Temple Bar: The City Golgatha A narrative of the historical occurances of a criminal character associated with the present bar

Wilson, James Holbert








had no sooner ascended the throne than the slumbering embers of loyalty to the exiled family burst again into a flame, and many of the Scotch, as also of the English nobility, openly declared for ; by which name the heir of that family was now called. His standard was raised in Scotland; but divided councils and hesitation at the moment when the greatest unanimity and decision were requisite, combined with other causes, for which we must refer the reader to the historians of that period, rendered all their attempts abortive. A very considerable force, however, penetrated as far as Preston in Lancashire, which town surrendered to them without offering any resistance. Notwithstanding this success, the leaders of 's forces, satisfied of the inutility of continuing longer the contest, (the 's


troops having been reinforced in the night), resolved at once to capitulate, without having further recourse to arms-a resolution the brave Highlanders resented as cowardly-and declared themselves ready to make a sally, sword in hand, and either cut their way through the 's troops or perish in the attempt. This was overruled, and 's force surrendered at discretion. All the noblemen and leaders were secured. Some were immediately tried by a court-martial, and executed; whilst others, among them Lords Derwentwater, Kenmuir, and other officers of distinction, were sent to London, marched through the streets, pinioned like malefactors, and committed to and other metropolitan prisons. It may be interesting to have from an eye-witness-a prisoner at the time in -some account of this mournful procession.

"The day now was come,"

he observes,

"when those unfortunate noblemen and gentlemen who, by a surrender at discretion, had entertained vain notions of saving life and estate, were to be led in triumph, as an example to deter other incautious and rash persons from the like attempt, through crowds of spectators to their respective prisons, which the Government had appointed to be

the Tower of London

, the Marshalsea Southwark,


, and the Fleet. Wherefore all things being prepared for them, especially in that mansion-house where my ill stars obliged me

to take up my abode, I got leave of the Governor thereof to take a view of them as they came through the gate, from a room over it on the master's side. And here it may not be from the purpose of an historian to say, that the respective prisoners, in their journey from Preston to London, having been used with the utmost civility and decency, according to their qualities, on their arrival at Highgate were to know what they were to expect; which, indeed, was no more than the laws of our own, and the common practice of other nations, in like cases authorised and allowed.

"Accordingly, Major-general Tatton, with two battalions of the Royal Foot Guards, completely armed, attended their coming to the place just mentioned; and having brought cords sufficient to pinion each of them, after the fashion of condemned criminals, and to lead their horses with (since, from the lord to the footman, they were to have every one a grenadier for that end), they were ordered to proceed on their march in four divisions from the Hill, under safe conduct, to their several places of confinement.

"The Major-general led the way (being preceded by several citizens of more loyalty than compassion, who made repeated huzzas to excite the mob to do the like), at the head of a company of the First Regiment of Guards, who made a very fine appearance; after which came the divisions that were appointed to take up their abode in

the Tower

, two by two. The Earl of Derwentwater

and Lord Widdrington in the first rank, and the other lords and noblemen following, with haltered horses, and their riders, like common malefactors, reviled and hooted."

Robert Dalziel, earl of Carnwath, and William Gordon lord Kenmuir, upon the same authority, occupied the third rank. The gates of the gloomy fortress had scarcely been closed on these unfortunate noblemen, than they were to be again opened to deliver over to the sheriffs the youthful Earl of Derwentwater and the more aged Lord Kenmuir, who, having been impeached by the House of Commons, had pleaded guilty to the articles exhibited against them, and on the 24th of February, , were, by the forfeiture of their lives, to pay the penalty of their misplaced zeal and loyalty to the son of their former sovereign. The loss of these noblemen was deeply felt in the north, where their estates were situated. By their bounty the poor and needy had been fed, and to them the widow and the fatherless had never appealed in vain for protection. In expressing commiseration, however, for their fate, let us not forget the admonition contained in the words of one of the greatest ornaments of the judicial bench, Judge Hale, who was accustomed to remark,

" When I find myself inclined to pity a criminal, let me remember there is likewise a pity due to the country."

Forming a part of the melancholy procession we have described


were those destined to be confined in the prison of . In this number were Colonel Henry Oxburg and Richard Gascoign. Of the former we have to take some notice, as his head was shortly to be placed on the top of .

Colonel Henry Oxburg, previous to the year , had resided on his property in Lancashire, and from his attachment to the cause of had, immediately on the breaking out of the rebellion, joined his forces in the north. Whilst serving in the French army some years prior to this event, he had acquired a distinguished character for his gallant conduct, and was by General Forster,[1]  who held the chief command in 's army, immediately made a colonel. To him had been consigned the humiliating task of proposing the capitulation of Preston.


We have already recounted the brief, and to them disastrous, issue of this campaign. On the 9th of May he was placed on his trial at Westminster, before Chief Justice Parker, on the charge of high treason; and the jury, considering the evidence produced conclusive of his guilt, returned a verdict to that effect. Pursuant to his sentence, he was, on the 14th of the same month, executed at ; his body was buried in the churchyard of St. Giles- inthe-Fields, and his head placed upon . This was on the 16th of May,

"which is a circumstance,"

remarks a writer of the day,

"which we chose to mention, that the rebels may place it among their other saints' days."

He met death without the slightest trepidation, and had attained such a remarkable serenity and temper of mind during his imprisonment, that when, in the language of one who had frequent opportunities of conversing with him,

"he declared his sentiments, they seemed to glide in upon

you like a gleam from the true God: you received comfort from the man you came to comfort."

Richard Gascoigne shortly followed his friend and companion to the grave, having been executed at the 25th day of May, . He was likewise buried in the churchyard of St. Giles-in-the-Fields.

