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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It has been said that there was a considerable sum of money due to him for his share in the apprehension of several felonies at the very time of his death, which happened, as I have told you, at Tyburn, on Monday, the 24th day of May, 1725; he being then about forty-two years of age.


[61] A few additional particulars concerning Wild may be of interest. Soon after he came to London he opened a brothel in the infamous Lewkenor's Lane, in partnership with Mary Milliner; after a time they quitted it to take an alehouse in Cock Alley, Cripplegate. He then drifted into business as a receiver and instigator of thefts, organizing regular gangs which operated in every branch of the thieving trade. On account of the number of criminals he brought to justice (as a result of their disloyalty to himself) the authorities winked at and tolerated his proceedings; and in January, 1724, he had the impudence to petition for the freedom of the City, as some recognition for the good services he had rendered in this direction. A few months later, however, his reputation became sadly blown upon, and in January, 1725, he was implicated in an affair with one of his minions, a sailor named Johnson, who had been arrested and had appealed to Wild for help. A riot was engineered, in which Johnson made his escape, but information was laid against the thief-taker, himself, who, after lying in hiding for three weeks, was arrested and committed to Newgate, which he only left to attend his trial and to take his last ride to Tyburn.

[62] A well-known tavern in Old Bailey.

[63] This was the Poultry Compter.

[64] Her name was really Statham.

[65] See page 418.

[66] Soon after burial his body was disinterred and the head and body separated. Wild's skull and the skeleton of his trunk were exhibited publicly as late as 1860.

The Life of JOHN LITTLE, a Housebreaker and Thief

The papers which I have in relation to this malefactor speak nothing with regard to his parents and education. The first thing that I with concerning him is his being at sea, where he was at the time my Lord Torrington, then Sir George Byng, went up the Mediterranean, as also in my Lord Cobham's expedition to Vigo; and in these expeditions he got such a knack of plundering that he could never bring himself afterwards to thinking it was a sin to plunder anybody. This wicked principle he did not fail to put in practice by stealing everything he could lay his hands on, when he afterwards went into Sweden in a merchant-ship. Indeed, there is too common a case for men who have been inured to robbing and maltreating an enemy, now and then to receive the same talents at home, and make free with the subjects of their own Sovereign as they did with those of the enemy. Weak minds sometimes do not really so well apprehend the difference, but thieve under little apprehension of sin, provided they can escape the gallows; others of better understanding acquire such an appetite to rapine that they are not afterwards able to lay it aside; so that I cannot help observing that it would be more prudent for officers to encourage their men to do their duty against the enemy from generous motives of serving their country and vindicating its rights, rather than proposing the hopes of gain, and the reward arising from destroying those unhappy wretches who fall under their power. But enough of this, and perhaps too much here; let us return again to him of whom we are now speaking.

When he came home into England, he fell into bad company, particularly of John Bewle, alias Hanley, and one Belcher, who it is to be supposed inclined him by idle discourse first to look upon robbing as a very entertaining employment, in which they met with abundance of pleasure, and might, with a little care, avoid all the danger. This was language very likely to work upon Little's disposition, who had a great inclination to all sorts of debauchery, and no sort of religious principles to check him. Over above all this he was unhappily married to a woman of the same ways of living, one who got her bread by walking the streets and picking of pockets. Therefore, instead of persuading her husband to quit such company as she saw him inclined to follow, on the contrary she encouraged, prompted and offered her assistance in the expedition she knew they were going about.

Thus Little's road to destruction lay open for him to rush into without any let or the least check upon his vicious inclinations.

He and his wicked companions became very busy in the practice of their employment. They disturbed most of the roads near London, and were particularly good customers to Sadler's Wells, Belsize,[67] and the rest of the little places of junketting and entertainment which are most frequented in the neighbourhood of this Metropolis. Their method upon such occasions was to observe who was drunkest, and to watch such persons when they came out, suffering them to walk a little before them till they came to a proper place; then jostling them and picking a quarrel with them, they fell to fighting, and in conclusion picked their pockets, snatched their hats and wigs, or took any other methods that were the most likely to obtain something wherewith to support their riots in which they spent every night.

At last, finding their incomings not so large as they expected, they took next to housebreaking, in which they had found somewhat better luck. But their expenses continuing still too large for even their numerous booties to supply them, they were continually pushed upon hazarding their lives, and hardly had any respite from the crimes they committed, which, as they grew numerous, made them the more known and consequently increased their danger, those who make it their business to apprehend such people having had intelligence of most of them, which is generally the first step in the road to Hyde Park Corner.[68]

It is remarkable that the observation which most of all shocks thieves, and convinces them at once both of the certainty and justice of a Providence is this, that the money which they amass by such unrighteous dealings never thrives with them; that though they thieve continually, they are, notwithstanding that, always in want, pressed on every side with fears and dangers, and never at liberty from the uneasy apprehensions of having incurred the displeasure of God, as well as run themselves into the punishments inflicted by the law. To these general terrors there was added, to Little, the distracting fears of a discovery from the rash and impetuous tempers of his associates, who were continually defrauding one another in their shares of the booty, and then quarrelling, fighting, threatening, and what not, till Little sometimes at the expense of his own allotment, reconciled and put them in humour.

Nor were his fatal conjectures on this head without cause; for Bewle, though as Little always declared he had drawn him into such practices, put him into an information he made for the sake of procuring a pardon. A few days after, Little was taken into custody, and at the next sessions indicted for breaking open the house of one Mr. Deer, and taking from thence several parcels of goods expressed in the indictment. Upon this trial the prosecutor swore to the loss of his goods and Bewle, who had been a confederate in the robbery, gave testimony as to the manner in which they were taken. As he was conscious of his guilt, Little made a very poor defence, pretending that he was utterly unacquainted with this Bewle, hoping that if he could persuade the jury to that, the prosecutor's evidence (as it did not affect him personally) might not convict him. But his hope was vain, for Bewle confirmed what he said by so many circumstances that the jury gave credit to his testimony, and thereupon found the prisoners guilty. Little, though he entertained scarce any hopes of success, moved the Court earnestly to grant transportation; but as they gave him no encouragement upon the motion, so it must be acknowledged that he did not amuse himself with any vain expectations.

During the time he remained under conviction, he behaved with great marks of penitence, assisted constantly at the public devotions in the chapel, and often prayed fervently in the place where he was confined; he made no scruple of owning the falsehood of what he had asserted upon his trial, and acknowledging the justice of that sentence which doomed him to death. He seemed to be under a very great concern lest his wife, who was addicted to such practices, should follow him to the same place; in order to prevent which, as far as it lay in his power, he wrote to her in the most pressing terms he was able, intreating her to take notice of that melancholy condition in which he then lay, miserable through the wants under which he suffered, and still more miserable from the apprehensions of a shameful death, and the fear of being plunged also into everlasting torment. Having finished this letter, he began to withdraw his thoughts as much as possible from this world, and to fix them wholly where they ought to have been placed throughout his life; praying to God for His assistance, and endeavouring to render himself worthy of it by a sincere repentance. In fine, as he had been enormously wicked through the course of his life, so he was extraordinarily penitent throughout the course of his misfortunes, deeply affected from the apprehensions of temporal punishment, but apparently more afflicted with the sense of his sins, and the fear of that punishment which the justice of Almighty God might inflict upon him. Therefore, to the day of his execution, he employed every moment in crying for mercy, and with wonderful piety and resignation submitted to that death which the law had appointed for his offences; on the 13th of September, 1725, at Tyburn. As to his own age, that I am not able to say anything of, it not being mentioned in the papers before me.


[67] See note, page 243.

[68] That is, Tyburn tree.

The Life of JOHN PRICE, a Housebreaker and Thief[69]

Amongst the ordinary kind of people in England, debauchery is so common, and the true principles of honesty and a just life so little understood, that we need not be surprised at the numerous sessions we see so often held in a year at the Old Bailey, and the multitudes which in consequence of them are yearly executed at Tyburn. Fraud, which is only robbery within the limits of the Law, is at this time of day (especially amongst the common people) thought a sign of wit, and esteemed as fair a branch of their calling as their labours. Mechanics of all sorts practise it without showing any great concern to hide it, especially from their own family, in which, on the contrary, they encourage and admire it. Instead of being reproved for their first essays in dishonesty, their children are called smart boys, and their tricks related to neighbours and visitors as proofs of their genius and spirit. Yet when the lads proceed in the same way, after being grown up a little, nothing too harsh, or too severe can be inflicted upon them in the opinion of these parents, as if cheating at chuck, and filching of marbles were not as real crimes in children of eight years old, as stealing of handkerchiefs and picking of pockets, in boys of thirteen or fourteen. But with the vulgar, 'tis the punishment annexed to it, and not the crime, that is dreaded; and the commandments against stealing and murder would be as readily broke as those against swearing and Sabbath-breaking, if the civil power had not set up a gallows at the end of them.

