POWER OF CONSCIENCE
EXEMPLIFIED IN THE GENUINE AND EXTRAORDINARY
OF THOMAS BEDWORTH;
DELIVERED TO ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL OFFICERS OF NEWGATE, THE
NIGHT BEFORE HIS EXECUTION, ON SEPTEMBER 18, 1815, FOR THE
OF ELIZABETH BEESMORE,
IN DRURY LANE.
RELATING HIS HORRIBLE SUFFERINGS
UNTIL COMPELLED TO SURRENDER TO PUBLIC JUSTICE BY THE CONSTANT
OF THE MURDERED WOMAN, AND THE FREQUENT APPEARANCE OF HER
FROM THE ORIGINAL PAPER,
NOW IN THE POSSESSION OF THE PUBLISHER.
Including interesting Particulars of BEDWORTH’s former Life, his
behaviour before Execution, and an original and full Report of the
Common Serjeant’s Address on passing Sentence.
PRINTED FOR Wm. HONE, 55, FLEET STREET,
By J. Swan, 76, Fleet Street.
LIFE AND CONFESSION
OF THE LATE
AS RELATED BY HIMSELF, BEFORE GOING ON
THE following brief statement of the life of an almost obscure individual, drawn up from his own lips, is published not from any wish to diminish the just indignation and natural horror excited by the dreadful crime of murder, of which he was found guilty by his own confession, as well as by the Verdict of the Jury, but from an anxious desire to develop such particulars as exemplify the sad consequences of ungoverned passion and depraved pursuit. However different from all rational views that extraordinary portion of his relation may be which details the frequent horrible appearance of the murdered woman, there is no more reason to doubt his solemn belief of the reality of the TERRIBLE APPARITION than of any other part of his edifying Narrative. The criminal related the whole himself, in compliance with the wishes of one of the principal officers of the prison, whose humanity and attention he gratefully acknowledged, and who had long expressed a desire to know his melancholy story. He commenced his relation about midnight before his execution. He solemnly and earnestly, as a dying man and in the presence of Almighty God, protested the truth of every circumstance, and the whole is here faithfully given as he delivered it. Although scrupulously examined upon the supernatural appearance, which was reasonably conjectured to be the effects of his disturbed imagination and wounded conscience, p. 4he eagerly, positively, and repeatedly asseverated it to be a fact as certain as that he was then in the cell, to die that morning. This his full confession upon the brink of his falling into the grave, was taken down in writing in the presence of and by the direction of the officer before mentioned, and the original paper is now in the possession of the publisher, and is as follows:
THOMAS BEDWORTH’S CONFESSION.
THOMAS BEDWORTH was born in the year 1764, in the parish of Bloxidge, Staffordshire. His parents were of honest reputation and industrious habits, and could well afford to instil into his mind the principles of a good education; but to this he was obstinately averse, and they not being firm in their purpose, he successfully opposed every attempt that was made to furnish him with that knowledge of good and evil, without which he fell a sacrifice to the consequences of sensual indulgence, and expiated a crime, conceived in jealousy and stimulated by intoxication, on the scaffold of Newgate.
Arriving at the age of fourteen years, he was placed as an apprentice in the town of Walsall, in Staffordshire, near Birmingham, to learn, with a respectable tradesman there, the art of bridle, bit, and stirrup making. In the year 1782, his father having died, and the term of his apprenticeship being expired, he went to Birmingham, where he was employed a considerable time. Being of an unsettled disposition, however, he left that place, and went to London, where he soon afterwards obtained employment in the manufactory of Mr. Rowley, of Prince’s Street, Drury Lane, where he remained until the year 1795.
At this period, and during his residence in London, Thomas Bedworth was united in marriage, to Mary, the daughter of Mr. Bainer, a respectable tradesman in St. Anne’s, Soho, but, again becoming restless in his mind, he left London, and having gone a distance into the country, he, in an unguarded moment, enlisted into the Fifeshire Fencibles, then commanded by Colonel James p. 5Durham. With this regiment, he visited most parts of Ireland and Scotland, as well as this country, but finally left the regiment in 1803. In the course of this period his wife continued with him, and they had three children.
