Social Life in the Reign of Queen Anne, taken from original sources, Volume II

Ashton, John



Capital punishment-Its frequency-An execution described-Behaviour on the scaffold and way to execution-Revival after hanging-Peine forte et dure-Hanging in chains-Highwaymen-Claude du Val lying in state-Ned Wicks and Lord Mohun: their swearing match -A highwayman hanged-Highwaymen in society-Highway robberies-Footpads-Burglars-John Hall-Benefit of clergy-Coining -Pickpockets -Robbery from children - Perjury- Sharpers- Begging impostors - Gipsies - Constables - Private detectives - Commercial frauds-- Society for the Reformation of Manners '- Statistics of their convictions-The pillory-Ducking-stool.


Capital punishment-Its frequency-An execution described-Behaviour on the scaffold and way to execution-Revival after hanging-Peine forte et dure-Hanging in chains-Highwaymen-Claude du Val lying in state-Ned Wicks and Lord Mohun: their swearing match -A highwayman hanged-Highwaymen in society-Highway robberies-Footpads-Burglars-John Hall-Benefit of clergy-Coining -Pickpockets -Robbery from children - Perjury- Sharpers- Begging impostors - Gipsies - Constables - Private detectives - Commercial frauds-- Society for the Reformation of Manners '- Statistics of their convictions-The pillory-Ducking-stool.



THE repression and punishment of crime is the duty of every Government, and it was performed in Anne's reign as well as an imperfect police would allow. Capital punishment was, of course, more frequent than in our days, because there were so many more offences punishable by it. In London alone, from the commencement of Sir Thos. Abney's mayoralty in , to the end of that of Sir Richard Hoare in , 242 malefactors were hanged at Tyburn and other places. It was of such frequent occurrence that men got callous about it, nay, joked of it. 'Mr. Ordinary visits his melancholy Flock at Newgate by Eight. Doleful Procession up Holborn Hill about Eleven. Men handsome and proper, that were never thought so before, which is some Comfort however, Arrive at the fatal Place at Twelve. Burnt Brandy, Women and Sabbath breaking repented of. Some few Penitential Drops fall under the Gallows. Sheriffs Men, Parson, Pickpockets, Criminals, all very busie. The last concluding peremptory Psalm struck up. Show over by One.' Misson gives a far longer account, full of detail, of an execution in those days. He says: 'Hanging is the most CRIME.


common Punishment in England. Usually this Execution is done in a great Road about a quarter of a League from the Suburbs of London. The Sessions for trying Criminals being held but eight Times a Year, there are sometimes twenty Malefactors to be hang'd at a Time. 'They put five 2 or six in a Cart (some gentlemen obtain leave to perform this journey in a coach) and carry them riding backwards with the Rope about their Necks, to the fatal Tree. The Executioner stops the Cart under one of the Cross Beams of the Gibbet, and fastens to that ill-favoured Beam one End of the Rope, while the other is round the Wretches Neck: This done, he gives the Horse a Lash with his Whip, away goes the Cart, and there swings my Gentleman Kicking in the Air. ' The Hangman does not give himself the Trouble to put them out of their Pain; but some of their Friends or Relations do it for them. They pull the dying Person by the Legs, and beat his Breast to dispatch him as soon as possible. The English are People that laugh at the Delicacy of other Nations, who make it such a mighty Matter to be hang'd; their extraordinary Courage looks upon it as a Trifle, and they also make a Jest of the pretended Dishonour, that in the Opinion of others, falls upon their Kindred. ' He that is to be hang'd, or otherwise executed, first takes Care to get himself shav'd, and handsomely drest, either in Mourning, or in the Dress of a Bridegroom. This done, he sets his Friends at Work to get him Leave to be bury'd, and to carry his Coffin with him, which is easily obtain'd. When his Suit of Cloaths, or Night Gown, his Gloves, Hat, Perriwig, Nosegay, Coffin, Flannel Dress for his Corps, and all those Things are bought and prepar'd, the main Point is taken Care of, his Mind is at Peace, and then he thinks of his Conscience. Generally he studies a Speech, which he pronounces under the Gallows, and gives in Writing to the Sheriff, or the Minister that attends him in his last Moments, desiring that it may be printed. Sometimes the Girls dress in White, with great Silk Scarves, and carry Baskets full of Flowers and Oranges, scattering these Favours all the Way they go. But 1 Tyburn. 2 Usually three.


to represent Things as they really are, I must needs own that if a pretty many of these People dress thus gayly, and go to it with such an Air of Indifference, there are many others that go slovenly enough, and with very dismal Phizzes. 'I remember, one Day, I saw in the Park, a handsome Girl, very well drest, that was then in Mourning for her Father, who had been hang'd but a Month before at Tyburn for false Coinage. So many Countries, so many Fashions.' There were sad and revolting scenes at the gallows. The notorious Captain Kidd, the pirate, went to his death drunk, which, as Paul Lorrain, the Ordinary of Newgate, observes, 'had so decomposed his Mind, that now it was in a very bad frame.' The rope broke, and he fell to the ground, which somewhat sobered him, and before he was finally strangled he listened to the chaplain's ministrations. A previous chaplain, in , was roughly treated by one Tom Cox, a highwayman,l' for before he was turn'd off, Mr. Smith, the Ordinary, desiring him to join with the rest of his Fellow Sufferers in Prayer, he swore a great Oath to the contrary, and kickt him and the Hangman too off the Cart.' When one Dick Hughes, a housebreaker, was in going to execution,2 'his wife met him at Saint Giles's Pound, where, the Cart stopping, she stept up to him, and whispering in his Ear, said, My dear, who must find the Rope that's to hang you, We or the Sheriff? Her Husband reply'd, The Sheriff, Honey; for who's obliged to find him Tools to do his Work ? Ah ! (reply'd his Wife) I wish I had known so much before, 'twould have sav'd me two Pence, for I have been and bought one already. Well, well, (said Dick again) perhaps it mayn't be lost, for it may serve a second Husband. Yes, (quoth his Wife) if I've any Luck in good Husbands, so it may.' Another story is told, in the same book, of one Jack Witherington, a highwayman, who, when going up Holborn Hill to execution, 'he order'd the Cart to stop, then desiring to speak to the Sheriff's Deputy, who attends Criminals to the Place of Execution, he said to him, I owe, Sir, a small 1 History of the Lives of the most noted Highwaymen, etc., by Capt. Alexander Smith, . 2 Ibid. CRIME.