John Price, of whom we are now to speak, has very little preserved concerning him in the memoirs that lie before me; all that I am able to say of him is that by employment he was a sailor. In the course of his voyages he had addicted himself to gratifying such inclinations as he had towards drink or women, without the least concern as to the consequences, here or hereafter; he said, indeed, that falling sick at Oporto, in Portugal, and becoming very weak and almost incapable of moving himself, the fear of death gave him apprehensions of what the Justice of God might inflict on him through the number and heinousness of his sins. This at last made so great an impression on his mind that he put up a solemn vow to God of thorough repentance and amendment, if it should please Him to raise him once more from the bed of sickness, and restore him again to his former health. But when he had recovered, his late good intentions were forgotten, and the evil examples he had before his eyes of his companions, who, according to the custom of Portugal, addicted themselves to all sorts of lewdness and debauchery, prevailed. He returned like the dog to the vomit, and his last state was worse than his first.

On his return into England he had still a desire towards the same sensual enjoyments, was ever coveting debauches of drink, accompanied with the conversation of lewd women; but caring little for labour, and finding no honest employment to support these expenses into which his lusts obliged him to run, he therefore abandoned all thoughts of honesty, and took to thieving as the proper method of supporting him in his pleasures. When this resolution was once taken, it was no difficult thing to find companions to engage with him, houses to receive him, and women to caress him. On the contrary, it seemed difficult for him to choose out of the number offered, and as soon as he had made the choice, he and his associates fell immediately into the practice of that miserable trade they had chosen.

How long they continued to practice it before they fell into the hands of Justice, I am not able to say, but from several circumstances it seems probable that there was no long time intervening; for Price, in company with Sparks and James Cliff, attempted the house of the Duke of Leeds, and thrusting up the sash-window James Cliff was put into the parlour and handed out some things to Price and Sparks. But it seems they were seen by Mr. Best, and upon their being apprehended, Cliff confessed the whole affair, owned that it was concerted between them, and that himself handed out the things to his companions, Price and Sparks.

At the ensuing sessions, Price was tried for that offence, and upon the evidence of Mr. Best, the confession of James Cliff, and Benjamin Bealin deposing that he himself, at the time of his being apprehended, acknowledged that he had been in company with Cliff and Sparks, the jury found him guilty, as they did Cliff also, upon his own confession. Under sentence he seemed to have a just sense of his preceding wicked life, and was under no small apprehensions concerning his repentance, since it was forced and not voluntary. However, the Ordinary having satisfied his scruples of this sort, as far as he was able, recommended it to him without oppressing his conscience with curious fears and unnecessary scruples, to apply himself to prayer and other duties of a dying man. To this he seemed inclinable enough, but complained that James Cliff, who was in the condemned hold, prevented both him and the rest of the criminals from their duty, by extravagant speeches, wild and profane expressions, raving after the woman he had conversed with, and abusing everybody who came near him, which partly arose from the temper of that unhappy person, and was also owing to indisposition of body, as all the while he lay in the hole he was labouring under a high fever. Another great misfortune to Price, in the condition in which he was, consisted in his incapacity to supply the want of ministers through his incapacity of reading; however, he endeavoured to make up for it as well as he could by attending constantly at chapel, and not only behaving gravely at prayers, but listening attentively at sermon, by which means he constantly brought away a great part, and sometimes lost very little out of his memory of what he heard there.

In a word, all the criminals who were at this time under sentence (excepting Cliff) seemed perfectly disposed to make a just use of that time which the peculiar clemency of the English Law affords to malefactors, that they may make their peace with God, and by their sufferings under the hands of men, prevent eternal condemnation. They expressed, also, a great satisfaction that their crimes were of an ordinary kind and occasioned no staring and whispering when they came to chapel, a thing they were very much afraid of, inasmuch as it would have hindered their devotions, and discomposed the frame of their minds.

At the same time with Price, there lay under condemnation one Woolridge, who was convicted for entering the house of Elizabeth Fell, in the night time, with a felonious intent to take away the goods of Daniel Brooks; but it seems he was apprehended before he could so much as open the chest he had designed to rob. The thieves in Newgate usually take upon them to be very learned in the Law, especially in respect to what relates to evidence, and they had persuaded this unhappy man that no evidence which could be produced against him would affect his life. There is no doubt, but his conviction came therefore upon him with greater surprise, and certain it is that such practices are of the utmost ill consequence to those unhappy malefactors. However, when he found that death was inevitable, by degrees he began to reconcile himself thereto; and as he happened to be the only one amongst the criminals who could read, so with great diligence he applied himself to supply that deficiency in his fellow-prisoners. Even after he was seized with sickness, which brought him exceedingly low, he ceased not to strive against the weakness of the body, that he might do good to his fellow-convicts.

In a word, no temptation to drink, nor the desire of pleasing those who vend it[70], circumstances which too often induce others in that condition to be guilty of strange enormities, ever had force enough to obtrude on them more than was necessary to support life, and to keep up such a supply of spirits as enabled them to perform their duties; from whence it happened that the approach of death did not affect them with any extraordinary fear, but both suffered with resignation on the same day with the former criminals at Tyburn.


[69] See page 230.

[70] The gaolers and others in prisons had an interest in furnishing prisoners with liquor and not only looked askance at those who refused but made it highly uncomfortable for all who avoided debauchery.

The Life of FOSTER SNOW, a Murderer

There cannot be anything more dangerous in our conduct through human life, than a too ready compliance with any inclination of the mind, whether it be lustful or of an irascible nature. Either transports us on the least check into wicked extravagancies, which are fatal in their consequences, and suddenly overwhelm us with both shame and ruin. There is hardly a page in any of these volumes, but carries in it examples which are so many strong proofs of the veracity of this observation. But with respect to the criminal we are now speaking of, he is a yet more extraordinary case than any of the rest; and therefore I shall in the course of my relation, make such remarks as to me seem more likely to render his misfortunes, and my account of them, useful to my readers.

Foster Snow was the son of very honest and reputable parents, who gave him an education suitable to their station in life, and which was also the same they intended to breed him up to, viz., that of a gardener, in which capacity, or as a butler, he served abundance of persons of quality, with an untainted reputation. About fourteen years before the time of his death, he married and set up an alehouse, wherein his conduct was such that he gained the esteem and respect of his neighbours, being a man who was without any great vices, except only passions, in which he too much indulged himself. Whenever he was in drink, he would launch out into unaccountable extravagancies both in words and actions. However, it is likely that this proceeded in a great measure from family uneasiness, which undoubtedly had for a long time discomposed him before committing that murder for which he died. Though, when sober, he might have wisdom enough to conceal his resentment, yet when the fumes of wine had clouded his reason, he (as it is no uncommon case) gave vent to his passion, and treated with undistinguished surliness all who came in his way.

Now, as to the source of these domestic discontents, it is apparent from the papers I have that they were partly occasioned by family mismanagement, and partly from the haughty and impudent carriage of the unfortunate person who fell by his hands; for it seems the woman who Snow married had a daughter by a former husband This daughter she brought home to live with the deceased Mr. Snow, who was so far from being angry therewith, or treating her with the coldness which is usual to fathers-in-law, that, on the contrary, he gave her the sole direction of his house, put everything into her hands, and was so fond of the young daughter she had, that greater tenderness could not have been shown to the child if she had been his own.

It seems the deceased Mr. Rawlins had found a way to ingratiate himself with both the mother and the daughter, but especially the latter, so that although his circumstances were not extraordinary, they gave him very extensive credit; and as he had a family of children, they sometimes suffered them to get little matters about their house; and thereby so effectually entailed them upon them, that at last they were never out of it.

Mr. Snow, it seems, took umbrage at this, and spared not to tell Mr. Rawlins flatly, that he did not desire he should come thither, which was frequently answered by the other in opprobrious and under-valuing terms, which gave Mr. Snow uneasiness enough, considering that the man at the same time owed him money; and this carriage on both sides having continued for a pretty while, and broken out in several instances, it at last made Mr. Snow so uneasy that he could not forbear expressing his resentment to his wife and family. But it had little effect, they went on still at the same rate; Mr. Rawlins was frequently at the house, his children received no less assistance there than before, and in short, everything went on in such a manner that poor Mr. Snow had enough to aggravate the suspicions which he entertained.

At last it unfortunately happened that he, having got a little more liquor in his head than ordinary, when Mr. Rawlins came into the house, he asked him for money, and upbraided him with his treatment in very harsh terms, to which the other making no less gross replies, it kindled such a resentment in this unfortunate man that, after several threats which sufficiently expressed the rancour of his disposition, he snatched up a case knife, and pursuing the unfortunate Mr. Rawlins, gave him therewith a mortal wound, of which he instantly died. For this fact he was apprehended and committed to Newgate.

At the next sessions he was indicted, first for the murder of Thomas Rawlins, by giving him with a knife a mortal wound of the breadth of an inch, and of the depth of seven inches, whereby he immediately expired; he was a second time indicted on the Statute of Stabbing[71]; and a third time also on the coroner's inquest, for the same offence. Upon each of the which indictments the evidence was so dear that the jury, notwithstanding some witnesses which he called to his reputation, and which indeed deposed that he was a very civil and honest, and peaceable neighbour, found him guilty on them all, and he thereupon received sentence of death.

