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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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The Lives of RICHARD HUGHS and BRYAN MACGUIRE, Highwaymen and Footpads

Idleness, lewd women and bad company are the sum total of those excuses
urged by criminals when they come to be punished, even for the most
flagrant offences. With just reason Richard Hughs exclaimed on them all,
for from youth upwards he had ever addicted himself to laziness and a
dislike to that business to which he was bred, viz., that of a
bricklayer. Following loose women was the thing in which he took most
delight, and was probably the occasion of his subsequent misfortunes.
The immediate cause of them was his acquaintance with William Sefton
before-mentioned, with whom he joined in a confederacy to rob on the
highway, a thing to which his necessities in some measure drove him,
since he had squandered all he had in the world on those abandoned women
with whom he conversed, and had contracted so bad a reputation that he
found it hard to be employed in his business.

Into this wretched confederacy entered also the other offender, Bryan
Macguire, an Irishman born in the county of Wicklow. He had been bred a
sawyer, but was never very well pleased with the trade which required so
much hard labour. However, he worked at it some time after he came to
England, but some of his countrymen persuading him that it was much
easier to live by sharping, a practice they very well understood, he
readily fell into their sentiments and soon struck out a new method of
cheating, which brought them in more and with less hazard than any of
the ways pursued by his associates. The artifice was this: by repeated
practice he found a way to pull his tongue so far back into his throat
that he really appeared to have none at all, and by going to
coffee-houses and other places of public resort for the better sort of
people, he, by pretending to be dumb and then opening his mouth and
showing them what looked only like the root of a tongue, obtained large
charities. He had great success in this cheat for a long time, but at
last was discovered by a gentleman's blowing some snuff into his throat,
which, by setting him a-coughing, detected the imposture.

Then, being very straitened, he fell in with Sefton and Hughs with whom
having cheated and tricked for a little space, they at last came all to
an agreement of going together upon the highway and sharing their booty
equally amongst them. However, their partnership was of no very long
continuance, for in nine or ten days they were all apprehended and
brought to condign punishment. Hughs had been a soldier as well as
Sefton, and had quitted the Army to go upon the highway, which was a
very luckless occasion for him. Being quickly apprehended he was charged
with five several capital indictments, to all of which, when he came to
be arraigned, he resolutely pleaded guilty; and when admonished by the
Court that the crimes with which he was charged were felonies without
benefit of clergy, he persisted therein, saying that he would not give
the judge nor the gentlemen of the jury unnecessary trouble.

Macguire was indicted on four of the indictments which had been
preferred against Hughs, and capitally convicted upon them all. He was
no sooner under sentence than he declared himself to be of the communion
of the Church of Rome. However, he attended constantly at the chapel,
seemed to listen earnestly to what was said there, and made responses
very regularly to the several prayers, a thing which Papists very seldom
comply with. However, Bryan appeared to be a very reasonable man in this
respect, saying that he hoped God would be satisfied with that imperfect
atonement which he was able to make for his offences, and would not
impute it to him as a sin that he had taken all occasions which offered
of presenting his petitions for remission. In this disposition he
continued until the day of his execution, when both he and Hughs
appeared very composed and penitent, desiring the prayers of those who
were witnesses of their death, submitting thereto with all exterior
marks of proper resignation, on the 26th day of June, 1728; Hughs being
twenty-four and Macguire twenty-eight years of age or thereabouts.

The Life of JAMES HOW, _alias_ HARRIS, a notorious Highwayman and Thief

Though, generally speaking, the old saying holds true that nobody
becomes superlatively wicked at once, yet it may be also averred that a
long and habitual course of vice at last so hardens the soul that no
warnings are sufficient, no dangers so frightful, nor reflections so
strong as to overcome lewd inclinations, when their strength has become
increased by a long unrestrained indulgence.

The criminal of whom we are now to speak was a native of the town of
Windsor, in the county of Berks. His parents were honest people in
middling circumstances, who yet took such care of his education that he
was fit for any business to which he would have applied himself. But
he, on the contrary, continuing to lead a lazy and indolent course of
life, sauntering from one place to another, and preferring want and
idleness to industry and labour, at last became so burdensome to his
relations that with much ado they sent him to sea. There being of a
robust constitution and of a bold, daring spirit, he quickly gained some
preferment in the ship on board of which he sailed and might possibly
have done very well if he had continued at sea for any time, having the
good luck to serve on board the admiral's vessel, and to be taken notice
of as a sprightly young fellow, capable of coming to good.

But alas! James soon blasted this prospect of good fortune, for no
sooner was he on shore than laying aside all the views he had formed of
rising in the Navy, he associated himself with some of his old
companions. They persuaded him to take a purse, as the shortest and
easiest method of supporting those expenses into which his inclinations
for sensual pleasures naturally plunged him. He too easily listened to
their persuasions and from that time forward he left nothing unstolen
upon which he could lay his fingers.

Punishment did not pursue his crimes with a leaden pace; on the
contrary, he had scarce offended ere she made him sensible of the
offences. Bridewells, prisons, duckings, lashings, and beatings of hemp
were made familiar to him by his running through them several times in
the space of a few years. At length, as he increased the guilt of his
crimes, so he added to the weight of his sufferings; for after having
been at Newgate several times for lesser offences, he was at last
committed for a felony, and being convicted thereof, was ordered for
transportation. Rightly conceiving that if he was carried into the
Plantations he would be obliged to work very hard, which he most
dreaded, in order to escape he forged a letter as from a certain man of
quality directing that he should be set at liberty in order to serve as
a good hand on board of one of his Majesty's ships. His old ill luck
pursuing him, the forgery was detected and he was thereupon ordered to
remain two years at hard labour in Bridewell; but when he was brought
thither, the keeper absolutely refused to have anything to do with him.
They knew him of old and said that he was a fellow only fit to make the
other criminals who were there unruly, by projecting and putting them
into way of making their escape. Upon this he was carried back to
Newgate and remained a prisoner for that space of time.

How he came by his liberty again I cannot take upon me to say; all that
appears from my papers is that he made a very ill use of it as soon as
he obtained it, returning immediately to the commission of those crimes
for which he had before forfeited it. At length turning housebreaker he
was committed for feloniously stealing five pounds out of the house of
John Spence, for which fact, at the sessions following, a bill of
indictment was found against him, and he was thereupon arraigned.

At first he insisted that overtures had been made in order to procure
discoveries from him, and therefore he desired that he might be admitted
an evidence. The Court informed him that they would enter into no
altercations with a prisoner at the bar; that he had heard the nature of
the charge preferred against him; and that now they could hear nothing
from him unless he pleaded guilty or not guilty. He persisted
obstinately in his first demand, and in consequence thereof obstinately
refused to plead. Whereupon he was told from the Bench that such
behaviour was not a proper method to excite the mercy of the Court, that
it was not in their power to comply in any degree with what he desired,
but that on the contrary they should proceed to pass sentence upon him
as a mute, by which be would be subjected to a much greater and more
grievous punishment than if he were found guilty of the crime of which
he was accused. All this made no impression upon the criminal; he said
he could but die, and the manner in which he died was indifferent to
him. And so sentence, as is usual in such cases, was pronounced upon
him, and he was ordered to be carried back and put into the press. But
when he had carried it so far, and found there was no avoiding that
cruel fortune which was appointed for such obstinate persons as himself,
he desired time till the next morning to consider his plea, which being
permitted him, he that time pleaded guilty.

While under sentence of death something very extraordinary occurred in
relation to this malefactor. It seems that one Mrs. Dawson had a parcel
of plate, consisting of two silver tankards, two silver mugs, a silver
cup and a punch ladle, seven pounds sixteen shillings in money, and a
great quantity of papers of considerable value, stolen out of her house.
She suspected one Eleanor Reddey, and caused her to be apprehended, who
thereupon confessed that she opened the door of her mistress's house in
the night-time and let in one William Read; that she saw him take away
the plate and watched, in the meantime, to observe if anyone came. Upon
this confession she herself was convicted, but no evidence appearing
against William Read, who was tried with her, he was acquitted.

After she received sentence of death she declared herself absolutely
innocent of the fact for which she was to die, affirming that as soon as
she was taken up some neighbours persuaded her to make such a
confession, and to charge William Read with stealing the things,
assuring her that if she did so, she would preserve herself by coming a
witness against him. Being a silly timorous creature in herself, and
terrified by their suggesting that if she did not take the method they
proposed, somebody would infallibly swear against her, she with much ado
assented; and being carried before Justice Jackson, made and signed such
a confession as is before mentioned.

But How, _alias_ Harris, whose life we are now writing, declared that
he, himself, robbed Mrs. Dawson, and that he had a considerable quantity
of the plate and most of the papers in his power, offering to restore
them if the said Mrs. Dawson had interest enough to procure a pardon
either for himself or Eleanor Reddey. But the Ordinary assured him that
Mrs. Dawson could do no such thing, and at the same time exhorted him to
make what restitution was in his power, since otherwise his repentance
would remain imperfect and small hope could be given him of his meeting
with forgiveness from an offended God. At first this seemed to have
little or no weight with the criminal; he expressed himself very civilly
when spoken to on that head, but peremptorily refused to do anything
towards making satisfaction to Mrs. Dawson, unless she could do
something for him or the woman.

But when death approached nearer he began to relent, sent for the
Ordinary and told him that, as for the plate, it was indeed out of his
power, but for that the papers, he had caused them to be brought in a
box which he delivered and desired they might be kept carefully, because
he was sensible that they were of great value to their owner.

At the place of execution he seemed desirous only of clearing his wife
from any imputation of being concerned with him in any of his villainies
and then suffered with much resignation, on the 11th of September, 1728,
being near thirty-eight years of age.

Highwaymen and Footpads

Griffith Owen, the first of these unhappy criminals, was the son of very
honest parents who had given him a very good education in respect both
of letters and religion. When he was grown up they put him out
apprentice to a butcher in Newgate Market, with whom he served his time,
though not without committing many faults and neglecting his business
in a very marked degree, addicting himself too much to idle company, the
usual incitements to those crimes for the commission of which he
afterwards suffered.

His companion Harris, if Owen were to be believed, first proposed
robbing as an expedient to the supply of their pockets, to which he too
readily gave way; and having once ventured to attack he never suffered
himself nor his companions to cool. For the space of about six weeks,
keeping themselves still warm with liquor, they committed five or six
robberies, for which at last they were all apprehended. And as they had
been companions together in wickedness, so they shared also in
imprisonment and death as the consequences of those offences they had

Samuel Harris, though he had received a very tolerable education as to
reading and writing, yet he never applied himself to any business, but
served bricklayers as a labourer, in company with his fellow-sufferer
Medline. But having been all his life addicted to lust and wickedness,
he proposed robbing to his companions as the most feasible method of
getting money wherewith to support their debauches and the strumpets who
used to partake with them at their houses of resort. He confirmed what
Owen had said, and acknowledged that during the time they continued
their robberies, never any people in the world led more profligate and
more uneasy lives than they did; being always engaged in a continual
circle of drunkenness, violence and whoredom; while their minds were
continually agitated with the fear of being apprehended, so that they
never enjoyed peace or quiet from the time of their betaking themselves
to this course of life unto the day of their apprehension and coming to
the gallows.

Thomas Medline was born more meanly than either of his companions, and
had so little care taken of him in his youth, that he could neither read
nor write. However, he applied himself to working hard as a labourer to
the bricklayers, and got thereby for some time sufficient wherewith to
maintain himself and his family. At last, giving himself over to drink,
he minded little of what became of his wife and children, and falling
unhappily about the same time into the acquaintance of the
before-mentioned malefactor Harris, he was easily seduced by him to
become a partner in his crimes and addicted himself to the highway.

