Tag: burglary

Repentance on the Scaffold

Posted on July 17, 2013 by - Early Modern History, Hans Sloane's Personal Life, Undergraduate Research

Tyburn Tree. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Tyburn Tree. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

iq optipn Filled with curiosities, rare books, and commodities from Port Royal to Peking, Hans Sloane’s Bloomsbury Square residence was the perfect target for a break and enter (which I discuss here). The eight men–twice the number reported by witnesses–who attempted such a feat on 5 April 1700, however, seem to have had no idea the house they set aflame possessed so many wonders. Indeed, Sloane and his family were endangered by a group of men “who having consum’d their Substance with riotous Living” seem to have chosen their target at random.

opcje binarne bank The youngest of the perpetrators, John Hatchman, was only 15 years old and confessed to the crime, citing his inebriated state as the motive. John Titt, 24 years of age, had given Hatchman alcohol, was drunk the night of the offense, and confessed that he was an alcoholic.

Joseph Fisher, nearly 50, refused to admit that he participated in the acts. The fact he served in the Royal Navy, and was therefore prone to debauchery, was enough to secure a conviction. Conversely, Thomas Hixon expelled a “flood of Tea[r]s”, regretted his actions, and promised not to reoffend if he was released. This did nothing to mitigate his punishment.

The apparent ringleaders were more somber and dejected. John David (real name John Shirley), Phillip Wake, and James Walters understood what they had done in committing arson and attempting to burgle Sloane’s house. They regretted their crimes and, as Walters reportedly stated, undertook “the great Work of Repentance, and making… Peace with Almighty God”.

cheap Orlistat 120 mg without a prescription Regardless, the eight men were taken to Tyburn on 24 May 1700. After the men had been prepared for execution, all their resolve disappeared. Davis (Shirley) blamed Wake for the entire affair: “Fear and trembling, said he, have seiz’d upon me, and an horrible Dread hath overwhelm’d me.” The reporter of the events poetically recounts Wake’s acceptance of his death as a logical consequence of his failure “not [to] forsake his evil Courses”. James Walters added it was “bad Company [that] had such Influence on him” and led to a life of crime. The others are said to have cried, prayed, and begged for reprieve, but to no avail.

No matter their words of regret or confessions of guilt, “the Cart drew away, [and] they were turned off.” The tale, as recounted in the court publication, reeks of a morality tale and state attempts to dissuade readers from vice. The Devil may have whispered in their ears, but it seems more likely a mixture of poverty, poor prospects, alcohol, and peer pressure motivated the men’s actions. Sloane and his family were the victims of an arbitrary crime. The consequences were a best-case scenario as far as the Sloane family was concerned: the plot failed, the men ran away, they were quickly apprehended, and eighteenth century justice was meted out on the scaffold.

Close Call at Bloomsbury Square

Posted on July 15, 2013 by - Early Modern History, Family, Hans Sloane's Personal Life, Undergraduate Research

By Matthew De Cloedt

Hanging Outside Newgate Prison. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

When John Ray received Hans Sloane’s letter of 6 April 1700 he could not help “but be moved with indignation”. He was livid that four “vile Rogues, who when they failed in their attempt of breaking open [Sloane’s] house… set it on fire.” Ray believed it was by God’s grace that Sloane, along with his residence at Bloomsbury Square, were not consumed by the conflagration.

The event took place on 5 April 1700 and was a close call for the Sloane family. During the night a group of three or four men snuck into Sloane’s backyard, which was backed by a field. After failing to open the back door they proceeded “by Instigation of the Devil… to set the House on Fire in several places”. They planned to force the family to evacuate the premises and “under the pretence of Friendly assistance they were to rush in and Robb the House”. Using splinters cut from the door the men set the window frames on fire, which were “of a thin and dry” board that sparked easily. The pantry window “burnt with great Violence” and all seemed to be going according to plan.

What the robbers did not count on was Elizabeth Sloane’s alertness. Smelling the smoke, she sent the servants downstairs to investigate. Upon coming to the pantry a male servant opened the door, “was almost Chok’d, with the violence of the Smoke and Flame… [and] Cry’d out Fire”. Instead of panicking the household took to action and immediately set to extinguishing the fire with water collected for washing the linens.

When the back door was opened to let the smoke out the men had already fled. The culprits had not expected the fire to be put out so efficiently and ran when they realized their plot was foiled. Luckily the neighbours had noticed a group of strange men waiting in the backyard and reported their number.

Sloane offered a reward of one-hundred pounds to anyone who could catch the arsonists, but he did not have to pay up. One of the men was arrested for another “Notorious Crime” in Westminster and, to secure his release, gave up the names of his companions. John Davis and Phillip Wake were apprehended and incarcerated at Newgate shortly thereafter.

Both men were repeat offenders and had a laundry list of previous offences. Had they been successful, it was suggested, the “Docters Family who went to Bed in peace” would have “miserably Perish’d by the merciless and devouring Flames”. For this reason Davis and Wake faced the death penalty. At the Old Bailey the man who identified his two accomplices testified against them and assured a conviction. Nothing is mentioned of Sloane participating in the trial.

On 24 May 1700 Davis and Wake, along with six others, were executed. Wake “seemed very Penitent” while Davis” seemed very much Concern’d and Dejected… They both desired all Persons to take warning by their shameful and deplorable tho’ deserved Deaths.”

Sloane and his family were lucky to survive their ordeal for, as Squire Aisle’s servant’s experience made clear, it could have unfolded in a much more unpleasant manner. Near Red-Lyon Square, where the man resided, his house was broken into, his wife murdered, and the house set ablaze, “wherein she was Burnt to Ashes”.

Had Sloane’s family been subjected to a similar fate the fire would have consumed his library and collection (not to mention the potential loss of life. It might be worth reiterating that Elizabeth Sloane’s concern alerted the rest of the household. In saving the house she not only rescued her family and servants but all of the possessions in the household. Perhaps the smoke woke her up; maybe she was having difficulty getting to sleep. Whatever the case, it might be worth considering her an important guardian of the things that would later form the collections of the British Museum and Natural History Museum.

Stay tuned for part two on the trial at the Old Bailey!

References

betrouwbare binaire optie brokers An Account of the apprehending and taking of John Davis and Phillip Wake for setting Dr. Sloan’s house on fire, to robb the same, with their committed to Newgate… London: Printed by J. W. in Fleet Street, 1700.

http://lesmandarines.fr/?qwerty=binäre-optionen-geld-verloren An Account of the actions, behaviours, and dying vvords, of the eight criminals, that were executed at Tyburn on Fryday the 24th of May, 1700… London: Printed by W.J. near Temple-Bar, 1700.

Both texts available at Early English Books Onlinehttp://eebo.chadwyck.com/home