Lord, Remember Me!

The conviction, execution and confession of David Thompson Myers, 1812

Friday 6 March 1812

There are ten prisoners for trial at our assizes which commence on Saturday next: – viz. (in the county gaol) David Thompson Myers and Joseph Fletcher, for unnatural offences; . . . (Stamford Mercury)

Friday 13 March 1812

On Wednesday morning came on the trial of DAVID THOMPSON MYERS, on the prosecution of the Corporation of Stamford, charged upon the oath of Thomas Crow, (apprentice to Mr. Horden, tailor, of Stamford,) with having committed the abominable crime of sodomy with the said Thomas Crow. There were four indictments against the prisoner, and true bills had been found by the Grand Jury on three of them. The prisoner was acquitted on the first indictment, on account of a failure in proof as to the particular day named on which he had had connexion with Crow. On the second indictment he was also acquitted, for want of sufficient confirmation of the evidence of Crow, of whom it was declared, by Thomas Rawlinson and Wm. Michelson, who had for some time worked as journeymen in Mr. Horden’s shop with him, that he had the general character of a common liar; and the former of which witnesses said that, in his opinion, Crow was unworthy of belief on hius oath; and the latter of whom declared him a bad base boy; and Mr. Horden also declared he had reason to suspect his honesty, his veracity, and integrity. The evidence the young man had given to the Court of the bestial connexion of Myers with him at different times, was most complete and conclusive; and the Judge, in his address to the Jury, distinctly stated, that, if they in the exercise of their reason should convict the prisoner, his fate was sealed, and his execution would follow to a certainty: but, he added, the Judges in general directed Juries to acquit where an accomplice was the evidence, and not mainly confirmed in his testimony; for it was perfectly clear that an accomplice in a capital felony could not have such a correct mind as was necessary to the strictness and purity of justice, and it was impossible to know what effect an oath could have upon such a mind. In the present case, the only evidence to confirm the accomplice’s statement was, that of Thomas Wilson, the landlord of the White Horse public-house at Empingham, who had confirmed Crow’s account of his and Myers’ going on foot together to the above public-house on Sunday the 6th of January, 1811, and drinking there and stopping half an hour, and then quitting the house on their return to Stamford; and this on a very snowy and unpleasant day. His Lordship made some pertinent observations upon the ease with which accusations of the nature of that under consideration were made, and the difficulty with which they were repelled; but he observed that in a vigilant regard which he had given to the evidence, he had not been able to discover any motive that Crow could hae for falsely charging Myers, since it did not seem that there had been any refusal to do those “great things” which Myers had promised the lad, which refusal might have induced him to make this charge in resentment; and he had declared that Myers gave him money wheneveer he asked for it: but, nevertheless, the evidence was from a source polluted and unconfirmed. – Decency forbids our giving more particular details of this shocking trial. The testimony of the accomplice being unsupported, except in one inferior particular, and the bad character for veracity in which he lived amongst those who best knew him, procured the acquittal of the prisoner on the second trial; and the third indictment, which was understood to be not more strongly supported by proof, was relinquished; but a detainer had been lodged against the prisoner, and on his acquittal in this court, he was taken off in custody to Peterborough, to be tried there, at the next quarter sessions, on another charge of a detestable offence. – The prisoner was not at all abashed on his trials.
          The trial of JOSEPH FLETCHER, lately of Market Deeping, shepherd, for a crime of the same description, succeeded [i.e. followed]. The only evidence to the fact was that of a lad 11 years old, in the service of Mr. Seth Smith. – The prisoner was acquitted. (Stamford Mercury)

Monday 30 March 1812

David Thompson Myers, late of Stamford, draper, has been fully committed to Peterborough gaol, to take his trial at the ensuing sessions for an abominable offence, charged to have been committed by him in a plantation in Burghley Park. (Leeds Intelligencer)

Friday 3 April 1812

At Peterborough Sessions, which will be held on Wednesday next, (Lord Milton Chairman,) the following persons are to take their trials: – . . . David Thompson Myers, charged with having committed the abominable crime of sodomy at various times, in Burghley Park. . . . (Stamford Mercury)