It was but a very short space that they continued to exercise this their
illegal and infamous calling, for venturing to attack one Mr. Barker, on
the Ware Road, and not long after Dr. Edward Hulse,[81] they were
quickly apprehended for those facts, and after remaining some time in
Newgate, were brought to their trials at the Old Bailey.

There it was sworn by Mr. Barker, that he observed them drinking at an
alehouse at Tottenham, the very evening in which he was robbed; and that
apprehending them to be loose and disorderly persons he took more than
ordinary notice of their faces; that about a mile from Edmonton church
they came up with him, and notwithstanding he told them he knew them,
they pulled him off his horse and robbed him of five pounds and
sixpence; that returning the next day to the place where he was robbed,
he found sevenpence, which he supposed they had dropped in their hurry.

On the second indictment it was desposed by one Mr. Hyatt that he
suspected the prisoners, from the description given by Mr. Barker and
Doctor Hulse, to be the persons who had robbed them; he thereupon
apprehended them upon suspicion, and that Mr. Barker, as soon as he saw
them, swore to their faces.

Doctor Hulse deposed that they were the persons who robbed him of his
watch and money, and that he had particularly remarked Owen as having a
scar on his face. Thomas Bennett, the doctor's coachman, swore that Owen
was the man who got upon the coach-box and beat him, and afterwards
robbed his master; that not contented therewith, they beat the witness
again, knocked out one of his teeth, and broke his own whip about him.
Henry Greenwood confirmed this account in general, but could not be
positive to any of the faces except that of Owen. The jury, in this
proof, without any long stay found them all guilty.

While under sentence of death they all behaved themselves with as much
penitence and seeming sorrow for their offences as was ever seen amongst
persons in their condition. They attended as often as Divine Worship was
celebrated in the chapel, and appeared very desirous of instruction as
to those private prayers which they thought necessary to put up to God,
when carried back to their several places of confinement.

Harris seemed a little uneasy at the Ordinary's remonstrating with him
that he was more guilty than the rest, inasmuch as he first incited them
to the falling into those wretched methods by which they brought shame
and ruin upon themselves. He answered that there was little difference
in their dispositions, having been all of them addicted for many years
to the greatest wickedness which men could practise; that his companions
were no less ready than he to fall upon such means of supporting
themselves in sensual delights. As he averred this to their faces they
did not contradict it, but seemed to take shame to themselves and to
sorrow alike for the evils they had committed.

They ended their lives at Tyburn, on the 11th of September, 1728, with
all outward signs of true repentance; Owen being twenty, Harris
twenty-nine, and Medline thirty-nine years of age at the time of their


[81] An eminent Whig doctor who was later appointed physician
to George II. He was created a baronet in 1739.

BARNET, _alias_ BARNHAM, and THOMAS VAUX, Street-Robbers, Footpads,
Thieves, etc.

In the course of these memoirs I have more than once remarked that a
ridiculous spirit of vainglory is often the source of those prodigious
mischiefs which are committed by those abandoned persons, who addict
themselves to open robberies, and the carrying on, as it were, a
declared war against mankind. Theft and rapine may to some appear odd
subjects for acquiring glory, and yet it is certain that many,
especially of the younger criminals, have been chiefly instigated in
their most daring attempts from a vain inclination to be much talked of,
in order to which this seemed to them the shortest course. But these
observations that I have made will be better illustrated from the
following lives, than they could have been any other way.

Peter Levee was descended from honest and reputable parents, who gave
him a very good education, and afterwards bound him out apprentice to a
silk weaver; but such as the perverse disposition of this unfortunate
Lad, such his love of gaming, and such his continual inclination to
debauched company, that nothing better could be expected from him than
what afterwards befell him. Yet his understanding was very tolerable, he
did not want a sufficient share of wit, and in a word his capacity
altogether might have enabled him to have lived very well, if his
prodigious vices had not prevented it by hurrying him into misfortunes.
It was remarkable in this criminal that his long habit of carrying in
the detestable trade of stealing, to which he had incurred himself in
every shape as much as possible, had given so odd a cast to his visage
that it was impossible for a man to look him in the face without
immediately guessing him to be a rogue.

While yet a boy, he had been so accustomed to confinement in the
Compter, especially in Wood Street, that he had contracted a friendship
with all the under-officers in that prison, who treated him with great
leniency as often as he came there. Picking pockets, sneaking goods out
of shops, snatching them through windows, and such other petty facts,
were the employments of his junior years. As he grew bigger, he grew
riper in all sorts of villainy, though never a fellow had worse luck in
dishonest attempts, for he was always detected, and very frequently had
gone through the lesser punishments of the Law, such as whipping and
hard labour. At one time he lay four years in Newgate for a fine, and
this finished the course of his villainous education, for from the time
he got out, he never ceased to practice robbing in the streets, and on
the roads to the villages near London, until he and his companions fell
into the hands of Justice, and went altogether to their last adventure
at Tyburn.

John Featherby, the second of these criminals, had received a greater
share of education than any of the rest. His father had been a man of
tolerable circumstances, and with great care provided that this young
fellow should not be ignorant of anything that might be necessary or
convenient for him to know in that business for which he designed him,
viz., a coach-painter. But he did not live to see him put apprentice to
it, which his mother afterwards took care to do, and consequently he had
not the misfortune of seeing him live so scandalous a life, and die so
shameful a death.

His understanding was tolerable, but his behaviour so rude, boisterous
and shocking that he left no room even for that compassion to which all
men are naturally prone when they see persons under sentence of death.
The desire of appearing brave and making the figure of a hero in low
life was in all probability the occasion of his acting so odd a part,
and as he was generally looked upon as their chief by those unfortunate
creatures who were of his gang, possibly he put on this ferocity in his
manner in order to support his authority, and preserve that respect and
superiority of which these wretches are observed to be inexpressibly

Stephen Burnet, _alias_ Barnet, _alias_ Barnham, which was his true
name, was a child when he died, and a thief almost from his cradle. His
parents, who were people of worth, sent him to school with a design,
doubtless, that he should have acquired some good there; but Stephen
made use of that time to visit a master of his own choosing, the
celebrated Mr. Jonathan Wild, at whose levy he was a pretty constant
attendant and while an infant he was a most assiduous companion and
assistant to the famous Blueskin.

My readers may be perhaps inquisitive how an infant of eight years old
could in any way assist a person of Blueskin's profession. For their
information, then, perhaps for their security, I must inform them that
while Blueskin and one of his companions bought a pair of stockings, or
two or three pairs of gloves in a large Shop, Stephen used to creep on
all fours under the counter, and march off with goods perhaps to the
value of ten, twelve, or twenty pounds. But, alas, he was not the
youngest of Mr. Wild's scholars. I myself have seen a boy of six years
old tried at the Old Bailey for stealing the rings of an oyster women's
fingers as she sat asleep by her tub, and after his being acquitted by
the compassion of the jury, Jonathan took him from the bar, and carrying
him back upon the leads, lifted him up in his arms, and turning to the
spectators, said, _Here's a cock of the game for you, of my own breeding

But to return to Barnham. His friends no sooner found out the villainy
of his inclinations, but they took all methods imaginable to wean him
from his vices. They corrected him severely; they offered him any
encouragements on his showing the least visible sign of amendment, they
put him to seven several trades upon liking. But all this was to no
purpose, nothing could persuade him to forsake his old trade, which
following with indefatigable industry, he made a shift to reach the
gallows of an old offender, at almost nineteen years of age.

After he, Featherby, Vaux and Levee became acquainted, they suffered no
time to be lost in perpetrating such facts as were most likely to supply
them with money, roving abroad almost every night, in quest of
adventures and returning very seldom without some considerable prey.
Perhaps my readers may be inquisitive as to what became of all this
money. Why, really, it was spent in drink, gaming and in whores, three
articles which ran so high amongst these knight-errants in low life that
Barnham and two more found a way to lavish an hundred and twenty pounds
on them in three weeks.

On one of his nocturnal expeditions, in company with Levee and
Featherby, they robbed one Mr. Brown, in Dean's Court by St. Paul's
Churchyard, of a gold watch and thirteen guineas; upon which the
gentleman thought fit, it seems, to offer in the newspapers a reward of
five guineas for restoring the watch. Not many days after, he received a
penny-post epistle from Mr. Barnham, in which he was told that if he
came to a field near Sadler's Wells, and brought the promised reward of
five guineas along with him, he should there meet a single person at
half an hour after six precisely, who would restore him his watch
without doing him any injury whatsoever. At the time appointed the
gentleman went thither, found Barnham walking alone, well dressed with a
laced hat on, who immediately came up to him, and receiving the five
guineas presented him with his watch.

Mr. Brown having no more to do with him, immediately turned round about
to go back, upon which Barnham produced a pistol ready cocked from under
his coat. _You see_, says he, _it is in my power to rob you again; but I
scorn to break my word of honour._ Levee and Featherby, it seems, were
posted pretty near and, as they all declared, intended to have shot the
gentleman if he had brought anybody with him, or had made the least
opposition or noise.

At Kingston assizes he was tried for a robbery committed in Surrey, but
for want of sufficient evidence was acquitted, upon which he returned
immediately to his old trade. About three months before he was
apprehended for the last time, he came into Little Britain (the place
where he was born), produced a silver spoon and fifteen shillings in
money, declared it to be the effects of that day's exploits, and then
climbing up a lamp-post, thrust his head through the iron circle in
which in winter time the lamp is placed, declaring to the neighbours who
called him and advised him to reform, that within three months he would
do something that should bring him to be hanged in the same place. As to
the time he was not mistaken, though he was a little out as to the
manner and place of his execution, and we mention this fact only to show
the amazing wickedness of so young a man, of which we shall hereafter
have occasion to say a great deal more.

Thomas Vaux was a fellow of no education at all. Whether he had been
bred to any employment or not I am not able to say, but that which he
followed was sweeping of chimneys, the profits of which he eked out with
thefts, in which he continued undiscovered for a long space of time. In
himself he was a fellow void of almost every good quality, disliked even
by his own companions for his brutal behaviour which he still kept up
even under his misfortunes, and ceased not to behave with an obstinate
perverseness even to the last moment of his life.

The fact for which all this gang suffered was for robbing one Mr. Clark,
at the corner of Water Lane, in Fleet Street,[82] which at their trial,
was proved upon them by witnesses in the following manner:

Mr. Clark, the prosecutor, deposed that going in a coach from St. Paul's
to the Inner Temple, he saw three or four persons dogging it from a
toy-shop at the corner of St. Paul's Churchyard; that he scarce lost
sight of them until he came to the end of Water Lane, where Barnham and
Vaux stopped the coach; he then looked out and saw them very plainly.
Levee stepped into the coach, put his hand into his pocket, and tore
his breeches down in taking out the things; Featherby all the while
holding a pistol to his breast The things they took from him were a
silver watch, value four pounds, a diamond ring, three pounds eleven
shillings in silver and fourteen guineas.

Then the confessions of Levee and Barnham before Sir William Billers,
Knight and Alderman, were read, in which they owned that they committed
the robbery on Mr. Clark, and that Featherby and Vaux assisted therein.
Sir William also attested that they made the said confession freely and
without any promises made, or being threatened in case of refusal.
Thomas Wood swore that going to apprehend Featherby and one Cable, in a
house in Blue Boar's Head Alley, in Barbican, they both snapped their
pistols at him, but that neither of them went off.

