1731: Two murderers and three crooks at Tyburn

Add comment May 14th, 2020 Headsman

The Ordinary of Newgate (in this case, James Guthrie) furnishes us the following “ACCOUNT, of the Behaviour, Confessions, and Dying Words, OF THE MALEFACTORS, Who were EXECUTED at TYBURN, On FRIDAY the 14th of this Instant May, 1731″:


BEING THE Third EXECUTION in the MAYORALTY OF THE Rt. Hon. HUMPHREY PARSONS, Esq;

Number III. For the said YEAR.

LONDON:

Printed and Sold by JOHN APPLEBEE, in Bolt-Court, near 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 Gaol-Delivery of Newgate, held (before the Rt. Hon. HUMPHREY PARSONS, Esq; Lord Mayor of the City of London; the Rt. Hon. the Lord Chief Justice Raymond; the Hon. Mr. Baron Cummins; the Hon. Mr. Baron Thompson; the Hon. Mr. Justice Denton, and others of His Majesty’s Justices of Oyer and Terminer, and Gaol Delivery for the City of London, and Gaol-Delivery of Newgate, holden for the said City and County of Middlesex) at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bailey, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday, being the 28th, 29th, and 30th, of April, and the 1st and 3d of May, 1731, in the Fourth Year of his Majesty’s Reign.

Nine Men, viz. James Berry, Richard Cooper, Francis Woodmarsh, Richard Trap, alias Blue Dick, John Peaverly, John Butler, Francis Lynn, alias Glynn, James Owen, and Ambrose Newport, were by the Jury found guilty of capital Crimes, and receiv’d Sentence of Death accordingly.

After Sentence, they were instructed in the chief Articles of our most Holy Christian Faith: That it is necessary to know that there is one God, the Sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth; who made all Things by the Word of his Power, and who preserves every Thing in its Being; “For in him we Live, and Move, and have our Being, as certain also of your own Poets have said, for we are also his Off-spring:” As saith the Apostle St. Paul, Acts. xvii. 28.

And as from the omnipotent Word of God, we have our first Existence, and by his powerful Providence we are preserv’d in our Being; so we ought to believe, that there are three Persons in this one God; the Father, who creates and preserves us; the Son of God, who redeems us by his Death and Sufferings, and thus purchases us to be an holy, peculiar, chosen People unto God, zealous of good Works; and God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifies the elect People of God, and who preserves them by the mighty Power of God, through Faith unto Salvation.

And as we ought to believe in the Divine Unity, and that there is a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead; so are we to believe, that there is one Mediator or Intercessor between God and Man, according to the Holy Apostles Doctrine, 1 Tim. ii. 5, 6. 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. I exhorted them to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and only Saviour of Sinners, with an operative and lively Faith, moving us to Holiness in all manner of Life and Conversation, for Faith without Works is Dead being alone; as St. James says, Holiness is that which makes us like unto and resemble God, the Archetype of all Perfection, Purity and Virtue. And therefore, since they had been young Men void of Holiness and the Fear of God, which was the occasion of Gods forsaking them, since they had forsaken him, and knew nothing of his Ways, and giving them up to themselves, to their own Hearts Lust, to commit all Uncleanness and all manner of Wickedness with Greediness, I took occasion to offer them a serious Exhortation to Holiness in Heart and Life, to redeem their Time, because the Days are Evil, to improve the few Moments allow’d them upon Earth, in fearing and loving God, and endeavouring to keep his Commandments according to the Apostles Advice. “See then that ye walk Circumspectly, not as Fools, but as wise Men; redeeming the Time, because the Days are Evil.” Eph. v. 15, 16. And I desir’d ’em, to resolve, by the Grace of God, that if they had done Iniquity and Sin, they would do so no more: That whereas formerly they had been the Servants of Unrighteousness unto Sin, henceforth they would become the obedient Servants of rigteousness unto holiness; as the same Apostle adviseth us, “Neither yield ye your members as Instruments of unrighteousness unto Sin; but yield your selves unto God, as those that are alive from the Dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” Rom. 6, 13. And I prest upon them to endeavour after habitual Holiness, because of the great Danger and Destruction ensuing upon a wicked Course of Life. As the Apostle also acquaints us, “For the Wages of Sin is Death: But the Gift of God is eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. vi. 23.

Two of them having been Convicted of Murder, I us’d many Motives and Arguments to convince them of the greatness of their Guilt. I show’d them that this was one of the blackest and most atrocious Crimes, Man was capable of committing, and that therefore, by all Laws Divine and Humane, the Punishment annext to this Sin is Death by the Sword of publick Justice. The History Moses gives us of the Creation and the antediluvian World, is Compendious, and the Account of the Flood itself, and the Times immediately following is but very short; yet that holy Man, inspir’d by the Spirit of God, in an extraordinary Manner, not making mention of other Laws and Customs proper to those very antient Times, takes particular Notice, no doubt as well knowing how prone Mankind is to prosecute Malice and Revenge, by extending their Resentment of suppos’d or real Injuries or Affronts too great a Length of Gods express Command, that the Murderer should by no Means pass unpunished, but that he should die a violent Death by the Hand of Justice. “And surely your Blood of your Lives will I require: At the Hand of every Beast will I require it; and at the Hand of Man, at the Hand of every Mans Brother will I require the Life of Man. Whosoe sheddeth Mans Blood, by Man shall his Blood be shed: For in the Image of God made he Man.” Gen, ix. 5, 6. Yet notwithstanding the greatness of their Sins, I desired them to throw themselves upon the Mercy of God which is Infinite, and if with David and Manasseh, who were true Penitents for the same Sin and Crime, they truly and sincerely repented, even of this henious Sin of Murder, then God would receive them into Favour, and Pardon that Sin, as he did remit the same to others; for Pardon is promis’d in general to a true Repentance for all his Sins without exception.

I instructed them also in the most important Affair of the Lords Supper, as a special Means to avert their Thoughts from all sinful Appetites, to dispose their Minds for receiving the Grace of God, and to prepare them for the Glories of a future State.

While these and many other good Instructions were given, all of them attended in Chapel; only James Berry was indispos’d for some Days, but behav’d Christianly, and show’d a great Desire to take the Sacrament, as did also some of the rest, and in general they behav’d with a better outward Decorum, than these unhappy Creatures use to do. Peaverly the poor Boy was also Sick for some Time, and carried himself always very decently. When I ask’d him, why he robb’d his Master of so great a Sum of Money as 48 Guineas, and what he intended to do with it, or if any Body advis’d him to such a Crime? He said he could not tell why he did it, that he knew not what to do with it, but to cram his Belly with good Victuals, and that no Body advis’d him, but that it was a Motion of his own wicked Heart. All of them made regular Responses; Butler and Lynn, although they declar’d themselves Romans, yet they gave close Attendance in Chapel, excepting one Afternoon, made Responces and comply’d with the Worship, as did the rest in time of Worship; they read a little too loud upon some Romish Manuals they had; but when I reprov’d them for it, and told them our Worship was such as no Christian could in Reason refuse to comply with, although there might be some other Differences, they did so no more, but were attentive with the rest.

Upon Tuesday, the 11th Instant, the Report was made to his Majesty in Council, of the nine Malefactors under Sentence of Death in Newgate: When John Butler and Francis Lynn, alias Glynn, of St. Giles’s in the Fields, for assaulting Edward Dyer on the King’s Highway, putting him in Fear, and taking from him a Hat, val. 5 s. and a Muslin Stock, val. 6 d. the 23d of August last; John Peaverley, of St. George’s Hanover-square, for feloniously stealing a Purse, val 2d. and 48 Guineas, in the Dwelling House of Robert Dickenson, the 25th of April last; and James Owen, of St. Bartholomew’s-Exchange, for feloniously stealing a Bank-Note, value 100 l. the Property of Thomas Butler, the 4th of February last, receiv’d his Majesty’s most gracious Reprieve.

The other Five, viz. James Berry, Ambrose Newport, Richard Cooper, Richard Trap and Francis Woodmarsh were order’d for Execution.

Francis Woodmarsh, of St. George Hanover-Square, was indicted for the Murder of Robert Ormes, giving him one mortal Wound with a Sword, on the left Part of the Body, near the left Pap, the Length of half an Inch, and the Depth of six Inches, of which he instantly died, the 19th of April last.

He was likewise indicted a second Time, upon the Coroners Inquest, for the Murder of the said Robert Ormes.

1. Francis Woodmarsh, 33 Years of Age, born in North-, of honest respected Parents, who liv’d much in Y-, and gave him good Education at School, in reading, writing, Latin, and Accompts, to fit him for the World, and instructed him carefully in the Principles of our holy Christian Faith. He did not go to any particular Business, when of Age, but acted the Gentleman more than any Thing else; he serv’d some Time in the Army, and was advanc’d (as he said) to be an Ensign in a marching Regiment, but soon left that Business; and afterwards not following any particular Trade of Life, ’tis to be feared he was too much addicted to Iddleness. He was married to a Wife, who appear’d to be a good, discreet Woman, whom he commended as such, and recommended to the Care and Kindness of his Friends, who were People of Respect. He had some Children, but they had all the good Fortune to Die before him. He said, he serv’d a Person of Prime Quality, till he went Abroad some Years ago, but without Hopes of returning in haste; and that some of his Friends serv’d that noble Family for some Generations past. He was a Kind of Dealer in Wigs; when any great Man, whom he knew, wanted a Wig, he us’d to make or provide him One, and by that he sometimes made 2 or 3 Guineas, which was the mot he had to Live upon for some Time past. He said, that about the Time of the late Rebellion, he did several good Services, kept some Gentlemen from joyning in that unnatural Rebellion, and travail’d over best Part of England and Scotland upon that Occasion.

His Father had an Estate and a good Farm in the Country, bestow’d very liberally upon him, and gave him several Sums of Money, of which he never made any good Account, and for that Reason, he had not much left him by his Father, and was he less esteem’d by his Relations. He said, that he was a sober Man, kept the Church, hated Cursing and Swearing, and other Vices, that he read his Book much, shunn’d idle Company, and lov’d a quiet, peaceable Life.

The Account he gave of the Murder of Robert Ormes, for which he died, was to this Purpose.