It forms no part of the plan of this narrative to trace, step by step, the history of these troubled times, except so far as may be sufficient to elucidate either the history of the Bar or the biographical notices of those connected with it. We shall, therefore, not enlarge on the fate of many consigned to an ignominious death, whose youth, and consequent inexperience of the world, might justly have pleaded for a mitigation of the capital punishment; [3]  but knew little of the English people, and clemency formed no part of the policy of his ministers. They sought to govern by the fear, and not by the affection, of the nation. Tower Hill and had already witnessed the closing scenes of many of the supporters of the former family, and yet the same disaffection to the existing Government remained,-still


more victims were to be offered up as peace-offerings; and it was only at length by the extinction of the House of Stuart, in the direct line, that the Crown was quietly to rest with the House of Hanover.

Such poor supporters of a cause are the axe and the rope!

To a young and enthusiastic mind, an enterprise fraught with danger, difficult of accomplishment, and having a chivalrous issue, will always prove a powerful attraction, successfully to resist which will not only demand that the duty and obedience which every citizen owes to the laws of his country should be ever present in his mind, but that these obligations should be enforced by the principles derived from religion and reason.

Of such a character was the cause of : an exile from his infancy from the kingdom over which his ancestors had ruled-dispossessed of that throne which, for nearly a hundred years, [4] they had occupied-for no fault committed by him, for no crime that could be alleged against him.

The nation, by the Act of Settlement, had visited the sins of the father upon the children. That they had a clear right to do so, will always be maintained by those who hold that the sentiments of the majority must in all cases be binding and conclusive on the rest of the community. To reason otherwise would, in this instance, be to revive the doctrine of the

"right divine of kings to govern wrong,"

which has long since been consigned to that described by , to serve as an amusement to

"the eremites and friars, white, black, and grey,"

who, according to the same authority, are to be found there.[5] 

Strongly imbued with feelings of the enthusiastic character we have described, was , who trusted alone to effect that change which, as we have seen, armies in the field had failed to accomplish. We shall proceed to give our readers some information relative to this individual, whose head frowned from the summit of the arch for a longer period than any other occupant.

Christopher Layer

was descended from an honourable family, and after having completed his education at the University of

Cambridge, was admitted a student of the Inner Temple. Having kept the requisite number of terms, he was called to the Bar, and from the large practice he speedily obtained, and his high reputation and abilities, would have risen to fame and fortune, had not the political tendency of his principles, and his intercourse with females of disreputable character, entirely blasted these prospects, and consigned him shortly to ruin and a dishonourable grave.

In the early part of the year


, Francis Atterbury, the witty Bishop of Rochester, had been arrested on suspicion of treasonable practices and confined to

the Tower

, and upon his trial, shortly afterwards, before the House of Commons, on a Bill of Pains and Penalties, had been found guilty by a large majority, and banished the kingdom for life, and at the same time disabled from holding his preferments in the Church.

The example given by this eminent divine was closely followed by


, who proceeded to Rome, then the residence of

the Pretender

, and had several conferences with him, in which he engaged, on his return to England, to effect a revolution in so secret a manner that no one in authority should be apprised of the scheme until its actual accomplishment.

Full of these chimerical notions, lie returned to England, and formed the dastardly plan of hiring an assassin to murder the

King as he returned from


. This being effected, the guards were to be seized, and, during the confusion that this event would naturally produce, the chief officers of state and the royal children were to be secured.

It is difficult to conceive how any person of the penetration and abilities of


could, for one moment, believe in the practicability of a scheme so wild and dangerous. He had, however, induced Lord Grey, an aged nobleman of the Roman Catholic faith, to give his concurrence to it. Fortunately, the death of this nobleman in confinement, before the necessary legal proceedings could take place, obviated, in all probability, the sad spectacle of a public execution on Tower Hill.


now entered into a correspondence with several Roman Catholics, Non-jurors, and other persons disaffected to the Government; and likewise engaged the assistance of a few disbanded soldiers, who were to be the chief instruments in carrying the plot into execution. These soldiers he met at a public-house at Stratford, in Essex, when he finally gave them their instructions for seizing the King on his return from


, and the day was even fixed for carrying their plan into execution.

Secret as may have been the concoction of this scheme, it was not sufficiently so to ensure its accomplishment. The treasonable conversation had been overheard by some persons connected

with the house, who had spoken of it publicly in the neighbourhood. Suspicion immediately fell upon


. His known predilection to the cause of

the Pretender

, combined with other circumstances, induced the Secretary of State at once to issue a warrant, by virtue of which he was taken into custody. Mention has been made of his attachment to women: at the time of his apprehension he had two mistresses, to both of whom he had given intimation of the proposed scheme. On searching their apartments, many papers of a treasonable character were found. On this being communicated to the Counsellor, and also that the women were bound over to give evidence against him, he sent to the Secretary of State, expressing his readiness to disclose all the particulars of the conspiracy, if he were indulged with the requisite materials for writing.

No time was lost in complying with this requisition, and had he fulfilled the promise he had made, he would, in all probability, have been admitted as evidence against his accomplices. At that moment, however, his mind was engaged on a very different project. The back-yard of the house in which he was confined communicated with the yard of the adjoining publichouse; and it occurred to the fertile brain of Mr. , that if he could descend from his room into this yard, he should find it a very easy matter to escape through the tap-room,


where there was very little probability of his being recognised.

This plan he determined to carry, if possible, into execution; he cut, therefore, the blankets of his bed into long pieces, and fastened them together, and in the dusk of the evening descended from his window; unfortunately, however, he fell upon a bottle-rack in the yard, and upset it, and the noise occasioned by the breaking of the bottles was such that it alarmed the family. , however, amidst the confusion which ensued, effected his escape. An active search was instantly commenced by the almost distracted messenger, who, tracking him to the Horseferry at Westminster, where he had taken a boat, crossed the water after him, pursued him through St. George's Fields, and ultimately succeeded in recapturing him at . was now again lodged in the messenger's house, and securely guarded for the night. The next day he underwent an examination by the Secretary of State, and was committed to . The Government having decided that no delay should take place in bringing him to trial, a grand jury was at once empannelled at Romford, in Essex, by a warrant from the Sheriff, who found a true bill against him for high treason; which bill was made returnable into the Court of King's Bench.