Matter at the Three Cups Inn, a little farther, for which I fear I shall be arrested as I go by the Door, therefore I shall be much obliged to you if you'll be pleas'd to carry me down Shoe Lane, and bring me up again to the Place for which I'm design'd. Hereupon the Deputy Sheriff telling him that if such a Mischance should happen, he would Bail him; Jack, as not thinking he had such a good Friend to stand by him in time of Need, rid very contentedly to Tyburn.' The system of strangulation then in vogue was favourable to the recovery of life, as is shown by the following extract from the Flying Post, Dec. 11 / 13, : ' Yesterday one John Smith,l Condemned last Sessions for House breaking, was carried from Newgate to Tyburn to be executed. Some minutes after he was turned off, a Reprieve came for him, and being immediately cut down, he soon reviv'd, to the admiration of all Spectators, and was brought back to Newgate.' The Newgate Calendar reports that, 'being asked what were his sensations, after he was turned off; he answered, That at first he felt great pain, but that it gradually subsided, and that the last thing he could remember, was the appearance of a light in his eyes, after which he became quite insensible. But the greatest pain was, when he felt the blood returning to its proper channels.' He received a free pardon a few weeks afterwards, and one would have imagined would have altered his ways, after so narrow an escape; but he was apprehended for a similar offence, tried at the Old Bailey, and was acquitted on a point of law. Yet once more was he caught, and this time was acquitted by the death of the prosecutor. His ultimate fate is not known. But this was nothing to the marvellous resuscitation of Anne Greene, who was hanged at Oxford Dec. 14, , and was afterwards revived-and got quite well. She was condemned for the murder of her child, which was afterwards discovered to have been stillborn; and that there was no deception in her execution her history2 assures us, for she See page 203. 2 Brit. Mus. E. 625 14.


was hanging by the neck for the space of almost half an hour, some of her friends in the meantime thumping her on the breast, others hanging with all their weight upon her legges; 'sometimes lifting her up, and then pulling her down againe with a suddaine jerke, thereby the sooner to despatch her out of her paine; insomuch that the Under-Sheriff, fearing lest thereby they should breake the rope, forbad them to do so any longer.' And not only so, but when she was taken in her coffin to Dr. Petty, the professor of anatomy, 'she was observed to breathe, and obscurely to ruttle; which being perceived by a lusty fellow that stood by, he (thinking to do an act of Charity in ridding her out of the small reliques of a painful life) stamped several times on her breast and Stomack with all the force he could.' This considerate treatment could not overcome the girl's vitality, for by dint of bleeding and good nursing she entirely recovered, and went to her own home, taking with her her coffin, and a goodly sum of money, which had been subscribed for her benefit, and which remained after defraying all charges necessary to her recovery. The scaffold still lingered on Tower Hill, but this was reserved for political offenders. A remnant of the barbarous use of torture still remained (indeed, it was not abolished until the year ) in the peine forte et dure. This punishment was inflicted when a prisoner refused to plead 'guilty' or 'not guilty,' which was then necessary before the trial could be gone on with. Now, if a prisoner refuses to plead, he is regarded as pleading 'not guilty,' and the trial goes on. People have died under this torture rather than plead, because by that means they preserved their property to their friends, which would have been confiscated had they pleaded and been found guilty of felony. Misson gives the following description of the ' Peine forte et dure or pressing to death. When a Felon, punishable with Death, takes a Resolution not to make any Answer to his Judges, after the Second Calling upon, he is carry'd back to his Dungeon, and is put to a Sort of Rack called Peine forte et dure. If he speaks, his Indictment goes on in the usual CRIME.


Forms; if he continues dumb, they leave him to die under that Punishment. He is stretch'd out naked upon his Back, and his Arms and Legs drawn out by cords, and fasten'd to the four Corners of the Dungeon: A Board or Plate of Iron is laid upon his Stomach, and this is heap'd up with Stones to a certain Weight.
'The next Day they give him, at three different times, three little Morsels of Barly Bread, and nothing to Drink: the next Day, three little Glasses of Water, and nothing to Eat: And, if he continues in his Obstinacy, they leave him in that Condition 'till he dies. This is practis'd only upon Felons, or Persons guilty of Petty Treason. Criminals of High Treason, in the like Case, would be condemn'd to the usual Punishment; their Silence would Condemn them.' Hanging in chains was a distinction to which highwaymen and pirates were entitled, after having combined


