Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

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 8 out of 15

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

having formerly committed Burnworth, and proposed it to their companions
to break it open that night, or rather the next morning (for it was
about one of the clock). They put their design in execution and executed
it successfully, carrying off some things of real value, and a
considerable parcel of what they took to be silver plate. With this they
went into the fields above Islington, and from thence to Copenhagen
House, where they spent the greatest part of the day. On parting the
booty Burnworth perceived what they had taken for silver was nothing
more than a gilt metal, at which he in a rage would have thrown it away;
Barton opposed it, and said they should be able to sell it for
something, to which Burnworth replied that it was good for nothing but
to discover them, and therefore it should not be preserved at any rate.
Upon this they differed, and while they were debating, came Blewit,
Berry, Dickenson, Higgs, Wilson, Levee, and Marjoram, who joined the
company. Burnworth and Barton agreed to toss up at whose disposal the
silver ware should be, they did so, and it fell to Burnworth to dispose
of it as he thought fit, upon which he carried it immediately to the New
River side, and threw it in there, adding that he was sorry he had not
the old Justice himself there, to share the same fate, being really as
much out of humour at the thing as if the Justice had imposed upon them
in a fair sale of the commodity, so easy a thing is it for men to impose
upon themselves.

As it happened they were all present pretty full of money, and so under
no necessity of going upon any enterprise directly, wherefore they
loitered up and down the fields until towards evening, when they thought
they might venture unto town, and pass the time in their usual pleasures
of drinking, gaming, and whoring. While they were thus (as the French
say) murdering of time, a comrade of theirs came up puffing and blowing
as if ready to break his heart. As soon as he reached them, _Lads_,
says he, _beware of one thing; the constables have been all about Chick
Lane in search of folk of our profession, and if ye venture to the house
where we were to have met to-night, 'tis ten to one but we are all

This intelligence occasioned a deep consultation amongst them, what
method they had best take, in order to avoid the danger which threatened
them so nearly. Burnworth took this occasion to exhort them to keep
together, telling them that as they were armed with three or four
pistols apiece, and short daggers under their clothes, a small force
would not venture to attack them. This was approved by all the rest, and
when they had passed the afternoon in this manner, and had made a solemn
oath to stand by one another in case of danger, they resolved, as night
grew on, to draw towards town, Barton having at the beginning of these
consultations, quitted them and gone home.

As they came through Turnmill Street, they accidentally met the keeper
of New Prison, from whom Burnworth had escaped about six weeks before.
He desired Edward to step across the way with him, adding that he saw he
had no arms, and that he did not intend to do him any prejudice.
Burnworth replied that he was no way in fear of him, nor apprehensive of
any injury he was able to do him, and so concealing a pistol in his
hand, he stepped over to him, his companions waiting for him in the
street. But the neighbours having some suspicion of them, and of the
methods they followed to get money, began to gather about them; upon
which they called to their companion to come away, which he, after
making a low bow to the captain of New Prison, did. Finding the people
increase they thought it their most advisable method to retire back in a
body into the fields. This they did keeping very close together; and in
order to deter the people from making any attempts, turned several times
and presented their pistols in their faces, swearing they would murder
the first man who came near enough for them to touch him. And the people
being terrified to see such a gang of obdurate villains, dispersed as
they drew near the fields, and left them at liberty to go whither they

As soon as they had dispersed their pursuers, they entered into a fresh
consultation as to what manner they would dispose of themselves.
Burnworth heard what every one proposed, and said at last, that he
thought the best thing they could do was to enter with as much privacy
as they could, the other quarter of the town, and so go directly to the
waterside. They approved his proposal, and accordingly getting down to
Blackfriars, crossed directly into Southwark; and retired at last into
St. George's Fields, where their last counsel was held to settle the
operation of the night. There Burnworth exerted himself in his proper
colours, informing them that there was no less danger of their being
apprehended there, than about Chick Lane; for that one Thomas Ball (who
kept a gin-shop in the Mint, and who was very well acquainted with most
of their persons) had taken it into his head to venture upon Jonathan
Wild's employment, and was for all that purpose indefatigable in
searching out all their haunts, that he might get a good penny to
himself apprehending them. He added that but a few nights ago, he
narrowly missed being caught by him, being obliged to clap a pistol to
his face, and threatened to shoot him dead if he offered to lay his
hands on him. _Therefore_, continued Burnworth, _the surest way for us
to procure safety, is to go to this rogue's house, and shoot him dead
upon the spot. His death will not only secure us from all fears of his
treachery, but it will likewise so terrify others that nobody will take
up the trade of thief-catching in haste; and if it were not for such
people who are acquainted with us and our houses of resort there would
hardly one of our profession in a hundred see the inside of Newgate._

Burnworth had scarce made an end of his bloody proposal, before they all
testified their assent to it with great alacrity, Higgs only excepted;
who seeming to disapprove thereof, it put the rest into such a passion
that they upbraided him in the most opprobious terms with being a coward
and a scoundrel, unworthy of being any longer the companion of such
brave fellows as themselves. When Frazier had sworn them all to stick
fast by one another, he put himself at their head, and away they went
directly to put their designed assassination into execution. Higgs
retreated under favour of the night, being apprehensive of himself when
their hands were in, since he, not being quite so wicked as the rest,
might share the fate of Ball upon the first dislike to him that took

As for Burnworth and his party, when they came to Ball's house and
enquired of his wife for him, they were informed that he was gone to the
next door, a public house, and that she would step and call him, and
went accordingly. Burnworth immediately followed her and meeting Ball at
the door, took him fast by the collar, and dragged him into his own
house, and began to expostulate with him as to the reason why he had
attempted to take him, and how ungenerous it was for him to seek to
betray his old friends and acquaintances. Ball, apprehending their
mischievous intentions, addressed himself to Blewit, and begged of him
to be an intercessor for him, and that they would not murder him; but
Burnworth with an oath replied, he would put it out of the power of Ball
ever to do him any further injury, that he should never get a penny by
betraying him, and thereupon immediately shot him.

Having thus done, they all went out of doors again, and that the
neighbourhood might suppose the firing of the pistol to have been done
without any ill-intention, and only to discharge the same, Blewitt fired
another in the street over the tops of the houses, saying aloud, they
were got safe into town and there was no danger of meeting any rogues
there. Ball attempted to get as far as the door, but in vain, for he
dropped immediately, and died in a few minutes afterwards.

Having this executed their barbarous design, they went down from Ball's
house directly towards the Falcon,[73] intending to cross the water back
again. By the way they accidentally met with Higgs, who was making to
the waterside likewise. Him they fell upon and rated for a pusilanimous
cowardly dog (as Burnworth called him) that would desert them in an
affair of such consequence, and then questioned whether Higgs himself
would not betray them. Burnworth proposed it to the company to shoot
their old comrade Higgs, because he had deserted them in their late
expedition; which it is believed, in the humour Burnworth was then in,
he would have done, had not Marjoram interposed and pleaded for sparing
his life. From the Falcon stairs they crossed the water to Trig
Stairs[74]; and then consulting how to spend the evening, they resolved
to go to the Boar's Head Tavern, in Smithfield, as not being at a
distance from the waterside, in case any pursuit should be made after
them, on account of the murder by them committed. At which place they
continued until near ten of the clock, when they separated themselves
into parties for that night, viz., one party towards the Royal Exchange,
the second to St. Paul's Churchyard, the third to Temple Bar, in pursuit
of their old trade of diving.

This murder made them more cautious of appearing in public, and Blewit,
Berry and Dickenson soon after set out for Harwich, and went over in a
packet boat from thence for Helveot-Sluys. Higgs also being daily in
fear of a discovery, shipped himself on board the _Monmouth_ man-of-war,
at Spithead, where he thought himself safe, and began to be a little at
ease; but Justice quickly overtook him, when he thought himself safest
from its blow; for his brother who lived in town, having wrote a letter
to him, and given it to a ship's mate of his to carry to him at
Spithead, this man accidentally fell into company with one Arthur, a
watchman belonging to St. Sepulchre's Parish, and pulling the letters by
chance out of his pocket, the watchman saw the direction, and
recollected that Higgs was a companion of Frazier's. Upon this he sent
word to Mr. Delasay, Under-Secretary of State, and being examined as to
the circumstances of the thing, proper persons were immediately
dispatched to Spithead, who seized and brought him up in custody.
Wilson, another of the confederates, withdrew about the same time, and
had so much cunning as to preserve himself from being heard of for a
considerable time.

Burnworth, in the meanwhile, with some companions of his, continued to
carry on their rapacious plunderings in almost all parts of the town;
and as they kept pretty well united, and were resolute fellows, they did
a vast deal of mischief, and yet were too strong to be apprehended.
Amongst the rest of their pranks they were so audacious as to stop the
Earl of Scarborough, in Piccadilly, but the chairmen having courage
enough to draw their poles and knock one of the robbers down, the earl
at the same time coming out of the chair, and putting himself upon his
defence, after a smart dispute in which Burnworth shot one of the
chairmen in the shoulder and thereby prevented any pursuit, they raised
their wounded companion and withdrew in great confusion.

About this time their robberies and villainies having made so much noise
as to deserve the notice of the Government, a proclamation was published
for the apprehending Burnworth, Blewit, etc., it being justly supposed
that none but those who were guilty of these outrages could be the
persons concerned in the cruel murder of Ball. A gentleman who by
accident had brought one of these papers, came into the alehouse at
Whitecross Street, and read it publicly. The discourse of the company
turning thereupon, and the impossibility of the persons concerned making
their escape, and the likelihood there was that they would immediately
impeach one another. Marjoram, one of the gang, was there, though known
to nobody in the room; weighing the thing with himself, he retired
immediately from the house into the fields, where loitering about till
evening came on, he then stole with the utmost caution into Smithfield,
and going to a constable there, surrendered himself in a way of
obtaining a pardon, and the reward promised by the proclamation.

That night he was confined in the Wood Street Compter, his Lordship not
being at leisure to examine him. The next day, as he was going to his
examination, the noise of his surrender being already spread all over
the town, many of his companions changed their lodgings and provided for
their safety; but Barton thought of another method of securing himself
from Marjoram's impeachment, and therefore planting himself in the way
as Marjoram was carrying to Goldsmiths' Hall, he popped out upon him at
once, though the constable had him by the arm, and presenting a pistol
to him, said, _D----n ye, I'll kill you._ Marjoram, at the sound of his
voice, ducked his head, and he immediately firing, the ball grazed only
on his back, without doing him any hurt. The surprise with which all who
were assisting the constable in the execution of his office were all
struck upon this occasion gave an opportunity for Barton to retire,
after his committing such an insult on public justice, as perhaps was
never heard of. However, Marjoram proceeded to his examination, and made
a very full discovery of all the transactions in which he had been
concerned. Levee being taken that night by his directions in White Cross
Street, and after examination committed to Newgate.

Burnworth was now perfectly deprived of his old associates, yet he went
on at his old rate, even by himself; for a few nights after, he broke
open the shop and house of Mr. Beezely, a great distiller near Clare
Market, and took away from thence notes to a great value, with a
quantity of plate, which mistaking for white metal he threw away. One
Benjamin Jones picked it up and was thereupon hanged, being one of the
number under sentence when the Condemned Hold was shut up, and the
criminals refused to submit to the keepers. Burnworth was particularly
described in the proclamation, and three hundred pounds offered to any
who would apprehend him; yet so audacious was he as to come directly to
a house in Holborn, where he was known, and laying a loaded pistol down
on the table, called for a pint of beer, which he drank and paid for,
defying anybody to touch him, though they knew him to be the person
mentioned in the proclamation. It would be needless to particularise any
other bravadoes of his, which were so numerous that it gave no little
uneasiness to the magistrates, who perceived the evil consequences that
would show if such things should become frequent; they therefore doubled
their diligence in endeavouring to apprehend him, yet all their attempts
were to little purpose, and it is possible he might have gone on much
longer if he had not betrayed the natural consequence of one rogue's
trusting another.

It happened at this time, that one Christopher Leonard was in prison for
some such feats as Burnworth had been guilty of, who lodged at the same
time with the wife and sister of the fellow. Kit Leonard, knowing in
what state he himself was, and supposing nothing could so effectually
recommend to him the mercy and favour of the Government as the procuring
Frazier to be apprehended, who had so long defied all the measures they
had taken for that purpose, he accordingly made the proposal by his
wife to persons in authority. And the project being approved they
appointed a sufficient force to assist in seizing him, who were placed
at an adjoining alehouse, where Kate, the wife of Kit Leonard, was to
give them the signal.

