Lives Of The Most Remarkable Criminals Who have been Condemned and Executed for Murder, the Highway, Housebreaking, Street Robberies, Coining or other offences
by Arthur L. Hayward
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His daughter who had borne witness against him at his trial, came to him at chapel and begged his forgiveness, even for having testified the truth. At first he turned away from her with much indignation; the second day she came, after great entreaty and persuasion of his friends, he at last muttered out, I forgive you. But the girl coming the third day and earnestly desiring he would kiss her, which at first he refused, and at last turning to her and weeping lamentably, he took her in his arms, and said: For Christ's sake, my child, forgive me. I have robbed you of your own mother. Be a good child, rather die than steal, never be in a passion, but curb your anger. Honour your mistress, for she will be both a father and a mother to you. Pray for your father and think of him as well as you can.

At the place of execution he composed himself to suffer with as much patience as he could, and while the rest threw books and handkerchiefs to their friends, he seemed wrapped up in a profound meditation, out of which he drew himself as soon as prayers began and assisted with much cheerfulness and attention. When they were ended he stood up and desiring the Ordinary to repeat after him the following speech, which he dictated word for word as I have transcribed it, seeming most passionately affected with the reflection the world had cast on himself and daughter, as my readers will perceive from the speech itself. After the making of which, he was immediately turned off, on the sixteenth of July, 1722.

The last speech of Matthias Brinsden

I was born of kind parents, who gave me learning, and went apprentice to a fine-drawer. I had often jars which might increase a natural waspishness in my temper. I fell in love with Hannah, my late wife, and after much difficulty won her, she having five sisters at the same time. We had ten children (half of them dead) and I believe we loved each other dearly, but often quarrelled and fought. Pray good people mind, I had no malice against her, nor thought to kill her, two minutes before the deed, but I designed only to make her obey me thoroughly, which the Scripture says all wives should do. This I thought I had done, when I cut her skull on Monday, but she was the same again by Tuesday.

Good people, I request you to observe that though the world has spitefully given out that I carnally and incestuously lay with my eldest daughter, I here solemnly declare, as I am entering into the presence of God, I never knew whether she was man or woman, since she was a babe. I have often taken her in my arms, often kissed her, sometimes given her a cake or a pie, when she did any particular service beyond what came to her share, but never lay with her, or carnally knew her, much less had a child by her. But when a man is in calamities and is hated like me, the women will make surmises into certainties. Good Christians pray for me, I deserve death, I am willing to die, for though my sins are great, God's mercies are greater.

The Life of EDMUND NEAL, a Footpad

Of all the unhappy wretches whose ends I have recorded that their examples may be of the more use to mankind, there is none perhaps which be more useful, if well considered, than this of Edmund Neal Though there be nothing in it very extraordinary, yet it contains a perfect picture of low pleasures for which men sacrifice reputation and happiness, and go on in a voluptuous dream till they awake to temporal and, but for the mercy of God, to eternal death.

This Edmund Neal was the son of a father of the same name, a blacksmith in a market town in Warwickshire. He was one of those mechanics who, from a particular observance of the foibles of human nature, insinuate themselves into the good graces of those who employ them, and from being created as something even beneath a servant, grow up at last into a confidence to which it would not be improper to affix the name of a friend. This Edmund Neal senior had by this method climbed (by a little skill he had in horses) from paring off their hoofs, to directing of their riders, until in short there was scarce a sporting squire in the neighbourhood but old Edmund was of his privy council. Yet though he got a vast deal of money, he took very little care of the education of his son, whom he scarce allowed as much learning as would enable him to read a chapter; but notwithstanding this, he carried him about with him wherever he went, as if the company of gentlemen, though he was unable to converse with them, would have been sufficient to improve him.

The scenes young Neal saw at the houses whither his father carried him, filled him with such a liking to debauchery and such an irreclaimable passion for sensual pleasures, as was the source from whence his following misfortunes flowed. For what, as he himself complained, first gave him occasion to repine at his condition, and filled him with wandering inclinations of pursuing an idle and extravagant life, was the forcing of him to go apprentice to a tailor, a trade for which he had always the greatest aversion, and contempt. No sooner, therefore, was he placed out apprentice, but the young fellows of that occupation whom he had before derided and despised, now ridiculed him in their turns, and laughed at the uneasiness which they saw his new employment caused him. However, he lived about four years with his master, being especially induced thereto by the company of a young man who worked there, and who used to amuse him with stories of intrigues in London, to which Neal listened with a very attentive ear.

This London companion more and more inclined him to vice, and the history he gave of his living with a woman—who cheated her other cullies to maintain him, and at last for the sake of a new sweetheart, stripped him of all he had one night while he slept, and left him so much in debt that he was obliged to fly into the country—the relation, I say, of these adventures made such an impression on young Neal that he was never at rest until he fell into a method of copying them. And as ill-design seldom waits long for an opportunity, so the death of his first master, and his being turned over to a second, much less careful and diligent to his business, furnished Neal with the occasion he wanted. This master he both cheated of his money and defrauded of his goods, letting in loose and disorderly persons in the night, and finding a way for their going out again in the morning before his master was awake, and consequently without the least suspicion.

These practices quickly broke the man with whom he lived, and his breaking turned Edmund upon the wide world, equally destitute of money, friends and capacity, not knowing what to do, and having but two shillings in his pocket. He took a solitary walk to that end of the town which went out upon the London Road, and there by chance he met a woman who asked him to go with her to London. He not knowing what to do with himself accepted her offer, and without any more words to the bargain they set out together. The woman was very kind to him on the road, and poor Edmund flattered himself that money was so plentiful in London as to render it impossible for him to remain without it. But he was miserably mistaken when he arrived there. He went to certain public-houses of persons whom he had known in the country, who instead of using him civilly, in a day or two's time were thrusting him out of doors. Some common whores, also, finding him to be a poor country fellow, easily seduced him and kept him amongst them for a stallion, until, between their lust and their diseases, they had put him in a fair road to the grave.

Tired out with their vices, which were even too gross for a mind so corrupted as his was, he chose rather to go and live with a brewer and carry out drink. But after living for some time with two masters of that occupation, his mind still roving after an easier and pleasanter life, he endeavoured to get it at some public-house; which at last he with much ado effected at Sadlers Wells.[21] This appeared so great a happiness that he thought he should never be tired of a life where there was so much music and dancing, to which he had been always addicted; and, as he phrased it himself, he thought he was in another world when he got with a set of men and maids in a barn with a fiddle among them.

However, he at last grew tired of that also; and resolving to betake himself to some more settled and honest employment, he hired himself to a man who kept swine, and there behaved himself both with honesty and diligence. But his master breaking a little time after he had been with him, though as he affirmed without his wronging him in the least, he was reduced to look for some new way of maintaining himself. This being about the time of the late Rebellion,[22] and great encouragement being then offered for those who would enter themselves in the late king's service at sea, Neal accepted thereof, and shipped himself on board the Gosport man-of-war, which sailed to the Western Islands of Scotland. What between the cold and the hard fare he suffered deeply, and never, as be said, tasted any degree of comfort till he returned to the West of England The Rebellion being then over, Neal with very great joy accepted his discharge from the service, and once more in search of business came up to London.

The reputation of an honest servant he had acquired from the hog merchant he had formerly lived with, quickly procured him a place with another of the same trade, with him he lived too (as was said) very honestly; and having been trusted with twenty or thirty pounds at a time, was always found very trusty and faithful. But happening, unluckily, to work here with one Pincher, who in the course of his life had been as unhappy as himself, they thereupon grew very intimate together, and being a couple of fellows of very odd tempers, after having got half drunk at the Hampshire Hog, they took it into their heads that there was not in the world two fellows so unhappy as themselves. The subject began when they were maudlin, and as they grew quite drunk, they came to a resolution to go out and beat everybody they met, for being happier than themselves.

The first persons they met in this expedition were a poor old man whose name was Dormer and his wife. The woman they abused grossly, and Pincher knocked the man down, though very much in years, Neal afterwards rolling him about, and either took or shook out of his pocket all the money he had, which was but three pence farthing. For this unaccountable action they were both apprehended, tried and convicted, with three other persons, in the November sessions, 1722. But their inhuman behaviour to the old man made such an impression on the Court to their disadvantage, that when the death warrant came down, they two only were appointed for execution.