murder with theft. It consisted of fastening the body into a sort of cage, made of iron hoops, and then hanging it upon the gibbet-which was bound to be on the very road where the crime was committed. Highway robbery was, unfortunately, very common in this reign; but the perpetrators were mostly pitiful wretches, whose career, while it lasted, was far from brilliant, and generally it was a very short one. All the romance of the highway died with Claude Du Val, who was executed on Jan. 21, , in the 27th year of his age. His short career ended ingloriously, for he was taken, when drunk, at the ' Hole in the Wall,' in Chandos Street. Whatever caused the furore over the poor rogue ? We are told : ' There were a great Company of Ladies, and those not of the meanest Degree, that visited him in Prison, interceded for his Pardon, and accompany'd him to the Gallows, with swoll'n Eyes, and Cheeks blubber'd with Tears under their Vizards. After he had hang'd a Convenient Time, he was cut down, and by Persons well dress'd carry'd into a mourning Coach, and so Convey'd to the Tangier Tavern in St. Giles's, where he lay in State all that Night, the Room hung with black Cloth, the Herse cover'd with Scutcheons, eight Wax Tapers burning, as many tall Gentlemen with long Cloaks attending; Mum was the Word, and great Silence expected from all that visited, for Fear of disturbing the sleeping Lion. And this Ceremony had lasted much longer, had not one of the Judges sent to disturb this Pageantry. . . . He was bury'd with many Flambeaus, and with a numerous Train of Mourners, most whereof were of the beautiful Sex; he lyes in the Middle Isle of Covent Garden Church, under a White Marble Stone, whereon are curiously engrav'd the Du Val's Arms.' The stories of their feats are very much alike, varied only in their degree of brutality. One however, if true, is somewhat out of the ordinary ruck, and it is told 2 of the same Lord Mohun (' Dog Mohun,' as Swift calls him) who fought the Duke of Hamilton. 'Another time Ned Wicks meeting with the late Lord 1 Smith's Lives of Highwaymen. 2 Ibid. CRIME.


Mohun on the Road betwixt Windsor and Colebrook, attended only with a Groom and one Footman, he commanded his Lordship to stand and deliver, for he was in great Want of Money, and Money he would have before they parted. His Honour, pretending to have a great deal of Courage, swore he should fight for it then. Wicks very readily accepted the Proposal, and preparing his Pistols for an Engagement, his Lordship seeing his Resolution, he began to hang back, which his Antagonist perceiving, he began to be Cock on hoop, saying "All the World knows me to be a Man; and tho' your Lordship was concern'd in the Cowardly murdering of Mumford the Player, and Captain Cout, yet I'm not to be frighten'd at that; therefore down with your Gold, or else expect no Quarter." His Lordship now meeting with his Match, it put him into such a passionate Fit of swearing, that Wicks not willing to be outdone in any Wickedness, quoth he, "My Lord, I perceive you swear perfectly well ex tempore; come, I'll give your Honour a fair Chance for your Moneys, and that is, he that swears best of us two, shall keep his own, and his that loseth." His Lordship agreed to this Bargain, and throwing down a Purse of 50 Guineas, which Wicks match'd with a like Sum; after a quarter of an Hours Swearing most prodigiously on both Sides, it was left to his Lordship's Groom to decide the Matter; who said, "Why, indeed your Honour Swears as well as ever I heard a Person of Quality in my Life; but, indeed, to give the Strange Gentleman his Due, he has won the Wager if 'twas for a thousand Pounds. Whereupon Wicks taking up the Gold, he gave the Groom a Guinea, and rid about his Business.' A highwayman certainly carried his life in his hand-he was a Wolf's head, and, every man's hand being against him, he was shot whenever he could be, and a reward of forty pounds was given for the capture of one of them. In one Joseph Reader, a miller of Shaftesbury, was attacked by a highwayman, who fired twice at him, and missed doing him any injury. The miller, judging that he had expended his ammunition, closed with him, knocked him off his horse with his cudgel, and beat him senseless. He then dragged him to a tree, and hanged him with his own belt. For this,


Reader was tried at Dorchester, and acquitted; and a subscription was got up for him in court, which amounted to over 30 £. Ward describes a typical highwayman: ' Another you needs must take particular notice of, that pluck'd out a pair of Pocket Pistols, and laid them in the Window, who had a great Scar cross his Forehead, a twisted Wig, and lac'd Hat on; the Company call'd him Captain; he's a man of Considerable Reputation amongst Birds of the same Feather, who I have heard say thus much in his Praise, that he is as Resolute a Fellow as ever Cock'd Pistol upon the Road; and indeed I do believe he fears no Man in the World but the Hang Man; and dreads no death but Choaking. He's as generous as a Prince, treats any Body that will keep him Company; loves his friends as dearly as the Ivy does the Oak, will never leave him till he has Hug'd him to his Ruin. He has drawn in twenty of his Associates to be Hang'd, but had always Wit and Money enough to save his own Neck from the Halter. He has good friends at Newgate, who give him now and then a Squeeze when he is in full Fuice; and give him their Words to stand by him, which he takes as a Verbal Policy of Insurance from the Gallows, till he grows Poor thro' Idleness, and then, (he has Cunning enough to know) he may be Hang'd thro' Poverty. He's well acquainted with the Ostlers about Bishopsgate Street, and Smithfield; and gains from them Intelligence of what Booties goe out that are worth attempting. He accounts them very honest Tikes, and can with all safety trust his Life in their Hands, for now and then Gilding their Palms for the good Services they do him. He pretends to be a Disbanded Officer, and reflects very feelingly upon the hard usage we poor Gentlemen meet with, who have hazarded our Lives and Fortunes for the Honour of our Prince, the Defence of our Country, and Safety of Religion; and after all to be Broke without our Pay, turn'd out without any consideration for the dangers and difficulties we have run thro'; at this rate, Wounds, who the Devil wou'd be a Soldier ?' Their personal appearance-which, it is needless to say, was not the gold-laced costume so beloved of the stage and CRIME.