About six of the clock in the evening of Shrove Tuesday, Kate Leonard
and her sister and Burnworth being all together (it not being late
enough for him to go out upon his nightly enterprises) Kate Leonard
proposed they should fry some pancakes for supper, which the other two
approved of, accordingly her sister set about them. Burnworth took off
his surtout coat, in the pocket of the lining whereof he had several
pistols. There was a little back door to the house, which Burnworth
usually kept upon the latch, in order to make his escape if he should be
surprised or discovered to be in that house. Unperceived by Burnworth,
and whilst her sister was frying the pancakes, Kate went to the alehouse
for a pot of drink, when having given the men who were there waiting for
him the signal, she returned, and closed the door after her, but
designedly missed the staple. The door being thus upon the jar only, as
she gave the drink to Burnworth, the six persons rushed into the room.
Burnworth hearing the noise and fearing the surprise, jumped up,
thinking to have made his escape at the back door, not knowing it to be
bolted; but they were upon him before he could get it open, and holding
his hands behind him, one of them tied them, whilst another, to
intimidate him, fired a pistol over his head. Having thus secured him,
they immediately carried him before a Justice of the Peace, who after a
long examination committed him to Newgate.

Notwithstanding his confinement in that place, he was still director of
such of his companions as remained at liberty, and communicating to them
the suspicions he had of Kate Leonard's betraying him, and the dangers
there were of her detecting some of the rest, they were easily induced
to treat her as they had done Ball. One of them fired a pistol at her,
just as she was entering her own house, but that missing, they made two
or three other attempts of the same nature, until the Justice of the
Peace placed a guard thereabouts, in order to secure her from being
killed, and if possible to seize those who should attempt it, after
which they heard no more of these sorts of attacks. In Newgate they
confined Burnworth to the Condemned Hold, and took what other necessary
precautions they thought proper in order to secure so dangerous a
person, and who they were well enough aware meditated nothing but how to

He was in this condition when the malefactors before-mentioned, viz.,
Barton, Swift, etc., were under sentence, and it was shrewdly suspected
that he put them upon that attempt of breaking out, of which we have
given an account before. There were two things which more immediately
contributed to the defeating their design; the one was, that though five
of them were to die the next day, yet four of them were so drunk that
they were not able to work; the other was that they were so negligent in
providing candles that two hours after they were locked up they were
forced to lie-by for want of light.

As we have already related the particulars of this story, we shall not
take up our reader's time in mentioning them again, but go on with the
story of Burnworth. Upon suspicion of his being the projector of that
enterprise the keepers removed him into the Bilbow Room, and there
loaded him with irons, leaving him by himself to lament the miseries of
his misspent life in the solitude of his wretched confinement; yet
nothing could break the wicked stubbornness of his temper, which, as it
had led him to those practices justly punished with so strait a
confinement, so it now urged him continually to force his way through
all opposition, and thereby regain his liberty, in order to practice
more villainies of the same sort, with those in which he had hitherto
spent his time.

It is impossible to say how, but by some method or other he had procured
saws, files, and other instruments for this purpose; with these he first
released himself from his irons, then broke through the wall of the room
in which he was lodged, and thereby got into the women's apartment, the
window of which was fortified with three tier of iron bars. Upon these
he went immediately to work, and in a little time forced one of them;
while he was filing the next, one of the women, to ingratiate herself
with the keepers, gave notice, whereupon they came immediately and
dragged him back to the Condemned Hold and there stapled him down to the

The course of our memoirs leads us now to say something of the rest of
his companions, who in a very short space came most of them to be
collected to share that punishment which the Law had so justly appointed
for their crimes. We will begin, then, with William Blewit, who, next to
Frazier, was the chief person in the gang. He was one of St. Giles's
breed, his father a porter, and his mother, at the time of his execution
selling greens in the same parish. They were both of them unable to give
their son education or otherwise provide for him, which occasioned his
being put out by the parish to a perfumer of gloves; but his temper from
his childhood inclining him to wicked practices, he soon got himself
into a gang of young pickpockets, with whom he practised several years
with impunity. But being at last apprehended in the very act, he was
committed to Newgate, and on plain proof convicted the next sessions,
and ordered for transportation. Being shipped on board the vessel with
other wretches in the same condition, he was quickly let into the secret
of their having provided for an escape by procuring saws, files, and
other implements, put up in a little barrel, which they pretended
contained gingerbread, and such other little presents which were given
them by relations. Blewitt immediately foresaw abundance of difficulties
in their design, and therefore resolved to make a sure use of it for his
own advantage. This he did by communicating all he knew to the captain,
who thereupon immediately seized their tools, and thereby prevented the
loss of his ship, which otherwise in all probability would have been
effected by the conspirators.

In return for this service, Blewit obtained his freedom, which did not
serve him for any better purpose than his return to London as soon as be
was able. Whether he went again upon his old practices before he was
apprehended, we cannot determine, but before he had continued two months
in town, somebody seized him, and committed him to Newgate. At the next
sessions he was tried and convicted for returning from transportation,
but pleading, when he received sentence of death, the service he had
done in preventing the attempt of the other malefactors, execution was
respited until the return of the captain, and on his report the sentence
was changed into a new transportation, and leave given him also to go to
what foreign port he would. But he no sooner regained his liberty than
he put it to the same use as before, and took up the trade of snatching
hats, wigs, etc., until he got into acquaintance with Burnworth and his
gang, who taught him other methods of robbing than he had hitherto
practised. Like most of the unhappy people of his sort, he had to his
other crimes added the marriage of several wives, of which the first was
reputed a very honest and modest woman, and it seems had so great a love
for him, notwithstanding the wickedness of his behaviour, that upon her
visiting him at Newgate, the day before they set out for Kingston, she
was oppressed with so violent a grief as to fall down dead in the lodge.
Another of his wives married Emanuel Dickenson and survived them both.

His meeting Burnworth that afternoon before Ball's murder was
accidental, but the savageness of his temper led him to a quick
compliance with that wicked proposition; but after the commission of
that fact, he with his companions before mentioned went over in the
packet boat to Holland. Guilt is a companion which never suffers rest
to enter any bosom where it inhabits; they were so uneasy after their
arrival there, lest an application should be made from the Government at
home, that they were constantly perusing the English newspapers as they
came over to the coffee houses in Rotterdam, that they might gain
intelligence of what advertisements, rewards, or other methods had been
taken to apprehend the persons concerned in Ball's murder; resolving on
the first news of a proclamation, or other interposition of the State on
that occasion, immediately to quit the Dominions of the Republic. But as
Burnworth had been betrayed by the only persons from whom he could
reasonably hope assistance; Higgs seized on board a ship where he
fancied himself secure from all searches; so Blewit and his associates,
though they daily endeavoured to acquaint themselves with the
transactions at London relating to them, fell also into the hands of
Justice, when they least expected it. So equal are the decrees of
providence, and so inevitable the strokes of Divine vengeance.

The proclamation for apprehending them came no sooner to the hands of
Mr. Finch, the British resident at the Hague, but he immediately caused
an enquiry to be made, whether any such persons as were therein
described had been seen at Rotterdam. Being assured that there had, and
that they were lodged at the Hamburgh's Arms on the Boom Keys in that
City, he sent away a special messenger to enquire the truth thereof; of
which he was no sooner satisfied, than he procured an order from the
States General for apprehending them anywhere within the Province. By
virtue of this order the messenger, with the assistance of the proper
officers for that purpose in Holland, apprehended Blewit at the house
whither they had been directed; his two companions Dickenson and Berry,
had left him and were gone aboard a ship, not caring to remain any
longer in Holland. They conducted their prisoner to the Stadt House
Prison in Rotterdam, and then went to the Brill, where the ship on board
which his companions were, not being cleared out, they surprised them
also, and having handcuffed them, sent them under a strong guard to
Rotterdam, where they put them in the same place with their old
associate Blewit. We shall now therefore take an opportunity of speaking
of each of them, and acquainting the reader with those steps by which
they arose to that unparalleled pitch of wickedness which rendered them
alike the wonder and detestation of all the sober part of mankind.

Emanuel Dickenson was the son of a very worthy person, whose memory I
shall be very careful not to stain upon this occasion. The lad was ever
wild and ungovernable in his temper, and being left a child at his
father's death, himself, his brother, and several sisters were thrown
all upon the hands of their mother, who was utterly unable to support
them in those extravagancies to which they were inclined. Whereupon they
unfortunately addicted themselves to such evil courses as to them seemed
likely to provide such a supply of money as might enable them to take
such licentious pleasures as were suitable to their vicious
inclinations. The natural consequence of which was that they all fell
under misfortunes, especially Emanuel of whom we are speaking, who
addicted himself to picking of pockets, and such kind of facts for a
considerable space. At last, attempting to snatch a gentleman's hat off
in the Strand, he was seized with it in his hand, and committed to
Newgate, and at the next sessions convicted and ordered for
transportation. But his mother applying at Court for a pardon, and
setting forth the merit of his father, procured his discharge. The only
use he made of this was to associate himself with his old companions,
who by degrees led him into greater villainies than any he had till that
time been concerned in; and at last falling under the direction of
Burnworth, he was with the rest drawn into the murder of Ball. After
this he followed Blewit's advice, and not thinking himself safe even in
Holland, he and Berry (as has been said) were actually on ship board, in
order to their departure.

Thomas Berry was a beggar, if not a thief, from his cradle, descended
from parents in the most wretched circumstances, who being incapable of
giving him an honest education suffered him on the contrary to idle
about the streets, and to get into such gangs of thieves and pickpockets
as taught him from his infancy the arts of _diving_ (as they in their
cant call it). And as he grew in years they still brought him on to a
greater proficiency in such evil practices, in which however he did not
always meet with impunity; for besides getting into the little prisons
about town, and being whipped several times at the houses of correction,
he had also been thrice in Newgate, and for the last fact convicted and
ordered for transportation. However, by some means or other, he got away
from the ship, and returned quickly to his old employment; in which he
had not continued long, before falling into the acquaintance of
Burnworth, it brought him first to the commission of a cruel murder, and
after that with great justice to suffer an ignominious death. Having
been thus particular on the circumstances of each malefactor distinctly,
let us return to the thread of our story, and observe to what period
their wicked designs and lawless courses brought them at the last.

After they were all three secured, and safe confined in Rotterdam, the
resident dispatched an account thereof to England; whereupon he received
directions for applying to the States-General for leave to send them
back. This was readily granted, and six soldiers were ordered to attend
them on board, besides the messengers who were sent to fetch them.
Captain Samuel Taylor, in the _Delight_ sloop, brought them safe to the
Nore, where they were met by two other messengers, who assisted in
taking charge of them up the river. In the midst of all the miseries
they suffered, and the certainty they had of being doomed to suffer much
more as soon as they came on shore, yet they behaved themselves with the
greatest gaiety imaginable, were full of their jests and showed as much
pleasantness as if their circumstances had been the most happy.
Observing a press-gang very busy on the water, and that the people in
the boat shunned them with great care, they treated them with the most
opprobrious language, and impudently dared the lieutenant to come and
press them for the service. On their arrival at the Tower, they were put
into a boat with the messengers, with three other boats to guard them,
each of which was filled with a corporal and a file of musqueteers; and
in this order they were brought to Westminster. After being examined
before Justice Chalk and Justice Blackerby they were all three put into
a coach, and conducted by a party of Foot-guards to Newgate through a
continued line of spectators, who by their loud huzzas proclaimed their
joy at seeing these egregious villains in the hands of justice; for
they, like Jonathan Wild, were so wicked as to lose the compassion of
the mob.

On their arrival at Newgate, the keepers expressed a very great
satisfaction, and having put on each a pair of the heaviest irons in the
gaol, and taken such other precautions as they thought necessary for
securing them, they next did them the honour of conducting them upstairs
to their old friend Edward Burnworth. Having congratulated them on their
safe arrival and they condoled with him on his confinement, they took
their places near him, and had the convenience of the same apartment and
were shackled in the like manner. They did not appear to show the least
sign of contrition or remorse for what they had done; on the contrary
they spent their time with all the indifference imaginable. Great
numbers of people had the curiosity to come to Newgate to see them, and
Blewit upon all occasions made use of every opportunity to excite their
charity, alleging they had been robbed of everything when they were
seized. Burnworth, with an air of indifference replied, _D----n this
Blewit, because he had got a long wig and ruffled shirt he takes the
liberty to talk more than any of us._ Being exhorted to apply the little
time they had to live in preparing themselves for another world,
Burnworth replied that if they had any inclination to think of a future
state, it was impossible in their condition, so many persons as were
admitted to come to view them in their present circumstances must needs
divert any good thoughts. But their minds were totally taken up with
consulting the most likely means to make their escape and extricate
themselves from the bolts and shackles with which they were clogged and
encumbered; and indeed all their actions showed their thoughts were bent
only on enlargement, and that they were altogether unmindful of death,
or at least careless of the future consequence thereof.

