1588: St. Margaret Ward, the Pearl of Tyburn

Add comment August 30th, 2020 Richard Challoner

(Thanks to 18th century English Catholic Bishop Richard Challoner for the guest post — originally from Memoirs of Missionary Priests — on an intrepid Elizabethan Catholic, hanged in an anti-Catholic crackdown following the defeat of the Spanish Armada. While the timing of her execution might have been circumstantial, she earned her martyr’s crown fully by pulling off an daring jailbreak that loosed an English priest who might otherwise have hanged in her place. She’s one of three women among the 40 Martyrs of England, along with St. Margaret Clitherow and St. Anne Line, all three of whom are commemorated on August 30. Also martyred on the same occasion were John Roche (the waterman who aided Margaret Ward), a priest named Richard Leigh, and three other lay Catholics condemned for aiding priests — Richard Lloyd, Richard Martin, and Edward Shelley.)

THE HISTORY OF MRS. MARGARET WARD.

Keeping watch at London’s St. Etheldreda’s, an escape-rope curled in her basket. (cc) image from John Salmon.

Mrs. Margaret Ward was born at Congleton, in Cheshire, of a gentleman’s family, and was ia the service of a lady of distinction, when Mr. Watson, a secular priest, was confined in Bridewell for his religion. The story of this gentleman is thus related by the bishop of Tarrasona, J. 2. c. 5.

Richard Watson was a priest of the seminary of Rheims, a virtuous and zealous missioner, who had laboured much in the Lord’s vineyard; but being apprehended, and confined to Bridewell, was, at length, by force of torments, and the insupportable labours, and other miseries of the place, prevailed upon, through human frailty, to go once to the protestant church; upon which, he was set at liberty. But such was the remorse he felt in his soul after this sin, that, instead of bettering his condition by being thus enlarged, he found his case far worse, and the present torments of his mind much more insupportable, than those which he before had endured in his body, the more because he had now lost his God, whose divine grace had formerly been his comfort and support; whereas he now could find no comfort, either from God or man; but the heavens were become to him as of brass, and the earth as iron.

In this melancholy condition, he went to one of the prisons, where some others, his fellow priests were confined, to seek for counsel and comfort from them; and here, having confessed his fault, with great marks of a sincere repentance, and received absolution, desiring to repair the scandal he had given, in the same place where he had sinned, he returned to the church at Bridewell, and there, in the middle of the congregation, declared with a loud voice, that he had done very ill in coming lately to church with them, and joining in their service; which, said he, you untruly call the service of God, for it is, indeed, the service of the devil. He would have said much more, but was prevented by the people, who immediately laid hold of him, and stopping his mouth, dragged him to prison; where they thrust him into a dungeon so low, and so strait, that he could neither stand up in it, nor lay himself down at his full length to sleep. Here they loaded him with irons, and kept him for a whole month upon bread and water; of which they allowed him so small a pittance, that it was scarce enough to keep him alive, not suffering any one to come near him to comfort him or speak to him.

At the month’s end, he was translated from this dungeon to a lodging at the top of the house, where, at least, he could see the light, and was less straitened for room: but the adversaries of his faith made this lodging more troublesome to him than the former, by plying him continually, sometimes with threats, sometimes with prayers and promises, to engage him to go again to church, and to seem, at least outwardly, whatever he might inwardly believe, to be of their religion: so that their continual importunities made him perfectly weary of his life. In the mean time, the catholics, who heard of his sufferings, durst not attempt to come near him, to succour or comfort him, for fear of being taken for the persons who had persuaded him to what he had one, till Mrs. Margaret Ward, a gentlewoman of a courage above her sex, undertook to do it.

She was in the service of a lady of the first rank, who then resided at London; and hearing of the most afflicted condition of Mr. Watson, asked and obtained leave of her lady to go and attempt to visit and relieve him. In order to this, she changed her dress, and taking a basket upon her arm, full of provisions, went to the prison, but could not have leave to come at the priest, till, by the intercession of the gaoler, whom Mrs. Ward had found means to make her friend; with much ado she obtained permission to see him from time to time, and bring him necessaries, upon condition that she should be searched in coming in and going out, that she might carry no letter to him, or from him; which was so strictly observed for the first month, that they even broke the loaves, or pies, that she brought him, lest any paper should thereby be conveyed to him; and all the while she was with him, care was taken that some one should stand by to hear all that was said. But, at length, beginning to be persuaded that she came out of pure compassion to assist him, they were less strict in searching her basket, and in hearkening to their conversation; so that he had an opportunity of telling her, that he had found a way by which, if he had a cord long enough for that purpose, he could let himself down from the top of the house, and make his escape.

Mrs. Ward soon procured the cord, which she brought in her basket under the bread and other eatables, and appointed two catholic watermen, who were let into the secret, to attend with their boat near Bridewell, between two and three o’clock the next morning; at which time Mr. Watson, applying to the corner of the cornice his cord, which he had doubled, not sufficiently considering the height of the building, began to let himself down, holding the two ends of the cord ia his hands, with a design of carrying it away with him, after he had got down, that it might not be discovered by what means he had made his escape. But, by that time he had come down something more than half the way, he found that his cord, which he had doubled, was not now long enough; and he, for some time, remained suspended in the air, being neither able to ascend or descend, without danger of his life.

At length, recommending himself to God, he let go one end of his cord, and suffered himself to fall down upon an old shed or penthouse, which, with the weight of his body, fell in with a great noise. He was very much hurt and stunned by the fall, and broke his right leg and right arm; but the watermen run in immediately to his assistance, and carried him away to their boat. Here he soon came to himself, and, feeling the cord, remembered his coat which he had left in the fall, which he desired one of the watermen to go and bring him. And when they were now advanced in their way, he bethought himself of the cord, and told the watermen, that if they did not return to fetch it, the poor gentlewoman that had given it him would certainly be put to trouble. But it was now too late; for the noise having alarmed the gaoler, and others in the neighbourhood, they came to the place, and finding the cord, immediately suspected what the matter was; and made what search they could to find the priest, but in vain; for the watermen, who had carried him off, took proper care to conceal him, and keep him safe, till he was cured: but God was pleased that, instead of one who thus escaped from prison, two others, upon this occasion, should meet with the crown of martyrdom, as we shall now see.

For the gaoler seeing the cord, and being convinced that no one but Mrs. Ward could have brought it to the prisoner, and having before found out where she lived, seat, early in the morning justices and constables to the house, who, rushing in, found her up, and just upon the point of going out, in order to change her lodgings. They immediately apprehended her, and carried her away to prison, where they loaded her with irons, and kept her m this manner for eight days. Dr. Champney and father Ribadaneira add, that they hung her up by the hands, and cruelly scourged her, which torments she bore with wonderful courage, saying, they were preludes of martyrdom with which, by the grace of God, she hoped she should be honoured.*

After eight days she was brought to the bar, where, being asked by the judges, if she was guilty of that treachery to the queen, and to the laws of the realm, of furnishing the means by which a traitor of a priest, as they were pleased to call him, had escaped from justice, she answered, with a cheerful countenance, in the affirmative: and that she never, in her life, had done any thing of which she less repented, than of the delivering that innocent lamb from the hands of those bloody wolves. They sought to terrify her by their threats, and to oblige her to confess where the priest was, but in vain; and therefore they proceeded to pronounce sentence of death upon her, as in cases of felony: but, withal, they told her, that the queen was merciful; and that if she would ask pardon of her majesty, and would promise to go to church, she should be set at liberty, otherwise she must look for nothing but certain death.

She answered, that as to the queen, she had never offended her majesty; and that it was not just to confess a fault, by asking pardon for it, where there was none: that as to what she had done in favouring the priest’s escape, she believed the queen herself, if she had the bowels of a woman, would have done as much, if she had known the ill treatment he underwent. That as to the going to their church, she had, for many years, been convinced that it was not lawful for her so to do, and that she found no reason now to change her mind, and would not act against her conscience; and therefore they might proceed, if they pleased, to the execution of the sentence pronounced against her; for that death, for such a cause, would be very welcome to her; and that she was willing to lay down not one life only, but many, if she had them, rather than betray her conscience, or act against her holy religion.