After Bedworth’s discharge from the army, he left his wife with his friends, at Walsall, and went to Birmingham, whither, however, she followed him. In a short time, Bedworth went to London, in search of work, and entreated his wife to remain in the country, and there await his success. She consented, and he had not arrived many days in town, when he obtained employment from Mr. Birch, of Rupert Street, Haymarket. Here, however, he had not long been engaged, when, unfortunately for Bedworth, his employer failed, and he immediately formed the resolution of going to sea.
In the year 1804 he entered the Navy, and in the course of his service suffered many hardships, and was in several severe and celebrated engagements with the enemy. But, however the last sanguinary act of his checquered life may have stained his character, he had at least the reputation of being a good seaman, and it was also his pride, at the moment of his narrating these facts, that he had faithfully performed his duty to his country. He continued in the service until the year 1813, and at that period received his discharge, and was made an out-pensioner of Greenwich Hospital.
It was now his melancholy fate to learn, that, instead of joining his long-absent partner, and spending the remnant of his days in domestic peace, a widely different lot awaited him. His wife, the partner of his bed and the parent of his children, had, during his absence, formed an illicit acquaintance with another man, to whom she was actually married, and had three children during her unlawful union.
Bedworth’s horrid reflections, in consequence of this discovery of his wife’s unfaithfulness, distracted his mind; and the very means he adopted as a consolation, became a train of circumstances tending to the commission of the crime, which, with bitter tears, he repented, and atoned for by an ignominious death.
In time, his mind became more calm, and he seriously bethought himself of settling into regular habits, which a seafaring life had p. 6deranged, and subsisting upon his pension, and by his industry. He once more, therefore, obtained employment in his own trade, but, to his irretrievable mishap, became acquainted with Elizabeth Beesmore. This unfortunate woman, who was also married, was the sister of his own wife. Her husband, John Beesmore, had grossly neglected her, as well as a child, which remained in her care: he had not only denied her and her infant the necessaries of life, but had also declared his determination of never more residing with her, or even in the neighbourhood where she might be. Her case naturally excited the unhappy Bedworth’s commiseration, and he took advantage to complain of the conjugal infidelity and baseness which his own wife, her sister, had manifested towards himself. The similarity of their situations induced a sympathy in Bedworth’s mind; common acquaintance ripened into a kinder intimacy, and he ultimately became attached to her. Bedworth then proposed that she should place herself and her child under his protection, and that they should consider each other as a wedded couple. With this offer she complied, and, while she solemnly swore to unite her fate with his, and never to hold communication with her husband, but to be faithful to Bedworth, as his wife, he as sacredly pledged himself to be a husband to her.
Thomas Bedworth and Elizabeth Beesmore, thus connected, lived together until the month of April, in the present year, 1815, being a space of about two years and two months. At this period, John Beesmore, the woman’s husband, who had hitherto been employed in the town of Wedgbury, in Staffordshire, came to London. He discovered the retreat of his discarded wife, and contrived to communicate to her and Bedworth, a repetition of his formerly-expressed determination not to cohabit with his wife, and also an assurance that he would not disturb the connection which she had formed with Bedworth. She also, at this critical period, took occasion to renew her vows of attachment and fidelity to Bedworth, whom she justly represented as having saved herself and child from starvation.
In a short time, however, the affairs of John Beesmore, the husband, became unfavourable; he was out of employment, and he applied to his wife to afford him pecuniary assistance from the p. 7earnings of Bedworth. This, after some hesitation on her part, she complied with, and Bedworth made the discovery, that his little property was daily wasting upon a man, whose neglected wife and child he had supported, whom she herself had most solemnly renounced, and in whose fortunes or misfortunes, she had sworn never to interest herself.