In passing this sentence, the then deputy-recorder, Mr. Faby, took particular notice of the heinousness of the crime of murder, and expatiated on the equity of the Divine Law, whereby it was required that he who had shed man's blood, by man should his blood be shed; and from thence took occasion to warn the prisoner from being misled into any delusive hopes of pardon, since the nature of his offence was such as he could not reasonably expect it from the Royal breast, which had ever been cautious of extending mercy to those who had denied it unto their fellow-subjects.

Under sentence of death this unhappy man behaved himself very devoutly, and with many signs of true penitence. He was, from the first, very desirous to acquaint himself with the true nature of that crime which he had committed, and finding it at once repugnant to religion, and contrary to even the dictates of human nature, he began to loath himself and his own cruelty, crying out frequently when alone. Oh! Murder! Murder! it is the guilt of that great sin which distracts my soul. When at chapel he attended with great devotion to the duties of prayer and service there; but whenever the Commandments came to be repeated, at the words, Thou shalt do no murder, he would tremble, turn pale, shed tears, and with a violent agitation of spirit pray to God to pardon him that great offence.

To say truth never any man seemed to have a truer sense or a more quick feeling of his crimes, than this unhappy man testified during his confinement. His heart was so far from being hardened, as is too commonly the case with those wretches who fall into the same condition, that he, on the contrary, afflicted himself continually and without ceasing, as fearing that all his penitence would be but too little in the sight of God, for destroying His creature and taking away a life which he could not restore. Amidst these apprehensions, covered with terrors and sinking under the weight of his afflictions, he received spiritual assistance of the Ordinary and other ministers, with much meekness, and it is to be hoped with great benefit; since they encouraged him to rely on the Mercy of God, and not by an unseasonable diffidence to add the throwing away his own soul by despair, to the taking away the life of another in his wrath.

What added to the heavy load of his sorrows, was the unkindness of his wife, who neither visited him in his misfortunes, and administered but indifferently to his wants. It seems the quarrels they had, had so embittered them towards one another that very little of that friendship was to be seen in either, which makes the marriage bond easy and the yoke of matrimony light. His complaints with respect to her occasioned some enquiries as to whether he were not jealous of her person; such suspicions being generally the cause of married people's greatest dislikes. What he spoke on this head was exceedingly modest, far from that rancour which might have been expected from a man whom the world insinuated had brought himself to death by a too violent resentment of what related to her conduit; though no such thing appeared from what he declared to those who attended him. He said he was indeed uneasy at the too large credit she gave to the deceased, but that it was her purse only that he entertained suspicions of, and that as he was a dying man, he had no ill thought of her in any other way. But with regard to his daughter, he expressed a very great dislike to her behaviour, and said her conduct had been such as forced her husband to leave her; and that though he had treated her with the greatest kindness and affection, yet such was the untowardness of her disposition that he had received but very sorry returns. However, to the last he expressed great uneasiness lest after his decease his little grand-daughter-in-law might suffer in her education, of which he had intended to take the greatest care; his dislike to the mother being far enough from giving him any aversion to the child. It seems from the time he had taken it home he had placed his affections strongly upon it, and did not withdraw them even to the hour of his departure.

As death grew near, he was afflicted with a violent disease, which reduced him so low that he was incapable of coming to the chapel; and when it abated a little it yet left his head so weak that he seemed to be somewhat distracted, crying out in chapel the Sunday before he died, like one grievously disturbed in mind, and expressing the greatest agonies under the apprehension of his own guilt, and the strict justice of Him to whom he was shortly to answer. However, he forgave with all outward appearance of sincerity, all who had been in any degree accessory to his death.

Being carried in a mourning coach to the place of execution, he appeared somewhat more composed than he had been for some time before. He told the people that, except the crime for which he died, he had never been guilty of anything which might bring him within the fear of meeting with such a death. And in this disposition of mind he suffered at Tyburn, on the 3rd day of November, 1725, being about fifty-five years of age. Immediately after his death a paper was published under the title of his case, full of circumstances tending to extenuate his guilt but such as in no way appeared upon his trial.

The Court of Old Bailey at the next sessions taking this paper into their consideration, were of opinion that it reflected highly on the justice of those who tried him, and therefore ordered the printer to attend them to answer for this offence. Accordingly he attended the next day, and being told that the Court was highly displeased with his publishing a thing of that nature, in order to misrepresent the justice of their proceedings, and that they were ready to punish him for his contempt in the aforesaid publication of such a libel; Mr. Leech thought fit to prevent it by making his most humble submission, and asking pardon of the Court for his offence, assuring them that it proceeded only from inadvertency, and promising never to print anything of the like sort again. Whereupon the Court were graciously pleased to dismiss him only with a reprimand, and to admonish others of the same profession, that they should be cautious for the future of doing anything which might reflect in any degree upon the proceedings had before them.


[71] See note, page 218.

The Life of JOHN WHALEBONE, alias WELBONE, a Thief, etc.

This malefactor was born in the midst of the City of London, in the Parish of St. Dionis Back Church. His parents were persons in but mean circumstances, who however strained them to the uttermost to give this their son a tolerable education. They were especially careful to instruct him in the principles of religion, and were therefore under an excessive concern when they found that neglecting all other business, he endeavoured only to qualify himself for the sea. However, finding this inclinations so strong that way, they got him on board a man-of-war, and procured such a recommendation to the captain that he was treated with great civility during the voyage, and if he had had any inclinations to have done well, he might in all probability have been much encouraged. But after several voyages to sea, he took it as strongly in his head to go no more as he had before to go, whether his parents would or no.

He then cried old clothes about the streets; but not finding any great encouragement in that employment, he was easily drawn in by some wicked people of his acquaintance, to take what they called the shortest method of getting money, which was in plain English to go a-thieving. He had very ill-luck in his new occupation, for in six weeks' time, after his first setting out on the information of one of his companions, he was apprehended, tried, convicted, and ordered for transportation.

It was his fortune to be delivered to a planter in South Carolina, who employed him to labour in his plantations, afforded him good meat and drink, and treated him rather better than our farmers treat their servants here. Which leads me to say something concerning the usage such people met with, when carried as the Law directs to our plantations, in order to rectify certain gross mistakes; as if Englishmen abroad had totally lost all humanity, and treated their fellow-creatures and fellow-countrymen as slaves, or as brutes.

The Colonies on the Continent of America are those which now take off the greatest part of those who are transported for felony from Britain, most of the Island Colonies having long ago refused to receive them. The countries into which they now go, trading chiefly in such kind of commodities as are produced in England (unless it be tobacco), the employment, therefore, of persons thus sent over, is either in attending husbandry, or in the culture of the plant which we have before mentioned. They are thereby exposed to no more hardships than they would have been obliged to have undergone at home, in order to have got an honest livelihood, so that unless their being obliged to work for their living is to pass for great hardship, I do not conceive where else it can lie, since the Law, rather than shed the blood of persons for small offences, or where they appear not to have gone on for a length of time in them, by its lenity changes the punishment of death into sending them amongst their own countrymen at a distance from their ill-disposed companions, who might probably seduce them to commit the same offences again. It directs also, that this banishment shall be for such a length of time as may be suitable to the guilt of the crime, and render it impracticable for them on their return to meet with their old gangs and acquaintance, making by this means a happy mixture both of justice and clemency, dealing mildly with them for the offence already committed and endeavouring to put it ever out of their own power by fresh offences, to draw a heavier judgment upon themselves.

But to return to this Whalebone. The kind usage of his master, the easiness of the life which he lived, and the certainty of death if he attempted to return home, could not all of them prevail upon him to lay aside the thoughts of coming back again to London, and there giving himself up to those sensual delights which he had formerly enjoyed. Opportunities are seldom wanting where men incline to make use of diem; especially to one who had been bred as he was to the sea. So that in a year and a half after ms being settled there, he took such ways of recommending himself to a certain captain as induced him to bring him home, and set him safe on shore near Harwich. He travelled on foot up to London, and was in town but a very few days before being accidentally taken notice of by a person who knew him, he caused him to be apprehended, and at the next sessions at the Old Bailey, he was convicted of such illegal return, and ordered for execution.

At first he pretended that he thought it no crime for a man to return to his own country, and therefore did not think himself bound to repent of that. Whatever arguments the Ordinary made use of to persuade him to sense of his guilt I know not. But because this is an error into which such people are very apt to fall; and as there want not some of the vulgar who take it for a great hardship, also making it one of those topics upon which they take occasion to harangue against the severity of a Law that they do not understand, I think it will not, therefore, be improper to explain it.

Transportation is a punishment whereby the British law commutes for offences which would otherways be capital, and therefore a contract is plainly presumed between every felon transported and the Court by whose authority he is ordered for transportation, that the said felon shall remain for such term of years as the Law directs, without returning into any of the King's European dominions; and the Court plainly acquaints the felon that if, in breach of his agreement, he shall so return, that in such case the contract shall be deemed void, and the capital punishment shall again take place. To say, then, that a person who enters into an agreement like this, and is perfectly acquainted with its conditions, knowing that no less than his life must be forfeited by the breach of them, and yet wilfully breaks them, to say that such a person as this is guilty of no offence, must in the opinion of every person of common understanding be the greatest absurdity that can be asserted; and to call that severity which only is the Law's taking its forfeit, is a very great impropriety, and proceeds from a foolish and unreasonable compassion. This I think so plain that nothing but prepossession or stupidity can hinder people from comprehending it.