Wednesday, the 21st of November, was the day appointed


for the trial of . The Lieutenant of brought him up to the bar of the Court, and upon a motion made by Mr. Hungerford (who, together with Mr. Ketilby, had been appointed his counsel), the Lord Chief Justice, Sir John Pratt, ordered his irons to be removed. Every point that could be urged in favour of the prisoner was, with much talent and pertinacity, pressed on the attention of the Court, and on the termination of a trial which lasted upwards of sixteen hours, the jury, after a short consultation, returned a verdict of guilty.

In order that he might have time to arrange his own affairs, as also the affairs of his clients, his execution was postponed for many months after his condemnation; doubtless it was also expected that disclosures would be made by him relative to his accomplices, and to this we may partly attribute the numerous reprieves he received. At length, on the 17th of May, nearly seven months after his trial at Westminster, he was conducted from to , seated in a sledge, habited in a full-dress suit, and a tie-wig. On taking leave of Colonel Williamson, the Deputygovernor of , he told him he intended to die like a man: to which the Colonel replied,

"And, he hoped, like a Christian."

At the place of execution he openly declared his adherence to King James (as he called ), and advised the people to take up arms on his behalf; he professed


himself willing to die for the cause, and expressed his confidence that Providence would effectually support the right heir to the throne on some future occasion, though he had failed of being the happy instrument of placing him upon the throne.

The streets were never more crowded than on this occasion, and many fatal accidents occurred from the breaking down of the stands erected to accommodate the spectators anxious to witness the last moments of Counsellor , as he was familiarly named.

The day subsequent to his execution, his head was placed on ; there it remained, blackened and weatherbeaten with the storms of many successive years, until, as we have remarked, it became its oldest occupant. Infancy had advanced into matured manhood, and still that head repulsively looked down from the summit of the arch. It seemed part of the arch itself.

It was not, however, alone during the latter part of its occupancy. Battles had again been fought for that cause for which , on dying, had expressed so warm an attachment; defeats had again been sustained by its friends. Once more the axe and the rope, the fire and the fagot, had been busy, and two additional heads had been borne from Kennington Common to the City Bar, there to convey, by their cold, apathetic gaze, to the


passers along that great thoroughfare, a lesson more powerfully instructive on the vanity and hollowness of all human expectations, than could fall from the lips of the most eloquent preacher.

We, however, must not anticipate the

" Rising of '45,"

but must proceed, in order not to interrupt hereafter the thread of this narrative, at once to give some further account of the head of the unfortunate Counsellor.

For upwards of thirty years it had remained fixed on the summit of the arch: at the close of that period, the elements accomplished what the improving taste of the public had in vain demanded.

On one stormy night, a summary ejectment was served, and the head of left its long resting-place, and descended from the arch into the Strand. We shall extract from Mr. Nicholl's

"Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century,"

the sequel of this curious history.

"When the head of


was blown from

Temple Bar

, it was picked up by a gentleman in the neighbourhood (Mr. John Pearce, an attorney), who showed it to some persons at a public-house, under the floor of which, I have been assured, it was buried. Dr. Rawlinson, meanwhile, having made inquiries after the head, with a wish to purchase it, was imposed upon with another instead of


's, which he preserved as a

valuable relique, and directed it to be buried in his right hand."

[6] We learn from another source that this request was complied with.

We shall have now to pass over several years, during which the supporters of the doctrine of indefeasible hereditary right made no open attempts to promote the cause of the exiled house; and it is to some extent gratifying to remark, that it was owing alone to the result of these misguided principles that, with the solitary exception in the reign of , we have any criminal associations with the Bar to which this history relates.

Scotland had suffered deeply from the effects of the Rebellion of , and from its disastrous issue it might have been presumed that any renewed attempt would have found no encouragement there. Pandora's box had been opened, and its contents poured over the length and breadth of that devoted country; fire and sword had wasted her hills, and in many parts her valleys wanted


the labourer to cultivate them. Still hope remained, and this was shortly to reillumine the torch of civil war, to obliterate the recollections of past sufferings, and to lead on the devoted adherents of , from their victory at Carlisle to their defeat at Culloden.

We must, however, be very brief in our relation of these events

-"the Rising of '45,"

as it has been usually designated; we are chiefly interested in its results, and those results of a very restricted character. After the reduction of Carlisle, on November 15, , , with his little army, advanced towards the south. was taken, Preston surrendered, Manchester was occupied, Derby opened its gates to him; and, previous to his effecting that retreat to the north which, for talent and abilities, will bear favourable comparison with any recorded in ancient or modern history, he had advanced within one hundred miles of the metropolis. When the news of this success reached London, consternation was seen in every face. In hot haste the citizens left their homes, to form armed associations; the Warder stood on the Tower wall with his match lighted, ready to give the appointed signal of the approach of the enemy; a solemn fast was proclaimed, and, like Israel of old, the nation, in humiliation and sorrow, bowed down to Israel's God.

The Battle of Culloden was fought. A great victory was


achieved, the enemy was prostrate, the vanquished were suppliants for mercy. We shall presently see how a Christian nation, who, on every Sunday in their churches, had besought the God of mercy

"to show pity on all prisoners and captives,"

applied this divine petition to those who, by the fortune of war, were now placed in their power. The plea of mercy--so far at least as to the sparing of their lives-should never have been urged with greater success than in the case before us. [7]  Here were misguided men--rebels, if you please--whose crime (and a very grave one we will allow it to be) was their maintaining their fidelity intact to a line of kings to whom their ancestors had sworn fealty and obedience, but whom the nation, in its wisdom, had excluded from the succession to the throne. May the tear of the Recording Angel obliterate many of the dark pages in the history of our country!