Friday 10 April 1812

PETERBOROUGH SESSIONS. – At these Sessions on Wednesday last, before the Rev. J. Serocold (Chairman), Wm. Strong, D.D., H. Freeman, C. Hodgson, Richd. Atlay, Saml. Hopkinson, Clerks, and G. V. Neunberg, Esq.; David Thompson Myers was tried on an indictment charging him with the commission of an unnatural offence with Thomas Crow, apprentice to Mr. Horden, tailor, of Stamford, in Burghley Park. The nature of the case prevents our giving more than an abstract of the business. The evidence of Crow waws corroborated in the most satisfactory manner by several respectable witnesses; and on the part of the defence, although eleven persons were called to invalidate Crow’s evidence, nothing transpired to affect it in the least. – After an impartial summing up of the evidence, by the learned Chairman, the Jury retired, and in less than five minutes returned a verdict of guilty. Sentence was immediately passed upon the prisoner, and his death-warrant is signed for Monday the 4th of May next. – The prisoner was very much affected during his trial; he never looked up, except once when the names of the Jurors were called over. – The Court was crowded to excess, and, we believe, there never was a verdict recorded in it that tave more universal satisfaction. (Stamford Mercury)

Saturday 11 April 1812

At Peterborough sessions, on Wednesday last, D. T. Myers, late of Stamford, draper, was tried for an unnatural offence. – This wretched man was acquitted at Lincoln, on a similar charge, in consequence of an insufficiency in the corroborative part of the testiony. – At Peterborough, however, the direct evidence given by his accomplice, T. Crowe [sic], a tailor’s apprentice, being fully supported by circumstantial proof, the miserable prisoner was, after a long trial, convicted of the capital crime, and was sentenced to be hanged. The execution will probably take place in the course of a few days. (Northampton Mercury)

Monday 13 April 1812

At Peterborough Sessions on Wednesday last, David Thomas Myers was tried on an indictment charging him with the commission of an abominable offence with Thomas Crow, apprentice to Mr. Horden, tailor, of Stamford, in Burghley Park. The nature of the case prevents our giving more than an abstract of the business. The evidence of Crow was corroborated in the msot satisfactory manner by several respectable witnesses; and on the part of the defence, although eleven persons were called to invalidate Crow's evidence, nothing transpired to affect it in the least. After an impartial summing up of the evidence, by the Learned Chairman, the Jury retired, and in less than five minutes returned a verdict of – Guilty. Sentence was immediately passed upon the Prisoner, and his death-warrant is signed for Monday, the 4th of May next. The Prisoner was very much affected during his trial; he never looked up except once, when the names of the Jurors were called over. the Court was crowded to excess, and, we believe, there never was a verdict recorded in it that gave more universal satisfaction. (Sussex Advertiser)

Saturday 18 April 1812

At Peterborough sessions, D. Thompson Myers of Stamford, was capitally convicted of an unnatural offence, and sentence to be executed in the 4th of May. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Saturday 9 May 1812

Last week a petition from the Rev. Mr. Myers was presented to the Prince Regent, on behalf of his unfortunate nephew, D. T. Myers, now under sentence of death in Peterborough gaol. A copy of this petition, by his Royal Highness's commands, was transmitted to the magistrates at Peterborough with instruction that they would furnish him with the circumstances of the case. We understand that a correct copy of the whole evidence as given upon the trial was immediately forwarded to the Secretary of State, from whom an answer was received on Saturday, stating "that his Royal Highness would not reverse the sentence." The execution would therefore take place on Monday. Although, from the evidence adduced upon the trial (independently of the prisoner's subsequent confession,) his guilt was as glaring as the light, it must nevertheless be a source of satisfaction to his prosecutdors, his judges, and the jury, that their proceedings have been sanactioned by the Regent and his privy council, some of whom are confessedly the most able lawyers of the present day. (Leeds Mercury)