Here commenced a dreadful spirit of jealous bickering and hate between the unhappy Bedworth and Elizabeth Beesmore. Unable to endure the insults offered to his feelings, by the renewed acquaintance of Beesmore and his wife, Bedworth determined no longer to be the means of her husband’s support. He abandoned the society of the deceased, and took a private lodging. His heart was agonized, his mind distracted, and Elizabeth Beesmore discovered him in his retreat, in this state, and visited him. She herself was in a very distressed condition—she renewed her sentiments of affection towards him, and trusted he would yield her some assistance. A multitude of conflicting thoughts now agitated his mind at this meeting. It is difficult to say whether pity, jealousy, or indignation, was most predominant. At length he took compassion on her. She had some refreshment with him, he gave her some money, and she departed.—Her renewed protestations of regard towards him, he considered as the mere affectation of attachment: his mind became hourly more unhappy, and he at length flew for relief to that source of treacherous consolation, the gin-shop. For many days he remained in an unsettled state of mind, neglecting his work, and occasionally visiting Elizabeth Beesmore, in a state of intoxication.
On the 19th of June, he called on Elizabeth Beesmore, at an early hour in the morning, but not much in liquor.—On this occasion she received him not only with coolness, but contempt. She informed him, tauntingly, that she was about to live again with her lawful husband, and desired that he would not again come to disturb her, or the house in which she was. He answered her coolly, that it was not his intention to disturb her, he only wished to disturb himself, and would immediately leave her, and proceed to the only enjoyment he had left, namely liquor. He then took his leave, and, having drank to excess, retired to his lodgings, and went to bed.
p. 8On awaking the next morning, the 20th of June, his mind was on the rack: besides, the powerful effects of the former day’s intoxication, jealousy, and indignation deprived him of reason. In this state of distraction, he walked up and down his room, and at length formed the horrible resolution of murdering Elizabeth Beesmore, the cause of his distress.—With this intention, having furnished himself with a shoemaker’s knife, which he found in the house where he resided, he put it in his pocket, and proceeded to her lodgings, in Short’s Gardens, Drury Lane. On his way thither, he met with a woman who worked at her needle with the deceased, and they went to a public-house, and drank gin together.—After parting with her, he went elsewhere and drank a quantity of beer, so that, by the time he reached Elizabeth Beesmore’s apartments, he was in a state of inebriety.—She, upon his arrival, perceiving his situation, prevailed upon him to go to bed, and, during the time he lay there, she sent for gin several times, of which he drank freely. In the course of the morning, her son came into the room and struck and insulted him several times, while on the bed, which aggravating Bedworth exceedingly, she ordered her son to quit the room. Soon after he had gone, Bedworth rose with an intention of leaving the house, but found that his coat and shoes had been taken away while he was asleep. These he asked for, but she refused to let him have them, and he left the house without them, and went to an adjoining public house and had more gin.—He soon returned to her apartments, and she prevailed upon him to drink some tea, into which also she infused some gin.
At this period, Bedworth’s mind was dreadfully unsettled, and he once more laid down upon the bed, but the irritation of his feelings would not let him rest. In a short time he again rose and peremptorily demanded his shoes and coat. These Elizabeth Beesmore gave him, and strongly advised him to go home without delay, and go to bed, in order to attend work the following morning. He left the room, and she followed him down stairs, where they had some conversation. She returned up stairs, for the purpose of bringing him an apron and a handkerchief, and, upon her again descending the stairs, he told her he wished to speak with her in the kitchen.—She replied, she must first put on p. 9his handkerchief, which, having done, they retired to the kitchen. Each remained for a moment in mute anxiety.—The unhappy woman, however, broke the pause, by clasping her right arm round his neck and embracing him, at the same time saying, with much agitation, “O my dear Bedworth!” These were her last words, uttered in the last minute of her life. She kissed him during his conflict between jealous passion and strong affection: his injured regard and her perfidy rushed upon his mind; her deceptive embrace maddened him: whilst her kiss was warm upon his cheek, he suddenly drew the knife from his right hand pocket, and, as he supported her head with his left arm, he, by one rapid and determined cut, across her throat, nearly severed her head from her body!—She fell lifeless, to the ground, without a groan!