At the near approach of death, Neal appeared excessively astonished, and what between fear and concern, his senses grew disordered. However, at the place of execution he seemed more composed than he had been before, and said that it was very fit he should die, but added he suffered rather for being drunk than any design he had either to rob or use the man cruelly. As for William Pincher, his companion both in the robbery and its punishment, he seemed to be the counterpart of Neal, a downright Norfolk clown, born within six miles of Lynn and by the kindness of a master of good fortune, taken into his house with an intent to breed him up, on his father's going for a soldier. At first he behaved himself diligently and thereby got much into the favour of his master, but falling into loose company and addicting himself to sotting in alehouses, his once kind and indulgent master, finding him incorrigible, dismissed him from his service, and having given him some small matter by way of encouragement, he set out for London. Here he got into the business before mentioned, and said himself, that he might have lived very comfortably thereon, if he had been industrious and frugal; but that addicting himself to his old custom of sitting continually in an alehouse had drawn him into very great inconveniences. In order to draw himself out of these he thought of following certain courses, by which, as he had heard some company where he used say, a young man might get as much money as he could spend, let him live as extravagantly as he would. This occasioned his persuading Neal into that fatal undertaking which cost them their lives. His behaviour under sentence was irreproachable, being always taken up either in reading, praying or singing of Psalms, performing all things that so short a space would give him leave to do, and showing as evident marks of true repentance as perhaps any unhappy person ever did in his condition.

Thus these two companions in misfortune suffered together on die last day of the year 1722, Edmund Neal being then about thirty years of age, and Pincher about twenty-six.


[21] This was opened, about 1680, by a certain Sadler, as a public music-room and house of entertainment. The discovery of a spring of mineral water in the garden attracted general attention and the place soon became a place of popular resort.

[22] The Jacobite rising of 1715.

The Life of CHARLES WEAVER, a Murderer

Hastiness of temper and yielding to all the rash dictates of anger, as it is an offence the most unworthy a rational creature, so it is attended also with consequences as fatal as any other crime whatever. A wild expression thrown out in the heat of passion has often cost men dearer than even a real injury would have done, had it been offered to the same person. A blow intended for the slightest has often taken away life, and the sudden anger of a moment produced the sorrow of years, and has been, after all, irreparable in its effect.

Charles Weaver, of whom we are now speaking, was the son of parents in very good circumstances in the city of Gloucester, who put him apprentice to a goldsmith. He served about four years of his time with his master, and having in that space run out into so much lewdness and extravagance that his friends refused any longer to supply or to support him, he then thought fit to go into the service of the Queen, as a soldier, and in that capacity went over with those who were sent into America to quell the Indians. These people were at that time instigated by the French to attack our plantations on the main near which they lay. The greater part of these poor creatures were without European arms, yet several amongst them had fusees, powder and ball from the French, with which, being very good marksmen, they did abundance of mischief from their ambuscades in the woods.

At the time Weaver served against them, they were commanded by one Ouranaquoy, a man of a bloody disposition, great courage and greater cunning. He had commanded his nation in war against another Indian nation, from whom he took about forty prisoners, who according to the Indian custom were immediately destined to death; but being prevailed upon, by the presence of the French, to turn his arms against the English, on the confines of whose plantations he had gained his last victory, Ouranaquoy having sent for the prisoners he had taken before him, told them that if they would fall upon a village about three miles distant, he would not only give them their liberty, but also such a reward for the scalp of every Englishman, woman or child, they brought. They readily agreed on these terms and immediately went and plundered the village.

The English army lay about seven miles off, and no sooner heard of such an outrage committed by such a nation, but they immediately attacked the people to whom the prisoners belonged, marching their whole army for that purpose against the village, which if we may call it so, was the capital of their country. By this policy Ouranaquoy gained two advantages, for first he involved the English in a war with the people with whom they had entertained a friendship for twenty years, and in the next place gained time, while the English army were so employed, to enter twenty-five miles within their country, destroying fourscore whites and three hundred Indians and negroes. But this insult did not remain long unrevenged, for the troops in which Weaver served arriving immediately after from Europe, the army (who before they had done any considerable mischief to the people against whom they marched, had learnt the stratagem by which they had been deceived by Ouranaquoy) returned suddenly into his country, and exercised such severities upon the people thereof that to appease and make peace with the English the chiefs sent them the scalps of Ouranaquoy, his three brothers and nine sons.

On Weaver's return into England from this expedition, he shipped himself again as a recruit for that army which was then commanded by the Earl of Peterborough in Spain. He served also under the Duke of Ormond when his grace took Vigo, and Weaver had the good luck to get some hundred pounds for his share in the booty, but that money which he, in his thoughts, had designed for setting himself up in England, being insensibly squandered and decayed, he was obliged to list himself again, and so became a second time spectator of the taking of Vigo under the Lord Cobham.[23]

While he served in the second regiment of Foot-guards, he behaved himself so well as to engage his officer to take him into his own house, where he lived for a considerable space; and he had been twice actually reviewed in order to his going into the Life-guards, when he committed the act for which he died, which according to the evidence given at his trial happened thus. He was going into a boat in company with Eleanor Clark, widow, and Edward Morris. After they were in the boat, some words arising, the woman bid Weaver pay Morris what he owed him, upon which Weaver in a great passion got up, and endeavoured to overturn the boat with them all. But Thomas Watkins, the waterman, preventing that, Weaver immediately drew his sword, and swore he would murder them all, making several passes at them as if he had firmly intended to be as good as his word. The men defended themselves so well as to escape hurt, and endeavoured all they could to have preserved the woman, but Weaver making a pass, the sword entered underneath her left shoulder, and thereby gave her a wound seven inches deep, after which she gave but one groan and immediately expired. For this bloody fact Weaver was tried and convicted, and thereupon received sentence of death.

During the space between the passing of sentence and its execution an accident happened which added grievously to all his misfortunes. His wife, big with child, coming about a fortnight before his death to see him in Newgate, was run over by a dray and killed upon the spot. Weaver himself, though in the course of the life he had led he had totally forgot both reading and writing, yet came duly to prayers, and gave all possible marks of sorrow and repentance for his misspent life, though he all along pretended that the woman's death happened by accident, and that he had had no intent to murder her. He suffered the 8th day of February, 1722-3, being at that time about thirty years of age.


[23] See page 49.

The Life of JOHN LEVEE, a Highwayman, Footpad, etc.

There is a certain busy sprightliness in some young people which from I know not what views, parents are apt to encourage in hopes of its one day producing great effects. I will not say that they are always disappointed in their expectations, but I will venture to pronounce that where one bold spirit has succeeded in the world, five have been ruined, by a busy turbulent temper.

This was the case with this criminal, John Levee, who, to cover the disgrace his family suffered in him, called himself Junks. His father was a French gentleman, who came over with King Charles II at the Restoration, taught French to persons of distinction in court, and particularly to some of that prince's natural children. For the convenience of his scholars, he kept a large boarding-school in Pall Mall, whereby he acquired such a fortune as enabled him to set up for a wine merchant. In this capacity he dealt with France for many years to the amount of thousands per annum. His children received the best education that could be given them and never stirred out of doors but with a footman to attend them.

But Mr. Levee, the merchant, falling into misfortunes by some of his correspondents' failures, withdrew from his family into Holland; and this son John being taken by the French Society, in order to be put out apprentice and provided for, being induced thereto by the boy's natural vivacity and warmth of temper in which he had been foolishly encouraged, they sent him to sea with a captain of a man-of-war. He was on board the Essex when Sir George Byng, now Viscount Torrington, engaged the Spaniards at Messina.[24] He served afterwards on board the squadron commanded by Sir John Norris in the Baltic, and when he returned home, public affairs being in a more quiet state, his friends thought it better for him to learn merchants' accounts than to go any more voyages, where there was now little prospect of advantage.

But book-keeping was too quiet an employment for one of Levee's warm disposition, who far from being discouraged at the hardships of sea, only complained of his ill-luck in not being in an engagement. And so, to amuse this martial disposition, he with some companions went upon the road, which they practised for a very considerable time, robbing in a very genteel manner, by putting a hat into the coach and desiring the passengers to contribute as they thought proper, being always contented with what they gave them, though sometimes part of it was farthings. Nay, they were so civil that Blueskin and this Levee, once robbing a single gentlewoman in a coach, she happening to have a basket full of buns and cakes, Levee took some of them, but Blueskin proceeded to search her for money, but found none. The woman in the meanwhile scratched him and called him a thousand hard names, giving him two or three sound slaps in the face, at which they only laughed, as it was a woman, and went away without further ill-usage, a civility she would hardly have met with from any other gentlemen of their profession.