As to Whalebone, when death approached, he laid aside all these excuses and applied himself to what was much more material, the making a proper use of that little time which yet remained for repentance. He acknowledged all the crimes which he had committed in the former part of his life, and the justice of his sentence by which he had been condemned to transportation; and having warned the people at his execution to avoid of all things being led into ill company, he suffered with much seeming penitence, together with the afore-mentioned malefactors, at Tyburn, being then about thirty-eight years of age.

The Life of JAMES LITTLE, a Footpad and Highwayman

James Little was a person descended from parents very honest and industrious, though of small fortune. They bred him up with all the care they were able, and when he came to a fit age put him out to an honest employment. But in his youth having taken peculiar fancy to his father's profession of a painter, he thereto attained in so great a degree as to be able to earn twelve or fifteen shillings in a week, when he thought fit to work hard. But that was very seldom, and he soon contracted such a hatred to working at all that associating with some wild young fellows, he kept himself continually drunk and mad, not caring what he did for money, so long as he supplied himself with enough to procure himself liquor.

Amongst the rest of those debauched persons with whom he conversed there was especially one Sandford, with whom he was peculiarly intimate. This fellow was a soldier, of a rude, loose disposition, who took a particular delight in making persons whom he conversed with as bad as himself. Having one Sunday, therefore, got Little into his company and drank him to such a pitch that he had scarce any sense, he next began to open to him a new method of living, as he called it, which was neither more than less than going on the highway. Little was so far gone in his cups that be did not so much as know what he was saying; at last Sandford rose up, and told him it was a good time now to go out upon their attempts. Upon this Little got up, too, and went out with him. They had not gone far before the soldier drew out a pair of pistols, and robbed two or three persons, while Little stood by, so very drunk that he was both unable to have hurt the persons, or to have defended himself, he said.

He robbed no more with the soldier, who was soon after taken up and hanged at the same time with Jonathan Wild, yet the sad fate of his companion had very little effect upon this unhappy lad. He fell afterwards into an acquaintance with some of John Shepherd's mistresses, and they continually dinning in his ears what great exploits that famous robber had committed, they unfortunately prevailed upon him to go again into the same way. But it was just as fatal to him as it had been to his companion; for Little having robbed one Lionel Mills in the open fields, put him in fear, and taken from him a handkerchief, three keys and sixteen shillings in money, not contented with this he pulled the turnover off from his neck hastily, and thereby nearly strangled him. For this offence the man pursued him with unwearied diligence, and he being taken up thereupon was quickly after charged with another robbery committed on one Mr. Evans, in the same month, who lost a cane, three keys, and twenty pounds in money. On these two offences he was severally convicted at the next sessions at the Old Bailey; and having no friends, could therefore entertain little expectation of pardon; especially considering how short a time it was since he received mercy before; being under sentence at the same time with the soldier before-mentioned and Jonathan Wild, and discharged then upon his making certain discoveries.

He pretended to much penitence and sorrow, but it did not appear in his behaviour, having been guilty of many levities when brought up to chapel, to which perhaps the crowds of strangers, who from an unaccountable humour desire to be present on these melancholy occasions, did not a little contribute; for at other times, it must be owned, he did not behave himself in any such manner, but seemed rather grave and willing to be instructed, of which he had indeed sufficient want, knowing very little, but of debauchery and vice. How ever, he reconciled himself by degrees to the thoughts of death, and behaved with tranquility enough during that small space that was left him to prepare for it. At the place of execution, he looked less astonished though he spoke much less to the people than the rest, and died seemingly composed, at the same time with the other malefactors Snow, and Whalebone, being at the time of his execution in his seventeenth year.

The Life of JOHN HAMP, Footpad and Highwayman

This unhappy person, John Hamp, was born of both honest and reputable parents in the parish of St. Giles-without-Cripplegate. They took abundance of pains in his education, and the lad seemed in his juvenile years to deserve it; he was a boy of abundance of spirit, and his friends at his own request put him out apprentice to a man whose trade it was to lath houses. He did not stay out his time with him, but being one evening with some drunken companions at an alehouse near the Iron Gate by the Tower, three of them sailors on board a man-of-war (there being at that time a great want of men, a squadron being fitted out for the Baltic), these sailors, therefore, observing all the company very drunk, put into their heard to make an agreement for their going altogether this voyage to the North. Drink wrought powerfully in their favour, and in less than two hours time, Hamp and two other of his companions fell in with the sailors' motion, and talked of nothing but braving the Czar, and seeing the rarities of Copenhagen. The fourth man of Hamp's company stood out a little, but half an hour's rhodomantade and another bowl of punch brought him to a sailor, upon which one of the seamen stepped out, and gave notice to his lieutenant, who was drinking not far off, of the great service he had performed, the lieutenant was mightily pleased with Jack Tar's diligence, promised to pay the reckoning, and give each of them a guinea besides. A quarter of an hour after, the Lieutenant came in. The fellows were all so very drunk that he was forced to send for more hands belonging to the ship, who carried them to the long-boat, and there laying them down and covering them with men's coats, carried them on board that night.

There is no doubt that Hamp was very surprised when he found the situation he was in next morning, but as there was no remedy, he acquiesced without making any words, and so began the voyage cheerfully. Everybody knows that there was no fighting in these Baltic expeditions, so that all the hardships they had to combat with were those of the sea and the weather, which was indeed bad enough to people of an English constitution, who were very unfit to bear the extremity of cold.

While they by before Copenhagen, an accident happened to one of Hamp's great acquaintance, which much affected him at that time, and it would have certainly have been happy for him if he had retained a just sense of it always. There was one Scrimgeour, a very merry debonair fellow, who used to make not only the men, but sometimes the officers merry on board the ship. He was particularly remarkable for being always full of money, of which he was no niggard, but ready to do anybody a service, and consequently was very far from being ill-beloved. This man being one day on shore and going to purchase some fresh provisions to make merry with amongst his companions, somebody took notice of a dollar that was in his hand, and Scrimgeour wanting change, the man readily offered to give smaller money. Scrimgeour thereupon gave him the dollar, and having afterwards bargained for what he wanted, was just going on board when a Danish officer with a file of men, came to apprehend him for a coiner. The fellow, conscious of his guilt, and suspicious of their intent, seeing the man amongst them who had changed the dollar, took to his heels, and springing into the boat, the men rowed him on board immediately, where as soon as he was got, Scrimgeour fancied himself out of all danger.

But in this he was terribly mistaken, for early the next morning three Danish commissaries came on board the admiral, and acquainted him that a seaman on board his fleet had counterfeited their coin to a very considerable value, and was yesterday detected in putting off a dollar; that thereupon an officer had been ordered to seize him, but that he had made his escape by jumping into the long-boat of such a ship, on board of which they were informed he was; they therefore desired he might be given up in order to be punished. The admiral declined that, but assured them that, upon due proof, he would punish him with the greatest severity on board; and having in the meanwhile dispatched a lieutenant and twenty men on board Scrimgeour's ship, with the Dane who detected him in putting off false money, he was secured immediately. Upon searching his trunk they found there near a hundred false dollars, so excellently made that none of the ship's crew could have distinguished them from the true.

He was immediately carried on board the admiral, who ordered him to be confined. Soon after a court-martial condemned him to be whipped from ship to ship, which was performed in the view of the Danish commissaries, with so much rigour that instead of expressing any notion of the Englishmen showing favour to their countryman upon any such occasion, they interposed to mitigate the fellow's sufferings, and humbly besought the admiral to omit lashing him on board three of the last ships. But in this request they were civilly refused, and the sentence which had been pronounced against him was executed upon him with the utmost severity; and it happening that Hamp was one of the persons who rowed him from ship to ship, it filled him with so much terror that he was scarce able to perform his duty; the wretch, himself, being made such a terrible spectacle of misery that not only Hamp, but all the rest who saw him after his last lashing, were shocked at the sight. And though it was shrewdly suspected that some others had been concerned with him, yet this example had such an effect that there were no more instances of any false money uttered from that time.

It was near five years after Hamp went first to sea that he began to think of returning home and working at his trade again; and after this thought had once got into his head, as is usual with such fellows, he was never easy until he had accomplished it. An opportunity offered soon after, the ship he belonged to being recalled and paid off. John had, however, very little to receive, the great delight he took in drinking made him so constant a customer to a certain officer in the ship that all was near spent by the time he came home. That, however, would have been no great misfortune had he stuck close to his employment and avoided those excesses of which he been formerly guilty. But alas! this was by no means in his power; he drank rather harder after his return than he had done before, and if he might be credited at that time when the Law allows what is said to pass for evidence, viz., in the agony of death, it was this love of drink that brought him, without any other crime, to his shameful end. The manner of which, I shall next fully relate.