Friday 8 May 1812

EXECUTION at PETERBOROUGH. – The miserable man who was under condemnation at Peterborough for an unnatural offence, paid the debt of hs life to the world and to his Maker on Monday. – He saw his afflicted wife for the last time on Thursday! – On Friday morning, the Rev. Mr. Pratt (the Vicar of Peterborough), and the Rev. Mr. Courtney, of Orton, both of whom had been unceasing in their endeavours to prepare the convict for eterminty, administered to him the Sacrament; and next day a most affecting parting took place between him and the former reverend gentleman, who, being under the necessity of going a journey, bid him a last farewell. The prisoner expressed his gratitude in the most lively terms to Mr. Pratt, for having, as he declared, been instrument, through Divine Providence, “in forcing him to repent, and preparing his soul for another and a better world.” – He was attended until late on Sunday night by the Rev. Joseph Pratt, Rector of Paston, and the Rev. Mr. Hinde; and on Monday morning partook of the Sacrament again, with them and the Rev. Mr. Courtney. He continued in a most happy state of mind for his melancholy situation; and on being brought out of the prison, at a quarter past elevent o’clock, to be put into a post-chaise and conveyed to the place of execution, he declared that that was the happiest moment he had experienced for 14 years! The Rev. Mr. Hinde accompanied the prisoner in the chaise, which was preceded in the procession by a hearse and coffin, and moved slowly amidst a concourse of 5 or 6000 spectators to the usual place of execution on Peterborough common, where a new drop had been erected under the gallows for the occasion. – On this platform the convict joined the accompanying clergyman in a most admirable prayer, composed by that reverend gentleman, with whom the wretched man parted in a way that drew tears from the eyes of every beholder. He shook hands with a person of St. Martin’s whom he recognised near him, and briefly exhorting the surrounding multitude to “take warning by his example,” he intimated to the executioner that he was ready; and whilst the officer drew the cap over his eyes, he was heard fervently to repeat the last line of a hymn which had been composed for him, and which he had taken great delight in singing – “Lord, remember me!” The fall of the drop in a few moments after, placed him beyond the bounds of mortality: he seemed to be dead in almost the instant after the descent of the scaffold.
          Although Myers did not attend public worship on Sunday, as it had been intimated he would not, most excellent and appropriate sermons were preached to very crowded congregations: at the cathedral, in the morning, by the Rev. Wm. Head, one of the Minor Canons, and Rector of Northborough, from the 3d chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, 13 v. – “Exhort one another daily, whilst it is called today; lest any of you be hardened though the deceitfulness of sin;” – and at the parish church, in the afternoon, by the Rev. John Hinde, Curate of Peterborough, from Acts, c. 24, v. 25 – “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will call for thee.” The public mind seemed brought into an excellent state for the instruction which was to be given; and the most judicious and happy advantage was taken of it by the preachers.
          We need not dwell upon the state of wretchedness to which the excellent wife and innocent children of Myers have been reduced by the ignominious death of their husband and father: they, it is to be hoped, will find many friends. The public indignation is appeased with the public justice which has been rendered, and that man will ill deserve the name of one, who shall ever unfeelingly refer to the events which have passed, with a view to wound the innocent connexions of a guilty man. In the last sad interview of Myers and his wife, she is said with almost frantic vehemence to have entreated on her knees, that he would bring no wife, no mother, into the depth of misery which she endured, by disclosing the names of those who had been associates in his horrid crime. Whether Myers attended to this injunction is not publicly known.
          Copy of a PAPER written by D. T. MYERS, two days previously to his Execution, and left by him with a request that the same might be made public after death.

“As I believe that persons in my unhappy situation are expected to say something at the place of execution, and feeling that I shall not be able to do it, I wish these my dying words to be inserted in the Stamford Papers, and to be made as public as possible. I confess that I am guilty of the crime for which I am about to suffer; and for these and all my sins, I desire to repent before God with a broken and contrite heart. I forgive, from the bottom of my soul, every one who has wronged me; and I earnestly pray to Almighty God that my untimely end may be a warning to others, who are walking in the same path. Oh! may my shameful death put a stop to that dreadful crime! may those who have been partakers with me in my crimes be brought to true repentance!! I am a miserable sinner in the sight of God, and I am deservedly degraded in the sight of man. But I commit my guilty polluted soul into the hands of my blessed Saviour, to be pardoned and cleansed by him. And though I deserve nothing but punishment for my sins, I trust, thro’ the merits of my Redeemer, when I leave this wicked and miserable world, to be received into a World of Purity and Peace.
          “As my example has led many into sin, I hope these, my Dying Words, may lead many to repentance.”
                            “D. T. MYERS.”
          Signed in Peterborough Gaol, 2d of May, 1812, in the presence of J. S. Pratt, Vicar of Peterborough; John Atkinson, Clerk of the Peace; Thomas Atkinson, Attorney, Peterborough.
                    (Stamford Mercury)