Mention has been made of the Battle of Culloden. This decisive engagement was fought on the 16th of April, . The King's forces were commanded by William, duke of Cumberland,


son of the reigning monarch. The carnage was terrific; no quarter was given, none expected.[8] 

In one decisive hour the young Chevalier beheld his hopes blasted, his family doomed to perpetual exile, and himself a fugitive and a wanderer.[9] 

The unhappy Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino were among the prisoners whom this victory delivered over to the Government, and were beheaded on Tower Hill, on the 18th day of August, .

The execution, however, of a few noblemen, the attainder of others and confiscation of their property, were alone considered inadequate to ensure the safety of the throne. The blood of a whole hecatomb of victims was requisite to cement a fabric which had been so rudely assailed. The King of Terrors, therefore, was to hold his high court of justice; and before him were placed, in


grim array, the only acknowledged reformers of this period-the axe and the rope. Had any one suggested milder measures, if he escaped a prison for his presumption, he would have been consigned to a lunatic asylum for his folly.

The nation, in acquiring greatness, had omitted the lesson of generosity.

Special commissions for the trial of the unfortunate prisoners were shortly opened in various parts of the country; and on the 23d of June, at a Sessions held for this purpose at St. Margaret's Hill, in the borough of Southwark, , colonel of the Manchester Regiment, and , holding a captain's commission in the same force, were, with several others, placed on their trials, and convicted of high treason. The awful sentence awarded by the law was passed upon them.

Before we proceed to the last sad scene of their lives, we must give our readers some account of these brave and gallant men, who, as they had stood undaunted amidst the blaze of battle, blanched not at the fearful preparatives of death on the scaffold.

was of an old and honourable family, who had long resided in Lancashire, and whose descent may be traced from the earliest periods of English history.

His grandfather, an able cavalier, had fought and died for King at the fatal battle of Marston Moor; his brother,


John Townley, Knight of St. Louis, was tutor to the son of the Second, the Chevalier St. George, and was known as the translator of into French.[10] 

His uncle, Mr. Townley, of Townley Hall, had been, to some extent, implicated in the former rebellion (); and although on his trial acquitted by a jury, was not thereby fully exculpated in the opinion of the public.[11] 

, the subject of the present notice, entered early in life into the service of France, and displayed, at the siege of Phillipsburg, in , whilst serving under the command of the Duke of Berwick, [12]  a bravery and courage under the fire


of the enemy, and an acquaintance so extensive with military tactics, as raised him at once in the esteem of all those with whom he was associated.

It was at this siege, whilst visiting the trenches, that the Duke of Berwick, of whom mention has been made, one of the most experienced generals in the French service, was killed by a cannon-ball. was near him at the moment.

For nearly sixteen years he remained abroad, serving with zeal and fidelity in the armies of France, and acquiring for himself increasing honour and military reputation. Desirous, however, of once more visiting a country which, amidst all the changes of his life, was still first in his thoughts and affections, he returned, about the year , to England, and quietly resided with his family in Lancashire. This tranquillity, however, was to be of short duration. The year '45 arrived; the son of him whom he considered as his lawful sovereign had advanced to , his banner waved over Preston. was not one ever to permit the probability of personal danger to interfere with the discharge of what he considered a positive duty. He, therefore, immediately offered his services to the young Chevalier, which offer was at once accepted, and a colonel's commission conferred upon him. He quickly placed himself at the head of 200 men, and entered Derby with the victorious army. On the retreat to


Scotland, lie was invested with the important post of Governor of the town of Carlisle; and upon that place capitulating to the Duke of Cumberland, on the 30th December, , he, and about 114 other Englishmen, were made prisoners of war, and confined in the various prisons of the country.

We must now take some notice of his faithful companion in arms and misfortune, , who had been brought up at Salford, near Manchester, where his parents had resided, and were substantial people. His father had been for some time dead; but his mother, whose business he managed, was still living. So enthusiastically was he attached to the cause of , that all her entreaties were fruitlessly exerted to induce him not to join an enterprise, in her opinion, of so desperate a character: with the affection of a parent, she even offered him £. to follow her advice. So far from doing this, he gave Mr. Murray, the Prince's Secretary, 50£. for a Captain's commission. He might, with much truth, remark at a subsequent period, that to his own obstinacy he could alone attribute the misfortunes that had befallen him.

At two o'clock in the afternoon of the 29th July, the fatal warrant was forwarded from the Secretary of State's office for the execution, on the following day, of these unfortunate men: it found them chained to the floor of their cells. The communication


was received with cheerfulness and resignation. The only expression that escaped their lips was,

"God's will be done!"

That night they went to bed and slept soundly.

The next morning, at ten o'clock, the sledges being in readiness, each drawn by three horses, the mournful procession was formed in the following order: first, a party of dragoons; next, a party of foot-guards; the three sledges then followed, in the first of which was placed Colonel and two others. In the front seat sat the executioner, with a drawn scimitar; and in this manner they proceeded to Kennington Common.

In the rear of the procession, in a street coach, followed one who mourned in earnest; that one was a woman. Her whole feelings were concentrated in the fate of a being, the occupant of one of those sledges,-young James Dawson. His life was hers: in agony she had watched his trial, had listened to his condemnation, and in the dark frenzy of despair was now resolved to witness his death. Through the vast multitudes of human beings which the event had collected, the procession moved on to the Common-that coach followed: it drew up near to the fatal spot--her head was extended from the window-she gazed as those who see not. The rude hand of the executioner tore from its bosom the heart which she fondly imagined had beat only for her, and round which all her warm, womanly feelings were entwined.


