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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

Part 7 out of 15

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that, too, from persons the most deserving of credit.

The practices of this criminal in the manner we have before mentioned
continued long after the Act of Parliament; and in so notorious a
manner, at last, that the magistrates in London and Middlesex thought
themselves obliged by the duty of their office to take notice of him.
This occasioned a warrant to be granted against him by a worshipful
alderman of the City, upon which Mr. Wild being apprehended somewhere
near Wood Street, he was carried into the Rose Sponging-house. There I
myself saw him sitting in the kitchen at the fire, waiting the leisure
of the magistrate who was to examine him.

In the meantime the crowd was very great, and, with his usual hypocrisy,
Jonathan harangued them to this purpose. _I wonder, good people, what it
is you would see? I am a poor honest man, who have done all I could do
to serve people when they have had the misfortune to lose their goods by
the villainy of thieves. I have contributed more than any man living to
bringing the most daring and notorious malefactors to justice. Yet now
by the malice of my enemies, you see I am in custody, and am going
before a magistrate who I hope will do me justice. Why should you insult
me, therefore? I don't know that I ever injured any of you? Let me
intreat you, therefore, as you see me lame in body, and afflicted in
mind, not to make me more uneasy than I can bear. If I have offended
against the law it will punish me, but it gives you no right to use me
ill, unheard, and unconvicted._

By this time the people of the house and the Compter officers had pretty
well cleared the place, upon which he began to compose himself, and
desired them to get a coach to the door, for he was unable to walk.
About an hour after, he was carried before a Justice and examined, and I
think was thereupon immediately committed to Newgate. He lay there a
considerable time before he was tried; at last he was convicted
capitally upon the following fact, which appeared on the evidence,
exactly in the same light in which I shall state it.

He was indicted on the afore-mentioned Statute, for receiving money for
the restoring stolen goods, without apprehending the persons by whom
they were stolen. In order to support this charge, the prosecutrix,
Catherine Stephens,[64] deposed as follows:

On the 22nd of January, I had two persons come in to my shop under
pretence of buying some lace. They were so difficult that I had
none below would please them, so leaving my daughter in the shop, I
stepped upstairs and brought down another box. We could not agree
about the price, and so they went away together. In about half an
hour I missed a tin box of lace that I valued at L50. The same night
and the next I went to Jonathan Wild's house; but meeting with him
at home, I advertised the lace that I had lost with a reward of
fifteen guineas, and no questions asked. But hearing nothing of it,
I went to Jonathan's house again, and then met with him at home. He
desired me to give him a description of the persons that I
suspected, which I did, as near as I could; and then he told me,
that he would make enquiry, and bid me call again in two or three
days. I did so, and then he said that he had heard something of my
lace, and expected to know more of the matter in a very little time.

I came to him again on that day he was apprehended (I think it was
the 15th of February). I told him that though I had advertised but
fifteen guineas reward, yet I would give twenty or twenty-five
guineas, rather than not have my goods. _Don't be in such a hurry_,
says Jonathan, _I don't know but I may help you to it for less, and
if I can I will; the persons that have it are gone out of town. I
shall set them to quarrelling about it, and then I shall get it the
cheaper._ On the 10th of March he sent me word that if I could come
to him in Newgate, and bring ten guineas in my pocket, he would help
me to the lace. I went, he desired me to call a porter, but I not
knowing where to find one, he sent a person who brought one that
appeared to be a ticket-porter. The prisoner gave me a letter which
he said was sent him as a direction where to go for the lace; but I
could not read, and so I delivered it to the porter. Then he desired
me to give the porter the ten guineas, or else (he said) the persons
who had the lace would not deliver it. I gave the porter the money;
he returned, and brought me a box that was sealed up, but not the
same that was lost. I opened it and found all my lace but one piece.

_Now, Mr. Wild_, says I, _what must you have for your trouble? Not a
farthing_, says he, _not a farthing for me. I don't do these things
for worldly interest, but only for the good of poor people that have
met with misfortunes. As for the piece of lace that is missing, I
hope to get it for you ere long, and I don't know but that I may
help you not only to your money again, but to the thief too. And if
I can, much good may it do you; and as you are a good woman and a
widow, and a Christian, I desire nothing of you but your prayers,
and for these I shall be thankful. I have a great many enemies, and
God knows what may be the consequence of this imprisonment._

The fact suggested in the indictment was undoubtedly fully proved by
this disposition, and though that fact happened in Newgate, and after
his confinement, yet it still continued as much and as great a crime as
if it had been done before; the Law therefore condemned him upon it. But
even if he had escaped this, there were other facts of a like nature,
which inevitably would have destroyed him; for the last years of his
life, instead of growing more prudent, he undoubtedly became less so,
for the blunders committed in this fact, were very little like the
behaviour of Jonathan in the first years in which he carried on this
practice, when nobody behaved with greater caution, as nobody ever had
so much reason to be cautious. And though he had all along great
enemies, yet he had conducted his affairs so that the Law could not
possibly lay hold of him, nor his excuses be easily detected, even in
respect of honesty.