Mary Vaux, wife of the prisoner Thomas Vaux, having first excused
herself from giving any testimony against her husband, deposed that she
saw the rest of the prisoners commit the robbery at the end of Water
Lane, and that Levee got into the coach. Upon which evidence taken
altogether the jury found them guilty without going out of the Court.

When they received sentence of death, they all behaved themselves very
audaciously, except Levee who appeared penitent, and excused himself of
the misbehaviour he had been guilty of at his trial. During the time
they remained under sentence of death in Newgate, this last mentioned
criminal, Levee, appeared truly sensible of that miserable state in
which he was. He attended the public devotion at Chapel with great
seriousness, except when his audacious companions pulled him and
disturbed him, when he would sometimes smile. As he had passed through
the former part of his life without thought or reflection, so he seemed
now awakened all at once to a just sense of his sins. In a word, he did
every thing which so short a space could admit of, to convince those who
saw him that he minded only the great business he had to do, viz., the
making of his peace with that God who he had so much offended.

Featherby, as has been said, persisted in that brutal behaviour for
which he had been remarkable amongst his gang. At chapel he disturbed
the congregation by throwing sticks at a gentleman, laughing and talking
to his companions, sometimes insulting and beating those who were near
him, and in fine encouraged the rest of his companions to behave in such
a manner that the keepers were reduced to the necessity of causing them
all four to be chained and nailed down in the old condemned hold, for
fear of their committing some murder or other before they died, which
they often threatened they would do. There they continued for three or
four days, until upon the promise of amendment and behaving better for
the future, they were released, brought back again to their respective
cells, and at times of public devotion up to chapel.

When the death warrant came down, Featherby pretended to be much more
moved than could be expected, seemed in dreadful agonies at the
remembrance of his former wicked and impudent behaviour, prayed with
great fervency, and said he hoped that God would yet have mercy on him.
Barnham continued unmoved to the last. He did, indeed, abstain from
ill-language and disturbing people at chapel, but employed his time in
his cell, in composing a song to celebrate the glorious actions of
himself and his companions. This was work he very much valued himself
upon, and sending for the person who usually prints the dying speeches,
he desired it might be inserted, but it containing incitements to their
companions to go on in the same trade, in the strongest terms he was
capable of framing them in, his design was frustrated, and they were not

Vaux behaved a little more civilly after their being stapled down in the
condemned hold, but throughout the time of his confinement appeared to
be a very obstinate and incorrigible fellow. Levee was twenty-four years
old; Featherby about the same age; Barnham near nineteen; and Vaux
twenty-three, at the time they suffered, being on the 11th of November,
1728, in company with nine other malefactors.

A Paper written by Featherby's own hand, which he delivered to the
Ordinary of Newgate in the Chapel immediately before they went to be

As it is my sad misfortune to come to this untimely end, I think it
my duty to acknowledge the justice of Almighty God, and that of my
country, and I humbly implore pardon of the Divine Goodness, and
forgiveness of all that I have injured, or any ways offended. It is
a sad reflection upon my spirit that I have had the blessing and
advantage of honest and pious parents, whose tender care provided
for my education, so that I might have lived to God's glory, their
comfort and my own lasting felicity. But I take shame to myself, and
humbly acknowledge that by the evil ways I of late followed I
neglected my duty to my great Creator, and brought grief to my dear
and tender mother. And having thus far, and much more, effended
against God and man, I hope and earnestly desire, that no prudent
nor charitable person will reflect upon my good mother, or any other
friend or relation for my shameful end.

John Featherby


[82] Now called Whitefriars Street.

The Life of THOMAS NEEVES, Street-Robber and Thief

There are some persons so amazingly destitute of reason, so exceedingly
stupid, and of so sleepy a disposition of mind, that neither advice, nor
danger, nor punishment are capable of awaking them; they pass through
life in a continual lethargy of wickedness, nor can they be obliged to
open their eyes even when at the point of death.

How shocking, how horrid soever such a character may be, certain it is
that the criminal Neeves, of whom we are now speaking, deserved no
better. His parents, though mean, had not omitted the care of his
education so far but that he had learned to read and write, which they
thought qualification sufficient for the business in which they intended
to breed him, viz., a cane chair-maker, to which employment they put him
apprentice. He did not serve out his time with his master, for having
got into an acquaintance with some lewd, debauched persons, he, whose
inclination from his youth turned that way, went totally into all their
measures, and quitting all thoughts of an honest livelihood, thought of
nothing but picking and stealing.

He associated himself with a woman of the same calling, who probably
furthered him in all his attempts, in consideration of which he married
her, and they were both together in Newgate for their several offences.
In the former part of this volume[83] we have mentioned his becoming a
witness against several street-robbers, who were executed upon his
evidence; of whom George Gale, _alias_ Kiddy George, Thomas Crowder,
James Toon, and John Hornby, denied the commission of those particular
facts which he swore upon them, and Richard Nichols (who was a grave
sober man) went to death and took it upon his salvation, that he was
never concerned either in that act for which he died, or in any other of
the same kind during the course of his life.

As the town naturally abhors perjuries which affect men's lives, and are
not very well affected towards evidences even when they do not exceed
the truth, so the misfortune of Neeves being a second time apprehended,
instead of creating pity, gave the public a general satisfaction. At the
sessions following his confinement he was indicted for privately
stealing out of the shop of Charles Lawrence a corduroy coat value
thirteen shillings. In respect of this robbery, the prosecutor deposed
that Thomas Neeves, about seven in the evening, came into his shop, he
being a salesman, and enquired for a dimity waistcoat; one accordingly
was shown him, but they not at all agreeing in the price, Neeves on a
sudden turned towards the door, and having with some earnestness cursed
the prosecutor, snatched up a coat and ran away. Upon which Mr. Lawrence
followed him, crying out, _Stop Thief!_ which Neeves himself also bawled
out as loud as he could until he was taken. Upon this evidence the jury
found him guilty.

Under sentence of death his behaviour was much of a piece with what it
was before. As to his confession, he would make none, saying he would
give no occasion for books or ballads to be made about him. Even in
chapel he behaved himself so rudely that he occasioned great
disturbance, and put the keepers under a necessity of treating him with
more severity than was usual to persons under his miserable condition.
When alone in his cell he expressed great diffidence of the mercy of
God, seemed to be in a slate of despair, and though he was often pressed
to declare whether depositions he had given against the afore-mentioned
street robbers were true or not, he either waived making an answer, or
used so much evasion or equivocation that it still remained doubtful
whether he swore truth or no.

As his end drew yet nearer, he appeared more and more confused and
uneasy, but not a bit more penitent or ready to confess, notwithstanding
that several persons, and some of them of distinction had applied to him
in the cells and earnestly exhorted him to that purpose. He also drank
excessively, though so near his end, and his conscience so loaded with
such a weight of horrible offences.

Yet it is very probable that he would have been much more tractable in
his temper and ingenuous in his confessions, if he had not been
continually visited and kept warm by a certain bad woman he at that time
owned for his wife. This wretched creature was employed by some persons
who thought themselves in danger if Neeves should once become truly
penitent, to keep him full of idle thoughts and delusive promises to the
very hour of his death, in which (from the temper of the fellow), they
flattered themselves his cowardice would make them safe. In which wicked
design both they and she succeeded but too well, for he continued
careless, obstinate and impenitent to the last moment of his life, and
at the place of execution staggered and was scarce able to stand,
bawling out to a man in a coach who was to carry away his body, until
the Ordinary reprimanded him and told him he believed he had drunk too
much that morning; to which Neeves answered, _No indeed, Sir, I only
took a dram._ He then besought him that a Psalm might be sung, which
request of his being complied with, he yet could not forbear smiling
while they were singing.


(_From the Newgate Calendar_)]

The father and wife of Mr. Nichols, the barber so often mentioned, got
into the cart and earnestly enquired whether the deposition he had given
against him was the truth or not. Neeves, thereupon, with tears in his
eyes owned that it was not, and thence fell into a greater agony than he
had ever been perceived in before, beseeching God to have mercy on him
for shedding innocent blood, into which he had been induced by the
persuasion of others, who represented it to him as a means for getting
money both for them and him, owning that he never saw Nichols in his
life before they were at the justices together. After this he cried two
or three times unto God to forgive him, and so was turned off with the
rest on the 27th of February, 1729, being then about twenty-eight years
of age.


[83] See page 445.

The Lives of HENRY GAHOGAN and ROBERT BLAKE, Coiners

Notwithstanding the number of those who have been executed for this
offence, yet of late years we have had frequent instances of persons who
rather than groan under the burden of poverty or labour hard to get an
honest livelihood, have chosen this method of supplying their
extravagances and consequently have run their heads into a halter.

Henry Gahogan, an Irishman of mean parents (who had however bestowed so
much education upon him that he attained writing a very fair hand), in
order to get his bread set up the business of a writing-master in that
part of Ireland, where there were few masters to strive against him.
Here he behaved for some time so well, that he got the reputation of
being an honest industrious young man; but whether business fell off, or
that his roving temper could no longer be kept within bounds, the papers
I have do not authorise me to determine.

He went upon his travels, and passed through a great part of Europe in
the quality, as may be conjectured, of a gentleman's servant, until two
or three years before his death, about which time he brought over the
art of coining into England, which he had been taught by a countryman of
his, as an easy and certain resource whenever his difficulties should
straiten him so far as to make its assistance necessary. This happened
no very long time after his coming over thence, for in a short time his
extravagancies reduced him so much that one of his countrymen thought he
did him a great service in recommending him to one Blake, for an usher,
which Blake at that time set up to teach young gentlemen to fence,
having a school for that purpose near the Temple.

Thither Gahogan came accordingly, and after staying for two days
successively, and finding no scholars came, he opened the case to his
master that was to have been and told him how easy it was to get money
and live well, provided they had but utensils for coining, and soon
after he showed him a specimen of his art, which he performed so
dexterously that at first sight they promised themselves prodigious
matters therefrom. They engaged one Ferris, who formerly had wrote as a
clerk to a gentleman of Lincoln's Inn and the Temple, but adventuring to
trust another person with that secret, he soon after made a confession
and impeached them all. Upon which this Gahogan, Blake and the
before-mentioned Ferris, together with two women, came to be tried for
this offence on an indictment of high treason.

The evidence was very clear, and notwithstanding the assurance with
which Blake and Gahogan behaved at the bar, and the perplexed defence
which was made by Ferris (who fancied himself so sure of being acquitted
that he directed horses to be hired in order to his going down to a
country assizes, there to assist as solicitor for a notorious offender),
the jury, after a short stay, brought them in guilty, but acquitted the
women, of whom the one was the mother of this Gahogan and the other the
mistress or wife of the said Robert Blake, of whom we are next to speak.

He was by birth also of the Kingdom of Ireland, his parents being people
of some condition, who gave him a very good education and afterwards put
him out apprentice to a linendraper. After he was out of his time he
married a woman with some little fortune, by whom he had three children,
and after misusing her greatly, went away from her into England. Here he
led a loose, debauched life, and subsisted himself, to give it the best
phrase, rather upon the ingenuity of his head than the industry of his
hands. Here he found means to draw aside a farmer's daughter, to whom he
was married, and whom he involved so far in his misfortunes, as to bring
her to the bar with himself for high treason, where her marriage was so
far of service to her that it excused her from bearing a share in his

After they were found guilty, Gahogan expressed much penitence and
sorrow, acknowledged the heinous offences of which he had been guilty,
and expressed particular concern for the ill-usage he had given his poor
mother, whom he had often beaten and abused, for whom he was once
committed to Bridewell on that score, which effectually ruined what
little reputation be had left. Before the day of execution came he was
exceedingly poor and destitute, so that he had scarce clothes wherewith
to cover him, or food sufficient to preserve that life which was so
suddenly to be finished at the gallows. As far as we are able to judge
from the man's outward behaviour, he was a sincere and hearty penitent,
only it was with great difficulty he forgave the persons concerned in
his prosecution, which however at last he declared he did, and passed
with great resignation and piety, though by a violent death from this
world to another, and we may charitably hope, a better.

