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Quakers, Newgate and the Old Bailey

There was a very crowded concourse, among whom were numberless gin and gingerbread vendors, accompanied by pickpockets and even less respectable characters, of almost every denomination in London; in short, the whole scene resembled a principal fair, rather than an awful execution. Now, when the mob was nearly dispersed, and there remained only a few bystanders, with an old woman who sold gin, a remarkable occurrence took place, and operated to the following effect:—. The old woman before named, who sold gin, observing these tars to grow violent, by reason of their disappointment, mildly accosted them and said, 'Gentlemen, I suppose you want the man that the surgeons have got?

They hastened away, and as they entered the town, inquiry was made by them where the surgeons' mob was to be discovered, and receiving the information they wanted, they went and demanded the body of John Lancaster. When the sailors had obtained the body, two of them cast it on their shoulders, and carried him round by Islington.


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They being tired out with its pressure, two others laid themselves under the weight of the body, and carried it from thence to Shoreditch. Then two more carried it from Shoreditch to Coverley's Fields. At length, after they were all rendered completely weary, and unable to carry it any farther, the sequel of their project, and their ultimate contrivance to rid themselves of the body was an unanimous consent to lay it on the step of the first door they came to. They did so, and then went their way.

This gave birth to a great riot in the neighbourhood, which brought an old woman, who lived in the house, down-stairs. When she saw the corpse lie at the step of the door, she proclaimed, with an agitated spirit, 'Lord, here is my son, John Lancaster! I was soon informed of this event, which was peculiarly singular, as the seamen had no knowledge of the body, nor to whom he belonged when living. My second wife went with me to see him, previous to the burial; but neither of us could perceive the least alteration in his visage or features, or any appearance of violence on any part of his body.

A pleasant smile appeared in his countenance, and he lay as in a sweet sleep. Told gives a terrible picture of the state of Newgate about —the felons swearing and cursing at the preacher, and the ordinary himself guarding the prison doors on Sunday morning, to obstruct Told's entrance. Told, however, zealous in the cause, persevered, and soon formed a society of about forty of the debtors, who formed his Sunday congregation. The ordinary, however, soon contrived to shut out Told from this part of the prison also. He therefore betook himself almost entirely to the graver malefactors.

His account of some of these unhappy men is extremely interesting.

During his visits to Newgate six men of good family were lying there, sentenced to death for highway robbery. Of these, one was the son of an Irish divine, two others were men of fortune, and a fourth was a naval officer, to whom a daughter of the Duke of Hamilton was engaged to be married. After an election dinner, at Chelmsford, these men, for fun, had sallied out and robbed a farmer in the highway. The king was unwilling to pardon any of the party; but at the incessant importunities of Lady Elizabeth Hamilton, at last consented to reprieve her lover, but only at the gallows' foot.

He fainted when the halter was removed, and was instantly lifted into the carriage, where Lady Betty awaited him. Six weeks after, to Told's vexation, he found the reprieved man gambling with a fraudulent bankrupt, who shortly afterwards was himself executed at Tyburn.


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Told's next visit was to Mary Edmonson, a poor girl hung at Kennington Common for murdering her aunt at Rotherhithe. The girl was entirely innocent, and the real murderer, a relation, who was a foot-soldier, came up into the cart to salute her before she was turned off. Some time after, this man riding in a post-chaise past the gallows at Kennington said to a friend, "There is the place where my kinswoman was hung wrongfully. I should have gone in her room. Silas Told says that at the execution of Mary Edmonson he walked by the cart, urging her to prayer, holding the bridle of the sheriff's horse, in spite of a most cruel and violent mob.

Told also mentions attending Harris, the "Flying Highwayman," to the gallows, a man who, the very morning of his execution, was so violent in the chapel that the ordinary ran for his life. Just beyond Hatton Garden, after some exhortations of honest Told, the indomitable ruffian, at his request, shut his eyes, hung back his head on the side-rail of the cart, and after ten minutes' meditation burst into tears, and, clapping his hands together, cried, "Now I know that the Lord Jesus has forgiven me all my sins, and I have nothing to do but to die.

Another case mentioned by Told does not give us a very enlarged view of the tender mercies of the time. A poor man, Anderson, entirely destitute, was sentenced to death for taking sixpence from two washerwomen in Hoxton Fields. The man had served with credit on board a manof-war, and his own parish had petitioned on his behalf.

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The Privy Council, however, insisted on confounding him with one of the same name, a celebrated highwayman of the day, and to Tyburn he went. In , when Mr. Akerman, one of the keepers, appeared before a Committee of the House of Commons, Newgate appears to have been a sink of filth and a den of iniquity.