A moment's consciousness returned: she beheld him throw that heart into the fire. One wild, hysteric shriek-one piercing, agonising cry-and her gentle spirit ascended with his to the Throne of Mercy.

We trust we shall be excused for inserting this short but mournful episode. We must now proceed with our narrative. was the first to suffer. The executioner performed his mournful office, the knife was applied to the yet breathing body, the head was severed from it, and, with the warm blood still gushing from its unclosed veins, held up to the vulgar gaze of the populace, and the God of Mercy was invoked to save King George! A murmur of approbation ran through that great assembly-a shout of exultation rose to the skies-the crowd was chanting its for the victory of Culloden!

We must draw a veil over a scene so replete with painful associations, at which the heart sickens whilst the pen describes -a scene we should have considered suited only to afford gratification to the worshippers of Moloch, when

"alienated Judah"

passed her offspring through the fire to his grim altar,

"Besmeared with blood Of human sacrifice ;"

or to the Manicheans of Central America, in the hideous worship of their devil god.

It is scarcely requisite to add, that towards the other sufferers the same revolting ceremony was repeated.

The heads of and were removed, as already stated, to , and there placed in the positions indicated in the print at the commencement of this chapter. For several weeks, curiosity induced numbers to gather about the arch, to gaze on those livid features which life and health had so recently animated; glasses were let on hire, that the morbid feelings of the masses might be indulged by a closer examination. There were many whose very souls, brutalised by these revolting exhibitions, seemed to derive a savage pleasure from the contemplation. One elderly person expressed his loyalty and humour in the following impromptu:--

"Three heads here I spy, Which the glass did draw nigh, The better to have a good sight; Triangle they are placed, Are bald and barefaced,- Not one of them e'er was upright."

Of a character far more refined and intellectual is the following anecdote, related by , in reference to this subject.

" I remember,"

said the great lexicographer,

"being, on

one occasion, with Goldsmith in Westminster Abbey; while we surveyed the Poet's Corner, I said to him, from Ovid,-

'Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis.'

When he got to

Temple Bar

, he stopped me, pointed to the heads upon it, and slily whispered me,-

' Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis.


, we may remark, was strongly imbued with Jacobite prejudices.

These were the last fractions of humanity that was destined to receive. Before other treasonable attempts had subjected their promoters to well-merited punishment, society had undergone a great change. The feelings of the nation had become more refined-the Government more enlightened-the idea had gradually acquired the force of conviction, that in order to elevate the moral condition of the people, it was not essential to commence by degrading it; and a belief existed, that exhibitions of the disgusting character we have described might tend to that effect.[13]  The twilight


of moral improvement had dawned on the world -the advent of a brighter day was to follow. We have not yet arrived at its meridian splendour. We have yet to wait, wait patiently, but not despairingly, until the world shall have realised the fulness of the idea; it will then act with a faith that would remove mountains.

Little more remains to be told of the Bar and its ghastly occupants. We find, however, the following notice in the

"Annual Register"

for January .

"This morning (Jan. 20th), between two and three o'clock, a person was observed to watch his opportunity of discharging musket-balls, from a steel cross-bow, at the two remaining heads upon

Temple Bar

. On his examination he affected a disorder of his senses, and said his reason for his so doing was his strong attachment to the present Government, and that he thought it was not sufficient that a traitor should only suffer death, and that this provoked his indignation; and that it had been his constant practice, for three nights past, to amuse himself in the same manner: but

it is much to be feared that he is a near relation to one of the unhappy sufferers."

The account given in the

" Gentleman's Magazine"

further states,

" Upon searching him, above fifty musket-balls were found wrapped in a paper, with this motto,

Eripuit ille vitam.


No further efforts appear to have been made, either by the friends or enemies of the reigning family, either by the sane or the insane, to dislodge these grim tenants of the Bar; there they remained until the 31st of March, , when one of them fell down, and we believe, very shortly afterwards, during a high wind, the remaining head was swept from its lofty position, and Temple Bar remained untenanted.

Here, in strictness, terminates our task. We have endeavoured--feebly, we are aware--to narrate, in their chronological order, those events of a criminal character with which has been, more or less, directly associated. In so doing, we have not been influenced by any morbid desire to re-open to public view scenes over which an impenetrable curtain should be drawn, if, from the contemplation of them no instruction could be derived--if, in short, no higher object could be attained than the mere gratification of curiosity.

We, however, believe that, in tracing the errors as they are now allowed to be, connected with the former enactments of our


penal code, some thoughts may suggest themselves which, if acted upon, would tend still further to humanize our criminal proceedings, and thus, in better adapting them to the spirit of the times, render them far more conducive to the great end of all legislation,-the repression of crime, and the reformation of the criminal.

The experience of many centuries had fully demonstrated to the world the complete fallacy of the idea, that any moral benefit could arise from the public exposure of portions of the lifeless clay of those who had fallen under the vindictive justice of the law.

One result, and one only, had been hitherto attained by these sanguinary exhibitions - moral degradation, not moral improvement.

Still, however, an idea continued to prevail--and a very obstinate one it was--that, on the commission of any crime of more than ordinary magnitude, the rigour of the law being carried out on the spot on which such crime had been perpetrated, would prove a more powerfully impressive lesson to evil-doers than allowing the usual course of justice to take place. It did not occur to the minds of the public, that if any impression were produced, it would probably be on the feelings of the unfortunate criminal, and not on his unreflecting associates in crime. As soon as the world closed to the one, the public-houses, or haunts of dissipation and vice, opened


to the other. A life of crime must necessarily be one of excitement.[14] 

To carry out, therefore, this reformatory principle, the gibbet was erected in the streets, in the squares, and other public thoroughfares of the metropolis; and had there been any soundness in the system, from the frequency of its application, rapine and violence would soon have become unknown: on the contrary, however, they continued most fearfully to increase.