She was executed at Tyburn, August 30, 1588, showing to the end a wonderful constancy and alacrity; by which the spectators were much moved, and greatly edified.

Whilst these things were acting, Mr. Watson was under care in the waterman’s house, who, as soon as he was recovered, thought proper to withdraw farther from danger; and that he might be the better disguised, changed clothes with the waterman, who joyfully accepted the change, and put on, with great devotion, the clothes of one whom he regarded as a confessor of Christ. But not long after, walking in the streets, he met the gaoler, who took notice of the clothes, and caused him to be apprehended and carried before a justice of peace, where, being examined how he came by those clothes, he confessed the whole truth; upon which he was committed, prosecuted, and condemned: and making the same answers as Mrs. Ward had done, with regard to the begging the queen’s pardon, and going to church, he endured the same death with much spiritual joy in his soul, and a constancy which many admired, and were very much edified by it.

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Entry Filed under: 16th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,England,Execution,God,Guest Writers,Hanged,History,Martyrs,Mass Executions,Other Voices,Public Executions,Religious Figures,Torture,Women

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1679: Five Jesuits, for the Popish Plot

Add comment June 20th, 2020 Headsman

Five Jesuits were hanged at Tyburn on this date in 1679, in the largest single mass execution of England’s “Popish Plot” hysteria.

This club of five is the five of clubs in a Popish Plot-themed deck of cards. Here are more images from the same series.

During this 1678-1681 outbreak of anti-Catholic paranoia, according to the French priest Claude La Colombiere, “the name of the Jesuit [became] hated above all else, even by priests both secular and regular, and by the Catholic laity as well, because it is said that the Jesuits have caused this raging storm, which is likely to overthrow the whole Catholic religion.”

This clique of course had a long tradition on the Isles of positioning as treasonable foreign agents dating to the Elizabethan age.

The five Jesuits of concern to us today, Thomas White aka Thomas Whitebread, John Fenwick, William Harcourt aka William Harrison, John Gavan, and Anthony Turner, were accused by Popish Plot confabulator Titus Oates of having “consulted together and agreed to put the said Lord the King [i.e., the reigning king, Charles II] to death and final destruction, and to change the lawful established religion of this kingdom to the superstition of the Roman Church.”

The prisoners made a deft and eloquent defense, impugning the credibility of the embittered ex-priest Oates who could produce no evidence to support his conspiratorial charges — all the stuff that would become the common perception a few years later when a disgraced Oates stood in the pillory for the bloodbath unleashed by his fabulisms.

But in 1679 — what with being hated above all else — the trial was a foregone conclusion. They were hanged to death, then quartered posthumously.

In common with almost all the victims of the Popish Plot persecutions, all five denied their guilt at their executions.

I am come now to the last scene of mortality, to the hour of my death, an hour which is the horizon between time and eternity, an hour which must either make me a star to shine for ever in the empire above, or a firebrand to burn everlastingly amongst the damned souls in hell below; an hour in which, if I deal sincerely, and with a hearty sorrow acknowledge my crimes, I may hope for mercy; but if I falsely deny them, I must expect nothing but eternal damnation; and therefore, what I shall say in this great hour, I hope you will believe. And now in this hour, I do solemnly swear, protest and vow, by all that is sacred in heaven and on earth, and as I hope to see the face of God in glory, that I am as innocent as the child unborn of those treasonable crimes, which Mr. Oates, and Mr. Dugdale have sworn against me in my trial … [if I] palliate or hide the truth, I wish with all my soul that God may exclude me from his heavenly glory, and condemn me to the lowest place of hell-fire.

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Entry Filed under: 17th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Drawn and Quartered,England,Execution,Hanged,History,Martyrs,Mass Executions,Public Executions,Religious Figures,Treason,Wrongful Executions

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1751: Thomas Quin, Joseph Dowdell, Thomas Talbot, and five others at Tyburn

Add comment June 17th, 2020 Headsman

From the Newgate Calendar:

THOMAS QUIN, JOSEPH DOWDELL, AND THOMAS TALBOT

A Gang of Notorious Thieves, executed at Tyburn, June 17, 1751, for robbery.

At length these miserable robbers see,
Unhappy fruit, suspended on the tree;
They teach, sad lesson! in their wretched state,
That shame and ruin are the villain’s fate;
And that too late each guilty man will find,
Justice, though sometimes slow, is never blind.

The villains disclosed in this narrative, will shew the necessity of the act of parliament for inflicting punishment on masters and mistresses giving a false character. of a servant.

A corrupt servant is the most dangerous inmate of a house; and therefore too much caution cannot be used in admitting such domestics.

Quin, a murderer in his own country, Ireland, was recommended to London as a youth of good morals; while his disposition was base to a great degree.

Dowdell, who in his apprenticeship had injured his first master, procured a recommendation to another, to whom he also proved a villain.

The Case of the unhappy WILLIAM GIBBS, now under Sentence of Death.

On the 13th of March I went to the House of John Duncombe, at Nine at Night, to get a Pint of Beer. I lived five Doors from him. I sat down to drink my Beer, and in came Litchfield, Corbet, Smith, Jackson, and one Gordon; Litchfield went away, and left the rest; Smith and Corbet went to Cards, and Wine came in plentifully. I being a Neighbour, was desired to take Part, which I did. About Two o’Clock Mrs. Duncombs took her Purse, and dropt it over the Bar, I believe, in the Sight of all, except Jackson, who was drunk, and asleep on the Ground, notwithstanding he took upon him to swear hard against me, and was scarce able to stand or sit upon a Chair. I seeing Mrs. Duncombe so careless, and for no other Reason than to make her careful another Time, took the Purse, thinking it was Silver, (and not imagining a Sum of that Consequence would be so heedlessly handled) took it, and went and laid it on a Bulk, (which, by the bye, was his own Wife’s Green-Stall) a few Yards from Duncombe’s Door. Mrs. Duncombe missing the Purse, cried out, I have lost twenty-three Guineas; which frightened me almost out of my Senses, and she called her Husband. I denied the taking of it, and desired the Servant to call my Wife, thinking to get her to bring the Purse, and drop it in the Bar, or thereabouts; for, when I heard of the Sum, my Heart melted within me. Mr. Duncombe said, There’s no Occasion to call any Body, it is a Joke, and I will give a Bottle of Wine, and a free Pardon, and Thanks to him that will give an Account of it. I was very glad to hear that, and called him Backwards into the Yard, and said, Mr. Duncombe, I am sorry I should jest with such edged Tools, I little thought the Contents, but as I am a Neighbour, and live in Credit, pray let it go no farther; he said it should not; I told him where it was, and sent him for it. The Purse he had intire, and brought in a Bottle of Wine; and shook Hands; and, to all Appearance, were good Friends, as formerly, I having used his House ever since he kept it. And when he went to take Ship to go to Scotland, and carried a great Charge of Money, he chose me to conduct him, at Midnight, from Hyde-Park Corner to Hermitage Stairs. I really loved him, and would have done him any Service, as soon as I would have done it for myself; but a Person in Company, Corbet by Name, said we could not make the Matter up without going before a Justice. We agreed to go, Mr. Duncombe, myself, and another, privately. We did so, and Mr. Duncombe told the Justice, who lives near Golden Square, St. James’s, that it was a Jest, but that he wanted to be safe, and we were recommended to give general Releases. While my Wife was gone to get Releases drawn, an inveterate Enemy of mine came into the publick House where we were waiting, who called Mr. Duncombe out, and persuaded him to go to another Justice, and take out a Warrant for me, and before my Wife came back with the Releases, they had served a Warrant on me; and although we were within five or six Doors of the aforesaid Justice, they were ashamed to take me there, but took me about a Mile to another, by whom I was committed, although before recommended for Releases by the other. It plainly appears I had no Intent to keep the Purse or Contents for several Reasons: As first, No Person could lay it on me more than another, for there were four Persons in the House besides myself, and, as I am a dying Man, I never had a Thought of defrauding him of a Shilling. Secondly, I, as a Friend and Neighbour, have been Night and Day entrusted in his House, all the same as his Brother, and he never lost any thing as I ever heard of. Lastly, My Circumstances were not so bad as to cause me to do an ill Action, for I kept two Shops, one at Hammersmith, where my aged Father and Mother lives, and the other at Hyde-Park Corner; and when I came into Trouble I had two Apprentices, one of whom I have turned over since I have been in Newgate. I have a Wife and three Children, a Father and Mother, the one 80, the other 85 Years of Age, whose grey Heirs, without God’s great Mercy, will be brought with Sorrow to the Grave. When this great Misfortune happened to me, I worked for a great many noble Families, and I praise God, wherever I worked there was nothing lost. That unhappy Day, the 13th of March, I had been part of it at work at a worthy Gentleman’s, and was weary, and wanting a Pint of Beer before I went to Bed, could not be content to have it at Home with my Family, but must unfortunately go to the House, whereby I put myself in the Way of this great Misfortune, and if it be the Will of Divine Providence that I must suffer, I am content and resigned.