In October, he and his great companion Blueskin,[25] met a coach with two ladies and a little miss riding between their knees, coming from the Gravel Pits at Kensington.[26] Levee stopped the coach and without more ado, ordered both the coachmen and footman to jump the ditch, or he'd shoot them. They then stripped the ladies of their necklaces, cut a gold girdle buckle from the side of the child, and took away about ten shillings in money, with a little white metal image of a man, which they thought had been solid silver, but proved a mere trifle.

At a grand consultation of the whole gang, and a report of great booties that were to be made (and that, too, with much safety) on Blackheath, they agreed to make some attempts there. Accordingly they set out, being six horsemen well armed and mounted; but after having continued about six hours upon the Heath, and not meeting so much as one person, and the same ill luck being three or four times repeated, they left off going on that road for the future. In December following, he and another person robbed a butcher on horseback, on the road coming from Hampstead. He told them he had sold two lambs there. Levee's companion said immediately, Then you have eight-and-twenty shillings about you, for lambs sold to-day at fourteen shillings apiece. After some grumbling and hard words they made him deliver and by way of punishment for his sauciness, as they phrased it, they took away his great coat into the bargain, and had probably used him worse had not Levee seen a Jew's coach coming that way, and been conscious to himself that those within it knew him; whereupon he persuaded his associates to go off without robbing it.

Levee never used anybody cruelly in any of his adventures, excepting only one Betts, who foolishly struck him three or four blows on the head, whereupon Levee with one blow of his pistol struck his eye out. One night, upon the same road, Blake and Matthew Flood being in company with this unhappy youth, they stopped the chariot of Mr. Young, the same person who hanged Molony and Carrick.[27] Blake calling out to lay hold, and Flood stopping the horses, Levee went into the coach and took from Mr. Young a gold watch and chain, one Richard Oakey also assisting, who died likewise for this fact. They robbed also Col. Cope, who was in the same chariot, of his gold watch, chain and ring, and twenty-two shillings in money. Levee said it would have been a very easy matter for the gentleman to have taken him, he going into the coach without arms, and his companions being on the other side of the hedge; but they gave him the things very readily, and it was hard to say who behaved themselves most civilly one towards the other, the gentlemen or he. One of them desired to have a cornelian ring returned, which Levee inclined to do, but that his companions would not permit him.

As they were going home after taking this booty, they met a poor man on horseback. Notwithstanding the considerable sum they had taken just before, they turned out of the road, carried him behind two haycocks because the moon shone light, and there finding that he had but two shillings in the world, the rest of his companions were for binding and beating him, but upon the man's saying that he was very sick and begging earnestly that they would not abuse him, Levee prevailed with them not only to set him on his horse again, but to restore him his two shillings, and lead him into the road where they left him.

Levee, Flood and Oakey were soon apprehended and Blake turning evidence, they were convicted the next sessions at the Old Bailey, and ordered for execution. Levee behaved himself while under condemnation very seriously and modestly, though before that time, he had acted too much the bravo, from the mistaken opinion that people are apt to entertain of courage and resolution. But when death approached near, he laid aside all this, and applied himself with great seriousness and attention to prayers and other duties becoming a person in his condition.

At the place of execution he fell into a strange passion at his hands being to be tied, and his cap pulled over his face. Passion signifying nothing there, he was obliged to submit as the others did, being at the time of his execution, aged about twenty-seven.


[24] See page 66.

[25] His real name was Joseph Blake, see page 177.

[26] This was a portion of what is now the Bayswater Road, roughly between Petersburgh Place and the Notting Hill Tube Station. Swift had lodgings there and it was a fairly fashionable residential spot.

[27] See page 89.

The Lives of RICHARD OAKEY and MATTHEW FLOOD, Street-Robbers and Footpads

The first of these criminals, Richard Oakey, had been by his friends put apprentice to a tailor. In about two years his master failed, and from thence to the day of his unhappy death, Oakey continually followed thieving in one way or other. At first he wholly practised picking of women's pockets, which he said he did in a manner peculiar to himself; for being dressed pretty genteelly, he passed by the person he intended to rob, took up their upper petticoat and cut off the pocket at once, tripping them down at the same time. Then he stepped softly on the other side of the way, walked on and was never suspected. He said that while a lad, he had committed several hundred robberies in this way. As he grew older he made use of a woman to assist him, by pushing the people against the wall, while he took the opportunity of cutting their pockets; or at other times this woman came behind folks as they were crossing the way, and catching them by the arm, cried out, There's a coach will run over ye; while Oakey, in the moment of their surprise, whipped off their pocket.

This woman, who had followed the trade for a considerable time, happened one night at a bawdy-house to incense her bully so far as to make him beat her; she thereupon gave him still more provoking language, till at last he used her so cruelly, that she roared out Murder; and not without occasion, for she died of the bruises, though the people of the house concealed it for fear of trouble, and buried her privately. Upon this Oakey was obliged to go on his old way by himself.

The robberies he committed being numerous and successful, he bethought himself of doing something, as he called it, in a higher way; upon which, scraping acquaintance with two as abandoned fellows as himself, they took to housebreaking. In this they were so unlucky as to be detected in their second adventure, which was upon a house in Southwark near the Mint, where they stole calicoes to the value of twenty pounds and upwards. For this his two associates were convicted at Kingston assizes, he himself being the witness against them, by which method he at that time escaped. And being cured of any desire to go a-housebreaking again, he fell upon his old trade of picking pockets, till he got into the acquaintance of another as bad as himself, whom they called Will the Sailor. This fellow's practice was to wear a long sword, and then by jostling the gentleman whom they designed to rob, first created a quarrel, and while the fray lasted, gave his companion the opportunity of rubbing off with the booty. But whether Will grew tired of his companion, or of the dangerous trade which he was engaged in, certain it is that he left it off, and got again out of England on ship-board.

Oakey then got acquainted with Hawes, Milksop, Lincoln, Reading, Wilkinson, and half a dozen others, with whom one way or other he was continually concerned while they reigned in their villainies. And as they were in a short space all executed, he became acquainted with Levee, Flood, Blake and the rest of that gang, in whose association he continued until his crimes and theirs brought them together to the gallows. After condemnation his behaviour was such as became his condition, getting up in the night to pray so often and manifesting all the signs of a sincere repentance.

Matthew Flood was the son of a man who kept the Clink Prison[28] in the parish of St. Mary Overys, who had given him as good an education as was in his power, and bound him apprentice to one Mr. Williams, a lighterman. In this occupation he might certainly have done well, if he had not fallen into the company of those lewd persons who brought him to his fate. He had been about three months concerned with Blake, Levee, etc., and had committed many facts.

His behaviour under sentence was very penitent and modest, nor did he suffer the continual hopes his friends gave him of a reprieve ever to make him neglect his devotions. At the place of execution he said he was more particularly concerned for a robbery he had committed on a woman in Cornhill, not only because he took from her a good many guineas which were in her pocket, but that at the same time also he had taken a will which he burnt, and which he feared would be more to her prejudice than the loss of her money.

Oakey was about twenty-five years old at the time of his death, and Matthew Flood somewhat younger. They suffered on the same day with Weaver and the last-mentioned malefactor Levee, at Tyburn.


[28] The Clink Prison was, until 1745, at the corner of Maid Lane, Southwark. It was originally used as a house of detention for heretics and offenders against the bishop of Winchester, whose palace stood nearby.

The Life of WILLIAM BURK, a Footpad and Highwayman

As indulgence is a very common parent of wickedness and disobedience, so immoderate correction and treating children as if they were Stocks is as likely a method as the other to make them stubborn and obstinate, and perhaps even force upon them taking ill methods to avoid usage which they cannot bear.

William Burk, the unfortunate criminal whose enterprises are to be the subject of our present narration, was born towards Wapping of parents honest and willing to give him education, though their condition in the world rendered them not able. He was thereupon put to the charity school, the master of which being of a morose temper and he a boy of very indifferent disposition, the discipline with which he was treated was so severe that it created in him an aversion towards all learning; and one day, after a more severe whipping than ordinary, he determined (though but eleven years of age) to run away.