So inflexible was the Government in carrying out this scheme of reformation, that nothing was ever permitted to interfere with its execution.

Notwithstanding that death had entered the palace, and the inanimate form of majesty lay cold and extended on the royal couch,-

"The shroud its robe of state ;"

notwithstanding that the hand which signed the warrant was


motionless, and that the crown had descended to another sovereign, still, on the very day of the death of , at the corner of , , an unfortunate fellow-creature, convicted of murder, was compelled to utter his last sigh, and offer up his last prayer, to the throne of Him to whom even kings are subject.[15] 

The number of murders, however, did not diminish.

The riots of took place; and, chiefly owing to the imbecility of the chief magistrate of the City, attained to a most alarming height. On their ultimate suppression, the executioner and the gibbet again perambulated the streets; and more numerous were the moral examples supplied to the public on this occasion than on any previous one.

Nevertheless, riotous conduct was far from being extinct.

It would be useless to trace further these unsuccessful attempts to deter from the commission of crime by investing its punishment with more than ordinary severity. The last time, we believe, the gibbet was seen away from its usual locality, was on the 12th of March, ; and a most melancholy sight it was. In Skinner Street, in the City, a person, evidently insane, was, on that day,


executed for riotous conduct. Those who were present and witnessed it are not likely to forget the horrors of that moment[16] 

The period, however, had now arrived when the public mind had become impressed that another great error had been committed; that no improvement in the moral condition of the people could be expected to arise by habituating them to the horrors of executions conducted in the manner we have described. This lesson, therefore, which had erroneously been calculated to produce such great moral results, was discontinued. The gibbets were removed from our commons; the dry bones suspended from them consigned to what, years previously, should have been their destination - the grave; and the nation advanced another step in the path of truth and social improvement. [17]  We must advance also a few years, when another doubt arose, when another question agitated the public mind, a satisfactory reply to which was imperatively demanded.

Were the community benefited by placing the same value on


life and property? Whether, in short, it was an offence of equal enormity to pick a man's pocket, as to take his life ? The public, usually in advance of the Government, had long since solved this doubt, had returned a decided negative to the question. In many cases, the plundered refused to prosecute -juries to convict; and from the inequality of the punishment to the offence, too frequently a total impunity for crime followed its detection. At length, he whose untimely death is still felt as a great national loss, and whose judgment had long acquiesced in the decision given by the public, the late Sir Robert Peel,[18]  in the year , by a series of wise measures, placed our criminal code on a more rational footing, and in rendering it more in accordance with the unalterable principles of moral rule and justice, adapted it better to promote the true ends, as we have stated, of all legislation,-the repression of crime, and the reformation of the criminal.

Once more, therefore, the nation acknowledged former errors; and in abandoning them, a further step was gained towards the elevation of the moral character of the people.

The year came, big with the fate of empires, agitated with those political convulsions which shook to their foundations many


of the dynasties of Europe; and, greatly to the credit of the Republic of France, with her prisons filled with political offenders, she at once passed a law erasing from her code the infliction of death for political offences. There was a moral dignity in this course which, amidst much that was reprehensible, reflected honour on the Provisional Government of that period. Could England, then, longer retain in her political code her coercive and sanguinary enactments? Was the blood of longer to remain unavenged? And what retribution for the wrongs he had suffered, could, we ask, be more soothing to his gentle spirit, than the removal from the statute-book of his country of those vindictive laws, by the strained interpretation of which he had been made to suffer an unmerited and painful death?

To Lord John Russell, his honoured descendant, was entrusted this retributive justice; and the national character received no slight addition to its moral grandeur, by the passing of that Act by which the punishment of death was interdicted for offences of a political character.[19] 

By this, and the previous measures of which mention has been


made, death, the greatest evil that man can inflict on his fellowman, was reserved, with few exceptions, to guard that treasure which if once taken can never be restored--the treasure of life. But do we imagine, that with all these great and manifest improvements in our criminal jurisprudence, we have at length arrived at the last act of this tragedy of errors? If so, we shall be much mistaken. We are still very distant from it. Let us take, however, encouragement from the success of past efforts; let us still proceed onwards in the path of improvement; let us not grow weary in well doing. We live in days of mighty progress, and the minds of men were never better prepared than at present for the perception of truth, and the consequent uprooting of long-cherished errors.

It may not be in our power to accomplish, at once, all that is required, but much may immediately be done. And one suggestion which most powerfully arises from the perusal of the events recorded in this chapter, we would, in all humility, but in all earnestness, proceed to press on the attention of our readers,-the baneful effects produced on the morals of the people by the exhibition of the last moments of a criminal.

Had the lesson intended to be conveyed been attended with practical benefit, would it not, long since, have evinced itself in the lives of those who have been placed in positions most


to benefit by the example? On the contrary, we find several of these gloomy ministers of the law, who so frequently had performed the last sad office to others, themselves consigned, for crimes of no inconsiderable magnitude, to a like ignominious death. Let us be convinced of this truth, that no process in this world is more calculated to harden the heart and brutalize the feelings of the public than exhibitions of the character we have mentioned; whilst, in a country professing to regulate its actions by the principles derived from Christianity, the compelling an unfortunate being to offer up his last prayer to the Throne of Mercy amidst the jeers and scoffs of a degraded rabble, to usher a soul into eternity with blasphemies and obscenities sounding in his ears, appears to us so diametrically opposed to all moral consistency, that, were it not for the knowledge that the roots of error strike deep into the mind, it would be difficult to comprehend how, for one moment longer, it could be defended by any reflecting being. What, then, do we propose as an alteration of a system believed to be repugnant alike to moral and religious feeling? We would offer then, in all seriousness, for the consideration of the public, the propriety of substituting for the publicity and noise of the open street, the privacy and stillness of the prison court, or of some other suitable locality set apart for the purpose. We propose to invest the solemn scene with every safeguard calculated to insure the humane and


proper discharge of the mournful duty. Let the Sheriffs, men of honour and probity, be present; let the Reporters for the press, surpassed by none for intelligence and judicious discernment, be admitted also; and we shall possess the strongest and most undeniable assurance, that every obligation that justice and humanity could impose will be observed.[20] 

Should any one be disposed to intimate that the infliction of death itself should be at once discontinued; we reply, Not until a


secondary punishment shall be introduced, adequate to meet the offences for which the capital punishment is at present awarded.