When he was brought up to the bar to receive sentence, he appeared to be
very much dejected, and when the usual question was proposed to him:
_What have you to say why judgment of death should not pass upon you?_
he spoke with a very feeble voice in the following terms.

_My Lord, I hope even in the sad condition in which I stand, I may
pretend to some little merit in respect to the service I have done my
country, in delivering it from some of the greatest pests with which it
was ever troubled. My Lord, I have brought many bold and daring
malefactors to just punishment, even at the hazard of my own life, my
body being covered with scars I received in these undertakings. I
presume, my Lord, to say I have done merit, because at the time the
things were done, they were esteemed meritorious by the government; and
therefore I hope, my Lord, some compassion may be shown on the score of
those services. I submit myself wholly to his Majesty's mercy, and
humbly beg a favourable report of my case._

When Sir William Thomson[65] (now one of the barons of his Majesty's
Court of Exchequer), as Recorder of London, pronounced sentence of
death, he spoke particularly to Wild, put him in mind of those cautions
he had had against going on in those practices rendered capital by Law,
made on purpose for preventing that infamous trade of becoming broker
for felony, and standing in the middle between the felon and the person
injured, in order to receive a premium for redress. And when he had
properly stated the nature and aggravations of his crime, he exhorted
him to make a better use of that small portion of time, which the
tenderness of the law of England allowed sinners for repentance, and
desired he would remember this admonition though he had slighted others.
As to the report he told him, he might depend on Justice, and ought not
to hope for any more.

Under conviction, no man who appeared upon other occasions to have so
much courage, ever showed so little. He had constantly declined ever
coming to chapel, under pretence of lameness and indisposition; when
clergymen took the pains to visit him and instruct him in those duties
which it became a dying man to practice, though he heard them without
interruption, yet he heard them coldly. Instead of desiring to be
instructed on that head, he was continually suggesting scruples and
doubts about a future state, asking impertinent questions as to the
state of souls departed, and putting frequent cases of the
reasonableness and lawfulness of suicide, where an ignominious death was
inevitable, and the thing was perpetrated only to avoid shame. He was
more especially swayed to such notions he pretended, from the examples
of the famous heroes of antiquity, who to avoid dishonourable treatment,
had given themselves a speedy death. As such discourses were what took
up most of the time between his sentence and death, so that occasioned
some very useful lectures upon this head from the charitable divines who
visited him; but though they would have been of great use in all such
cases for the future, yet being pronounced by word of mouth only, they
are now totally lost. One letter indeed was written to him by a learned
person on this head, of which a copy has been preserved, and it is with
great pleasure that I give it to my readers, it runs thus:

A letter from the Reverend Dr. ---- to Mr. Wild in Newgate.

I am very sorry that after a life so spent as yours is notoriously
known to have been, you should yet, instead of repenting of your
former offences, continue to swell their number even with greater. I
pray God that it be not the greatest of all sins, affecting doubts
as to a future state, and whether you shall ever be brought to
answer for your actions in this life, before a tribunal in that
which is to come.

The heathens, it must be owned, could have no certainty as to the
immortality of the soul, because they had no immediate revelation;
for though the reasons which incline us to the belief of those two
points of future existence and future tribulation be as strong as
any of the motives are to other points in natural religion, yet as
none return from that land of darkness, or escape from the shadow of
death to bring news of what passeth in those regions whither all men
go, so without a direct revelation from the Almighty no positive
knowledge could be had of life in the world to come, which is
therefore properly said to be derived to us through Christ Jesus,
who in plain terms, and with that authority which confounded his
enemies, the Scribes and Pharisees, taught the doctrine of a final
judgment, and by affording us the means of grace, raised in us at
the same time the hopes of glory.

The arguments, therefore, which might appear sufficient unto the
heathens, to justify killing themselves to avoid what they thought
greater evils, if they had any force then must have totally lost it
now. Indeed, the far greater number of instances which history has
transmitted us, show that self-murder, even then, proceeded from the
same causes as at present, viz., rage, despair, and disappointment.
Wise men in all ages despised it as a mean and despicable flight
from evils the soul wanted courage and strength to bear. This has
not only been said by philosophers, but even by poets, too; which
shows that it appeared a notion, not only rational, but heroic.
There are none so timorous, says Martial, but extremity of want may
force upon a voluntary death; those few alone are to be accounted
brave who can support a life of evil and the pressing load of
misery, without having recount to a dagger.