On the 19th Day of April last, which was Easter-Monday, he walk’d out alone, as far as Chelsea, for his Diversion: When he was upon his Return to Town, the Sun was pretty hot, and he being thirsty, went into on Ale house in Chelsea-Fields, where there was a Company of People, altogether Strangers to him, who Swore and Blasphem’d very much; he was impatient at the hearing of this, and gently reprov’d them, saying that there could be no Profit in using such execrable Oaths, and that it would be much better to be more Smooth in their Conversation, and not to provoke God, by such vain and very sinful Repetitions. They did not think him a proper Person to administer Reproof, but gave him Names, which he took to be opprobrious, and call’d them Scrubs; but insisted that he was a Gentleman and a Scholar, and repeated Si Deus est animas, &c. They bid him pay his Reckoning and begone, and said, they doubted if he had any Money in his Pocket, &c. several satyrical Expressions having past, he was weary of their Company, paid his Three-half-pence, for a Pint of Beer, and went off. The Deceas’d Mr. Ormes, his Wife, and the rest of the Company went out after him, and some of them swore, and cried out to dash out the I-n’s Brains. Upon which they beat him unmercifully, with their Canes and Sticks, upon the Head and other Parts of the Body. He was confounded and knew not what to do, but thought upon nothing but his being murther’d: To save himself, he retir’d a good Way, till he came to the Garden hedge, then he drew his Sword to defend himself, and call’d out to hold off and beware of him, being upon his own Defence. At this Time, Mr. Ormes, (as he suppos’d) rush’d upon his Sword and was kill’d, which was the easier done, because his Breast was naked, as he said. And more than this he knew nothing of the Matter: Only to extenuate the Affair, he said, he was very short-sighted, and never saw Ormes, nor none of the Company.

This is an Account, which contradicts the Evidence of the Prosecutor, and all who were against him, who swore possitively, that he stabb’d Mr. Ormes, without any Provocation, and that they did not see him receive any Stroaks with a Cane. I told him it was not probable, so many People would witness any Thing but Truth, without varying; but after all the Reasons could be us’d for an ingenious Confession, he never alter’d in his Narrative to me, nor to all those who visited him in the Prison, under Sentence, to whom he always repeated the same Thing, with abundance of Tears trickling down his Cheeks. He said he commonly walk’d out with a Sword, (which was very unfortunate to him, on that unhappy Day); although contrary to the Advice of his nearest Friends.

The Reason he gave for dressing like a Gentleman, was, because he had once been an Officer in the Army, and he also expected to get into the Service of some great Man, to whom his fine Dress would be one Recommendation. He made no Reflections, but only said, he heard Mr. Ormes was Quarrelsome.

He was Pusillanimous and of a mean Spirit, always wept and cried like a Child, when he told his Case to any Body, the Tears gush’d out in a very strange Manner, so that he could scarce speak because of his deep Sighs and Groans. I comforted him against the Fears of Death, but he remain’d inconsolable. I often told him, that his undiscretion, in medling with Strangers, of whom he knew nothing off, and with whom he had nothing to do, was the occasion of the unhappy Misfortune that happened; and therefore, laying aside all Pretences of Excuse, seeing he was legally Convicted, it was his Duty to repent of that grievous Sin of Murder: He said he did so, but it’s to be fear’d, he had some Reserve; and it’s certain, there could not be a Man more unwilling, and more afraid of Death than he was.

He had been of a careless and idle Disposition, which exposed him to Temptations, and brought him to a violent and shameful Death. He behav’d well, and appear’d very penitent. He declar’d that he hop’d for Salvation thro’ Christ, that he sincerely repented of all his Sins, and forgave all Injuries, as he expected Forgiveness from God.

On Wednesday Evening, the second Day before their Execution, One in a Lay-Habit, whom they supposs’d to be a R-sh P-st, came to him and spoke silently in his Ear, That it was necessary for him to Turn, for that there was no Salvation out of their Church. Woodmarsh was but a weak Man in his Intellectuals, and he said this Assertion of that Stranger, put him into the greatest Agony and Perplexity immaginable, all the next Night. I told him, he need not be afraid to trust his Salvation upon the Mercy of God, through the Merits of Jesus Christ; and that their Way of Instruction was, to teach Men to confide in their own Merits, and the intercession of the Saints, which was an uncertain Way of obtaining the Favour of God, and contrary to Scripture-Revelation. He was content, and said he did not believe him; but that being so near Death, it put him in no little Confusion, to hear himself upbraided, as if he had liv’d in so gross an Error all his Life.

This is a Freedom, which those of our Communion dare not take in some neighbouring Countries.

The following ACCOUNT of the Killing of Mr. Ormes, was delivered by Francis Woodmarsh, to a Gentleman in the Press-Yard, in Newgate, the Morning before his Execution, (in the Sight of a great Number of People there present,) and by him requested to be delivered to Mr. Applebee, to be publish’d to the World.-

As it is customary for Persons under my unhappy Circumstances to declare the Truth at their last Moments concerning the Fact for which they Suffer: I hope by this to satisfie the World as to the real Truth; tho’ things have been much misrepresented, which have done me no small harm.

ON Easter-Monday last, towards the Evening, calling at the Three Moor-Cocks in Chelsea-Fields (by my self) for a pint of Beer, I unluckily happen’d to go into the Room where Mr Ormes the Deceas’d was with his Friends, all Strangers to me, and all of them seem’d to be much in Liquor; and some of them talking very Profanely, I took the Liberty to Reprove them. At which the Wife of the Deceas’d was very Angry, and used me with a great deal of Ill manners, and gave me very abusive Language, and prompted Mr. Ormes her Husband to Quarrel with me; and her Expression was to knock my Brains out, with several other indecent Expressions, unbecoming her Sex; upon which I paid my Reckoning, and was going out of their Company; but to my great Surprize, Mr. Ormes push’d me out of Doors, and pursued me seven or eight Yards, giving me several Blows with his Cane, which at last obliged me to Draw my Sword in my own Defence, not with any Intention to Kill the Deceased, but only to make him desist from abusing me; but the Deceased-still pursuing me with his Blows, the unlucky Accident happened, for which I am immediately going to suffer Death.

I had no premeditated Design against the Deceased, he being an utter Stranger to me, having never seen him before.

Mrs. Middleton, the Landlady of the House, was in the Celler when I went out of the House, and so could not possibly see whether Mr. Ormes struck me or not, though she swore to the contrary; and likewise gave a false Description of the Ground, to discredit the Evidence of Mr. Bell, who appear’d as an Evidence for me: For which I pray God Almighty to Forgive her, as I do the rest of the Evidences that were then in Company, who I think aggravated Matters to the Court.

As for Mr. Bell, he was an utter Stranger to me, I never having seen him to my Knowledge, till the Time of my Trial, he coming voluntarily to declare the Truth, which was to the same Effect as I have already related, as to the Deceased’s following and striking me; for which I have been inform’d, he has been reflected on: But to do him Justice, I have, by the Assistance of my Friends, obtain’d a Certificate, under the Hands of his Officers, in regard to his Character, which I have hereunto annex’d, and which if I had produc’d on my Trial, I believe might have been of Service to me; but my Trial coming on so soon after my Commitment, prevented me from making so proper a Defence for myself, as otherwise I might have done.

I hope I have made my Peace with God Almighty, through the Merits of my Saviour Jesus Christ, for this and all other my past Offences.

I die an unworthy Member of the Church of England, and beg the Prayers of all good Christians.

May 14, 1731.

Francis Woodmarsh.

A Copy of a Certificate of Mr. Edmond Bells Character, who was an Evidence for the Prisoner; (Sign’d by his Officers)

WE whose Names are hereunto Subscribed, do Certifie, That we have known some Years Edmond Bell, now a Corporal in Lieutenant Col. Henry Wingfields Company in his Majesty’s First Regiment of FootGuards, Commanded by the Right Hon. Sir Charles Wills, and that we have always found him to be a Person of Integrity and Honesty; and that we do believe he wou’d not Swear or Depose any thing but the Truth, upon any Account whatsoever.

As Witness our Hands this 6th, day of May, 1731.

H. Wingfield, Col.

M. Rawlins, Capt.

R. Walter, Ensign & Adjutant.

Richard Cooper, of St. Catherine Creed-church, was indicted for the Murder of Margaret Harle, alias Hall, by giving her one mortal Wound with a Pistol and leaden Bullet upon the right Part of the Bck, of the depth of five Inches, of which she instantly died, the 16th of April last.

He was likewise indicted a 2d Time on the Coroners Inquest for the same.

2. Richard Cooper, 28 Years of Age, Born of honest Parents in the Strand, who gave him good Education at School, in Reading, Writing, casting Accompts, &c. and instructed him in religious Principles. His Father, who was a Maker of Gold and Silver Lace, Died and left him Young; and when he was of Age, his Mother put him to a Shoe-maker, and his Master dying in two or three Years, and he not liking that Employment, would not be turn’d over, but follow’d after that, (as he call’d it) publick Business in Taverns and Shops, by way of a Servant or Porter.

In this Station he serv’d an Apothecary near Covent-Garden upwards of six Years; during which Time he was in Love with a young Woman, and was in Terms of Marriage with her: But after he had Spent all his Money in attending and treating her upon all Occasions, she gave him the Slip and married another young Man, with whom (as he observ’d) she liv’d but a miserable and comfortless Life.

But this Disappointment prov’d still a greater Misfortune to him, for he being naturally inclin’d to Melancholy, and his Mother, who was left in pretty good Circumstances by his Father, having lost her Money by supporting a naughty Brother, who is gone beyond Seas, and an unlucky Sister, and he having advanc’d some Money upon their Account, he turn’d altogether discontented, and would not serve the Gentleman, who had been a very kind Master to him any longer, but came and engag’d in the Service of Mr. Day a Gentleman of the same Business in Leaden-Hall-Street, where he had the Misfortune to Murther the poor Girl Margaret Hall, for which he died.

At first he own’d that he kill’d the Maid, but said, it was only by Accident, by Reason of the Pistol being cock’d, and its going off as he took it out of his Pocket he knew not how; but before he died, he own’d that he did it purposely, and being ask’d Why? He said he knew no Reason, but the violent Temptation of the D-l. He denied that he had any premeditated Design, and that there ever was any Difference between them excepting some hasty Words, which may happen in any House, when Persons live together any considerable Time, as he liv’d with her seven Months. As to the cutting or hurting her Arm, he said it was only accidentally.

His Master said, he lost two good Servants, he having been with him nine or ten, and she seven Months. He said, he was always very honest and obliging to his Masters, and that by Serving seven Years about. Apothecaries Shops, he had acquir’d some knowledge of the Business, could make up Drugs and understood Receipts. He had of a long Time thought upon doing away with himself, and some Years ago he threw himself into the Thames but was drag’d out alive; and some Time ago he bought a pocket Pistol for the same Purpose, and (as he said) he intended to shoot himself with it in the back Room, at the same Time he murdered the Maid, but his Master coming in interrupted him, and then he going to the Kitchen, he was tempted to Discharge it in the poor Maids Back, as she was throwing up Coals into the Fire, of which Wound she immediately died, only having gone some Steps into the Shop, she said, Richard had shot, kill’d or murther’d me.