Life and property must never again be considered of the same relative value. The law should distinctly mark the several gradations of crime, lest an inducement should be offered to the criminal to venture on the commission of offences of a deeper dye by a similarity of punishment awaiting the detection of those of lower turpitude.

The day, we trust, may not, however, be distant, when man, with safety to society, may relinquish his right over the life of his fellow-man. When that shall arrive, another great step will be taken in social and moral improvement, until at length, in the fulness of time, the sublime wish, expressed in the words of the Bard of Avon, may find its accomplishment:-

"I would we were all of one mind, and one mind good. -O there were desolation of gaolers and gallowses."


LONDON: Printed by G. BARCLAY, Castle St. Leicester Sq,


[1] General Forster had been confined in Newgate, with several of the prisoners taken at the surrender of Preston. The following account of the manner in which he effected his escape is taken from the diary of a prisoner confined in the same prison with him:- "April 10, 1716.-Mr. Forster abused the liberty which was allowed him by Governor Pitt,Mr. Forster and Mr. Anderton, another prisoner for the same offence, paid 5£. a-week each for their lodging and diet in the Governor's house. and made his escape as follows :-His servant had taken an impression in wax of the key of the outer door, and got one made accordingly. While Forster and Anderton were drinking French wine with Mr. Pitt, Forster sent his own man for a bottle of his own wine to make up the treat, and on pretence of going to the vault, he went out of the room. The fellow, according to order, had locked up Mr. Pitt's black in the cellar, as he went down with him to bring up the bottle, and then stayed at Mr. Pitt's outer door until Forster came, and both went out together, having locked the door on the outside, and left the false key in the lock to prevent them being suddenly pursued. They got to Prettlewell, in Essex, next morning by four o'clock, with two more horsemen that were ready to attend them, and having a vessel provided at Leigh went over to France."-Secret History of the Rebels in Newgate, 1716.

[3] James Shepperd, executed for high treason at Tyburn, the 17th March, 1718, at the age of eighteen. John Matthews, a printer, for printing and publishing a seditious libel, executed at the age of nineteen, at Tyburn, November 6, 1719.

[4] James the First of England, and the Sixth of Scotland, ascended the throne of England March 24, 1603. James the Second abdicated that same throne, by leaving the country, December 23, 1588. If, however, we include in our calculation the period of their occupation of the throne of Scotland, we should extend the sovereignty of the House of Stuart to upwards of three hundred years.

[5] "Eremites, and friars White, black, and grey, with all their trumpery. All these, upwhirl'd aloft, Fly o'er the backside of the world far off, Into a Limbo large and broad, since called The Paradise of Fools."- Milton'S Paradise Lost, book iii.

[6] "On April 5, 1755, died Richard Rawlinson, LL.D. and F.R.S., and one of the first promoters of the Antiquarian Society. He was the third son of Sir Thomas Rawlinson, lord mayor of London, 1706. By his will he ordered his body to be buried in a vault in St. Giles's Churchyard, Oxford, and his heart in St. John's College, as a mark of his affection. A few days subsequently died Mr. Benjamin Bourn, author of 'The Sure Guide to Hell ;' a young man of the most promising expectations."-Gent. Mag. vol. xxvi.

[7] "The benefit which is hoped from terror, for the future, appertains not to the giving of a right to kill. For a more obstinate affection to one's own side, if the cause is not altogether dishonourable, deserves not punishment; or if there is any punishment thereof, it ought not to amount to death, for an equal judge would not so determine."-GROTIUS, Law of Peace and War, Part III. c. xlvii.

[8] It is stated that his royal highness, on viewing the field of battle on the following day, was heard to exclaim, "Lord, what am I that I am spared, when so many men lie dead on the spot !" The severities practised afterwards acquired for him, in Scotland, the appellation of " Billy the Butcher."

[9] "The young Chevalier, after moving from place to place for nearly five months, at the commencement of September, 1746, escaped on board the Heureux privateer of St. Malo, with several of his adherents, and landed on the 29th at Roscart, near Morlaix, in Brittany, from whence he set out for the Court of France."--History of the Rebellion, 1745.

[10] We have taken the account of the family of Colonel Townley from a very meritorious work, recently published by Peter Burke, Esq., of the Inner Temple, called "The Romance of the Forum." From the near relationship subsisting between that gentleman and the talented editor of the " Peerage," Mr. Bernard Burke, there is no doubt of its strict accuracy.

[11] "May 10, 1717. Townley of Townley paid them (the rebels in Newgate) a visit, with great pomp and splendour, after his discharge from the Marshalsea, but he could not well expect that all of them should have the like good fortune for the like causes, because he knew they had not so much money. " May 23, 1717. Mr. Townley came again to visit in great pomp."-Secret History of the Rebels, p. 38.

[12] The Duke of Berwick was the natural son of James the Second by Arabella Churchill.

