Category Archives: Murder

Crime Execution Murder Women

The Last Speech and Confession of Sarah Elestone

These fragments come from the last speech and confession of Sarah Elestone who was burned to death for killing her husband in 1678.

‘In Three-Faulken-Court, over against St. Margarets-hill, in Southwark, lately lived one Sarah Elestone, the late Wife of Thomas Elestone, a Felt-maker: a man very laborious in his calling, aged about forty years, and his Wife forty-six years old.  They lived many years very contentedly, she assisting him in his calling in what she was able, till such time as falling into the acquaintance of some lewd women, she was drawn to commit that filthy sin of drunkenness, which after a little practising of it, she became harden’d in it, and learn’d to swear by her Maker and to prophain the Lords Day, and hate good men.  Such an alteration there was perceived in her, that several of her Husbands acquaintance desired him to do all that he could to reclaim her, telling him also that it was his duty, to which he answered That he hoped God would turn her from these evil courses, but he for his part could do no good with her, for she was so obstinate, that the more he said to her the worse she was.  So that seeing he could not prevail by fair means, he sought some other way, as keeping her bare of money, but then she ran him in debt, and took up money at the Tally-shops, he having notice of it, told them if they trusted her any more he would not pay them: upon which she resolved of another way, which was to sell her goods, which she did by degrees, till they had scarce a Chair to sit on, or a bed to lye on.  This so perplexed her Husband, that he resolved to beat her out of this wicked course, and to that end did sometimes chastize her with blows, which she was not wanting to repay. So much was their fury sometimes, that their neighbours hath been forced to part them at all hours in the night.

In this like manner they lived for some years, which so troubled and disturbed the patience of the man; that oft he hath been heard to wish himself dead, or that he had been buried alive that day he was married to her, and she wicked and graceless soul would many times in cold blood threaten him, that at one time or other she would kill him; which proved to be too true, for she having been out with her Gossips, and having got a cup too much as it was thought, comes and finds her husband at work. She demands some money of him, and withall tells him That if he will not give her some presently she would be the Death of him. He seeing her in that condition, took her and thrust her down stairs, and shuts the door, and to work again.  Within a little time after when he thought her heat was over, he goes down in his shift as he was at work, intending to drink. She meets him at the stairs foot, and with one side of a pair of sheers gave him a mortal wound on the breast, of which he immediately dyed, upon which she presently fled. Her Husband being quickly found, Hue and Cry was made after her, and that night about twelve a clock she was taken by the Old-street Watch, to whom she confessed the fact, she had her Tryal at the Marshalses at the Assizes, beginning on the 22 day of March, last past, where she was condemned by Law to be burn’d to ashes for this horrid and bloody crime.

After sentence was past, she begged some time to sit and prepare her self, which was granted, as also to two other Malefactors. During her imprisonment she hath had several Ministers to visit her who laid open the haniousness of her sins, especially that of Murther.  She for the most part seemed but little concerned, many times talking of other things when they prayed for her, but a day or two before her Execution it pleased God to awaken her and to discover her sins unto her, and the need she stood in of an interest in the Lord Jesus. Which made her the willinger to dye, finding that it was according both to the Law of God and Man: and hoping that the Lord Jesus would have mercy on her poor sinful Soul. Now she loved good men, good discourse, and often cryed out what should she do to be saved: when she came to the place of Execution and beheld the Fagots, she cryed, O Lord for Jesus sake let this be my last burning. O that God would give me an assurance of the pardon of my sins, and blot out the black lines of my sins with the Red lines of Christs blood. Her last words were to exhort all good people to fear God, to keep the Sabbath-day, to refrain idle company, to have a care how they take the Name of the Lord in vain.  Thus with a few Ejaculatory Prayers, she concluded with that saying Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.  Having thus said, the Executioner doing his Office, stopped the Atropos of her Speech, and her body was consumed to ashes in the Flames.’

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

Crime Monarchy Murder Politics

Kill him for the book he wrote

These fragments come from the published account of an attempted murder of the Reverend Samuel Johnson (1649-1703) a Whig pamphleteer. In 1682, Johnson published a political treatise, Julian the Apostate, which transformed him into an overnight sensation. The treatise drew parallels between the fourth-century apostate emperor, Julian, and James duke of York, the Catholic successor to the English crown. Johnson justified the efforts of the whigs to exclude James from the monarchy, and called on active resistance to James’s ascension to the English throne. As a result, Johnson was imprisoned for four years in the king’s bench. While in gaol, Johnson continued to write seditious material, and in 1686 he was convicted of high misdemeanour, sentenced to pay 500 marks, to stand in the pillory for three days, and to be flogged from Newgate to Tyburn. In the early 1690s, he wrote An Argument proving that the abrogation of King James by the people of England, which caused such a scandal that in November 1692, seven men broke into Johnson’s house near Piccadilly and attempted to kill him.