He sought out, therefore, for a captain who might want a boy, and that being no difficult matter to find in their neighbourhood, he went on board the Salisbury, Captain Hosier, then lying at the Buoy in the Nore, bound for Jamaica. His poor mother followed him in great affliction, and endeavoured all she could to persuade him to return, but her arguments were all in vain, for he had contracted so great an antipathy to school, from his master's treatment, that instead of being glad to go back, he earnestly intreated the captain to interpose his authority and keep him on board. His request was complied with, and the poor woman was forced to depart without her son.

It was the latter end of Queen Anne's War when they sailed to Jamaica, and during the time they were out, took two Spanish galleons very richly laden. Their first engagement was obstinate and bloody, and he, though a boy, was dangerously hurt as he bustled about one way or another as the captain commanded him. The second prize carried 74 guns and 650 men, yet the Salisbury (but a 60-gun ship) took her without the loss of a single man; only a woman, who was the only one on board, going to peep at the engagement, had her head and shoulders shot off. Burk said the prize money of each sailor came but to L15, but some of the officers shared so handsomely as never to be obliged to go to sea again, being enabled to live easily on shore.

Three years he continued in the West Indies, and there (especially in Jamaica) he learned so much wickedness that when he came home, hardly any of the gangs into which he entered were half so bad, though inured to plunder, as he when he came amongst them a fresh man. From this voyage he went another in the slave trade to the coast of Guinea. Here he endured very great hardships, especially when he had the misfortune to be on board where the negroes rose upon the English, and had like to have overcome them; but at last having been vanquished, and tied down in a convenient place, they were used with severity enough. Upon his return into England from this voyage, he went into the Baltic in the Worcester man-of-war, in which he suffered prodigious hardships from the coldness of the climate and other difficulties he went through.

The many miseries he had experienced in a life at sea might possibly have induced him to the resolution he made of never going on ship-board any more. How he came to take to robbing does not very clearly appear, further than that he was induced thereto by bad women; but he behaved himself with very great cruelty, for going over the first field from Stepney, armed with a hedging-bill, he attacked one William Fitzer, and robbed him of his jacket, tobacco-box, a knife and fork, etc. He robbed, also, one James Westwood, of a coat and ten shillings in money; last of all, attacking John Andrews and Robert his son, coming over the fields, he dove the old man down. His son taking up the stick boldly attacked Burk, and a neighbour, one Perkinson, coming in at the noise, he was overpowered and apprehended. As the fact was very plainly proved, he was on a short trial convicted, and the barbarity of the fact being so great, left no room for his being omitted in the warrant for execution.

As he lay a long time under condemnation, and had no hopes of life, from the moment of his confinement he applied himself to make his peace with that Being whom he had so much offended by his profligate course of life. On all occasions he expressed his readiness to confess anything which might be for the promoting of justice or public good, in all respects manifesting a thorough sorrow and penitence for that cruelty with which he had treated poor old Andrews. At the tree he stood up in the car, beckoned for silence, and then spoke to the multitude in these terms.

Good People,

I never was concerned but in four robberies in my life. I desire all men who see my fatal end to let my death teach them to lead a sober and regular life, and above all to shun the company of ill-women, which has brought me to this shameful end and place. I desire that nobody may reflect upon my wife after my decease, since she was so far from having any knowledge of the ills I committed, that she was continually exciting me to live a sober and honest life. Wherefore I hope God will bless her, as I also pray He may do all of you.

This malefactor, William Burk, was in the twenty-second year of his age when executed at Tyburn, April the 8th, 1723.

The Life of LUKE NUNNEY, a murderer

Though drunkenness in itself is a shocking and beastly crime, yet in its consequences it is also often so bloody and inhuman that one would wonder persons of understanding should indulge themselves in a sin at once so odious and so fatal both to body and soul. The instances of persons who have committed murders when drunk, and those accompanied with circumstances of such barbarity as even those persons themselves could not have heard without trembling, are so many and so well known to all of any reading, or who have made any reflection, that I need not dwell longer than the bare narration of this malefactor's misfortunes will detain me, to warn against a vice which makes them always monsters and often murderers.

Luke Nunney, of whom we are to speak, was a young fellow of some parts, and of a tolerable education, his father, at the time of his death, being a shoemaker in tolerable circumstances, and very careful in the bringing up of his children. He was more particularly zealous in affording them due notions of religion, and took abundance of pains himself to inculcate them in their tender years, which at first had so good an effect upon this Luke that his whole thoughts ran upon finding out that method of worship in which he was most likely to please God. Sometimes, though his parents were at the Church of England, he slipped to a Presbyterian Meeting-house, where he was so much affected with the preacher's vehemency in prayer and his plain and pious method of preaching that he often regretted not being bred up in that way, and the loss his parents sustained by their not having a relish for religion ungraced with exterior ornaments. These were his thoughts, and his practice was suitable to them, until the misfortunes of his father obliged him to break up the house, and put Luke out to work at another place.

The men where Nunney went to work were lewd and profligate fellows, always talking idly or lewdly, relating stories of what had passed in the country before they came up to work in London, the intrigues they had had with vicious women, and such loose and unprofitable discourses. This quickly destroyed the former good inclinations of Luke, who first began to waver in religion, and as he had quitted the Church of England to turn to the Dissenters, so now he had some thoughts of leaving them for the Quakers; but after going often to their meetings he professed he thought their behaviour so ridiculous and absurd as not to deserve the name either of religion or Divine worship.

His instability of mind pressed him also to go out into the world, for it appeared to him a great evil that while all the rest of his companions were continually discoursing of their adventures, he should have none to mention of his own. Some of them, also, having slightingly called him Cockney and reproaching him with never having been seven miles from London, he remembered that his father had some near relations in the west of England, so he took a sudden resolution of going down thither to work at his trade. Full of these notions he went over one evening pretty late with his brother to Southwark, and meeting there with an acquaintance who would needs make him drink, they stayed pretty long at the house, insomuch that Luke got very drunk, and being always quarrelsome when he had liquor, insulted and abused everybody in the room. As he was quarrelling particularly with one James Young, William Bramston who stood by, came up and desired him to be quiet, advised him to go home with his company, and not stay and make a disturbance where nobody had a mind to quarrel but himself. Without making any reply Luke struck him a blow on the face. Bramston thereupon held up his fist as if he would have struck him, but did not. However Nunney struck him again and pushed him forwards, upon which Bramston reeled, cried out he was stabbed and a dead man, that Nunney was the person who gave him the wound, and Luke thereupon (drunk as he was) attempted to run away.

Upon this he was apprehended, committed prisoner to Newgate, and the next sessions, on the evidence of such of his companions as were present, he was convicted and received sentence of death. He behaved himself from that time as a person who had as little desire as hopes of continuing in the world, enquired diligently both of the Ordinary and of the man who was under sentence with him, how he should prepare himself for his latter end, coming constantly to chapel, and praying regularly at all times. Yet at the place of execution he declared himself a Papist. He added, that at the time the murder was committed he had no knife nor could he imagine how it was done, being so drunk that he knew nothing that had happened until the morning, when he found himself in custody. He was about twenty years of age at the time of his suffering on the 25th of May, 1723.

The Life of RICHARD TRANTHAM, a Housebreaker

Though vices and extravagancies are the common causes which induce men to fall into those illegal practices which lead to a shameful death, yet now and then it happens we find men of outward gravity and serious deportment as wicked as those whose open licenciousness renders their committing crimes of this sort the less amazing.

Of the number of these was Richard Trantham, a married man, having a wife and child living at the time of his death, keeping also a tolerable house at Mitcham in Surrey. He had been apprehended on the sale of some stolen silk, and the next sessions following was convicted of having broken the house of John Follwell, in the night-time, two years before, and taking thence a silver tankard, a silver salver, and fifty-four pounds of Bologna silk, valued at L74 and upwards. During the time which passed between the sentence and execution he behaved in a manner the most penitent and devout, not only making use of a considerable number of books which the charity of his friends had furnished him with, but also reading to all those who were in the condemned hold with them.

