Scenes at the Gallows

21-23 June 1698   Yesterday 6 of the condemned criminals were executed at Tyburn, viz. Audley who killed the apothecaries wife, Price for forging Exchequer Notes, and Brown for burglary, these 3 went in a cart. Doctor Morgan and his brother for coyning, and one Cook for coyning; these 3 went in a sledge. Just as the cart with the criminals reached the corner of St Pulchers Churchyard, a great part of the wall (on which leaned a great many spectators) fell down to the ground, by which I hear one man was killed outright, and a great many others wounded, (some say 40) some of which mortally, and it is said 4 are since dead of their wounds. This accident put a stop to the cart, so that it could not pass the usual way, but was obliged to return towards Newgate, and so go through Pye Corner, into Smithfield, and down Hosier-lane into Holbourn. The barbers apprentice for ravishing a girl is reprieved. (The Post Man)

2-8 August 1718   On Wednesday . . . George Smith alias Chambers, Mary Price, and Elizabeth Cave, three of the malefactors condemn’d the last Sessions at the Old-Baily, were executed at Tyburn. – Mary Price executed for the murder of a child; being brought from the gallows to her fathers near Long-Acre, he at first refused to take her in, but at length consenting; and letting people come to see her at a penny a piece, got near 8l. thereby, part of which was apply’d towards burying her, and the rest to put the father and mother (who were very poor) in a way to get their livelyhood. (Original Weekly Journal)

18-25 June 1720   The beginning of this week died one of the printers, who was an evidence against Matthews, that was hanged lately for high treason, and on Wednesday night last he was to have been buryed [sic] at Islington; but the mob having an account of it, and being as ’tis said, enflamed by some ill designing people, gathered in the church yard, and in a vile brutish manner, opposed his being put into the ground, cursing and damning the poor dead man in a most execrable degree; till at length growing most impudent and outragious, they filled up the grave with earth, and throwing the boards about, that lay round it, threatened to sacrifice the persons whose duty ’twas to attend him to the grave, if they offer’d to have appeared, which menaces so terrify’d them, that they did not dare to stir that night. But on Thursday in the afternoon, they inter’d him privately without tollling the bell, at an hour when the mobb did not expect them, and so were not prepared for further villanies. It sems they were so fully resolved he should not be buryed on Wednesday night, that they got fiddles and drink into the church yard, and kept guard there till day light, dancing and rioting, till some of them were too drunk to move off in the morning; and we hear that not being able to make their escape, some of the ring-leaders were taken into custody, in order, as ’tis hoped, to make some satisfaction for such an unnatural, unparallell’d villany, that none but an abandon’d Jacobite faction ever were, or ever would be guilty of the like. (London Journal)

25 June– 2 July 1720   We are told that some people are very angry with us, and take upon them to threaten us in a very extraordinary manner for the account we gave (in our last) of the behaviour of the mob at Islington, who opposed the burying of Vesey the printer, that appeared upon the tryal of young Matthews. as an evidence for the King: But as there happens to be this one unhappy circumstance attending our relation of the matter, that every word we have there mentioned is true, and matter of fact, we are the less concerned at their resentments; and to let them see that we are not to be terrified from discharging our duty, we will again record it for another week’s perusal at least, that what was there done was unnatural, base, and detestible; and that as they can never charge the Whigs with so brutish a practice, it may be depended upon, they will find none to imitate them in haste, but the same scum of an abandoned faction who were guilty of this, and seem too well enclined to be spirited up to any villany that their employers shall think fit to engage them in. (London Journal)

22-29 October 1720   On Monday there appeared at the King’s Bench Bar, Westminster, besides those already mentioned, twenty-five journeymen printers, bound over for opposing the burial of Lawrence Vesey, a printer, because he was an evidence for the King against young Matthews, executed last November for high treason. There appeared likewise many other miserable offenders, who were all continued on their recognizances till the last day of the term.
     ’Tis said that the journeymen printers are to be prosecuted by order of his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, and at his suit. (London Journal)