penny dreadfuls-is given in the following advertisement: ' Stolen from Sam. Brett Servant to Mr. Bayly of Romford in Essex by two Highwaymen, one in a light colour'd Suit trim'd with the same, a light coloured Wig and hood, the other in a light colour'd Coat trim'd with Black Button holes on each side, and dark brown Hair,' etc. And their style of doing business may be learnt from the following: 'On Wednesday night the Cambridge, Norwich, and Linn Stage Coaches, were all 3 Robbed by one single Man in Epping Forest.' 'Stafford 17 Feb. We have had great Robbing lately in these parts by a Gang of Highway men: On the 3oth past, they set upon the Shrewsbury Stage Coach and plunder'd all the passengers; and afterwards met with 3 Country Attorneys, which they Robb'd also; one of them having put 20 Guineas into his Shooes, the Rogues for haste, cut the Straps of the Port Mantle, and threw the Shooes away; after they were gone, the Attorney took up both Shooes and Gold. On the 9th instant they set upon two Drovers coming from New Castle Fair, took a great deal of Money, kill'd one of them on the Spot, and dangerously wounded the other. On the 11th May set upon the High Sheriff of the County with his Lady and Servants, coming from Lichfield Fair, took 60 Guineas from them, and cut off one of the Servants Hands. Since which several of them are taken, of which two are committed to Warwick Gaol, two to Stafford, and two Men and three Women to Litchfield; one of the Women was dress'd in Man's Apparel when they robb'd the Stage Coach.' ' The Mails due at London the 10th of Sept. from Ireland and Chester, having been seiz'd by 3 Highwaymen between Dunstable and St. Alban's, and several Letters opened. These are to give Notice thereof, that care may be taken to prevent the payment of such Bills as have by this means been intercepted.' Advertisements frequently occur of men being taken up on suspicion of being highwaymen, but one would fancy there could be but little doubt of the profession of this gentleman. 'There is now in Custody in her Majesty's Gaol of Newgate in London, James Biswick, alias Bissick, a middle


size'd Man, Aged about 40, having a high Bridge Nose, a thin Visage, pale Complexion, stooping in the Shoulders, was Apprehended the 25th of August last, suppos'd to have committed divers Robberies on the Highway, he having in his Pockets a brace of Pistols loaded and prim'd, a Mask with Strings to it and other cords; also a black Jet Mare 13 Hands high, 7 years old, a Short Bob Tail, a Scar on the near knee, a Blood Spavin behind; is suppos'd to be Stolen, is to be seen at the Swan and Hoop near More gate.' 'The foot pads are very troublesome in the evenings on all the roads leading to this Citty, which renders them very unsafe,' writes Luttrell in , and that he did not exaggerate, take these two instances occurring in that year. 'Last Wednesday Night, a Fencing Master coming to Town from Pancrass, was set upon by some Foot Pads, who, finding he had no Money about him, beat him so barbarously, that his Life is despaired of.' 'On Thursday night, between eight and nine, a Gentleman, who lives at Little Chelsea, was set upon by four Ruffians on this side Chelsea College, who knock'd him down, rifled him of all he had of Worth about him, and left him miserably bruis'd and beaten; but another Gentleman and his Man happening to come by, and seeing him, they together pursued the Rogues, recovered the Gentleman's Hat, Sword, Perriwig, and most of his Money, and took two of the Rogues, who are since committed; but the other two escaped with the Gentleman's Watch and Seal.' In , '3 strowling Gipsies are ordered down to Huntington to be Tryed for Robbing two Women, and leaving them bound together on the Road Naked.' In ,'A Gentleman going from St. James's to Kensington was met and attacked in Hide Park by two Foot Pads, who took from him his Sword, Watch, Perriwig, and Rings, in all to the value of 130 pounds and left him in a deplorable condition.' These are a few examples only, but they are sufficient to show us the insecurity of the public roads at that time. The Newgate Calendar gives a long list of crime in this reign, but they are all of the ordinary type, murder, highway robberies, and burglaries with violence, which last was a capital offence; and so indeed it ought to be, were there CRIME.


many such burglaries as this: 'We hear that on Tuesday night last, five Housebreakers broke into Sir Charles Thorn's House near Bedington in Surrey, and having Jagg'd 1 his Servants, got into his Bed Chamber. At their Entrance Sir Charles fir'd a Pistol at them, which unhappily miss'd doing Execution; upon this they bound and Jagg'd him, and afterwards one of them attempted to insult his Lady; at which Sir Charles being exasperated, with much struggling he got his Hands at Liberty, and flung a Perriwig block at the Villain's Head; who in revenge stabbed Sir Charles, then cut his Throat from Ear to Ear, and left him Dead on the Spot. They afterwards Ransack'd the House, and it's said, carried off to the value of £ 900 in Money and Plate. The Lady Thorn is so ill by this barbarous Treatment, that her Life is despaired of.' There was a most famous housebreaker in this reignone John Hall, a chimney-sweep, who has a small literature entirely devoted to him-besides having dis-'honourable mention' in the Newgate Calendar, and his biography written by no less a person than Paul Lorrain, the Ordinary of Newgate (who is mentioned both in Tatler 63 and Spectator


). He had a long poetical elegy composed on him, after the fashion of the times-and an epitaph:- Here lies Hall's Clay At judgment day, I'd better say Thus swept away; He'd make essay Here lies Jack Hall, If bolt or key To get away: And that is all. Obliged his Stay Be 't as it may, An Act passed in the fifth year of Anne's reign offered a Government reward of £ 40 and a pardon to any person concerned in breaking open houses, who shall discover two or more of his accomplices, upon their conviction; whilst the 6 Anne, cap. 9, which deals with simple burglaries, housebreaking, or robbery in shops, etc., repeats the 10 Will. III., cap. 12, sec. 6, which provided that 'every Person and Persons, who should be convicted of or for any Theft or Larceny, and should have the Benefit of the Clergy allowed thereupon, or ought to be burnt in the Hand for such Offence: instead of being burnt 1 Gagged.


