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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[33] The Jacobite rising of 1715.

The Life of CAPTAIN STANLEY, a Murderer

There cannot be a greater misfortune than to want education, except it be the having a bad one. The minds of young persons are generally compared to paper on which we may write whatever we think fit, but if it be once blurred and blotted with improper characters, it becomes much harder to impress proper sentiments thereon, because those which were first there must be totally erased. This seems to have been too much the case with the unhappy person of whom the thread of these narrations requires that I should speak, viz., Captain Stanley.

This unhappy young gentleman was the son of an officer in the army who married the sister of Mr. Palmer, of Duce Hill, in Essex, where she was brought to bed of this unfortunate son John, in the year 1698. The first rudiments he received were those of cruelty and blood, his father at five years old often parrying and thrusting him with a sword, pricking him himself and encouraging other officers to play with him in the same manner, so that his boy, as old Stanley phrased it, might never be afraid of a point—a wretched method of bringing up a child and which was highly likely to produce the sad end he came to.

He served afterwards in the army with his father in Spain and Portugal, where he suffered hardships enough, but they did not very much affect him, who acquired by his hopeful education so savage a temper as to delight in nothing so much as trampling on the dead carcasses in the fields after an engagement.

Returning into England with his father, old Stanley had the misfortune to slab a near relation of my Lord Newbury's, in the Tilt Yard,[34] for which he was committed prisoner to Newgate. Afterwards being released and commanded into Ireland, he carried over with him this son John and procured for him an ensign's commission in a regiment there. Poor young Stanley's sprightly temper gained him abundance of acquaintance and (if it be not to profane the name) of friends amongst the young rakes in Ireland, some of whom were persons of very great quality, and had such an affection for him as to continue their visits and relieve his necessities when under his last misfortunes in Newgate. But such company involving him at that time in expenses he was no way able to support, he was obliged shortly to part for ready money with his ensign's commission, which gave his father great pain and uneasiness.

Not long after, he came again into England and to London, where he pursued the same methods, though his father importuned him to apply to General Stanhope, as a person he was sure would assist him, having been always a friend to their family, and particularly to old Stanley himself. But Jack was become a favourite with the ladies, and had taken an easier road to what he accounted happiness, living either upon the benevolence of friends, the fortune of the dice, or the favours of the sex. A continual round of sensual delights employed his time, and he was so far from endeavouring to attain any other commission or employment in order to support him, that there was nothing he so much feared as his being obliged to quit that life he loved; for old Stanley was continually soliciting for him, and as he had very good interest, nothing but his son's notorious misbehaviour made him not prevail. In the current of his extravagancies Jack fixed himself often upon young men coming into the world, and under pretence of being their tutor in the fashionable vices of the town, shared in their pleasures and helped them squander their estates.

Of this stamp was a gay young Yorkshire squire, who by the death of an uncle and by the loss of his father while a boy, had had so little education as not to know how to use it. Him Stanley got hold of, and persuaded him that nothing was so advantageous to a young gentleman as travel, and drew him to make a tour of Flanders and Holland in his company. Though a very wild young fellow, Stanley gave a very tolerable account of the places, especially the fortifications which he had seen, and sufficiently demonstrated how capable he might have been of making an exalted figure in the world, if due care had been taken to furnish him with any principles in his youth. But the neglect of that undid him, and every opportunity which he afterwards had of acquiring anything, instead of making him an accomplished gentleman, did him mischief. Thus his journey to Paris in company with the afore-mentioned gentleman helped him to an opportunity of learning to fence to the greatest perfection, so that the skill he was sensible he had in the sword made him ever ready to quarrel and seek occasions to use it.

Amongst the multitude of his amours he became acquainted and passionately fond of one Mrs. Maycock, whose husband was once an eminent tradesman upon Ludgate Hill. By her he had a child of which also he was very fond. This woman was the source of the far greater part of his misfortunes, for when his father had procured him a handsome commission in the service of the African Company, and he had received a considerable sum of money for his voyage, appearing perfectly satisfied himself, and behaving in so grave and decent a manner as filled his family and relations with very agreeable hopes, they were all blasted by Mrs. Maycock's coming with her child to Portsmouth, where he was to embark. She so far prevailed upon his inclinations as to get him to give her one half of the Company's money and to return to town with the other half himself. On his coming up to London he avoided going to his father's, who no sooner heard how dishonourably his son had behaved, but laying it more to heart than all the rest of his misfortunes, grief in a short time put an end to them all by his death.

When the news of it came to young Stanley, he fell into transports of grief and passion, which as many of his intimate companions said, so disturbed his brain that he never afterwards was in a right temper. This, indeed, appeared by several accidents, some of which were sworn at his trial, particularly that while he lodged in the house of Mr. Underhill, somebody having quoted a sentence of Latin in his company, he was so disturbed at the thoughts of his having had such opportunities of acquiring the knowledge of that language and yet continuing ignorant thereof, through his negligence and debauchery, that it made at that time so strong an impression on his spirits, that starting up, he drew a penknife and attempted to stab himself, without any other cause of passion. At other times he would fall into sudden and grievous rages, either at trifles, or at nothing at all, abuse his best friends, and endeavour to injure himself, and then coming to a better temper, begged them to forgive him, for he did not know what he did.

During the latter part of his life, his circumstances were so bad that he was reduced to doing many dirty actions which I am persuaded otherwise would not have happened, such as going into gentlemen's select companies at taverns, without any other ceremony than telling them that his impudence must make him welcome to a dinner with them, after which, instead of thanking them for their kindness, he would often pick a quarrel with them, though strangers, drawing his sword and fighting before he left the room. Such behaviour made him obnoxious to all who were not downright debauchees like himself, and hindered persons of rank conversing with him as they were wont.

In the meantime his favourite Mrs. Maycock, whom he had some time lived with as a wife and even prevailed with his mother to visit her as such, being no longer able to live at his rate, or bear with his temper, frequented a house in the Old Bailey, where it was supposed, and perhaps with truth, that she received other company. This made Stanley very uneasy, who like most young rakes thought himself at liberty to pursue as many women as he pleased, but could not forgive any liberties taken by a woman whom he, forsooth, had honoured with his affections.

One night therefore, seeing her in Fleet Street with a man and a woman, he came up to her and gently tapped her on the shoulder. She turning, cried, What! My dear Captain! And so on they went walking to his house in the Old Bailey. There some words happened about the mutual misfortunes they had brought upon one another. Mrs. Maycock reproached him with seducing her, and bringing on all the miseries she had ever felt; Stanley reflected on her hindering his voyage to Cape Coast, the extravagant sums he had spent upon her, and her now conversing with other men, though she had had three or four children by him. At last they grew very high, and Mrs. Maycock, who was naturally a very sweet-tempered woman, was so far provoked, as Stanley said, that she threw a cup of beer at him; upon which some ill-names passing between them, Stanley drew his sword and stabbed her between the breasts eight inches deep; immediately upon which he stopped his handkerchief into the wound.

He was quickly secured and committed to Wood Street Compter,[35] where he expressed very little concern at what had happened, laughing and giving himself abundance of airs, such as by no means became a man in his condition. On his commitment to Newgate, he seemed not to abate the least of that vivacity which was natural to his temper, and as he had too much mistaken vice for the characteristic of a fine gentleman, so nothing appeared to him so great a testimony of gallantry and courage as behaving intrepidly while death was so near its approach. He therefore entertained all who conversed with him in the prison, and all who visited him from without, with the history of his amours and the favours that had been bestowed on him by a multitude of fine ladies. Nay, his vanity and impudence was so great as to mention some of their names, and especially to asperse two ladies who lived near Cheapside Conduit.[36] But there is great reason to believe that part of this was put on to make his madness more probable at his trial, where he behaved very oddly, and when he received sentence of death, took snuff at the bar, and put on abundance of airs that were even ridiculous anywhere, and shocking and scandalous upon so melancholy an occasion.

After sentence, his carriage under his confinement altered not so much as one would have expected; he offering to lay wagers that he should never be hanged, notwithstanding his sentence, for he was resolved not to die like a dog on a string, when he had it in his power always to go out of the world a nobler way, by which he meant either a knife or opium, which were the two methods by one of which he resolved to prevent his fate. But when he found that all his pretences of madness were like to produce nothing, and that he was in danger of dying in every respect like a brute, he laid aside much of his ill-timed gaiety, and began to think of preparing for death after another manner.