On Wednesday, the 30th of March, 1726, Burnworth, Blewit, Berry
Dickenson, Levee, and Higgs, were all put into a waggon, handcuffed and
chained, and carried to Kingston under a guard of the Duke of Bolton's
horse. At their coming out of Newgate they were very merry, charging the
guard to take care that no misfortune happened to them, and called upon
the numerous crowd of spectators, both at their getting into the waggon,
and afterwards as they passed along the road, to show their respect they
bore them by halloaing, and to pay them the compliments due to gentlemen
of their profession, and called for several bottles of wine that they
might drink to their good journey. As they passed along the road they
endeavoured to show themselves very merry and pleasant by their
facetious discourse to the spectators, and frequently threw money
amongst the people who followed them, diverting themselves with seeing
the others strive for it. And particularly Blewit, having thrown out
some halfpence amongst the mob, a little boy who was present picked up
one of them, and calling out to Blewit, told him, that as sure as he
(the said Blewit) would be condemned at Kingston, so sure would he have
his name engraved thereon; whereupon Blewit took a shilling out of his
pocket and gave it to the boy, telling him there was something towards
defraying the charge of engraving and bid him be as good as his word,
which he promised he would.

On the 31st of March, the assizes were opened, together with the
commission of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery for the county of
Surrey, before the Right Hon. the Lord Chief Justice Raymond, and Mr.
Justice Denton; and the grand jury having found indictments against the
prisoners, they were severally arraigned thereupon, when five of them
pleaded not guilty. Burnworth absolutely refused to plead at all; upon
which, after being advised by the judge not to force the Court upon that
rigour which they were unwilling at any time to practice, and he still
continuing obstinate, his thumbs (as is usual in such cases) were tied
and strained with pack thread. This having no effect upon him, the
sentence of the press, or as it is sailed in Law, of the _Peine Fort et
Dure_, was read to him in these words: _You shall go to the place from
whence you came, and there being stripped naked and laid flat upon your
back on the floor, with a napkin about your middle to hide your privy
members, and a cloth on your face, then the press is to be laid upon
you, with as much weight as, or rather more than you can bear. You are
to have three morsels of barley-bread in twenty-four hours; a draught of
water from the next puddle near the gaol, but not running water. The
second day two morsels and the same water, with an increase of weight,
and so to the third day until you expire._

This sentence thus passed upon him, and he still continuing
contumacious, he was carried down to the stock-house, and the press laid
upon him, which he bore for the space of one hour and three minutes,
under the weight of three hundred, three quarters, and two pounds [424
lb.]. Whilst he continued under the press, he endeavoured to beat out
his brains against the floor, during which time the High Sheriff himself
was present, and frequently exhorted him to plead to the indictment.
This at last he consented to do; and being brought up to the Court,
after a trial which lasted from eight in the morning until one in the
afternoon, on the first day of April, they were all six found guilty of
the indictment, and being remanded back to the stock-house, were all
chained and stapled down to the floor.

Whilst they were under conviction, the terrors of death did not make any
impression upon them; they diverted themselves with repeating jests and
stories of various natures, particularly of the manner of their escapes
before out of the hands of justice, and the robberies and offences they
had committed. And it being proposed, for the satisfaction of the world,
for them to leave the particulars of the several robberies by them
committed, Burnworth replied that were he to write all the robberies by
him committed, a hundred sheets of paper, write as close as could be,
would not contain them. Notwithstanding what had been alleged by Higgs
of his forsaking his companions in the field, it appeared by other
evidence that he followed his companions to Ball's house, and was seen
hovering about the house during the time the murder was committed, with
a pistol in his hand.

As for Burnworth, after conviction, his behaviour was as ludicrous as
ever; and being as I said, a painter's son, he had some little notion of
designing, and therewith diverted himself in sketching his own picture
in several forms; particularly as he lay under the press. This being
engraved in copper, was placed in the frontispiece of a sixpenny book
which was published of his life, and the rest seemed to fall no way
short of him in that silly contempt of death, which with the vulgar
passes for resolution.

On Monday, the 4th day of April, they were brought up again from the
stock-house to receive sentence of death. Before he passed it upon them
Mr. Justice Denton made a very pathetic speech, in which he represented
to them the necessity there was of punishing crimes like theirs with
death, and exhorted them not to be more cruel to themselves than they
had obliged the law to be severe towards them, by squandering away the
small remainder of their time, and thereby adding to an ignominious end,
an eternal punishment hereafter. When sentence was passed, they
entreated leave for their friends to visit them in the prison, which was
granted them by the Court, but with a strict injunction to the keeper to
be careful over them. After they returned to the prison, they bent their
thought wholly on making their escape, and to that purpose sent to their
friends, and procured proper implements for the execution of it:
Burnworth's mother being surprised with several files, etc., about her,
and the whole plot discovered by Blewit's mother who was heard to say
that she had forgot the opium.

It seems the scheme was to murder the two persons who attended them in
the gaol, together with Mr. Eliot, the turnkey; after they had got out
they intended to have fired a slack of bavins [firewood] adjoining to
the prison, and thereby amused the inhabitants while they got clear off.
Burnworth's mother was confined for this attempt in his favour, and some
lesser implements that were sewed up in the waistband of their breeches
being ripped out, all hopes whatsoever of escape were now taken away.
Yet Burnworth affected to keep up the same spirit with which he had
hitherto behaved, and talked in a rhodomantade to one of his guard, of
coming in the night in a dark entry, and pulling him by the nose, if he
did not see him decently buried.

About ten of the clock, on Wednesday morning, together with one
Blackburn, who was condemned for robbing on the highway, a fellow
grossly ignorant and stupid, they were carried out in a cart to their
execution, being attended by a company of foot to the gallows. In their
passage thither, that audacious carriage in which they had so long
persisted totally forsook them, and they all appeared with all that
seriousness and devotion which might be looked for from persons in their
condition. Blewit perceiving one Mr. Warwick among the spectators
desired that he might stop to speak to him; which being granted, he
threw himself upon his knees, and earnestly intreated his pardon for
having once attempted his life by presenting a pistol at him, upon
suspicion that Mr. Warwick knowing what his profession was had given
information against him.

When at the place of execution and tied up, Blewit and Dickenson,
especially, prayed with great fervour and with a becoming earnestness,
exhorted all the young persons they saw near them to take warning by
them, and not follow such courses as might in time bring them to so
terrible an end. Blewit acknowledged that for sixteen years last past he
had lived by stealing and pilfering only. He had given all the clothes
he had to his mother, but being informed that he was to be hung in
chains, he desired his mother might return them to prevent his being put
up in his shirt. He then desired the executioner to tie him up so that
he might be as soon out of his pain as possible; then he said the
Penitential Psalm, and repeated the words of it to the other criminals.
Then they all kissed one another, and after some private devotions the
cart drew away and they were turned off. Dickenson died very hard,
kicking off one of his shoes, and loosing the other.

Their bodies were carried back under the same guard which attended them
to their execution. Burnworth and Blewit were afterwards hung in chains
over against the sign of the Fighting Cocks, in St. George's Fields,
Dickenson and Berry were hung up on Kennington Common, but the sheriff
of Surrey had orders at the same time to suffer his relations to take
down the body of Dickenson in order to be interred, after its hanging up
one day, which favour was granted on account of his father's service in
the army, who was killed at his post in the late war. Levee and Higgs
were hung up on Putney Common, beyond Wandsworth, which is all we have
to add concerning these hardened malefactors who so long defied the
justice of their country, and are now, to the joy of all honest people,
placed as spectacles for the warning of their companions who frequent
the places where they are hung in chains.


[73] Falcon Stairs were just east of where Blackfriars Bridge
now stands.

[74] Trig Lane ran from Thames Street to the water's edge, near
Lambeth Hill.

The Life of JOHN GILLINGHAM, an Highwayman and Footpad, etc.

As want of education hath brought many who might otherwise have done
very well in the world to a miserable end, so the best education and
instructions are often of no effect to stubborn and corrupt minds. This
was the case of John Gillingham, of whom we are now to give an account.
He had been brought up at Westminster School, but all he acquired there
was only a smattering of learning and a great deal of self-conceit,
fancying labour was below him, and that he ought to live the life of a
gentleman. He associated himself with such companions as pretended to
teach him this art of easily attaining money. He was a person very
inclinable to follow such advices, and therefore readily came into these
proposals as soon as they were made. Amongst the rest of his
acquaintance, he became very intimate with Burnworth, and made one of
the number in attacking the chair of the Earl of Scarborough, near St.
James's Church, and was the person who shot the chairman in the

As he was a young man of a good deal of spirit, so he committed
abundance of facts in a very short space; but the indefatigable industry
which the officers of Justice exerted, in apprehending Frazier's
desperate gang, soon brought him to the miserable end consequent from
such wicked courses. He was indicted for assaulting Robert Sherly, Esq.,
upon the highway, and taking from him a watch value L20. He was a second
time indicted for assaulting John du Cummins, a footman, and taking from
him a silver watch, a snuff-box, and five guineas in money. Both of
which facts he steadily denied after his conviction, but there was a
third crime of which he was convicted, viz., sending a letter to extort
money from Simon Smith, Esq., and which follows in these words:

Mr. Smith.

I desire you to send me twenty guineas by the bearer, without
letting him know what it is for, he is innocent of the contents if
your offer to speak of this to anybody---- My blood and soul, if you
are not dead man before monday morning; and if you don't send the
money, the devil dash my brains out, if I don't shoot you the first
time you stir out of doors, or if I should be taken there are others
that will do your business for you by the first opportunity,
therefore pray fail not ----. Strike me to instant D---- if I am not
as good as my word.

To Mr. Smith in Great George Street over against the Church near
Hanover Square.

He confessed that he knew of the writing and sending this epistle, but
denied that he did it himself, and indeed the indictment set forth that
it was in company with one John Mason, then deceased, that the said
conspiracy was formed. Under sentence of death, he behaved himself very
sillily, laughing and scoffing at his approaching end, and saying to one
of his companions, as the keeper went downstairs before them, _Let us
knock him down and take his keys from him. If one leads to heaven, and
the other to hell, we shall at least have a chance to get the right!_
Yet when death with all its horror stared him in the face, he began to
relent in his behaviour, and to acknowledge the justness of that
sentence which had doomed him to death. At the place of execution he
prayed with great earnestness, confessed he had been a grievous sinner,
and seemed in great confusion in his last moments. He was about twenty
years of age when he died, which was on the 9th of May, 1726, at Tyburn.

The Life of JOHN COTTERELL, a Thief, etc.

The miseries of life are so many, so deep, so sudden, and so
irretrievable, that when we consider them attentively, they ought to
inspire us with the greatest submission towards that Providence which
directs us and fills us with humble sentiments of our own capacities,
which are so weak and incapable to protect us from any of those evils to
which from the vicissitudes of life we are continually exposed.

John Cotterell, the subject of this part of our work, was a person
descended of honest and industrious parents, who were exceedingly
careful in bringing him up as far as they were able, in such a manner as
might enable him to get his bread honestly and with some reputation.
When he was grown big enough to be put out apprentice, they agreed with
a friend of theirs, a master of a vessel, to take him with him two or
three voyages for a trial. John behaved himself so well that he gained
the esteem of his master and the love of all his fellow-sailors. When he
had been five years at sea, his credit was so good, both as to his being
an able sailor and an honest man, that his friends found it no great
difficulty to get him a ship, and after that another. The last he
commanded was of the burthen of 200 tons, but he sustained great losses
himself, and greater still, in supporting his eldest son, who dealt in
the same way, and with a vessel of his own carried on a trade between
England and Holland. Through these misfortunes he fell into
circumstances so narrow that he lay two years and a half in Newgate, for
debt. Being discharged by the Act of Insolvency, and having not
wherewith to sustain himself, he broke one night into a little
chandler's shop, where he used now and then to get a halfpenny-worth of
that destructive liquor gin; and there took a tub with two pounds of
butter, and a pound of pepper in it. But before he got out of the shop
he was apprehended, and at the next sessions was found guilty of the

While under sentence of death he behaved with the greatest gravity,
averred that it was the first thing of that kind he had ever done;
indeed, his character appeared to be very good, for though his
acquaintance in town had done little for him hitherto, yet when they saw
that they should not be long troubled with him, they sent him good
books, and provided everything that was necessary for him; so that with
much resignation he finished his days, with the other malefactors, at
Tyburn, in the fifty-second year of his age, on the 9th day of May,

The Life of CATHERINE HAYES, a bloody and inhuman Murderess, etc.

