Friday, 11 January 2013

11th January 1813: A dispute begins in the Leeds press about the last words of George Mellor

Along with a very brief description of the execution of George Mellor, William Thorpe & Thomas Smith, the Leeds Intelligencer of Monday 11th January 1813 ran a letter from a pseudonymous correspondent about what he/she claimed to have heard at the scene of said execution. This letter was to spark a war of words over several months:
MR. PRINTER—I think it may be attended with good to the community, but particularly to all those deluded men who are connected in any manner with the unhappy murderers who yesterday paid the debt due to their most inhuman crime—if you will thro’ the medium of your paper give the following to the public; about nine o'clock yesterday morning, Mellor, Thorpe and Smith, ascended the scaffold; after some time being spent in prayer with the ordinary they each addressed themselves to the Almighty, in a manner the most penitent.—The voices of Thorp and Smith were indistinct, few expressions were heard by the spectators.—Mellor spoke in a most audible manner; and if all his accomplices had heard him, they must have hearts harder  than flint, if they had not been melted into tears, and resolved, by spending the remainder of their life in repentance, to atone to their country for the dreadful injuries they have inflicted on her domestic tranquillity.

After dwelling a long time on the sins of his past life, which he confessed to be of the blackest nature, he said—But thou who cast Devils out of Mary Magdalen, thou who pardonest the thief upon the Cross—Thou canst still save thieves, aye and EVEN US POOR MURDERERS! He prayed fervently for those who were connected with him—that they might, from the present awful scene, be lead to repent of their great sins, and cease from pursuing those lawless measures which could only tend to their eventual ruin. He said—There are many here who have come expecting to see us die game! Let such know that we die penitent—we acknowledge the heinousness of our sins, and our only hope to be forgiven is in the infinite and boundless mercy of our Redeemer.

After having thus made his confessions to the Almighty, he rose from his knees and addressed himself to the spectators in nearly the following words—“There are many here whom I know, and many of my enemies, some who have urged me to the commission of the crime for which I am now to forfeit my life. I freely forgive you, and all the world, and I hope the world will forgive me.” These were his last words.

Never was there a sight more awful!—would that every inhabitant of this disturbed district had been there: then surely we should cease to hear of those detestable acts of villany, which have of late been so daringly perpetrated.—I conclude by wishing that the end of these three penitent murderers, may be a warning to all who are disposed to disturb the peace of the country.

AN ATTENTIVE HEARER.

Leeds, January 9th, 1813.

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