These gentlemen who assisted him while in Newgate, were so kind as to offer to make up a considerable sum of money, if it could have been of any use; but finding that neither that nor their interest could do anything to save him, they frankly acquainted him therewith and begged him not to delude himself with false hopes. All the while he was in Newgate, a little boy whom he had by Mrs. Maycock, continued with him, and lay constantly in his bosom. He manifested the utmost tenderness and concern for that poor child, who by his rashness had been deprived of his mother, and whom the Law would, by its just sentence, now likewise deprive of its father. Being told that Mr. Bryan, Mrs. Maycock's brother on Tower Hill was dead, merely through concern at his sister's misfortunes and the deplorable end that followed them, Stanley clapped his hands together and cried, What, more death still? Sure I am the most unfortunate wretch that was ever born.

Some few days before his execution, talking to one of his friends, he said, I am perfectly convinced that it is false courage to avoid the just sentence of the Law, by executing the rash dictates of one's rage by one's own head. I am heartily sorry for the rash expression I have been guilty of, of that sort, and am determined to let the world see my courage fails me no more in my death than it has done in my life; and, my dear friend, added he, I never felt so much ease, quiet and satisfaction in all my life, as I have experienced, since my coming to this resolution.

But though he sometimes expressed himself in a serious and religious manner yet passion would sometimes break in upon him to the last and make him burst out into frightful and horrid speeches. Then again he would grow calm and cool, and speak with great seeming sense of God's providence in his afflictions.

He was particularly affected with two accidents which happened to him not long before his death, and which struck him with great concern at the time they happened. The first of these was a fall from his horse under Tyburn, in which he was stunned so that he could not recover strength enough to remount, but was helped on his horse again by the assistance of two friends. Not long after which, he had as bad an accident of the same kind under Newgate, which he said, made such an impression on him, that he did not go abroad for many mornings afterwards, without recommending himself in the most serious manner to the Divine protection.

Another story he also told, with many marks of real thankfulness for the narrow escape he then made from death, which happened thus. At a cider-cellar in Covent Garden he fell out with one Captain Chickley, and challenging him to fight in a dark room, they were then shut up together for some space. But a constable being sent for by the people of the house, and breaking the door open, delivered him from being sent altogether unprepared out of the world, Chickley being much too hard for him, and having given him a wound quite through the body, himself escaping with only a slight cut or two.

As the day of execution drew near, Mr. Stanley appeared more serious and much more attentive to his devotions than hitherto he had been. Yet could he not wholly contain himself even then, for the Sunday before he died, after sermon, at which he had behaved himself decently and modestly, he broke out into this wild expression, that he was only sorry he had not fired the whole house where he killed Mrs. Maycock. When he was reproved for these things he would look ashamed, and say, 'twas true, they were very unbecoming, but they were what he could not help, arising from certain starts in his imagination that hurried him into a short madness, for which he was very sorry as soon as he came to himself.

At the place of execution, to which he was conveyed in a mourning coach, he turned pale, seemed uneasy, and complained that he was very sick, entreating a gentleman by him to support him with his hand. He desired to be unbound that he might be at liberty to pray kneeling, which with some difficulty was granted. He then applied himself to his devotions with much fervency, and then submitted to his fate, but when the cap was drawn over his eyes he seemed to shed tears abundantly. Immediately before he was turned off he said his friends had provided a hearse to carry away his body and he hoped nobody would be so cruel as to deny his relations his dead limbs to be interred, adding, that unless he were assured of this, he could not die in peace.

Such was the end of a young man in person and capacity every way fitted to have made a reputable figure in the world, if either his natural principles, or his education had laid any restraint upon his vices; but as his passions hurried him beyond all bounds, so they brought a just end upon themselves, by finishing a life spent in sensual pleasures with an ignominious death, which happened at Tyburn in the twenty-fifth year of his age, on the 23rd of December, 1722.


[34] This was an open space, facing the banquetting-house of old Whitehall, and included part of what is now Horse Guards' Parade.

[35] This was one of the sheriff's compters—the other was in the Poultry—and served for debtors as well as criminals. It stood about half-way up Wood Street, on the east side.

[36] There were two conduits in Cheapside; the Great, which stood in the middle of the street, near its junction with the Poultry, and the Little, which was at the other end, facing Foster Lane and Old Change.

The Life of STEPHEN GARDINER, a Highwayman and Housebreaker

Stephen Gardiner was the son of parents of middling circumstances, living at the time of his birth in Moorfields. This, perhaps, was the immediate cause of his ruin, since he learnt there, while a boy, to idle away his time, and to look on nothing as so great a pleasure as gaming and cudgel playing. This took up equally his time and his thoughts, till he grew up to about fourteen years old, when his friends placed him out as an apprentice to a weaver.

While he was with his master he did so many unlucky tricks as occasioned not only severe usage at home, but incurred also the dislike and hatred of all the neighbours; so that instead of interposing to preserve him from his master's correction, they were continually complaining and getting him beaten; nay, sometimes when his master was not ready enough to do it, would beat him themselves. Stephen was so wearied out with this kind of treatment, notwithstanding it arose solely from his own fault, that he determined to run away for good and all, thinking it would be no difficult matter for him to maintain himself, considering that dexterity with which he played at ninepins, skittles, etc. But experience quickly convinced him of the contrary, so in one month being much reduced after betaking himself to this life, by those misfortunes which were evident enough (though his passion for liberty and idleness hindered him from foreseeing them) that he had not so much as bread to eat.

In this distressed condition he was glad to return home again to his friends, imploring their charity, and that, forgetting what was passed, they would be so kind as to relieve him and put him in some method of providing for himself. Natural affection pleading for him, notwithstanding all his failings they took him home again, and soon after put him as a boy on board a corn vessel which traded to Holland and France; but the swearing, quarrelling and fighting of the sailors so frightened him, being then very young and unable to cope with them, that on his return he again implored the tenderness of his relations to permit his staying in England upon any terms, promising to live in a most sober and regular manner, provided that he might get his bread by hard labour at home, and not be exposed to the injuries of wind and weather and the abuses of seamen more boisterous than both. They again complied and put him to another trade, but work, it seems, was a thing no shape could reconcile to him, and so he ran away from thence, too, and once more put himself for a livelihood upon the contrivance of his own brain.

He went immediately to his old employment and old haunt, Moorfields, where as long as he had any money he played at cards, skittles, etc., with the chiefs of those villainous gangs that haunt the place; and when reduced to the want both of money and clothes, he attempted to pick pockets, or by playing with the lads for farthings to recruit himself. But pocket-picking was a trade in which he had very ill-luck, for taking a wig out of a gentleman's pocket at the drawing of the state lottery,[37] the man suffered him totally to take it out, then seized him and cried out Pickpocket. The boy immediately dropped it, and giving it a little kick with his foot protected his innocence which induced a good-natured person there present to stand so far his friend that he suffered no deeper that bout. But a month after, being taken in the same manner, and delivered over to the mob, they handled him with such cruelty as scarce to leave him life, though he often upon his knees begged them to carry him before a Justice and let him be committed to Newgate. But the mob were not so to be prevailed on, and this severity, as he said, cured him effectually of that method of thieving.

But in the course of his rambling life, becoming acquainted with two young fellows, whose names were Garraway and Sly, they invited him to go with them upon some of their expeditions in the night. He absolutely refused to do anything of that kind for a long time, but one evening, having been so unlucky as to lose not only his money but all his clothes off his back, he went in search of Sly and Garraway, who received him with open arms, and immediately carried him with them upon those exploits by which they got their living. Garraway proposed robbing of his brother for their first attempt, which succeeded so far as to their getting into the house; but they found nothing there but a few clothes of his brother and sister, which they took away. But Garraway bid them not be discouraged at the smallness of the booty, for his father's house was as well furnished as most men's, and their next attack should be upon that. To this they agreed, and plundered it also, taking away some spoons, tankards, salts and several other pieces of plate of considerable value; but a quick search being made, they were all three apprehended, and Gardiner being the youngest was admitted an evidence against the other two, who were convicted.