He was so indifferent about Life that he made no Application for saveing it, as all of them commonly do. He said, there was no Reason for alledging that he Shot the Maid, because She would not allow off to great Familiarities, for he never intended, nor proposed any such Thing. He had been of a Peevish, Surly and melancholy Disposition; he spoke much and fast, and was of a Hasty passionate Temper; but was not Mad or out of his Senses as they represented him to have been. I represented to him the evil of Murder, especially, Self-murder, and desir’d him to Repent of those Sins particularly. He said he did so, and beg’d Grace of God to assist him. He was never much guilty of Cursing, Swearing, Drinking or Whoring, tho’ not altogether free of those Vices. He had some good and virtuous Inclinations, and when he was not necessarily detain’d, he went to Church. He declar’d himself Penitent for all his Sins, that he hop’d for Salvation through the Merits of Jesus Christ his only Saviour, and that he died in Peace with all the World.

James Berry, of St. Peter’s-Poor, was Indicted for Burglariously breaking the House of John Mendez de Costa, and feloniously taking 6 Silver Spoons value 40 Shillings, a Silver Tankard, value 7 l. the 29th of March last.

3. James Berry, Sixty-five years of Age, born in Lancashire of honest Parents, who gave him Education at School according to their Ability, and had him instructed in religious Principles. They bred him to House-painting, at which Trade he serv’d out his Time, and afterwards liv’d in a creditable, honest way; married a Wife, and had several Children, some of whom, both Sons and Daughters, are now married and following business in an honest way in the Country. He was a Soldier in the Wars of Flanders seven Years, and serv’d there to the satisfaction of his Officers; and afterwards he went to Sea, and was Cook of a Ship two or three Years. In all the different Stations of Life he had been in (as he said) he behav’d himself well, and had still a good Character and Reputation. For a great many Years past he liv’d in or about London, and his late Wife Nurss’d a Son to Mr. De Costa whom he robb’d twenty Years ago, and liv’d after that for the most part in his House as a Servant, and both he and she were very much oblig’d to that Family, for both of them had much of their Bread to eat. Him they employ’d to wash and Paint their House, and about other little Affairs, and her they kept as a Servant, so that he was very ungrateful in robbing his Benefactor. About a Year ago his Wife died, and in a very short Time, though he was pretty well advanc’d in Years, yet he ventur’d upon a second Wife; and not having to support her and keep up a Family, and his old Friend upon some Misbehaviour, having Discharg’d him his House, and he not being capable to Discharge some old Debts, his Creditors thought fit to take out an Execution upon his Goods. The poor old Man could not tell what to do in this Extremity, but knowing perfectly the Situation of De Costa’s House, without imparting his Mind to any Body whatsoever, he thought fit, by breaking softly with his Hand a Pane or Two of Glass, to open the KitchenWindows in the Night-time, and to take the Silver Tankard and six Silver Spoons, mention’d in the Indictment. He declar’d his Wife knew nothing of all this, but afterwards the Goods being once in their Possession, his Wife and he went in Company to Pawn the Plate, that they might have Money advanc’d to pay off a 4 l. Debt, for which he was then distress’d by the Landlord, who seiz’d his Goods. But the Pawn-Broker, and a Goldsmith employ’d to weigh the Plate finding them to be advertis’d, as stollen Goods from a certain Person, stopt them, and then Berry was taken up, imprison’d, convicted and Executed for the said Crime. He was always very Penitent while under Sentence, and behav’d with a deal of christian Submission, having never been guilty of any Dishonesty in his Life, as he said, excepting the Crime for which he died. He lov’d to keep the Church and follow’d a regular Life; only upon his Travels and the rambling Part of his Life, he had been sometimes Irregular, but not much as he told me. Two or three Days before he died, he was in a little Passion, but when I represented to him the unseasonableness of being so, he declar’d he was very Sorry and Penitent for it. He declar’d, that he firmly believ’d, that he should be Saved by the Mercy of God through Christ, that he sincerely Repented of all his Sins, in Evidence whereof he often shed Tears, and that, he forgave all injuries done him, as he expected forgiveness from God.

Ambrose Newport, of Thistleworth, was Indicted for feloniously Stealing a black-brown Mare, value six Pound, the Property of Charles Clinch, the 26th Day of April last.

4. Ambrose Newport, Twenty-one Years of Age, born in a Country Town in Wiltshire, of honest Parents, who educated him at School, so as to fit him for Business, suitable to their Station, and got him instructed in religious Principles.

When of Age, his Father educated him to his own Business, which was that of a Gardiner; this Trade he followed for some Time, but being soon weary of constant Employment, he betook himself to an idle Life, going about the Country, and keeping wicked Company, which in the End prov’d his Ruin.

But all this, (as he said) happen’d after his Father’s Death, who by his paternal Authority, kept him in some Order; but when his Parents were once dead, being left without any Restraint, he gave himself up to all Manner of Wickedness, and could not be holden in, by any of his Relations or Acquaintances. His Brother’s Admonitions, (who often told him, that he would certainly be hang’d,) were of no Manner of Effect, but he still continu’d an abandon’d Wretch, forsaking every Thing that’s Good or Virtuous.

He continu’d in this Course of Life, and refuss’d the Advice of all those who endeavour’d to Reclaim him.

About Michaelmas last, he met with a Company of common Thieves, House-breakers, Highway-men, and Horse-stealers, who did his Business at once, and brought him to his fatal End.

They advised him to engage in their Gang, and all gave him fair Promises, that he should never Want, while he had Success in their laudable Enterprizes. He being of a perverse Disposition, too readily concurr’d with them, and succeeded in the stealing of five or six Horses, till at length the unlucky Mare, for which he died, was his final Overthrow.

He confess’d that he Stole the Mare, which he sold at Brentford; and that his Sentence was just, according to Law, that he had Stollen several other Horses, and had been guilty of many other Crimes, such as Housebreaking, Highway, Robbing, Picking, Stealing, Whoring, Drinking to Excess, Swearing and Blaspheming, and that he knew no Kind of Sin he had not committed, excepting Murder, or some such atrocious Sins.

He acknowledg’d that he suffer’d most justly, for his Contempt of God and Transgression of his Laws, and for his neglecting the good Admonitions of his Instructors and Well-wishers.

He always behav’d very well, both in Publick and Private, and made regular Responses to the Prayers. He declar’d that he believ’d in Jesus Christ, repented of all his Sins, and died in Peace with all Mankind.

Richard Trap, alias Blue Dick, of Paddington, was Indicted for assaulting John Monk, on the Highway, putting him in Fear, and taking from him two Cloth Coats, Value thirty Shillings, a Wastcoat, a Pair of Boots and Spurs, a Guinea, a half Guinea, and twelve Shillings in Money, the 19th of March last.

5. Richard Trap, about 26 Years of Age, of mean Parents in Dorsetshire, who gave him no Education at School, having a numerous Family of Children, for whom they could not provide.

When of Age, he learn’d to be a Bricklayer, and a Pavier; and by following those Employments, he gain’d his Bread. Business not being very brisk in the Country at some Times, he us’d to came up to London about Harvest Time for some Years past, and Wrought at Country Work, Brick-laying, or Paving of the Streets as he could be Employed.

He fell in Love with, and lately Married a young Woman at Harrow on the Hill, which occasion’d his coming oftner to, and staying longer in or about London than he intended.

As for the Highway-Robbery Sworn against him, he said he knew nothing of it, and that Humphreys who swore himself an Accomplice, knew as little of it as he; but that he was induc’d to do it upon some other Motive. After all the Arguments could be us’d for an ingenious Confession; he still said, he did not do the Robbery, but that he was at Home all the Night it was committed, in Company with his Wife at Harrow on the Hill; and that Humphreys the Evidence was all that Night in the same House with them.

He own’d, he had been a great Sinner in several Respects, but that he was never Guilty of Thieving or Robbery in his Life. Under his Misfortunes he behav’d very Decently and Christianly; and though he was no Scholar yet he was very attentive to Prayers and Exhortations, and appear’d to have some Sense of Religion upon his Spirits. He hop’d for Salvation through the Merits of Jesus Christ our Lord, Repented of all his Sins, and died in perfect Peace with all Mankind.

At the Place of EXECUTION.

Francis Woodmarsh and Richard Cooper, had another Divine, who came that Morning they died, and gave them the Sacrament privately in the Cells.

Cooper came up to Prayers, but Woodmarsh staid below with some of his Friends. Under the Tree, he was in great Confusion and Disorder and a mighty Terrour of Death: He seem’d to be a little Stupid, and call’d aloud two or three Times in Time of Prayer, wanting to speak with Some-body. Some of his fellow Sufferers bid him be quiet. He was impatient to know when they would be turn’d off. He had no further Confessions, but insisted too much upon his Innocence, saying, he had no ill Intention, and knew nothing of any Body being Kill’d, that he only defended himself, &c. When he had hung a little, he was stript naked to the Skin, (by the Executioner) a very undecent Spectacle; and likewise Berry was strip’d naked at the same Time by the Executioner, only leaving his Breeches on.

Cooper had no more to say.

Richard Trap adher’d to his former Confessions, going to Death with a positive Denial of the Fact he died for, or that he was ever guilty either of Theft or Robbery in his Life.

Newport said he was griev’d for his most sinful and wicked Life, but that he hop’d God out of his infinite Mercy would Pardon him.

James Berry earnestly desir’d hearty Prayers to be offer’d up to God for them. They were all serious at Prayers and Singing of Psalms, and ment off the Stage, crying to God, to have Mercy upon them, and the Lord Jesus would receive their Spirits. &c.

This is all the Account given by me,

JAMES GUTHRIE,

Ordinary of Newgate.

ADVERTISEMENTS.

Just publish’d,

A Rational and Useful ACCOUNT of the VENERAL DISEASE: with Observations on the Nature, Symptoms, and Cure, and the bad Consequences that attend by ill Management; with proper Admonitions; recommended as a Friendly Instruction to all Persons who do, or may, labour under this Misfortune.

ALSO

A short Enquiry into Old GLEETS, and other Weaknesses; whether from Veneral Embraces, Self Pollution, or Natural Imbecillity, and the Reason why they are so seldom cur’d: With the Author’s Method of Cure.

To which is added,

Some Hints of the Practical Scheme, the Methods and and Medicines therein expos’d, and the gross Impositions justly detected. With an Account of Specificks, the Use and Abuse of the Name, and how it covers Ignorance and a Cheat.

The Eighth Edition, corrected, with Additons.

By JOSEPH CAM, M. D.

Evasti? credo metues, doctusque cavebis.

Quares quando it erum paveas, iterumque perire

Possis o toties servus! -Horat.