Though all crimes are in this nature foul, yet some are apparently more
heinous, and of a blacker die than others. Murder has in all ages and in
all climates been amongst the number of those offences held to be most
enormous and the most shocking to human nature of any other; yet even
this admits sometimes of aggravation, and the laws of England have made
a distinction between the murder of a stranger, and of him or her to
whom we owe a civil, or natural obedience. Hence it is that killing a
husband, or a master is distinguished under the name of _petit_ treason.
Yet even this, in the story we are about to relate, had several
heightening circumstances, the poor man having both a son and a wife
imbrueing their hands in his blood.

Catherine Hall, afterwards by her marriage, Catherine Hayes, was born in
the year 1690, at a village in the borders of Warwickshire, within four
miles of Birmingham. Her parents were so poor as to receive the
assistance of the parish and so careless of their daughter that they
never gave her the least education. While a girl she discovered marks of
so violent and turbulent a temper that she totally threw off all respect
and obedience to her parents, giving a loose to her passions and
gratifying herself in all her vicious inclinations.

About the year 1705, some officers coming into the neighbourhood to
recruit, Kate was so much taken with the fellows in red that she
strolled away with them, until they came to a village called Great
Ombersley in Warwickshire, where they very ungenerously left her behind
them. This elopement of her sparks drove her almost mad, so that she
went like a distracted creature about the country, until coming to Mr.
Hayes's door, his wife in compassion took her in out of charity. The
eldest child of the family was John Hayes, the deceased; who being then
about twenty-one years of age, found so many charms in this Catherine
Hall that soon after he coming into the house he made proposals to her
of marriage. There is no doubt of their being readily enough received,
and as they both were sensible how disagreeable a thing it would be to
his parents, they agreed to keep it secret. They quickly adjusted the
measures that were to be taken in order to their being married at
Worcester; for which purpose Mr. John Hayes pretended to his mother that
he wanted some tools in the way of his trade, viz., that of a carpenter,
for which it was necessary he should go to Worcester; and under this
colour he procured also as much money as, with what he had already had,
was sufficient to defray the expense of the intended wedding.

Catherine having quitted the house without the formality of bidding them
adieu, and meeting at the appointed place, they accompanied each other
to Worcester, where the wedding was soon celebrated. The same day Mrs.
Catherine Hayes had the fortune to meet with some of her quondam
acquaintance at Worcester. They understanding that she was that day
married, and where the nuptials were to be solemnized, consulted among
themselves how to make a penny of the bridegroom. Accordingly deferring
the execution of their intentions until the evening, just as Mr. Hayes
was got into bed to his wife, coming to the house where he lodged, they
forcibly entered the room, and dragged the bridegroom away, pretending
to impress him for her Majesty's service.

This proceeding broke the measures Mr. John Hayes had concerted with his
bride, to keep their wedding secret; for finding no redemption from
their hands, without the expense of a larger sum of money than he was
master of, he was necessitated to let his father know of his misfortune.
Mr. Hayes hearing of his son's adventures, as well of his marriage and
his being pressed at the same time, his resentment for the one did not
extinguish his affection for him as a father, but that he resolved to
deliver him from his troubles; and accordingly, taking a gentleman in
the neighbourhood along with him, he went for Worcester. At their
arrival there, they found Mr. John Hayes in the hands of the officers,
who insisted upon detaining him for her Majesty's service; but his
father and the gentleman he brought with him by his authority, soon made
them sensible of their errors, and instead of making a benefit of him,
as they proposed, they were glad to discharge him, which they did
immediately. Mr. Hayes having acted thus far in favour of his son, then
expressed his resentment for his having married without his consent; but
it being too late to prevent it, there was no other remedy but to bear
with the same. For sometime afterwards Mr. Hayes and his bride lived in
the neighbourhood, and as he followed his business as a carpenter, his
father and mother grew more reconciled. But Mrs. Catherine Hayes, who
better approved of a travelling than a settled life, persuaded her
husband to enter himself a volunteer in a regiment then at Worcester,
which he did, and went away with them, where he continued for some time.

Mr. John Hayes being in garrison in the Isle of Wight, Mrs. Hayes took
an opportunity of going over thither and continued with him for some
time; until Mr. Hayes, not content with such a lazy indolent life
(wherein he could find no advantage, unless it were the gratifying his
wife) solicited his father to procure his discharge, which at length he
was prevailed upon to consent to. But he found much difficulty in
perfecting the same, for the several journeys he was necessitated to
undertake before it could be done, and the expenses of procuring such
discharge, amounted to sixty pound. But having at last, at this great
expense and trouble, procured his son's release, Mr. John Hayes and his
wife returned to Worcestershire; and his father the better to induce him
to settle himself in business in the country, put him into an estate of
ten pound _per annum_, hoping that, with the benefit of his trade, would
enable them to live handsomely and creditably, and change her roving
inclinations, he being sensible that his son's ramble had been
occasioned through his wife's persuasions. But Mr. John Hayes
representing to his father that it was not possible for him and his wife
to live on that estate only, persuaded his father to let him have
another also, a leasehold of sixteen pound _per annum;_ upon which he
lived during the continuance of the lease, his father paying the annual
rent thereof until it expired.

The characters of Mr. John Hayes and his wife were vastly different. He
had the repute of a sober, sedate, honest, quiet, peaceable man, and a
very good husband, the only objection his friends would admit of against
him was that he was of too parsimonious and frugal temper, and that he
was rather too indulgent of his wife, who repaid his kindness with ill
usage, and frequently very opprobious language. As to his wife, she was
on all hands allowed to be a very turbulent, vexatious person, always
setting people together by the ears, and never free from quarrels and
controversies in the neighbourhood, giving ill advice, and fomenting
disputes to the disturbance of all her friends and acquaintance.

This unhappiness in her temper induced Mr. John Hayes's relations to
persuade him to settle in some remote place, at a distance from and
unknown to her for some time, to see if that would have any effect upon
her turbulent disposition; but Mr. Hayes would not approve of that
advice, nor consent to a separation. In this manner they lived for the
space of about six years, until the lease of the last-mentioned farm
expired; about which time Mrs. Hayes persuaded Mr. John Hayes to leave
the country and come to London, which about twelve months afterwards,
through her persuasions he did, in the year 1719. Upon their arrival in
town they took a house, part of which they let out in lodging, and sold
sea coal, chandlery-ware, etc., whereby they lived in a creditable
manner. And though Mr. Hayes was of a very indulgent temper, yet she was
so unhappy as to be frequently jarring, and a change of climate having
made no alteration in her temper, she continued her same passionate
nature, and frequent bickerings and disputes with her neighbours, as
well as before in the country.

In this business they picked up money, and Mr. Hayes received the yearly
rent of the first-mentioned estate, though in town; and by lending out
money in small sums, amongst his country people improved the same
considerably. In speaking of Mr. Hayes to his friends and acquaintance
she would frequently give him the best of characters, and commend him
for an indulgent husband; notwithstanding which, to some of her
particular cronies who knew not Mr. Hayes's temper, she would exclaim
against him, and told them particularly (above a year before the murder
was committed) that it was no more sin to kill him (meaning her husband)
than to kill a mad dog, and that one time or other she might give him a

Afterwards they removed into Tottenham Court Road, where they lived for
some time, following the same business as formerly; from whence about
two years afterwards, they removed into Tyburn Road,[75] a few doors
above where the murder was committed. There they lived about twelve
months, Mr. Hayes supporting himself chiefly in lending out money upon
pledges, and sometimes working at his profession, and in husbandry, till
it was computed he had picked up a pretty handsome sum of money. About
ten months before the murder they removed a little lower to the house of
Mr. Whinyard, where the murder was committed, taking lodgings up two
pairs of stairs. There it was that Thomas Billings, by trade a tailor,
who wrought journey-work in and about Monmouth Street; under pretence
of being Mrs. Hayes's countryman came to see them. He did so, and
continued in the house about six weeks before the death of Mr. Hayes.

He (Mr. Hayes) had occasion to go a little way out of town, of which his
wife gave her associates immediate notice, and they thereupon flocked
thither to junket with her until the time they expected his return. Some
of the neighbours out of ill-will which they bore the woman, gave him
intelligence of it as soon as he came back, upon which they had
abundance of high words, and at last Mr. Hayes gave her a blow or two.
Maybe this difference was in some degree the source of that malice which
she afterwards vented upon him.

About this time Thomas Wood, who was a neighbour's son in the country,
and an intimate acquaintance both of Mr. Hayes and his wife, came to
town, and pressing being at that time very hot he was obliged to quit
his lodgings; and thereupon Mr. Hayes very kindly invited him to accept
of the convenience of theirs, promising him moreover, that as he was out
of business, he would recommend him to his friends, and acquaintances.
Wood accepted the offer, and lay with Billings. In three or four days'
time, Mrs. Hayes having taken every opportunity to caress him, opened to
him a desire of being rid of her husband, at which Wood, as he very well
might, was exceedingly surprised, and demonstrated the business as well
as cruelty there would be in such an action, if committed by him, who
besides the general ties of humanity, stood particularly obliged to him
as his neighbour and his friend. Mrs. Hayes did not desist upon this,
but in order to hush his scruples would fain have persuaded him that
there was no more sin in killing Hayes than in killing a brute-beast for
that he was void of all religion and goodness, an enemy to God, and
therefore unworthy of his protection; that he had killed a man in the
country, and destroyed two of his and her children, one of which was
buried under an apple tree, the other under a pear tree, in the country.
To these fictitious tales she added another, which perhaps had the
greatest weight, viz., that if he were dead, she should be the mistress
of fifteen hundred pounds. _And then_, says she, _you may be master
thereof, if you will help to get him out of the way. Billings has agreed
too, if you'll make a third, and so all may be finished without danger._

A few days after this, Wood's occasions called him out of town. On his
return, which was the first day of March, he found Mr. Hayes and his
wife and Billings very merry together. Amongst other things which passed
in conversation, Mr. Hayes happened to say that he and another person
once drank as much wine between them as came to a guinea, without
either of them being fuddled. Upon this Billings proposed a wager on
these terms, that half a dozen bottles of the best mountain wine should
be fetched, which if Mr. Hayes could drink without being disordered,
then Billings should pay for it; but if not, then it should be at the
cost of Mr. Hayes. He accepting of this proposal, Mrs. Hayes and the two
men went together to the Brawn's Head, in New Bond Street, to fetch the
wine. As they were going thither, she put them in mind of the
proposition she had made them to murder Mr. Hayes, and said they could
not have a better opportunity than at present, when he should be
intoxicated with liquor. Whereupon Wood made answer that it would be the
most inhuman act in the world to murder a man in cool blood, and that,
too, when he was in liquor. Mrs. Hayes had recourse to her old
arguments, and Billings joining with her, Wood suffered himself to be

When they came to the tavern they called for a pint of the best
mountain, and after they had drank it ordered a gallon and a half to be
sent home to their lodgings, and Mrs. Hayes paid ten shillings and
sixpence for it, which was what it came to. Then they all came back and
sat down together to see Mr. Hayes drink the wager, and while he
swallowed the wine, they called for two or three full pots of beer, in
order to entertain themselves. Mr. Hayes, when he had almost finished
the wine, began to grow very merry, singing and dancing about the room
with all the gaiety which is natural to having taken a little too much
wine. But Mrs. Hayes was so fearful of his not having his dose, that she
sent away privately for another bottle, of which having drunk some also,
it quite finished the work, by depriving him totally of his
understanding; however, reeling into the other room, he there threw
himself across the bed and fell fast asleep. No sooner did his wife
perceive it than she came and excited the two men to go in and do the
work; whereupon Billings taking a coal-hatchet in his hand, going into
the other room, struck Mr. Hayes therewith on the back of the head. This
blow fractured the skull, and made him, through the agony of the pain,
stamp violently upon the ground, in so much that it alarmed the people
who lay in the garret; and Wood fearing the consequence, went in and
repeated the blows, though that was needless since the first was mortal
in itself, and he already lay still and quiet. By this time Mrs.
Springate, whose husband lodged over Mr. Hayes's head, on hearing the
noise came down to enquire the reason of it, complaining at the same
time that it so disturbed her family that they could not rest. Mrs.
Hayes thereupon told her that her husband had had some company with him,
who growing merry with their liquor were a little noisy, but that they
were going immediately, and desired she would be easy. Upon this she
went up again for the present, and the three murderers began immediately
to consult how to get rid of the body.