Upon the Sunday Morning (the 27th of November 1692) seven persons broke into the House of the Reverend Mr Samuel Johnson, in Bond-street near Piccadilly; and five of them with a Lanthorn came into the Room where Mr Johnson with his Wife were in Bed, and their young Son lying in a Bed by them. Mrs Johnson hearing them open the Door, cried out to her Husband (who was fast asleep) My Dear, Thieves, Thieves. The Villains instantly threw open the Curtains, three of them placing themselves by that side of the Bed where Mr Johnson lay, with drawn Swords, and Clubs in their Hands; and two at the Bed’s Feet with Pistols. Whereupon Mr Johnson started upon his Bed, and waved his Arms to keep off Blows, but gave them not one word.  One of the three who stood by the Bed-side, gave him a great blow on the Head with an Oaken-stick, with a great Knob on the top (which stick was left behind and there may be seen) that struck him back to the Bed, and then instantly clap’d on a black Vizor Mask. Upon which Mrs Johnson cried out, over and over again with great earnestness, How can you strike a sick Man? At which they stood pausing over him. Which she observing, said We have no Money, we have no Money.  One of the Miscreants then called to Mr Johnson, saying Hold up your Face. At which Mrs Johnson, jogging her husband said, My Dear they would Gag you; prethee be gagg’d, hoping that then they would leave him and rifle the House.

Some time after, the Rogues still standing over him, Mr Johnson sat upright again and roared out, not being able to speak. Upon which one of the Rogues said, Pistol him, kill him, kill him for the Book he wrote. And then cut him with a Sword over the Eye-brow. And those who stood with Pistols at the Bed’s Feet presented their Pistols towards him: Which Mrs Johnson seeing, cried out O Christ do not do it.  How can you use a sick Man thus? After this they stood sometimes as amazed, demurring over him; and at length one of them said to the rest, Draw him under the Bed. Then a little after another said, Damn, where’s his Breeches?  And Mrs Johnson replying, Upon the feet of the Bed. They not instantly finding them ask’d again for them, and she replying as before, they found them and carried them off with them, not ransacking further, nor taking any other thing out of the House, though a Chest of Drawers stood open by them.

When the bloody Villains went out of the Room, Mrs Johnson imagining they were gone up to the Room over their Heads, where her daughter with a Maid-Servant were in Bed, cried out to Mr Johnson, My poor Girls, what will become of them? Mr Johnson got out of Bed to Follow them, but Mrs Johnson begg’d him not to go, saying You will sure be killed, but can do them no service; go to the Window and cry out Thieves, which he did. And the Watch and others being by that time got to the House, found that instead of going up the Stairs, as Mr Johnson and his Wife imagined, they went down Stairs and made their Escape.

The two young Women at first hearing the Noise in the House got to their Chamber-Window and cried out Thieves, upon which two of the Rogues who were left Sentinels at the Street-door, held up two Blunderbusses, saying If you cry out we will shoot you. Upon which they pull’d in their Heads, but continued to cry as loud as they could; which being heard by the Watch they made towards Mr Johnson’s House, but came too late to seize any of the Assassins. A Chirurgion being called found Mr Johnson greatly bleeding from two Wounds, one a cross Wound to his Skull, three inches long and an inch and a half across; and the other a Cut with a Sword on his left Eye-brow. The Chirurgion also found his Head greatly bruised, and declared that he imagined that there might be more danger in the Bruises than the Cuts, but through God’s blessing there is good hopes of his Recovery.

Source for Johnson’s lifeL Melinda Zook, DNB

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Crime Murder

A horrible, cruel and bloody murder

These snippets come from a murder pamphlet published in 1614. The above image is taken from the frontispiece, and depicts the act itself, overseen by Satan.

In the parish of Putney upon Thames in the Countie of Surrey, there dwelt this Murdered Man, named Edward Hall, by his vocation a Miller, a man of good reputation, having substance of money. Now this aforementioned Hall, on the twentieth of April last 1614, about tenne of the clock after supper, was sleeping in a Chaire by the fire in his Kitchen; his servants, namely John Selling, Peter Pett, and Edward Streater, having (as they confessed) conspired their Master his death long before, now they perceived him sleeping, thought it not fitte to let such an opportunitie pass to put their damnable practise in execution. John Selling, having provided a pickaxe to give the fatall blow, told Pett that now it was a fitte time to doe it, and bade Pett strike the first stroake, and hee would second him with another: whereupon Pett took the pickaxe, and standing behind his sleeping Master, lifting it up with all his force, gave his Master a violent blow on the back betwixt his shoulders, wherewith Hall fell down and gave a great groane, where Selling presently took the pickaxe from Pett and stroake a second blow, hitting him on the head in a most cruel and inhumane manner, beating out his braines. The other, named Streater, being in his Master’s Mill and not knowing as then the devilish designe was done, Pett went to him and told him, and bade him come and beholde their handi-worke.

Presently Streater left the Mill, and coming into the house where he saw his said Master lye in his own blood with his braines most brutishly dashed out, he upon the instant tooke the pickaxe and strooke the said Hall a blow on the breast which slit and severed his breast boane. Hall being thus dead, these three Murtherers consulted amongst themselves what were best to bee done with the dead body. They took the dead caracass and carried it into a stable, where they digged a hole and buried it.

The pamphlet continues with the three men’s attempts to evade detection, and their eventual capture.  Examined by a Justice of the Peace

they confessed that they had done this cruell fact to their Master because he did not love his wife so well as he ought to do, and because he did not allow them meat enough… and did affirm that they did it upon the inspiration and instigation of the Devil. Then were these mallefactors committed to the common jayle of the white Lyon in Southwark, where till the sessions they are to abide, then to have the recompence of their demerrits.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

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