The morning he was to die, after having received the Sacrament, he was exhorted to make a confession of those crimes which he had committed, particularly as to housebreaking, in which he was thought to have been long concerned; thereupon he recollected himself a little, and told of six or seven houses which he had broken open, particularly General Groves's near St. James's; a stone-cutter in Chiswell Street; and Mr. Follwell's in Spitalfields, for which he died. At the place of execution, whither he was conveyed in a mourning coach, he appeared perfectly composed and submissive to that sentence which his own misdeeds and the justice of the Law had brought upon him. Before the halter was put about his neck, he spoke to those who were assembled at the gallows to see his death, in the following terms:

Good People,

Those wicked and unlawful methods by which, for a considerable time, I have supported myself, have justly drawn upon me the anger of God, and the sentence of the Law. As I have injured many and the substance I have is very small, I fear a restitution would be hard to make, even if it should be divided. I therefore leave it all to my wife for the maintenance of her and my child. I entreat you neither to reflect on her nor on my parents, and pray the blessing of God upon you all.

He was thirty years old when he died and was executed the same day with the malefactor afore-mentioned.

The Lives of JOHN TYRRELL, a Horse-dealer, and WILLIAM HAWKSWORTH, a Murderer

John Tyrrell, the first of these malefactors, was convicted for stealing two horses in Yorkshire, but selling them in Smithfield he was tried at the Old Bailey. It seem she had been an old horse-stealer as most people conjecture, though he himself denied it, and as he pretended at his trial to have bought those two for which he died at Northampton Fair, so he continually endeavoured to infuse the same notions into all persons who spoke to him at the time of his death. He had practised carrying horses over into Flanders and Germany, and there selling them to persons of the highest rank, with whom he always dealt so justly and honourably that, as it was said, his word would have gone there for any sum whatsoever that was to be laid out in horse-flesh.

He had been bred up a Dissenter, and above all things affected the character of a religious and sober man, which excepting the instances for which he died, he never seemed to have forfeited; for whatever else was said against him after he was condemned, arose merely from conjectures occasioned by the number of horses he had sold in foreign parts. He himself professed that he had always led a most regular and devout life, and in the frequent voyages he made by sea, exhorted the sailors to leave that dissolute manner of life which too generally they led. During the whole time he lay under sentence, he talked of nothing else but his own great piety and devotion, which though, as he confessed, it had often been rewarded by many singular deliverances through the hand of Providence, yet since he was suffered to die this ignominious death and thereby disgrace his family and altogether overturn that reputation of sanctity with which so much pains himself had been setting up, he inclined to atheistic notions, and a wavering belief as to the being of a God at all.

As for the other malefactor, William Hawksworth, he was a Yorkshireman by birth. His parents, reputable people who took a great care in his reputation, intended to breed him to some good trade, but a regiment of soldiers happening to come into the town, Hawksworth imagining great things might be attained to in the army, would needs go with them, and accordingly listed himself. But having run through many difficulties and much hardships, finding also that he was like to meet with little else while he wore a red coat, he took a great deal of pains and made much interest to be discharged. At last he effected it, and a gentleman kindly taking him to live with him as a footman, he there recovered part of that education which he had lost while in the army. There, also, he addicted himself for some time to a sober and quiet life, but soon after giving way to his old roving disposition, he went away from his master, and listed himself again in the army in one of the regiments of Guards.

His behaviour the last time of his being in the service was honest and regular, his officers giving him a very good character, and nobody else a bad one; but happening to be one day commanded on a party to mount guard at the Admiralty Office, by Charing Cross, they met a man and woman. The man's name was John Ransom, and this Hawksworth stepping up to the woman and going to kiss her, Ransom interposed and pushed him off, upon which Hawksworth knocked him down with the butt end of his piece, by which blow about nine o'clock that evening he died.

The prisoner insisted continually that as he had no design to kill the man it was not wilful murder. He and Tyrrell died with less confusion and seeming concern than most malefactors do. Tyrrell was about thirty and Hawksworth in the twenty-eighth year of his age, on the 17th of June, 1723.

The Life of WILLIAM DUCE, a Notorious Highwayman and Footpad

However hardened some men may appear during the time they are acting their crimes and while hopes of safety of life remains, yet when these are totally lost and death, attended with ignominy and reproach, stares them in the face, they seldom fail to lay aside their obstinacy; or, if they do not, it is through a stupid want of consideration, either of themselves or of their condition.

William Duce, of whom we are now to speak, was one of the most cruel and abandoned wretches that ever went on the road. He was born at Wolverhampton, but of what parents, or in what manner he lived until his coming up to London, I am not able to say. He had not been long here before he got in debt with one Allom, who arrested him and threw him into Newgate, where he remained a prisoner upwards of fifteen months; here it was that he learnt those principles of villainy which he afterwards put in practice.

His companions were Dyer, Butler, Rice and some others whom I shall have occasion to mention. The first of December, 1722, he and one of his associates crossing Chelsea Fields, overtook a well-dressed gentleman, a tall strong-limbed man, who having a sword by his side and a good cane in his hand they were at first in some doubt whether they should attack him. At last one went on one side and the other on the other, and clapping at once fast hold of each arm, they thereby totally disabled him from making a resistance. They took from him four guineas, and tying his wrists and ankles together, left him bound behind the hedge.

Not long after he, with two others, planned to rob in St. James's Park. Accordingly they seized a woman who was walking on the grass near the wall towards Petty France, and after they had robbed her got over the wall and made their escape. About this time his first acquaintance began with Dyer, who was the great occasion of this poor fellow's ruin, whom he continually plagued to go out a-robbing, and sometimes threatened him if he did not. In Tottenham Court Road, they attacked a gentleman, who being intoxicated with wine, either fell from his horse, or was thrown off by them, from whom they took only a gold watch. Then Butler and Dyer being in his company, they robbed Mr. Holmes of Chelsea, of a guinea and twopence, the fact for which he and Butler died.

Thinking the town dangerous after all these robberies, and finding the country round about too hot to hold them, they went into Hampshire and there committed several robberies, attended with such cruelties as have not for many years been heard of in England; and though these actions made a great noise, yet it was some weeks before any of them were apprehended.

On the Portsmouth Road it happened they fell upon one Mr. Bunch, near a wood side, where they robbed and stripped him naked; yet not thinking themselves secure, Duce turned and fired at his head. He took his aim so true that the bullet entered the man's cheek, upon which he fell with the agony of pain, turning his head downwards that the bullet might drop out of his mouth. Seeing that, Butler turned back and began to charge his pistol. The man fell down on his knees and humbly besought his life. Perceiving the villain was implacable, he took the advantage before the pistol was charged to take to his heels, and being better acquainted with the way than they, escaped to a neighbouring village which he raised, and soon after it the whole country; upon which they were apprehended. Mead, Wade and Barking, were condemned at Winchester assizes, but this malefactor and Butler were removed by an Habeas Corpus to Newgate.

While under sentence of death, Duce laid aside all that barbarity and stubbornness with which he had formerly behaved, with great frankness confessed all the villainies he had been guilty of, and at the place of execution delivered the following letter for the evidence Dyer, who as he said, had often cheated them of their shares of the money they took from passengers, and had now sworn away their lives.

The Letter of William Duce to John Dyer

It is unnecessary for me to remind you of the many wicked and barbarous actions which in your company and mostly by your advice, have been practised upon innocent persons. Before you receive this, I shall have suffered all that the law of man can inflict for my offences. You will do well to reflect thereon, and make use of that mercy which you have purchased at the expense of our blood, to procure by a sincere repentance the pardon also of God; without which, the lengthening of your days will be but a misfortune, and however late, your crimes if you pursue them, will certainly bring you after us to this ignominious place.

You ought especially to think of the death of poor Rice, who fell in the midst of his sins, without having so much as time to say, Lord have mercy on me. God who has been so gracious as to permit it to you, will expect a severe account of it, and even this warning, if neglected, shall be remembered against you. Do not however think that I die in any wrath or anger with you, for what you swore at my trial. I own myself guilty of that for which I suffer, and I as heartily and freely forgive you, as I hope forgiveness for myself, from that infinitely merciful Being, to whose goodness and providence I recommend you.


He also wrote another letter to one Mr. R. W., who had been guilty of some offences of the like nature in his company, but who for some time had retired and lived honestly and privately, was no longer addicted to such courses, nor as he hoped would relapse into them again. At the time of his execution he was about twenty-five years of age, and suffered at Tyburn on the 5th of August, 1723.

The Life of JAMES BUTLER, a Most notorious Highwayman, Footpad, etc.

James Butler was the son of a very honest man in the parish of St. Ann's, Soho, who gave him what education it was in his power to bestow, and strained his circumstances to the utmost to put him apprentice to a silversmith. James had hardly lived with him six months when his roving inclination pushed him upon running away and going to sea, which he did, with one Captain Douglass in a man-of-war.