William Gibbs.
May, 1751.

Letter of one of the five other men hanged with Quinn, Dowdell, and Talbot

Talbot, the third of this dangerous gang, after having robbed on the highway; and being afraid of apprehension; applied to be restored to honest servitude, and was refused; but his master, in pity to his distresses, recommended, him to a nobleman.

Talbot, on the first opportunity, robbing his noble employer, we would ask whether the late master, knowing the servant to have been a thief, was not, in recommending him to an honest employ, virtually, the greater villain of the two? In fine, they were all from early youth, delinquents; and each had been imposed on honest people by those who knew them to be such. No wonder, then, that they will be found thereof the greatest rascals in this calendar of crimes.

Quin was a native of Dublin, the son of honest, but poor parents; and his father dying while he was a child, his uncle put him to school, and afterwards placed him apprentice to a buckle-maker, with whom be served three years faithfully; but his friends supplying him with clothes too genteel for his rank in life, he began to associate with gay company, and was guilty of many irregularities.

These thoughtless youths were frequently concerned in riots, and Quin was considered as the head of the party. In one of these nocturnal insurrections, Quin murdered a man, whose friends, watching him to his master’s house, desired that he might be delivered up to justice; but some of the journeymen sallying forth with offensive weapons, drove off the people; on which a warrant was issued for apprehending the murderer, when his master advised him to depart for England.

A subscription for his use being raised by his friends, he came to London, having recommendations to some gentlemen in that city; but of these he made no use, for, frequenting the purlieus of St. Giles’s, he spent his money among the lowest of his countrymen, and then entered on board a man of war.

After a service of six months, he quitted the ship at Leghorn, and sailed in another vessel to Jamaica, where he received his wages, which he soon spent. He now agreed to work his passage to England, and the ship arriving in the port of London, he took lodgings in St. Giles’s, and soon afterwards became acquainted with Dowdell and Talbot, of whom we are now to give an account.

Dowdell was the son of a bookbinder in Dublin, who being in low circumstances was unable to educate his children as he could have wished. His son Joseph, who was remarkable for the badness of his disposition, he ‘prenticed to a breeches-maker, but the graceless youth grew weary of his place before he had served two years of his time.

Dowdell being ordered by his master to take proper care of some green leather, particularly to defend it from the snow; instead thereof, he heaped such quantities of snow and ice on it, that it was greatly reduced in value. This circumstance so exasperated his master, that he was glad to get rid of him by delivering up his indentures of apprenticeship.

Thus at large, and the father ill able to support him, he was recommended to the service of a gentleman in the country, with whom he might have lived happily: but he behaved badly in his place, and running away to Dublin, commenced pickpocket.

After some practice in this way, he became connected with a gang of housebreakers, in company with whom he committed several depredations in Dublin. Having broke open a gentleman’s house, he was opposed by the servants, and effected his escape only by the use he made of a hanger; soon after which he was taken by the watchmen, and being carried before a magistrate, he was committed to prison till the next morning, His person was advertised, and he was brought to trial, but none of the servants being able to swear to him, he was acquitted for want of evidence.

He now renewed his dangerous practices, and committed a variety of robberies. The following is one of the most singular of his exploits. Going to the house of a farmer, near Dublin, he pretended to be a citizen who wanted a lodging, for the benefit of his health, and he would pay a liberal price.

The unsuspecting farmer put his lodger into the best chamber, and supplied his table in the most ample manner. After a residence of ten days, he asked the farmer’s company to the town of Finglass, where he wanted to purchase some necessaries. The farmer attending him; Dowdell purchased some articles at different shops, till seeing a quantity of gold in a till, he formed a resolution of appropriating it to his own use.

Having returned home with the farmer, Dowdell pretended to recollect that he had omitted to purchase some medicines, which he must take that night, and which had occasioned his going to Finglass. Hereupon the farmer ordered a horse to be saddled, and Dowdell set forwards, on a promise to return before night. On his arrival at Finglass he put up his horse, and stealing stealing unperceived into the shop above-mentioned, he stole the till with the money, and immediately set out for Dublin.

In the interim, the farmer missing his lodger, went to Finglass, and not finding him there, proceeded to Dublin, where he chanced to put up his horse at the same inn where Dowdell had taken up his quarters.

In a short time he saw our adventurer with some dealers, to whom he would have sold the horse; on which the farmer procured a constable, seized the offender, and lodged him in prison.

For this presumed robbery (a real one, doubtless, in the intention) he was brought to trial; but it appearing that the farmer had intrusted him with the horse, he could be convicted of nothing more than a fraud, for which he received sentence of transportation.

The vessel in which he sailed being overtaken by a storm, was dashed on the rocks of Cumberland, and many lives were lost, but several, among whom was Dowdell, swam on shore, and went to Whitehaven, where the inhabitants contributed liberally to their relief. Dowdell travelling to Liverpool, entered on board a privateer, which soon took several prizes, for which he received 60l. to his share, which he soon squandered in the most thoughtless extravagance. Being reduced to poverty, he robbed a Portuguese gentleman; for which he was apprehended, but afterwards released on the intercession of the gentlemen of the English factory; on which he sailed for England, and arrived at London.

He had not been long in the metropolis, before he associated with a gang of pickpockets and street-robbers (among whom was one Carter), whose practice it was to commit depredations at the doors of the theatres. Dowdell had not long entered into this association, before he and Carter went under the piazzas in Covent-garden, where the latter demanded a gentleman’s money, while Dowdell watched at a little distance, to give notice in case of a surprise. While Carter was examining the gentleman’s pockets, he drew his sword and killed the robber on the spot, and a mob gathering at the instant, it was with great difficulty that Dowdell effected his escape.

He now went to the lodgings of a woman of ill fame, who having been heretofore kept by a man of rank, he had given her a gold watch and some trifling jewels, which Dowdell advised her to pawn, to raise him ready money.

The girl hesitating to comply, he beat her in a most violent manner, on which she swore the peace against him; whereupon he was lodged in Newgate, but discharged at the next sessions, no prosecution being commenced against him.

He was no sooner at large, than he made a connexion with a woman of the town, whom an officer had taken to Gibraltar, and during her residence with him she had saved a hundred moidores. Dowdell having possessed himself of this sum, soon spent it extravagantly, and then prevailed on her to pawn her clothes for his support.

Talbot was the son of poor parents, who lived in Wapping, and having received a common education, he engaged himself as the driver of a post-chaise, in the service of a stable-keeper in Piccadilly. While he was driving two gentlemen on the Bath road, a highwayman stopped the carriage, and robbed them of their watches and money.

This circumstance gave Talbot an idea of acquiring money by illicit means; wherefore, on his return to London, he made himself acquainted with some highwaymen, assuring them that he was properly qualified to give them the intelligence necessary for the successful management of their business.

His proposal met with a ready acceptance; and a company having soon afterwards hired a coach and six of his master to go to Bath, Talbot gave one of the highwaymen notice of the affair; and it was resolved that the robbery should be committed on Hounslow-heath.