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It was over-crowded, ill-disciplined, badly ventilated, and ill-supplied with water. The prisoners died in great numbers; and as Mr. Akerman, a good and trusty official, stated, two whole sets of gaol-officers had been cut off by gaol distemper since he had been in office; and in the spring of the gaol was so terribly infectious, that the contagion was carried into the Old Bailey court, and two of the judges, the Lord Mayor, and several of the jury, more than sixty in all, died in consequence. A huge ventilator was then erected, but this alarmed the whole neighbourhood, and the residents complained, with bitter outcries, that the poisonous air was drawn from the prison cells, to destroy all who lived near.

One of the earliest anecdotes of Newgate is to be found in a letter to the Duke of Shrewsbury, dated August 10, I don't doubt but what your grace has heard of a bastard son of Sir George Norton, who was under sentence of death for killing a dancing-master in the streets.


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The Lords Justices reprieved him, till they heard from the judge that no exception was to be taken at the verdict. It being signified to the young man, on Tuesday last in the afternoon, that he was to die the next day, his aunt, who was sister to his mother, brought two doses of opium, and they took it between them. The ordinary came soon after to perform his functions; but before he had done, he found so great alterations in both persons that it was no hard matter to find out the cause of it.

The aunt frankly declared she could not survive her nephew, her life being wrapped up in his; and he declared that the law having put a period to his life, he thought it no offence to choose the way he would go out of the world. The keeper sent for his apothecary to apply remedies, who brought two vomits. The young man refused to take it, till they threatened to force it down by instruments. He told them, since he hoped the business was done, he would make himself and them easy, and swallowed the potion, and his aunt did the like. The remedy worked upon her, and set her a-vomiting, but had no effect on Mr.

Norton, so that he dozed away gradually, and by eight that evening was grown senseless, though he did not expire till nine next morning. He was fully resolved upon the business, for he had likewise a charged pistol hid in the room. The aunt was carried to a neighbouring house, and has a guard upon her. They say she is like to recover; if she does, it will be hard if she suffer for such a transport of affection.

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The Angel of Newgate

Among the many guilty and unhappy criminals who have sat in Newgate and counted the moments that lay between them and death, one of the most unhappy must have been that once popular preacher, Dr. Dodd, who was hung for forgery in Dodd was the son of a clergyman who was vicar of Bourne, in Lincolnshire.

On leaving Cambridge he married imprudently, and became a small poet, and compiler of the "Beauties of Shakespeare," a work still reprinted. He then renounced literature, entered the Church, and in was appointed preacher to the Magdalen Hospital, where Horace Walpole describes his flowery sermons, which set all the ladies of fashion sobbing. Gross flattery of Dr. Squire, Bishop of St. David's, procured him, in , the prebendaryship of Brecon. Soon after this the grateful bishop introduced Dodd to the Earl of Chesterfield, as a tutor to his son, and about the same time Dodd was appointed one of the king's chaplains, and in took his degree of LL.

Overwhelmed with debt, Dodd brought out several religious works, with the hope of winning patrons by his fulsome dedications. In he was appointed chaplain to the young Lord Chesterfield, the hopeless cub to whom the celebrated "Letters" were addressed. The rich living of St.

Selected Originals - Old Bailey Restored (1952)

The letter was traced to its source, and handed to the king, and the writer's name was ordered immediately to be struck out of the list of chaplains. Foote, always cruel in his fun, introduced Dodd into one of his Haymarket pieces as Dr. Dodd promised an explanation, but it never came. He retired for a time to Geneva, and the society of Lord Chesterfield, till the storm blew over. The signature disowned, Dodd, who then lived in Argyle Street, was apprehended. He at once repaid part of the money, and gave a judgment on his goods for the remainder. The prosecutors were reluctant to proceed; and Lord Chesterfield, it is said, placed the forgery in Dodd's hands, as he stood near a fire, in hopes that he would destroy it; but Dodd wanted promptitude and presence of mind, and soon after the Lord Mayor compelled the prosecution.

He was tried and found guilty. Johnson, on being applied to, wrote the speech delivered by Dodd before his sentence. He also composed several petitions for him, and a sermon which Dr. Dodd delivered to his fellow-prisoners shortly before his execution. In Newgate this vain and shallow man acted the martyr, and wrote a book called "Thoughts in Prison," and believed in the possibility of a reprieve, though the king was inflexible, because in a recent case of forgery that of Daniel and Robert Perreau, wine merchants , the sentence had been carried out.

Dodd is pardoned," the king said, "then the Perreaus were murdered. The friends of Dodd were zealous to the last. A wax image of him had also been made, to be left in his bed, but the scheme, somehow or other, miscarried. Anthony Morris Storer, writing to George Selwyn, who had a passion for executions, thus describes Dodd's behaviour at Tyburn:—.

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His hat was flapped all round, and pulled over his eyes, which were never directed to any object around, nor even raised, except now and then lifted up in the course of his prayers. He came in a coach, and a very heavy shower of rain fell just upon his entering the cart, and another just at his putting on his night-cap.

The wind, which was high, blew off his hat, which rather embarrassed him, and discovered to us his countenance, which we could scarcely see before.