Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton

A Letter from Transported Criminals
to their Comrades in Newgate, 1718


10-17 May 1718.

LONDON, May 10.
A Copy of a Letter from the Transported Criminals, to their Comrades in Newgate.

THE many Obligations we lye under to our dearly Beloveds in Newgate, have so greatly endeared us to Ye, that more than common Affection obliges us to write before we are sail’d beyond the extent of the Land-Post, and we must own ’tis much better to bid adieu to our native Country, than leave the World in a string. We no sooner enter’d upon the Tridentine Monarchs briny Territories, but we began to discover the wonders in the Deep. First the rugged Ocean reminded us of the many rubs we had met with in England, and the craggy Rocks were an Emplem of St. Giles’s, but the Sands made us all shiver to think of the devouring Tripos. Note if Neptune and Eolus unite to destroy us, we shall lye much cooler at the bottom of the Ocean, than in that nasty, dusty Place, call’d Tyburn Road; and that we should be devoured by Fishes of Prey, we shall not do with greater Pleasure thro’ the glassy Plain, at the Belly of a Shark, than be rooted up again by Swine, or hanged on Gibbets to be peck’d away by Crows. The first if known, might possibly hinder the Pork Trade about St. Giles’s, and for the other, we are mighty fearful of soaring so high, for when we were Children, Birds Nesting was no Diversion to us, because we had a natural Antipathy to climbing a Tree. The other Morning we were Becalmed and came to an Anchor, but had not lain long, o’re a Whale of a pretty considerable size presented himself to our view, than I thought of the Leviathan’s taking his pastime in the Waters, and wish’d myself on shore again to take mine there; but immediately he expanded his capacious Jaws, and a remorse seiz’d us, thinking his Mouth a lively representation of what I had so lately escaped. The next was a voracious Shark snapping up the little Fry at every motion, this made us recollect our own sharking Tricks, how we took all that came in our way. Then came a small shoal of Sea Horses, and we were almost tempted to mount and try our Fortunes in the Ocean, but having so lately receiv’d Mercy from one Monarch, thought it ungenerous to Injure another, so that Motion was stilled. Then appeared a vast multitude of Dog-Fishers, which made us weep to think what sad Dogs, &c. our beloveds and selves have been; one of us asked Thomas Holmby what he thought of riding down that Whales Throat. Damn him says he, (and you know he is a sharp Dog,) I don’t fear him, for if Jonah has smelt half so strong of Hemp and Newgate, as any of us, he had sowered the Whales Stomach in less time, and obliged him to make more hast towards shoar to spew him out again. We think it proper to let thee know what a wonderful Cargoe of all sorts of working Tools are taken with us, as Hows, Spades, &c. Now several of us tried to handle them, but alas! a Picklock Key feels much lighter than an How, and an Iron Crow is a more useful Instrument than a Spade; therefore if it be your chance to follow us be wise, and provide Utensils proper for our own (both) Natural and Artificial calling. In the mean time give our best respects to all Friends, as well Receivers, as Theives [sic], let those at Liberty take care, and you under Confinement be comforted: Thank Mr. P—y for his former Civilities, and tell Mr. Lor—n [Rev. Lorrain, the Chaplain of Newgate] we are mighty glad to save him the expence of Coach-Hire to Tyburn. We are likewise well pleased to save Jack Catch, [proverbial name for the hangman] the trouble of following the Cart with a Scourge this hot Weather, and tho’ he is in some measure deprived of his Fees, doubt not but his Profits will arise anwerable another way. Our Female Companions earnestly desire their Friends when they come to bring over a few Riding-Hoods, and the Climate being warm some Hoop-Petticoats will not be amiss. Pray be so kind as to keep a Collection of all the Sessions-Papers, and Dying Speeches, because we love Funn, [sic] and are pleased to hear when our Friends dye Gallantly; and if a Ballad should come out upon any remarkable Sufferer, do not omit buying that. So farewell, either till ye come, or we return again to be Nubb’d,
          After our arrival that we are capable of giving an Account how we fare, you may depend upon a Line from us.
                              John Lawrence.
                              William Lane.

(Original Weekly Journal)

(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 or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "A Letter from Transported Criminals to their Comrades in Newgate, 1718", 25 February 2007 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/letter.htm>

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