Some weeks after, Gardiner got his liberty, but being unwarned, he went on still at the same rate. The first robbery he committed afterwards was in the house of the father of one of his acquaintances on Addle Hill, where Gardiner stole softly upstairs into the garret, and stole from thence some men's apparel to a very considerable value. A while after this, he became acquainted with Mr. Richard Jones, and with him went (mounted upon a strong horse) into Wales upon what in the canting dialect is called "the Passing Lay," which in plain English is thus: They get countrymen into an alehouse, under pretence of talking about the sale of cattle, then a pack of cards is found as if by accident, and the two sharpers fall to playing with one another until one offering to lay a great wager on the game, staking the money down, the other shows his hand to the countryman, and convinces him that it is impossible but he must win, offering to let him go halves in the wager. As soon as the countryman lays down the money, these sharpers manage so as to pass off with it, which is the meaning of their cant, and this practice he was very successful in; the country people in Wales, where they travelled, having not had opportunity to become acquainted with such bites as those who live in the counties nearer London have, where the country fellows are often as adroit as any of the sharpers themselves.

It happened that the person with whom Stephen travelled had parted with his wife and at Bristol had received a gold watch and chain, laced clothes and several other things of value. This immediately put it into Gardiner's head that he might make his fortune at once, by murdering him and possessing himself of his goods; knowing also that besides these valuable things, he had near a hundred guineas about him. In order to effect this, he stole a large brass pestle out of a mortar, at the next inn, and carried it unperceived in his boots, intending as he and his companion rode through the woods to dash his brains out with it. Twice for this purpose he drew it, but his heart relenting just when he was going to give the stroke he put it up again. At last it fell out of his boot and he had much ado to get it pulled up unperceived by his companion. The next day it dropped again, and Gardiner was so much afraid of Jones's perceiving it, and himself being thereupon killed from a suspicion of his design, that he laid aside all further thoughts of that matter.

But he took occasion a day or two after to part with him, whereupon the other as Stephen was going away, called out to him, Hark ye, you Gardiner! I'll tell you somewhat. Gardiner therefore turning back. You are going up to London? said Jones. Yes, replied Gardiner. Then trust me, said the other, you're going up to be hanged.

Between Abergavenny and Monmouth, Gardiner took notice of a little house, the windows of which were shut up, but the hens and cocks in the back yard showed that it was inhabited. Gardiner thereupon knocked at the door several times, to see if anybody was at home, but perceiving none, he ventured to break open some wooden bars that lay across the window, and getting in thereat found two boxes full of clothes, and writings relating to an estate. He took only one gown, as not daring to load himself with clothes, for fear of being discovered on the road, being then coming up to London.

A very short space after his return he committed that fact for which he died, which was by breaking open the house of Dorcas Roberts, widow, and stealing thence a great quantity of linen; and he was soon after apprehended in bed with one of the fine shirts upon his back and the rest of the linen stowed under the bed. When carried before the Justice, he said that one Martin brought the linen to him, and gave him two fine shirts to conceal it in his brandy-shop; but this pretence being thought impossible both by the magistrate who committed him, and by the jury who tried him, he was convicted for that offence, and being an old offender he had no hopes of mercy.

He applied himself, therefore, with all the earnestness he was able, to prepare himself sufficiently for that change he was about to make. He said that an accident which happened about a year before gave him great apprehension, and for some time prevented his continuing in that wicked course of life. The accident he mentioned was this: being taken up for some trivial thing or other, and carried to St. Sepulchre's Watch-House, the constable was so kind as to dismiss him, but the bellman[38] of the parish happening to come in before he went out, the constable said, Young man, be careful, I am much afraid this bellman will say his verses over you; at which Gardiner was so much struck, he could scarce speak.

Stephen had a very great notion of mortifying his body, as some atonement for the crimes he had committed. He therefore fasted some time while under sentence, and though the weather was very cold, yet he went to execution with no other covering on him but his shroud. At Tyburn he addressed himself to the people and begged they would not reflect upon his parents, who knew nothing of his crimes. Seeing several of his old companions in the crowd, he called out to them and desired them to take notice of his death and by amending their lives avoid following him thither. He died the 3rd of February, 1723-4.


[37] In 1720 a State Lottery was launched, with 100,000 tickets of L10 each. The prizes were converted into 3 per cent. stock. The issue was a failure and a loss of some L7,000 was incurred.

[38] A parishioner of St. Sepulchre's bequeathed a sum of money for paying a bellman to visit condemned criminals in Newgate, on the night before their execution, and having rung his bell, to recite an admonitory verse and prayer. He was likewise to accost the cart on its way to the gallows, the following day, and give its inmates a similar admonition. The bell is still to be seen in the church.

The Lives of SAMUEL OGDEN, JOHN PUGH, WILLIAM FROST, RICHARD WOODMAN, and WILLIAM ELISHA, Highwaymen, Footpads, Housebreakers, etc.

Samuel Ogden was the son of a sailor in Southwark, who bred him to his own employment, in which he wrought honestly for many years until he fell very ill of dropsy, for the cure of which, being carried to St. Thomas's Hospital, he after his recovery applied himself to selling fish, instead of going again to sea. How he came to be engaged in the crimes he afterwards perpetrated we cannot well learn, and therefore shall not pretend to relate. However, he associated himself with a very numerous gang, such as Mills, Pugh, Blunt, Bishop, Gutteridge, and Matthews, who became the evidence against him. He positively averred that one of the robberies for which he was convicted, was the first he ever committed. He expressed the greatest horror and detestation for murder imaginable, protesting he was no ways guilty of that committed on Brixton Causeway.

At the time of his trial at Kingston he behaved himself very insolently and audaciously; but when sentence had been passed upon him, most of that unruly temper was lost, and he began to think seriously of preparing for another world. He confessed that his sins were many, and that judgment against him was just, meekly accepting his death as the due rewards of his deeds. He was the example of seriousness and penitence to the other twelve malefactors who suffered with him, being about thirty-seven years of age at the time of his decease.

John Pugh, otherwise Blueskin, was born at Morpeth near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His father was a carrier in tolerable business and circumstance, who put him to be a servant in a silver-spinner's in Moorfields, where he soon learnt all sorts of wickedness, beginning with defrauding his master and doing any other little tricks of that kind, as opportunity would give him leave. We are told of him what perhaps can be hardly said of any other criminal who hath died in the same way for many years past, that though he was but twenty-two years of age, he had spent twelve of them in cheating, pilfering, and robbing. At last he fell into the gang that brought him to his death, for a robbery committed by several of them in the county of Surrey. Pugh, though so young a fellow, was so unaccountably stupid and wicked that though he made a large and particular confession of his guilt, yet it was done in such a manner as plainly showed his crimes made no just impression upon his heart; all he said, being in the language of the Kingston Ordinary, the sleepy apprehensions of unawakened ignorance, in which condition he continued to the last.

William Frost, a cripple, was the son of a pin-maker in Christ Church parish, Southwark, and as to his education, my account says it was in hereditary ignorance. He had wrought, it seems, while a boy at his father's trade of pin-making, but since he was thirteen or fourteen had addicted himself to that preparative trade to the gallows, shoeblacking. While he continued in this most honourable profession, abundance of opportunities offered for robbing in the night season, and we must do him the justice to say that they were not offered in vain. Thus by degrees he came on to robbing on the road and in the streets until he was apprehended, and upon the evidence of his companion was convicted.

The Sunday after this, he with the rest of the malefactors was brought to the parish church, which was the first time, as he declared, he had ever entered one, at least with an intention to hear and observe what was said. There he made a blundering sort of confession, and would perhaps have been more penitent if he had known well what penitence was; but he was a poor stupid, doltish wretch, scarce sensible even of the misfortune of being hanged. He was, however, very attentive in the cart to the prayer of those who were a little better instructed than himself, and finished a wretched life with an ignominious death at twenty-one years of age.