But if there were no more in it than the dispute of which was the
most gallant act of the two, to suffer, or die, it would not deserve
so much consideration. The matter with you is of far greater
importance, it is not how, or in what manner you ought to die in
this world, but how you are to expect mercy and happiness in that
which is to come. This is your last stake, and all that now can
deserve your regard. Even hope is lost as to present life, and if
you make use of your reason, it must direct you to turn all your
wishes and endeavours towards attaining happiness in a future state.
What, then, remains to be examined in respect of this question is
whether persons who slay themselves can hope for pardon or happiness
in the sentence of that Judge from whom there is no appeal, and
whose sentence, as it surpasses all understanding, so is it executed

If we judge only from reason, it seems that we have no right over a
life which we receive not from ourselves, or from our parents, but
from the immediate gift of Him who is the Lord thereof, and the
Fountain of Being.

To take away our own life, then, is contradicting as far as we are
able the Laws of Providence, and that disposition which His wisdom
has been pleased to direct. It is as though we pretended to have
more knowledge or more power than he; and as to that pretence which
is usually made use of, that Life is meant as a blessing, and that
therefore when it becomes an evil, we may if we think fit resign it,
it is indeed but a mere sophistry. We acknowledge God to be infinite
in all perfections, and consequently in wisdom and power; from the
latter we receive our existence in this Life, and as to the measure
it depends wholly on the former; so that if we from the shallow
dictates of our reason contemptuously shorten that term which is
appointed us by the Almighty, we thereby contradict all His laws,
throw up all right to His promises, and by the very last act we are
capable of, put ourselves out of His protection.

This I say is the prospect of the fruits of suicide, looked on with
the eye only of natural religion; and the opinion of Christians is
unanimous in this respect, that persons who wilfully deprive
themselves of life here, involve themselves also in death
everlasting. As to your particular case, in which you say 'tis only
making choice of one death rather than another, there are also the
strongest reasons against it, The Law intends your death, not only
for the punishment of your crimes, but as an example to deter
others. The Law of God which hath commanded that the magistrates
should not bear the sword in vain, hath given power to denounce this
sentence against you; but that authority which you would assume,
defeats both the law of the land in its intention, and is opposite
also unto the Law of God. Add unto all this, the example of our
blessed Saviour, who submitted to be hung upon a tree, tho' He had
only need of praying to His Father to have sent Him thousands of
Angels; yet chose He the death of a thief, that the Will of God, and
the sentence even of an unrighteous judge might be satisfied.

Let, then, the testimony of your own reason, your reverence towards
God, and the hopes which you ought to have in Jesus Christ,
determine you to await with patience the hour of your dissolution,
dispose you to fill up the short interval which yet remains with
sincere repentance, and enable you to support your sufferings with
such a Christian spirit of resignation, as may purchase for you an
eternal weight of glory. In the which you shall always be assisted
with my Prayers to God.

Who am, etc.

Jonathan at last pretended to be overcome with the reasons which had
been offered to him on the subject of self-murder. But it plainly
appeared that in this he was a hypocrite; for the day before his
execution, notwithstanding the keepers had the strictest eye on him
imaginable, somebody conveyed to him a bottle of liquid laudanum, of
which having taken a very large quantity, he hoped it would forestall
his dying at the gallows. But as he had not been sparing in the dose, so
the largeness of it made a speedy effect, which was perceived by his
fellow-prisoners seeing he could not open his eyes at the time that
prayers were said to them as usual in the condemned hold. Whereupon they
walked him about, which first made him sweat exceedingly, and he was
then very sick. At last he vomited, and they continuing still to lead
him, he threw the greatest part of the laudanum off from his stomach.
Notwithstanding that, he continued very drowsy, stupid and unable to do
anything but gasp out his breath until it was stopped by the halter.

He went to execution in a cart, and instead of expressing any kind of
pity or compassion for him, the people continued to throw stones and
dirt all the way along, reviling and cursing him to die last, and
plainly showed by their behaviour how much the blackness and notoriety
of his crimes had made him abhorred, and how little tenderness the
enemies of mankind meet with, when overtaken by the hand of Justice.

When he arrived at Tyburn, having by that gathered a little strength
(nature recovering from the convulsions in which the laudanum had thrown
him), the executioner told him he might take what time he pleased to
prepare his death. He therefore sat down in the cart for some small
time, during which the people were so uneasy that they called out
incessantly to the executioner to dispatch him, and at last threatened
to tear him to pieces if he did not tie him up immediately. Such a
furious spirit was hardly ever discovered in the populace upon such an
occasion. They generally look on blood with tenderness, and behold even
the stroke of Justice with tears; but so far were they from it in this
case that had a reprieve really come, 'tis highly questionable whether
the prisoner could ever have been brought back with safety, it being far
more likely that as they wounded him dangerously in the head in his
passage to Tyburn, they would have knocked him on the head outright, if
any had attempted to have brought mm back.