The highwaymen meeting the carriage on the appointed spot, robbed the parties of all they had, so that they were obliged to return to London for money before they could pursue their journey. Talbot’s share of this ill-gotten booty amounted to fifty pounds, which gave him such spirits that he resolved to pursue the same iniquitous mode of living.

In consequence of this resolution, Talbot informed the highwayman of some company going to Bath, and he attempted to rob them, but a gentleman in the carriage shot him dead on the spot.

Mortified at this accident which had befel his friend, Talbot no sooner arrived in London than he determined to resign his employment, and commence robber on his own account; but previous to engaging in this business, he spent his ready money in the worst company.

After several attempts to commit robberies, and having narrowly escaped the hands of justice, he grew sick of his employment, and requested his former master to take him into his service. This he declined, but in pity to his distress, recommended him to a nobleman, in whose family he was engaged.

Talbot had been but a short time in his new place, before he robbed the house of several articles of value, which he sold to the Jews, to supply the extravagance of one of the maid servants, with whom he had an amour.

This theft was not discovered at the time; but Talbot was soon discharged from his place, in consequence of the badness of his temper, which rendered him insupportable to his fellow servants.

On his dismission he spent his ready money with the most abandoned company, and then commencing housebreaker, committed a variety of depredations in the neighbourhood of London; for one of which he was apprehended and brought to trial at the Old Bailey, but acquitted for want of evidence.

On the very evening he was acquitted, he stopped a carriage in Drury-lane, and robbed a gentleman of his money, which he soon spent among the most dissolute of both sexes; and within a week afterwards, he broke into a house in Westminster, where he obtained plate and cash to a large amount, but was not apprehended for this offence.

In a few days he was taken into custody for picking a gentleman’s pocket, brought to trial, at the Old Bailey, sentenced to be transported for seven years, shipped to America, and sold to slavery.

He had not been long in this situation, when he embarked at Boston, in New England, on board a privateer; but when at sea he entered into a conspiracy with some of the sailors, to murder the officers, and seize the vessel; but the confederacy being discovered in time, a severe punishment was inflicted on Talbot and the other villains.

Talbot, quitting the privateer, sailed to England in a man of war, and engaging with some street-robbers in London, was apprehended, convicted, and sentenced to die: but he found interest to obtain a pardon on condition of transportation.

However, he had not been long abroad before he returned, in company with an abandoned woman, who had been transported at the same time; and this woman introduced him to the acquaintance of Quin and Dowdell, in company with whom he committed a considerable number of robberies.

These accomplices robbed six coaches one evening, and obtained considerable plunder; but this being soon spent in extravagance, they at length embarked in a robbery which cost them their lives.

Having made a connexion with one Cullen, they all joined in a street-robbery, and stopping a coach near Long Acre, robbed a gentleman of his watch and money. Some people being informed of the affair, immediately pursued them; and Cullen, being taken into custody, was admitted an evidence against his accomplices, who were apprehended on the following day.

Being brought to trial at the next sessions at the Old Bailey, they received sentence of death; but, after conviction, seemed as little sensible of the enormity of their crimes, as almost any offenders whose cases we have had occasion to record.

Dowdell and Quin were Roman Catholics; and Talbot refusing to join in devotion with the ordinary of Newgate, at the place of execution, we can say nothing of the disposition of mind in which they left this world.

We would have wished the following exclamation the mouths of these miserable sinners, at the time they made their dying atonements

O omnipotent Creator! Such hellish deeds
My soul abhors. O Lord! behold my frame,
My inmost frame, and cleanse my sinful thoughts
Then ever guide me in thy perfect way,
The way established to eternal bliss?

These men died, we fear, unrepenting sinners.

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

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1764: John Ives, spectator turned spectacle

Add comment June 6th, 2020 Headsman

“I was here at the last execution, as free as any one of you, and little thought of this my unhappy fate. God grant you all more grace than I have had.”

-Last words of burglar John Ives, hanged with six other felons at Tyburn on June 6, 1764.

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1537: John and Margaret Bulmer, Bigod’s rebels

Add comment May 25th, 2020 Headsman

And on the 25 day of May, being the Friday in Whitsun week, Sir John Bulmer, Sir Stephen Hamerton, knights, were hanged and headed; Nicholas Tempest, esquire; Doctor Cockerell, priest; Abbot quondam of Fountains; and Doctor Pickering, friar, were drawn from the Tower of London to Tyburn, and there hanged, bowelled and quartered, and their heads set on London Bridge and divers gates in London.

And the same day Margaret Cheney, ‘other wife to Bulmer called’, was drawn after them from the Tower of London into Smithfield, and there burned according to her judgment, God pardon her soul, being the Friday in Whitsun week; she was a very fair creature, and a beautiful.

Wriothesley’s Chronicle

This date’s prey were casualties of Bigod’s Rebellion, the lesser-known sister rising to the Pilgrimage of Grace.

The Pilgrimage, a rising of the northern Commons against Henry VIII’s dissolution of Catholic monasteries, had indeed been settled rather bloodlessly by the end of 1536, with the king hosting its leader, Robert Aske, for Christmas at Greenwich Palace where holiday sweetmeats mingled with insincere concessions.

The naive Aske was probably doomed no matter what for seeking the overthrow of the mighty Thomas Cromwell, but his nearly direct path from the royal apartments to Tyburn was directed by the onset of Bigod’s Rebellion in January 1537. Aske strove in vain to dissuade this rising as ruinous to the arrangement he thought he had negotiated, which indeed it was: Bigod was crushed in a matter of days, and the disturbance furnished Henry with his pretext for arresting Pilgrimage leaders like Aske.

We’re drawn in particular here to a power couple implicated in both risings, Sir John Bulmer and his wife Margaret Bulmer (formerly or also Margaret Cheyne*).

These executions had, on the whole, a settling effect on the country. The reformers [i.e., English Reformation enthusiasts, like Cromwell] were delighted. The large and powerful class who desired peace above everything were reassured. Most of the conservatives were frightened into silence …

Lady Bulmer, or Margaret Cheyne as she was called, was drawn after the other prisoners from the Tower to Smithfield and there burnt. Burning was the ancient penalty for treason in the case of a woman, but it was seldom exacted. The poor women in Somersetshire, for instance, suffered the same fate as the men. The death of Margaret caused some sensation at the time … At Thame in Oxfordshire her fate was discussed on the Sunday before she died. Robert Jons said that it was a pity she should suffer. John Strebilhill, the informer, answered, “It is no pity, if she be a traitor to her prince, but that she should have after her deserving.” This warned Jons to be careful, and he merely replied, “Let us speak no more of this matter, for men may be blamed for speaking the truth.”

Froude says, “Lady Bulmer seems from the depositions to have deserved as serious punishment as any woman for the crime of high treason can be said to have deserved.” The depositions show only that she believed the commons were ready to rebel again, and that the Duke of Norfolk alone could prevent the new rebellion. In addition to this she kept her husband’s secrets and tried to save his life. She committed no overt act of treason; her offences were merely words and silence. The reason for her execution does not lie in the heinous nature of her offence, but Henry was not gratuitously cruel, and her punishment had an object. It was intended as an example to others. There can be no doubt that many women were ardent supporters of the Pilgrimage. Lady Hussey and the dowager Countess of Northumberland were both more guilty than Lady Bulmer. Other names have occurred from time to time, Mistress Stapleton, old Sir Marmaduke Constable’s wife, who sheltered Levening, and young Lady Evers. But these were all ladies of blameless character and of respectable, sometimes powerful, families. Henry knew that in the excited state of public opinion it would be dangerous to meddle with them. His reign was not by any means an age of chivalry, but there still remained a good deal of the old tribal feeling about women, that they were the most valuable possessions of the clan, and that if any stranger, even the King, touched them all the men of the clan were disgraced. An illustration of this occurred in Scotland during the same year (1537). James V brought to trial, condemned, and burnt Lady Glamis on a charge of high treason. She was a lady of great family and James brought upon himself and his descendants a feud which lasted for more than sixty years.