Richard Woodman was born at Newington, in Surrey. He got his bread some years by selling milk about, but thinking labour too great a price for victuals, he addicted himself to getting an easier livelihood by thieving. In this course he soon got in with a gang who let him want no instructions that were necessary to bring him to the gallows. Amongst them the above-mentioned lame man was his principal tutor. The last robbery but one that they ever committed was upon a poor man who had laid out his money in the purchase of a shoulder of mutton to feast his family, but they disappointed him by taking it away, and with it a bundle of clothes and other necessaries, by which the unfortunate person who lost them, though their value was not much in themselves, lost all he had.

His behaviour was pretty much of a piece with the rest of his companions, that is, he was so unaffected either with the shamefulness of his death or the danger of his soul that perhaps never any creatures went to death in a more odd manner than these did, whose behaviour cannot for all that be charged with any rudeness or want of decency. But religion and repentance were things so wholly new to them, and so unsuited to their comprehension, that there needed a much greater length of time than they had to have given them any true sense of their duty, to which it cannot be said they were so averse, as they were ignorant and incapable.

William Elisha was another of these wretches, but he seemed to have had a better education than most of them, though he made as ill use of it as any. He was once an evidence at Croydon assizes, where he convicted two of his companions, but the sight of their execution, and the consciousness of having preserved his own life merely by taking theirs, did not in the least contribute to his amendment, for he was no sooner at liberty but he was engaged in new crimes, until at last with those malefactors before mentioned, and with eight others, he was executed at Kingston, in the twenty-fourth year of his age, April 4th, 1724.

The Life of THOMAS BURDEN, a Robber

Thomas Burden was born in Dorsetshire, of parents in tolerable circumstances, who being persons getting their living by seamen, they bred up their son to that profession, and sent him very young to sea. It does not appear that he ever liked that employment, but rather that he was hurried into it when he was very young by the choice of his parents, and therefore in no condition to choose better for himself. He was up in the Straits several years, and while there in abundance of fights, at which time he had so much religion as to apply himself diligently to God in prayer for his protection, and made abundance of vows and resolutions of amendment, if it pleased the providence of God to preserve his life. But no sooner was the danger over, but all these promises were forgotten until the next time he was in jeopardy.

At this rate he went on until the war was over, and notwithstanding the aversion he always had to a military kind of life, yet such was his unconquerable aversion to labour, that he rather enlisted himself in the land service than submit thereto. Going, however, one day to Hounslow to the house of one of the staff officers of his regiment, and not finding him at home, but only a corporal who had been left at the house to give answers, with this corporal he sat chatting and talking until night; so that being obliged to stay there until the next morning, a discourse somehow or other happened between him and the person who entertained him, about William Zouch, an old man who lived alone on the common. And Burden having been drinking, it came into his head, how easily he might rob such an old man. Upon which, he immediately went to his house, and finding him sitting on the bench at his door, he began to talk with and ask him questions. The old man answered him with great mildness, until at last Burden drew an iron instrument out of his cane, threatening him with death if he did not reveal where his money was. Zouch thereupon brought it him in a pint pot, being but one-and-thirty shillings. Then tying the old man in his chair, Burden left him. But it seems he did not tie him so fast but that he easily got loose, and alarming the town, Burden was quickly taken, having fled along the Common, which was open to the eye for a long way, instead of taking into the town or the woods, which if he had, in all probability he might have escaped. When Whittington and Greenbury apprehended him, he did not deny the fact, but on the contrary offered them money to let him go.

After his conviction he manifested vast uneasiness at the thoughts of death, appearing wonderfully moved that he who had lived so long in the world with the reputation of an honest man, should now die with that of a thief, and in the manner of a dog. But as death grew nearer, and he saw there was no remedy, he began to be a little more penitent and resigned, especially when he was comforting himself with the hopes that his temporal punishment here might preserve him from feeling everlasting misery. With these thoughts having somewhat composed himself, he approached the place where he was to suffer, with tolerable temper and constancy, entreating the people who were there in very great numbers to pray for him, and begging that all by his example would learn to stifle the first motions of wickedness and sin, since such was the depravity of human nature that no man knew how soon he might fall. At the same place he delivered a paper in which he much extenuated the crime for which he suffered, and from whence he would feign have insinuated that it was a rash action committed when in drink, and which he should certainly have set right again when he was sober. In this frame of mind he suffered, on the 29th of April, 1724, being then about fifty years of age.

The Life of FREDERICK SCHMIDT, Alterer of Bank-Notes

When persons sin out of ignorance there is great room for pity, and when persons suddenly become guilty of evil through a precipitate yielding to the violence of their passions there is still room for extenuation. But when people sin, not only against knowledge but deliberately, and without the incitement of any violent passion such as anger or lust, even as nothing can be said in alleviation, so there is little or no room left for compassion.

Frederick Schmidt was a person born of a very honourable and wealthy family at Breslau, the capital of the Duchy of Silesia in the north-east of Germany. They educated this their son not only in such a manner as might qualify him for the occupation they designed him, of a merchant, but also gave him a most learned and liberal knowledge, such as suited a person of the highest rank. He lived, however, at Breslau as a merchant for many years, and at the request of his friends, when very young, he married a lady of considerable fortune, but upon some disgust at her behaviour they parted, and had not lived together for many years before his death.

He carried on a very considerable correspondence to Hamburg, Amsterdam and other places, and above a year before had been over in England to transact some affairs, and thought it, it seems, so easy a matter to live here by his wits, that he returned hither with the Baron Vanloden and the Countess Vanloden. It is very hard to say what these people really were, some people taking Schmidt for the baron's servant, but he himself affirmed, and indeed it seems most likely, that they were companions, and that both of them exerted their utmost skill in defrauding others to maintain her.

The method they took here for that purpose was by altering bank-notes, which they did so dexterously as absolutely to prevent all suspicion. They succeeded in paying away two of them, but the fraud being discovered by the cheque-book at the bank, Schmidt was apprehended and brought to a trial. There it was sworn that being in possession of a bank-note of L25 he had turned it into one of L85, and with the Baron Vanloden tendered it to one Monsieur Mallorey, who gave him goods for it, and another note of L20. It was deposed by the Baron Vanloden and Eleanora Sophia, Countess Vanloden, that Schmidt took the last mentioned note of L20 upstairs, and soon after brought it down again, the word "twenty" being taken out; upon which they drew it through a plate of gummed water, and then smoothing it between several papers with a box iron, the words "one hundred" were written in its place. Then he gave it to the Baron and the interpreter to go out with it and buy plate, which they did to the amount of L40. It appeared also, by the same witnesses, that Schmidt had owned to the Baron that he could write twenty hands, and that if he had but three or four hundred pounds, he could swell them to fifty thousand. It was proved also by his own confession that he had written over to his correspondent in Holland, to know whether English bank-notes went currently there or not. Upon which he was found guilty by a party-jury, that singular favour permitted to foreigners by the equitable leniency of the Law of England. Yet after this he could hardly be persuaded that his life was in any danger; nay, when he came into the condemned hold, he told the unhappy persons there, in as good English as he could speak, that he should not be hanged with them.

For the first two or three days, therefore, that he was under sentence, he refused to look so much as on a book, or to say a prayer, employing that time with unwearied diligence in writing a multitude of letters to merchants, foreign ministers, and German men of quality and such like, still holding fast his old opinion that his life was not in the least danger; and when a Lutheran minister was so kind as to visit him, he would hardly condescend to speak with him. But when he had received a letter from him who had all along buoyed him up with hopes of safety, in which he informed him that all those hopes were vain, he then began to apply himself with a real concern to the Lutheran minister whom he had before almost rejected, but did not appear terrified or much affrighted thereat. However, quickly after, he fell into a fit of sickness and became so very weak as not to be able to stand. He confessed, however, to the foreign divine who attended him that he was really guilty of that crime for which he was to die, though it did not appear that he conceived it to be capital at the time he did it, nor, indeed, was he easily convinced it was so, until within a few days of his execution.

There had prevailed a report about the town that he had done something of the like nature at Paris, for which he had been obliged to fly, but he absolutely denied that, and seemed to think the story derived its birth from the Baron, who, he said, was an apothecary's son, and from his acquaintance with his father's trade, knew the secret of expunging waters. He added, that his airs of innocence were very unjust, he having been guilty of abundance of such tricks, and the Countess of many more than he. Thus, as is very common in such cases, these unhappy people blackened one another. But the Baron and the Countess had the advantage, since by their testimony poor Schmidt was despatched out of the way, and 'tis probable their credit at the time of his execution, was not in any great danger of being hurt by his character of them.