Hamp, passing one night very drunk through the street, a woman, as is usual enough for common street-walkers to do, took him by the sleeve, and after some immodest discourse, asked him if he would not go into her mother's and take a pot with her. To this motion Hamp readily agreed, and had not been long in the house before he fell fast asleep in the company of James Bird (who was hanged with him), the woman who brought him into the house, and an old woman, whom she called her mother. By and by certain persons came who apprehended him and James Bird for being in a disorderly house; and having carried them to the watch house, they were there both charged with robbing and beating, in a most cruel and barbarous manner, a poor old woman near Rag Fair.[72]

At the next Old Bailey sessions they were both tried for the fact, and the woman's evidence being positive against them, they were likewise convicted. Hamp behaved himself with great serenity while under sentence, declaring always that he had not the least knowledge of Bird until the time they were taken up; that in all his life time he had never acquired a halfpenny in a dishonest manner, and that although he had so much abandoned himself to drinking and other debaucheries, yet he constantly worked hard at his employment, in order to get money to support them. As to the robbery, he knew no more of it than the child unborn, that he readily believed all that the woman swore to be true, except her mistake in the persons; and that as to Bird, he could not take upon himself to say that he was concerned in it.

A divine of eminency in the Church, being so charitable as to visit him, spoke to him very particularly on this head; he told him that a jury of his countrymen on their oaths had unanimously found him guilty; that the Law upon such a conviction had appointed him to death, and that there appeared not the least hopes of his being anyways able to prevent it; that the denying of his guilt therefore, could not possibly be of any use to him here, but might probably ruin him for ever hereafter; that he would act wisely in this unfortunate situation into which his vices had brought him, if he would make an ample acknowledgment of the crime he had committed, and own the justice of Providence in bringing him to condemnation, instead of leaving the world in the assertion of a falsehood, and rushing into the presence of Almighty God with a lie in his mouth.

This exhortation was made publicly, and Hamp after having heard it with great attention, answered it in the following terms. I am very sensible, sir, of your goodness in affording me this visit and am no less obliged to you for your pressing instances to induce me confession. But as I know the matter of fact, so I am sure, you would not press me to own it if it be not true; I aver that the charge against me is utterly false in every particular. I freely acknowledge that I have led a most dissolute life, and abandoned myself in working all kind of wickedness; but should I so satisfy some persons' importunities as to own also the justice of my present sentence, as arising from the truth of the fact, I should thereby become guilty of the very crime you warn me of, and go out of the world, indeed, in the very act of telling an untruth. Besides, of what use would it be to me, who have not the least hopes of pardon, to persist in a lie, merely for the sake of deceiving others, who may take my miserable death as a piece of news, and at the same time cheat myself in what is my last and greatest concern? I beg, therefore, to be troubled no more on this head, but to be left to make my peace with God for those sins which I have really committed, without being pressed to offend Him yet more, by taking upon me that which I really know nothing of.

The Ordinary of Newgate hereupon went into the hold to examine Bird, who lay there in a sick and lamentable condition. He confirmed all that Hamp had said, declared he never saw him in his life before the night in which they were taken up, acknowledged himself to be a great sinner, and an old offender, that he had been often taken up before for thefts; but as to the present case, he peremptorily insisted on his innocence, and that he knew nothing of it.

At the place of execution, Hamp appeared very composed and with a cheerfulness that is seldom seen in the countenances of persons when they come to the tree, and are on the very verge of death. He spoke for a few moments to the people saying that he been a grievous sinner, much addicted to women, and much more to drinking; that for these crimes, he thought the Justice of God righteous in bringing him to a shameful death; but as to assaulting the woman in Rag Fair, he again protested his innocence, and declared he never committed any robbery whatsoever, desired the prayers of the people in his last moments, and then applied himself to some short private devotions. He resigned himself with much calmness to his fate, on Wednesday, the 22nd of December, 1725, at Tyburn, being then in the twenty-fifth year of his age. Bird confirmed, as well as the craziness of his distempered head would give him leave, the truth of what Hamp had said.


[72] This was in Rosemary Lane, Wellclose Square, Whitechapel—"a place near the Tower of London where old clothes and frippery are sold"—according to Pope.

The Lives of JOHN AUSTIN, a Footpad, JOHN FOSTER, a Housebreaker, and RICHARD SCURRIER, a Shoplifter

Amongst the number of those extraordinary events which may be remarked in the course of these melancholy memoirs of those who have fallen martyrs to sin, and victims to justice, there is scarce anything more remarkable than the finding a man who hath led an honest and reputable life, till he hath attained the summit of life, and then, without abandoning himself to any notorious vices that may be supposed to lead him into rapine and stealth in order to support him, to take himself on a sudden to robbing on the highway, and to finish a painful and industrious life by a violent and shameful death. Yet this is exactly the case before us.

The criminal of whom we are first to speak, viz., John Austin, was the son of very honest people, having not only been bred up in good principles, but seeming also to retain them. He was put out young to a gardener, in which employment being brought up, he became afterwards a master for himself, and lived, as all his neighbours report it, with as fair character as any man thereabout. On a sudden he was taken up for assaulting and knocking down a man in Stepney Fields, with a short, round, heavy club, and taking from him his coat, in the beginning of November, 1725, about seven o'clock in the morning. The evidence being very clear and direct, the jury, notwithstanding the persons he called to his character, found him guilty. He received sentence of death accordingly, and after a report had been made to his Majesty he was ordered for execution.

During the space he lay under conviction, he at first denied, then endeavoured to extenuate his crime, by saying he did indeed knock the man down, but that the man struck him first with an iron rod he had in his hand; and in this story for some time he firmly persisted. But when death made a nearer approach he acknowledged the falsity of these pretences, and owned the robbery in the manner in which he had been charged therewith. Being asked how a man in his circumstances, being under no necessities, but on the contrary, in a way very likely to do well, came to be guilty of so unaccountable an act as the knocking down a poor man and taking away his coat, he said that though he was in a fair way of living, and had a very careful and industrious wife, yet for some time past, he had been disturbed in his mind, and that the morning he committed the robbery he took the club out of his own house, being an instrument made use of by his wife in the trade of a silk-throwster, and from a sudden impulse of mind attacked the man in the manner which had been sworn against him.

He appeared to be a person of no vicious principles, had been guilty of very few enormous crimes, except drinking to excess sometimes, and that but seldom. The sin which most troubled him was (his ordinary practice) as a gardener, in spending the Lord's day mostly in hard work, viz., in packing up things for Monday's market. He was very penitent for the offence which he had committed; he attended the service of chapel daily, prayed constantly and fervently in the place of his confinement, and suffered death with much serenity and resolution; averring with his last breath, that it was the first and last act which he had ever committed, being at the time of death about thirty-seven years old.

The second of these malefactors, John Foster, was the son of a very poor man, who yet did his utmost to give his son all the education that was in his power; and finding he was resolved to do nothing else, sent him with a very honest gentleman to sea. He continued there about seven years, and as he met with no remarkable accidents in the voyages he made himself, my readers may perhaps not be displeased if I mention a very singular one which befell his master. His ship having the misfortune to fall into the hands of the French, they plundered it of everything that was in the least degree valuable, and then left him, with thirty-five men, to the mercy of the waves. In this distressed condition, he with much difficulty made the shore of Newfoundland, and had nothing to subsist on but biscuit and a little water. Knowing it was no purpose to ask those who were settled there for provisions without money or effects, he landed himself and eighteen men, and carried off a dozen sheep and eight pigs. They were scarce returned on board, before it sprung up a brisk gale, which driving them from their anchors, obliged them to be put to sea. It blew hard all that day and the next night; the morning following the wind abated and they discovered a little vessel before them which, by crowding all the sails she was able, endeavoured to bear away. The captain thereupon gave her chase, and coming at last up with her, perceived she was French, upon which he gave her a broadside, and the master knowing it was impossible to defend her, immediately struck. They found in her a large quantity of provisions and in the master's cabin a bag with seven hundred pistoles. No sooner had the English taken out the booty, but they gave the captain and his crew liberty to sail where they pleased, leaving them sufficient provisions for a subsistance, themselves standing in again for Newfoundland, where the captain paid the person who was owner of the sheep and hogs he had taken as much as he demanded, making him also a handsome present besides; thereby giving Foster a remarkable example of integrity and justice, if he had had grace enough to have followed it.

When the ship came home, and its crew were paid off, Foster betook himself to loose company, loved drinking and idling about, especially with ill women. At last he was drawn in by some of his companions to assist in breaking open the house of Captain Tolson, and stealing thence linen and other things to a very great value. For this offence being apprehended, some promises were made him in case of discoveries, which, as he said, he made accordingly, and therefore thought it a great hardship that they were not performed. But the gentleman, whoever he was, that made him those promises, took no further notice of him, so that Foster being tried thereupon, the evidence was very dear against him, and the jury, after a very short consideration, found him guilty.

Under sentence he behaved with very great sorrow for his offence; he wept whenever any exhortations were made to him, confessed himself one of the greatest of sinners, and with many heavy expressions of grief, seemed to doubt whether even from the mercy of God he could expect forgiveness. Those whose duty it was to instruct him how to prepare himself for death, did all they could to convince him that the greatest danger of not being forgiven arose from such doubtings, and persuaded him to allay the fears of death by a settled faith and hope in Jesus Christ. When he had a while reflected on the promises made in Scripture on the nature of repentance itself, and the relation there is between creatures and their Creator, he became at last better satisfied, and bore the approach of death with tolerable cheerfulness.