in the Hand should be burnt in the most visible part of the left Cheek nearest the Nose;' and settles that henceforth they shall be burnt in the hand. This 'Benefit of the Clergy'is thus described by Misson: 'About 600 Years ago in the reign of William the Second, the People of England were so strangely ignorant, that the very Priests could hardly read. The King, in order to bring the People out of such a State of Darkness made a Law, that in certain Cases (as Man Slaughter, Theft, (for the first Time) not exceeding the Sum of £ 5 Sterling, and committed without Burglary, or putting the Person robb'd into bodily Fear, Polygamy, &c.) the Convict might save his Life, and escape with no other Punishment but burning in the Hand, if he were so great a Scholar as to be able to read; and tho' at present there is hardly the meanest Peasant in England but what can read, yet the Law is still in Force. They say to the Criminal, Thou N, who art convicted of having committed such and such a Crime, what hast thou to demand in Favour of thy self, to hinder Sentence of Death being pass'd upon thee ? The Criminal answers, I demand the Benefit of the Clergy. His demand is granted, and the Ordinary of Newgate gives him a Book, printed in the old Gothic' Letter, in which the Criminal reads a few Words. Then the Lord Mayor, or one of the Judges, asks the Ordinary Legitne vel non ? And the Ordinary answers Legit ut Clericus. ' However, when the Criminal has a Right to demand the Benefit of the Clergy, they seldom give themselves the trouble to examine whether they can read or no; be he the greatest Scholar in the World, or the greatest Blockhead, tis all a Case, so he gives but a little Spite of Money to the Ordinary, who tells him in a low Voice (which the whole Court may hear) three or four words, which he pronounces, and there's an End of the matter. 'Tis always taken for granted that a Peer can read, and he is never burnt in the Hand when he claims the Benefit of the Clergy.' By the 6 Anne, cap. 9, this ceremony of reading was abolished, although the privilege remained the same, and this 1 Black letter, which was of later date than that text now termed Gothic. CRIME.


singular custom was not altogether, and entirely, done away with until , 4 & 5 Vict. 22. Coining, as infringing the king's prerogative, and being a serious injury to the commonweal, was, of course, a capital offence. One can understand coiners of base metal being punished; those who were cunning in 'the Art of making Black Dogs, which are Shillings, or other pieces of Money made only of Pewter, double Wash'd. What the Professors of this Hellish Art call George Plateroon, is all copper within, with only a thin Plate about it; and what they call Compositum, is a mix'd Metal, which will both touch and cut, but not endure the fiery Test'; but by what reasoning should the following gentleman be found guilty of crime ? Sir Richard Blackham, formerly a Merchant, was at the sessions house in the Old Baily this week found guilty of Misprision of treason for melting down the coin of England, and making foreign coins of it.' The ordinary pickpocket was common enough. Let us hear what Gay says of him :- Here dives the skulking Thief, with practis'd Slight, And unfelt Fingers make thy Pocket light. Where's now thy Watch, with all its Trinkets, flown ? And thy late Snuff Box is no more thy own. But lo ! his bolder Thefts some Tradesman spies, Swift from his Prey the scudding Lurcher flies; Dext'rous he scapes the Coach, with nimble Bounds, While ev'ry honest Tongue Stop Thief resounds. So speeds the wily Fox, alarm'd by Fear, Who lately filch'd the Turkey's callow Care; Hounds following Hounds, grow louder as he flies, And injur'd Tenants joyn the Hunter's Cries. Breathless he stumbling falls : Ill fated Boy ! Why did not honest Work thy Youth employ ? Seiz'd by rough Hands, he's dragg'd amid the Rout, And stretch'd beneath the Pump's incessant Spout: Or plung'd in miry Ponds, he gasping lies, Mud Choaks his Mouth, and plaisters o'er his Eyes. In every age the question may be asked, 'Quis custodiet ipsos custodes ?' and it might have been a propos in , when ' A Thieftaker was also brought upon his Tryal for 1 Luttrell Aug. 31, . VOL. II. Q


Picking a Man's Pocket in Bartholomew Fair, and Acquitted': so, let us hope, he was innocent. Of course, if people were so stupid as to bedizen their children with gold chains, they could not well grumble, and only had themselves to blame, if 'fat squat' wenches occasionally took advantage of their trustfulness and appropriated the trinkets. 'A Child about 6 Years Old being led away by a Fat Squat Wench, on Monday, being the 13th Instant, at 5 of the Clock in the Evening, from Brook Street in Ratcliffe to Golden Lane without Cripplegate, being robbed of a Gold Chain marked A. H. and a Silver Thimble and Purse. Whoever can discover the Wench, so as to be taken, shall have a Guinea Reward, or if Pawn'd or Sold their Money again at Thos. Townsend's at the Jamaica Coffee House in Cornhill.' As a rule, people were only too glad to get back their property, and felonies were compounded in the most unblushing way-' No questions asked' being almost universally a portion of an advertisement for missing or stolen property. One parish was very zealous in its work of criminal purgation. 'A Reward for Apprehending of Thieves in the Parish of Stoak Newington, in the County of Middlesex, that shall commit the Fact in the said Parish. 'Whosoever shall apprehend, or cause to be apprehended, any Person or Persons for Felony or Burglary, or for any petty Larceny, committed within the said Parish within one year from the date hereof, shall receive for every person so apprehended and convicted of petty Larcency, 40s. which shall be paid by the Church Wardens of the said Parish, upon demand, after Such Conviction, and the said Church Wardens shall be at all Charges of the Prosecution, they being order'd to do so at a Vestry held for the said Parish, on the 26th of December .' 'Knights of the Post' have been previously mentioned, but, for a bit of hard swearing, the following anecdote will hold its own. It is told of a vagabond who was hanged in .' 'Another Time Tom Sharpe being very well dress'd, he went to one Councellor Manning's Chambers in Gray's 1 Smith's Lives of Highwaymen, etc. CRIME.