When he came to Tyburn, being attended in the cart by the Lutheran minister whom I have so often mentioned, he was forced to be held up, being so weak as not to be able to stand alone. He joined with the prayers at first, but could not carry on his attention to the end, looking about him, and staring at the other prisoners, with a curiosity that perhaps was never observed in any other prisoner in his condition what-so ever; neither his looks not his behaviour seemed to express so much terror as was struck into others by the sight of his condition. So after recommending to the minister by letter, to inform his aged mother in Germany of his unhappy fate, he requested the executioner to put him to death as easily as he could. He then submitted to his fate on the 4th of April, 1724, being in the forty-fifth year of his age.

The Life of PETER CURTIS, a Housebreaker, etc.

Peter Curtis, alias Friend, was born of honest but industrious parents in the country, at a very great distance from London. Finding a method to get him put apprentice to a ship's carpenter, they were very much pleased therewith, hoping that they had settled him in a trade in which he might live well, and much beyond anything they could have expected to have done for him.

But Peter himself was of a very different opinion, for from the hour he came to it he greatly disliked his profession, and though he went to sea with his master once or twice, yet he failed not to take hold of the first opportunity to set himself at liberty by running away from him. From that time he devoted himself to live a life of pleasure, having contracted an obstinate aversion to business and to everything which looked like labour; though, as be acknowledged, the hand of Providence hindered him from accomplishing his wish, making this life that he chose a greater burden and hardship to him than that which he had relinquished.

He found means to get into gentlemen's service, and lived in them with tolerable reputation and credit for the space of several years. At last he was resolved to go to sea again, but he had so unconquerable an aversion to his own trade that he chose rather going in the capacity of a trumpeter, having learnt how to play on that instrument at one of his services. He sailed on board the Salisbury, in that expedition Sir George Byng made to the Straits of Messina, when he attacked and destroyed the Spanish Fleet.[39] There Peter had the good luck to escape without any hurt, though there were many killed and wounded on board that ship. He afterwards served in a regiment of dragoons, where by prudent management he saved no less than fourscore pounds. With this he certainly had it in his power to have put himself in some way of doing well, but he omitted it, and falling into the company of a lewd woman, she persuaded him to take lodgings with her, and they lived together for some space as man and wife.

During this time he made a shift to be bound for one of his companions, for a very considerable sum, which the other had the honesty to leave him to pay. The creditor, upon information that Curtis was packing up his awls[40] to go to sea, resolved to secure him for his debt. But not being able to catch him upon a writ, he made up a felonious charge against him, and having thereupon got him committed to the Poultry Compter, as soon as the Justice had discharged him, he got him taken for the debt, and recommitted to the same place. Here he was soon reduced to a very melancholy condition, having neither necessaries of life not any prospect of a release. The wretched company with which such prisons are always full, corrupted him as to his honesty, and taught him first to think of making himself rich by taking away the properties of others.

When he came out of prison, upon an agreement with his creditor, he soon got into service with Mr. Fluellen Aspley, a very eminent chinaman by Stocks Market.[41] When he was there, the bad woman with whom he still conversed, was continually dunning his ears with how easy a matter it was for him to make himself and her rich and easy by pilfering from his master, telling him that she and her friends in the country would help him off with a thousand pounds worth of china, if need were, and baiting him continually, not to lose such an opportunity of enriching them. The fellow himself was averse to such practices, and nothing but her continual teasing could have induced him ever to have entertained a design of so base a nature.

At last he condescended so far as to enquire how it might be done with safety. For that, replied the woman, trust to my management. I'll put you in a way to bring off the most valuable things in the house, and yet get a good character, and be trusted and valued by the family for having robbed them. At that Curtis stared, and said, if she'd but put him to such a road he did not know but he might comply with her request. She thereupon opened her scheme to him this: Here's my son, you shall lift him into the house, and after you have given him plate and what you think proper and my boy, who is a very dexterous lad, is got off with them, you have nothing to do but to put an end of a candle under the Indian cabinet in the counting-house, and leave things to themselves. The neighbourhood will soon be alarmed by the fire, and if you are apparently honest in what you take away publicly, there will be no suspicion upon you for what went before, which will be either thought to be destroyed in the fire, or to be taken away by some other means.

This appeared so shocking a project to Curtis that he absolutely refused to comply with the burning, though with much ado he was brought to stealing a large quantity of plate, which he brought to this woman, but in attempting to sell it she was stopped, and the robbery discovered. However, there being no direct evidence at first against Curtis, he was released from his confinement on suspicion, even by the intercession of Mr. Aspley himself. But a little time discovering the mistake, and that he was really the principal in the robbery, he was thereupon again apprehended, and at the next sessions tried and convicted.

While he lay under sentence of death, he behaved himself as if he had totally resigned all thoughts of the world, or of continuing in it, praying with great fervency and devotion, making full and large confession, and doing every other act which might induce men to believe that he was a real penitent, and sincerely sorry and affected for the crime he had committed.

But it seems that this was all put on, for the true source of his easiness and resignation was the assurance he had in himself of escaping death either by pardon, or by an escape; for which purpose, he and those who were under sentence with him had provided all necessaries, loosened their irons and intended to have effected it at the expense of the lives of their keepers. But their design being discovered the Saturday before their deaths, and Curtis perceiving that his hopes of pardon were ill-founded, began to apply himself to repenting in earnest. Yet there was very little time left for so great a work, especially considering that nothing but the necessity of the thing inclined him thereto, and that he had spent that respite allowed him by the clemency of the Law to prepare for death in contriving to fly from justice at the expense of the blood of others. How he performed this it is impossible for us to know, and must be left to be decided by the Great Judge to whom the secrets of all hearts are open. However, at his death he appeared tolerably composed and cheerful, and turning to the people said, You see, they who contrived to burn the house and the people in it escaped, but I, who never consented to any such thing, die as you see. Some discourse there was of his having buried a portmanteau and about fourteen hundred pounds; he was spoke to about it, and did not deny he had it. He said he hid it upon Finchley Common and that by the arms, which was the Spread Eagle, he took to be an ambassador's. As to the diamond ring he had been seen to wear, he did not affirm he came very honestly by it, but would not give any direct answer concerning it, and seemed uneasy that he should have such questions put to him at the very point of death. He suffered the 15th of June, 1724, about thirty years of age.


[39] See note, page 49.

[40] An old-fashioned play on the words "awl" and "all," and means, of course, packing up all his possessions.

[41] A busy market for fish and vegetables, which occupied the site on which the present Mansion House stands. The market was moved, in 1737, to Farringdon Street.

The Life of LUMLEY DAVIS, a Highwayman

Such is the frailty of human nature that neither the best examples nor the most liberal education can warrant an honest life, or secure to the most careful parents the certainty of their children not becoming a disgrace to them, either in their lives or by their deaths.

This malefactor, of whom the course of our memoirs now obliges us to make mention, was the son of a man of the same name, viz., Lumley Davis, who was, it seems, in circumstances good enough to procure his sons being brought up in one of the greatest and best schools in England. There his proficiency procured him an election upon the establishment, and he became respected as a person whose parts would do honour even to that remarkable seminary of learning where he had been bred. But unaccountably growing fond, all on a sudden, of going to some trade or employment and absolutely refusing to continue any longer at his studies, his friends were obliged to comply with the ardency of his request and accordingly put him apprentice to an eminent vintner at the One Tun Tavern, in the Strand.

He continued there but a little while before he was as much dissatisfied with that as he had been with learning, so that leaving his master, and leading an unsettled kind of life, he fell into great debts, being unable to satisfy which, when demanded, he was arrested and thrown into the Marshalsea. There for some time he continued in a very deplorable condition, till by the charitable assistance of a friend, his debt was paid and the fees of the prison discharged. After this he went into the Mint,[42] where drinking accidentally at one of the tap-houses in that infamous place, and being very much out of humour with the low and profligate company he was obliged to converse with there, he took notice of a very genteel man, who sat at the table by himself. He inquired of some persons with whom he was drinking, who that man was. They answered that they could not tell themselves; he was lately come over for shelter amongst them; he was a gentleman, as folks said, of much learning, and though he never conversed with anybody, yet was kind enough to afford them his assistance, either with his pen, or by his advice when they asked it. On this character Davis was very industrious to become his acquaintance, and Harman, which was the other man's name, not having been able to meet with anybody there with whom he could converse, he very readily embraced the society of Davis; with whom comparing notes, and finding their case to be pretty much the same, they often condoled one another's misfortunes and as often projected between themselves how to gain some supply without depending continually upon the charity of their friends.