Principiis obsta. -Ovid.

LONDON: Printed for the Author, and Sold at his House in Bow Church Yard in Cheapside; and by E. Midwinter, in St. Paul’s-Church-Yard, Price stitch’d, one Shilling.

Soap sold by Retale.

THE best Cuttings at Four-Pence

Half Penny a Pound; and very good Green Soap, at Four Pence a Pound; which is very sweet, will wash as well, and go as far as the best Crown Soap, and is a Penny a Pound cheaper, by William Cowpland, Soap Maker at the 3 Pidgeons and Crown in the Old Bailey, near Ludgate Hill. He also Makes and Sells, fine hard Soap, white Barrel Soap, and all his other sorts of Soap Wholesale as well as Retale, for Ready Money, at the very lowest Prices, even tho’ a Child be sent for them.

He likewise makes and sells, his admirable new invented Liquid Soap, at one shilling a Pint, which is as clear as Canary, and smells more pleasant than any Perfume, it being the only Soap yet known for washing the finest Laces, Muslins, Cambricks, Silks, Callicoes, &c. even in cold Water as well as hot, and is highly esteemed by most of the best Quality in England, for washing and beautifying the Hands and Face, as also by Gentlemen for shaving. Only to be had as above directed of William Cowpland, who having petitioned his Majesty to grant him his Royal Letters Patents for the sole making thereof, hath obtained the Honourable Attorney General’s Report in his Favour.

THE ROYAL COSMETICK;

To beautify and cleanse the Face, Neck, and Hands, and to preserve the Complection of Ladies and Others: Devised by several learned Physicians, and used by Queens; Princesses, and other Ladies of Quality, in Italy, Germany, France, and England.

Which, for its excellent Virtues, exceeds all others, and beautifies the Face, Neck, and Hands, to the utmost Perfection, giving a charming Lustre and fine Air to the Features, rendering the Face delicately fair, plump, and smooth, though before ever so ordinary; instantly causing a youthful Fairnes, to Admiration, making a Person look young though old; it makes rough and red Hands exceeding white and smooth, infallibly taking away Redness, Wrinkles, Pimples, Spots, Worms, Morphews, Sun-Burns, Heats, or any other Discolourings of the Skin. It nourishes, plumps, smooths, clears and softens the Skin to the last Degree. It likewise heals Chops of the Lips, Hands, and Arms to Admiration.

The Use of it is so clean, and it hath so pleasant a Flavour, that nothing can exceed it; and is therefore a most excellent Thing to preserve or regain a fine Skin and Complection.

Prepared and Sold by the Author, a Chymist, at his House, the second Door on the Right Hand in Bride-lane, near Fleetstreet; ’tis also Sold at Robotham’s Toy-shop without Whitechappel Bars; at Mr. Neal’s Toy-shop opposite the Whiteheart Inn in the Borough of South- ark; and at Mr. Greg’s, Bookseller, next Northumber-land-house, Charing cross.

Price 3 s. 6 d. a Bottle.

Where is also Sold,

FOR a certain CURE of the SCURVEY, and all SCORBUTICK HUMOURS, is recommended the Tincture Magnum, Anti-Scorbuticum: Or, The Grand Anti-Scorbutick Purging-Tincture of Scurvy Grass; prepared after a new compendious Method, whereby is, made much more beneficial in purging the Blood of all salt brinish, and watery Humours, thn any Preparation heretofore prepared of that Sovereign Herb; to be taken any Time of the Year, but more especially Spring and Fall.

At One Shilling a Battle.

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 frequent 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 insensibly from them, through the Urinary Passage, and spots or smears the Linnen, though it 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 Deravity of the Juices, or by over straining the Spermatick Vessels, or both, is Seed, and is to be remedied another, 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 Infertili, ties, which as it hinders their Marrying, 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, or of an ill Smell.

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 other 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 Weaknesss, 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 Weakness, (even where the Vessels had been obstructed, Manhood greatly enfeebl’d, and in some, well nigh 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 begin (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. Payne’s, a Bookseller, at the Crown, facing the Chapter Coffee-house, in PaternosterRow.

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.

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

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1855: Giovanni Pianori

Add comment May 14th, 2019 Headsman

On this date in 1855, Giovanni Pianori submitted to the guillotine for an unsuccessful assassination attempt — pictured above — on the French Emperor Napoleon III.

Himself an Italian nationalist in his youth, Napoleon as prince had gutted his former cause by intervening to crush the revolutionary Roman Republic and restore the exiled pope to power. No small number of fellow-travelers in the patriotic cause thought Napoleon’s betrayal deserved a bullet.

Pianori’s were launched, without effect, on the Champs-Elysees on April 28, 1855, just sixteen days before his execution.

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Assassins,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,France,Guillotine,History,Italy,Notable for their Victims,Public Executions

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1835: Four slaves, for the Malê Rebellion

Add comment May 14th, 2018 Headsman

On this date in 1835, four African slave rebels were shot at Salvador.

The Malê Revolt acquired its name from the local designation for Muslims … which was the predominant religion of the slaves harvested from West Africa* who were pouring into Brazil. (It’s also known as the Muslim Revolt, or simply the Great Revolt.) Ethnically, these were mostly Yoruba peoples, known in Brazil as Nagôs; Nagôs constituted the bulk of the slave sector whom the Portuguese had nicknamed “Minas” — Gold Coast imports who had embarked their slave ships at the notorious Elmina Castle.

Under whichever designation, this population was particularly thick in the agrarian Atlantic province of Bahia; there, “slaves constituted the majority of Bahia’s population in the 1820s and 1830s, [and] the maority of slaves were African-born.” And African-born slaves proved over the years to share a vigorous spirit of resistance. Slave risings and plots had emerged in Bahia in 1807, 1809, 1814, 1816, 1822, 1824, 1826 1827, 1828, 1830, and 1831, spanning the periods of Portuguese colonialism and Brazilian independence. Scottish botanist George Gardner, recalling his travels in Brazil in the late 1830s, opined that

The slaves of Bahia are more difficult to manage than those of any other part of Brazil, and more frequent attempts at revolt have taken place there than elsewhere. The cause of this is obvious. Nearly the whole of the slave population of that place is from the Gold coast. Both the men and the women are not only taller and more handsomely formed than those from Mozambique, Benguela, and the other parts of Africa, but have a much greater share of mental energy, arising, perhaps, from their near relationship to the Moor and the Arab. Among them there are many who both read and write Arabic. They are more united among themselves than the other nations, and hence are less liable to have their secrets divulged when they aim at a revolt.

Here, in secret madrassas and an underground tongue, these people cultivated a shared religion that naturally fused with the religious to the political and eventually germinated a revolutionary conspiracy. Two elderly, enslaved Muslim teachers seems to have been particular nodes in this community of resistance.**

On the night of January 24-25 of 1835, some 300 of these African-born slaves (with a few African-born freedmen) rebelled and attacked the city of Salvador. The fighting spanned only a few midnight hours; rumors of a rising had reached white ears on the 24th and as a result the masters stood halfway prepared and rallied quickly enough to crush the revolt — killing around 80 rebels in the process.

Nevertheless, it was perhaps the largest and most frightening servile rebellion in Brazil’s history. And although not all participants were Muslim, they very distinctively were all African-born: second-generation, Brazil-born blacks (whether slave or free) as well as mulattoes, who occupied a higher caste rank more in simpatico with whites, were deeply distrusted by African natives as liable to betray the plot — and rightly so. This turned out to be the very channel by which advance warning of the imminent rebellion reached white ears on the night of January 24. It was a great, if last-minute, victory for white Brazilians’ intentional stratification of the servile labor force: “The division among Africans is the strongest guarantee of peace in Brazil’s large cities,” the governor of Bahia had written in 1814.

Surprisingly, only four juridical executions are known to have resulted from this rising, although flogging sentences inflicted on others were so brutal that at least one person also died under the lash. Records, however, are patchy, and as João José Reis notes in his essential text on the Malê revolt (Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia) it is scarcely apparent why these particular men came in line for the law’s final extremity:

The president of the province, under pressure from influential members of Bahian society, felt that it was important to put on a public spectacle and hang prisoners as soon as possible so as to intimidate would-be rebels. With this in mind, on 6 March 1835 Francisco de Souza Martins wrote to the minister of justice:

It seems fitting, as has been suggested to me by many Citizens of this Capital, that the Government of His Majesty the Emperor, so as not to diminish the healthy effect of an execution as soon as possible after the crime, should have the sentences carried out on the two or three main leaders, at the same time declaring that these individuals should not have any recourse or appeal; that is, such a measure is thought to be both efficacious and necessary to the present circumstances.

In a decree dated 18 March 1835 the central government accepted this suggestion and ordered that the death sentences be “immediately carried out without being allowed to go before a Court of Appeal, after the remaining legal steps had been taken.” A month later, on 14 May, one day after the publication of the law on deportations, and without having taken “the remaining legal steps,” the government put four Africans to death.

There was only one freedman among those executed: Jorge da Cruz Barbosa, a hod carrier (carregador de cal) whose African name was Ajahi. Ajahi had been arrested on the day after the uprising, in the house of some fellow Nagô acquaintances, Faustina and Tito. Tito was also involved in the rebellion and had left home some days before the twenty-fifth, never to return. On the morning of the twenty-fifth, Ajahi showed up wounded and hid under a bedframe (estrado). Faustina turned him in to inspectors Leonardo Joaquim dos Reis Velloso and Manoel Eustaquio de Figueiredo, who arrested him. Under questioning Ajahi declared that he lived on Rua de Oracao and was a neighbor of Belchior and Gaspar da Cunha, whom he used to visit regularly. Concerning the meetings they had there, he claimed: “Everybody prattled on and on or just stopped in to say hello.” He denied being a Malê and having participated in the revolt. He tried to convince the judge and jury that the bayonet wound in his right leg “had been inflicted by soldiers … while he was at the window, [and] not because he was outside fighting with anybody.” Ajahi was apparently just an ordinary rebel. Indeed none of the Africans questioned in 1835 suggested he had played an important part in the Malê organization. Even so, on 2 March 1835 he was sentenced to death, along with other important prisoners. His sentence had been set by Francisco Goncalves Martins, the chief of police, now presiding over the jury as a judge: “In light of the previous declaration … on behalf of the Sentencing Jury I sentence prisoners: Belchior da Silva Cunha, Gaspar da Silva Cunha, and Jorge da Cruz Barbosa (all freedmen), as well as Luis Sanim, a slave of Pedro Ricardo da Silva, to natural death on the gallows.” With the exception of Jorge Barbosa (Ajahi), all those listed by Martins had their sentences commuted. Ajahi appears to have escaped from prison, but he was quickly recaptured. Perhaps the maintenance of his sentence comes from his being considered an incorrigible rebel.

