Barbarous Cruelties

Saturday 11 October 1718   It’s remarkable that near one hundred persons have died within these two months in the Marshalsea Prison, Southwark. (Original Weekly Journal)

Saturday 1 November 1718   Yesterday seven men and one woman, malefactors, were executed at Tyburn, one of the men was old, and so very feeble, that he was carry’d upon a man’s back out of the condemn’d-hole, down stairs at Newgate, and put into the cart. (Weekly Journal, or, Saturday’s-Post)

22 April 1727      Last week died one Merry, in Berry-street, St. James’s; a poor man who was four months confin’d in Newgate upon false information; for robbing a Gentleman’s stables in Essex; when he came upon his tryal in Essex, whither he was mov’d by Habeas Corpus, his accuser was so shock’d at the sight of him, and struck with horror of conscience, that he confess’d the whole fact in open Court, acknowledged he had sworn falsly, in order to save himself; and that he alone was guilty: Merry was upon this acquitted, and the other who had been formerly the Gentleman’s servant was convicted by his own confession, and received sentence accordingly: By his [i.e. Merry’s] confinement, himself, his wife, and three young Children were reduced to the utmost want, so that when he came came home, they were all forced to lye in one bed, by which he gave them all the jail distemper [a kind of typhoid common in overcrowded jails], which has already cost him his life and one of his children; and ’tis hourly expected that his wife and another child will follow him. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)

30 March 1728      On Saturday last the Assizes ended at Chelmsford, when four persons receiv’d sentence of death, among whom were the man that was a prisoner in the Fleet, and went out with a Day-Rule and robbed on the highway; and the Keeper of Halsted Bridewell, in the said County, for the barbarous murder of his bastard child by one of his prisoners. The case is thus; The Keeper having sollicited the woman to let him lie with her, and she refusing, he threatned to whip her to death, whereupon she consented: When she was about eight months gone with child, she acquainted the Keeper with it, who order’d his servant to tie her to a post and whip her, and he stood by, till the fellow was weary, and then he whipped her himself till she miscarried, when he took up the infant, in a barbarous manner, and put it into a chamber-pot, and order’d his servant who whipt her, to throw it down the vault [of the latrine], which he accordingly did. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)

5 October 1728      George Dewing late Keeper of the House of Correction at Halsted, who was condemn’d in March last at Chelmsford Assizes, for the Murder of a Bastard Child, begot on the Body of one of his Prisoners, pardon’d and oblig’d to plead his Pardon at the next Assizes, was last Saturday, committed to the County Goal of Essex, for another most barbarous murder of a traveling Woman, his Prisoner who sold Lace, and muslins, about the Country. After he had murder’d her, he cut her Bowels out, struck off her Head, and then with a Cleaver Quarter’d her. (The Flying-Post)

19 October 1728      One Thomas Diss, a vile barbarous fellow, and servant to Mr Dewing, last Master of the House of Correction at Halstead in Essex, who is now a prisoner in the County Goal for the murder of one of his prisoners, as formerly mentioned, is charged in custody by one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County of Essex, for whipping a boy of 13 years of age to death in the House of Correction aforesaid. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Barbarous Cruelties", 8 May 2003, enlarged 27 February 2007 <>

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