In the meantime, Davis was so unfortunate as to fall ill of a languishing distemper, which brought him so low as to oblige him to apply for relief to that friend who had discharged him out of the Marshalsea. He was so good as to get him into St. Thomas's Hospital, and to supply him while there with whatever was necessary for his support. When he was so far recovered as to be able to go abroad, this kind and good friend provided for him a country habitation, where he might be able to live in privacy and comfort and indulge himself in those inclinations which he began again to show towards learning.

Some time after he had been there, not being able to support longer that quiet kind of life which before he did so earnestly desire, notwithstanding the entreaties of his friends, he came up to London again, where falling into idle company, he became addicted to the vices of drinking and following bad women, things which before he had both detested and avoided. Not long after this, he again found out Mr. Harman, and renewed his acquaintance with him. He enquired into his past adventures and how he had supported himself since they last had been together, and on perceiving that they were far from being on the mending hand with him, the fatal proposal was at last made of going upon the road, and there robbing such persons as might seem best able to spare it, and at the same time furnish them with the largest booty.

The first person they attacked was one John Nichols, Esq., from whom they took a guinea and seventeen shillings, with which they determined to make themselves easy a little, and not go that week again upon any such hazardous exploits. But alas, their resolutions had little success, for that very evening they were both apprehended and on full evidence at the next sessions were convicted and received sentence of death, within a very short time after they had committed the crime.

Davis all along flattered himself with the hopes of a pardon or a reprieve and therefore was not perhaps so serious as he ought, and as he otherwise would have been. Not that those hopes made him either licentious or turbulent, but rather disturbed his meditations and hindered his getting over the terrors which death always brings to the unprepared. But when, on his name being in the death warrant, he found there was no longer any hopes, he then, indeed, applied himself without losing a moment to the great concern of saving his soul, now there was no hopes of preserving his body.

However, neither his education nor all the assistance he could receive from those divines that visited him, could bring him to bear the approach of death with any tolerable patience. Even at the place of execution, he endeavoured as much as he could to linger away the time, spoke to the Ordinary to spin out the prayers, and to the executioner to forbear doing his office as long as it was possible. However, he spoke with great kindness and affection to his companion, Mr. Harman, shook hands with those who were his companions in death, and at last submitted to his fate, being then about twenty-three years of age.


[42] The Southwark Mint was a sanctuary for insolvent debtors and a nest of infamy in general. It stood over against St. George's church.

The Life of JAMES HARMAN, Highwayman

James Harman was the son of a merchant in the City of London, who took care to furnish his son with such an education as enabled him, when about fourteen years of age, to be removed to the University. His behaviour there was like that of too many others, spent in diversities instead of study, and in a progression of vice, instead of improving in learning. After having been there about three years, and having run into such debts as he saw no probability of discharging, he was forced to leave it abruptly; and his father, much grieved at this behaviour, bought him an ensign's commission in the army, where he continued in Jones's Regiment till it was disbanded. Then, indeed, being forced to live as he could, and the assistance of friends, though large, yet no ways suited to his expenses, he became so plunged in debt and other misfortunes that he was in necessity of going over to the Mint, where reflecting on his own follies, he became very reserved and melancholy. He would probably have quite altered his course of life if opportunity had offered, or if he had not fallen in that company which by a similarity of manner induced him to fall into the commission of such crimes as would not probably have otherwise entered his head.

The fact which he and the before-mentioned Davis committed, was their first and last attempt, but Mr. Harman, all the time he lay under sentence (without suffering himself to be amused by expectations of success from those endeavours which he knew his friends used to save his life,) accustomed himself to the thoughts of death, performing all the duties requisite from a person of his condition for atoning the evils of a misspent life, and making his peace with that Being from whom he had received so great a capacity of doing well, and which he had so much abused.

Having spent the whole time of his confinement after this manner, he did not appear in any degree shocked or confounded when his name being to the death warrant left him no room to doubt of what must be his fate. At the place of execution he appeared not only perfectly easy and serene, but with an air of satisfaction that could arise only from the peace he enjoyed within. Being asked if he had anything to say to the people, he rose up, and turning towards them said, I hope you will all make that use of my being exposed to you as a spectacle which the Law intends, and by the sight of my death avoid such acts as may bring you hither, with the same Justice that they do me.

He suffered about the twenty-fifth year of his age, the 28th of August, 1724, at Tyburn.

The Life of JOHN LEWIS, alias LAURENCE, a Thief, Highwayman, etc.

One great cause of that degeneracy we observe amongst the lower part of the human species arises from a mistake which has generally prevailed in the education of young people throughout all ages. Parents are sometimes exceedingly assiduous that their children should read well and write a good hand, but they are seldom solicitous about their making a due use of their reason, and hardly ever enquire into the opinions which, while children, they entertain of happiness or misery, and the paths which lead to either of them. This is the true and natural intent of all education whatsoever, which can never tend to anything but teaching persons how to live easily and seducing their affections to the bounds prescribed them by the law of God and their country.

John Lewis, alias Laurence, had doubtless parents who bred him somewhere, though the papers I have do not afford me light enough to say where. This indeed, I find, that he was bred apprentice to a butcher, took up his freedom in the City, and worked for a considerable space as a journeyman. For his honesty we have no vouchers for any part of that time, for in his apprenticeship he fell into the use of profligate company, who taught him all those vices which were destructive to his future life. He grew fond of everything which looked like lewdness and debauchery, drank hard, was continually idling about; above all, strumpets the most abandoned, both in their manner and discourse, were the very ultimate end of his wishes, insomuch that he would often say he had nothing to answer for in debauching modest women, for they were a set of creatures he could never so much as endure to converse with.

His usual method of living with his mistresses was this: as soon as the impudence and lewdness of a woman had made her infamous, even amongst the hackney coachmen, pickpockets, footpads and such others of his polite acquaintance, then Lewis thought her a fit person for his turn, and used to live with her for the space of perhaps a month; then growing tired of her, he went to look for another.

This practice of his grew at last so well known that he found it a little difficult to get women who would take up with him upon his terms; but there was one Moll Davis, who for her dexterity in picking of pockets amongst those of her own tribe went by the name of Diver, who was so great a scandal to her sex that the most abandoned of that low crew with whom he conversed, hated and despised her. With her Lewis went to live after his usual manner, and was very fond of her after his way, for about a fortnight; at the end of which he grew fractious, and in about nine weeks' time more he beat her. Moll wept and took on at a sad rate for his unkindness and told him that if would but promise faithfully never to live with any other woman, she should fairly present him with a brace of hundred pounds, which she had lodged in the hands of an uncle who knew nothing of her way of life, but lived reputably at such a place.

This was the right way of touching Lewis's temper. He began to put on as many good looks as his face was capable of wearing, and made use of as many kind expressions as he could remember out of the Academy of Compliments, until the day came that she was to meet her uncle at Smithfield Market. They then went very lovingly together to an inn upon the paven stones, where Moll asked very readily at the bar if Mr. Tompkins (which was the name of her uncle) was there. The woman of the house made her a low curtsy and said he was only stepped over the way to be shaved, and she would call him. She went accordingly and brought the grave old man, who as soon as he came into the room said, Well, Mary, is this thy husband? Yes, sir, answered she, this is the person I have promised to bring you. Upon which the old man thrust out his hand and said, Come, friend, as you have married my niece, you and I must be better acquainted. Lewis scraped him a good bow as he could, and giving his hand in return, the old fellow laid hold on him somewhat above the wrist, stamped with his right foot, and then closing with him got him down.