Scarcely had he raised his hand from the bloody deed, when remorse seized him. He instantly meditated self-destruction, but as instantly, imagining a possibility of escape, he abandoned that intention.—“Thanks be to God,” said the unhappy criminal, as he related the intention that he had momentarily indulged, “I was not permitted to do this, and thereby deprive just vengeance of its retribution.”—He put the bloody knife in his pocket, whilst he looked at the blood rushing from her throat, and quitted the house.
Bedworth’s first steps of flight were directed into Spa-fields, where he remained until dark, and then returned into town.—Passing over London Bridge, he, for the first time, bethought himself, that some of the blood of his victim might be upon his clothes. He therefore examined his dress, but found that all parts had escaped, except his apron, which he pulled off, and tossed through the ballustrades of the bridge, into the Thames. He then wandered through the Borough, over Blackfriars Bridge, and afterwards over Westminster Bridge, and thus roving about, he, by day-light, the following morning, reached the Regent’s Park, where he threw the knife into the Canal. From the Regent’s Park he pursued his way to Hampstead, where he passed the whole of that day about the fields, and where he also determined to pass the night.—About eleven o’clock, while in a hay-field, where he had betaken himself to rest, he was suddenly disturbed by the deep groaning of one, as in great agony, whose voice was p. 10exceedingly like that of the deceased, and he passed the remainder of the night in much disquietude and alarm.
Early on the following morning, he pursued his route toward St. Albans, and thus spent the remainder of the day. At night he once more fled, for a hiding and resting place, to the fields, where having laid down, he was disturbed by a dreadful noise, similar to that which he had heard the night before. This was now accompanied by the voice of the murdered woman, who emphatically said, “Oh Bedworth! Bedworth! what have you done?” The address was followed by other expressions, complaining bitterly of having been hurried into another world, and particularly these words: “You have deprived me of all the happiness of this life.” He was so far persuaded of the reality of this visitation, that, “in the name of God,” he entreated the horrible phantom “to go to rest and leave him!”—Unable to sleep, he arose at an early hour, still wandering, and returned towards London.
It was the time of the general illuminations for the late battles, and Bedworth, entering the city about nine o’clock in the evening, traversed the streets, to divert his distracted imagination, by gazing at the lights. Thus wandering about, he retired to Smithfield, in order to pass the night in one of the sheep-pens. Here, however, he had scarcely laid himself down, when the murdered woman appeared to him with a dreadful noise, and bitter exclamations! His entreaties and prayers were, on this occasion also, most earnest, that she would “commit herself to rest, and cease to torment him!”
Unable to rest, he arose from the earth, left the sheep-pen, and walked towards Islington, in which place, and at Highgate, he spent his time until the following evening, and once more returned to London, again viewed the illuminations in the city, and again wandered about, until half-past twelve o’clock, when he directed his course once more towards Islington and Highgate. No new scene, however, or course which he pursued, could lighten the load of his crime, or chase away the guilty horrors which pursued him. On this night, while walking up Highgate Hill, the murdered woman again stood before him! Imagination may paint, if it p. 11can, the horrible feelings of Bedworth at this moment. She walked with him, side by side, until they reached the other side of the hill, and then taking the hand of the miserable man, placed it upon her severed throat, and groaned and mourned deeply!—Driven to despair, he fled into a field, where he threw himself down upon his face on some hay, hoping to elude at least the sight of his ghostly pursuer. Such, however, was the consequence of guilt, that he felt her lying by his side and crouching against him!
After spending the whole of the last-mentioned day and the next night in indescribable horror, without being able to leave this situation, he again came into London, on the following morning; and—it would be incredible, if it were not true—he actually applied at the Justice Room, Guildhall, for a “walking pass” to Wolverhampton! Such was the fact, and being told, upon application, that he must come the next day, he retired for that night into the fields near Islington, where his rest was rather less disturbed than before. The next morning he again applied at Guildhall for a pass, but, after a strict examination, as to who he was, and where he last slept, he was ordered to go before the Magistrates at the Public Office, Queen Square. This he instantly did, and having there undergone the usual enquiries, he actually succeeded in obtaining a pass! At the moment the whole town was in alarm at the atrocity of the murder, when Police Officers were in pursuit of him, and placards were posted in every direction, describing his person and dress minutely, and offering a reward for his apprehension; at this moment he applied to the Police Office for his pass, and obtained it from the Magistrates themselves, without being suspected!