Inn, and demanded 100 Pounds which he had lent him on a Bond. The Barrister was surpris'd at his Demand, as not knowing him; and looking on the Bond, his Hand was so exactly Counterfeited, that he could not in a manner deny it to be his own Writing; but that he knew his own Circumstances were such, that he was never in any Necessity of borrowing so much Money in all his Life of any Man; therefore, as he could not be indebted in any such Sum, upon the account of borrowing, he told Tom, he would not Pay 100 Pounds in his own Wrong. Hereupon Tom, taking his Leave, he told him, he must expect speedy Trouble; and in the meantime, Mr. Manning expecting the same, sent for another Barrister, to whom opening the matter, they concluded it was a forg'd Bond; whereupon Mr. Manning's Council got a general Release forg'd for the Payment of this 100 Pounds; and when Issue was join'd, and the Cause came to be try'd before the late Lord Chief Justice Holt, the Witnesses to Tom Sharpe's Bond, swore so heartily to his lending of the Money to the Defendant that he was in a very fair way of being cast; 'till Mr. Manning's Council moving the Court in behalf of his Client, acquainted his Lordship that they did not deny the having borrow'd 100 Pounds of the Plaintiff, but that it had been paid for above three Months. Three Months ! (quoth his Lordship) and why did not the Defendant then take up his Bond, or see it cancell'd ? To this, his Council reply'd, that when they paid the Money, the Bond could not be found, whereupon the Defendant took a general Release for Payment thereof; which being produc'd in Court, and two Knights of the Post swearing to it, the Plaintiff was cast. Which putting Tom Sharpe into a great Passion, he cry'd to his Companions, as he was coming through Westminster Hall, Was ever such Rogues seen in this World before, to swear they paid that which they never borrow'd ?' There were plenty of 'Chevaliers d'Industrie' in those days, and many were the traps set for the gullible and unwary. 'Like a couple of Sweetners in search of a Country Gudgeon, who thro' Greediness of Gain, would Bite at his share in a drop'd Half Crown, a Gilded Ring, or Rug and Leather.' Q2


Who can the various City Frauds recite, With all the petty Rapines of the Night ? Who now the Guinea Dropper's Bait regards, Trick'd by the Sharper's Dice, or Juggler's Cards ? Why shou'd I warn thee ne'er to join the Fray, Where the Sham Quarrel interrupts the Way? Lives there in these our Days so soft a Clown, Brav'd by the Bully's Oaths, or threat'ning Frown ? I need not strict enjoyn the Pocket's Care, When from the crouded Play thou lead'st the Fair; Who has not here, or Watch, or Snuff Box lost, Or Handkerchiefs that India's Shuttle Boast ? 'To prevent People being imposed upon by Beggers, The President and Governors for the Poor of the City of London give Notice, that on the 18th of this instant April one Eliza Cozens was brought into the Workhouse for Begging, with a Paper on her Breast, viz. These are to certifie all Persons whom it may concern, that the Bearer hereof, Eliza Cosens, a Captive among the Turks for the Space of 11 years and more, and because she would not renounce the Christian Religion they cut out her Tongue. Being ransomed with some other poor Slaves 6 years ago, in the Reign of the late King William, coming to her Native Country of England, and having no Friend to help her, she being reduc'd to the utmost poverty. We whose Names are hereunto set, do grant her this Certificate for her more secure Travelling, that she might partake more easier of all good Christian's Charity wherever she comes. Two of Her Majesty's Justices of the Ralph Freeman Peace for the County of Hartford, at Thomas Burgrief our Meeting, being the Petty Sessions at Buttingford. 'This Woman hath a Tongue, and no Impediment at all in her Speech, and this Certificate seems to be as much a Counterfeit as herself. She is now at the Workhouse in Bishopsgate Street, to be seen by any that please.' Another somewhat similar notice was issued by the same authorities, about one Mary Welch, and two children, who were sent to the workhouse 'for Begging on Horseback, Rapt up in Sheets and Blankets, pretending to be burnt in CRIME.


their Limbs by a Fire which consumed their House in Lincolnshire; the said Mary Welch usually begs in a Country Habit with a High Crown'd Hat, and this Trade she hath follow'd several Years. All which Fact is notoriously untrue, the said Mary and her two Children being sound of their Limbs, and no ways scorch'd by any Fire.' And there are other advertisements of like import, of which the following is most worthy of notice, as the impostor got his deserts:- '... There is now in their Workhouse in Bishopsgate Street, one Rob. Cunningham, a Man of about 40 years of Age, who went begging up and down this City, and other Places, with this Paper following:- To the Pious Reader. Remember that God gave out the Law, To keep the People of the World in awe. Hope without Faith availeth not indeed, Faith without Works, you may be sure is dead; Without Charity there is no Salvation, Poverty Causes a sorrowful Vexation. Excuse the Writer, if bold he seems to be, He is DEAF and DUMB, and desires Charity. He came last from Londonderry, Where he lost his Speech and Hearing. The occasion may be told. It was Sickness, Famine and Cold. At last confin'd within the Town, For a Dog's Head paid half a Crown. He does now for a Pension wait, The which he is promis'd to get. But the old Proverb you may observe, While the Grass grows the Horse may Starve. Rob. Cunningham. Surdus & Mutus Scotia Natus. 'This Man being Committed to the Workhouse for begging in the City in the Manner aforesaid, was there detected the 13th of this instant September before the Committee there present, he having no Infirmity in his Speech or Hearing, and he will shortly be sent a Soldier in her Majesty's Service. He is the 4th pretended Dumb Person who hath been here lately detected.'