Little is known about the others sentences to death. They were all Nago slaves. One of them was Pedro, a slave of Joseph Mellors Russell, the English merchant. It seems that all of this man’s slavees took part either in the rebellion or, at least, in the Malê conspiracy. On his own Russell had turned over to the justice of the peace a crate containing a great number of Malê objects belonging to his slaves — Necio, Joao, Joaozinho “the urchin,” Tome, Miguel, and Pedro. Of all these men Joao was the most militant, and his final sentence is not known. No one knows why Pedro was singled out for the death penalty. I could not find the records for his particular trial.

The other two slaves executed were Goncalo, whose owner appears in the records as Lourenco so-and-so, and Joaquim, who belonged to Pedro Luis Mefre. About them all that is known is that they were among the thirteen rebels wounded and taken prisoner during the confrontation at Agua de Meninos. It may be that they were both abandoned by their masters, since nothing suggests that they might have been leaders and none of the other eleven taken prisoner in the same circumstances received similar punishment.

These were, then, the four Africans put to death in 1835. Rodrigues began a tradition claiming that five Africans were executed, but there is no evidence for it. He names a freedman by the name of Jose Francisco Goncalves as the fifth victim. This African actually existed. He was a Hausa and lived in the Maciel de Baixo neighborhood. According to his testimony, he earned his living “bringing out samples of sugar from the warehouses for Merchants.” His name appears on the Roll of the Guilty with this observation: “sentenced and acquitted on 4 June 1835.” On that same roll the names of Jorge da Cruz Barbosa, Joaquim, Pedro, and Goncalo appear, with the following observation after each one: “sentenced to death and executed on 14 May 1835.”

Like all public executions, this one had its share of pomp and ceremony. The victims were paraded through the streets of Salvador in handcuffs. At Campo da Polvora new gallows had been constructed to replace the old ones, which had rotted from lack of use. At the head of the cortege marched the council “doorman,” Jose joaquim de Mendonca, who cried the sentence out to the ringing of bells. After him came Joao Pinto Barreto, the execution scribe, and Caetano Vicente de Almeida, a municipal judge. On both sides of the prisoners marched a column of armed Municipal Guardsmen. The Santa Casa da Misericordia was also presente, since the bylaws of that important philanthropic institution obliged its members, who were recruited from the local elite, to march along with people condemned to death as an act of Christian piety. The execution itself was to be witnessed by the interim chief of police (Martins had already gone to Rio de Janeiro as a congressional deputy), Judge Antonio Simoes da Silva, and by the commandant of the Municipal Guard, Manoel Coelho de Almeida Tander.

Much to the authorities’ disappointment, the new gallows could not be used to hang the prisoners. No one would act as executioner. On 13 May, one day before the execution, the vice-president of the province, Manoel Antonio Galvao, in response to a request from the chief of police, offered 20-30 milreis to any ordinary prisoner in Bahia’s many jails to act as executioner. Even though that was four months’ earnings for the average urban slave, no one came forward. The chief warden, Antonio Pereira de Almeida, expressed his disappointment in a communique to the chief of police that afternoon: “I have offered the job to the inmates, and no one will take it. I did the same thing today at the Barbalho and Ribeira dos Gales jails, and no one will take it for any amount of money; not even the other blacks will take it — in spite of the measures and promises I have offered in addition to the money.” Either because of prisoners’ solidarity or out of fear of retaliation from the African Muslims, an executioner could not be found. For this reason, still on 13 May, the president of the province had a firing squad formed to carry out the sentences. Then, on the fourteenth at Campo da Polvora, the four men were executed by a squad of policemen and immediately buried in a common grave in a cemetery run by the Santa Casa, next to the gallows. Without the hangings, the didactic value Bahian leaders envisaged in the spectacle was lost.

Less pomp surrounded floggings, although they too were public. Here, as well, the chief of police insisted (20 March 1835) that the “punishment should immediately follow the crime.” He argued that haste was necessary “so that the prisoners would not overflow,” a practical more than a political reason. The scenes of torture oculd not have been more degrading. The victims were undressed, tied, and whipped on their backs and buttocks. Floggings were held at two different sites: the Campo da Polvora and the cavalry garrison at Agua de Meninos, where the last battle of the uprising had been fought. At times the authorities worried that these public spectacles would themselves disturb the peace. Alufa Licutan’s sentence to one thousand lashes would be carried out in public, “but not on the street of the city.”


Illustration of a slave being publicly flogged in Brazil, by Johann Moritz Rugendas.

Prisoners received fifty lashes per day, “for as many days as it took to undergo the entire sentence … provided there was no risk to a prisoner’s life.” The victims’ suffering was closely watched by armed guards and carefully supervised by officers of the law, as well as by a court scribe who on a daily basis recorded the date, names, and numbers of lashes. From time to time, doctors visited the victims to check on their health and to advise whether the whipping should be continued or suspended for a while. These doctors’ reports are shocking testimony to the physical state of the tortured individuals. On 2 May 1835 Dr. Jose Souza Brito Cotegipe told Caetano Vicente de Almeida, the municipal criminal judge: “I have only found two who are well enough to continue serving their sentences. The rest cannot because of the enormous open wounds on their buttocks.” In a report on 19 September he said: “Having proceeded in the examination … of the Africans being flogged, I can inform Your Grace that the blacks [named] Carlos, Belchior, Cornelio, Joaquim, Carlos, Thomas, Lino, and Luiz (at the Relacao Jail) are in such a state that if they continue to be flogged, they may die.”

On that very day Luiz was admitted to the Santa Casa da Misericordia Hospital, where he stayed for two months. On 3 November he went back to the stocks, and two weeks later he completed his sentence of eight hundred lashes. Narciso, another slave, was less fortunate. He was caught red-handed during the uprising and did not survive the twelve hundred lashes of his sentence. He is the only African known to have died from that terrible punishment, but there may have been more.

After the Malê Rebellion, the signs and practices of Islam came under harsher surveillance than ever before. Brazil did not abolish slavery until May 13, 1888 — the very last nation in the western hemisphere to do so.

* Prisoners taken by all sides during the wars accompanying the formation and growth of the Sokoto Caliphate were a key source for the early 19th century slave trade.

** Neither teacher was directly involved in the rebellion: one, Ahuna, had alredy been exiled to another locale and the other, Bilal, languished in prison for debts. We have particularly poignant word of the latter’s devastation upon hearing word of what had transpired.

After the rebellion, Bilal, still in jail, received news of the fate of the rebellion. One of his cell companions said in a gripping testimony that Bilal lowered his head to weep and that he never saw him raise it again. Bilal wept as many of his cherished students were brought into the jail. When one of the surviving rebels, who was being incarcerated, passed Bilal a piece of paper with a message written on it, he read it and swiftly began to weep. The devastating fate of his students had brought Bilal to a perpetual trail of tears. His fate, however, was to be amongst the most devastating. Although he could not be charged with participation in the physical uprising that took place, it was clear to authorities that he had participated in the spiritual cultivation of the uprising. Bilal “was sentenced to 1,200 lashes of the whip, to be carried out in public, though not in the streets where everyone could see. The sentence was divided up into 50 lashes a day until completed.” We can imagine that this is how Bilal died.

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Brazil,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,History,Occupation and Colonialism,Power,Public Executions,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Revolutionaries,Shot,Slaves,Torture

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Feast Day of St. Victor and St. Corona

Add comment May 14th, 2017 Headsman

May 14 is the feast date of St. Victor, a Christian Roman soldier and his co-religionist and possible spouse Corona. Both the city and the century (and therefore the reality) of their passion are uncertain.

For the believer, what these martyrs lack in firm historicity they make up for in practical effect.

Corona chanced to become associated by medieval times with money — possibly the coincidence of her name, meaning crown,* with the sigils on coins — and thus she got wrapped up into a variety of pecuniary prayers and incantations. Strictly unofficial stuff from Rome’s standpoint, you understand: treasure-hunting, lotteries, wagering, and other fond fantasies of unearned windfalls.

The solemn devout might laugh, but “dear god, give me some stuff” comprises an underrated share of popular theology. J. Dillinger cites this charmer in Magical Treasure Hunting in Europe and North America: A History, dating to 1794 Austria:

Virgin and martyr Corona, I, a poor sinner, ask you to remember your great mercy and honour and your control over the treasures of the world and whoever asks you in the name of Jesus Christ your dear bridegroom, in his name you have power to give worldly goods to me, a poor and needy person, so I beg you with all of my humble heart, oh virgin and martyr Corona relief [sic] me from my needs and my poverty by giving me 50000 florins of good gold for the salvation of my soul through the redemption of my need body.

This enchantment needs to be added to the web’s supply of money-drawing rituals.

Because engaging such supernatural entities was a frightful venture for the petitioner, be he ever so humble, the prayer amusingly contains an equally elaborate chant for dismissing Saint Moneybags after she has paid up.

Now go away in the peace of God, which shall be between you and me, go back to the place where you came from, the eternal peace of God shall be and shall stay forever between you and me, and you will come again, when I wish to see you. Now go away and be blessed, through God and his holy five wounds, and go away in the peace of God, and the blessing be between you and me and the mine. Amen.

* Her legend can be found attributed to St. Stephanie: like “Corona”, the name Stephanie means “crown”.

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Entry Filed under: Ancient,Arts and Literature,Disfavored Minorities,Dismembered,Execution,Gruesome Methods,History,Martyrs,Pelf,Roman Empire,Soldiers,Torture,Uncertain Dates,Women

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1873: John Devine, “The Chicken”

Add comment May 14th, 2016 Headsman

Purple prose for a broken neck from the San Francisco Bulletin of May 14, 1873. Transcribed below is only the first third of the article — the remainder being dedicated to accounts of various other previous San Francisco executions.

This day has been marked by an event of signal import in the history of this city, wherein the slow hand of justice, after a lapse of many years, has overtaken one of the class of reckless criminals who have reveled in rapine and bloodshed, bringing reproach on the fair fame of San Francisco, and red-handed murder has expiated its guilt by the righteous penalty of ignominious death upon the scaffold.

Whatever may be the abhorrence of capital punishment commonly experienced by a portion of the people, while contemplating the events of the past few years, the tardy and uncertain sway of justice, a sense of satisfaction and increased security will be inspired in the whole community by the announcement of John Devine, “The Chicken,” has met the fate which the law prescribes for the destroyer of human life, and there is one murderer less in San Francisco.

From the infamous character of this man, and the terror which his deeds of violence excited through a long course of comparatively unpunishable crime, ere consigning him to oblivion, the public will be interested in a brief sketch of the

Career of the Murderer.