When the day of execution came, he received the Sacrament, as is usual for persons in his condition. He declared, then, that he heartily forgave him who had injured him, and particularly the person who, by giving him hopes of life, had endangered his eternal safety. He submitted cheerfully to the decrees of Providence and the Law of the land; being at the time he suffered about thirty-seven years of age.

Richard Scurrier was the son of a blacksmith of the same name, at Kingston-upon-Thames. He followed for a time his father's business, but growing totally weary of working honestly for his bread, he left his relations, and without any just motive or expectation came up to London. He here betook himself to driving a hackney-coach, which, as he himself acknowledged, was the first inlet into all his misfortunes, for thereby he got into loose and extravagant company, living in a continued series of vice, unenlightened by the grace of God, or any intervals of a virtuous practice.

Such a road of wickedness soon induced him to take illegal methods for money to support it. The papers which I have in my hands concerning him, do not say whether the fact he committed was done at the persuasion of others, or merely out of his own wicked inclinations; nay, I cannot be so much as positive whether he had any associates or no; but in the beginning of his thievish practices, he committed petit larceny, which was immediately discovered. He thereupon was apprehended and committed to Newgate. At the next sessions he was tried, and the fact being plain, he was convicted; but being very young, the Court, through its usual tenderness, determined to soften his punishment into a private whipping. But before that was done, he joined with some other desperate fellows, forced the outward door of the prison as the keeper was going in and escaped.

He was no sooner at liberty but he fell to his old trade, and was just as unlucky as he was before; for taking it into his head to rub off with a firkin of butter, which he saw standing in a cheesemonger's shop, he was again taken in the fact, and in the space of a few weeks recommitted to his old lodging. At first he apprehended the crime to be so trivial that he was not in the least afraid of death, and therefore his amazement was the greater when he was capitally convicted. During the first day after sentence had been pronounced, the extremity of grief and fear made him behave like one distracted; as he came a little to himself, and was instructed by those who charitably visited him, he owned the justice of his sentence, which had been passed upon him, and the notorious wickedness of his misspent life. He behaved with great decency at chapel, and as well as a mean capacity and a small education would give him leave, prayed in the place of his confinement.

As there is little remarkable in this malefactor's life, permit me to add an observation or two concerning the nature of crimes punished with death in England, and the reasonableness of any project which would answer the same end as death, viz., securing the public from any of their future rapines, without sending the poor wretches to the gallows, and pushing them headlong into the other world for every little offence. The galleys in other nations serve for this purpose and the punishment seems very well suited to the crime; for his life is preserved, and he, notwithstanding, effectually deprived of all means of doing further mischief. We have no galleys, it is true, in the service of the crown of Britain, but there are many other laborious works to which they might be put so as to be useful to their country. As to transportation, though it may at first sight seem intended for their purpose, yet if we look into it with ever so little attention, we shall see that it does not at all answer the end; for we find by experience that in a year's time, many of them are here again, and are ten times more dangerous rogues than they were before; and in the plantations they generally behave themselves so ill that many of them have refused to receive them, and have even laid penalties on the captains who shall land them within the bounds of their jurisdiction. It were certainly therefore, more advantageous to the public that they worked hard here, than either forced upon the planters abroad, or left in a capacity to return to their villainies at home, where the punishment being capital, serves only to make them less merciful and more resolute. This I propose only, and pretend not to dictate.

But it is now time we return to the last mentioned criminal, Richard Scurrier, and inform ye that at the time he suffered, he was scarce eighteen years of age, dying with the malefactors Hamp, Bird, Austin and Foster, before-mentioned, on the 22nd of December, 1725, at Tyburn.

The Life of FRANCIS BAILEY, a notorious Highwayman

That bad company and an habitual course of indulging vicious inclinations, though of a nature not punishable by human laws, should at last lead men to the commission of such crimes as from the injury done to society require capital sufferings to be inflicted, is a thing we so often meet with, that its frequency alone is sufficient to instruct men of the danger there is in becoming acquainted, much more of conversing familiarly, with wicked and debauched persons.

This criminal, Francis Bailey, was one of the number of those examples from whence this observation arises. He was born of parents of the lowest degree, in Worcestershire, who were either incapable of giving him any education, or took so little care about it that at the time he went out into the world he could neither read or write. However, they bound him apprentice to a baker, and his master took so much care of him that he was in a fair way of doing well if he would have been industrious; but instead of that he quitted his employment to fall into that sink of vice and laziness, the entering into a regiment as a common soldier. However, it were, he behaved himself in this state so well that he became a corporal and serjeant, which last, though a preferment of small value, is seldom given to persons of no education. But it seems Bailey had address enough to get that passed by, and lived with a good reputation in the army near twenty years. During this space, with whatever cover of honesty he appeared abroad, yet he failed not to make up whatever deficiencies the irregular course of life might occasion, by robbing upon the highway, though he had the good luck never to be apprehended, or indeed suspected till the fact which brought him to his end.

His first attempt in this kind happened thus. The regiment in which he served was quartered at a great road town; Bailey having no employment for the greatest part of his time, and being incapable of diverting himself by reading or innocent conversation, knew not therefore how to employ his hours. It happened one evening, that among his idle companions there was one who had been formerly intimate with a famous highwayman. This fellow entertained the company with the relation of abundance of adventures which had befallen the robber on the road, till he had saved about seven hundred pounds, wherewith he retired (as this man said) to Jamaica, and lived there in great splendour, having set up a tavern, and by his facetious conversation, acquired more custom thereto than any other public house had in the Island.

As Bailey listened with great attention to this story, so it ran in his head that night that this was the easiest method of obtaining money, and that with prudence there was no great danger of being detected. Money at that time ran low, and he resolved the next day to make the experiment. Accordingly he procured a horse and arms in the evening and at dusk sallied out, with an intent of stopping the first passenger he should meet. A country clergyman happened to be the man. No sooner had Bailey approached him with the usual salutation of Stand and Deliver, but putting his hand in his pocket, and taking out some silver, he, in a great fright, and as it were trembling, put it into Bailey's hat, who thereupon carelessly let go the reins of his horse, and went to put the money up in his own pocket. The parson upon seeing that, clapped spurs to his horse, and thrust his right elbow with all his force under Bailey's left breast, and gave him such a blow as made him tumble backwards off his horse, the parson riding off as hard as he could with a good watch and near forty pounds in gold in his purse.

So ill a setting out might have marred a highwayman of less courage than him of whom we are speaking; but Frank was not to be frightened either from danger or wickedness, when he once got it into his head. So that as soon as he came a little to himself, and had caught his horse, he resolved, by looking more carefully after the next prize, to make up what he fancied he had lost by the parson. With this intent he rode on about a mile, when he met with a waggon, in which were three or four young wenches, who had been at service in London and were going to several places in the country to see their relations. Bailey, notwithstanding there were three men belonging to the waggon, stopped it, and rifled it of seven pounds, and then very contentedly retired to his quarters.

Flushed with this success, he never wanted money but he took this method of supplying himself, managing, after the affair of the parson, with so much caution that though he robbed on the greatest road, he was never so much as once in danger of a pursuit. Perhaps he owed his security to the newer taking any partner in the commission of his villainies to which he was once inclined, though diverted from it by an accident which to a less obstinate person might have proved a sufficient warning to have quitted such exploits for good and all.

Bailey being one day at an alehouse, not far from Moorfields, fell into the conversation of an Irishman, of a very gay alert temper perfectly suited to the humour of our knight of the road. They talked together with mutual satisfaction for about two hours, and then the Stranger whispered Bailey that if he would step to such a tavern, he would give part of a bottle and fowl. Thither, accordingly, he walked; his companion came in soon after; to supper they went and parted about twelve in high good humour, appointing to meet the next evening but one. Bailey, the day after, was upon the Barnet Road, following his usual occupation, when looking by chance over the hedge, he perceived the person he parted with the night before, slop a chariot with two ladies in it, and as soon as he had robbed them, ride down a cross lane. Bailey, hereupon, after taking nine guineas from a nobleman's steward, whom he met about a quarter of an hour after, returned to his lodgings at a little blind brandy-shop in Piccadilly, resolving the next day to make a proposal to his new acquaintance of joining their forces. With this view he staid at home all day, and went very punctually in the evening to the place of their appointment; but to his great mortification the other never came, and Bailey, after waiting some hours, went away.

As he was going home, he happened to step into an alehouse in Fore Street, where recollecting that the house in which he had first seen this person, was not far off, it came into his head that if he went thither, he might possibly hear some news of him. Accordingly he goes to the place, where he had hardly called for a mug of drink and a pipe of tobacco, but the woman saluted him with, O lack, sir! Don't you remember a gentleman in red you spoke to here the other day? Yes, replied Bailey, does he live hereabouts? I don't know, says the woman, where he lives, but he was brought to a surgeon's hard by, about three hours ago, terribly wounded. My husband is just going to see him.