[13] In the " London Post" of August 29th, 1746, is the following horrible account :-" Last Saturday, a chairman who plies in Great Ormond Street, Queen's Square, having got from the fire made at the late execution on Kennington Common, the liver of one of the unhappy sufferers, broiled and eat it, whether out of derision, or to imitate a cannibal, is not known; but the inhabitants are much displeased both at his banquet and taste." The unhappy sufferers referred to were Donald M'Donald, James Nicholson, and Walter Ogilvie, who were executed on Kennington Common on the 17th of August, 1746, for rebellion, a fortnight subsequent to the execution of Townley and Fletcher.

[14] In the metropolis, at the present day, this excitement is chiefly sought after in those fruitful nurseries for vice and crime, the penny theatres, saloons, and concert-rooms. In the first, the most attractive pieces are those in which a blood-stained career of vice and infamy is most vividly portrayed. Consequently, such dramas as "Jack Sheppard," "Claude Duval," the ladies' highwayman, " Sixteen-String Jack," and " Oliver Twist," invariably draw the largest houses. The Artful Dodger, in the last-named piece, always proves, in theatrical phraseology, powerfully attractive. From the mischievous results, however, that have arisen from the representation of "Jack Sheppard," we may fairly claim for it the pre-eminence over all others of its class in its direct tendency to fascinate the young and inexperienced with a life of crime. Within the space of a few weeks, nearly sixty prisoners, committed to the House of Correction at Westminster, attributed their initiation into criminal courses to the habit of frequenting such places. From a great number of letters addressed by the prisoners to one of the excellent chaplains of that prison, we make the following extracts, corroborative of the correctness of our remarks :-"We got our minds tainted by the pieces we see performed at these low theatres. I have even known lads to swear, coming home after seeing such pieces as " Jack Sheppard," and " Oliver Twist," that they would not work any more, but be a thief, and lead a jolly life, like Jack Sheppard did, and like the Artful Dodger in " Oliver Twist," as the pieces represented to us. I can say as to myself, that after witnessing such plays, I felt as if it would be a glory to be a thief; I never went a-thieving till after." Another thus writes:-" I used to go to the --- Saloon nearly every night in the week, where I saw the play of 'Jack Sheppard,' 'Dick Turpin,' 'Oliver Twist,' and such-like; and when I and my mates came home of a night, we admired what a jolly life it must be to be a thief, and we agreed together to be a gang. I soon after left my work," &c. All further comment on our part would be superfluous. A system productive of the most pernicious consequences, and naturally becoming more and more gigantic,-but which our space will only permit us to mention,-is the establishment of " Betting Shops," daily taking place in every part of London. Should not the legislature speedily pass some measure to close these seductive temples of vice, the plundered shopkeepers will be called upon to contribute fresh rates for the enlargement of the metropolitan and county prisons.

[15] Patrick M'Carty was executed at the corner of Russell Street, Covent Garden, on Saturday, October the 25th, 1760, for the murder of William Talbot. George the Second had expired early in the morning of that day.

[16] "The executioner having quitted the platform, the unfortunate wretch addressed the crowd nearest him, and exclaimed, 'Now, you -- , give me three cheers when I trip.' And then, calling to the executioner, he cried out, ' Come Jack, you -- , let go the jib-boom.' He was cheering at the instant the fatal board fell."-Gent. Magazine, year 1817, p. 270.

[17] We, of course, imply that the practice was discontinued about this period. It was not until the 4th and 5th Will. IV. c. 26, [1834,] that the hanging of the bodies of criminals in chains was made illegal.

[18] 7th and 8th Geo. IV. c. 28. Bill brought in by the late Sir Robert Peel, Feb. 23d, 1827. How would the late Sir S. Romilly have rejoiced to see that day!

[19] The 11th and 12th Vic. c. 12. "An Act for the better security of the Crown and Government of the United Kingdom." Brought in by Sir George Grey, Secretary for the Home Department, and strongly supported in every stage by the Premier, Lord John Russell.

[20] It may be urged that the above suggestions are chiefly applicable to executions in the metropolis. We are, however, convinced, that little difficulty would arise in maturing some plan, at once so comprehensive in its character as to apply to every part of the kingdom, and at the same time so certain in its operation as to leave the most sceptical without a rational doubt that the dread sentence of the law had been fully and impartially carried out. We would, with pleasure, refer our readers to two letters which appeared in the "Times," immediately after the execution of the Mannings, from the pen of the most graphic and philanthropic writer of the day, Mr. Charles Dickens; the first bearing date the 15th of Nov. 1849, and the second, the 19th of the same month. From the latter we make the following extract, coinciding fully with the views therein expressed :-" From the moment of a murderer's being sentenced to death I would dismiss him to the dread obscurity which the wisest judge upon the bench consigned the murderer Rush. I would allow no curious visitors to hold any communication with him. I would place every obstacle in the way of his sayings and doings being served up in print on Sunday mornings for the perusal of families. His execution, within the walls of a prison, should be conducted with every terrible solemnity that careful consideration could devise. Mr. Calcraft the hangman -of whom I have some information in reference to the last occasion-should be restrained in his unseemly briskness, in his jokes, his oaths, and his brandy. To attend the execution I would summon a jury of twenty-four, to be called the witness jury, eight to be summoned on a low qualification, eight on a higher, and eight on a higher still; so that it might fairly represent all classes of society. There should be present, likewise, the governor of the gaol, the chaplain, the surgeon, and other officers, the sheriffs of the county or city, and two inspectors of prisons. All these should sign a grave and solemn form of certificate-the same in every case-that on such a day, at such an hour, in such a gaol, for such a crime, such a murderer was hanged in their sight. There should be another certificate from the officer of the prison, that the person hanged was that person and no other; a third, that that person was buried. These should be posted on the prison gate for twentyone days, printed in the 'Gazette,' ard exhibited on other public places; and during the hour of the body's hanging I would have the bells of all the churches in the town or city tolled, and all the shops shut up, that all might be reminded of what was being done."