James’ uncle Henry VIII was more politic. He selected as the demonstration of his object-lesson to husbands, which should teach them to distrust their wives, and to wives, which should teach them to dread their husbands’ confidence, a woman of no family and irregular life, dependent on the head of a falling house. This insignificance, which might have saved a man, was in her case an additional danger. She had no avenger but her baby son, and we only hear of one friendly voice raised to pity her death. The King’s object-lesson was most satisfactorily accomplished.

-Madeleine Hope Dodds and Ruth Dodds, The Pilgrimage of Grace, 1526-1537, and The Exeter Conspiracy, 1538: Volume 2

* She’d been passed from her first husband, William Cheyne, via a wife sale to John Bulmer. This odd and sub-legal custom was exactly what it sounded like, and while that sounds horrible, in practice wife sales negotiated the effective impossibility of securing a regular divorce. They were often — as it seems to have been true here, given the reported comity of the Bulmer household — an arrangement in which all three parties were willing participants. However, in the context of the post-Bigod crackdown, prosecutors did not fail to bludgeon the Bulmers, especially the wife, with moral turpitude for this illicit remarriage business, and they made sure to call her “Margaret Cheyne” for that reason.

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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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1728: Joseph Barret

1 comment February 12th, 2020 Headsman

January 17, 1728:

Joseph Barret, of St. Giles’s in the Fields, was indicted for the Murder of James Barret, (his Son, aged 11) by flinging him down, and giving him a mortal Bruise on the left Side of the Head of which he instantly died. He was a second Time indicted on the Coroner’s Inquisition for the said Murder; to both which Indictments he pleaded Not Guilty.

Thomas Belcher depos’d, That he saw the Deceas’d on the 29th of Decemb. about Noon at the Vault, that going in, his Father, the Prisoner followed him, and the Deceas’d having shoul’d himself the Prisoner kick’d him, and call’d him Dog and Son of a B – h; and going up Stairs the Deceas’d followed him, and then the Prisoner turned, and kick’d him on the Head without Provocation, repeating it again at the Stair-Case. The Prisoner desired this Deponent might be ask’d, If he did not know the Deceas’d followed bad Courses? To which be answered, He only heard of this once staying out all Night.

Elizabeth Nichols depos’d, That she saw the Deceas’d in Bed some Time before this happen’d, and that he was without a Shirt, and his Arms were beat black and blue; that he got out of Bed, and would have made use of the Pot, but his Father would not suffer it, saying, he should go down, which he did, and returning, his Father said, he had foul’d himself before he got to the Vault; that the Prisoner then shov’d him, that he fell, and he then kick’d him on the Head; that this Deponent then said, The Boy is dying, the Prisoner said, he is only fallen, and taking a Cat of Nine Tails, he hit him two or three Slashes as he lay on the Ground, that after the Prisoner kick’d or stamp’d on him he never spoke more, but gave 14 or 15 Breathes, and then departed.

This was likewise confirm’d in every particular by another Evidence, they both agreeing that the Deceas’d was very weak, and could scarcely creep up and down Stairs.

Mr. Rainby the Surgeon depos’d, That he being desir’d by a Neighbouring Justice to examine the Body, he observed it to be bruised in several Places, particularly the Head: for dividing the common Teguments, a Confusion, with a small Tumour without a Wound, appeared on the Left side, extending from the sore, to the back Part; the Skull being laid bare, there was no Fracture nor Depression, which he said might probably to owing to the Tenderness of the Bony Fibres in so young a Subject, and taking off the upper part of the Cranium, and dividing the external Membrane of the Brain, a great Quantity of extravasated Blood lay between this and the Membrane that immediately covers it, which must have been occasioned by some Violence, and very likely the same that produced the external Contusion, and was undoubtedly the Cause of his Death.

Some witnesses appeared in Behalf of the Prisoner, to prove that he had before this Time been a very loving, indulgent Father to the Deceas’d: But the present Fact appearing plain, the Jury found him Guilty. Death.


Ordinary‘s Account, February 12, 1728:

Joseph Barret, (as he said) Forty-two Years of Age, of honest, but poor Parents, who gave him little Education, for he could not Read much, and knew but little of Religious Principles. When of Age, he was not put to any particular Trade, but wrought at Husbandry, or any thing he could get to do in the Country. Afterwards he past some Years at Sea, in Station of a Marine, and when he came Home and Married, he serv’d as a Labourer to Plaisterers, and such Tradesmen.

And said, that he always liv’d Soberly and work most Laboriously for his Family; that the Son, of whose Murder he was Convicted, was of a first Marriage, and turn’d most Extravagant in wicked Courses of any Boy of his Age; for some Weeks before he Died, staying out Night after Night, and sometimes coming Home in the greatest Disorder imaginable; adding that he beg’d, or got Money from People and bought Gin with it, drinking till he appear’d worse than a Beast, quite out of his Senses; and that he was a most notorious Lyar, and withal, that he was of an obstinate Temper, and Disobedient to his Parents. Upon these, and such like Accounts, he was forc’d to use the Rod of Correction against him in an extraordinary Manner, and for that purpose, prepar’d a Cat of Nine-Tails for his Chastisement, as not being in any Danger of breaking Bones.

I told him, that he had certainly been too Severe upon the Boy, and that gentler Methods might have been more proper for reducing him; the way of Correction he us’d, being the Punishment inflicted upon Men of Age and Strength, on Board of Ships. He said, that he never intended harm, but only to reclaim him (if possible) from his wild Courses; and that any excessive Correction was given him, proceeded from the Instigation of his Wife, Mother-in-Law to the Deceas’d, who (it seems) did not Love the Child, and for the spite she bore him lost her Husband, and Ruin’d her Family.

He reflected upon the Witnesses, as not having Sworn true, in the Points of Fact, for which he was Convicted; particularly, that he did not Kick nor Strike the Child down, either below, or as he was coming up Stairs, and that he did not stamp upon his Head with his Foot in the Room. He believ’d, he had treated the Child too Severely, by Advice of his Wife, without any Malice or Thought of wronging him.

I told him, how Barbarous it was to beat the Child, till his Arms and parts of his Body were in a manner Corrupted with the Blows, when he saw him Indispos’d, and scarce able to rise from the Bed. He said, that he was so Sullen as not to tell him that he was Bad, and that he knew nothing of it. Upon the whole, he acknowledg’d that he had been Cruel in his Chastisements; that he remember’d not his Kicking him on the Head with his Foot, which was the immediate Cause of his Death; he could not deny but that the Evidence had Sworn the Truth; only but said, he had never corrected the Child but three Times in an extraordinary Manner, but that whatever Misfortunes happen’d, he had no Evil Intention.

I exhorted him to Repent of all his Sins, and particularly, that unnatural and brutish Sin of killing his own Child. He appear’d to have been a very Ignorant, illeterate Fellow, and, as appears from the usuage of his Child, of a Cruel, brutish Temper. He complain’d upon his Wifes going into the Country, and doing nothing for him, after she had expos’d herself and two young Children to the greatest Hardships, by her foolish and inconsiderate Advice. He declar’d himself truely Penitent for all his Sins, particularly the great Misfortune of Murdering his Son; that he believ’d in Christ his only Saviour, and Died in Peace with all the World.

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

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1733: Henry Neal, for shoes and breeches

Add comment January 29th, 2020 Headsman

That life is often cheap is Executed Today‘s stock in trade and few hanged cheaper than Henry Neal on this date in 19733.

Two bare entries at the Old Bailey Online constitute, we suspect, something close to the entirety of the documentary trail civilization holds for this soul.

Working backwards in time, we begin with the customary account of the Ordinary of Newgate, James Guthrie, of the twelvefold Tyburn hanging on January 29, 1733:

Henry Neal, Twenty Years of Age, his Father a Porter at Billingsgate died, and left him young, and his Mother being a poor Old Woman, could give him no Education at School, after he was Four Years Old; since which time he was forced to Work for his Bread at One Shilling per Week, and as he advanc’d in Years they gave him more. He commonly serv’d the Carters and Scavingers, till about Seven or Eight Months ago a Cart run over his Leg, which disabled him for Work. He own’d the robbing of Mr. Graves’s House, as was Sworn against him, but with a variation of Circumstances; for he said, that he only took the Hat, Breeches, and some small Things; but as to the Rings, the Guinea and a Half, he never saw them, as he said. He said, that he kept the Church, and was not very wicked, neither did he know the vile ways usually practis’d by such wicked People; and that what he did was merely for poverty and want, he having been disabled for Work, having fasted for three Days, and every body refusing him Charity. This is the Account he gave of himself, but as to the truth thereof, we leave it to others to judge thereupon. He was a poor ignorant Fellow, and knew but little of Religion. He declared himself Penitent for his Sins, that he believ’d in Christ his only Saviour, and that he died in Peace with all the World.