As to Blake, his behaviour was not so much of a piece at first, but when
he perceived death inevitable, notwithstanding his having procured a
reprieve for a week, and thereby escaped dying with his companion
Gahogan, the prospect of his approaching dissolution wrought so far upon
him that with much seeming penitence he made a frank confession of all
his offences, reflecting chiefly on himself for having deserted his
wife, and living for so many years with other women. When the week for
which he had procured a reprieve was expired, he was carried alone on a
hurdle, which is usual in cases of high treason, and being come to the
place of execution he stood up and spoke to those who were present in
the following terms:

Good People,

I am brought here justly to suffer death for an offence the nature
of which I did not so well comprehend at the time I committed it. I
have been the greatest of all sinners, addicted to every kind of
lust, and guilty of every manner of crime, excepting that of murder
only. You that are assembled here to see the unfortunate exit of an
unhappy man, take warning from my fate, and avoid falling into those
extravagancies which necessarily bring persons to those straits
which have forced me upon taking undue courses for a supply. This is
the end proposed by the Law for making me a spectacle, and I pray
God with my last breath that you may make that use of it.

After this he betook himself to some private devotions, and then
suffered with great constancy and resignation of mind. He was executed
on the 31st of March, 1729, being then about thirty-eight years of age.
Gahogan died on the 24th of the same month, being then thirty years of

The Life of PETER KELLEY, _alias_ OWEN, _alias_ NISBET, a Murderer

Whether there be really any gradation in crimes, or whether we do not
mistake in supposing the transgression of one Law of God more heinous
than that of another, would be a point too difficult and too abstract
for us to enter into, but as human nature is more shocked at the
shedding of blood than at any other offence, we may be allowed to treat
those who are guilty of it as bloody and unnatural men, who besides
their losing all respect towards the laws of God, show also a want of
that compassion and tenderness which seems incident to the human

The unhappy person of whom we are now to speak, was by birth an
Irishman, and his true name Mackhuen, but upon his coming over into
England he thought fit to change it for Owen, thereby inclining to avoid
being taken for any other person than an Englishman. His parents were,
it seems, persons so low in the world that they could not afford him any
education, so that he was unable either to write or read at the time of
his death. However, they put him out apprentice to a weaver, with whom
having served his time, he came over to England, and worked for a little
time at his trade. But growing idle, and being always inclined to
sotting, he chose rather to go errands, or to do anything rather than
work any longer.

It seems he played with great dexterity upon two jews' harps at a time,
and this serving to entertain people of as loose and idle a disposition
as himself, he thereby got a good deal of money, or least drink (which
was to him all one, for without it he could not live), and his delight
in an alehouse was so great that he seldom cared to be out of it. People
in such houses finding they got money by his playing upon the jews'
harp, and thereby keeping people longer at the pot than otherwise they
were inclined to stay, used to encourage Peter by helping him to
errands; but amongst all the persons who were so kind as to supply his
necessities, there was one Nisbet, an old joiner in the neighbourhood,
who was never weary of doing him kindnesses. Having repeated these often
and for a long time together, Kelley at last began to call the old man
father, and there seemed to be an inviolable friendship between them,
Peter always preserving some respect towards him, though he seemed to
have lost it towards everybody else.

One night, however, or rather morning, for it was near two o'clock,
Kelley came with many signs of terror and confusion to the watch-house,
and there told the constable and attendants that old Nisbet was
murdered and lay weltering in his bed and a razor by him. The watch,
knowing Peter to be a wild, half-witted drunken fellow, gave little heed
to his discourse, and so far they were from crediting it that they
turned him out of the watch-house, and bid him get about his business.
In the morning old Nisbet's lodgers not hearing him stir at his usual
hour, went to the door, and there made a noise in order to awake him.
Having no answer upon that, they sent for a proper officer and broke the
door open, where they found the old man with his throat cut in a most
barbarous fashion, overflowed with the torrent of his own blood, which
was yet warm. No sooner did the particulars of this horrid murder begin
to make a noise, but the watch calling to mind what Kelley had told
them, immediately suspected him for the murder, and caused him quickly
to be apprehended and committed to Newgate.

On the trial the strongest circumstances imaginable appeared against
him, so much that the jury, without much hesitation, found him guilty,
and he, after a pathetic speech from the Bench, of the nature and
circumstances of his bloody crime, received sentence of death with the
rest. Under conviction he appeared a very stupid creature, though as far
as his capacity would give him leave he showed all imaginable signs of
penitence and sorrow, and attended with great gravity and devotion at
the public service in the chapel, notwithstanding he professed himself
to be in the communion of the Church of Rome. He acknowledged the
deceased Mr. Nisbet to have been extraordinarily kind and charitable to
him, even to as great a degree as if he had been his own child, but as
to the murder, he flatly denied his committing it, or his having any
knowledge of its being committed; and though he was strongly pressed as
to the nature of those circumstances on which the jury had found him
guilty, and which were so strong as to persuade all mankind that their
verdict was just, yet he continued still in the same mind, protesting
his own clearness from that bloody and detestable crime. In this
disposition of mind he suffered at Tyburn, being at that time about
forty years of age or somewhat under.

The Lives of WILLIAM MARPLE and TIMOTHY COTTON, Highwaymen

That violence with which, in this age, young people pursue the
gratification of their passions without considering how far they therein
violate the laws of God and their country, is the common and natural
source of those many and great afflictions which fall upon them; and
though they do now always bring them to such exemplary punishment as
befel the criminal whose memoirs we have undertaken to transmit to
posterity, yet they fail not of making them exceedingly uneasy and
grievously unhappy, consequences unavoidably entailed on these
destructive pleasures, so contrary to the nature of man's soul, and so
derogatory from that excellence to the attainment of which he was
created. Although one would imagine these observations must naturally
occur at some time or other to the minds of persons who ever think at
all concerning the design of their own being yet experience convinces us
that they very seldom do, and if they do, they make but very little

William Marple, the first of these criminals, was descended from parents
of very tolerable fortune, as well as unblemished reputation. Their care
had not only gone so far in providing him with useful and common
learning, but had also been careful in bestowing on him an excellent
education in schools both in town and country. The use he made of them
you will quickly hear, which cannot however be mentioned as a reflection
on his unhappy parents, who were as industrious to have him taught good,
as he was in pursuing evil.

When he grew to years capable of being put out to business, the
unsettled giddiness of his temper sufficiently appeared, for being put
out to three several trades at his own request, he could not bring
himself to any of them, but went at last to a fourth which was that of a
joiner, with whom he stayed a considerable space. But before the
expiration of his time he fell in love with a young woman and married
her, which coming with other stories to his master's ears, occasioned
such difference that they parted.

Marple was prodigiously fond of his new married wife, and what is a
pretty rare circumstance in this age, his fondness proved the greatest
advantage possible to him, for the young woman being in herself both
virtuous and industrious, her temper (as it is natural for us to imitate
what we love) made so great an impression upon Marple that from a wild,
loose and extravagant young man, he became a sober, diligent and honest
workman, labouring hard to get his bread, and living at home with his
wife in the greatest tranquility and with the utmost satisfaction. But
the agreeable beauty of this scene was soon darkened, or rather totally
destroyed, by the death of his wife; for no sooner were the transports
of his melancholy over than he returned to his old course of life. And
in order to efface effectually that grief which still hung over him, he
removed out of town to an adjacent village, where he quickly contracted
an intimate acquaintance with a young woman, and thereby almost at once
put all thoughts of sorrow and honesty quite out of his head. This
creature was of a very different disposition from Marple's late wife.
She had no regard for the man, farther than she was able to get money
out of him; and provided she had wherewith to buy her fine clothes and
keep her in handsome lodgings, she gave herself no trouble how he came
by it, and this carriage of hers in a short time put him upon illegal
methods of obtaining money.

Who were his first companions in his robberies is not in my power to
say; it was generally looked upon that one Rouden seduced him, but
Marple declared this to be false, and perhaps the best account that can
be given is that he was led to it by his own evil inclinations, and his
necessities in which they had brought him. However it were, during the
time he practised going upon the road nobody committed more robberies
than he himself did, preying alike upon all sorts of people, and taking
from the poor what little they had, as well as plundering the rich of
what they could much better spare.

In Marylebone Fields he and his companion Cotton met with a poor woman
with a basket on her head, who gained her livelihood by selling joints
of meat to gentlemen's families. The first thing they did was to search
her basket, in which there was a fine leg of mutton, which these
gentlemen thought fit to dress and eat next day for dinner. They then
commanded her to deliver her money, which she declared was a thing out
of her power, because she had none about her; upon which they took her
pocket and turned it out, where finding seven shillings, Marple struck
and abused the woman for daring to tell him a lie.

Amongst the rest of the acquaintance that Marple picked up, was a young
man who had a very rich uncle who, though he was very willing to do
anything which might be for the real good of his nephew, did not think
it at all reasonable to waste his fortune in the supply of the young
man's extravagances. This spark, with another, acquainted Marple how
easy a thing it would be to rob the old man of a considerable sum of
money. They readily came into the project, and accordingly it was put
into execution; Marple and the nephew actually committing the robbery,
and the other man standing at the door till they came out. The booty
they got was about thirty-six guineas, which they divided into three
parts. In a very short time, Marple was apprehended and committed to
Newgate for this very fact. However, the old man would not prosecute
him, because he would not expose his relation.

Yet this was no warning to Marple who continued his old trade, and
committed thirty or forty robberies in a very short space. Drinking was
a vice he abhorred, and the chief cause for which he addicted himself to
this life of rapine was his associating himself with all sorts of lewd
women, amongst whom he became acquainted with the infamous Elizabeth
Lion,[84] mistress to Jack Shepherd, who grew quickly too impudent and
abusive for Marple's conversation, for when he fell under his
misfortunes he declared that she was the vilest and most abominable
wretch that ever lived. However, to the immodest, lascivious carriage of
this woman, he owed the sudden dislike he took to that sort of cattle;
which became so strong that he no longer frequented their company, but
married a second wife, a young woman of a handsome person, of a good
character, and who, as he said, was totally ignorant of the measures he
took for getting money.

Timothy Cotton, the second of these malefactors, was descended of mean,
yet honest parents, who in his infancy had not spared to give him a very
good education, and bred him to get an honest livelihood to the trade of
a poulterer. In this, when he grew up, he was for a time very
industrious, and got thereby sufficient to have maintained himself and
his family, as well as he could reasonably expect; but happening
unluckily to call into the acquaintance and conversation of lewd women,
they soon took up so much of his thoughts, his time and his money, that
he was obliged to think of easier methods of getting it than those to
which hitherto he had applied himself. For it is a truth deducible from
uninterrupted experience that a whore is not to be maintained at the
same easy expense with a wife. Cotton found this to his cost, for he had
not committed above five robberies, of which three were with his
companion Marple, who had been his schoolfellow, before he was

The first of their exploits, I have already told you, was plundering the
poor woman's basket. The second was upon the Hampstead Road, where they
stopped the coach and robbed the passengers. Three gentlemen coming by
on horseback, Marple presented his pistol, and commanded them to ride
off as hard as they could; but the fear with which they were seized made
them so far mistake his words as to apprehend he bid them deliver, and
so they went very readily to work, putting their hands into their
pockets to satisfy his demands. But Marple having no guess of their
intention, and perceiving them to stand still, repeated his order to
them to ride off, with greater vehemency than before, which as soon as
they apprehended they very readily complied with, and rode off as hard
as their horses would carry them. A little while after this they robbed
one Stout, who was servant to Captain Trevor, of his hat, two pounds of
butter, his buckles, five and sixpence in money, and some other trivial
things. For this fact they were both apprehended, and at the next
sessions at the Old Bailey tried and convicted upon very full evidence.

