique, he elevated an offense from a Spaniard into not only a reason to switch sides to the French, but a reason to do stuff like massacre Spaniards in a captured hospital. Class act all the way.

When the boy’s (similarly pro-French) Carafa clansman ascended St. Peter‘s throne as Pope Paul IV in 1555, Carlo Carafa beat his sword into a galero as the Catholic Church’s newest cardinal-nephew.**

In this capacity, he had the whip hand in Vatican foreign policy in the late 1550’s … until the growing reports of his reprobate lifestyle led Paul IV to demote him. Virulently anti-Protestant, the obnoxiously upright Paul had been preoccupied intensifying the Inquisition. He took personal umbrage once convinced of his relative’s unworthiness: “He had planned to make his reign the period of great reforms,” writes Kenneth Meyer Setton. “The corruption of Cardinal Carlo Carafa had made a travesty of his efforts.”

These travesties included rumors of the love that dare not speak its name. Poet Joachim du Bellay, according to Who’s Who in Gay and Lesbian History, made sport of ecclesiastical buggery in Les Regrets:

now you should mourn
handsome Ascanio himself, Ascanio, O pity!
Ascanio, whom Carafa loved more than his own eyes:
Ascanio, whose face was handsomer
than that of the Trojan cupbearer, who pours for the gods

(Carafa had a plentiful menu of heterosexual scandals attributed, too. And other good stuff like starting an idiotic war of choice — with Spain, of course — that despoiled Church coffers and reversed the Vatican’s strategic interests.)

In such a state of disgrace — and more importantly, having been stymied in their anti-Spanish foreign policy — the Carafa house and faction was in line for something more serious than public humiliation when the disappointed octogenarian pontiff passed away later in 1559.

Upon the succession of a rival Medici pope, Pius IV, Carlo Carafa was hailed before a kangaroo court with his brother and partner-in-dissipation Giovanni on a rap sheet with every real and imagined indiscretion of their wild years.† Carlo was strangled and Giovanni Carafa beheaded.

Despite the nephews’ undoubted viciousness, their executions were basically about power and policy.

And though they had also screwed up policy, the next pope decided to look forward-backward, not backward-backward. In 1567, Pius V posthumously rehabilitated the naughty dead Carlo; today, you’ll find his now-vindicated remains interred at the family chapel in Rome’s Santa Maria sopra Minerva cathedral.

“The people wish to be deceived; let them be deceived.”

-Carafa

* Seems like the best-sourced date, albeit uncertain — as discussed in this biography.

** Cardinal-nephews are the etymological source of the word nepotism.

† Carafa’s defense attorney was the noble Marc’ Antonio Borghese, father of a then-prepubescent kid named Camillo who would grow up to be Pope Paul V.

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Entry Filed under: 16th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,God,History,Homosexuals,Italy,Murder,Nobility,Notable Participants,Papal States,Politicians,Posthumous Exonerations,Power,Religious Figures,Scandal,Sex,Soldiers,Strangled,The Worm Turns

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1968: Three blacks in Rhodesia, notwithstanding Queen Elizabeth II

2 comments March 6th, 2011 Headsman

On this date in 1968, Rhodesia earned global opprobrium with a triple hanging in Salisbury (today known as Harare).

Labour M.P. Anne Kerr lays a wreath at the Rhodesian embassy to protest this date’s hangings. A few months later, Kerr would be the one in the world’s headlines … when she was roughed up by Chicago police at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

This was the first “Rhodesian” execution, three years on into the white-supremacist (pdf) breakaway state — which had bucked orderly majority-rule decolonization by declaring independence under its settler government.

So it was hardly a matter of whether James Dhlamini, Victor Mlambo and Duly Shadrack were or were not “guilty”: springing the trap on the gallows was an act fraught with racial hostility within Rhodesia (today, Zimbabwe) and throughout a decolonizing world.

Queen Elizabeth II issued a royal reprieve and the British government warned of the “gravest personal responsibility” attaching to anyone who involved himself in the proposed hanging. Rhodesia royally ignored it.

I have been hanging people for years, but I have never had all this fuss before.