In the meanwhile, half a dozen fellows broke into the room and one of them seizing him by the arms another pulled out a small twine, and bound him; then shoving him downstairs, they had no sooner got into Smithfield, then the mob cried out, Here's the rogue! Here's the dog that held a penknife to the old grazier's throat, while a woman and another man robbed him. It seems the story was true of Moll, who by thus taking and then swearing it upon Lewis, who had never so much as heard of it, escaped with impunity, and besides that got five guineas for her pains from the brother of the old man, who upon this occasion played the part of her uncle. If the grazier had been a hasty, rash man, Lewis had certainly hanged for the fact, but looking hard upon him at his trial, he told the Court he was sure that Lewis was not the man, for though his eyes were not very good, he could easily distinguish his voice, and added that the man who robbed him was taller than himself, whereas Lewis was much shorter. By which means he had the good luck to come off, though not without lying two sessions in Newgate.

As soon as be came abroad be threatened Moll Davis hard for what she had done, and swore as soon as he could find her to cut her ears off; but she made light of that, and dared him to come and look for her at the brandy-shop where she frequented. Lewis hearing that resolved to go thither and beat her, and knowing the usual time of her coming thither to be about eleven o'clock at night, he chose that time to come also. But Moll, the day before, had made one of her crew who had turned evidence, put him into his information, and the constables and their assistants being ready planted, they seized him directly and carried him to his old lodgings in Newgate.

He was acquitted upon this next sessions, there being no evidence against him but the informer, but the Court ordered him to find security for his good behaviour. That proved two months' work, so that in all it was a quarter of a year before he got out of Newgate for the second time. Then, hearing Davis had picked a gentleman's pockets of a considerable sum, and kept out of the way upon it, he resolved to be even with her for the trouble she had cost him, and for that purpose hunted through all her old places of resort, in order to find out how to have her apprehended. Moll hearing of it, got her sister, who followed the same trade with herself, to waylay him at the brandy-shop in Fleet Street. There Susan was very sweet upon him, and being as impudent as her sister, Lewis resolved to take up with her, at least for a night; but she pretended reasons why he could not go home with her, and he complaining that he did not know where to get a lodging, she gave him half a crown and a large silver medal, which she said would pawn for five shillings, and appointed to meet him the next night at the same place. In the morning Lewis goes with the silver piece to a pawnbroker at Houndsditch; the broker said he would take it into the next room and weigh it, and about ten minutes after returned with a constable and two assistants, the medal having been advertised in the papers as taken with eleven guineas in a green purse out of a gentleman's pocket, and was the very robbery for which Moll Davis kept out of the way.

When he got over this, he went down into the country, and having been so often in prison for naught, he resolved to merit it now for something. So on the Gravesend Road he went upon the highway, and having been, as I told you, bred up a butcher, the weapon he made use of to rob with was his knife. The first robbery he attempted was upon an old officer who was retired into that part of the country to live quiet. Lewis bolted out upon him from behind the corner of a hedge, and clapping a sharp pointed knife to his breast, with a volley of oaths commanded him to deliver. This was new language to the gentleman to whom it was offered, yet seeing how great an advantage the villain had of him, he thought it the most prudent method to comply, and gave him therefore a few shillings which were in his coat-pocket. Lewis very highly resented this, and told him he did not use him like a gentleman; that he would search him himself. In order to do this, clapping his knife into his mouth as he used to do when preparing a sheep for the shambles, he fell to ransacking the gentleman's pockets. He had hardly got his hand into one of them, but the gentleman snatched the knife out of his mouth and in the wrench almost broke his jaw. Lewis hereupon took to his heels, but the country being raised upon him, he was apprehended just as he was going to take water at Gravesend. But his pride in refusing the gentleman's silver happened very luckily for him here, for on his trial at the next assizes, the indictment being laid for a robbery, the jury acquitted him and he was once more put into a road of doing well, which according to his usual method he made lead towards the gallows.

The first week he was out, he broke open a house in Ratcliff Highway, from whence he took but a small quantity of things, and those of small value, because there happened to be nothing better in the way. In a few days after this, he snatched off a woman's pocket in the open street, for which fact being immediately apprehended, he was at the next sessions at the Old Bailey, tried and convicted, but by the favour of the Court ordered for transportation.

A woman whom at this time he called his wife, happened to be under the like sentence at the same time. They went therefore together, and were each of them such turbulent dispositions that the captain of the transport thought fit to promise them their liberty in a most solemn manner, as soon as they came on shore in Carolina, provided they would be but quiet. To this they agreed, and they kept their words so well, that the captain performed his promise and released them at their arrival in South Carolina, upon which they made no long stay there, but found a method to come back in the same ship. Upon arrival in England they were actually married, but they did not live long together, Lewis finding that she conversed with other men, and being in fear, lest in hopes of favour, she should discover his return from transportation, and by convicting him save herself.

Upon these apprehensions, he thought fit to go again to sea, in a ship bound for the Straits; but falling violently sick at Genoa, they left him there. And though he might afterwards have gone to his vessel, his old thought and wishes returned and he took the advantage of the first ship to return to England. Here he found many of his old acquaintances, carrying on the business of plunder in every shape. He joined with them, and in their company broke open with much difficulty an alehouse in Fore Street, at the sign of the King of Hearts, where they took a dozen of tankards, which they apprehended to be of silver; but finding upon examination they were no better than pewter well scoured, they judged there would be more danger in selling them than they were worth. Therefore having first melted them, they threw them away; but being a little fearful of robbing in company, he took to his old method of robbing by himself in the streets. But the first attempt he made to do this was in the old Artillery Ground,[43] where he snatched a woman's pocket; and she crying out raised the neighbourhood. They pursued him, and after wounding two or three persons desperately, he was taken and committed to his old mansions in Newgate, and being tried at the next sessions was found guilty and from that time could not enjoy the least hopes of life. But he continued still very obdurate, being so hardened by a continual series of villainous actions that he seemed to have no idea whatsoever of religion, penitence or atoning by prayers, for the numerous villainies he had committed.

At the place of execution he said nothing to the people, only that he was sorry he had not stayed in Carolina, because if he had, he should never have come to be hanged, and so finished his life in the same stupid manner in which he had lived. He was near forty years of age at the time he suffered, which was on the 27th of June, 1720.


[43] This was the exercising ground of the Train Bands and the Honourable Artillery Company. It was on the west side of Finsbury Square.

The History of the WALTHAM BLACKS and their transactions to the death of RICHARD PARVIN, EDWARD ELLIOT, ROBERT KINGSHELL, HENRY MARSHALL, JOHN PINK and EDWARD PINK, and JAMES ANSELL alias PHILLIPS, at Tyburn, whose lives are also included

Such is the unaccountable folly which reigns in too great a part of the human species, that by their own ill-deeds, they make such laws necessary for the security of men's persons and properties, as by their severity, unless necessity compelled them, would appear cruel and inhuman, and doubtless those laws which we esteem barbarous in other nations, and even some which appear so though anciently practised in our own, had their rise from the same cause.

I am led to this observation from the folly which certain persons were guilty of in making small insurrections for the sake only of getting a few deer, and going on, because they found the leniency of the laws could not punish them at present, until they grew to that height as to ride in armed troops, blacked and disguised, in order the more to terrify those whom they assaulted, and wherever they were denied what they thought proper to demand, whether venison, wine, money, or other necessaries for their debauched feasts, would by letter threaten plunder and destroying with fire and sword, whomever they thought proper.

These villainies being carried on with a high hand for some time in the years 1722 and 1723, their insolence grew at last so intolerable as to oblige the Legislature to make a new law against all who thus went armed and disguised, and associated themselves together by the name of Blacks, or entered into any other confederacies to support and assist one another in doing injuries and violences to the persons and properties of the king's subjects.

By this law it was enacted that after the first day of June, 1723, whatever persons armed with offensive weapons, and having their faces blacked, or otherwise disguised, should appear in any forest, park or grounds enclosed with any wall or fence, wherein deer were kept, or any warren where hares or conies are kept, or in any highway, heath or down, or unlawfully hunt, kill or steal any red or fallow deer, or rob any warren, or steal fish of any pond, or kill or wound cattle, or set fire to any house or outhouses, stack, etc., or cut down or any otherway destroy trees planted for shelter or profit, or shall maliciously shoot at any person, or send a letter demanding money or other valuable things, shall rescue any person in custody of any officer for any such offences, or by gifts or promise, procure any one to join with them, shall be deemed guilty of felony without benefit of clergy, and shall suffer pains of death as felons so convicted.