The man who has now paid the penalty of his last dark crime, leaves a record which has no parallel among the many depraved wretches who have figured in the brief but terrible criminal history of San Francisco, and perhaps the half has not been told.

The police officials considered him the most dangerous and unscrupulous criminal that infested the city, and hint at mysterious deeds of blood, never unravelled by the minions of justice, with which he is believed to have been connected. In truth, he was a fellow by the hand of nature marked, quoted and signed to do a deed of shame — apt, liable to be employed in danger with neither pity, love nor fear.

Devine was a native of Waterford, Ireland, where he was born in the year 1840, and was accordingly 33 years old at the time of his death.

He was of medium size, sharp features, dark-blue eyes, a low forehead, and generally repulsive expression of countenance.

He arrived in San Francisco in the year 1863, as a seaman on the clipper ship Young America.

On the voyage hither he distinguished himself as a quarrelsome fellow, and was frequently confined in irons to restore the discipline of the ship.

After squandering the wages he received in a short spell of carousing on shore, he was driven to the sea again and made a voyage to China, returning in the spring of 1865. He then obtained employment as a runner for sailor boarding-houses, in which capacity he perpetrated innumerable deeds of ruffianism in the “shanghaing” of sailors and citizens on outward bound ships. Shortly after engaging in this vocation he received the title of

“The Chicken.”

Which was endearingly conferred by one of his fellows, as significant of his prowess in a prize-fight.

Devine had four notable encounters of this order, in the city and vicinity, and displayed remarkable endurance and determination, though not always successful.

His career from the time of setting himself on shore was one continuous round of crime, and he is well suspected of having a knowledge of the manner in which many a corpse found floating in the bay, with fractured skull and rifled pockets, yielded up i[t]s life. His record on the police register shows

Seventy-Nine Arrests!

Up to May 16, 1871, when his final arrest for the crime of murder was made.

The charges against him embraced all manner of crimes, principally robberies and assaults with deadly weapons, it being his custom to assault his victims with slung-shot and brass-knuckles. His recorded crimes, however, are not supposed to embrace any near approach to the ull measure of enormities that were charged upon his guilty soul.

He was capable of the most savage treachery, and on one occasion attempted the murder of a prize-fighter named Tommy Chandler, by springing upon him from behind a door with a heavy iron bar. Being foiled in this, he subsequently shot Chandler, but not inflicting fatal injury, he got off with a short term of imprisonment on conviction of assault to murder.

A Characteristic Exploit.

On the 8th of June, 1867, about 6 o’clock in the morning, Devine assailed an aged German lady, named Mary Martin, as she was walking along Merchant street, near Battery, tore the pocket from her dress, and robbed her of a purse containing a check for [obscure] and $25 in coin.

For this robbery he was arrested, and released on bail, for notwithstanding the character he bore, he was usually enabled to find friends to go upon his bond in a certain part of the city.

When the case came up for trial officers went in search of Mrs. Martin, who had resided at a house on Powell street, as the important witness for the prosecution of Devine. The lady had disappeared.

What became of her was never known; but it was possible that Devine might have told. Passing over a list of comparative minor offences, such as knocking down and robbing people, the next noticeable affair in which this remarkable criminal figured was the

Attempted Murder of Miss McDonald.

On the night of the 9th, October, 1867, Miss Martha McDonald was standing in front of her place of residence, at the Mission, when she was suddenly seized by two men who were masked.

She was gagged by a handkerchief being forced into her mouth, and prevented from giving any alarm. In this condition the men dragged her a distance of two blocks and a half, to the bridge which crosses Mission Creek at Sixteenth street.

One of the two then started, according to the directions of his companion to “get the carriage.”

Being left in the custody of one only, Miss McDonald made a desperate effort to release herself. The fellow attempted to chloroform her; but the drug being spilled from the bottle, he then endeavored to secure her with a strap.

At this juncture the other man returned, and she heard the exclamation, “kill her, kill her!” A moment after she was pushed off the bridge, and fell into the muddy waters of the creek, while the two men who had abducted her ran away.

Slowly and surely she was sinking into the muddy bottom, with no assistance at hand, until the water was about her neck. Fortunately an alarm of fire started some person past the locality, and her cries of distress being heard, she was discovered and rescued.

Devine was arrested as one of the participants in this crime, and Miss McDonald positively identified him by his voice. Devine extricated himself from the affair by proving an alibi, it appearing that he was serving a term in the County Jail at the time of the attempted murder.

It subsequently transpired, however, that he held the privileged position at the County Jail of “outside trusty,” and was permitted to travel to all parts of the city at will in the performance of errands for prisoners in more restricted limits. And more than this, he was abroad at the very time the abduction of Miss McDonald was made.

The Loss of a Hand.

In the month of May, 1868, Devine was indulging in one of his periodical carousing spells, and often bringing terror to several of the resorts on his beat at the city front, he entered a boarding house kept by William Maitland, on Battery street.

Here he flourished a huge knife with the recklessness of a savage, and caused a precipitate retreat of all who happened to be in the place.

The proprietor had been asleep in the second story of the house, and hearing the uproar, came came down for a reconnaissance. Devine immediately started for him when he made his appearance, but Maitland was not of so yielding a disposition as to be driven from his own castle, and closing with Devine, he succeeded in disarming him.

The latter then made an attempt to recover the knife, when Maitland with a powerful stroke cut him across the wrist. The blade, by wonderful chance, entered the wrist joint, and the completely severed hand fell to the floor.

Devine was appalled for once in his life, and hurriedly departed; but presently he returned and demanded his lost hand, which Maitland kicked out upon the sidewalk to him. Devine took the severed member and hastened to a drug store, where he implored a clerk to try and sew it on again. But the injury was irreparable.

Devine as a Merchant.

After a season of retirement in the County Hospital, Devine emerged as far repaired as medical science would permit, and being a cripple, his condition excited the pity of boarding-house masters and others at the city front with whom he had been associated.

A contribution was made among them, amounting to $800, to enable Devine to establish himself in business by keeping a cigar stand.

He took the money, but instead of following the advice of his benefactors he squandered the whole sum in a few weeks of dissipation, and again returned to the pursuit of crime with all his previous energy.

He was associated with a woman named Mary Dolan, as bad as himself, and who was punished by terms of imprisonment in the County Jail and Penitentiary.

From the time of losing his hand up to his final arrest, he perpetrated numerous larcenies, some of considerable amounts, and was always busily engaged in thieving when not confined in jail.

A complete history of this man and his offenses would be one of the most appalling in the annals of crime. Such was John Devine, and rarely has the slow grip of justice overtaken a criminal more richly deserving of the severest penalty known to the law.

Murder of August Kamp.

The crime which John Devine has now expiated with his life, was one of the most cruel and wanton ever recorded in a civilized community, and could only have been accomplished by one utterly depraved.

It was in perfect keeping with the whole life and character of Devine, who had become callous to every impulse that elevates a man above the merest savage.

August Kamp was an unsuspecting young German, without relatives in the country. On the 10th of May, 1871, he arrived in the city from Antioch, where he had been employed, bringing with him his savings, to the amount of about $120.

He started immediately in search of employment, and while making his inquiries along the city front, he was met by Devine, who offered to procure him a situation on a fishing vessel.

Elated with this promise, young Kamp was persuaded to loan $20 to Devine, on the understanding that it would be repaid him the following day. The money was not returned as agreed, and Kamp finally suspecting the true character of his debtor, importuned him earnestly for his pay. Devine put him off repeatedly, at one time pretending that he had nothing but greenbacks on hand, and again making some other excuse.

On the 15th of May, Kamp having again demanded his pay, Devine told him that if he wanted the money very bad, he must go with him to his mother’s ranch, beyond Bay View. Accordingly the two started for the imaginary ranch, walking as far as Long Bridge, when they boarded one of the Bay View cars. On reaching the terminus of the railroad, the two got off the car and walked along the road. After passing the Five-Mile House, Devine pointed off to one side, saying that his mother’s ranch was in that direction, and by striking off across the fields instead of following the road they might save a distance of one mile out of two. Young Kamp assented and the two started across a lonely stretch of land, through vales and over hills, until a point was reached which the murderer thought sufficiently secluded for carrying out his design.

Kamp stooped down to crawl between the rails of a fence, Devine walking behind him, when the latter suddenly drew a pistol and fired the fatal shot, the ball entering Kamp’s skull behind the right ear.

Devine then ran away, supposing he had effectually dispatched his victim, and was seen hastening back alone to the railroad terminus.

Kamp was shortly after discovered by a Spaniard, who was herding sheep in the locality, and being still able to walk, he was assisted to a saloon on the road, and from thence brought in to the city and given in charge of the authorities.

From the representations which the mortally wounded youth could make, and other circumstances, the police were immediately confident that Devine was his murderer, and measures were at once instituted for his arrest.

He was traced to various places in the city, where he had boasted of obtaining money by an easy method, admitted to several that he had shot a man and endeavored to dispose of a revolver.

He was finally captured on board a steamer at Meiggs’ wharf, which was just about crossing over to Marin county, and the revolver, with two chambers discharged, was still in his possession.

At the City Prison he was placed in the midst of fifteen or twenty persons, and Kamp, who was yet rational, readily singled him out as the murderer. He walked up and placed his hand on Devine, saying, “You are the man that shot me.” Kamp was taken to the County Hospital, and every effort made to save his life, but without avail.

Just before his death, which occurred on the 5th of May, an effort was made to take his ante-mortem deposition, but unfortunately the Coroner arrived too late, and the important evidence of the murdered man was not secured in the case.

The chain of circumstances presented in the several trials, however, made out a case against the accused as strong circumstantial evidence could be drawn, and a doubt of his guilt was hardily admissible.

The First Trial

Was brought in the Twelth District Court, before Judge McKinstry, on the 20th of February, 187, and occupied eight days, resulting in a verdict according to the indictment of “murder in the first degree.” The Court sentenced Devine to be executed on the 25th of April, 1872.

Judge Tyler, counsel for the condemned, appealed to the Supreme Court for a new trial on mere technical grounds, his principal point having reference to a minor discrepancy of evidence of one witness as taken before the Coroner at the trial. Although the several points did not affect the merits of the case in the least, the appeal was successful, and to the efforts of most indefatigable counsel the wretched man was indebted to an extension of his lease of life a full year.

The case was brought to a second trial in March last, in the same court. In the meantime an important witness had died, and the prisoner and his counsel were exceedingly hopeful of founding complications on this circumstance equal to another successful appeal to the Supreme Court.

After another tedious trial the inevitable verdict of “guilty” fell upon the ear of the doomed man for the second time, and he was again sentenced to be executed on Friday the 9th of May.