-(white) executioner Ted “Lofty” Milton (n.b. seemingly pictured here)

“This fuss” would encompass cross-partisan fury in the British House of Commons as well as a moment of silence in the Indian parliament, denunciations by both America and the Soviet Union … basically everybody. Tanzanian-born British M.P. Andrew Faulds called for criminal sanctions “not excluding the death penalty”. (London Times, , Mar. 7 1968)

There were even demands for humanitarian intervention — amounting to a British military occupation — to protect the other hundred-plus blacks then awaiting the gallows. Needless to say, that wasn’t about to happen, so in the face of Salisbury’s intransigence, was it all just sound and fury?

Does the Secretary of State recall that it was Winston Churchill who said: “Grass grows quickly over the battlefield; over the scaffold, never.”?

-Still-sitting Conservative M.P. Peter Tapsell — then a pup of 38, now the Father of the House — during Parliament’s emotional March 6 debate

Rhodesia insisted on the point by hanging two more Africans five days afterwards … but it also announced 35 reprieves.

In its fifteen years, Rhodesia never did get itself clear of the fuss over white rule; it remained a global pariah and eventually succumbed to its long-running Bush War.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,England,Execution,Hanged,History,Milestones,Murder,Occupation and Colonialism,Political Expedience,Rhodesia,Wrongful Executions,Zimbabwe

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1900: Ada Chard Williams, the last woman hanged at Newgate

Add comment March 6th, 2010 Headsman

On this date in 1900, Ada Chard Williams was hanged for murdering an infant girl.

A baby farmer, Williams took in unwanted children for money … money that went a lot further when the child died. The milestone nature of her hanging in the yard of Newgate Gaol, which would be closed two years later,* was entirely unforeseen at the time.

Justice moved fast in the Williams case, as evidenced by the London Times blurbs covering the case.**

Monday, December 11, 1899

POLICE COURTS. — At the South-Western, William Chard Williams, 41, and Ada Chard Williams, 24, his wife, were remanded, charged with the wilful murder of a child entrusted to their care, and whose body was found in the Thames at Battersea with the skull battered in. The female prisoner said they were perfectly innocent of the charge. The child was delivered by her to another woman and was then quite well.

Saturday, December 30, 1899

POLICE-COURTS. — At the South-Western the charge against William Chard Williams, 41, and his wife, Ada Williams, 24, of the murder of a child named Selina Jones, 21 months old, which had been entrusted to their care, was further investigated. Mr. Bodkin, who prosecuted for the Treasury, stated the facts of the case as already published, and added that the bodies of two other children tied up in the same way as that of the child Jones had been found in the Thames in July last, and the suggestion of the prosecution was that they had been put in the river by the prisoners. After some evidence had been given the prisoners were again remanded.

Saturday, January 20, 1900

POLICE-COURTS. — At the South-Western, William and Ada Chard Williams, man and wife, were finally examined and committed for trial charged with the murder of Selina Jones, an illegitimate child, 21 months old, which had been entrusted to their care.

Monday, February 19, 1900

CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT. — Before Mr. Justice Ridley, the trial was concluded of William Chard Williams, 41, clerk, and Ada Chard Williams, 24, his wife, charged with the murder of an illegitimate child named Selina Ellen Jones, 21 months old, which had been entrusted to the care of the female prisoner in August last. On September 27 its body was found in the Thames in a condition which indicated that it had been stunned and strangled before being put into the river. The jury found the female prisoner guilty, and she was sentenced to death. The male prisoner was acquitted.

Wednesday, March 7, 1900

EXECUTION AT NEWGATE. — Ada Chard Williams, 24 years of age, who was convicted at the Central Criminal Court of the wilful murder of Selina Ellen Jones, a child which had been placed in her care, was executed at Newgate yesterday morning. There were present at the execution Lieutenant-Colonel Milman, Governor of Newgate and Holloway Prisons, Mr. Under-Sheriff Metcalfe, representing the High Sheriff of the county of London, Dr. Scott, medical officer of Newgate and Holloway, and other officials. Billington was the executioner. An inquest was subsequently held in the Sessions-house, Old Bailey, before Mr. Langham, Coroner for the City. Lieutenant-Colonel Milman gave evidence, stating that the execution was carried out satisfactorily. Death was instantaneous. The prisoner made no confession. The jury returned the usual verdict.

* Male executions were transferred to Pentonville Prison and female executions to Holloway Prison thereafter.

** With the exception of the last, these items are all from the Times index summarizing its news articles, and not the articles themselves.

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Abortion and Infanticide,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,England,Execution,Hanged,Milestones,Murder,Women

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