29 October–5 November 1720   We hear that the journeymen printers, who appeared at the King’s Bench Bar, on the first day of the term, and were then continued upon their recognizances, for a riot at the interment of Vesey the printer, who was an evidence against young Matthews, have been all discharged, upon their submissions and petition to the Lords of the Regency, and upon their promise of a dutiful and regular behaviour for the future, which, ’tis thought, nothing could more engage them to than the extraordinary clemency they have met with from the Government. (London Journal)

8 April 1721   Upon a report that the College of Physicians and Company of Surgeons had got warrants for some of the bodies to be delivered to them at this last execution, a party of soldiers went to Tyburn to guard the body of their old comrade, which they did effectually. (London Journal)

21 January 1721   We hear that on Monday last twelve young women, dress’d in white, with wands in their hands, went to Leicester-House, to interceed for the life of Thomas Knight, the callico printer, condemn’d for breaking open the great toy-shop in the Courts of Requests at Westminster: His Royal Highness order’d them to be brought up stairs, and ask’d for the lady that would marry the criminal at the gallows, who was shewn him, and then recommended them to the Princess, who, moved with the zeal the poor people express’d to save the man’s life, assured them she would use her good offices in his favour. (Applebee’s Original Weekly Journal)

Friday, 16 February 1722   On Wednesday night last the body of James Shaw, lately executed at Tyburn, and afterwards hang’d in chains near Pancras, was taken down from the gibbet, and convey’d away by persons unknown. (Daily Post)

3 April 1722   They write from St. Edmondsbury in Suffolk, that on Saturday last Arundel Coke, Esq; was executed there at 6 a-clock in the morning, to great disappiontment of many thousands of people that were assembled there some hours after to attend him to the gallows: He was carry’d to the place of execution in a mourning coach. And the minister, among other things, ask’d him, If he had hired Woodburn to poison Mr. Crisps’s children? Which he deny’d with his last breath. He said very little at the Tree, besides desiring the people, in a melancholy tone, to pray for him: He died universally unpity’d; and his body was put into a hearse and bury’d 4 miles off. Woodburn was likewise hang’d in the afternoon, when the multitude of spectators was prodigious great; and, ’tis said, his confession contradicted the other’s in the particular before mention’d. (Daily Post)

5 May 1722   Yesterday James Tims, John Thompson, Thomas Reeves, and John Hartley alias Poky, four of the malefactors condemn’d last Sessions at the Old Baily, were executed at Tyburn.
          The same day — Barlow, an Officer belonging to the Poultry Comptor, being one of those that guarded them to the place of execution, was by the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor committed prisoner to the said Compter, for riding over and wounding one Benjamin Connel, so that his life is endanger’d thereby. (Daily Post) (He was soon afterwards granted bail, as Mr Connell was on the way of recovery.)

Monday 31 August 1724   The body of Mr James Harman, executed last Friday at Tyburn, was decently interr’d the same night in the Dissenters Burying-Ground in Bunhill-Fields. That of Mr Davis was (as we are inform’d) carry’d off by a mob, employ’d for the Surgeons, who, under the specious pretences of opposing them, drew in many others to join with them, and thereby frustrated the charitable and generous intention of his friends, who, through an inadvertency in not knowing one anothers minds, had provided two coffins; which accident may perhaps serve to verify an ancient proverb, viz. That between two stools, &c. (The Daily Journal)

10 April 1725   Last Sunday, nine young women, dress’d in white, and each with a white wand in here hand, presented a petition to his Majesty on behalf of a young man condemn’d at Kingston Assizes for burglary; one of them offering to marry him under the gallows, in case of a reprieve. (Weekly Journal, or British Gazetteer)

14 August 1725   Salisbury, Aug. 9. Smith and the other malefactor under sentence of death here, were for being their own executioners, and, for that end, took each a large dose of poyson; which being perceived to operate very much the day after, the Sheriff caus’d ’em to be hang’d up early the next morning. [Mist’s Weekly Journal]