Under sentence of death Marple appeared with less concern than is
usually seen in persons under such unfortunate circumstances. He however
confessed a multitude of offences with which he was not charged, as well
as that particular crime for which he was convicted. He said he had
never any strong inclination to drunkenness or gaming, but that
addicting himself to the company and conversation of bad women had been
the sole occasion of all his misfortunes. He particularly regretted his
want of respect towards his parents, and especially towards his mother,
who had given him the best of advice, though he had trifled with and
abused it. He said that he often struck and abused those whom he robbed,
but not so as to endanger their lives, and therefore he hoped they would
forgive him, and join their prayers with his for his forgiveness at the
hand of God.

Cotton was more tender and more penitent, expressed great sorrow for his
numerous offences, and besought Almighty God to accept of a sincere,
though late repentance. They both of them protested that their wives had
not anything to do with their affairs, that they never advised them, nor
were so much as privy to the offences they had committed. Then both of
them suffered with much penitence and resignation, on the 24th of March,
1729, Marple being about thirty, and Cotton near twenty-five years of


[84] See page 182.

The Life of JOHN UPTON, a Pirate; including also the history of that
sort of people, particularly the crew under Captain Cooper, in the
_Night Rambler_

No laws in any civilized nations are more severe than those against
piracy, nor are they less severely executed, and the criminals who
suffer by them are usually the least pitied, or rather the most detested
of all who come to die an ignominious death by the sentence of the Law.
Of old they were styled _hostes humani generis_, and the oldest systems
we have of particular institutions have treated them with a rigor
suitable to their offence. With respect to those who fall into the hands
of British justice, it must be remarked that they usually plead as an
excuse for what they have done their being forced into pirates' service,
and as it is well known that numbers are really forced into crimes they
detest, so the lenience of our judicators generally admit whatever
proofs are probable in such a case. But where the contrary appears, and
the acts of piracy plainly arise from the wicked dispositions of the
offenders, the Royal Mercy is less frequently extended to them than to
any other sort of criminal whatever.

As to the prisoner of whom we are to speak, John Upton was born at
Deptford, of very honest parents who gave him such an education as
fitted their station, and that in which they intended to breed him. When
grown up to be a sturdy youth, they put him out apprentice to a
waterman, with whom he served out his time faithfully, and with a good
character. Afterwards he went to sea and served for twenty-eight years
together on board a man-of-war, in the posts of either boatswain or
quartermaster. Near the place of his birth he married a woman, took a
house and lived very respectably with her during the whole course of her
life, but she dying while he was at sea, and finding at his return that
his deceased wife had run him greatly in debt, clamours coming from
every quarter, and several writs being issued out against him, he
quitted the service in the man-of-war, and went immediately in a
merchantman to Newfoundland. There by agreement he was discharged from
the ship and entered himself for eighteen pounds _per annum_ into the
service of a planter in that country in order to serve him in fishing
and furring, the chief trade of that place; for Newfoundland abounding
with excellent harbours, there is no country in the world which affords
so large and so plentiful a fishery as this does. However its climate
renders it less desirable, it being extremely hot in the summer and as
intensely cold in the winter, when the wild beasts roam about in great
numbers, and furnish thereby an opportunity to the inhabitants of
gaining considerably by falling them, and selling their furs.

Upton having served his year out was discharged from his master, and
going to New England, he there, in the month of July, 1725, shipped
himself on board the _Perry_ merchantman bound for Barbadoes. The ship
was livred and loaded again, the captain designing them to sail for
England, whereupon Upton desired leave to go on board his Majesty's ship
_Lynn_, Captain Cooper. But Captain King absolutely refusing to
discharge him in order thereto, on the ninth of November, 1725, he
sailed in the aforesaid vessel for England.

On the twelfth of the same month, off Dominica, they were attacked by a
pirate sloop called the _Night Rambler_, under the command of one
Cooper. The pirate immediately ordered the captain of the _Perry_ galley
to come on board his ship, which he and four of his men did, and the
pirate immediately sent some of his crew on board the _Perry_ galley,
who effectually made themselves masters thereof, and as Upton said, used
him and the rest of the persons they found on board with great
inhumanity and baseness, a thing very common amongst those wretches.
Upton also insisted that as to himself, one of the pirate's crew ran up
to him as soon as they came on board and with a cutlass in his hand,
said with an oath, _You old son of a bitch, I know you and you shall go
along with us or I'll cut out your liver_, and thereupon fell to beating
him fore and aft the deck with his cutlass.

The same evening he was carried on board the pirate sloop, where,
according to his journal, three of the pirates attacked him; one with a
pistol levelled at his forehead demanded whether he would sign their
articles, another with a pistol at his right ear, swore that if he did
not they would blow out his brains, while a third held a couple of forks
at his breast, and terrified him with the continual apprehensions of
having them stabbed into him. Whereupon he told them that he had four
young infants in England, to whom he thought it his duty to return, and
therefore begged to be excused as having reason to decline their
service, as well as a natural dislike to their proceedings. Upon which,
he said, he called his captain to take notice that he did not enter
voluntarily amongst them. Upon this the pirate said they found out a way
to satisfy themselves by signing for him, and this, he constantly
averred, was the method of his being taken into the crew of the _Night
Rambler_, where he insisted he did nothing but as he was commanded,
received no share in the plunder, but lived wholly on the ship's
allowance, being treated in all respect as one whom force and not choice
had brought amongst them.

But to return to the _Perry_ galley, which the pirates carried to the
Island of Aruba, a maroon or uninhabited island, or rather sand bank,
where they sat the crew ashore and left them for seventeen days without
any provision, except that the surgeon of the pirate now and then
brought them something in his pocket by stealth. On the tenth of
December the pirates saw a sail which proved to be a Dutch sloop, which
they took, and on board this Upton and two others who had been forced as
well as himself were put, from whence as he said, they made their
escape. After abundance of misfortunes and many extraordinary
adventures, he got on board his Majesty's ship _Nottingham_, commanded
by Captain Charles Cotterel, where he served for two years in the
quality of quartermaster. He was then taken up and charged with piracy,
upon which he was indicted at an Admiralty sessions held in the month of
May, 1729, when the evidence at his trial appeared so strong that after
a short stay the jury found him guilty.

But his case having been very differently represented, I fancy my
readers will not be displeased if I give them an exact account of the
proofs produced against him.

The first witness who was called on the part of the Crown was Mr.
Dimmock, who had been chief mate on board the _Perry_ galley, and he
deposed in the following terms:

On the twelfth of November, 1725, we sailed from Barbadoes on the
_Perry_ galley bound for England. On the 14th, about noon, we were
taken by the _Night Rambler_, pirate sloop, one Cooper commander.
Our captain and four men were ordered on board the pirate sloop,
part of the pirate's crew coming also on board the _Perry._ Wherein
they no sooner entered, but the prisoner at the bar said, _Lads, are
ye come? I'm glad to see ye; I have been looking out for ye for a
great while._ Whereupon the pirates saluted him very particularly,
calling him by his name, and the prisoner was as busy as any of the
rest in plundering and stripping the ship on board of which he had
served, and the rest who belonged to it, the very next day after
being made boatswain of the pirate. The same day I was carried on
board the pirate sloop, tied to the gears and received two hundred
lashes with a cat o' nine tails which the prisoner Upton had made
for that purpose; after which they pickled me, and the prisoner
Upton stabbed me in the head near my ear with a knife, insomuch that
I could not lay my head upon a pillow for fourteen days, but was
forced to support it upon my hand against the table; and when some
of the pirate's crew asked me how I did, upon my answering that I
was as bad as a man could be and live, the prisoner, Upton, said
_D----n him, give him a second reward._

It was also further deposed by the same gentleman that at the island of
Aruba, the prisoner was very busy in stripping the _Perry_ galley of the
most useful and valuable parts of her rigging, carrying them on board
the pirate, and making use of them there. He had also in his custody
several things of value, and particularly wearing apparel, belonging to
one Mr. Furnell, a passenger belonging to the said _Perry_ galley; and
when it was debated amongst the pirates, and afterwards put to the vote,
whether the crew of the said galley should have their vessel again or
no, John Upton was not only against them, but also proposed burning the
said vessel, and tying the captain and mate to one of the masts in order
to their being burnt too.

Mr. Eaton, the second mate of the ship, was the next witness called. He
confirmed all that had been sworn by Mr. Dimmock, adding that the day
they were taken the pirates asked if he would consent to sign their
articles, which he refused. Whereupon they put a rope about his neck,
and hoisted him up to the yard's arm, so that he totally lost his
senses. He recovered them by some of the pirate's crew pricking him in
the fleshy parts of his body, while others beat him with the flat of
their swords. As soon as they perceived he was a little come to himself
they put the former question to him, whether he would sign their
articles. He answered, _No_, a second time. One of the crew thereupon
snatched up a pistol, and swore he would shoot him through the head; but
another of them said, _No, d----n him, that's too honourable a death; he
shall be hanged._ Upon this they pulled him up by the rope again, and
treated him with many other indignities, and at last in the captain's
cabin, pulled a cap over his eyes and clapped a pistol to his head; then
he expected nothing but immediate death, a person having almost jabbed
his eye out with the muzzle of the pistol, but at last they did let him
go. He swore, also, that when the pirates' articles were presented to
him to sign, he saw there the name of John Upton, he being well
acquainted with his hand.

Mr. Furnell, a passenger in the ship, was the third evidence against the
prisoner. He deposed to the same effect with the other two, adding that
John Upton was more cruel and barbarous to them than any of the other
pirates, insomuch that when they were marooned, and under the greatest
necessities for food, Upton said, _D----n them, let them be starved_,
and was the most active of all the rest in taking the goods, and
whatever he could lay his hands on out of the _Perry_ galley.

In his defence the prisoner would fain have suggested that what the
witnesses had sworn against him was chiefly occasioned by a malicious
spleen they had against him. He asserted that he was forced by the
pirates to become one of their number and was so far from concerned with
them voluntarily that he proposed to the mate, after they were taken, to
regain the ship, urging that there were but thirteen of the pirates on
board, and they all drunk, and no less than nine of their own men left
there who were all sober; that the mate's heart failed him, and instead
of complying with his motion, said, _This is a dangerous thing to speak
of; if it should come to the pirates' ears we shall be all murdered_,
and therefore entreated the prisoner not to speak of it any more. The
mate denied every syllable of this, and so the prisoner's assertions did
not weigh at all with the jury. After they had brought in their verdict,
Mr. Upton said to those who swore against him, _Lord! What have you
three done?_

Under sentence of death he behaved himself with much courage, and yet
with great penitence. He denied part of the charge, viz., that he was
willingly one of the pirates, but as to the other facts, he confessed
them with very little alteration. He averred that the course of his life
had been very wicked and debauched, for which he expressed much sorrow,
and to the day of his death behaved himself with all outward mark of
true repentance. At the place of execution, he was asked whether he had
not advised the burning of the _Perry_ galley, with Captain King and the
chief mate on board. He averred that he did not in any shape whatsoever
either propose or agree to an act of such a sort. Then, after some
private devotions, he submitted to his sentence, and was turned off on
the 16th day of May, 1729, being then about fifty years of age.