Saturday 9 May 1812

On Monday last, D. T. Myers, a tradesman of considerable property at Peterborough and Stamford, convicted of an unnatural crime was executed pursuant to his sentence at the former place. Much intercession had been made on hs behalf to the Price Regent, but without effect. It is much hoped that the example thus made, may tend towards the extermination of a crime that excites the utmost horror and detestation, and tends to bruitalize the human race. (Northampton Mercury)

Saturday 9 May 1812

Execution. – On Monday, at elevent o’clock, David Thomas Myers, who was convicted of an unnatural offence at the last quarter sessions held for the soke of Peterborough, was removed from the gaol of that city to the common, where a gallows had been erected for his execution. After spending about half an hour in prayer, he dropt a handkerchief, which was the signal for his being turned off, and he was immediately launched into etermity. An immense concourse of people (many from a great distance) attended to witness the execution. (Norfolk Chronicle; which then goes on to print the paper containing his Dying Words)

Thursday 14 May 1812

EXECUTION. – On Monday David Thompson Myers, late linen-draper, in Stamford, underwent the sentence of the law, at the usual place of execution, near Peterborough, in the presence of at least six thousand spectators, for an unnatural crime. Great exertions were made to obtain a pardon for him, but Mr. Ryder gave his friends to understand, that offended Justice must inevitably strike the blow, against an abomination of so hideous a description. – Thursday se’nnight he took a pathetic and last farewell of his wife. It is but justice to mention that his feelings for her and a family of six children, were of the most tender description. He entreated, before leaving the prison for the gibbet, that the last letter he received from his wife, with a copy of his reply to it, might be laid on his breast, when stretched out in his coffin, and be consigned to the earth with his body. He took the Sacrament in a spirit of sincere penitence on Friday, and also on the morning of execution. His coffin, at his own desire, was placed with him, in his cell, during Sunday night. At a quarter past eleven next morning the procession moved from the goal [sic], for the place of execution, which is at some distance from the town. The convict was indulged with a chaise, in which he took his seat, accompanied by a clergyman. The hearse containing the coffin to receive his body, went before him, full in his sight. In about half an hour he reached the fatal tree, under which a new drop had been erected. He ascended the paltform firmly, and his face seemed composed and even chearful. He looked around amongst the immense crowd, and addressed several whom he knew. To a boy, the son of a neighbour, he said, “Good bye, William.” He then knelt down, and joined the Minister in prayer, composed for his use during his confinement. – He concluded with the Lord’s Prayer, which he repeated in a strain of affecting devotion. He said a few words to the people, confessing his crime, and exhorting them. Whilst the execution was putting the rope round his neck, he with much coolness assisted in opening the collar of his shirt. The nightcap was put on his head; he then threw down the skin of an orange which he had been sucking, and pulled the cap over his face with his own hands, exclaiming as he did so, “Now is my last curtain drawn!” The executioner left him – undrew the bolts that supported the drop, and precipitated the unhappy man into eterminty! He appeared to die without a struggle, merely clasping his hands together. The surrounding multitude were much affected: many of them left the ground before the awful conclusion of the ceremony took place, unable to witness it. The repentance and resignation of the convict, so visible in his deportment, effectually oversame the indignation which his offence was calculated to excite, and absorbed every feeling in one general sentiment of commiseration.
          Two days previous to his execution he wrote the following confession: – [here follows his Dying Words, as given in other papers already quoted]. (Cheltenham Chronicle)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Lord, Remember Me!", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, enlarged 7 Dec. 2014 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1812myer.htm>.

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