Possessed of his pass, Bedworth set out for his native country. He slept the first night in Kentish Town, and the next morning pursued his journey towards Coventry, receiving at each town, through which he went, the relief to which his pass entitled him. He arrived in Coventry, on Monday, the 3d of July, and slept there the same night. The following morning he pursued his route to Meridan, about twelve miles from Coventry and six from Birmingham. From thence he went back to Coventry, where he again slept, and, on the 5th arrived at Horseley.
p. 12During these travels and retravels, conscience was still crying vengeance, and though he, for a while, flattered himself, that he could familiarise himself with the horrors of his mind, if not eventually stifle them, he still anticipated the dreadful expiation of his life, for the murder he had committed. Terror, shame, and remorse were the conflicting passions which accompanied him in his escape; but the violence of these having in a great measure subsided, reflection assumed a more rational seat in his breast, and now it was that he began to look with a steadier eye upon the deed he had perpetrated.
From Horseley, Bedworth once more returned, on the 5th July, to Coventry, but his compunctions, while on his way to the latter place, had become so alarming and irresistible, that he finally resolved to surrender himself to justice.
For this purpose, on the morning of the 6th, he went before the Mayor of Coventry, and made a full confession of his guilt. The candour and ingenuousness with which he related his horrible tale, occasioned doubts of its truth in the mind of the Magistrate, who, with much humanity, supposed it might be the imagined story of a perverted intellect. He was, however, put into confinement, and, proper enquiries being made, was forwarded, in custody, to London, and arrived at the Bow Street Police Office, on the 11th of July. Here he confessed, fully, before Mr. Nares, the Magistrate, the murder of which he had been accused, and, in the presence of others, signed his confession.
In concluding his narrative, which has been related with the strictest accuracy, from his own lips, the unfortunate culprit added, “I have now been most justly condemned, for this foul and barbarous murder, and after surrendering my forfeited life to public justice, I have only to look to that awful moment, when I shall meet my Heavenly Judge, whose merciful pardon I hope for and implore, through the merits of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer.—Amen!”
The Trial of Thomas Bedworth took place on Friday morning, the 15th of September.—Mr. Justice Heath, Sir S. Le Blanc, p. 13Mr. Justice Bailey, and the Common Serjeant were on the Bench.
The facts which were adduced in evidence were not so strong, although they in some measure confirmed the truth of the foregoing confession. The best evidence that could be given by the few witnesses who were examined, went to a presumption that Bedworth effected the bloody deed with a razor, and it was so stated in the indictment.—This, however, did not prove to be true; but Mr. Justice Heath, in summing up, observed, that this was immaterial, in point of law;—the charge implied being, that the prisoner had done the act with a cutting or sharp instrument.
Throughout the trial Bedworth manifested a good deal of agitation; but this the Editor ascertains to have arisen in consequence of the evidence of two women, who made, as he supposed, some misstatements, as to time, on the day whereon the murder had been committed. Indeed, such was the effect of these trivial inaccuracies upon his mind, that he twice solemnly addressed the court, calling upon God to witness, that the women had forsworn themselves in this respect.—This conduct was mistaken, by the court, as an attempt to deny his guilt.—But the fact was otherwise, and the whole tenor of his conduct in prison, from the time of his surrender, in July, as well as his confession, furnish the best proofs to the contrary.
The trial did not last an hour, and Mr. Justice Heath having charged the Jury, the latter almost unhesitatingly returned a verdict of—Guilty.
The wretched man was then asked by the clerk of the peace, what he had to offer in an arrest of judgment by the court—to die according to law.
The prisoner replied, in much agitation, “nothing beyond the false swearing of the women.”