Before I part with Mr. Wild, 'tis requisite that I inform you in regard
to his wives, or those who were called his wives, concerning whom so
much noise has been made. His first was a poor honest woman who
contented herself to live at Wolverhampton, with the son she had by him,
without ever putting him to any trouble, or endeavouring to come up to
Town to take upon her the style and title of Madam Wild, which the last
wife he lived with did with the greatest affection. The next whom he
thought fit to dignify with the name of his consort, was the
afore-mentioned Mrs. Milliner, with whom he continued in very great
intimacy after they lived separately, and by her means carried on the
first of his trade in detecting stolen goods. The third one was Betty
Man, a woman of the town in her younger days, but so suddenly struck
with horror by a Romish priest that she turned Papist; and as she
appeared in her heart exceedingly devout and thoroughly penitent for all
her sins, it is to be hoped such penitence might merit forgiveness,
however erroneous the principle might be of that Church in the communion
of which she died. Wild ever retained such an impression of the sanctity
of this woman after her decease, and so great veneration for her, that
he ordered his body to be buried next hers in Pancras Churchyard, which
his friends saw accordingly performed, about two o'clock in the morning
after his execution.[66]

The next of Mr. Wild's sultana's was Sarah Perrin, _alias_ Graystone,
who survived him; then there was Judith Nunn, by whom he had a daughter,
who at the time of his decease might be about ten years old, both mother
and daughter being then living. The sixth and last was no less
celebrated as Mrs. or Madam Wild, than he was remarkable by the style of
Wild the Thief-catcher, or, by way of irony, of Benefit Jonathan. Before
her first marriage this remarkable damsel was known by the name of Mary
Brown, afterwards by that of Mrs. Dean, being wife to Skull Dean who was
executed about the year 1716 or 1717 for housebreaking. Some malicious
people have reported that Jonathan was accessory to hanging him merely
for the sake of the reward, and the opportunity of taking his relict,
who, whatever regard she might have for her first husband, is currently
reported to have been so much affected with the misfortunes that
happened to the latter, that she twice attempted to make away with
herself, after she had the news of his being under sentence of death.
However, by this his last lady, he left no children, and but two by his
three other wives were living at the time of his decease.

As to the person of the man, it was homely to the greatest degree. There
was something remarkably villainous in his face, which nature had
imprinted in stronger terms than perhaps she ever did upon any other;
however, he was strong and active, a fellow of prodigious boldness and
resolution, which made the pusillanimity shown at his death more
remarkable. In his life-time he was not at all shy in owning his
profession, but on the contrary bragged of it upon all occasions; into
which perhaps he was led by that ridiculous respect which was paid him,
and the meanness of spirit some persons of distinction were guilty of in
talking to him freely.

Common report has swelled the number of malefactors executed through his
means to no less than one hundred and twenty; certain it is that they
were very numerous in reality as in his own reckoning. The most
remarkable of them were these: White, Thurland, and Dunn, executed for
the murder of Mrs. Knap, and robbing Thomas Mickletwait, Esq.; James
Lincoln and Robert Wilkinson, for robbing and murdering Peter Martin,
the Chelsea Pensioner (but it must be noted that they denied the murder
even with their last breath); James Shaw, convicted by Jonathan, for the
murder of Mr. Pots, though he had been apprehended by others; Humphrey
Angier, who died for robbing Mr. Lewin, the City Marshal; John Levee and
Matthew Flood, for robbing the Honourable Mr. Young and Colonel Cope, of
a watch and other things of value; Richard Oakey, for robbing of Mr.
Betts, in Fig Lane; John Shepherd and Joseph Blake, for breaking the
house of Mr. Kneebone; with many others, some of which, such as John
Malony and Val Carrick, were of an older date.

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


(_From the Newgate Calendar_)]


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

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

[63] This was the Poultry Compter.

[64] Her name was really Statham.

[65] See page 418.

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

The Life of JOHN LITTLE, a Housebreaker and Thief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[67] See note, page 243.

[68] That is, Tyburn tree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[69] See page 230.

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

The Life of FOSTER SNOW, a Murderer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[71] See note, page 218.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Life of JAMES LITTLE, a Footpad and Highwayman

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

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

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

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

The Life of JOHN HAMP, Footpad and Highwayman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Lives of JOHN AUSTIN, a Footpad, JOHN FOSTER, a Housebreaker, and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Life of FRANCIS BAILEY, a notorious Highwayman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Life of WILLIAM SWIFT, a Thief, etc.

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

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

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

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


(_From the Newgate Calendar_)]

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

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

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

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

Footpads, Housebreakers and Murderers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The morning before the murder of Thomas Ball, Burnworth, and Barton,
whom we have before mentioned, pitched upon the house of an old Justice
of the Peace of Clerkenwell, to whom they had a particular pique for

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