6 May 1726   Last week one John Meth was committed to Newgate for felony: He is one of the persons, who two or three years ago was carried to the place of execution, and brought back and reprieved, by the lucky accident of having the Hangman arrested by the way; and being transported he quickly returned to England again, and took to his former trade; but will go near to verify the old proverb. (London Journal)

25 May 1728   Monday the 19 malefactors, formerly mention’d, were executed at Tyburn. It is remarkable, that William Sefton, who was condemn’d for robbing on the highway, had been gone from his wife near three years; who never heard any thing of him till Monday, when she was informed by some who knew him, that he was one of the malefactors carried to Tyburn to be executed. The unhappy woman, notwithstanding her great surprize, at the melancholy account, resolved, if possible, to see him before he was executed, and therefore took a hackney coach, and went after him, with all possible expedition, to Tyburn, but only got near enough to be perceived by him, just as he was turned off, who made a motion to her with his hands. He broke his halter upon being turn’d off, but he was tied up again, and suffered with the rest. (The Weekly Journal)

9 November 1728   The thirteen Malefactors following are order’d for Execution on Monday next. Viz. John Featherby, Stephen Barnham, Peter Levee, Thomas Vaux, Thomas White, Anthony Meager, Charles Maccullisher and John Heros, all for Street Robberies; Thomas Evans, Nathaniel Walker and William Taylor, for robbing on the High-way; Elizabeth Powell for House breaking; and John Honey for returning from Transportation. The three following were repriev’d, viz. John Bleak Cowland, who was condemned for Sodomy, William Taylor for Horse-stealing, and Samuel Lewis for robbing his Master. (The Flying-Post)

9 November 1728   Last Wednesday Night the dead Warrant came to Newgate for the Execution of thirteen Malefactors condemned last Sessions at the Old-Bailey, on Monday next at Tyburn, viz. ... John Hirons for street robbery. But John Bleake Cowland, Samuel Lewis, and John Taylor, are respited 'till his Majesty's Pleasure, touching them, be further known. (Weekly Journal, or the British Gazetteer)

16 November 1728   On Monday the 13 Malefactors formerly mention’d were executed at Tyburn. The Surgeons had the Bodies of two of them, viz. William Taylor and Elizabeth Powel. The Body of John Honey, who was executed for returning from Transportation, was carry’d off by the Mob, who offer’d it to sell among the Surgeons. The Body of Barnham, Featherby and Levee lay in State on Tuesday at an Alehouse, and were bury’d at Night at a Church near Little Britain. (The Flying-Post)

16 November 1728   Wednesday night the bodies of Barnham, Featherby, and Levee, three of the notorious street-robbers, executed last Monday at Tyburn, were buried at a church near Little-Britain, after having laid in state at an alehouse all the day, where vast numbers of people resorted to see them. (Weekly Journal, or the British Gazetteer)

26 July 1729   Yesterday James Cluff was executed at Tyburn, for the murder of Mary Green at the Green Lettice in Holborn. He was to have been executed over-against the door where the murder was committed, but the neighbours petition’d against it. (London Journal)

21 November 1730   On Monday the four following malefactors were executed at Tyburn, viz. Robert Johnson, Hugh Morris, and James Obrian, for robbing on the highway; and Thomas Rivers, for burglary. The Surgeons having a warrant for two bodies, had those of Hugh Morris and Robert Johnson. (London Journal)

27 April 1732   Tuesday, April 20. On wednesday the 12th, Benj. Cruse and Step. Woon were executed at Heavytree gallows, near Exeter, for the murder of Mr. Pyke, a Custom-house Officer. The concourse of people was so great, that they broke down the gallows, just as the malefactors came, which obliged the Sheriff to convey them back to Irondish, ’till another could be erected, and it was near 6 before they were turned off. DP. (Grub-street Journal)