Here’s the preceding trial record that got him the noose, with testimony by those he robbed (the last of them seemingly written progressively to capture his distinctive accent):

Henry Neal, of St. Giles’s Cripplegate, was indicted for breaking and entring the House of William Graves, and stealing a Pair of Breeches, a Hat, a Pair of Shoes, 2 Gold Rings, a Guinea and a Half, and 2s. 6d. the Goods and Money of Richard Sims, and a Pair of Leather Breeches, the Goods of Tho Cecil, November 16, about ten at Night.

Richard Sims. I look after the Dog-house Bar. About six at Night the Prisoner came into the House, and desired me to let him warm himself by the Fire, for he said he had been with a Cart to Edmonton, and was very cold. He beg’d an old Pair of Shoes, upon which, I took Notice that those he had on were very bad; but I did not give him any. He staid till eight o’Clock, and then went away, and I shut up the Door as usual, and went to Supper at the Green Man on Windmill-Hill, and after Supper I returned to the House at the Bar, and went to Bed: Next Morning the Taylor came to mend my Breeches, which I had left in my Room overnight before I went to Supper, and there was two gold Rings, a Guinea and a half, and 2s. and 6d. in a brass Box in the Side-Pocket. I look’d for my Breeches but could not find ’em, and at the same Time I mist my Hat and my Shoes. Searching farther I found the Prisoner’s old Shoes, which were tied with Packthread, at the Door, and the Cellar Door was split in two. The Shoes made me suspect the Prisoner. Next week I met with him. He confess’d that he broke the Cellar-Door with a great Stone, and then thrust the wooden Bolt back, and got and took the Goods; that he had pawn’d the Hat in Golden-lane for 6d. and the Breeches in Turnbull-Street for a 1s. He went with me to those Places, and found them there. He had my Shoes upon his Feet.

– Thompson. I took the Prisoner in Coleman-street. I knew him before, and had heard there was a Warrant out against him. He had pilfer’d some Things while he had work’d with me there. I tax’d him with robbing Mr. Sims. He at first denied it, but afterwards own’d that he broke the Cellar-door open with a Stone, and had pawn’d the Hat and Breeches, but said he was drunk when he did it.

Tho. Cecil. I do keep the Dog-house-Bar for Mr. Graves, my Lord-Mayor’s Huntsman. My Breeches did hang up where I did lye, but being Zick, I was vorced to go home and leave’m there, and he have got ‘en on now.

Court. Go and look on ’em.

Cecil. Yes, these be they, I can zafely zwear to ‘n.

The Prisoner made no Defence, and the Jury found him Guilty. Death.

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1709: Thomas Smith, Aaron Jones, Joseph Wells, and John Long

Add comment December 16th, 2019 Paul Lorrain

(Thanks for the guest post to Paul Lorrain, the Ordinary of Newgate and a pioneer through these ordinary’s accounts of true crime printed ephemera. -ed.)

The ORDINARY of NEWGATE his Account of the Behaviour, Confessions, and Last Speeches of the Malefactors that were Executed at Tyburn, on Friday the 16th day of December, 1709.

AT the Sessions held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Baily, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, being the 7th, 8th, and 9th instant, Eight Men, who were found guilty of Death, received their Sentence accordingly. Four of them are now order’d for Execution: The other Four are respited from it by HER SACRED MAJESTY’s most gracious Reprieve, which I hope, and here heartily intreat them, that they will take care to improve to the Glory of God, the Benefit of their Neighbour, and their own Temporal and Eternal Good.

While they were under this Condemnation, I constantly visited them, and had them brought up every day, both in the Morning and Afternoon, to the Chapel in Newgate; where I pray’d with them and instructed them in the Word of God, and in the Duties of Christianity; which they had so much neglected. They seem’d to be very serious and attentive to what I then deliver’d to them, for their Instruction and the Comfort of their Souls.

On the Lord’s Day the 11th instant, I preach’d to them and others there present, both in the Morning and Afternoon, upon part of the Epistle for the Day, viz. 1 Cor. 4. the former part of the 5th Verse; the Words being these, Therefore judge nothing before the time, untill the Lord come; who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the Counsels of the hearts.

Which Words, with their Context, I first explain’d in general; shewing, That by them the Apostle do’s not mean, that no Judgment should be pass’d upon the open Actions of Men; for it is plain, from Reason and the revealed Will of God, that Evil-doers are to be judged and punished by the Magistrate, according to their wicked Deeds, when they come to be known and prov’d by sufficient Evidence. But for those things that are hidden and secret, and of which it is utterly impossible for such as do not know the Hearts of Men, to make a Judgment, they ought not to be meddled with, nor Sentence pass’d upon them by Men, who are absolutely ignorant of them. And therefore they must wait for the time which God has appointed for the bringing forth those hidden Things of Darkness both to Light and to Judgment, when He shall think fit to judge the World; which He will certainly do one day; and that too, in Righteousness, by that Man (i.e. Christ Jesus) whom He has ordain’d; whereof He has given assurance unto all Men, in that He has rais’d Him from the dead; as the Apostle speaks, Acts 17. 31.

Having enlarg’d on this, I then proceeded to discourse upon these two Particulars.

I. The Necessity and Certainty of a Judgment to come.

II. The Strictness and Severity of that Judgment, which shall be most terrible to impenitent Sinners.

And to these I added some Directions how Men (by Faith and Repentance) might provide against the severity of that Judgment, and avoid their final and eternal Condemnation.

In the Conclusion of both these Discourses, I apply’d my self with particular Exhortations to the Condemned; and then dismiss’d them for that time, with a Prayer, That God would be pleas’d to seal those Truths upon their Souls, which in his Name, and by his Spirit, I had deliver’d to them; and that He would render them effectual to their everlasting Salvation. This I mention to satisfie those inquisitive Persons who are often asking, What method or means I use, or can be us’d, to bring those sorts of Men to Christ, and dispose them for Eternal Life.

As I publickly taught these poor unhappy Creatures, how they might be made happy, so I had some private Discourses with ’em, wherein such of ’em as are now appointed for Death, made the following Confessions to me, viz.

1. Thomas Smith, condemn’d for a Burglary by him (and others with him) committed in the House of the Right Honourable the Earl of Westmorland,* and taking Goods from thence to a very great Value, in October last. He confess’d that he was concern’d in the Robbery, but not in the Burglary: That indeed he was in the House, but did not break it open; for it was so before he broke out of the Goal at Chelmsford in Essex, where he was a Prisoner. This is all he would confess as to this particular Matter. But as to the general Course of his Life, he acknowledg’d it to have been very bad indeed, though perhaps not so bad as some have represented it, and the generality of the World believ’d it to be. For he had never robbed any House in his Life (saving that Honourable Lord’s above-mentioned) and, That he never did wrong any Person (as it was so-much reported) at Highgate, or Hampstead, or any other Place thereabouts; but all the Facts that he ever was guilty of, were committed in London, Southwark, and Westminster: And, That those Facts were only the taking off Boxes, Trunks, & suchlike things, from behind Coaches or Wagons, and Handkerchiefs, &c. out of Peoples Pockets in the Streets: Of which sorts of Facts he had committed many; so many that he could not remember them all; neither was it (said he) necessary for him to name them, as being of no use to the Persons he had thus wrong’d, to whom he could not make any Amends or Satisfaction, but by asking their Pardon, which he did. He further said, That he was a Cooper by his Trade; That he was born at Highgate, and was now about 33 years of age; the most part of which time he had spent very ill, though his Mother and other his Friends and Relations (who are very honest) were not wanting in their giving him good Advice, which he did not follow; and for that he is now to suffer; the Providence of God having justly brought him under this Condemnation for the punishment of his wicked Deeds in this World; which Puuishment he pray’d might not be extended to the next. He added, that he had served the Crown at times for some years past, both by Sea and Land ; and that by that Service, and his Trade, (which was not a Bricklayer, as some would have it, but a Dry-Cooper) he might have maintain’d himself, and lived comfortably, had he been honest. He wish’d, that other ill Livers might take Warning by him, and be wiser and honester than he had been. He said, he was sorry he ever injur’d any Man, and now was unable to make any Reparation for those Injuries he had done to his Neighbour. He also declar’d, That he forgave all those that had been the Cause of his Ruin, and, That he dy’d in Charity with all the World. I asking him (as I was desir’d) how he made his escape out of the Goal at Chelmsford, he told me, That he broke the Ridge of the House, and so open’d himself a Passage, and went away by one of the Clock in the Morning on the 12th day of October last, unknown to any-body, and was in London on the 14th.