Here he was better used than most young people are at the first setting out in a sailor's life. The captain being a person of great humanity and consideration, treated James with much tenderness, taking him to wait on himself, and never omitting any opportunity to either encourage or reward him. But even then Butler could not avoid doing some little thieving tricks, which very much grieved and provoked his kind benefactor, who tried by all means, fair and foul, to make him leave them off. One day, particularly, when he had been caught opening one of the men's chests and a complaint was thereupon made to the captain, he was called into the great cabin, and everybody being withdrawn except the captain, calling him to him, he spoke in these terms.

Butler, I have always treated you with more kindness and indulgence than perhaps anybody in your station has been used with on board any ship. You do, therefore, very wrong by playing such tricks as make the men uneasy, to put it out of my power to do you any good. We are now going home, where I must discharge you, for as I had never any difference with the crew since I commanded the Arundel, I am determined not to let you become the occasion of it now. There is two guineas for you, I will take care to have you sent safe to your mother.

The captain performed all his promises, but Butler continued still in the same disposition, and though he made several voyages in other ships, yet still continued light-fingered, and made many quarrels and disturbances on board, until at last he could find nobody who knew him that would hire him. The last ship he served in was the Mary, Capt. Vernon commander, from which ship he was discharged and paid off at Portsmouth, in August, 1721.

Having got, after this, into the gang with Dyer, Duce, Rice and others, they robbed almost always on the King's Road, between Buckingham House and Chelsea. On the 27th of April, 1723, after having plundered two or three persons on the aforesaid road, they observed a coach coming towards them, and a footman on horseback riding behind it. As soon as they came in sight Dyer determined with himself to attack them, and forced his companions into the same measures by calling out to the coachman to stop, and presenting his pistols. The fellow persisted a little, and Dyer was cocking his pistol to discharge it at him, when the ladies' footman from behind the coach, fired amongst them, and killed Joseph Rice upon the spot.

This accident made such an impression upon Butler that though he continued to rob with them a day or two longer, yet as soon as he had an opportunity he withdrew and went to hard labour with one Cladins, a very honest man, at the village called Wandsworth, in Surrey. He had not wrought there long, before some of his gang had been discovered. His wife was seized and sent to Bridewell in order to make her discover where her husband was, who had been impeached with the rest. This obliged him to leave his place, and betake himself again to robbing.

Going with his companions, Wade, Meads, Garns and Spigget, they went into the Gravesend Road, and there attacking four gentlemen, Meads thought it would contribute to their safety to disable the servant who rode behind, upon which he fired at him directly, and shot him through the breast. Not long after, they set upon another man, whom Meads wounded likewise in the same place, and then setting him on his horse, bid him ride to Gravesend. But the man turning the beast's head the other way, Meads went back again, and shot him in the face, of which wound he died.

When Butler lay under sentence of death he readily confessed whatever crimes he had committed, but he, as well as the before-mentioned criminal, charged much of his guilt upon the persuasions of the evidence Dyer. He particularly owned the fact of shooting the man at Farnham. Having always professed himself a Papist, he died in that religion, at the same time with the afore-mentioned criminal, at Tyburn.

The Life of CAPTAIN JOHN MASSEY, who died for Piracy

The gentleman of whom we are now to speak, though he suffered for piracy, was a man of another turn of mind than any of whom we have hitherto had occasion to mention. Captain John Massey was of a family I need not dwell on, since he hath at present two brothers living who make a considerable figure in their respective professions.

This unhappy person had a natural vivacity in his temper, which sometimes rose to such a height that his relations took it for a degree of madness. They, therefore, hoping by a compliance with his humours to bring him to a better sense of things, sent him into the army then in Flanders, under the command of the Duke of Marlborough; and there he assisted at the several sieges which were undertaken by the Confederate army after his arrival, viz., Mons, Douai, Bouchain, and several others. Yet though he was bold there, even to temerity, he never received so much as one wound through the whole course of the war, in which, after the siege of Lille, he commanded as a lieutenant, and that with great reputation.

On his return into England he at first wholly addicted himself to a religious sober life, the several accidents of the war having disposed him to a more serious temper by making him plainly perceive the hand of Providence in protecting and destroying, according as its wisdom seeth fit. But after a short stay in London, he unhappily fell into the acquaintance of a lewd woman, who so besotted him that he really intended to marry her, if the regiment's going to Ireland had not prevented it. But there the case was not much mended, since Captain Massey gave too much way to the debaucheries generally practised in that nation.

On his coming back from thence, by the recommendation of the Duke of Chandois, he was made by the Royal African Company a lieutenant colonel in their service, and an engineer for erecting a fort on the Coast of Africa. He promised himself great advantage and a very honourable support from this employment, but he and the soldiers under his command being very ill used by the person who commanded the ship in which he went over (being denied their proportion of provisions and in all other respects treated with much indignity) it made a great impression on Captain Massey's mind, who could not bear to see numbers of those poor creatures perish, not only without temporal necessities, but wanting also the assistance of a divine in their last moments. For the chaplain of the ship remained behind in the Maderas, on a foresight perhaps, of the miseries he should have suffered in the voyage.

In this miserable condition were things when the Captain and his soldiers came into the River Gambia, where the designed fort was to be built. Here the water was so bad that the poor wretches, already in the most dreadful condition, were many of them deprived of life a few days after they were on shore. The Captain was excessively troubled at the sight of their misfortunes and too easily in hopes of relieving them gave way to the persuasion of a captain[29] of a lighter vessel than his own, who arrived in that port, and persuaded him to turn pirate rather than let his men starve.

After repeated solicitations, Captain Massey and his men went on board this ship, and having there tolerable good provisions, soon picked up their strength and took some very considerable prizes. At the plundering of these Massey was confused and amazed, not knowing well what to do, for though he was glad to see his men have meat, yet it gave him great trouble when he reflected on the methods by which they acquired it. In this disconsolate state his night was often so troublesome to him as his days, for, as he himself said, he seldom shut his eyes but he dreamt that he was sailing in a ship to the gallows, with several others round him.

After a considerable space, the ship putting into the island of Jamaica for necessary supply of water and provision, he made his escape to the Governor, and gave him such information that he took several vessels thereby; but not being easy there, he desired leave of Sir Nicholas Laws to return home. Sir Nicholas gave him letters of recommendation, but notwithstanding those, he no sooner returned in England but he was apprehended and committed for piracy. Soon after which he was bailed; but the persons who became security growing uneasy, he surrendered in their discharge, soon after which he was tried, convicted and condemned.

During the space he remained in prison under condemnation he behaved with so much gravity, piety and composedness, as surprised all who saw him, many of whom were inclined to think his case hard. No mercy was to be had and as he did not expect it, so false hopes never troubled his repose; but as death was to cut him off from the world, so he beforehand retired all his affections from thence and thought of nothing but that state whither he was going.

In his passage to execution he pointed to the African House,[30] said, They have used me severely, but I pray God prosper and bless them in all their undertakings.

Mr. Nicholson, of St. Sepulchre's, attended him in his last moments. Just before he died he read the following speech to the people.

Good People,

I beg of you to pray for my departing soul. I likewise pray God to forgive all the evidences that swore against me, as I do from my heart. I challenge all the world to say I ever did a dishonourable act or anything unlike a gentleman, but what might be common to all young fellows in this age. This was surely a rash action, but I did not designedly turn pirate. I am sorry for it, and I wish it were in my power to make amends to the Honourable African Company for what they have lost by my means. I likewise declare upon the word of a dying man that I never once thought of molesting his Grace the Duke of Chandois, although it has been maliciously reported that I always went with two loaded pistols to dispatch his Grace. As for the Duke, I was always, while living, devoted to his service, for his good offices done unto me, and I humbly beg Almighty God, that He would be pleased to pour down His blessings upon his good family. Good people, once more I beg of you to pray for my departing soul. I desire my dying words to be printed, as for the truth and sincerity of it, I sign them as a man departing this world.

John Massey

After he had pronounced these words, he signified it as his last request that neither his wife, nor any of his relations might see his body after it was in the coffin. Then praying a few moments to himself he submitted to his fate, being at the time of his death twenty-eight years old. He suffered at high-water mark, Execution Dock, on the 26th of July, 1723, his unhappy death being universally pitied.