The Life of JEPTHAH BIGG, an Incendiary, and Writer of Threatening

I have already taken notice in the life of Bryan Smith[85] of the Act of
Parliament on which the proceedings against these letter-writers are
grounded. One would be surprised that after more examples than one of
that kind, people should yet be found so foolish as well as wicked as to
carry on so desperate an enterprise, in which there is scarce any
probability of meeting with success; yet this unfortunate person of whom
we are now to speak, who was descended of mean parents, careful however
of giving him a very good education, fell upon this project, put into
his head by being a little out of business, and so in one moment
cancelled all his former honesty and industry, and hazarded a life which
soon after became forfeited.

His friends had put him out apprentice to a gunstock maker, to which he
served out his time honestly and with a good character. Afterwards he
continued to work at his business with several masters and tolerable
reputation, until about a year before the time of his death, when he was
out of work, by reason he had disobliged two or three persons for whom
he had wrought, and had also been guilty of some extravagancies which
had brought him into narrow circumstances. These straits it is to be
supposed put him upon the fatal project of writing a letter to Mr.
Nathaniel Newman, senior, a man of a very good fortune, threatening him
that unless he sent the sum of eighty-five guineas to such a place, he
would murder him and his wife, with other bloody and barbarous
expressions. This not having its effect, he wrote him a second letter by
the penny post, demanding one hundred guineas, with grievous
threatenings in case they were not sent. This soon made a very great
noise about town, and put Mr. Newman upon all methods possible for
detecting the author of these villainous epistles, and as everybody
almost looked upon it as a common case, to which any gentleman who is
supposed to be rich might be liable, such indefatigable pains were taken
that in a short time the whole mystery of iniquity was discovered and
Bigg apprehended.

At the next sessions at the Old Bailey he was indicted capitally for
this offence, and after the counsel for the prosecutor had fully opened
the heinous nature of the crime, Peter Salter was the first witness
called to prove it upon the prisoner. He deposed that Jepthah Bigg came
to him where he was at work in the Minories, and desired him to go with
him, having something to say to him of consequence; whereupon the
witness would have gone to the sign of the Ship where he used, but the
prisoner would needs go to the Sieve in the Little Minories. There he
communicated to him his design, and then prevailed on Salter to go to
the Shoulder of Mutton alehouse at Billingsgate, where Bigg directed him
to call for drink, and to wait until a porter came to him with a parcel
directed to John Harrison, when if he suspected anything, he should come
to the prisoner at the King's Head alehouse, on Fish Street Hill. This
the evidence performed punctually, whereupon Bigg sent him a second
time to the Blackboy, in Goodman's Fields, where a second parcel was
left, though of no value. Whereupon Bigg would have had the evidence
Salter concerned in a third letter to the same purpose, but Salter
declined it and dissuaded him as much as lay in his power, from
continuing to venture on such hazardous things. Upon which the prisoner
replied, _You need not fear. Nothing can hurt you; my life is in your
hands; but if ever you reveal the matter, you shall share the same

John Long, servant to Mr. Newman, deposed that he delivered two penny
post letters to his master on the 20th and 27th of March. Other
witnesses swore as to the sending of the parcels, and the jury on the
whole, seeing the fact to be well proved against the prisoner, found him

Under sentence of death at first the poor man behaved himself like one
stupid. He pretended that he did not know the offence that he had
committed was capital, and afterwards exclaimed against the hardness of
the Law which made it so; but some little pains being taken with him in
those points, he was soon brought over to acknowledge the justice of his
sentence, and the reasonableness of that Statute which enacted it into a
capital offence.

As the day of his death drew nigh he was still more and more drowned in
stupidity and lost to all thought or concern for this world or that to
come, at least as to outward appearance. Some said he was a Roman
Catholic, but while the poor wretch retained his senses, he said nothing
that could give any ground for a suspicion of that sort. He heard the
discourses which the Ordinary made to him, with as much patience as the
rest did, and when he visited him in the cell, did not express any
uneasiness thereat. Indeed, in the passage to execution, there were two
fellows in the cart who would fain have had the minister desist from his
duty, urging the same reason, that the criminal was in communion with
another Church. The man, himself, seemed stupid and speechless all the
way, yet when he was turned off, the reverend Ordinary tells us, he went
off the stage crying out aloud, _O Lord! etc._ This seems to me a very
indecent way of concluding a dying speech, but as it is that which is
generally used, I shall not stay to bestow any further reflections upon
it. He died on the 19th of May, 1729, being about twenty-five years of


[85] See page 221.

The Life of THOMAS JAMES GRUNDY, a Housebreaker

When we meet with accounts of persons doubly remarkable for the
multitude of their offences and the tenderness of their age, it is
almost impossible for us to determine whether we should most pity or
detest a mind so preternaturally abandoned to wickedness as to transcend
its usual course, and make itself remarkable as a sinner, before taken
notice of as a man.

This was exactly the case with the unfortunate criminal whom we are now
to mention. He was the son of parents in the lowest circumstances, who
yet had strained those circumstances to give him a tolerable education,
which he, instead of improving, forgot as fast as it was possible, and
seemed solicitous about nothing but out-doing in villainy all his
contemporaries of the same unhappy cast. During his junior years he
addicted himself continually to picking and stealing whatever he could
lay his hands on, and although his father had been exceedingly careful
in causing him to be taught his own trade of a weaver, yet he seldom or
never worked at it, but went on at this rate, from one crime to another,
until he at last arrived at those which brought him to the ignominious
end, and thereby rendered him a subject for our memoirs.

At twelve years old, he took up the trade of housebreaking, to which he
applied himself very closely, for the last six years of his life.
Hampstead, Highgate, Hackney, and other villages round the town were the
places which he generally made choice of to play his tricks in, and as
people are much more ingenious in wickedness than ever they are in the
pursuit of honest employments, so by degrees he became (even while a
boy) the most dexterous housebreaker of his time; insomuch that as is
usual amongst those unhappy people, the gang commended him so much, that
believing himself some great person, he went on with an air of
confidence, in the commission of a multitude of burglaries, in and about
the streets of this metropolis.

Young as he was at that time, he plunged himself, as it were with
industry, into all manner of lusts, wickedness and illegal pleasures,
which, as it wasted all he acquired by the thefts he committed, so it
injured his health and damaged his understanding to such a degree that
when he came to die, he could scarce be looked on as a rational

The offence which proved fatal to him was the breaking into the house of
Mr. Samuel Smith, in the night-time, on the 31st of May, 1729, with an
intent to steal. At his trial the prosecutor swore that between the
hours of eleven and one of the dock of the night laid in the indictment
he was called up by his neighbours, and found that his window was broken
open; whereupon, searching about very narrowly, he at last found the
prisoner got up the chimney, and landing on the pole whereon the
pothooks hung. In his defence the prisoner told the Court that meeting
with a person who said he lodged in the prosecutor's house, and it being
late, he accepted the man's proposition to lie with him; thereupon his
new acquaintance carried him to Mr. Smith's, let him in, and then ran
away, so that he had never seen or heard of him since. This relation
being every way improbable and ridiculous, the jury very readily found
him guilty of the fact, and he with the rest, on the last day of the
sessions received sentence of death accordingly.

While he lay in the cells, his behaviour was as stupid in all outward
appearance as ever had appeared in any who came to that miserable place.
However, he persuaded his companions, of whom we shall speak hereafter,
to attempt breaking out and to encourage them told them that there was
no brick or free stone wall in the world could keep him in, if he had
but a few tools proper for loosening the stones. These were quickly
procured, and Grundy put his companions into so proper a method of
working, that if a discovery had not been made on the Sunday morning in
a very few hours space they would have broken their way into Phoenix
Court, and so have undoubtedly got off. But as soon as the keepers came
to the knowledge of their design, they removed the three persons
concerned in it, into the old condemned hold, and there stapled them
down to the ground.

Then this lad began to repent. He wept bitterly, but said it was not so
much for the fear of death as the apprehension of his soul being thrown
into the pit of destruction and eternal misery. However, by degrees, he
recovered a little spirit, confessed all the enormities of his past
life, and begged pardon of God, and of the persons whom he had injured.
If we were to attempt an account of them, it would not only seem
improbable but incredible; and therefore, as there was nothing in them
otherwise extraordinary than as they were committed by a lad of his age,
we shall not dwell any longer upon them than to inform our readers that
with much sorrow, and grievous agonies, he expired at Tyburn, on the
22nd of August, 1729, being about eighteen years old.

The Life of JOSEPH KEMP, a Housebreaker

We have often, in the course of these lives, observed to our readers
that loose women are generally the causes of those misfortunes which
first bring men to the commission of felonious crimes, and, as a just
consequence thereof, to an ignominious death. It may yet seem strange,
how, after so many instances, there are still to be found people so weak
as for the sake of the caresses of these strumpets to lavish away their
lives, at the same time that they are putting their souls into the
greatest hazard. If I may be allowed to offer my conjecture in this
case, I should be apt to account for it thus: that in the present age,
the depravity of men's morals being greater than ever, they addict
themselves so entirely to their lusts and sensual pleasures that having
no relish left for more innocent entertainments, they think no price too
great to purchase those lewd enjoyments, to which, by a continued series
of such actions, they have habituated themselves beyond their own power
to retire.

This unfortunate person, Joseph Kemp, was son to people in very mean
circumstances, in Holborn, who yet procured him a very good education in
a public charity-school. When of age to be put out to employment, his
friends made him apply himself to the heads of the parish, who put him
out to a glazier, with whom he served out his time with the character of
a very honest young man. By that time his parents had thriven pretty
well in the world through their own industry, and so, on his setting up
a shop, they gave him sixty pounds to begin with. But unfortunately for
him, he had ere now seen a woman of the town, on whom he had
irretrievably fixed his affections, and was absolutely resolved on
living with her, though ever so great ruin should prove the consequence
of the purchase.

In pursuance of this unfortunate resolution, he no sooner had received
the aforesaid sum, but proposals of marriage were immediately offered to
this object of his affections, notwithstanding that he well knew she at
that time conversed with two men, styling each of them her husband.
However, as Kemp was the most likely to maintain her in idleness and
plenty, she, without much trouble, suffered herself to be prevailed on
to let him, by a legal matrimony, increase the number of her husbands.
This, as it was but probable, was speedily followed by his breaking in
his business, and being totally undone, which, though it was a great
misfortune, and an evil new to poor Kemp, only reduced the lady to her
former manner of living, which was by thieving whatever she could come
at. A little while after, she was ruined even in this business, for
being detected, she was committed to Newgate, and was in great danger of
lying there for life. Poor Kemp was still as fond of her as ever. He
carried her all the money he could get, and lamenting to her that it was
not in his power to raise more, she immediately flew into a passion,
stormed and swore at him, bid him go and break houses, rob people in the
streets, or do anything which would get money, for money she wanted and
money she would have. He foolishly complied with her request and having
provided himself with the necessary implements for housebreaking, he
soon put her in possession of a large quantity of plate, which being
converted into money, easily procured her liberty, the consequence of
which was that she lavished whatever he brought her upon other men.