2. Aaron Jones, condemn’d for two Burglaries and a Murther; viz. First, for breaking open and taking by Night several Goods out of the House of Mr. John Moss at Hampstead, on the 30th of June last: Secondly, for another like Robbery committed in the House of Mr. William Heydon, on the 11th of October last: And Lastly, For the Murther of one Lamas, about Marybone, as he was walking that way with Mr. Moss the day after the first Robbery, i. e. the 1st of July, when the said Mr. Moss and Lamas there met with this Jones, and another Person concern’d with him, of whom mention shall be made hereafter, who were then (both of them) carrying away some of the Goods stoln out of Mr. Moss’s House the Day before. He deny’d both the Buglaries and the Murther, and seem’d to be very stubbon and obstinate in that his Denial; tho’ at the same time he confess’d, That he had formerly been guilty of small Thefts, as the stealing of Poultry, and such things; and, That he had been a very lewd and wicked Person; for which he asked God’s Pardon and theirs whom he had offended. He said, he was a poor Labouring-man , who came up some few years since to London for Work; That he was about 33 years of age, born at the Devizes in Wiltshire; and, That he once little thought he should ever come to such an End: But having forsaken God, God had forsook him, and left him to himself; and for his Neglect of Christian Duties, and following ill Courses, God had suffer’d him to fall by this shameful Condemnation.

3. Joseph Wells, condemn’d for the last-mention’d Facts of two Burglaries and Murther by him committed in conjunction with the aforesaid Aaron Jones. He (like his Accomplice) positively deny’d his being guilty of either of those Facts. But confess’d, he had not lived that honest Life which his good Parents had taught him; and, That he had sometimes (tho’ not in great Matters) defrauded and wrong’d his Neighbour; and (to his grief) could not make any manner of Reparation, but he was now severely punish’d, and he look’d upon that Punishment as inflicted on him by Almighty God for all his past Failures. He said, he was about 30 years of age, born at Cobley near Old-Stratford in Warwickshire; and, That he was a Black-Smith by his Trade, which he had follow’d pretty constantly both in the Country, and here. He outwardly appear’d to be very sensible of the Wrath of God upon Sinners, and cry’d for Mercy; but what his inward Thoughts were, God Almighty only knows.

4. John Long, condemn’d for assaulting and robbing upon the Queen’s High-way near Tyburn, Mr. John Nichols, and Mr. William Cure, taking from them, viz. from Mr. Nichols 36 Guineas, and from Mr. Cure 12 Guineas, a Silver-Watch, and several other Things, on the 19th day of November last. He deny’d these Facts at the first, and persisted long in that denial, and protestation of his Innocence in that Matter; but at the same time he confess’d, That though he was but a Young-man (not 20 years old) yet he had done many ill things, and been very loose in his Life and Conversation for which he craved God’s Pardon; being grieved at his heart, that he had been so wicked. He said further, That he was born of good Parents, at Leeks in Nottinghamshire; That he was a Stonecutter and Bricklayer , by his Trade, and, That he listed himself about a Twelvemonth ago. This is the substance of what he said to me before he went to Tyburn. Of which Place when I come to speak (at the end of this Paper) I will say more of him,

This Day being appointed for the Execution of these Malefactors, they were all carry’d from Newgate (in two Carts) to Tyburn, where I attended them for the last time. There I exhorted them again to stir up their Hearts to God in Faith and Repentance, and clearing their Consciences of all things they were to declare to the World, before they dy’d. I asked Jones and Wells, What they now said to the Robberies and Murther for which they were come to suffer in this Place; and, Whether they knew any thing (as I had asked before in Newgate) of the Murther of Mr. Dudley Carlton, or of any other Murther. To which they answer’d me, That they never were concen’d in the Murther of Mr. Carlton, neither knew who had committed it, nor any thing of it. As for the Crimes for which they were to suffer, Wells said, He was guilty of the Burglary, but not of the Murther of John Lamas. Jones (tho’ I press’d him much and long, to speak the Truth concerning those Burglaries, and that Murther of Lamas) he would not say any thing, but this only, That he would tell me no more Lies, and, That all he had to confess to Man, was, that he had been a great Sinner, and done too many ill things in his Lifetime. By which Answer he seem’d tacitely to own, that he had committed both the Burglaries, and the Murther, for which he was to die.

Then I asked Thomas Smith, Whether he still persisted in his Denial of the Burglary for which he was condemned, or would acknowledge it now (as it greatly concerned him to do). To which he reply’d, That he had nothing more to say in the matter than he had said already; which was, That the House was broke open long before he went into it.

Lastly, as for John Long, who had all the while deny’d the two Robberies for which he was condemned, he own’d them here; saying, That he was guilty of them, and pray’d God and the World to forgive him. He cry’d very bitterly, wished he had lived a better Life: And both he and the other three desired all Offenders to take Warning by them, and see that they do not by their wicked ways follow them to this Place.

After this, I pray’d for them all, and sung some Penitential Psalms with them, I made them rehearse the Apostle’s Creed; and when they had spoken to the Standers-by, That they would pray to GOD for their departing Souls; I returned to Prayer again; and having recommended them to their Creator and Redeemer, and to the Spirit of Grace; I left them to their private Devotions, for which they had some time allotted them.

Then the Cart drew away, and they were turn’d off; they all the while calling mightily upon GOD, to forgive their Sins, and have Mercy upon their Souls.

This is all the Account here to be given of these Dying Persons, by me, PAUL LORRAIN, Ordinary of Newgate .

Friday, Dec. 16. 1709.

ADVERTISEMENT.

Books set forth by Paul Lorrain, Ordinary of Newgate .

A Guide to Salvation, or the Way to Eternal Bliss: Being a Collection of Meditations and Prayers, suited to the Exercise of a Devout Christian. Printed for W. Meadows at the Fann in St. Paul’s Church-yard, 1709.

The Last Words of the Lady Margaret de la Musse: And, The Dying man’s Assistant. Both Printed for, and Sold by John Lawrence at the Angel in the Poultry.

A Preparation for the Sacrament: with Moral and Divine Maxims. Printed for B. Aylmer at the 3 Pidgeons in Cornhil.

ROBERT WHITLEDGE, who formerly lived at the Bible in Creed-Lane, is removed to the Bible and Ball in Ave-Mary-Lane, near Ludgate, where all Booksellers and others may be furnisht with Bibles and Common-Prayers of all Sorts, with Cuts or without, Ruled or Unruled, Bound in Turky Leather or Plain. Mr. Sturt’s Cuts Curiously Engrav’d; also other fine Cutts fitted for all Sizes and Common-Prayers. The Welsh Bible, Welsh Common-Prayer, and Welsh Almanack. The Duty of Man’s Works of all Sizes. The Duty of Man in Latin. Latin and French Common-Prayers. Tate and Brady’s New Version of Psalms, with the New Supplement. Dr. Gibson on the Sacrament. The Statutes at large, in Three Volumes. Washington and Wingate’s Abridgment of them. The Lord Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion in Folio and Octavo. The New Translation of AEsops Fables. Also Bp. Beveridge’s Works, in 5 vol. And Dean Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, in 4 vol. All which Books and Cuts are likewise Sold by J. Baker in Mercers-Chapel, in Cheapside.