[29] This was Captain George Lowther, a redoubtable pirate. A more complete Story of Massey's adventures is given in Johnson's History of the Pirates.

[30] In Leadenhall Street, along which he would pass on the way to Wapping.

The Life of PHILIP ROCHE, a Pirate, etc.

As in the life of Captain Massey, my readers cannot but take notice of those great evils into which men are brought by over-forwardness and inconsideration, so in the life of the malefactor we are now to speak of, they will discern what a prodigious pitch of wickedness, rapine and cruelty, human nature is capable of reaching unto, when people abandon themselves to a desire of living after their own wicked inclinations, without considering the injuries they do others while they gratify their own lusts and sensual pleasures.

Philip Roche[31] was the son of a person of the same name in Ireland. His father gave him all the education his narrow circumstances would permit which extended however to reading and writing a tolerable good hand, after which he sent him to sea. Philip was a lad of ingenious parts, and instead of forgetting, as many do, all they have learnt, he on the contrary took all imaginable care to perfect himself in whatsoever he had but a slight notion of before he went to sea. He made abundance of coasting voyages about his native island, went once or twice to Barbadoes, and being a saving and industrious young fellow, picked up money enough to become first mate in a trading vessel to Nantes in France, by which being suffered to buy goods himself, he got considerably, and was in a fair way to attaining as great a fortune as he could reasonably expect. But this slow method of getting money did by no means satisfy Roche; he was resolved to grow rich at once, and not wait till much labour and many voyages had made him so.

When men once form to themselves such designs, it is not long before they find companions fit for their purpose. Roche soon met with one Neal, a fisherman of no education, barbarous but very daring, a fellow who had all the qualities that could conspire to make a dangerous villain, and who had already inured himself to the commission of whatever was black or bloody, not only without remorse but without reluctance. Neal recommended him to one Pierce Cullen, as a proper associate in those designs they were contriving; for this Cullen, as Neal informed him, was a fellow of principles and qualifications much like himself, but had somewhat a better capacity for executing them, and with Neal had been concerned in sinking a ship, after insuring her both in London and Amsterdam. But Providence had disappointed them in the success of their wicked design for Cullen having been known, or at least suspected of doing such a thing before, those with whom they had insured at London, instead of their paying the money, caused him to be seized and brought to a trial, which demolished all their schemes for cheating insurance offices.

Cullen brought in his brother to their confederacy, and after abundance of solicitation induced Wise to come in likewise. The project they had formed was to seize some light ship, and turn pirates in her, conceiving it no difficult matter afterwards to obtain a stronger vessel, and one better fitted for their purpose.

The ship they pitched on to execute this their villainous purpose was that of Peter Tartoue, a Frenchman of a very generous disposition, who on Roche and his companions telling him a melancholy story, readily entertained them; and perceiving Roche was an experienced sailor, he entrusted him upon any occasion with the care and command of the ship. Having done so one night, himself and the chief mate with the rest of the French who were on board went to rest, except a man and a boy, whom Roche commanded to go up and furl the sails. He then called the rest of his Irish associates to him upon the quarter-deck. There Roche, perceiving that Francis Wise began to relent, and fearing he should persuade others in the same measures, he told them that if every Irishman on board did not assist in destroying the French, and put him and Cullen in a capacity of retrieving the losses they had had at sea, they would treat whoever hesitated in obeying them with as little mercy as they did the Frenchmen; but if they would all assist, they should all fare alike, and have a share in the booty.

Upon this the action began, and two of them running up after the Frenchman and boy, one tossed the lad by the arm into the water, and the other driving the man down upon the deck he there had his brains dashed out by Roche and his companions. They fell next upon those who were retired to their rest, some of whom, upon the shrieks of the man and boy who were murdered, rising hastily out of their beds and running up upon deck to see what occasioned those dismal noises, were murdered themselves before they well knew where they were. The mate and the captain were next brought up, and Roche went immediately to binding them together, in order to toss them overboard, as had been consulted. 'Twas in vain for poor Tartoue to plead the kindness he had done them all and particularly Roche. They were deaf to all sentiments, either of gratitude or pity, and though the poor men entreated only so much time as to say their prayers, and recommend themselves to God, yet the villains (though they could be under no apprehensions, having already murdered all the rest of the men) would not even yield to this, but Cullen hastened Roche in binding them back to back, to toss them at once into the sea. Then hurrying down into the cabin, they tapped a little barrel of rum to make themselves good cheer, and laughed at the cries of the two poor drowned men, whom they distinctly heard calling upon God, until their voices and their breaths were lost in the waves.

After having drunk and eaten their fill, with as much mirth and jollity as if they had been at a feast, they began to plunder the vessel, breaking open the chests, and taking out of them what they thought proper. Then to drinking they went again, pleasing themselves with the barbarous expedition which they resolved to undertake as soon as they could get a ship proper to carry them into the West Indies, intending there to follow the example the buccaneers had set them, and rob and plunder all who fell into their hands. From these villainies in intention, the present state of their affairs called upon them to make some provision for their immediate safety. They turned therefore into the Channel, and putting the ship into Portsmouth, there got her new painted and then sailed for Amsterdam, Roche being unanimously recognised their captain, and all of them promising faithfully to submit to him through the course of their future expeditions.

On their arrival in Holland, they had the ship a second time new painted, and thinking themselves now safe from all discovery began to sell off Captain Tartoue's cargo as fast as they could. No sooner had they completed this, but getting one Mr. Annesley to freight them with goods to England (himself also going as a passenger) they resolved with themselves to make prise of him and his effects, as they had also done with the French captain. Mr. Annesley, poor man, little dreaming of their design, came on board as soon as the wind served; and the next night a brisk gale blowing, they tore him suddenly out of his bed and tossed him over. Roche and Cullen being with others in the great cabin, he swam round and round the ship, called out to them, and told them they should freely have all his goods if they would take him in and save his life, for he had friends and fortunes enough in England to make up that loss. But his entreaties were all vain to a set of wretches who had long ago abandoned all sentiments of humour and mercy. They therefore caroused as usual, and after sharing the booty, steered the vessel for England.

Some information of their villainies had by that time reached thither, so that upon a letter being stopped at the post office, which Roche, as soon as they had landed, had written to his wife, a messenger was immediately sent down, who brought Philip up in custody. Being brought to the Council table, and there examined, he absolutely denied either that himself was Philip Roche, or that he knew of any one of that name. But his letters under his own hand to his wife being produced, he was not able any longer to stand in that falsehood.

Yet those in authority knowing that there was not legal proof sufficient to bring these abominable men to justice, offered Roche his life, provided he gave such information that they might be able to apprehend and convict any three of his companions more wicked than himself; but he was so far from complying therewith that he suffered those of his crew who were taken to perish in custody rather than become an evidence against them. This was the fate of Neal, who perished of want in the Marshalsea, having in vain petitioned for a trunk in which was a large quantity of money, clothes and other things to a considerable value, which had been seized in Ireland by virtue of a warrant from the Lord Justice of that Kingdom, on the account of the detention of which, while he perished for want of necessaries and clothes, Neal most heavily complained, forgetting that these very things were the plunder of those unhappy persons whom they had so barbarously murdered, after having received so much kindness and civility from them.

In the meanwhile Roche, being confined in Newgate, went constantly to the chapel and appeared of so obliging a temper that many persuaded themselves he could not be guilty of the bloody crimes laid to his charge; and taking advantage of these kind thoughts of theirs, he framed a new story in defence of himself. He said that there happened a quarrel on board the ship between an Irishman and a Frenchman, and that Tartoue taking part with his own nation, threatened to lash the Irishman severely, though he was not in any way in the wrong. This, he pretended, begat a general quarrel between the two nations, and the Irish being the stronger, they overpowered and threw the French overboard in the heat of their anger, without considering what they did.

Throughout the whole time he lay in Newgate, he very much delighted himself with the exercise of his pen, continually writing upon one subject or other, and often assisting his fellow prisoners in writing letters or whatever else they wanted in that kind. When he was told that Neal, who died in the Marshalsea, gushed out at all parts of his body with Wood, so that before he expired he was as if he had been dipped in gore, Roche replied, it was a just judgment that he who had always lived in blood, should die covered with it.