12 June 1735   The criminals executed yesterday at Tyburn, as mentioned in our last, were pelted by the populace, and had dirt, &c. thrown at them whilst tied up to the gallows. Gregory, Sutton, and Hughes died without any signs of fear or concern; the former laught heartily just before he was turned off; Lewis was entirely stupified. As soon as they were dead, the bodies of Sutton and Lewis were delivered to their friends, that of Gregory sent to Edgeware to be hung in chains with his companions, and Hughes to be dissected in Surgeons Hall.
     Whilst they were hanging, a man attempted to pick a young gentleman’s pocket of his watch; but being apprehended in the fact, he was hurried to a pond, where he underwent the usual discipline of the populace. (The Old Whig)

23 March 1738   We are told from Hertford, that on Wednesday last were executed there two hardened wretches, viz. Rimson and Lovell (who about two years since broke out of Northampton Gaol, and then went by the names of Slater and Collins.) The account given of ’em by the Rev. Mr. Hallows, who attended them, is, That they had made a wretched end, agreeable to their wretched lives, and particularly Rimson, who to the very last declared that he would not forgive the Gaoler of St. Albans, and threaten’d to appear to him after death, and that should he (Rimson) go to Heaven, he would never suffer Gilber to come there, but would shut the gate upon him; nor could all that the above Reverend Divine say, convince him of the heinousness and danger of dying in such an uncharitable and malicious temper of mind. (Daily Gazetteer)

Saturday, 12 May 1739

Bristol, May 5.   Yesterday about eleven o'clock, Mr. John Kimmarly, and John Philips, the two persons who receiv'd sentence of death at the late General Jail Delivery for this City and County, were convey'd by a Guard of Constables from Newgate, in a mourning coach and four, attended by a Rev. Devine to the usual place of execution on St. Michael's Hill. – From the time Mr. Kimmarly enter'd upon the cart 'till his execution was finished, was about an hour and a half; and though the rope broke three sundry times, and his neck much hurted by the ropes, as also bruised by is falls, so that his shirt was stained with blood, yet, during all the time, he behaved with great Christian courage; but employ'd each interval, while other ropes were providing, in solemn address to Heaven; forgiving and begging forgiveness of all men. The fourth time he got upon the cart, he again address'd himself to the ppeople, and confess'd the killing of Mr. James Burgess; but that he had no design so to do, nor any malice towards him; tho' he attributed his misfortune to the common consequence of keeping bad company; which he hoped all men would be warn'd against.
      As to John Philips, he all along behav'd very stupid, and denied the fact for which he suffer'd. (Read's Weekly Journal)

Friday 21 August 1752   Canterbury   On Thursday were executed at Penenden Heath near Maidstone, the three following malefactors, who received their sentences at the late Assizes at Rochester, viz.
         1. William Hatfield, for returning from transportation before his time was expired. …
         2. James Ramshaw for house-breaking. He said he was born in St. James’s Parish, London; about about 22 years of age, brought up to the sea. He was of a very wicked disposition; had been guilty of many robberies; acknowledging that his sentence was just, and that he dy’d in peace with all men. He also said, that he receiv’d his sentence of death on his birth-day; and that he was the principal evidence against Capt. Lowry, who was lately hang’d in chains for a murder on the high seas. His behaviour since condemnation was remarkably wicked, as singing bawdy songs, said he wanted a whore, and that he wish’d some surgeon would come and buy his body; often cursing, swearing, &c.
         3. George Jennings, for house-breaking. ... He behav’d in a civil manner, and said he hoped to be forgiven, as he forgave all the world: This poor man’s case is much pity’d, as a reprieve to stop execution, thro’ some mistake, came too late, it being the next morning before it arriv’d. (General Advertiser)

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished in whole or redistributed without the permission of the compiler. However, short selections may be quoted in historical studies and reviews as long as acknowledgement is given to this site.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Scenes at the Gallows", 5 March 2004, updated 5 June 2007 <>

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