The men were in so much terror and confusion that they knew not what to
do; but Mrs. Hayes quickly thought of an expedient in which they all
agreed. She said that if the head was cut off, there would not be near
so much difficulty in carrying off the body, which could not be known.
In order to put this design in execution, they got a pail and she
herself carrying the candle, they all entered the room where the
deceased lay. Then the woman holding the pail, Billings drew the body by
the head over the bedside, that the blood might bleed the more freely
into it; and Wood with his pocket penknife cut it off. As soon as it was
severed from the body, and the bleeding was over, they poured the blood
down a wooden sink at the window, and after it several pails of water,
in order to wash it quite away that it might not be perceived in the
morning. However, their precautions were not altogether effectual, for
the next morning Springate found several clots of blood, but not
suspecting anything of the matter, threw them away. Neither had they
escaped letting some tokens of their cruelty fall upon the floor, stain
the wall of the room, and even spin up against the ceiling, which it may
be supposed happened at the giving the first blow.

When they had finished the decollation, they again consulted what was
next to be done. Mrs. Hayes was for boiling it in a pot till nothing but
the skull remained, which would effectually prevent anybody's knowing to
whom it belonged; but the two men thinking this too dilatory a method,
they resolved to put it in a pail, and go together and throw it in the
Thames. Springate, hearing a bustling in Mr. Hayes's room for some time,
and then somebody going down stairs, called again to know who it was and
what was the occasion of it (it being then about eleven o'clock). Mrs.
Hayes answered that it was her husband, who was going a journey into the
country, and pretended to take a formal leave of him, expressing her
sorrow that he was obliged to go out of town at that time of night, and
her fear least any accident should attend him in his journey.

Billings and Wood being thus gone to dispose of the head, went towards
Whitehall, intending to have thrown the same into the river there, but
the gates being shut, they were obliged to go forward as far as Mr.
Macreth's wharf, near the Horseferry at Westminster, where Billings
setting down the pail from under his great coat, Wood took up the same
with the head therein, and threw it into the dock before the Wharf. It
was expected the same would have been carried away by the tide, but the
water being then ebbing, it was left behind. There were also some
lighters lying over against the dock, and one of the lightermen walking
then on board, saw them throw the pail into the dark; but by the
obscurity of the night, the distance, and having no suspicion, they did
not apprehend anything of the matter. Having thus done, they returned
home again to Mrs. Hayes's where they arrived about twelve o'clock and
being let in, found Mrs. Hayes had been very busily employed in washing
the floor, and scraping the blood off from it, and from the walls, etc.
After which, they all three went into the fore room, Billings and Wood
went to bed there, and Mrs. Hayes sat by them till morning.

On the morning of the second of March, about the dawning of the day, one
Robinson a watchman saw a man's head lying in the dock, and the pail
near it. His surprise occasioned his calling some persons to assist in
taking up the head, and finding the pail bloody, they conjectured the
head had been brought thither in it. Their suspicions were fully
confirmed therein by the lighterman who saw Billings and Wood throw the
same into the dock, as before mentioned.

It was now time for Mrs. Hayes, Billings, and Wood to consider how they
should dispose of the body. Mrs. Hayes and Wood proposed to put it in a
box, where it might lie concealed till a convenient opportunity offered
for removing it. This being approved of, Mrs. Hayes brought a box; but
upon their endeavouring to put it in, the box was not big enough to hold
it. They had before wrapped it up in a blanket, out of which they took
it; Mrs. Hayes proposed to cut off the arms and legs, and they again
attempted to put it in, but the box would not hold it. Then they cut off
the thighs, and laying it piecemeal in the box, concealed them until

In the meantime Mr. Hayes's head, which had been found as before, had
sufficiently alarmed the town, and information was given to the
neighbouring justices of the peace. The parish officers did all that was
possible towards the discovery of the persons guilty of perpetrating so
horrid an action. They caused the head to be cleaned, the face to be
washed from the dirt and blood, and the hair to be combed, and then the
head to be set upon a post in public view in St. Margaret's churchyard,
Westminster, so that everybody might have free access to see the same,
with some of the parish officers to attend, hoping by that means a
discovery of the same might be attained. The high constable of
Westminster liberty also issued private orders to all the petty
constables, watchmen, and other officers of that district, to keep a
strict eye on all coaches, carts, etc., passing in the night through
their liberty, imagining that the perpetrators of such a horrid fact
would endeavour to free themselves of the body in the same manner as
they had done the head.

These orders were executed for some time, with all the secrecy
imaginable, under various pretences, but unsuccessfully; the head also
continued to be exposed for some days in the manner described, which
drew a prodigious number of people to see it, but without attaining any
discovery of the murderers. It would be impertinent to mention the
various opinions of the town upon this occasion, for they being founded
upon conjecture only, were far wide of the truth. Many people either
remembered or fancied they had seen that face before, but none could
tell where or who it belonged to.

On the second of March, in the evening, Catherine Hayes, Thomas Wood,
and Thomas Billings took the body and disjointed members out of the box,
and wrapped them up in two blankets, viz., the body in one, and the
limbs in the other. Then Billings and Wood first took up the body, and
about nine o'clock in the evening carried it by turns into Marylebone
Fields, and threw the same into a pond (which Wood in the day time had
been hunting for) and returning back again about eleven o'clock the same
night, took up the limbs in the other old blanket, and carried them by
turns to the same place, throwing them in also. About twelve o'clock the
same night, they returned back again, and knocking at the door were let
in by Mary Springate. They went up to bed in Mrs. Hayes's fore-room, and
Mrs. Hayes stayed with them all night, sometimes sitting up, and
sometimes lay down upon the bed by them.

The same day one Bennet, the king's organ-maker's apprentice, going to
Westminster to see the head, believed it to be Mr. Hayes's, he being
intimately acquainted with him; and thereupon went and informed Mrs.
Hayes, that the head exposed to view in St. Margaret's churchyard, was
so very like Mr. Hayes's that he believed it to be his. Upon which Mrs.
Hayes assured him that Mr. Hayes was very well and reproved him very
sharply for forming such an opinion, telling him he must be very
cautious how he raised such false and scandalous reports, for that he
might thereby bring himself into a great deal of trouble. This reprimand
put a stop to the youth's saying anything about it, and having no other
reason than the similitude of faces, he said no more about it. The same
day also Mr. Samuel Patrick, having been at Westminster to see the head,
went from thence to Mr. Grainger's at the Dog and Dial in Monmouth
Street, where Mr. Hayes and his wife were intimately acquainted, they
and most of their journeymen servants being Worcestershire people. Mr.
Patrick told them that he had been to see the head, and that in his
opinion it was the most like to their countryman Hayes of any he ever

Billings being there then at work, some of the servants replied it could
not be his, because there being one of Mrs. Hayes's lodgers (meaning
Billings) then at work, they should have heard of it by him if Mr. Hayes
had been missing, or any accident had happened to him; to which Billings
made answer, that Mr. Hayes was then alive and well, and that he left him
in bed, when he came to work in the morning. The third day of March, Mrs.
Hayes gave Wood a white coat and a pair of leathern breeches of Mr.
Hayes's, which he carried with him to Greenford, near Harrow-on-the-Hill.
Mrs. Springate observed Wood carrying these things downstairs, bundled up
in a white cloth, whereupon she told Mrs. Hayes that Wood was gone down
with a bundle. Mrs. Hayes replied it was a suit of clothes he had
borrowed of a neighbour, and was going to carry them home again.

On the fourth of March, one Mrs. Longmore coming to visit Mrs. Hayes,
enquired how Mr. Hayes did, and where he was. Mrs. Hayes answered, that
he was gone to take a walk, and then enquired what news there was about
town. Her visitor told her that most people's discourse run upon the
man's head that had been found at Westminster; Mrs. Hayes seemed to
wonder very much at the wickedness of the age, and exclaimed vehemently
against such barbarous murderers, adding, _Here is a discourse, too, in
our neighbourhood, of a woman who has been found in the fields, mangled
and cut to pieces. It may be so_, replied Mrs. Longmore, _but I have
heard nothing of it._

The next day Wood came again to town, and applied himself to his
landlady, Mrs. Hayes, who gave him a pair of shoes, a pair of stockings
and a waistcoat of the deceased, and five shillings in money, telling
him she would continue to supply him whenever he wanted. She informed
him also of her husband's head being found, and though it had been for
some time exposed, yet nobody had owned it.

On the sixth of March, the parish officers considering that it might
putrify if it continued longer in the air, agreed with one Mr.
Westbrook, a surgeon, to have it preserved in spirits. He having
accordingly provided a proper glass, put it therein, and showed it to
all persons who were desirous of seeing it. Yet the murder remained
still undiscovered; and notwithstanding the multitude which had seen it,
yet none pretended to be directly positive of the face, though many
agreed in their having seen it before.


Catherine Hayes assisting Wood and Billings to cut off the head from her
husband's corpse

(_From the Annals of Newgate_)]

In the meantime Mrs. Hayes quitted her lodgings, and removed from
where the murder was committed to Mr. Jones's, a distiller in the
neighbourhood, with Billings, Wood, and Springate, for whom she paid one
quarter's rent at her old lodgings. During this time she employed
herself in getting as much of her husband's effects as possibly she
could, and amongst other papers and securities, finding a bond due to
Mr. Hayes from John Davis, who had married Mr. Hayes's sister, she
consulted how to get the money. To which purpose she sent for one Mr.
Leonard Myring, a barber, and told him that she, knowing him to be her
husband's particular friend and acquaintance, and he then being under
some misfortunes, through which she feared he would not presently
return, she knew not how to recover several sums of money that were due
to her husband, unless by sending fictitious letters in his name, to the
several persons from whom the same were due. Mr. Myring considering the
consequences of such a proceeding declined it. But she prevailed upon
some other person to write letters in Mr. Hayes's name, particularly one
to his mother, on the 14th of March, to demand ten pounds of the
above-mentioned Mr. Davis, threatening if he refused, to sue him for it.
This letter Mr. Hayes's mother received, and acquainting her son-in-law
Davis with the contents thereof, he offered to pay the money on sending
down the bond, of which she by a letter acquainted Mrs. Hayes on the
twenty-second of the same month.

During these transactions, several persons came daily to Mr. Westbrook's
to see the head. A poor woman at Kingsland, whose husband had been
missing the day before it was found, was one amongst them. At first
sight she fancied it bore some resemblance to that of her husband, but
was not positive enough to swear to it; yet her suspicion at first was
sufficient to ground a report, which flew about the town, in the
evening, and some enquiries were made after the body of the person to
whom it was supposed to belong but to no purpose.

Mrs. Hayes, in the meanwhile, took all the pains imaginable to propagate
a story of Mr. Hayes's withdrawing on account of an unlucky blow he had
given to a person in a quarrel, and which made him apprehensive of a
prosecution, though he was then in treaty with the widow in order to
make it up. This story she at first told with many injunctions of
secrecy, to persons who she had good reason to believe would,
notwithstanding her injunctions, tell it again. It happened, in the
interim, that one Mr. Joseph Ashby, who had been an intimate
acquaintance of Mr. Hayes, came to see her. She, with a great deal of
pretended concern, communicated the tale she had framed to him. Mr.
Ashby asked whether the person he had killed was him to whom the head
belonged; she said, No, the man who died by Mr. Hayes's blow was buried
entire, and Mr. Hayes had given or was about to give, a security to pay
the widow fifteen pounds _per annum_ to hush it up. Mr. Ashby next
enquired where Mr. Hayes was gone; she said to Portugal, with three or
four foreign gentlemen.