Sometime afterwards, being told that one of his companions had poisoned himself he said, Alas! that so evil an end should follow so evil a life; for his part he would suffer Providence to take its course with him, and rather die the most ignominious death than to his other crimes add that of self-murder. The rest who had been apprehended dying one by one in the same dreadful condition with Neal, that is, with the blood gushing from every part of their body, which looked so much like a judgment that all who saw it were amazed, he (Roche) began to think himself perfectly safe after the death of his companions, supposing that now there was nobody to bear any testimony against him; and therefore, instead of appearing in any way dismayed, he most earnestly desired the speedy approach of an Admiralty sessions. It was not long before it happened and when he found what evidence would be produced against him, he appeared much less solicitous about his trial than anybody in his condition would have been expected to be, for he very well knew it was impossible for them to prove him guilty of the murders and as impossible for him to be acquitted of the piracy.

After receiving sentence of death, he declared himself a Papist, and said that he could no longer comply with the service of the Church of England, and come to the chapel. He did not, however, think that he was in any danger of death, but supposed that the promises which had been made him on this first examination would now take place and prevent the execution of his sentence. When, therefore, the messenger returned from Hanover[32], and brought an express order that he should die, he appeared exceedingly moved thereat, and without reflecting at all on the horrid and barbarous treatment with Which he had used others, he could not forbear complaining of the great hardship he suffered in being put into the death warrant, after a promise had been made him of life, though nothing is more certain than that he never performed any part of those conditions upon which it was to have taken place.

At the place of execution he was so faint, confused, and in such a consternation that he could not speak either to the people, or to those who were nearer at hand, dying with the greatest marks of dejection and confusion that could possibly be seen in any criminal whatever. He was about thirty years old at the time of his execution, which was at high-water mark, Execution Dock, on the 14th of August, 1723.


[31] A detailed account of this villain is given in Johnson's History of the Pirates.

[32] Where the warrant had evidently been taken for the signature of the king or a minister.

The Life of HUMPHRY ANGIER, a Highwayman and Footpad

From the life of Roche, the course of those papers from which I extract these accounts leads me to mention this criminal, that the deaths of malefactors may not only terrify those who behold them dying, but also posterity, who, by hearing their crimes and the event which they brought on, may avoid falling into the one, for fear of feeling the other.

Humphry Angier was by birth of the Kingdom of Ireland, his father being a man in very ordinary circumstances in a little town a few miles distant from Dublin. As soon as this son was able to do anything, he sent him to the city of Cork, and there bound him apprentice to a cooper. His behaviour while an apprentice was so bad that his master utterly despaired to do any good with him, and therefore was not sorry that he ran away from him. However, he found a way to vex him sufficiently, for he got into a crew of loose fellows, which so far frightened the old cooper that he was at a considerable expense to hire persons to watch his house for the four years that Angier loitered about that city. At last his father even took him from thence, and brought him over into England where he left him at full liberty to do what he thought fit; resolving with himself that if his son would take to ill-courses, it should be where the fame of his villainies might not reflect upon him and his family.

He was now near eighteen years of age and being in some fear that some persons whom he had wronged might bring him into danger, he listed himself in the king's service, and went down with a new raised regiment into Scotland, where he hoped to make something by plundering the inhabitants, it being in the time of the Rebellion[33]. But he did not succeed very well there, and on his return fell into the company of William Duce, whom we have mentioned before. His conversation soon seduced him to follow the same course of life, and that their intimacy might be the more strongly knit, he married Duce's sister. Then engaging himself with all that gang, he committed abundance of robberies in their company, but was far from falling into that barbarous manner of beating the passengers which was grown customary and habitual to Mead, Butler, and some others of his and Duce's companions.

Angier told a particular story of them, which made a very great impression upon him, and cannot but give my readers of an idea of that horrible spirit which inspired those wretches. Mead and Butler came one evening to him very full of their exploits, and the good luck they had had. Mead particularly, having related every circumstance which had happened since their last parting, said that amongst others whom they had robbed they met a smooth-faced shoemaker, who said he was just married and going home to his friends. They persuaded him to turn out of the road to look in the hedge for a bird's nest, whither he was no sooner got, but they bound, gagged and robbed him, and afterwards turning back, barbarously clapped a pistol to his head and shot out his brains. After this Angier declared he would never drink in the company of Mead, and when Butler sometimes talked after the same manner, he used to reprove him by telling him that cruelty was no courage, at which Butler and some of his companions sometimes laughed, and told him he had singular notions of courage.

After this, he and his wife (Duce's sister) set up a little alehouse by Charing Cross, which soon against his will, though not without his consent, became a bawdy-house, a receptacle for thieves, etc. This sort of company rendered his house so suspicious and so obnoxious to the magistrates for the City of Westminster, that he quickly found the necessity of moving from thence. He then went and set up a brandy-shop, where the same people came, though as he pretended much to his dissatisfaction. While he kept the alehouse, there were two odd accidents befell him, which brought him for the first time to Newgate. It happened that while he was out one day, a Dutch woman picked up a gentleman and brought him to Angier's house, where, while he was asleep, she picked his pocket and left him. For this Angier and his maid were taken up, and tried at the Old Bailey. He was also at the same time tried for another offence, viz., an Irishwoman coming to his house and drinking pretty hard there, he at last carried her upstairs, and throwing her upon a bed pretended a great affection for her person; but his wife coming in and pretending to be jealous of the woman, pulled her off the bed and in so doing picked her pocket of four guineas. But of this there being no direct evidence against him, he was also acquitted. However, it ruined his house and credit, and drove him upon what was too much his inclination, the taking money by force upon the road.

He now got into an acquaintance with Carrick, Carrol, Lock, Kelly, and many others of that stamp, with whom he committed several villainies, but always pretending to be above picking pockets, which he said was practised by none of their crew but Hugh Kelly, who was a very dextrous fellow in his way. However, when Angier was in custody, abundance of people applied to him to help them to their gold watches, snuff-boxes, etc.; but as he told them, so he persisted in it always, that he knew nothing of the matter; and Kelly being gone over into America and there settled, there was no hopes of getting any of them again.

One evening he and Milksop, one of his companions, being upon the road to St. Albans, a little on this side of it, met a gentleman's coach, and in it a young man and two ladies. They immediately called to the coachman to stop, but he neglecting to obey their summons, they knocked him off from the box, having first prevented him from whipping off, by shooting one of his horses. They then dragged him under the coach, which running over him hurt him exceedingly and even endangered his life. Then they robbed the young gentleman and the ladies of whatever they had about them valuable, using them very rudely and stripping things off them in a very harsh and cruel way. Angier excused this by saying at the time he did it he was much in liquor.

In the beginning of the year '20, Angier, who had so long escaped punishment for the offences which he had committed, was very near suffering for one in which he had not the least hand; for a person of quality's coachman being robbed of a watch and some money, a woman of the town, whom Angier and one of his companions had much abused, was thereupon taken up, having attempted to pawn the fellow's watch after he had advertised it. She played the hypocrite very dexterously upon her apprehension, and said that the robbery was not committed by her, but that Angier, Armstrong and another young man were the persons who took it, and by her help they were seized and committed to Newgate. At the ensuing sessions the woman swore roundly against them, but the fellow being more tender, and some circumstances of their innocence plainly appearing, they were acquitted by the jury and that very justly in this case in which they had no hand.

During the time he lay under sentence, he behaved himself with much penitence for another offence, always calling earnestly to God for His assistance and grace to comfort him under those heavy sorrows which his follies and crimes had so justly brought upon him.

At the place of execution he did not appear at all terrified at death, but submitted to it with the same resignation which for a long space he had professed since his being under confinement. Immediately before he suffered he recollected his spirits and spoke in the following terms to that crowd which always attends on such melancholy occasions.

Good People,

I see many of you here assembled to behold my wretched end. I hope it will induce you to avoid those evils which have brought me hither. Sometime before my being last taken up, I had formed within myself most steady purposes of amendment, which it is a great comfort to me, even here that I never broke them, having lived at Henley upon Thames, both with a good reputation, and in a manner which deserved it. I heartily forgive and I hope God would do the same to Dyer, whose evidence hath taken away my life. I hope he will make a good use of that time which the price of my blood and that of others has procured him. I heartily desire pardon of all whom I have injured and declare that in the several robberies I have committed, I have been always careful to avoid committing any murder.

After this he adjusted the rope about his own neck, and submitted to that sentence which the Law directed, being at that time about twenty-nine years of age. He suffered on the 9th of September, 1723.

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