Yet even her perfidy could not cure him; he was still as much her slave
as ever, and failed not venturing body and soul to procure whatever
might give her pleasure. In this unhappy state a considerable space of
time was spent, until, for some other thievish exploits of her own,
Kemp's wife was apprehended, convicted and transported. One would have
thought this might have put an end to his crimes of the same sort, but
it seems he was too far plunged into the mire of rapine and debauchery
ever to struggle out, so that no sooner was she safely on board the
transport vessel but he found out a new mistress to supply her place; as
if he had been industrious in destroying his fortune and careful about
nothing but arriving as soon as possible at the gallows.

By the time he made his second marriage, which in itself was illegal
while the first wife was living, his credit was totally exhausted, his
character totally ruined, and no manner of subsistence left but what was
purchased at the hazard of his soul and the price of his life; and as
housebreaking was now become his sole business, so he pursued it with
great eagerness, and for a while with as great success. But it was not
long before he was apprehended, and committed close to Newgate for a
multitude of charges of this kind against him.

At the following sessions at the Old Bailey, he was indicted for
burglariously breaking open the house of Sarah Pickard, and feloniously
taking thence thirty-six gold rings and stone rings, three silver
watches, several pieces of silver plate, and divers other goods of
considerable value. The prosecutrix, Mrs. Pickard, deposed that her
house was fast shut between then and eleven o'clock at night, and found
broken open at five of the clock the next morning, and that one Kemp, a
person related to the prisoner, found a short strong knife left in the
yard, together with an auger, which he knew to belong to the prisoner.

In confirmation of this Mr. Kemp deposed that the prisoner had shown him
the knife; Joanna Kemp and Jonathan Auskins deposed likewise to the same
thing, and Samuel Gerrard, the constable, swore that when with the two
preceding witnesses he went to search the house of the aforesaid
prisoner, and found therein several things belonging to Mrs. Pickard,
the prisoner then confessed that he committed burglary alone and not by
the persuasion or with the assistance of any other person whatsoever.

The prisoner said very little in his own defence, and the jury
thereupon, without hesitation, found him guilty; as they did also upon
two other indictments, the one for breaking the house of James Wood, and
the other for breaking the house of Mrs. Mary Paget, and stealing thence
plate to a considerable value; the facts being dearly proved by John
Knap, who had been an accomplice, and turned evidence to save himself.
His last wife was indicted and tried with him, but acquitted.

Under sentence of death he was seized with a disease which held him for
the greater part of the time permitted by Law for him to repent, and by
reason of that distemper he was so deaf that he was scarce capable of
instruction. However, he appeared to be fully sensible of the great
danger he was in, of suffering much more from the just anger of God than
that sentence of the Law which his crimes had drawn upon him. He
bewailed with much passion and concern that wicked course of life which
for many years past he had led, seemed exceedingly grieved at the horror
of those reflections, and to mourn with unfeigned penitence his
forgetfulness of the duties he owed towards God, and to his neighbours.
As the hour of death approached, he resumed somewhat of courage, and at
the place of execution died with all outward marks of a repenting

His wife came up into the cart and took her last adieu of him, in the
most tender manner that can be imagined. He died on the 24th of August,
1729, being then in the twenty-fourth year of his age, and left behind
him the following paper, which seems to have been what he intended to
have said to the people at the time of his death, and therefore we,
according to custom, thought it not proper to be omitted in this


Good People,

My father and mother brought me up tenderly and honestly, and always
gave me good advice, whilst I was under their care. They put me
apprentice to a glazier. My master not being so careful of me as he
ought to have been, I took to ill courses, and before my time was
expired, married a woman that brought me to this untimely end; for
she could not live upon what I got at my trade, and out of my
over-fondess for her, I did whatever she required, or requested of
me. At length she was taken up for some fact, and transported. Then
I married a second wife, and she was as good as the other was bad.
She would do anything to help to support me that I might not commit
any wickedness, but I could not take her advice, but still ran on in
my wicked course of life, till I was overtaken by my folly. For if
we think ourselves safe in committing sin, God will certainly find
such out, because He is just, and will punish accordingly. This my
miserable end, I would have all take warning by, and that they
follow not the devices of the world, the snares whereof are apt to
lead men into evil courses, unless they endeavour to shun them, and
seek the grace of God to assist and enable them for the good of all
men, and ask pardon of God for my evil doings, and forgiveness of
all whom I have wronged, and particularly the forgiveness of God to
those who have sworn away my life. I beg reflections pass not upon
my wife, for I declare, whatever wrongs she may have committed, was
through my persuasion, of herself being inclinable to good. I would
lastly request that the follies and vices which have brought me to
this untimely end may not by any means be a cause to afflict my
grievous parents, both father and mother, but would have all to
consider when ever they are persuaded to any manner of ways, tending
to their ruin, they would likewise remember to call upon God to help
and assist them, in shunning such, and all other wicked courses.
Good people, pray for me, that God may receive me through his
mercies, which I trust he will.

Newgate, August 22nd, 1729.

Joseph Kemp

The Life of BENJAMIN WILEMAN, a Highwayman

Amongst the many other ill consequences of a debauched life and wicked
conversation, it may be reckoned, perhaps, no small one that they render
men liable to suspicions, imprisonments and even capital punishment,
when at the same time, they may be innocent of the particular fact with
which they are charged; nor in such a case is the conviction of an
innocent person so great a reflection on any, as on themselves having
rendered such an accusation probable.

Benjamin Wileman, of whom we are now to speak, was the son of honest
parents in the city of Dublin. They gave him a very good education at
school, and when he was fit to go out apprentice, his father bred him to
his own trade, which was that of a tailor. When he grew weary of that
business, he listed himself as a soldier, and in that state of life
passed twelve years, a sufficient space of time to acquire those
numerous vices which are so ordinary amongst the common sort of men, who
betake themselves to a military employment. Then he came over into
England and lived here, as he himself said, by working at his own trade;
though certain it is, that he led a most debauched and dissolute life,
associating himself with those of his countrymen who of all others were
the most abandoned in their characters. In fine, in all the associations
of his life he seemed to proceed without any other design than that of
gratifying his vicious inclinations.

In the midst of this terrible course of folly and wickedness he was
apprehended for a highwayman, committed to Newgate, and at the ensuing
sessions capitally indicted for two robberies, the one committed on
William Hucks, Esq., and the other on William Bridges, Esq. On the first
indictment it was deposed by the prosecutor that he believed Wileman to
be the person who attacked him. John Doyle, who owned himself to have
been an accomplice in the robbery, swore that Wileman and he committed
it together, and that he paid Wileman five guineas and a half for his
share of the gold watch and other things which were taken from the
gentleman. As to the second fact, Mr. Bridges gave evidence that he was
robbed on the highway and lost a sword, a hat, a pocket-book and a
bank-note for twenty pounds. Doyle gave evidence in this, as in the
former case, declaring that Wileman and he committed the fact together.

Then Elizabeth Jones being produced, swore that the same day she met
Doyle and Wileman booted and spurred and very dirty in Bedford Row, and
that they showed her the bank note, which when shown to her, she deposed
to be the same. Arabelle Manning deposed that on the night of the day
the robbery was committed, the prisoner Wileman and Doyle gave her a
dram at a gin-shop in Drury Lane, and that one of them let fall a paper,
and taking it up again, said that the loss of it would have been the
loss of twenty pounds.

The prisoner objected to the character of Doyle, Jones and Manning, and
called some persons as to his own, but the jury thinking the fact
sufficiently proved, found him guilty on both indictments. Under
sentence of death, his behaviour was very regular, professing a deep
sorrow and repentance for a very loose life which he had led, and at the
same time peremptorily denying that he had any hand in, or knew anything
of either of those facts which had been sworn against him, and for which
he was to die.

Notwithstanding that the most earnest entreaties were made use of to
induce him to a plain and sincere confession, yet he continued always to
assert his innocence as to thieving, letting fall sharp and invidious
expressions against the evidence of Doyle whom he charged with swearing
against him only to preserve another guilty person from punishment, whom
Wileman intended to prosecute and had it is his power to convict. The
effects of his former good education were very serviceable to him in
this his great and last misfortune, for he seemed to have very just
notions of those duties which were incumbent upon him in his miserable
state; therefore, especially towards the latter part of his time, he
appeared gravely at chapel and prayed fervently in his cell until the
boy James Grundy, whom we have mentioned before, put it in to his head
to make his escape; for the attempting which they were all carried (as
we have said before) into the old condemned hold and there stapled down
to the ground.

As there is no courage so reasonable as that which is founded on
Christian principles, so neither constitutional bravery nor that
resolution which arises either from custom, from vanity, or from other
false maxims preserves that steady firmness at the approach of death
which gives true quiet and peace of mind in the last moments of life,
taking away through the certainty of belief, those terrors which are
otherwise too strong for the mind, and which human nature is unable to
resist. Wileman's conduct under his misfortunes, fully verified this
observation in its strongest sense; he only retained just notions of
religion and this enabled him to support his affliction after a very
different manner from that in which it affected his two companions; or
as it had done himself before, from a just contemplation of the mercy of
God, and the merits of his Saviour, he had brought himself to a right
idea of the importance of his soul, and thereby took himself off from
the superfluous consideration of this world and stifled those uneasy
sensations with which men are naturally startled at the approach of
death. Yet he did not in all this time alter a jot in his confession,
but asserted calmly that he was innocent, and that Doyle had perjured
himself in order to take away his life.

At the place of execution his wife came to him, embraced him with great
tenderness, and all he said there in relation to the world was that he
hoped nobody would reflect upon her for the misfortune which had
befallen him, and then, with great piety and resignation in the midst of
fervent ejaculations, yielded up his last breath at Tyburn, at the same
time with the malefactor before mentioned, being at the time of his
decease about forty-three years of age.

The Life of JAMES CLUFF, a Murderer, in which is contained a concise
account of the nature of Appeals

To curb our vicious inclinations and to restrain those passions from the
sudden transports of which cruel and irreparable mischiefs are done, is
without doubt the best end of all instructions; and for my own part, I
cannot help thinking that this very book may contribute as much to this
purpose as any other that has been published for a long time. That vices
are foul in their nature is certainly true, and that they are fatal in
their consequences, those who, without consideration pursue them, feel.
There are few who will take time to convince themselves of the first,
but no man can be so blind as to mistake the latter after the perusal of
these memoirs, in which I have been particularly careful to describe the
several roads by which our lusts lead us to destruction; and have fixed
up Tyburn as a beacon to warn several men from indulging themselves in
sensual pleasures.

This unfortunate person we are now going to give the public an account
of was the son of very honest people who kept a public-house in Clare
Market. They were careful in sending him to school, and having taught
him there to read and write etc., sufficiently to qualify him for
business, then put him apprentice to the Swan Tavern near the Tower.
There he served his time carefully and with a good character, nor did
his parents omit in instructing him in the grounds of the Christian
religion, of which having a tolerable understanding he attained a just
knowledge, and preserved a tolerable remembrance unto the time of his
unhappy death.

After he was out of his time, he served as a drawer at several public
houses, and behaved himself civilly and honestly without any reflections
either on his temper or his honesty until he came to Mr. Payne's, who
kept the Green Lettuce, a public house in High Holborn, where the
accident fell out which cost him his life.