Hope was still buoyant in his breast, relying upon the determined goal of his counsel, until the 7th, when the announcement was made that the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the lower court, and his fate was sealed beyond the further probability of human interference.

By the earnest intercession of the spiritual adviser of the condemned prisoner, the Governor was persuaded to grant a brief reprieve of five days, in the hope that the guilty wretch, with the certainty of speedy death before him, might finally yield to the ministrations of his anxious spiritual adviser, Rev. Father Spreckles, and meet his end in a penitential spirit.

During his long term of imprisonment Devine manifested a bearing of bravado, never believing that merited retribution would finally overtake him, and on several occasions he laughed to scorn kindly persons who ought to impress him with a realization of his terrible position, and turn him to preparation for another life. By a

Remarkable Coincidence

His execution occurred two years to a day from the commission of the murderous act that consigned him to death at the hands of justice, and in his case it may be said, “God’s mills grind slow but sure.”

After receiving his brief reprieve from the Governor, Devine realized that no earthly interference could avail him further, and he relinquished all hope of life.

At his own solicitation all visitors were ecluded from his cell with the exception of his spiritual advisers, and he gave himself earnestly to preparations for the awful change that awaited him, in the few hours that still remained.

At times he wept bitterly when exhorted to a contemplation of his guilty life and true repentance, and the consolations of religious faith seemed to reconcile him to his fate, and enable him to await his end with fortitude.

On Monday he received the Sacrament of Communion from Rev. Father Spreckles, and Archbishop Alemany conferred upon him confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church.

On the succeeding days Devine assumed an air of cheerfulness. On Tuesday he asked permission of the Sheriff to be shaved, which was granted, the precaution first being taken to bind him securely to guard against any suicidal designs. His ostensible wife, Mary Dolan, was in jail at the time of the execution, having been committed a few weeks since for her common offence of habitual drunkenness.

Parting With His Son.

Devine also had a son, a child of six years of age, whom he had not seen for several years, and he expressed an earnest desire to see him before his death.

The Sheriff and his deputies were anxious to gratify this last request, and visited the various charitable institutions in the city yesterday, endeavoring to find the child.

Devine last heard of him at the Protestant Orphan Asylum, where he had caused him to be placed immediately after his arrest for murder, the mother, Mary Dolan, being unfit to care or provide for him in consequence of her continual drunkenness and frequent detentions in jail.

The lad had been removed from the Orphan Asylum, but the Sheriff happily discovered him in charge of the Ladies’ Relief Society, comfortably provided for.

When the child arrived at the cell of his wretched father last evening, Devine was much affected, and exhibited instincts of humanity he had never known before. He embraced his offspring tenderly, wept over him, and implored him to shun the evil ways that had brought his father to ignominious death, and when the lad was finally removed, he clung to him with convulsive throbs, as if parting with the only object that had ever awakened the emotion of affection in his breast.

Last Hours of the Doomed Man.

Devine retired at about 10 o’clock last night after devotion with his spiritual adviser. He slept soundly through the night until 5 o’clock this morning, when he was awakened by the Jailor.

In reply to the inquiries of the officer, he said that he had enjoyed refreshing slumber, as one could who had a clear conscience. He dressed himself with care, and gave much attention to combing his hair neatly and arranging his toilet, having been provided with a new suit of black and a pair of slippers.

At 8 o’clock he ate a hearty breakfast, and shortly after his spiritual adviser, Rev. Father Spreckles, Archbishop Alameney [sic] and two Sisters of Mercy arrived. The doomed man devoted the remaining few hours of his life to fervent supplications for mercy.

As the hour for the execution approached, the wickets in all the cells were closed, the “trustees” allowed the limits of the Jail were locked up, and the condemned murderer Russell was taken to a remote part of the jail and locked in the room formerly occupied by Mrs. Fair.

At 11 o’clock the reporters of the press were admitted and allowed to inspect the preparations for the execution.

The Scaffold

Was laid across the railings of the upper corridor at the north end, the trap in the centre permitting the body to drop to the lower corridor within about three feet of the floor, the rope allowing a fall of six feet.

The gallows beam was extended above under the skylights, the ends resting in the ventillating apertures on either side.

On the west side of the scaffold an iron rod run up, to which was attached a cord, secured to a ring in one of the cell doors, the slipping of which drew the bolt by a weight and allowed the trap to fall. The gallows was the same used in previous executions, the last murderer who had stood thereon being the Chinaman, Chung Wong, who was executed in 1865.

At twenty minutes to 12 the Sisters of Mercy took their leave of Devine, and shortly after, attended by the Sheriff and the priests, Devine was conducted from the No. 1 cell near the entrance of the lower corridor, which he had occupied since his fate became sealed, to No. 41 cell in the second corridor, which was located nearly opposite the steps leading upon the scaffold. He looked pale and haggard, but a smile rested upon his countenance as he passed the group of reporters at the foot of the stairway.

He ascended the stairway with a light elastic step, and seemed to look car[e]lessly at the gallows as he tripped along the gallery.

At half past 12 o’clock an immense crowd had gathered in the street in front of the jail, and on all sides of the building where a position might be obtained to observe even the grim walls within which the dread scene of violent death was being enacted.

The Sheriff then admitted all those who had received permission to be present, to the number of about two hundred. The spectators included several Sheriffs from adjoining counties, members of the Board of Supervisors, physicians, city officials, and upwards of thirty reporters of the press, among the latter being representatives of some of the Eastern papers, and artists for the New York illustrated journals.

The reporters were assigned a position directly in front of the scaffold, in the west gallery of the upper corridor, and the physicians took their places within the line on the floor of the lower corridor.

The prisoner remained in his cell engaged in his final devotions, while the tramping of many feet and the subdued murmur of voices without, reminded him of the relentless hand of Justice, eager to close his career.

The corridors, above and below, were greatly crowded, while the side openings, below the sky lights, in either, were completely occupied, their appearance suggestive of the private boxes of a public exhibition.

The Execution.

At a quarter to 1 o’clock, the Sheriff directed his deputies to their positions upon the scaffold, and immediately after he entered the cell of the doomed man for a parting interview of brief duration.

On emerging, Sheriff Adams mounted the scaffold and stated to the spectators that it was the wish of Devine that all should preserve silence and ask him no questions.

At two minutes before 1 o’clock the Sheriff opened the door of the cell and Devine emerged, carrying a crucifix in his hand and followed by Father Spreckles. He ascended the steps to the scaffold with closed eyes, manifesting symptoms of weakness, and though bearing up with great power of nerve, the expression of his countenance and the twitching muscles of his throat indicated the welling up of inexpressible agony of soul.

While standing upon the scaffold his eyes remained closed, while Father Spreckles, taking the crucifix, continued whispering the consolations of the Church in his ear.

The death-warrant was hurriedly read by Deputy Lamott, but Devine gave no heed thereto, attending closely to the ministrations of Father Spreckles and frequently kissing the crucifix with much fervor as it was placed to his lips.

At the conclusion of the reading of the warrant, ailor McKenzie bound the doomed man with straps. One was passed round his breast and pinioned the arms at the elbows, another at the waist pinioned the wrists, and two other straps were secured about the knees and the ankles. The rope was then placed about his neck, the large knot of the noose fixed under the left ear.

Last Scene of All.

The murderer now stood upon the verge of the unknown. He opened his eyes for the first time upon the scaffold ere quitting the warm precincts of the cheerful day, and cast one longing, lingering look behind.

The bright sunshine shimmered through the skylights into the gloomy corridor, and wrought the shadow of the gallows-beam before him.

Loud laughter and the murmur of the thoughtless crowd without disturbed the awful stillness that reigned within.

Nerving himself for the last moment, Devine exclaimed with a loud voice, “Oh, my sweet Jesus, unto thy hands I commend my spirit. Amen.” He kissed the crucifix again, and the black cap was drawn over his head.

The spectators awaited with bated breath.

A moment more and a dull grating sound lie the swinging of a gate, broke the solemn stillness, and the soul of the murderer had passed out.

As the trap swung, Devine dropped about six feet, a sharp snap indicating that his neck was broken. A few convulsive throes succeeded for a moment with drawing up of the knees, and death resulted speedily with little pain. The physicians made the usual observations, and pronounced life entirely extinct in less than 15 minutes. The execution was most successfully carried out in every detail.

The spectators commenced leaving the jail immediately after the fall of the drop, excepting the few whose presence was required to sign as witnesses of the due execution of the sentence. The large crowd without lingered until the afternoon was well advanced, in morbid curiosity, discussing the death and career of the departed murderer.

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1895: Areski El Bachir, Algerian rebel

Add comment May 14th, 2015 Headsman

Algerian rebel Areski El Bachir was guillotined on this date in 1895 at Azazga with five of his companions.

Our man emerged in the 1880s bedeviling the French from Kabilya where the French had already had to suppress a rebellion. Collective punishment for that rising, onerous taxes, and the empire’s confiscations to benefit colonists all fired continuing resentment.

To French eyes, El Bachir was simply a bandit. But for periods of his nearly 15 years’ activity his word was next to law where the triclor could not reach. Kabilya’s colonial officials lived in fear of his revenge.

It required a dedicated military expedition mounted by the Governor-General of Algiers in order to capture El Bachir and disperse his band. Many of his followers were deported to the New Caledonia penal colony.

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Algeria,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,France,Guerrillas,Guillotine,History,Mass Executions,Murder,Occupation and Colonialism,Outlaws,Power,Public Executions,Revolutionaries

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1913: Andriza Mircovich, by a shooting-machine

Add comment May 14th, 2014 Headsman

101 years ago today, a Serbian immigrant was shot for murder in Carson City, Nevada.

It was an ordinary murder, by an ordinary man: his cousin died in a mining fire in 1911, and Andriza (or Andrija) Mircovich, feeling he got stiffed on the resulting inheritance, stabbed to death the probate attorney (a fellow South Slav named Gregorovich).

The execution, however, was extraordinary — and has never in history been repeated.

The march of science had lately made possible whole new methods of execution heretofore uncontemplated — like electricity and poison gas. At the same time, mechanical engineering had improved old standbys like beheading and hanging from slipshod, error-prone affairs to efficient operations worthy of an age of industry.

Somewhere between those categories lies the firing squad. Firearms, of course, were new technology relative to the noose and a big ol’ axe, but we do find executions by shooting back to the 17th century at least.

Though the guns themselves had been updated, Nevada was forced by circumstances to do for firing squads what Dr. Guillotin had done for headsmen.

Nevada law at the time allowed inmates to choose between hanging and shooting. The state had all the accoutrement for the former, but it hadn’t ever conducted one of the latter. When Mircovich insisted on being shot, and prison officials couldn’t find people willing to pull the trigger, Nevada actually built a “shooting gallery of steel” — an entire contraption to automate the lethal fusillade.