He thereupon took his leave; but going from thence to Mr. Henry
Longmore's, cousin of Mr. Hayes, he related to him the story Mrs. Hayes
had told him and expressed a good deal of dissatisfaction thereat,
desiring Mr. Longmore to go to her and make the same enquiry as he had
done, but without saying they had seen one another. Mr. Longmore went
thereupon directly to Mrs. Hayes's, and enquired in a peremptory tone
for her husband. In answer she said that she had supposed Mr. Ashby had
acquainted him with the misfortune which had befallen him. Mr. Longmore
replied he had not seen Mr. Ashby for a considerable time and knew
nothing of his cousin's misfortune, not judging of any that could attend
him, for he believed he was not indebted to anybody. He then asked if he
was in prison for debt. She answered him, No, 'twas worse than that. Mr.
Longmore demanded what worse could befall him. As to any debts, he
believed he had not contracted any. At which she blessed God and said
that neither Mr. Hayes nor herself owed a farthing to any person in the
world. Mr. Longmore again importuning her to know what he had done to
occasion his absconding so, said _I suppose he has not murdered
anybody?_ To this she replied, he had, and beckoning him to come
upstairs, related to him the story as before mentioned.

Mr. Longmore being inquisitive which way he was gone, she told him into
Herefordshire, that Mr. Hayes had taken four pocket pistols with him for
his security, viz., one under each arm, and two in his pockets. Mr.
Longmore answered, 'twould be dangerous for him to travel in that
manner; that any person seeing him so armed with pistols, would cause
him to be apprehended on suspicion of being a highwayman. To which she
assured him that it was his usual manner; the reason of it was that he
had like to have been robbed coming out of the country, and that once he
was apprehended on suspicion of being an highwayman, but that a
gentleman who knew him, accidentally came in, and seeing him in custody,
passed his word for his appearance, by which he was discharged. To that
Mr. Longmore made answer that it was very improbable of his ever being
stopped on suspicion of being an highwayman, and discharged upon a man's
only passing his word for his appearance; he farther persisted which way
he was supplied with money for his journey. She told him she had sewn
twenty-six guineas into his clothes, and that he had about him seventeen
shillings in new silver. She added that Springate, who lodged there, was
privy to the whole transaction, for which reason she paid a quarter's
rent for her at her old lodgings, and the better to maintain what she
had averred, called Springate to justify the truth of it. In concluding
the discourse, she reflected on the unkind usage of Mr. Hayes towards
her, which surprised Mr. Longmore more than anything else she had said
yet, and strengthened his suspicion, because he had often been a witness
to her giving Mr. Hayes the best of characters, viz., of a most
indulgent, tender husband.

Mr. Longmore then took leave of her and returned back to his friend Mr.
Ashby; when, after comparing their several notes together, they judged
by very apparent reasons that Mr. Hayes must have had very ill play
shown him. Upon which they agreed to go to Mr. Eaton, a Life Guardman
who was also an acquaintance of Mr. Hayes's, which accordingly they did,
intending him to have gone to Mrs. Hayes also, to have heard what
relation she would give him concerning her husband. They went and
enquired at several places for him, but he was not then to be found;
upon which Mr. Longmore and Mr. Ashby went down to Westminster to see
the head at Mr. Westbrook's. When they came there, Mr. Westbrook told
them that the head had been owned by a woman from Kingsland, who thought
it to be her husband, but was not certain enough to swear it, though the
circumstances were strong, because he had been missing from the day
before the head was found. They desired to see it and Mr. Ashby first
went upstairs to look on it, and coming down, told Mr. Longmore he
really thought it to be Mr. Hayes's head, upon which Mr. Longmore went
up to see it, and after examining it more particularly than Mr. Ashby,
confirmed him in his suspicion. Then they returned to seek out Mr.
Eaton, and finding him at home, informed him of their proceedings, with
the sufficient reasons upon which their suspicions were founded, and
compelled him to go with them to enquire into the affair.

Mr. Eaton pressed them to stay to dinner with him, which at first they
agreed to, but afterwards altering their minds, went all down to Mr.
Longmore's house and there renewed the reasons of their suspicions, not
only of Mr. Hayes's being murdered (being satisfied with seeing the
head) but also that his wife was privy to the same. But in order to be
more fully satisfied they agreed that Mr. Eaton should in a day or two's
time go and enquire for Mr. Hayes, but withal taking no notice of his
having seen Mr. Longmore and Mr. Ashby. In the meantime Mr. Longmore's
brother interfered, saying, that it seemed apparent to him that his
cousin (Mr. Hayes) had been murdered, and that Mrs. Hayes appeared very
suspicious to him of being guilty with some other persons, viz., Wood
and Billings (who she told him, had drunk with him the night before his
journey). He added, moreover, that he thought time was not to be
delayed, because they might remove from their lodgings upon the least
apprehensions of a discovery.

His opinion prevailed as the most reasonable, and Mr. Longmore said they
would go about it immediately. Accordingly he immediately applied to Mr.
Justice Lambert and acquainted him with the grounds of their suspicions
and their desire of his granting a warrant for the apprehension of the
parties. On hearing the story the justice not only readily agreed with
them in their suspicions, and complied with their demand, but said also
he would get proper officers to execute it in the evening, about nine
o'clock, putting Mrs. Hayes, Thomas Wood, Thomas Billings, and Mary
Springate into a special warrant for that purpose.

At the hour appointed they met, and Mr. Eaton bringing two officers of
the Guards along with them, they went altogether to the house where Mrs.
Hayes lodged. They went directly in and upstairs, at which Mr. Jones,
who kept the house, demanded who and what they were. He was answered
that they were sufficiently authorised in all they did, desiring him at
the same time to bring candles and he should see on what occasion they
came. Light being thereupon brought they went all upstairs together.
Justice Lambert rapped at Mrs. Hayes's door with his cane; she demanded
who was there, for that she was in bed, on which she was bid to get up
and open it, or they would break it open.

After some time taken to put on her clothes, she came and opened it. As
soon as they were in the room they seized her and Billings, who was
sitting upon her bedside, without either shoes or stockings on. The
justice asked whether he had been in bed with her. She said no, but that
he sat there to mend his stockings. _Why, then_, replied Mr. Lambert,
_he has very good eyes to see to do it without fire or candle_,
whereupon they seized him too. And leaving persons below to guard them,
they went up and apprehended Springate. After an examination in which
they would confess nothing, they committed Billings to New Prison,
Springate to the Gate House, and Mrs. Hayes to Tothill Fields Bridewell.

The consciousness of her own guilt made Mrs. Hayes very assiduous in
contriving such a method of behaviour as might carry the greatest
appearance of innocence. In the first place, therefore, she entreated
Mr. Longmore that she might be admitted to see the head, in which
request she was indulged by Mr. Lambert, who ordered her to have a sight
of it as she came from Tothill Fields Bridewell to her examination.
Accordingly Mr. Longmore attending the officers to bring Mrs. Hayes from
thence the next day to Mr. Lambert's, ordered the coach to stop at Mr.
Westbrook's door. And as soon as he entered the house, being admitted
into the room, she threw herself down upon her knees, crying out in
great agonies, _Oh, it is my dear husband's head! It is my dear
husband's head!_ and embracing the glass in her arms kissed the outside
of it several times. In the meantime Mr. Westbrook coming in, told her
that if it was his head she should have a plainer view of it, that he
would take it out of the glass for her to have a full sight of it, which
he did, by lifting it up by the hair and brought it to her. Taking it in
her arms, she kissed it, and seemed in great confusion, withal begging
to have a lock of his hair; but Mr. Westbrook replied that he was afraid
she had had too much of his blood already. At which she fainted away,
and after recovering, was carried to Mr. Lambert's, to be examined
before him and some other Justices of the Peace. While these things were
in agitation, one Mr. Huddle and his servant walking in Marylebone
Fields in the evening, espied something lying in one of the ponds in the
fields, which after they had examined it they found to be the legs,
thighs, and arms of a man. They, being very much surprised at this,
determined to search farther, and the next morning getting assistance
drained the pond, where to their great astonishment they pulled out the
body of a man wrapped up in a blanket; with the news of which, while
Mrs. Hayes was under examination, Mr. Crosby, a constable, came down to
the justices, not doubting but this was the body of Mr. Hayes which he
had found thus mangled and dismembered.

Yet, though she was somewhat confounded at the new discovery made hereby
of the cruelty with which her late husband had been treated, she could
not, however, be prevailed on to make any discovery or acknowledgment of
her knowing anything of the fact; whereupon the justices who examined
her, committed her that afternoon to Newgate, the mob attending her
thither with loud acclamations of joy at her commitment, and ardent
wishes of her coming to a just punishment, as if they were already
convinced of her guilt.

Sunday morning following, Thomas Wood came to town from Greenford, near
Harrow, having heard nothing further of the affair, or of the taking up
of Mrs. Hayes, Billings, or Springate. The first place he went to was
Mrs. Hayes's old lodging; there he was answered that she had moved to
Mr. Jones's, a distiller, a little farther in the street. Thither he
went, where the people suspected of the murder said Mrs. Hayes was gone
to the Green Dragon in King Street, which is Mrs. Longmore's house; and
a man who was there told him, moreover, that he was going thither and
would show him the way; Wood being on horseback followed him, and he led
him the way to Mr. Longmore's house. At this time Mr. Longmore's brother
coming to the door, and seeing Wood, immediately seized him, and
unhorseing him, dragged him indoors, sent for officers and charged them
with him on suspicion of the murder. From thence he was carried before
Mr. Justice Lambert, who asked him many questions in relation to the
murder; but he would confess nothing, whereupon he was committed to
Tothill Fields Bridewell. While he was there he heard the various
reports of persons concerning the murder, and from those, judging it
impossible to prevent a full discovery or evade the proofs that were
against him, he resolved to name an ample confession of the whole
affair. Mr. Lambert being acquainted with this, he with John Madun and
Thomas Salt, Esqs., two other justices of the peace, went to Tothill
Fields Bridewell, to take his examination, in which he seemed very
ingenuous and ample declaring all the particulars before mentioned, with
this addition that Catherine Hayes was the first promoter of, and a
great assistance in several parts of this horrid affair; that he had
been drawn into the commission thereof partly through poverty, and
partly through her crafty insinuations, who by feeding them with
liquors, had spirited them up to the commission of such a piece of
barbarity. He farther acknowledged that ever since the commission of the
fact he had had no peace, but a continual torment of mind; that the very
day before he came from Greenford he was fully persuaded within himself
that he should be seized for the murder when he came to town, and should
never see Greenford more; notwithstanding which he could not refrain
coming, though under an unexpected certainty of being taken, and dying
for the fact. Having thus made a full and ample confession, and signed
the same on the 27th March, his _mittimus_ was made by Justice Lambert,
and he was committed to Newgate, whither he was carried under a guard of
a serjeant and eight soldiers with muskets and bayonets to keep off the
mob, who were so exasperated against the actors of such a piece of
barbarity that without that caution it would have been very difficult to
have carried him thither alive.

On Monday, the 28th of March, after Mrs. Hayes was committed to Newgate,
being the day after Wood's apprehension, Joseph Mercer going to see
Mrs. Hayes, she told him that as he was Thomas Billings's friend as well
as hers; she desired he would go to him and tell him 'twas in vain to
deny any longer the murder of her husband, for they were equally guilty,
and both must die for it. Billings hearing this and that Wood was
apprehended and had fully confessed the whole affair, thought it
needless to persist any longer in a denial, and therefore the next day,
being the 29th of March, he made a full and plain discovery of the whole
fact, agreeing with Wood in all the particulars; which confession was
made and signed in the presence of Gideon Harvey and Oliver Lambert,
Esqs., two of his Majesty's justices of peace, whereupon he was removed
to Newgate the same day that Wood was.

Wood and Billings, by their several confessions, acquitting Springate of
having any concern in the aforesaid murder, she was soon discharged from
her confinement.