The Recorder being absent, a short explanation then took place upon the bench, as to the passing of the sentence. Mr. Justice Heath, who tried the prisoner, declining to perform that duty, and the Common Serjeant expressing a wish to evade the painful task, never having been called upon to execute it. It was however, at length, settled that the Common Serjeant p. 14should pronounce the sentence of death, and, in doing so, he addressed the prisoner to the following effect:—
“Thomas Bedworth,—After a painful investigation of the crime which has been laid to your charge, a humane and impartial jury of your country, hearing the evidence adduced against you, as well as your own voluntary confession, have thought it their duty to find you Guilty of the horrid crime of MURDER!
“We see that, in all ages of the world, a terror has been held out against those persons whose ferocious and unbridled passions have led to the shedding of innocent blood, and that the life of the guilty has been demanded in retribution—a retribution however which scarcely atones for the foul deed. This is exactly the situation in which you are at present awfully placed, but it is sincerely to be hoped, that the motive which induced you to make a full and unreserved confession of your guilt, arose from devout and serious reflections upon that eternity to which you are fast hastening. Your appearance in this court, to day, before the bar of man, may have for a moment drawn you aside from that truth you had hitherto asserted, and induced you to attempt a denial of it, yet I do most charitably hope, that as you had been led to disclose the weight of your sin and guilt, as read to us this day, so you will now reflect upon the dreadful consequences of that confession, and turn, with full purpose of heart, to serious repentance and prayer. And let me inform you, that the repentance you are called upon to evince, is not a mere sorrow for the consequence that would await our crime, but a sincere and hearty sorrow for this and other crimes which you have committed, and for which you must shortly give an account.
“It is now my painful duty to acquaint you, that your time in this world is of very short duration, but you have the consolation to know, that it is not too short, or too late for repentance, and for pouring out your soul, to your Maker, in supplication and prayer, before you are called to appear at his awful tribunal. The mercy that is thus held out to you, you ill deserve, as, in a moment of jealous rage, you hurled into quick eternity, the wretched victim of your passion and lust—sent her to her dread account, without a moment for repentance of her numerous sins—without even p. 15time to implore the mercy of her God, for the base and guilty connection she had formed with you!
(Here the prisoner lifted his eyes towards Heaven, struck the bar with his hand, and, bursting into tears, bowed assent to the remark.)
“I have now only to beseech you that, as soon as you leave that bar, you fall before God, on your bended knees, and, with thorough sorrow and conviction, implore that mercy you so much require. In your prayers you will be assisted by a pious man, who will zealously aid your applications to Heaven. Fly to him for his advice, his assistance, and prayers—you need them all—and let the conduct of your future hours, in this life, be so devoted, as to prepare you, through the mercy of the Redeemer, for that awful eternity which shall shortly receive you.
“There is now nothing left for me, but to pronounce upon you the dreadful sentence of that law, which you have so grossly violated, which is:—that you, Thomas Bedworth, be taken from hence, to the place from whence you came, and from thence, on Monday morning next, to a place of execution, where you shall be hanged by the neck until you are dead.—Your body will then be delivered over to the surgeons, for dissecting and anatomising, according to the statute. And may the Lord God Almighty, through the merits and intercession of the Redeemer, have mercy upon your soul!”
The prisoner heard his sentence with great firmness, but, at the conclusion, seemed deeply affected, and wept bitterly. After regaining a moment silent at the bar, he assumed an air of resignation and, respectfully bowing to the Court, retired.
He cordially shook hands with some females and others, as he passed to one of the condemned cells, where he evinced a resignation and calmness, in every respect suitable to the death he was to die. Soon afterwards the Rev. Mr. Cotton, the ordinary, in virtue of his office, visited him, and in the evening he was called on by one or two religious characters, who had serious conferences with him. He continued constant and fervent in prayer throughput the night, except at those times when, exhausted by weakness p. 16and strong feeling, he sunk occasionally to rest. At intervals he related some extraordinary circumstances of his varied life, which were taken down in writing from his lips. He was asked to give a full relation by the respectable officer of the prison, to whom he afterwards completely detailed it, but he for the present excused himself, by saying that the number of persons, religious and otherwise, who were visiting him, prevented him from delivering it, then, as he wished.