Among the rogues and vagabonds may be classed the gipsies, who led their nomadic life then, as now, and their description one hundred and seventy years ago might be written to-day: ' As I was Yesterday riding out in the Fields with my Friend Sir Roger, we saw at a little Distance from us a Troop of Gypsies. Upon the first Discovery of them, my friend was in some doubt whether he should not exert the Justice of the Peace upon such a Band of Lawless Vagrants ; but not having his Clerk with him, who is a necessary Counsellor on these Occasions, and fearing that his Poultry might fare the worse for it, he let the Thought drop: But at the same time gave me a particular Account of the Mischiefs they do in the Country, in stealing People's Goods and spoiling their Servants. If a stray Piece of Linnen hangs upon an Hedge, says Sir Roger, they are sure to have it; if the Hog loses his Way in the Fields, it is ten to one but he becomes their Prey; our Geese cannot live in Peace for them: if a Man prosecutes them with Severity, his Hen roost is sure to pay for it; They generally straggle into these Parts about this Time of the Year; and set the Heads of our Servant Maids so agog for Husbands, that we do not expect to have any Business done as it should be whilst they are in the Country. I have an honest Dairy Maid, that crosses their Hands with a Piece of Silver every Summer, and never fails being promised the handsomest young Fellow in the Parish for her Pains. Your Friend the Butler has been Fool enough to be seduced by them; and, though he is sure to lose a Knife, a Fork or a Spoon every time his fortune is told, generally shuts himself up in the Pantry with an old Gypsie for above half an Hour once in a Twelvemonth. Sweethearts are the things they live upon, which they bestow very plentifully upon all those that apply themselves to them. You see now and then some handsome young Jades among them: The Sluts have often white Teeth and black Eyes.'1 The laws were cruelly severe against them, as Misson notes. 'By Acts of Parliament and Statutes made in the Reign of Henry 8th and his two Daughters, all those People calling themselves Bohemians or Egyptians, are hangable as 1 Spectator, 130. CRIME.


Felons at the Age of 14 Years, a Month after their Arrival in England, or after their first disguising themselves. Before the Month is out, they escape with the Loss of their Goods, Money, &c., if they have any. This Law is not put in Execution: 'Tis true they have very few of those People in England.' In the president and governors of the poor of London set a good example to the other municipalities of the kingdom by issuing a proclamation against 'Rogues, Vagabonds, and Sturdy Beggars,' and promised to anyone who should apprehend one of these objectionable persons, and, taking him before a justice of the peace, get him committed to the Workhouse, a reward of twelve pence 'towards the Charges of this so doing,' and it further recited the pains and penalties contained in the 29 Eliz. cap. 7, and 1 Jas. I. cap. 7, on those people who hindered their apprehension, and neglect of duty on the part of constables and others. Perhaps it was as well to, now and then, remind the constables of their duties, for, if we may believe Ward, they were a very queer lot. 'He always walks Arm'd with a Staff of Authority, Seal'd with the Royal Arms, and all Wise People think the Fellow that Carries it a great Blot in the Scutcheon ... They are the only Encouragers of what they pretend to Suppress, Protecting those People, for Bribes, which they should punish; Well Knowing each Bad house they break is a Weekly Stipend, out of their own Pockets.' Here is a case in which they were made to eat the leek. 'On Tuesday last, at Guild Hall, came on the Tryal of the Constables for their insolent Behaviour the last Year, when the Honourable Plaintiffs, at the humble Request of the Defendants, out of pure Compassion for them and their indigent Families, were charitably pleas'd to forgive 'em, upon the following Submission: 'WHEREAS we, Francis Violet and John Bavis, Constables of the Ward of Broad Street, did on the 8th day of Febr., ,1 rudely Take the Right Hon. Bazil, Earl of Denbigh, and William, Lord Craven, Sir Cholmley Dering, Bar. James This of course should read .


Buller, Esq. and Thomas Leigh, Esq. out of Mr. Calwac's House near the Royal Exchange, and commit 'em to the Poultry Compter; We do hereby declare, That they were not Gaming, or any ways disorderly or offensive in their Behaviour: And that we were guilty of this great Imprudence, without any just Cause; for which we are heartily sorry, and most humbly beg Pardon in open Court. FRANCIS VIOLET. JOHN BAVIS.'1 Pollaky and the private inquiry offices were foreshadowed by the subjoined. 'This is to give notice that those who have sustained any loss at Sturbridge Fair last, by Pick Pockets or Shop lifts: If they please to apply themselves to John Bonner in Shorts Gardens, they may receive information and assistance therein; also Ladies and others who lose their Watches at Churches, and other Assemblies, may be served by him as aforesaid, to his utmost power, if desired by the right Owner, he being paid for his Labour and Expences.' Nor do we enjoy the monopoly of gigantic commercial swindles and official peculations: human nature was pretty much the same. 'This day, one Mr. C--, a great exchange broker, who dealt mostly in Stocks, went off, as said, for above £ 100,000.' 2 '26 Oct., . The Commons of Ireland divided, whether Sir Wm. Robertson, vice-treasurer there, not giving an account of about £ 130,000 of the publick money, should be uncapable of ever serving her majestie, and be committed to the Castle: noes, 96; yeas, 104.' '23 Dec., . Yesterday the lords examined several Witnesses about abuses committed in Victualling the Fleet; and it appearing that one Hoar, who made some discovery therein, had since been almost killed by persons in masks, the Commissioners of the victualling office were ordered to attend the 5th of January.' '7 Mar., . The Commons considered the report of the Commissioners of accounts, wherein they charge the earl of Ranelagh with £ 72,000 of the publick money not accounted for, and Ordered an addresse to the queen, that the attorney- I The Post Boy, March 5/8, . 2 Luttrell, Aug. 14, . CRIME.