This discovery making a great noise in the town, divers of Mrs. Hayes's
went to visit her in Newgate and examine her as to the and motives that
induced her to commit the said fact. Her acknowledgment in general was:
that Mr. Hayes had proved but an indifferent husband to her; that one
night he came home drunk and struck her; that upon complaining to
Billings and Wood they, or one of them, said such a fellow (meaning Mr.
Hayes) ought not to live, and that they would murder him for a
halfpenny. She took that opportunity to propose her bloody intentions to
them, and her willingness that they should do so; she was acquainted
with their design, heard the blow given to Mr. Hayes by Billings, and
then went with Wood into the room; she held the candle while the head
was cut off, and in excuse for this bloody fact, said the devil was got
into them all that made them do it. When she was made sensible that her
crime in law was not only murder, but petty treason, she began to show
great concern indeed, making very strict enquiries into the nature of
the proof which was necessary to convict, and having possessed herself
with a notion that it appeared she murdered him with her own hands, she
was very angry that either Billings or Wood should, by their confession,
acknowledge her guilty of the murder, and thereby subject her to that
punishment which of all others she most feared, often repeating that it
was hard they would not suffer her to be hanged with them! When she was
told of the common report that Billings was her son, she affected, at
first, to make a great mystery of it; said he was her own flesh and
blood, indeed, but that he did not know how nearly he was related to her
himself; at other times she said she would never disown him while she
lived, and showed a greater tenderness for him than for herself, and
sent every day to the condemned hold where he lay, to enquire after his
health. But two or three days before her death, she became as the
ordinary tells us a little more sincere in this respect, affirming that
he was not only her child, but Mr. Hayes's also, though put out to
another person, with whom he was bred up in the country and called him

There are generally a set of people about most prisons, and especially
about Newgate, who get their living by imposing on unhappy criminals,
and persuading them that guilt may be covered, and Justice evaded by
certain artful contrivances in which they profess themselves masters.
Some of these had got access to this unhappy woman, and had instilled
into her a notion that the confession of Wood and Billings could no way
affect her life. This made her vainly imagine that there was no positive
proof against her, and that circumstantials only would not convict her.
For this reason she resolved to put herself upon her trial (contrary to
her first intentions; for having been asked what she would do, she had
replied she would hold up her hand at the bar and plead guilty, for the
whole world could not save her). Accordingly, being arraigned, she
pleaded not guilty, and put herself upon her trial. Wood and Billings
both pleaded guilty, and desired to make atonement for the same by the
loss of their blood, only praying the Court would be graciously pleased
to favour them so much (as they had made an ingenuous confession) as to
dispense with their being hanged in chains. Mrs. Hayes having thus put
herself upon her trial, the King's Counsel opened the indictment,
setting forth the heinousness of the fact, the premeditated intentions,
and inhuman method of acting it; that his Majesty for the more effectual
prosecution of such vile offenders, and out of a tender regard to the
peace and welfare of all his subjects, and that the actors and
perpetrators of such unheard of barbarities might be brought to condign
punishment, had given them directions to prosecute the prisoners. Then
Richard Bromage, Robert Wilkins, Leonard Myring, Joseph Mercer, John
Blakesby, Mary Springate, and Richard Bows, were called into Court; the
substance of whose evidence against the prisoner was that the prisoner
being interrogated about the murder, when in Newgate, said, the devil
put it into her head, but, however, John Hayes was none of the best of
husbands, for she had been half starved ever since she was married to
him; that she did not in the least repent of anything she had done, but
only in drawing those two poor men into this misfortune; that she was
six weeks importuning them to do it; that they denied it two or three
times, but at last agreed; her husband was so drunk that he fell out of
his chair, then Billings and Wood, carried him into the next room, and
laid him upon the bed; that she was not in that room but in the fore
room on the same floor when he was killed, but they told her that
Billings struck him twice on the head with a pole-axe, and that then
Wood cut his throat; that when he was quite dead she went in and held
the candle whilst Wood cut his head quite off, and afterwards they
chopped off his legs and arms; that they wanted to get him into an old
chest, but were forced to cut off his thighs and arms, and then the
chest would not hold them all; the body and limbs were put into blankets
at several times the next night, and thrown into a pond, that the devil
was in them all, and they were all drunk; that it would signify nothing
to make a long preamble, she could hold up her hand and say she was
guilty, for nothing could save her, nobody could forgive her; that the
men who did the murder were taken and confessed it; that she was not
with them when they did it; that she was sitting by the fire in the shop
upon a stool; that she heard the blow given and somebody stamp; that she
did not cry out, for fear they should kill her; that after the head was
cut off, it was put into a pail, and Wood carried it out; that Billings
sat down by her and cried, and would lie all the rest of the night in
the room with the dead body; that the first occasion of this design to
murder him was because he came home one night and beat her, upon which
Billings said this fellow deserved to be killed, and Wood said he would
be his butcher for a penny; that she told them they might do as they
would do it that night it was done; that she did not tell her husband of
the design to murder him, for fear he should beat her; that she sent to
Billings to let him know it was in vain to deny the murder of her
husband any longer, for they were both guilty, and must both die for it.

Many other circumstances equally strong with those before mentioned
appeared, and a cloud of witnesses, many of whom (the thing appearing so
plain) were sent away unexamined. She herself confessed at the bar her
previous knowledge of their intent several days before the fact was
committed; yet foolishly insisted on her innocence, because the fact was
not committed by her own hands. The jury, without staying long to
consider of it, found her guilty, and she was taken from the bar in a
very weak and faint condition. On her return to Newgate, she was visited
by several persons of her acquaintance, who yet were so far from doing
her any good that they rather interrupted her in those preparations
which it became a woman in her sad condition to make.

When they were brought up to receive sentence, Wood and Billings renewed
their former requests to the Court, that they might not be hung in
chains. Mrs. Hayes also made use of her former assertion, that she was
not guilty of actually committing the fact, and therefore begged of the
Court that she might at least have so much mercy shown her as not to be
burnt alive. The judges then proceeded in the manner prescribed by Law,
that is, they sentenced the two men, with the other malefactors, to be
hanged, and Mrs. Hayes, as in all cases of petty treason, to die by fire
at a stake; at which she screamed, and being carried back to Newgate,
fell into violent agonies. When the other criminals were brought thither
after sentence passed, the men were confined in the same place with the
rest in their condition, but Mrs. Hayes was put into a place by herself,
which was at that time the apartment allotted to women under

Perhaps nobody ever kept their thoughts so long and so closely united to
the world, as appeared by the frequent messages she sent to Wood and
Billings in the place where they were confined, and that tenderness
which she expressed for both of them seemed preferable to any concern
she showed for her own misfortunes, lamenting in the softest terms of
having involved those two poor men in the commission of a fact for which
they were now to lose their lives. In which, indeed, they deserved pity,
since, as I shall show hereafter, they were persons of unblemished
characters, and of virtuous inclinations, until misled by her.

As to the sense she had of her own circumstances, there has been scarce
any in her state known to behave with so much indifference. She said
often that death was neither grievous nor terrible to her in itself, but
was in some degree shocking from the manner in which she was to die. Her
fondness for Billings hurried her into indecencies of a very
extraordinary nature, such as sitting with her hand in his at chapel,
leaning upon his shoulder, and refusing upon being reprimanded (for
giving offence to the congregation) to make any amendment in respect of
these shocking passages between her and the murderers of her husband,
but on the contrary, she persisted in them to the very minute of her
death. One of her last expressions was to enquire of the executioner
whether he had hanged her dear child, and this, as she was going from
the sledge to the stake, so strong and lasting were the passions of this


The murdered man's head is exhibited in the churchyard of St.
Margaret's, Westminster]

The Friday night before her execution (being assured she should die on
the Monday following) she attempted to make away with herself; to which
purpose she had procured a bottle of strong poison, designing to have
taken the same. But a woman who was in the place with her, touching it
with her lips, found that it burnt them to an extraordinary degree, and
spilling a little on her handkerchief, perceived it burnt that also;
upon which suspecting her intentions, she broke the phial, whereby her
design was frustrated.

On the day of her execution she was at prayers, and received the
Sacrament in the chapel, where she still showed her tenderness to
Billings. About twelve, the prisoners were severally carried away for
execution; Billings with eight others for various crimes were put into
three carts, and Catherine Hayes was drawn upon a sledge to the place of
execution; where being arrived, Billings with eight others, after having
had some time for their private devotions, were turned off.

After which Catherine Hayes being brought to the stake, was chained
thereto with an iron chain running round her waist and under her arms
and a rope about her neck, which was drawn through a hole in the post;
then the faggots, intermixed with light brush wood and straw, being
piled all round her, the executioner put fire thereto in several places,
which immediately blazing out, as soon as the same reached her, with her
arms she pushed down those which were before her. When she appeared in
the middle of the flames as low as her waist, the executioner got hold
of the end of the cord which was round her neck, and pulled tight, in
order to strangle her, but the fire soon reached his hand and burnt it,
so that he was obliged to let it go again. More faggots were immediately
thrown upon her, and in about three or four hours she was reduced to

In the meantime, Billings's irons were put upon him as he was hanging on
the gallows; after which being cut down, he was carried to the gibbet,
about one hundred yards distance, and there hung up in chains.


[75] The old name for Oxford Street.

The Life of THOMAS BILLINGS, a Murderer.

We have said so much of this malefactor in the foregoing life, yet it
was necessary, in order to preserve the connection of that barbarous
story, to leave the particular consideration of these two assistants in
the murder of Mr. Hayes to particular chapters, and therefore we will
begin with Billings. Mrs. Hayes, some time before her execution,
confidently averred that he was the son both of Mr. Hayes and of
herself, that his father not liking him, he was put out to relations of
hers and took the name of Billings from his godfather. But Mr. Hayes's
relations confidently denying all this, and he himself saying he knew
nothing more than that he called his father a shoemaker in the country,
who some time since was dead. He was put apprentice to a tailor with
whom he served his time, and then came up to London to work
journey-work, which he did in Monmouth Street, lodging at Mr. Hayes's
and believed himself nearly related to his wife, who from the influence
she always maintained over him, drew him to the commission of that
horrid fact.

But the most certain opinion is that he was found in a basket upon the
common, near the place where Mrs. Hayes lived before she married Mr.
Hayes, that he was at that time of his death about twenty-two or
twenty-three years old; whereas it evidently appeared by her own
confession, that she had been married to Mr. Hayes but twenty years and
eight months. He was put out to nurse by the charge of the parish, to
people whose names were Billings, and when he was big enough to go
apprentice, was bound to one Mr. Wetherland, a tailor, to whom the
parish gave forty shillings with him. It is very probable he might be a
natural son of Mrs. Hayes's, born in her rambles (of which we have
hinted) before her marriage, and dropped by her in the place where he
was found.

As to the character of Billings in the country he was always reputed a
sober, honest, industrious young man. During the time he had worked in
town, he had done nothing to impeach that reputation which he brought up
with him, and might possibly have lived very happily, if he had not
fallen into the temptation of this unfortunate woman, who seems to have
been born for her own undoing and for the destruction of others.
Whatever knowledge he might have of that relation in which he stood to
Mrs. Hayes, certain it is that she always preserved such an authority
over him that in her presence he would never answer any questions but
constantly referred himself to her, or kept an obstinate silence; he
affected, also, a strange fondness for her, kissing her cheek when she
fainted in the chapel at Newgate, and behaving himself when near her, in
such a manner as gave great offence to the spectators. As to the remorse
he had for the horrid crime he had committed, those who had occasion to
know him while under confinement thought him sincere therein; but the
Ordinary, whose place it is to be supreme judge in these matters, told
the world in his account of the behaviour and confession of the
malefactors, that he was a confused, hard-hearted fellow, and had few
external signs of penitence; and a little farther, when possibly he was
in a better humour, he says that in all appearance he was very penitent
for his sins, and died in the Communion of the Church of England, of
which he owned himself an unworthy member.

Life of THOMAS WOOD, a Murderer

This malefactor, Thomas Wood, was born at a place called Ombersley,
between Ludlow and Worcester, of parents in very indifferent
circumstances, who were therefore able to give him but little education.
He was bred up to no settled business, but laboured in all such country
employments as require only a robust body for their performance. When
the summer's work was over, he used to assist as a tapster at inns and
alehouses in the neighbourhood of the village where he was born, and by
the industry, care, and regularity which he observed in all things,
gained a very great reputation as an honest and faithful servant with
all that knew him.

His mother having been left in a needy condition, with several small
children, she set up a little alehouse in order to get bread for them.
Thomas was very dutiful, and as his diligence enabled him to save a
little money, so he was by no means backwards in giving her all the
assistance that was in his power. Some few months before his death, he
grew desirous of coming to London, which he did accordingly, and worked
at whatsoever employment he could get both with fidelity and diligence;
but a fleet being then setting out for the Mediterranean, press-warrants
were granted for the manning thereof, and the diligence that was used in
putting them in execution gave great uneasiness to Wood, who, having no
settled business, was afraid of falling into their hands. Whereupon he
bethought himself of his countryman, Mr. Hayes, to whom he applied for
his advice and assistance. Mr. Hayes kindly invited him to live with
them in order to avoid that danger, and he accordingly lay with Mr.
Billings, as has been before related. Mr. Hayes was moreover so desirous
of doing him service that he applied himself to finding out such persons
as wanted labourers in order to get him into business, while Mrs. Hayes,
in the meantime, made use of every blandishment to seduce the fellow
into following her wicked inclinations. Perceiving that both Billings
and he had religious principles then in common with ordinary persons,
she artfully made even those persons' dispositions subservient to her
brutal and inhuman purpose.

