She fell down shrieking

These snippets come from a little pamphlet documenting the murder of a maid by a sixteen-year-old apprentice named Thomas Savage.

Thomas Savage born of honest parents in the parish of St Giles in the Fields, was put to Apprentice to a Vitner at Ratcliffe, where he lived about one Year and three Quarters.  In which time he appeared to all that knew him to be a Monster in Sin, giving himself up to all sensual pleasures and never so much as delighted to hear one Sermon. He spent the Sabbath usually at an Ale-house with that Strumpet, H Blay. He came acquainted with her by a young Man who afterwards went to Sea, and after that he often used to bring her Bottles of Wine, which satisfied not her Base desire. She told him he must bring money with him; he said he had none but what was his Masters, but she enticed him to bring it.  He replied he could not for the Maid was always at home with him. ‘Hang her, Jade,’ says this impudent Slut.  ‘Knock her on the head and I will receive this money.’ And that day when he committed the Murder, she made him Drunk with burnt Brandy.

He going home about one of the Clock, his Master standing at the Street door, he did not dare to go in that way, but climbed over a back door and came into the Room where his fellow Servants were at Dinner. ‘Oh,’ sayd the Maid, ‘you have now been at this Lewd House, you will never leave till you are turned.’ He was much concerned at her Words, and while he sat at Dinner the Devil and Passion entered so strongly into him that he resolved to kill her. So when his Master with his Family was gone to Church, he steps to the Bar and reaches a Hammer, and goes to the fire-side and taking the Bellows in his hand, sits down and knocks the Bellows with the Hammer. The Maid said ‘Sure the Boy is mad, what do you make this noise for?’ He said nothing but went to the Window making the same noise there, and on a sudden, he threw the Hammer with great force at the Maid’s head, so that she fell down shrieking out. Then he took the Hammer and striketh her many blows with all the force he could, rejoycing that he had finished the Murder. This done, he goes to his masters Chamber, and taking a bag of money under his Clothes, goes out at a back door. The Strumpet, seeing what he had done, wanted her money, but he, refusing, gave her half a Crown and so departed.

The account continues for several pages, outlining Thomas’s eventual capture, and and sorrowful prayers upon the scaffold.  It ends with the following:

After he had hung the usual time the Sheriff commanded him to be cut down and his Body was received by some of his Friends, who carryed it to a Neighbouring House, where being laid upon a Table, he was discerned to stir and breath, so that they immediately put him into a warm Bed, which recovered him so that he opened his Eyes and moved his Body and Hands, but could not attain his Speech. The News was soon abroad, so that Officers came and conveyed him to the former place of Execution and hung him up again until he was quite dead, and never came to himself again. He was buried at Islington where he sleeps in the Bed of his Grave.

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  • June 7, 2012 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    Actually, she delayed her execution by claiming to be pregnant. IN many cases such as this, the woman escaped execution.

  • March 26, 2010 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    No mention is made of the fate of the strumpet. I imagine it was her word against his. Perhaps she was given a stern lecture by the church.

  • March 26, 2010 - 6:49 am | Permalink

    What happened to the strumpet? Was she held accountable in any way?

  • March 25, 2010 - 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure about this – I have read accounts of hangings in which the prisoner survived and was therefore free to go, but I’ve also read several accounts of executions by hanging in which the prisoner was rehung after being found alive at home. My suspicion is that earlier in the period the survival of a hanging might be seen as an act of God, whereas later on it became compulsory to rehang a condemned criminal. I’ll dig around and see what I can find.

  • March 25, 2010 - 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I always thought that if the prisoner survived the hanging it was deemed an act of God and he was considered to be innocent?

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