Saturday was spent by him chiefly in devotional exercises, and in receiving the kind and charitable visits of religious characters. Throughout the whole of this day and night, he displayed great piety, a repentant disposition, and strong faith in the mercy of Heaven.
On Sunday morning, Bedworth sent a message to the ordinary, entreating permission for the “convict school boys” to come near his cell, and join him in singing a hymn. This was of course complied with, and they repeated their singing, at his request, on Sunday evening, when he joined the children, and expressed himself much happier by this social act of devotion.—The number of youths who united their voices in these gloomy vaults amounted to about thirty, and such sounds, floating through the dreary passages, might well have been supposed to impress, not only the criminal, but the children themselves, with edifying thoughts. The Rev. Mr. Cotton remained several hours with Bedworth, on Sunday evening, and his labours were succeeded by two gentlemen, who were dissenters, one of whom remained with him throughout the night. On this occasion he was reminded of his promise to completely detail his narrative and confession, previously given in these pages, which he did with perfect composure, with an apparently entire recollection of the events of his life. Having done this, he continued incessantly in prayer and religious conversation. He sang with his companion two or three hymns, and he repeated, and sang with great fervour, the Hymn beginning,
“Jesu, lover of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly,” &c.
p. 17As the morning dawned, Bedworth conversed with much animation, and amongst other things, asked his friend, whether he thought the populace would assemble in any great number to witness his ignominious death? Being answered that it was likely there would be many, he remarked, “I would that the poor creatures would remain at home, and pray for ME, if not for THEMSELVES.”
At six o’clock on Monday morning, the ordinary again attended Bedworth in his cell, and continued with him in prayer, until half-past seven, when one of the sheriffs also visited him. After remaining with him some moments, the latter retired to assist in the necessary preparations, and Bedworth was again left in prayer with his companion. The crowd, now assembled to witness the execution, was very considerable; though certainly it did not amount to half, perhaps not one-third of the number collected upon the occasion of the extraordinary execution of the unfortunate Elizabeth Fenning.
At about three minutes before eight o’clock, Mr. Newman arrived at the Justice room, in the Old Bailey, to announce the time. The High Sheriff, Mr. Leigh, and the two Under Sheriffs, Messrs. Leigh and Rooke, proceeded to the cell of the criminal. Bedworth walked forth with uncommon firmness and resignation, and, with a countenance open and serene, advanced towards Mr. Sheriff Leigh, whom he cordially shook by the hand. He very much facilitated, by his activity and presence of mind, in knocking off his own irons, after which he walked with composure towards the executioner, who bound his arms, and tied his halter round his body. He then requested one of the officers to give to a fellow-prisoner, his pair of leggings, or leathers, to protect the flesh from excoriation by the fetters, and with them his remembrance and prayers. After expressing his deep sense of his sinful life, and the crime for which he was about to die, and expressing strong hopes of mercy and pardon hereafter, the dead bell tolled, and he moved on, in the customary procession, to the scaffold. The ordinary prayed with him whilst they passed through the dreary avenues, Bedworth walking with a firm, undaunted step, and bowing, in silence, to all whom he observed within the dreary passage. On the scaffold, he manifested the same firmness, but directed p. 18his eyes imploringly towards heaven, while the executioner made his fatal preparations: the ordinary continued a few moments in prayer with him, and, the awful signal being given; he was launched off, in the act of fervent supplication.
Drawing of ghost
Just Published by W. HONE, 55, Fleet Street,
La Pie Voleuse.—Price Sixpence.
THE NARRATIVE of THE MAGPIE; or the Maid of Palaiseau, being the History of THE MAID AND THE MAGPIE, founded upon the circumstance of an unfortunate Female having been unjustly sentenced to Death, on strong PRESUMPTIVE EVIDENCE. With a PREFACE, and curious ANECDOTES.
*** This most interesting Story, as it is dramatised, has been put into Narrative. On the performance of the Maid and the Magpie at the Theatres, it was represented amidst unanimous and repeated shouts of applause, and, “many incidents were seized on by the audience, who thought proper to apply them to the case of ELIZA FENNING.”—Anti-Gallican Monitor, September 3, 1815.