Though Bailey could not but perceive that there might be danger in his going thither, yet his curiosity was so strong that he could not forbear. As soon as he entered the room the wounded man, who was just dressed, beckoned to him, and desired to speak with him. He went near enough not to have anything overheard, when the man in a low voice, told him that he was mortally wounded in riding off after robbing a gentleman's coach, and advised him to be cautious of himself, For, says the dying man, I knew you to be a brother of the road as soon as I saw you; and if ever you trust any man with that secret, you may even prepare yourself for the hands of justice. In half an hour he fell into fainting fits, and then became speechless, and died in the evening, to the no little concern of his new acquaintance Bailey.

Some months after this, Frank was apprehended for breaking open a house in Piccadilly and stealing pewter, table-linen, and other household stuff to a very considerable value. He was convicted at the ensuing sessions at the Old Bailey for this crime, upon the oath of a woman who had no very good character; though he acknowledged abundance of crimes of which there was no proof against him, yet he absolutely denied that for which he was condemned, and persisted in that denial to his death, notwithstanding that the Ordinary and other ministers represented to him how great a folly, as well as sin, it was for him to go out of the world with a lie in his mouth. He said, indeed, he had been guilty of a multitude of heinous sins and offences for which God did with great justice bring him unto that ignominious end. Yet he persisted in his declaration of innocence as to housebreaking, in which he affirmed he had never been at all concerned; and with the strongest asservations to this purpose, he suffered death at Tyburn, the fourteenth of March, 1725, being then about thirty-nine years old, in company with Jones, Barton, Gates and Swift, of whose behaviour under sentence we shall have occasion to speak by and by.

The Life of JOHN BARTON, a Robber, Highwayman and Housebreaker

Education is often thought a trouble by persons in their junior years, who heartily repent of their neglect of it in the more advanced seasons of their lives. This person, John Barton, who is to be the subject of our discourse, was born at London, of parents capable enough of affording him tolerable education, which they were also willing to bestow upon him, if he had been just enough to have applied himself while at school. But he, instead of that, raked about with boys of his own age, without the least consideration of the expense his parents were at, idled away his time, and forgot what little he learned almost as soon as he had acquired it.

It is a long time before parents perceive that in their children which is evident to everyone else; however, Barton's father soon saw no good was to be done with him at school; upon which he took him away, and placed him apprentice with a butcher. There he continued for some time, behaving to the well-liking of his master; yet even then he was so much out of humour with work that he associated himself with some idle young fellows who afterwards drew him into those illegal acts which proved fatal to his reputation and his life. However, he did make a shift to pass through the time of his apprenticeship with a tolerable character, and was afterwards, through the kindness of his friends, set up as a butcher; in which business he succeeded so well as to acquire money enough thereby to have kept his family very well, if he could have been contented with the fruits of his honest labour. But his old companions, who by this time were become perfectly versed in those felonious arts by which money is seemingly so easy to be attained, were continually soliciting him to take their method of life, assuring him that there was not half so much danger as was generally apprehended, and that if he had but resolution enough to behave gallantly, he need not fear any adventure whatsoever.

Barton was a fellow rather of too much than too little courage. He wanted no encouragements of this sort to egg him to such proceedings; the hopes of living idly and in the enjoyment of such lewd pleasures as he had addicted himself to, were sufficient to carry him into an affair of this sort. He therefore soon yielded to their suggestions, and went into such measures as they had before followed, especially housebreaking, which was the particular branch of villainy to which he had addicted himself. At this he became a very dextrous fellow, and thereby much in favour with his wicked associates, amongst whom to be impious argues a great spirit, and to be ingenious in mischief is the highest character to which persons in their miserable state can ever attain.

Amongst the rest of Barton's acquaintance there was one Yorkshire Bob, who was reckoned the most adroit housebreaker in town. This fellow one day invited Barton to his house, which at that time was not far from Red Lion Fields, and proposed to him two or three schemes by which some houses in the neighbourhood might be broke open. Barton thought all the attempts too hazardous to be made, but Bob, to convince him of the possibility with which such things might be done, undertook to rob without assistance a widow lady's house of some plate, which stood in the butler's room at noon-day.

Accordingly thither he went dressed in the habit of a footman belonging to a family which were well acquainted there; the servants conversed with him very freely, as my Lady Such-a-one's new man, while he entertained them with abundance of merry stories, until dinner was upon the table. Then taking advantage of that clutter in which they were, he slily lighted a fire-ball at the fire-side, clapped it into a closet on the side of the stairs in which the foul clothes were kept, and then perceiving the smoke, cried out with the utmost vehemence, Fire, fire. This naturally drew everybody downstairs, and created such a confusion that he found little or no difficulty in laying hold of the silver plate which he aimed at. He carried it away publicly, while the smoke confounded all the spectators, and until the next morning nobody had the least suspicion of him; but upon sending to the lady for the plate which her new servant carried away the night before, and she denying that she had any servant in the house that had not lived with her a twelvemonth, they then discovered the cheat, though at a time too late to mend it.

Barton, however, did not like his master's method entirely, choosing rather to strike out a new one of his own, which he fancied might as little mischief him as that audacious impudence of the other did in his several adventures. For which reason, he was very cautious of associating with this fellow who was very dextrous in his art, but was more ready in undertaking dangerous exploits than any of the crew at that time about town. John's way was by a certain nack of shifting the shutters, whereby he opened a speedy entrance for himself; and as he knew in how great danger his life was from each of these attempts, so he never made them but upon shops or houses where so large a booty might be expected as might prevent his being under necessity of thieving again in a week or two's time. Yet when he had in this manner got money, he was so ready to throw it away on women and at play, that in a short space his pocket was at as low an ebb as ever. When his cash was quite gone, he associated himself sometimes with a crew of footpads, and in that method got sufficient plunder to subsist until something offered in his own way, to which he would willingly have kept.

At last, hearing of a goldsmith's not far from where he lodged, who had a very considerable stock of fine snuff-boxes, gold chains, rings, etc., he fancied he had now an opportunity of getting provision for his extravagancies for at least a twelvemonth. The thoughts of this encouraged him so far that he immediately went about it, and succeeded to his wish, obtaining two gold chains, five gold necklaces, seventy-two silver spoons, and a numberless cargo of little things of value.

Yet this did not satisfy him. He ventured a few days afterwards having a proper opportunity, on the house and shop of one Mrs. Higgs, from whence he took an hundred pair of stockings, and other things to a large value. But as is common with such persons, his imprudence betrayed him in the disposing of them, and by the diligence of a constable employed for that purpose, he was caught and committed to Newgate. At the next sessions he was convicted for these facts, and as he had no friends, so it was not in any degree probable that he should escape execution; and therefore it is highly possible he might be the projector of that resistance which he and the rest under sentence with him made in the condemned hold, and which we shall give an exact account under the next life.

The peculiar humour of Barton was to appear equally gay and cheerful, though in these sad circumstances, as he had ever done in the most dissolute part of his foregoing life. In consequence of which foolish notion he smiled on a person's telling him his name was included in the death-warrant, and at chapel behaved in a manner very unbecoming one who was so soon to answer at the Bar of the Almighty for a life led in open defiance both of the laws of God and man. Yet that surprise which people naturally express at behaviour of such a kind on such an occasion seemed in the eyes of this poor wretch so high a testimony in favour of his gallantry, that he could not be prevailed on, either by the advice of the ministers, or the entreaties of his relations, to abate anything of that levity which he put on when he attended at Divine Service. Though he saw it disturbed some of his fellow sufferers at first, who were inclined to apply themselves strictly to their duties, so fatal is evil communication, even in the latest moments of our life, that his ludicrous carriage corrupted the rest, and instead of reproving him as they had formerly done, they now seemed careful only of imitating his example; and in this disposition he continued, even to the last minute of his life, which ended at Tyburn, on the 14th of March, 1725, he being then hardly twenty-three years of age.

The Life of WILLIAM SWIFT, a Thief, etc.

Amongst the multitude of other reasons which ought to incline men to an honest life, there is one very strong motive which hitherto has not, I think, been touched upon at all, and that is the danger a man runs from being known to be of ill-life and fame, of having himself accused from his character, only of crimes which he, though guiltless of, in such a case might find it difficult to get his innocence either proved or credited if any unlucky circumstance should give the least weight to the accusation.

The criminal whose life exercises our present care was a fellow of this case. He was born of but mean parents, had little or no education, and when he grew strong enough to labour, would apply himself to no way of getting his bread but by driving a wheelbarrow with fruit about the streets. This led him to the knowledge of abundance of wicked, disorderly people, whose manners agreeing best with his own, he spent most of his time in sotting with them at their haunts, when by bawling about the streets, he had got just as much as would suffice to sot with. There is no doubt, but that he now and then shared with them in what amongst such folks, at least, pass for trivial offences, but that he engaged in the great exploits of the road did not appear to any other case than that for which he died, viz., taking four table cloths, eight napkins, two shirts and other things, from Mary Cassell. The woman swore positively to him upon his trial, and his course of life being such as I have represented it, nobody appeared to his reputation so as to bring the thing in to the least suspense with the jury; whereupon he was convicted and received sentence of death.