It seems that Mr. Hayes had fallen, within a few years of his death,
into the company of some who called themselves Free-thinkers and fancy
an excellency in their own understandings because they are able to
ridicule those things which the rest of the world think sacred. Though
it is no great conquest to obtrude the belief of anything whatsoever on
persons of small parts and little education, yet they triumph greatly
therein and communicate the same honour of boasting in their pupils. Mr.
Hayes now and then let fall some rather rash expression, as to his
disbelief of the immortality of the soul, and talked in such a manner on
religious topics that Mrs. Hayes persuaded Billings and Wood that he was
an Atheist, and as he believed his own soul of no greater value than
that of a brute beast, there could be no difference between killing him
and them. It must be indeed acknowledged that there was no less oddity
in such propositions than in those of her husband; however, it
prevailed, it seems, with these unfortunate men; and as she had already
persuaded them it was no sin, so when they were intoxicated with liquor
she found it less difficult than at any other time, to deprive them also
of the humanity, and engage them in perpetrating a fact so opposite not
only to religion but to the natural tenderness of the human species.
Wood, as he yielded to her persuasions with reluctance, so he was the
first who showed any true remorse of conscience for that cruel act of
which he had been guilty; his confession of it being free and voluntary,
and at the same time full and ingenious. Two days after receiving
sentence, his constitution began to give way to the violence of a
feverish distemper, which by a natural death prevented his execution, he
dying in Newgate, in the twenty-eighth year of his age, much more pitied
than either Billings or Mrs. Hayes who suffered at Tyburn. And thus with
Wood we put a period to the relation of a tragedy which surprised the
world exceedingly at the same time it happened, and will doubtless be
read with horror in succeeding generations.

The Life of CAPTAIN JAEN, a Murderer

Though there is not perhaps any sin so opposite to our nature as cruelty
towards our fellow creatures, yet we see it so thoroughly established in
some tempers, that neither education nor a sense of religion are strong
enough to abate it, much less to wear it out. The person of whom we are
speaking, John Jaen, was the son of parents in very good circumstances
at Bristol, who they bred him up to the knowledge of everything
requisite to a person who was to be bred up in trade, and he grew a very
tolerable proficient as well in the knowledge of the Latin tongue, as in
writing and accounts, for his improvement in all which he was put under
the best masters. When he had finished that course of learning which
his friends thought would qualify him for what they designed him, he was
immediately put apprentice to a cooper in Bristol, where he served his
time with both fidelity and industry. When it was expired, he applied
himself to trade with the same diligence, and sometimes went to sea,
till in the year '24 he became master of a ship called the _Burnett_,
fitted out by some merchants at Bristol, for South Carolina. In his
return from this voyage he committed the murder for which he died.

On the 25th April, 1726, an Admiralty Sessions was held at the Old
Bailey, before the Hon. Sir Henry Penrice, Judge of the High Court of
Admiralty, assisted by the Honourable Mr. Baron Hale, at which Captain
Greagh was indicated for feloniously sinking the good ship called the
_Friendship_, of which he was commander; but as there appeared no
grounds for such a charge, he was acquitted. Afterwards Captain John
Jaen, of Bristol, was set to the bar, and arraigned on an indictment for
wilfully and inhumanly murdering one Richard Pye, who had been
cabin-boy, in the month of March, in the year 1724. It appeared by the
evidence produced against him that he either whipped the boy himself or
caused him to be whipped every day during the voyage; that he caused him
to be tied to the mainmast with ropes for nine days together, extending
his arms and legs to the utmost, whipping him with a cat (as it is
called) of five small cords till he was all bloody, then causing his
wounds to be several times washed with brine and pickle. Under this
terrible usage the poor wretch grew soon after speechless. The Captain,
notwithstanding, continued his cruel usage, stamping, beating and
abusing him, and even obliging him to eat his own excrements, which
forcing its way upwards again, the boy in his agony of pain made signs
for a dram, whereupon the captain in derision took a glass, carried it
into the cabin, and made water therein, and then brought it to the boy
to drink, who rejected the same. The lamentable condition in which he
was made no impression on the captain, who continued to treat him with
the same severity, by whipping, pickling, kicking, beating, and bruising
him while he lingered out his miserable life. On the last day of this he
gave him eighteen lashes with the aforesaid cat of five tails, in a
little time after which the boy died. The evidence farther deposed that
when the boy's body was sewn up in a hammock to be thrown overboard it
had in it as many colours as there are in a rainbow, that his flesh in
many places was as soft as jelly, and his head swelled as big as two.
Upon the whole it very fully appeared that a more bloody premeditated
and wilful murder was never committed, and Sir Henry Penrice declared,
that in all the time he had had the honour of sitting on the Bench he
never heard anything like it, and hoped that no person who should sit
there after him should hear of such an offence.

Under sentence of death he behaved with a great deal of piety and
resignation though he did not frequent the public chapel for two
reasons, the first because the number of strangers who were admitted
thither to stare at such unhappy persons as are to die are always
numerous and sometimes very indiscreet; the second was, that he had many
enemies who took a pleasure in coming to insult him, and as he was sure
either of these would totally interrupt his devotions, he thought it
excusable to receive the assistance of the minister in his own chamber.
As to the general offences of his life, he was very open in his
confession, but as to the particular fact for which he suffered, he
endeavoured to excuse it by saying he never intended to murder the boy,
but only to correct him as he deserved, he being exceedingly wicked and
unruly; he charged him with thieving in their voyage out, being yet
worse as they came home, and that particularly one evening when he was
asleep in the cabin, the lad broke open his lockers, and took out a
bottle of rum, of which he drank near a pint, making himself therefor so
drunk that his excrements fell involuntarily from him, which stunk so
abominably that it awakened him (the Captain), whereupon he called in
several of his men, who found the boy in a sad condition, and were
obliged to sit down and smoke tobacco in order to overcome the stench he
had raised. This produced the terrible punishment of tying him to the
mast for several days and the offering him his excrements which he

Notwithstanding the captain owned all this, yet he could not forbear
reflections on those who gave testimony against him at his trial,
charging them with perjury and conspiracy to ruin him, though nothing
like it appeared from the manner in which they delivered their
testimony. As the time of his death approached nearer, the fear thereof,
and remorse of conscience, brought the captain into so weak and low a
state that he could scarce speak or attend to any discourses of others,
but lay in a languishing condition, often fainting, and in fine
appearing not unlike a person who had taken something to produce a
sudden death, in order to prevent an ignominious one. Yet when such
suspicions were mentioned to him, he declared that they were without
ground, that he had never suffered such a thought once to enter into his
head. His wife, who attended him constantly while in prison, said she
loved him too well to become his executioner, and that she was positive
since his commitment, he had had nothing unwholesome administered to


(_From the Annals of Newgate_)]

As he was carried to execution, he was so very much spent, that it was
thought he would hardly have lived to have reached it. There he had the
assistance of a minister of distinction, who prayed with him till the
instant he was thrown off, which was on the 13th day of May, 1726, being
then about twenty-nine years of age. As soon as he was cut down, he was
put in chains, in order to be hung up.

The Life of WILLIAM BOURN, a Notorious Thief

As the want of education, from a multitude of instances, seems to be the
chief cause of many of those misfortunes which befall persons in the
ordinary course of life, so there are some born with such a natural
inaptitude thereto, that no care, no pains, is able to conquer the
stubborn stupidity of their nature, but like a knotty piece of wood,
they defy the ingenuity of others to frame anything useful out of such
cross-grained materials. This, as he acknowledged himself upon all
occasions, was the case of the malefactor we are now speaking of, who
was descended of honest and reputable parents, who were willing in his
younger years to have furnished him with a tolerable share of learning;
but he was utterly incorrigible, and though put to a good school, would
never be brought to read or write at all, which was no small
dissatisfaction to his parents, with whom in other respects he agreed
tolerably well.

When of age to be put out apprentice, he was placed with a hatter in the
city of Dublin, to whom he served his time honestly and faithfully; as
soon as he was out of his time, he came up to London in order to become
acquainted with his business. He had the good luck, though a stranger,
to get into good business here, but was so unfortunate as to fall into
the acquaintance of two lewd women, who fatally persuaded him that
thieving was an easier way of getting money to supply their extravagant
expenses than working. He being a raw young lad, unacquainted with the
world, was so mad as to follow their advice, and in consequence thereof
snatched a show-glass out of the shop of Mr. Lovell, a goldsmith in
Bishopsgate Street, in which there was four snuff-boxes, eight silver
medals, six pairs of gold buttons, five diamond rings, twenty pairs of
ear-rings, sixty-four gold rings, several gold chains, and other rich
goods, to the amount of near L300, with all of which he got safe off,
though discovered soon afterwards by his folly in endeavouring to
dispose of them.

He threw aside all hopes of life as soon as he was apprehended, as
having no friends to make intercession likely to procure a pardon. He
was, indeed, a poor young creature, rather stupid than wicked and his
vices more owing to his folly than to the malignity of his inclinations.
He seemed to have a just notion both of the heinousness of that crime
which he had committed and of the shame and ignominy he had brought upon
himself and his relations. He was particularly affected with the
miseries which were likely to fall upon his poor wife for his folly, and
when the day of his death came, he seemed very easy and contented under
it, declaring, however, at last that he died in the communion of the
Church of Rome. This was on the 27th of June, 1726, being then not much
above eighteen years old.

The Life of JOHN MURREL, a Horse-Stealer

This malefactor was descended of very honest and reputable parents in
the county of York, who took care not only that he should read and write
tolerably well, but also that he should be instructed in the principles
of religion. They brought him up in their own way of business, which was
grazing of cattle (both black cattle and horses), and afterwards selling
them at market. As he grew up a man, he settled in the same occupation,
farming what is called in Yorkshire a grazing room, for which he paid
near a hundred pounds a year rent, and dealt very considerably himself
in the same way which had been followed by his parents. He married also
a young woman with a tolerable fortune, who bore him several children,
five of which were alive at the time of his execution, and lived with
their mother upon some little estate she had of her own.

For some years after his marriage he lived with tolerable reputation in
the country, but being lavish in his expenses, he quickly consumed both
his own little fortune and what he had with his wife, and then failing
in his business, a whim took him in the head to come to London, whither
also he brought his son. Here he soon fell into bad company, and getting
acquaintance with a woman whom he thought was capable of maintaining
him, he married her, or at least lived with her as if they had been
married, for a considerable space; the news of which reaching his wife
in the country, affected her so much that she had very nigh fallen into
a fit of sickness. Thereupon her friends demonstrated to her, in vain,
how unreasonable a thing it was for her to give herself so much pain
about a man who treated her at once with unkindness and injustice; in
spite of their remonstrances she came up to London, in hopes that her
presence might reclaim him. But herein she was utterly mistaken, for he
absolutely denied her to be his wife, and even persuaded his son to deny
her also for his mother, which the boy with much fear and confusion did;
and the poor woman was forced to go down into the country again,
overwhelmed with sorrow at the ingratitude of the one and the
undutifulness of the other. However, Murrel still went on in the same
way with the woman he had chosen for his companion.

There is all the reason imaginable to suppose that he did not take the
most honest ways of supporting himself and his mistress. However, he
fell into no trouble nor is there any direct evidence of his having been
guilty of any dishonesty within the reach of the Law, until he ran away
with a mare from a man in town, as to which he excused himself by saying
that she had formerly been his own, and that there having nothing more
than a verbal contract between them, he thought fit to carry her off and
sell her again. Sometime afterwards, going down to Newcastle Fair (for
he still continued to carry on some dealing in horse-flesh) he fell
there into the company of some merchants in the same way, who found
means to get gains and sell very cheap, by paying nothing at the first
hand. Among these, there was a country man of his who went by the name
of Brown, with whom Murrel had formerly had an acquaintance. This fellow
knowing the company in general to be persons of the same profession,
began to talk very freely of his practices in that way (viz., of horse

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest