Monday, 21 January 2013

21st January 1813: The Gaoler of York Castle writes to the Home Offfice about the late executions

York Castle _ 21 Jany [1813]

Mr Beckett

I beg to Acknowledge the Receipt of your Letter this morning, from which I am sorry to find that no Information has been forwarded to Lord Sidmouth or Yourself relative to the Executions of the 17 Unhappy men, 14 of whom Suffered last Saturday, three also Suffer’d on Friday the 8th Inst for the Murder of Mr Horsfall, the Account given generally the Executions in the Publick Prints are nearly Correct, except in the Instance, where the Leeds Paper States that the three Murderers Confess’d their Guilt, they by no means did so for when the Revd G Brown the Chaplain urg’d them to Confess at the Fatal Tree, they requested him not to Put any Questions to them and they were Immediately launch’d into Eternity,—

As to the other 14 men, they all Confess’d their Guilt, and Acknowledged the Distress of their Sentence, and did all true penitents, from the time of that Awfull Sentence being pass’d upon them, they never Ceased from Using their last Efforts to Obtain forgiveness from God, And I have a pleasure in Adding that during the Course of 22 Years that I have been a Witness to Such Cases, I never Saw more Sincerity in Repentance of Prisoners, than in the last 14 who Suffered, the Immense Number of People that Attended upon that Occasion was great indeed.

Attendance of both Foot Soldiers, as also three Troops of Dragoons Added to the Solemnity of that Awfull Scene, and must also had a Serious and proper Effect upon the publick mind, and I trust and do most Sincerely hope that this sad (but necessary) Example will induce those wretched and Ill advised persons in the West Riding to Consider the fate of the late Comrades, and induce them to return to the parts of Peace & Honesty,—

As to any information given by the prisoners during the time they were under Sentence of Death, Nothing Whatever to my Knowledge transpired, except, the Robbery of Balm Mill near Cleck Heaton the prisoner James Hey Confess’d that he and J. Carter who was an Evidence for the Crown, was the two persons who did Commit that Robbery,—

Upon the liberation of Joshua Haigh a Soldier in the 51st Regt of Foot (which you will perceive by the Calendar) he Informed me that one of the Murderers with whom he had formerly Slept, had Communicated to him the place where a Quantity of Guns, &c &c were deposited, & Could be found in the Neighbourhood of Huddersfd, in Consequence thereof I spoke to Genl Maitland and he dispatch’d a party with Haigh in Search thereof, but whether or not they Succeeded in finding them I have not been Obliged to learn,

My Extra Care and duty have been for Sometime very laborius, as also Expensive to me – by Additional Servants &c, which I have Stated to Mr Hobhouse a few days Ago, and I Should hope will in Some Small degree be Consider’d, having I flatter myself fulfill’d my Office to the Satisfaction of Government and the County at large,

I Remain Sir with respect
Yr Obt Hble Sert
Wm Staveley

B—Since my Writing the above I have Seen the Revd. G. Brown, who informs me that during his Visits to those Unforte Men, he put this Important Question to them “viz — In this Society formed by you and others, was there, or not, any Persons of high Station in Life Connected,—the Answer was NO, the Reason of the Chaplain Asking that Question, was owing to the Circs of Some of those men having Money paid weekly to them, as my Report,—


This letter can be found at HO 42/132.

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