The concern Swift was under when he found not the least hopes of life remaining, he having no friends who were capable (had they been willing) to have solicited a pardon or reprieve, shocked him so much that he scarce appeared to have his senses; however, he persisted obstinately in denying that he had the least hand in the robbery which was sworn against him. And as he made no scruple of acknowledging a multitude of other crimes, his denial of this gained some belief, more especially when Barton confessed that himself with two or three others were the persons who committed the robbery on the woman who swore against this criminal. It must be acknowledged that there was no appearance of any sinister motive, at least in Barton, to take upon himself a crime of which otherwise he would never have been accused; and the behaviour of Swift was at first of such a nature that it is not easy to conceive why, when all hopes of safety were lost, and he was full of acknowledgment as to the justice of his sentence for the many other evil deeds he had done, he should yet obdurately persist in denying this, if there had been no truth at all in his allegations.

As this fellow had neither natural courage, nor had acquired any religious principles from his education, there is no wonder to be made that he behaved himself so poorly in the last moments of his life; in which terror, confusion, and self-condemnation wrought so strongly as to make the ignominy of the halter the least dreadful part of his execution.

The day on which the three last-mentioned persons, together with Yates or Gates, alias Vulcan, a deer-stealer, and Benjamin Jones (for house breaking) were to have been executed, these miserable persons framed to themselves the most absurd project of preserving their lives that could possibly have entered into the heads of men; for getting, by some means or other, an iron crow into the hold, they therewith dug out a prodigious quantity of rubbish and some stones, which it is hardly credible could have been removed with so small assistance as they had. With these they blocked up the door of the condemned hold so effectually that there was no possibility of getting it open by any force whatsoever on the outside. The keepers endeavoured to make them sensible of the folly of their undertaking, in hopes they would thereby be induced to prevent any firing upon them; which was all that those who had the custody of them were now capable of doing, to bring them to submission. The Ordinary also joined in dissuading them from thus misspending the last moments of their lives, which were through the mercy of the Law extended to them for a better purpose. But they were inexorable, and as they knew their surrender would bring them immediately to a shameful death, so they declared positively they were determined to kill or to be killed in the position in which they were.

Sir Jeremiah Murden, one of the sheriffs for the time being, was so good as to go down upon this occasion to Newgate. The keepers had opened a sort of trap-door in the room over the hold, and from thence discharged several pistols loaded with small shot, but to no purpose, the criminals retiring to the farther end of the room, continuing there safe and out of reach; though Barton and Yates received each of them a slight wound in crowding backwards. Sir Jeremy went himself to this place, and talked to them for a considerable space, and one of the fellows insisting to see his gold chain, that they might be sure they were treating with the sheriffs themselves, his condescension was so great as to put down part of it through the hole, upon which they consulted together, and at last agreed to surrender. Whereupon they began immediately to remove the stones, and as soon as the door was at liberty, one of the keepers entered. Just as he was within it, Barton snapped a steel tobacco-box in his face, the noise of which resembling a pistol, made him start back, upon which Barton said, D——n you, you was afraid.

When they were brought out, Sir Jeremy ordered the Ordinary to be sent for, and prayers to be said in the chapel, where he attended himself. But whether the hurry of this affair, or that stench which is natural to so filthy a place as the condemned hold, affected the sheriff's constitution, is hard to say, but upon his return home, he was seized with a violent fever, which in a very short space took away his life.

But to return to Swift. When they came to Tyburn, and the minister had performed his last office towards them, this criminal made a shift in a faint tone to cry out, Good People, I die as innocent of the crime for which I suffer, as the child unborn; which Barton, with a loud voice, confirmed saying, I am the man who robbed the person for which this man dies; he was not concerned with me, but one Capell and another were companions with me therein. Swift, at the time of his execution, was about twenty-seven years of age, or a little over.


As society intends the preservation of every man's person and property from the injuries which might be offered unto him from others, so those who in contempt of its laws go on to injure the one, and either by force or fraud to take away the other are, in the greatest proprieties of speech, enemies of mankind; and as such are reasonably rooted out, and destroyed by every government under heaven. In some parts of Europe, certain outlaws, Banditti, or whatever other appellation you'll please to bestow on them, have endeavoured to preserve themselves by force from the punishments which should have been executed upon them by justice, and finding mankind, from a spirit of self preservation, were become their enemies, they exerted themselves the utmost they were capable of in order to render their bodies so formidable as still to carry on their ravages with impunity, and in open defiance of the laws made against them. But an attempt of this sort was scarce ever heard of in Britain, even in the most early times, when, as in all other governments the hands of the Law wanted strength most; so that from the days of Robin Hood and Little John to those of the criminals of whom we are now writing, there was never any scheme formed for an open resistance of Justice, and carrying on a direct war against the lives and properties of mankind.

Edward Burnworth, alias Frazier, was the extraordinary person who framed this project for bringing rapine into method, and bounding even the practice of licentiousness with some kind of order. It may seem reasonable therefore, to begin his life preferable to the rest, and in so doing we must inform our readers that his father was by trade a painter, though so low in his circumstances as to be able to afford his son but a very mean education. However, he gave him as much as would have been sufficient for him in that trade to which he bound him apprentice, viz., to a buckle-maker in Grub Street, where for some time Edward lived honestly and much in favour with his master. But his father dying and his unhappy mother being reduced thereby into very narrow circumstances, restraint grew uneasy to him, and the weight of a parent's authority being now lost with him, he began to associate himself with those loose incorrigible vagrants, who frequent the ring at Moorfields, and from idleness and debauchery, go on in a very swift progression to robbery and picking of pockets.

Edward was a young fellow, active in his person and enterprising in his genius; he soon distinguished himself in cudgel playing, and such other Moorfields exercises as qualify a man first for the road and then for the gallows. The mob who frequented this place, where one Frazier kept the ring, were so highly pleased with Burnworth's performances that they thought nothing could express their applause so much as conferring on him the title of Young Frazier. This agreeing with the ferocity of his disposition, made him so vain thereof, that, quitting his own name, he chose to go by this, and accordingly was so called by all his companions.

Burnworth's grand associates were these, William Blewit, Emanuel Dickenson, Thomas Berry, John Levee, William Marjoram, John Higgs, John Wilson, John Mason, Thomas Mekins, William Gillingham, John Barton, William Swift, and some others that it is not material here to mention. At first he and his associates contented themselves with picking pockets, and such other exercises in the lowest class of thieving, in which however they went on very assiduously for a considerable space, and did more mischief that way than any gang which had been before them for twenty years. They rose afterwards to exploits of a more hazardous nature, viz., snatching women's pockets, swords, hats, etc.

The usual places for their carrying on such infamous practices were about the Royal Exchange, Cheapside, St. Paul's Churchyard, Fleet Street, the Strand and Charing Cross. Here they stuck a good while, nor is it probable they would ever have risen higher if Burnworth, their captain, had not been detected in an affair of this kind, and committed thereupon to Bridewell, from whence, on some apprehension of the keepers, he was removed to New Prison, where he had not continued long before he projected an escape, which he afterwards put into execution.

During this imprisonment, instead of reflecting on the sorrows which his evil course of life had brought upon him, he meditated only how to engage his companions in attempts of a higher nature than they had hitherto been concerned in; and remembering how large a circle he had of wicked associates, he began to entertain notions of putting them in such a posture as might prevent their falling easily into the hands of justice, which many of them within a month or two last past had done—though as they were sent thither on trivial offences, they quickly got discharged again.

Full of such projects, and having once more regained his freedom, he took much pains to find out Barton, Marjoram, Berry, Blewit and Dickenson, in whose company he remained continually, never venturing abroad in the day-time unless with his associates in the fields, where they walked with strange boldness, considering warrants were out against the greatest part of the gang. In the night time Burnworth strolled about in such little bawdy-houses as he had formerly frequented, and where he yet fancied he might be safe.

One evening having wandered from the rest, he was so bold as to go to a house in the Old Bailey, where he heard the servants and successors of the famous Jonathan Wild were in close pursuit of him, and that one of them was in the inner room by himself. Burnworth loaded his pistol under the table, and having primed it, goes with it ready cocked into the room where Jonathan's foreman was, with a quartern of brandy and a glass before him. Hark ye, says Edward, you fellow, who have served your time to a thief-taker; what business might you have with me or my company? Do you think to gain a hundred or two by swearing our lives away? If you do you are much mistaken; but that I may be some judge of your talent that way, I must hear you curse a little, on a very particular occasion. Upon which, filling a large glass of brandy, and putting a little gunpowder into it, he clapped it into the fellow's hands, and then presenting his pistol to his breast, obliged him to wish most horrid mischiefs upon himself, if ever he attempted to follow him or his companions any more. No sooner had he done this, but Frazier knocking him down, quitted the room, and went to acquaint his companions with his notable adventure, which, as it undoubtedly frightened the new thief-taker, so it highly exalted his reputation for undaunted bravery amongst the rest of the gang, a thing not only agreeable to Burnworth's vanity, but useful also to his design, which was to advance himself to a sort of absolute authority amongst them from whence he might be capable of making them subservient to him in such enterprises as he designed. His associates were not cunning enough to penetrate his views, but without knowing it suffered them to take effect; so that instead of robbing as they used to do (as accident directed them, or they received intelligence of any booty) they now submitted themselves to his guidance, and did nothing but as he directed or commanded them.

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