generall may prosecute him in the exchequer by way of extent upon his estate.' '14 Mar., . This day the Commons resolved, that the late Commissioners of the Victualling office, in neglecting to keep regular accounts, in making out perfect bills to clear imprests without vouchers, and in not keeping a regular course in payment of their bills, and not making regular assignments thereof, have been guilty of a breach of trust, and acted contrary to their instructions. ' That Philip Papillion, esq., late cashier of the Victualling (Office) has been guilty of a breach of his instructions, by paying several bills without being signed by three Commissioners. 'And that an addresse be presented to her Majestie to direct an immediate prosecution against him, to compell him to account according to the Course of the Exchequer.' '3 Oct., . Yesterday Richard Dyot, esq., a justice of the peace for Middlesex, and one of the Commissioners of the stamp Office, was taken into Custody, being accused of counterfeiting stamps: implements for that purpose were taken in his house. Mr. Thomas Welham, deputy register of the prerogative office at Doctor's Commons, and others, were also seized and examined, being concern'd with him.' These are not examples of a pleasant social state, and yet it seems that things might have been worse. 'I happen'd to be in a Company t'other day, among some persons who were very well acquainted with both London and Paris, where it was made a Question, Which of those two famous Cities was most debauch'd? 'Twas urg'd that the excessive Clemency of the English Laws gave Room for abundance of ill Actions that would not else be committed. Their Punishments have nothing terrible in them but Death. A Rack is not known among them; and their Examination of Criminals is not at all severe. The Judges are extremely favourable to them; false Witnesses lie under but a slight Penalty; and there is a Relaxation which may be call'd an Inexecution of the Laws. Then as to Bankruptcies, and other Villanies of that Nature, the City of London is so full of privileg'd Places, where such Thieves may take Shelter, that upon the whole it must be


Confess'd there is much less Danger in being wicked at London than at Paris; and yet we came to a Resolution, That there is more Vice, and more Roguery at Paris than at London; more infamous Actions, more Cruelty, and more Enormity.' 1 To remedy the very imperfect and lax enforcement of the laws, a society had been started in , 'For the Reformation of Manners in the Cities of London and Westminster'; and in their eighth year () they published a list of 858 'Leud and Scandalous Persons' convicted by their means in the previous year: in , the convictions were


; in , only 706; whilst afterwards they increased enormously. . . Lewd and Disorderly Men and Women 794 Keepers of disreputable and disorderly Houses 51 32 Keepers of Common Gaming Houses 30 10 Exercising their Trades or ordinary Callings on the Persons for Lord's Day Prophane Swearing and Cursing 626 575 Drunkenness 150 42 Looking at the above figures, the society must have done a sensible amount of good in morally purging the metropolis. There were minor punishments: the stocks and the pillory, the former used for petty, the latter for somewhat graver, offences. Defoe had to stand in the latter, and celebrated his defiance of his punishment in 'a HYMN to the PILLORY.' It was all very well for him to write- Hail Hi'roglyphick State Machin, Contriv'd to Punish Fancy in: Men that are Men, in thee can feel no Pain, And all thy Insignificants Disdain -but even his proud boasting has to recognise unpleasantly 1 Misson. CRIME.


The undistinguish'd Fury of the Street, Which Mob and Malice Mankind Greet, No Byass can the Rabble draw, But Dirt throws Dirt without respect to Merit or to Law. Everyone is familiar with the general features of the pillory,, but yet a contemporaneous account, by a keen-sighted witness, will materially help to bring it vividly before us. ' This Punishment is allotted for those who are convicted of any notorious Cheat, or infamous Imposture; of having publish'd defamatory Libels against the King or Government; of false Testimony, and of publick Blasphemy; They are expos'd in a high Place, with their Heads put thro' two Pieces of notch'd Wood; the uppermost whereof being made to slide down, shuts the Neck into the Notch. The Criminals Hands are confin'd on each Side his Head in the same Manner; and thus he stands in this ridiculous Posture for more or less time, or with more or fewer Repetitions, according to his Sentence. If the People think there is nothing very odious in the Action that rais'd him to this Honour,, they stand quietly by, and only look at him; but if he has been guilty of some Exploit dislik'd by the Tribe of 'Prentices, he must expect to be regaled with a hundred thousand handfuls of Mud, and as many rotten Eggs as can be got for Money. It is not lawful to throw Stones, but yet 'tis often done. Generally the honest Man wears a large Sheet of Paper like a Cravat, containing his Elogium in great Letters.'1 There was a lawful punishment for scolding women in the ducking stool, of which Gay sings:- I'll speed me to the Pond, where the high Stool On the long Plank hangs o'er the muddy Pool; That Stool, the Dread of every scolding Quean, Yet, sure a Lover should not die so mean.2 The cucking stool is often used as being synonymous with ducking stool, but in reality it is not. The cucking stool is by far the more ancient, and is described in Domesday Book (speaking of Chester) as 'Cathedra Stercoris.' It was a solidly made chair with a hole in the seat, and a rail in front to keep the offender in; and at first the punishment 1 Misson. 2 The Shepherd's Week-The Dumps.


was confined to exhibition of the scold in front of her house, where, for a certain length of time, she was exposed to the jeers of the neighbourhood. Afterwards it was mounted on wheels, being then called a tumbrel, or trebucket, and moved about the town. It then was improved by ducking the offending woman in some pond; and at last permanent ones were set up in divers towns and villages, as described by Gay, and especially well by Misson, who says: 'The way of punishing Scolding Women is Pleasant enough; They fasten an Arm Chair to the end of two Beams, twelve or fifteen Foot long, and parallel to each other: So that these two Pieces of Wood, with their two Ends, embrace the Chair, which hangs between them upon a Sort of Axel; by which Means it plays freely, and always remains in the natural horizontal Position in which a Chair should be, that a Person may sit Conveniently in it, whether you raise it or let it down. They set up a post upon the Bank of a Pond, or River, and over this Post they lay, almost in Equilibrio, the two Pieces of Wood, at one End of which the Chair hangs just over the Water; they place the Woman in this Chair, and so plunge her into the Water, as often as the Sentence directs, in order to Cool her immoderate Heat.'