It seems there lived with him as a fellow servant, one Mary Green, whom
some suggested he had an affection for; but whether that were so or not,
did not very clearly appear, but on the contrary it was proved that they
had many janglings and quarrels together, in which Cluff had sometimes
struck her. However it was, on the 11th of April, 1729, Mary Green being
at dinner in a box by herself, Cluff came in and went into the box to
her, where he had not continued above four or five minutes before he
called to his mistress, who was walking up and down, _Madam, pray come
here._ By this time the maid was dead of a wound in her thigh, which
pierced the femoral artery. There was a noise heard before the man
himself came out, and the wench was dead before her mistress came in.

However, Cluff was immediately apprehended, and at the ensuing sessions
at the Old Bailey he was indicted for the murder of Mary Green, by
giving her a mortal wound in the right thigh, of the breadth of one
inch, and of the depth of five inches, of which she instantly died. He
was a second time indicted upon the coroner's inquest for the said
offence, and also a third time upon the Statute of Stabbing. However the
evidence not being clear enough to satisfy the jury, on his trial he was
acquitted by them all. But this not at all satisfying the relations of
the deceased Mary Green, her brother William Green brought an appeal
against him, which is a kind of proceeding which has occasioned several
popular errors to take rise. Therefore it may not be improper to say
something concerning it for the better information of our readers.

Appeals are of two sorts, viz., such as are brought by an innocent
person, and such as are brought by an offender confessing himself
guilty, who is commonly called an approver. An innocent person's appeal
is the party's private action, prosecuting also for the Crown, in
respect of the offence against the public, and such a prosecution may be
either by writ or by bill. As to the writ of appeal, it is an original
issuing out of Chancery and remarkable in the Court of King's Bench
only. Bills of Appeal are more common and contain in them the nature
both of a writ and a declaration, and they may be received by
commissioners of gaol delivery or justices of assize.

Those which are in use at present in capital cases are four, viz.,
Appeals of Death, of Larceny, of Rape and of Arson. The first is both
the most common and that of which we are particularly to speak. It is to
be brought by the wife or heir of the person deceased, unless they be
guilty of the murder, and then the heir may have an appeal against the
wife, or if he be accused the next heir may have it against him. The
appellant must be heir general to the deceased, and his heir male (for
by _Magna Charta_ a woman cannot have an appeal of death for any but her
husband) and in the appeal also it must be set forth how the appellant
is heir unto the deceased. As to the time in which an appeal may be
brought, it is by the Statute of Gloucester[86] restrained within a year
and a day from the time of the deed done. There is great nicety in all
the proceedings on appeals of death and everything must be set forth
with the greatest exactness imaginable. The appellant hath also the
liberty of pleading as many pleas, or to speak more properly, to take
issue on as many points as he thinks fit. He is tried by a jury, and on
his being found guilty, the appellant hath an order for his execution
settled by the Court; but when the appellee is acquitted, the appellant
is chargeable with damages on such a prosecution, provided there appear
to have been no just cause for the commencement thereof.

But to return to the case of Cluff, which led us into this discourse.
The evidence at his trial upon the appeal was, as to its substance thus.
Mrs. Diana Payne, at the Green Lettuce in Holborn, deposed that the
prisoner James Cluff and the deceased Mary Green were both of them her
servants; that about a quarter of an hour before Mary Green died, she
saw the prisoner carry out a pot of drink; that while she was walking in
the tap-house with her child in her arms, she saw Mary Green go down
into the cellar and bring up two pints of drink, one for a customer and
another for herself, which she carried into a box where she was at
dinner; that about four or five minutes before the accident happened,
Cluff came in, and went to the box to the deceased, and in about four
minutes cried out, _Madam, pray come hither_; that the witness thereupon
went to the door of the box and saw the deceased on her backside on the
floor, and the prisoner held her up by the shoulders, while the blood
ran from her in a stream; that on seeing her, she said to the prisoner,
_James, what have you done?_ To which he answered, _Nothing, Madam._
Whereupon this evidence enquired whether he had seen her do anything to
herself, he replied. _No_, the deceased at that time neither speaking
not stirring, but looking as if she were dead. However, the prisoner at
that time said he saw her have a knife in her hand in the cellar, and
the witness being prodigiously affrighted called her husband and ran for
an apothecary.

Mr. John Payne, husband of the first witness, deposed to the same
purpose as his wife, adding that no struggling was heard when the blows
were given and that she had no knife in her hand when she came out of
the cellar; that in the morning between nine and ten o'clock, a young
man came in, who, as he was informed, had been formerly a sweetheart of
the deceased; that this person drank a pint of drink and smoked a pipe,
the deceased sitting by him some little time, during which as he
believed the stranger kissed her; at which, as they stood before the
bar, he observed the prisoner's countenance alter, as if he were out of
humour at somewhat, although he could not say that he had ever heard of
courtship between them; adding, that when the prisoner went into the box
where the deceased was at dinner, he did take notice of his throwing the
door after him with an unusual violence.

Mr. Saunders, who happened that day to dine at Mr. Payne's house,
confirmed all the former evidence, deposing moreover, than when Mr.
Payne gave the prisoner some harsh language, the prisoner replied, _Sir,
I am as innocent as the child is at my mistress's breast_; that the
prisoner also pretended the deceased took a knife in her hand when she
went into the cellar, upon which this evidence and Mr. Payne went down,
and found not a drop of blood all the way. Mr. Saunders also deposed
that the prisoner was out of the way when the deceased went to draw
drink, and that they saw no knife in her hand.

Mr. Cox, the surgeon, deposed that he saw the deceased lying upon her
back, amid a vast stream of blood which had issued from her; that upon
the table among other knives he had found one amongst them which was a
little bloody and answered exactly to the cut, it going through her
apron, a stuff petticoat and a strong coarse shift. The wound was in her
thigh, going obliquely upwards, and therefore, as he thought, could not
have been given by the deceased herself. The knife, too, was as he said,
laid farther than the deceased could have carried it after the receipt
of the wound, which being in the femoral artery must be mortal in a
minute, or a minute and a half at most. He observed, also, that under
her chin and about her left ear there seemed to have been some violence
used, so as to have caused a stagnation of the blood. This deposition
was confirmed by another surgeon and apothecary, and also in most of its
material circumstances by a surgeon who looked on her on behalf of the

Cluff asked very few questions, and Mr. Daldwin being called for the
appellant, swore that at nine o'clock in the morning he was at Mr.
Payne's and saw the prisoner and the deceased quarrelling, that he
looked maliciously and was an ill-natured fellow. Here the counsel of
the appeal rested their proof, and the prisoner made no other defence
than absolutely denying the fact. After his counsel had said what they
thought proper on the nature and circumstances that had been sworn
against him, the jury withdrew, and after a short stay brought in the
prisoner guilty.

During the space he was confined, between their verdict and his death,
he behaved with a calmness very rare to be met with. He attended the
public devotion of the chapel very gravely and devoutly, behaved quietly
and patiently in his cell, never expressed either fear or uneasiness at
his approaching death, nor ever let fall a warm expression against his
prosecutors, but on the contrary always spoke well of them, and prayed
heartily for them. When pressed, by the ministers who attended him, not
to pass into the other world with a lie in his mouth, but to declare
sincerely and candidly how Mary Green came by her death, he at first
looked a little confused, but at last seeming to recollect himself, he
said, _Gentlemen, I know it is my duty to give glory unto God, and to
take shame unto myself for those sins I have committed in my passage
through this life. I therefore readily acknowledge that my offences have
been black in their nature, and many in number; but for the particular
crime I am to suffer death as the punishment of it, I know no more of it
than the child that is unborn, nor am I able to say in what manner she
came by her death._ And in this he continued to persist unto the time of
his death, appearing to be very easy under his sufferings and did not
change countenance when he was told the day was fixed for his execution,
as it is ordinarily observed the other malefactors do.

As he passed through Holborn to the place of execution, he desired the
cart might stop at his master's house, which accordingly it did. Cluff
thereupon called for a pint of wine and desired to speak with Mr. Payne.
Accordingly he came out, and then he addressed himself to him in these
words. _Sir, you are not insensible that I am going to suffer an
ignominious death for what I declare I am not guilty of, as I am to
appear before my Great Judge in a few moments, to answer for all my past
sins. I hope you and my good mistress will pray for my poor soul. I pray
God bless you and all your family._ Then he spoke to somebody to bid the
carman go on. It was remarkable that he spoke this with great
composedness and seeming cheerfulness.

At the place of execution he did not lose anything of that cheerful
sedateness which he had preserved under the course of his misfortunes,
but made the responses regular to the prayers in the cart and standing
up, addressed himself in these words to the multitude. _Good People, I
die for a fact I did not commit. I have never ceased to pray for my
prosecutors most heartily, ever since I have been under sentence. I wish
all men well. My sins have been great, but I hope for God's mercy
through the merits of Jesus Christ._ Then a Psalm was sung at his own
request. Afterwards, overhearing somebody say that his mistress was in a
coach hard by his execution, he could not be satisfied until somebody
went to search and coming back assured him she was not there. As the
cart was going away he spoke again to the people saying, _I beg of you
to pray for my departing soul. I wish I was as free from all other sins
as I am of this for which I am now going to suffer._

He desired of his friends that his body might be carried to Hand Alley
in Holborn, and from thence to St. Andrew's Church, to lie in the grave
with his brother. He suffered on the 25th of July, 1719, being then
about thirty-two years of age.


[86] Passed by a Parliament held at Gloucester in 1278 and
dealing with actions at law.

The Life of JOHN DYER, a most notorious thief, highwayman and

My readers cannot but remember the mention often made of this criminal,
in the former volumes. He was, at the time of his death, one of the
oldest offenders in England, and as he was at some pains to digest his
own story that is, the series of his villainies into writing, so what we
take from thence, will at once be authentic and entertaining to our

He was born of honest and mean parents at Salisbury, who took care,
however, to bestow on him a very tolerable education, and when he grew
up, put him out apprentice to a shoemaker, where he soon made a
beginning in those pernicious practices to which he so assiduously
afterwards addicted himself. The first thing he did, was robbing a
chandler's chop at Collinburn, in the county of Wilts, of the money box,
in which was thirty shillings, and got clear off. Some time after, his
master sending him on a Sunday to a village just by, to get twelve
pennyworth of halfpence at a chandler's shop, Dyer finding nobody at
home, cut the bar of the window, got in thereat, and rifled the house.
The booty he found did not amount to above three half-crowns, but he
added to that the taking away what currants and raisins there were in
the shop, which piece of covetousness had well-nigh cost him his life,
for being suspected and charged with the fact, he had only time to hide
the money. Having searched him in vain, they turned some of the plums
out of his coat pocket, but he readily averring that he bought them at
Andover Market, there being nobody who could falsify it, he escaped for
that time.

His matter shortly after sending him with five pounds to buy leather,
Dyer picking up a companion, as wicked as himself, he persuaded him to
join in a story of his being robbed of the aforesaid sum of money,
which, upon his return, he told his master, and the boy vouching it
firmly, they were believed. Some small space from this, being sent
amongst his master's customers to receive some money, he picked up about
three pounds, and then went off immediately for Salisbury, where he
became acquainted with an idle young woman; which bringing him once more
into necessity, he went one day into the market to see what he might be
able to lay hands on. There he observed a young woman to receive money,
and watching her out of town, he took an opportunity to knock her down,
robbing her, and dragging her into a wood, where he lay with her, and
then bound her fast to a tree.

From thence he went to a village in Hampshire, where he wrought
journey-work at his trade; and getting acquainted with a young woman, he
lodged at her mother's house, where he soon got the daughter with child,
and persuaded her to rob the old woman, and go with him to Bristol.
There they lived together profusely until all the money was spent, and
then she and her child went back to her mother, who received them very

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