Nor was even this thought sufficient to remedy those evils, which the idle follies of some rash persons had brought about, but a retrospect was also by the same Act had to offences heretofore committed, and all persons who had committed any crimes punishable by this Act, after the second of February, 1722, were commanded to render themselves before the 24th of July, 1723, to some Justice of his Majesty's Court of King's Bench, or to some Justice of the Peace for the county where they lived, and there make a full and exact confession of the crimes of such a nature which they had committed, the times when, and the places where, and persons with whom, together with an account of such persons' places of abode as had with them been guilty as aforesaid, in order to their being thereupon apprehended, and brought to judgment according to Law, on pain of being deemed felons, without benefit of clergy, and suffering accordingly; but were entitled to a free pardon and forgiveness in case that before the 24th of July they surrendered and made such discovery.

Justices of Peace by the said Act were required on any information being made before them by one or more credible persons, against any person charged with any of the offences aforesaid, to transmit it under their hands and seals to one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, who by the same Act is required to lay such information and return before his Majesty in Council; whereupon an order is to issue for the person so charged to surrender within forty days. And in case he refuse or neglect to surrender within that time, then from the day in which the forty days elapsed, he is to be deemed as a felon convict, and execution may be awarded as attainted of felony by a verdict.

Every person who, after the time appointed for the surrender of the person, shall conceal, aid or succour him, knowing the circumstances in which he then stands, shall suffer death as a felon, without benefit of clergy, and that people might the more readily hazard their persons for the apprehending such offenders, it is likewise enacted that if any person shall be wounded so as to lose an eye, or the use of any limb in endeavouring to take persons charged with the commission of crimes within this law, then on a certificate from the Justices of the Peace of his being so wounded, the sheriff of the county, if commanded within thirty days after the sight of such certificate, to pay the said wounded persons L50 under pain of forfeiting L10 on failure thereof, and in case any person should be killed in seizing such persons as aforesaid, then the said L50 is to be paid to the executors of the person to be killed.

It cannot seem strange that in consequence of so extraordinary an act of legislature, many of these presumptious and silly people should be apprehended, and a considerable number of them having upon their apprehension been committed to Winchester gaol, seven of them were by Habeas Corpus, removed for the greater solemnity of their trial to Newgate, and for their offence brought up and arraigned at the King's Bench Bar, Westminster. There being convicted on full evidence, all of them of felony, and three of murder, I shall inform ye, one by one, of what has come to my hand in relation to their crimes, and the manner and circumstances with which they were committed.

Richard Parvin was master of a public-house at Portsmouth, a man of dull and dogmatic disposition, who continually denied his having been in any manner concerned with these people, though the evidence against him at his trial was as full and as direct as possibly could have been expected, and he himself evidently proved to have been on the spot where the violences committed by the other prisoners were transacted. In answer to this, he said that he was not with them, though indeed he was upon the forest, for which he gave this reason. He had, he said, a very handsome young wench who lived with him, and for that reason being admired by many of his customers, she took it in her head one day to run away. He hearing that she had fled across the forest, pursued her, and in that pursuit calling at the house of Mr. Parford, who keeps an alehouse in the forest, this man being an evidence against the other Blacks, took him it seems into the number, though as he said, he could fully have cleared himself if he had had any money to have sent for some witnesses out of Berkshire. But the mayor of Portsmouth seizing, as soon as he was apprehended, all his goods, put his family into great distress and whether he could have found them or not, hindered his being able to produce any witnesses at his trial.

He persevered in these professions of his innocency to the very last, still hoping for a reprieve, and not only feeding himself with such expectations while in prison, but also gazed earnestly when at the tree, in hopes that pardon would be brought him, until the cart drew away and extinguished life and the desire of life together.

Edward Elliot, a boy of about seventeen years of age, whose father was a tailor at a village between Petworth and Guildford, was the next who received sentence of death with Parvin. The account he gave of his coming into this society has something very odd in it, and which gives a fuller idea of the strange whims which possessed these people. The boy said that about a year before his being apprehended, thirty or forty men met him in the county of Surrey and hurried him away. He who appeared to be the chief of them told him that he enlisted him in the service of the King of the Blacks, in pursuance of which he was to disguise his face, obey orders of whatsoever kind they were, such as breaking down fish ponds, burning woods, shooting deer, taking also an oath to be true to them, or they by their art magic would turn him into a beast, and as such make him carry their burdens, and live like a horse upon grass and water.

He said, also, that in the space of time he continued with them, he saw several experiments of their witchcraft, for that once when two men had offended them by refusing to comply in taking their oath and obeying their orders, they caused them immediately to be blindfolded and stopping them in holes of the earth up to their chin, ran at them as if they had been dogs, bellowing and barking as it were in their ears; and when they had plagued them awhile in this ridiculous manner they took them out, and bid them remember how they offended any of the Black Nation again, for if they did, they should not escape so well as they had at present. He had seen them also, he said, oblige carters to drive a good way out of the road, and carry whatsoever venison or other thing they had plundered to the places where they would have them; that the men were generally so frightened with their usage and so terrified with the oaths they were obliged to swear, that they seldom complained, or even spoke of their bondage.

As to the fact for which they died, Elliot gave this account: that in the morning when that fact was committed for which he died, Marshall, Kingshell and four others came to him and persuaded him to go to Farnham Holt, and that he need not fear disobliging any gentlemen in the country, some of whom were very kind to this Elliot. They persuaded him that certain persons of fortune were concerned with them and would bear him harmless if he would go. He owned that at last he consented to go with them, but trembled all the way, insomuch that he could hardly reach the Holt. While they were engaged in the business for which they came, viz., killing the deer, the keepers came upon them. Elliot was wandered a considerable way from his companions after a fawn which he intended to send as a present to a young woman at Guildford; him therefore they quickly seized and bound, and leaving him in that condition, went in search of the rest of his associates. It was not long before they came up with them. The keepers were six, the Blacks were seven in number, so they fell to it warmly with quarter-staffs. The keepers unwilling to have lives taken, advised them to retire, but upon their refusing, and Marshall's firing a gun, by which one of the keepers belonging to the Lady How was slain, they discharged a blunderbuss and shattered the thigh of one Barber, amongst the Blacks. Upon this three of his associates ran away, and the two others, Marshall and Kingshell were likewise taken, and so the fray for the present ended.

Elliot lay bound all the while within hearing, and in the greatest agonies imaginable, at the consideration that whatever blood was spilt he should be as much answerable for it as these who shed it; in which he was not mistaken, for the keepers returning after the fight was over, carried him away bound and he never had his fetters off after, till the morning of his execution. He behaved himself very soberly, quietly and with much seeming penitence and contrition. He owned the justice of the Law in punishing him, and said he more especially deserved to suffer, since at the time of the committing this fact, he was servant to a widow lady, where he wanted nothing to make him happy or easy.

Robert Kingshell was twenty-six years old, and lived in the same house with his parents, being apprentice to his brother a shoemaker. His parents were very watchful over his behaviour and sought by every method to prevent his taking to ill courses, or being guilty of any debauchery whatever. The night before this unhappy accident fell out, as he and the rest of the family were sleeping in their beds, Barber made a signal at his chamber window, it being then about eleven o'clock. Upon this Kingshell arose and got softly out of the window; Barber took him upon his horse, and away they went to the Holt, twelve miles distant, calling in their way upon Henry Marshall, Elliot and the rest of their accomplices. He said it was eight o'clock in the morning before the keepers attacked them, he owned they bid them retire, and that he himself told them they would, provided the bound man (Elliot) was released and delivered into their hands, but that proposition being refused, the fight at once grew warm. Barber's thigh was broken, and Marshall killed the keeper with a shot; being thereupon very hard pressed, three of their companions ran away, leaving him and Marshall to fight it out. Elliot being already taken, and Barber disabled, it was not long before they were in the same unhappy condition with their companions. From the time of their being apprehended, Kingshell laid aside all hopes of life, and applied himself with great fervency and devotion to enable him in what alone remained for him to do, viz., dying decently.

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