Lately publish’d for the Use of Schools,

Vocabularium Latiale; or, a Latin Vocabulary in two parts. The First being a Collection of the most usual and easie Latin words, whether primitive or derivative; with their signification in English, after the order of the Eight parts of Speech, giving a Specimen of each, and most naturally shewing the gender, increase, declension and motion of Nouns and Pronouns, with the Conjugation-Preterperfect Tense and Supine of Verbs both Simple and Compound. The Second, shewing the variation and declining of all the declinable parts, both regular an irregular. By Tho. Dyche, School-Master in London, Author of a new Spelling-book, entitul’d, A Guide to the English Tongue. Printed for S. Butler, at Bernard’s-Inn-Gate, in Holbourn, J Holland, near St. Paul’s Church-yard, and A. Collins, at the Black-Boy in Fleet-street. Price 1 s.

Memoirs of the right Villianous John Hall, the late famous and Notorious Robber. Pen’d from his Mouth some time before his Death. Containing the exact Life and Character of a Thief in General. As also a lively Representation of Newgate, and its Inhabitants, with the Manners and Customs observed there. The Nature and Means by which they commit their several Thefts and Robberies, and the Distinctions observed in their respective Functions. To which is added, the Cant generally us’d by those Sort of People to conceal their Villanies; and Rules to avoid being Robb’d or Cheated by them. Usefully set forth for the Good of the Publick, at the Instance of many honest People. The third Edition, with large Additions, and a Description of Ludgate, the two Compers, and other Prisons for Debt.

The wooden World dissected in the Character, of, 1. a Ship of War; 2. a Sea-Captain; 3. a Sea-Lieutenant; 4. a Sea Chaplain; 5. The Master of a Ship of War; 6. The Purser; 7. The Surgeon; 8. The Gunner; 9. The Carpenter; 10. The Boatswain; 11. a Sea-Cook; 12. a Midship-man; 13. The Captain’s Steward; 14. a Sailor. By a lover of the Mathematicks. The Second Edition, corrected and amended by the Author. Price bound, 1 s.

The Satyrical Works of Petronius Arbiter, in Prose, and Verse. In three Parts. Together with his Life and Character, written by Mons. St. Evremont; and a Key to the Satyr, by a Person of Quality. Made English by Mr. Wilson, Mr. Burna by, Mr. Blount, Mr. Brown, Captain Ayloff, and several others. And adorn’d with Cuts. To which is added, the Charms of Liberty; a Poem, by the late Duke of Devonshire.

All 3 Sold by B. Bragge, at the Raven in Pater-noster-row.

London Printed, and are to be Sold by Benj. Bragge, at the Raven in Pater-noster-Row.

* The Earldom of Westmorland still exists to this day and the same family as our crime victim here still holds it: it belongs now to Anthony David Francis Henry Fane, the 16th Earl of Westmorland.

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Entry Filed under: 18th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,England,Execution,Guest Writers,Hanged,Murder,Other Voices,Theft

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1615: Anne Turner

2 comments November 15th, 2019 Headsman

For Sommersett must love Essex faire wife
by wich his deerest servant lost his life.
losse upon losse, all things grow cleane contrary
and thus our sinfull times themselves doe vary.

From a 17th century libel

On this date in 1615, Anne Turner hanged at Tyburn for a shocking society murder remembered as the Overbury Affair.

Turner was quite a character herself, but her journey to the pages of Executed Today begins in the bedsheets of the nobility. In fact, events revolve around a marriage alliance between two families of notable beheadings, in the persons of Frances Howard — the grandsondaughter of Queen Elizabeth’s enemy Thomas Howard (beheaded 1572) — and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex — son of Queen Elizabeth’s lover also named Robert Devereux (beheaded 1601).

‘Twas often that noble pairings were cynical, loveless expediencies but this union exceeded most in its deficiencies.

They married so young — 13 to 14 years old as they tied the knot — that they were initially kept apart to prevent them sleeping together but this failure to consummate developed into firm policy. Devereux was impotent with her — even though, per Francis Bacon’s investigation, “before and after the marriage, he hath found an ability of body to know any other woman, and hath oftentimes felt motions and provocations of the Flesh, rending to carnal copullation” — and Howard seemingly systematically refused him. (Devereux was elsewhere heard to note that his virility failed because his wife “reviled him, and miscalled him, terming him a cow, and coward, and beast.”)

By that time — we’re into 1613 here — the missus was also intentionally trying to force an annulment of the marriage, so that she could pursue love and power with the king’s young favorite, Robert Carr. Both spouses agreed that their union had never been consummated, a fact “verified” by a panel of matrons who inspected the wife’s bits to confirm the presence of the hymen. Frances was veiled during this humiliating spectacle to preserve her modesty and/or identity, as widely believed rumor held that she’d swapped in a ringer to pass the exam.

This maide inspected;
But fraud interjected
A Maid of more perfection:
The midwives did her handle,
While the Kn[igh]t held the candle
O there was a clear inspection!

While Frances was orchestrating all this, her lover’s close friend Sir Thomas Overbury was energetically counseling that youth against the match, going so far as to write one of the classics of Jacobean poetry, “A Wife”, expounding on the preferred virtues of such a partner in an apparent attempt to underscore to his chum Frances Howard’s conspicuous want of them, e.g.

Where goodnesse failes, ’twixt ill and ill that stands:
Whence ’tis, that women though they weaker be,
And their desire more strong, yet on their hands
The chastity of men doth often lye:
Lust would more common be then any one,
Could it, as other sins, be done alone.

Long story short, the mistress won the struggle over the valuable Robert Carr and her powerful family arranged to sideline Overbury by means of a royal appointment to Russia. When Overbury refused the post, the outraged King James had him locked up in the Tower of London for his impertinence; Overbury soon died there, and Frances Howard and Robert Carr tied the match before 1613 was out.

Carr should have listened to that poem.

It was no more than months ere that gentleman was being eclipsed in King James’s favor by George Villiers, and his eroding status licensed the interest of court enemies in the surprise death of Carr’s friend.

Suspicions of foul play soon appeared vindicated, and we come at last at this point to our gallows-fruit Anne Turner, a wealthy woman in the train of Frances Howard, for the evidence developed by Bacon indicated that Turner acted as Howard’s agent in arranging for Overbury’s guards to poison him off.

The affair was the ruin of her patron, who was convicted along with her prized new husband.* Both of these blueblooded types were spared, but no such mercy obtained for the four commoners who had been the Lady’s instruments.

Turner, who did a brisk business in saffron supplying the royal court its fashionable yellow accoutrements, arranged for “tarts and jellies” procured from a sinister chemist to be delivered to the men at the Tower for ministration to the imprisoned poet. Really it was just as Overbury had tried to warn Carr:

A passive understanding to conceive,
And judgement to discerne, I wish to finde:
Beyond that, all as hazardous I leave;
Learning and pregnant wit in woman-kinde,
What it findes malleable, makes fraile,
And doth not adde more ballast, but more saile.

She, the chemist, and both Overbury’s jailer and the governor of the Tower of London would all four suffer execution on distinct occasions for doing the Lady Howard’s bidding in this matter. Turner’s hanging at Tyburn had a classic dash of showmanship: both the victim and the executioner were pointedly dressed in the yellow saffron ruffles whose lucrative traffic had empowered Anne Turner with the werewithal to corrupt the king’s dungeon. The design fell speedily out of fashion.

Our intrepid assassin, however, had the consolation of a vigorous literary afterlife as her character became a fixture of the 17th century theater. (So did Overbury’s.)

The Overbury Affair’s rich text touching power, gender, commerce, revenge, social climbing, print culture, and murderous intrigue has continued to fascinate new audiences ever since then, intermittently refreshed by many new volumes both fiction and non-.

* Frances Howard confessed the plot — accurately, as it is generally understood. Robert Carr never did, and he’s often been read as a plausible naif, blind to his pretty new wife’s vengeful treatment of his former bosom friend.

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