Image from this history of Nevada capital punishment.

The 1,000-pound gallery of steel, whose arrival caused the prison warden George Cowing to resign in horror,* consisted of a shed with three protruding mounted rifles, which would be individually sighted on the heart of the restrained prisoner and fired when guards cut a string to release a spring mechanism.

In a macabre Rube Goldberg parody, it was improved for the consciences of the guards by having three strings that would be simultaneously cut, only one of which actually triggered the gallery. A redundant layer of plausible deniability was added, since each of the three guards had aimed only one of the three rifles, by loading only two of the three guns with live ammunition.

Mircovich went to his death still fulminating profanely against the judge who condemned him and the injustice of it all. The scene, it must be said, was not exactly the finest hour in penal history.

But the device itself? It worked perfectly, killing Mircovich nigh-instantly with two balls straight to his heart.


From the Los Angeles Times, May 15, 1913.

Nevada got rid of this inconvenient execution option not long after, and Mircovich remains the only human being put to death by shooting (whether by human hands or mechanical ones) in the Silver State’s history. The guns from this weird artifact currently reside at the Nevada State Museum, Carson City; the scaffolding that once surrounded them is in some aircraft carrier or tank, having been donated as scrap metal during World War II.

* Cowing was replaced by former governor Denver Dickerson, who would later oversee Nevada’s pathbreaking gas chamber debut. Digression: Dickerson’s turn as governor had been notable for his arranging a boxing match in Reno between the black champion Jack Johnson and the “great white hope” James Jeffries, which resulted in a legendary Johnson victory and — another sign of the era’s dismal condition of race relations — a nationwide wave of racial violence.

According to Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, Dickerson was the kind of guy who could see past skin color well enough to make bank wagering on Johnson.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,History,Murder,Nevada,Pelf,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Shot,USA

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1917: Emil Rebreanu, Forest of the Hanged inspiration

Add comment May 14th, 2012 Headsman

On this date in 1917, Romanian Lieutenant Emil Rebreanu was hanged for attempted desertion by the Austro-Hungarian army.

Here’s Rebreanu’s entry at the Enciclopedia Romaniei, which says in brief that he was one of 14 (!) brothers born in the part of present-day Romania that was then attached to the Kingdom of Hungary.

Upon the outbreak of World War I, Rebreanu was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian forces and fought on several fronts. But his removal to the lines to fight against the independent Romanian state was a front too far: he attempted to cross the lines to the Romanians on the night of May 10-11, but was captured, court-martialed, and sentenced to hang.

However, tragedy for the sizable Rebreanu family was a boon to world literature.

One of Emil’s many brothers was author Liviu Rebreanu, one of the greats of Romanian letters.

The latter’s 1922 novel Forest of the Hanged clearly draws upon his brother’s fate: in Forest, a Romanian officer uneasily serving in the Habsburg army first condemns a Czech deserter to death as part of a tribunal, then attempts himself to desert to Romania.

For his trouble, the character suffers the exact same fate as Emil Rebreanu.

A 1965 Romanian film, also called Forest of the Hanged, adapts this novel for the silver screen.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Arts and Literature,Austria,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Desertion,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Habsburg Realm,Hanged,History,Military Crimes,Notably Survived By,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Romania,Soldiers,Wartime Executions

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1883: Joe Brady, the first of the Invincibles

Add comment May 14th, 2011 Headsman

“All patriots on earth must respect him (Joe Brady).”

John Boyle O’Reilly

On this date in 1883, Britain set about the grim work of avenging the assassination of its Irish plenipotentiaries by hanging Joe Brady at Kilmainham Gaol.

“He was brought up as a stonemason,” the May 15, 1883 London Times recalled of the by-then-hanged man, “of herculean strength, his occupation developing the muscular power of his arms, which told with such terrible effect when he drove the knives into the bodies of his victims.”

Those knife-driven bodies belonged to Irish civil servant Thomas Henry Burke (a quisling figure, in the eyes of Irish nationalists) and the English politician Lord Frederick Cavendish, who were jumped while taking a stroll in a Dublin park on May 6, 1882.

The authors of their destruction — beyond Joe Brady, personally — were the splinter of radical Fenians known as “the Invincibles”, who figured on the vincibility of the collaborators and informers who made British control of Ireland possible. Especially their vincibility to stonemason-wielded surgical knives.

Efficient, and surely less than genteel, police work busted up the cell after those spectacular homicides, inducing leadership figures to turn state’s evidence against their subordinates. Four more men consequently hanged in the month following Brady’s execution. The stool pigeons got to walk.

History did not delay her verdict on these characters.

While Invincible-turned-informer James Carey was promptly murdered in retaliation, Brady et al joined nationalist mythology as martyrs who “died a Fenian blade.”

Ballad of Joe Brady

I am a bold undaunted youth, Joe Brady is my name,
From the chapel of North Anne Street one Sunday as I came,
All to my surprise who should I espy but Moreno and Cockade;
Says one unto the other: “Here comes our Fenian blade”.

I did not know the reason why they ordered me to stand,
I did not know the reason why they gave me such a command.
But when I saw James Carey there, I knew I was betrayed.
I’ll face death before dishonour and die a Fenian blade.

They marched me up North Anne Street without the least delay,
The people passed me on the path, it filled them with dismay.
My sister cried, “I see you Joe, if old Mallon gives me lave,
Keep up your heart for Ireland like a true-born Fenian Blade.

It happened in the Phoenix Park all in the month of May,
Lord Cavendish and Burke came out for to see the polo play.
James Carey gave the signal and his handkerchief he waved,
Then he gave full information against our Fenian blades.

It was in Kilmainham Prison the Invincibles were hung.
Mrs Kelly she stood there all in mourning for her son.
She threw back her shawl and said to all:
“Though he fills a lime-pit grave,
My son was no informer and he died a Fenian blade.”

And if the Times‘ report (the same May 15 article) is to be believed (reporters weren’t actually allowed to witness the execution itself), Brady wore that invincible conviction to the scaffold.

“Up to the last moment,” the paper reported, “he retained the animal courage which he displayed in the deed itself, which, though dastardly as regards the unarmed men whom he attacked, was daring in its other circumstances.”

Speaking of animal courage.

Our man Brady, very famous in Ireland around the turn of the century, makes a little appearance in the referential soup of James Joyce’s Ulysses* for animal spirits of a different sort: a conversation about his hanging provides the departure point for a Joycean meander into the phenomenon of scaffold priapism.

–There’s one thing it hasn’t a deterrent effect on, says Alf.

–What’s that? says Joe.

–The poor bugger’s tool that’s being hanged, says Alf.

–That so? says Joe.

–God’s truth, says Alf. I heard that from the head warder that was in

Kilmainham when they hanged Joe Brady, the invincible. He told me when they cut him down after the drop it was standing up in their faces like a poker.

–Ruling passion strong in death, says Joe, as someone said.

–That can be explained by science, says Bloom. It’s only a natural phenomenon, don’t you see, because on account of the …

And then he starts with his jawbreakers about phenomenon and science and this phenomenon and the other phenomenon.

The distinguished scientist Herr Professor Luitpold Blumenduft tendered medical evidence to the effect that the instantaneous fracture of the cervical vertebrae and consequent scission of the spinal cord would, according to the best approved tradition of medical science, be calculated to inevitably produce in the human subject a violent ganglionic stimulus of the nerve centres of the genital apparatus, thereby causing the elastic pores of the CORPORA CAVERNOSA to rapidly dilate in such a way as to instantaneously facilitate the flow of blood to that part of the human anatomy known as the penis or male organ resulting in the phenomenon which has been denominated by the faculty a morbid upwards and outwards philoprogenitive erection IN ARTICULO MORTIS PER DIMINUTIONEM CAPITIS.

* As was Brady’s getaway driver James “Skin-the-Goat” Fitzharris, who became a national celebrity by serving a long prison sentence for refusing to inform on anyone.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Activists,Arts and Literature,Assassins,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,England,Execution,Hanged,History,Ireland,Martyrs,Murder,Notable for their Victims,Occupation and Colonialism,Separatists,Terrorists

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1985: Mohammed Munir, Indonesian Communist

1 comment May 14th, 2010 Headsman

On this date in 1985, the onetime General Secretary of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) was suddenly executed for subversion.

Not to be confused with Egyptian pop singer Mohamed Mounir.

Though the date here says 1985, Munir was actually a very late casualty of the 1960s: specifically, the murky attempted “coup” of 1965 whose authorship the army quickly ascribed to the Communists and on that doubtful basis unleashed a ferocious bloodletting in 1965-66.*

Along with the hundreds of thousands of leftists slaughtered — many in Muslim sectarian violence, as distinct from being specifically hunted down by the army — some 200,000 wound up in prison.

According to a U.S. Department of Defense publication, Low-Intensity Conflict in the Third World (pdf),

the vast majority [of those 200,000 prisoners] were gradually released and rehabilitated during the first seven to 10 years of President Suharto’s New Order. By the mid-1970s, although Western sources could not agree on the remaining number, probably no more than 30,000 people remained in custody; but their living conditions and situations were often extremely bad. In the late 1970s, responding to the Carter administration, Vatican, The Hague, and Amnesty International remonstrances, the Suharto government implemented a series of staged, publicized releases of remaining PKI prisoners. All told, between 25,000 and 30,000 were released between 1977 and the early 1980s. In the early 1980s, most western sources estimated that no more than 5,000 hard-core PKI and other radical personnel remained in custody.

As the former head of the PKI-affiliated trade union SOBSI, Munir was “radical personnel” in the eyes of the Suharto dictatorship.

He’d been condemned on subversion charges in 1973, but the government had simply left that sort of people to rot in prison. (It had been five years between Munir’s arrest and his trial in the first place; clearly, nobody in Jakarta thought him a clear and present danger.)

According to this doctoral thesis,

On 14 May 1985 he was taken from his cell, and without explanation, shot. On 19 July 1985 there were further executions of Rustomo, Gatot, Lestario and Djoko Untung — all former senior members of the PKI in East Java. It was unclear whether the government had other agendas, or if the condemned had simply come to the end of a long, tedious and inhumane process … What the imprisonments and executions did, however, was to illustrate the continued power and convenience of state violence and anti-communism.

That “convenient” anti-communism helped clamp down on internal dissension.

The official campaigns made reformist sentiment in the civil service and the pro-democracy aspirations of students synonymous with communism. The fear generated served as a warning to progressive elements within the bureaucracy not to tamper … It was, in effect, a warning to all sections of society not to challenge the relationship between the ruler and the ruled.

* With the blessing of the West, naturally.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Indonesia,Power,Shot

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