Wednesday, 23 January 2013

23rd January 1813: A new correspondent - 'Diligent Enquirer' - enters the debate about George Mellor's last words


Mr. EDITOR,—“An Attentive Hearer” seems to be a very [pernicious] one. He set out with asserting, that George Mellor, one of the murderers of Mr. Horsfall, in his prayer on the fatal platform, speaking of himself and his fellow-sufferers, used the words, “us poor murderers,”and said, “There are many here who have expecting to see us die game.” These words, you say, were never used; on which he repeats his former assertion: and such conflict and testimonies, on a topic of general conversation, naturally produces the enquiry on which side truth is to be found. Feeling this curiosity, in common with many others, and not being myself present at the execution, I determined to ascertain the fact of the case from the best authority; and for this purpose I addressed myself to the Ordinary, to the Under Sheriff, and to the Governor of the Castle, all of whom concurred in stating, that they did not hear either of these expressions, and that they were persuaded they were not used by any of the malefactors. Not satisfied with this, I next enquired of a number of the Sheriff’s Officers, who stood within a pace or two of the culprit when he delivered the prayer or address, in which “An Attentive Hearer” says the words occurred, but they all, except one, agreed with the gentleman mentioned above, and that officer said, that he thought he heard some expression of the kind, but he was engaged at the moment, and could not be quite certain. I then applied to some of spectators who stood in front of the drop, and they confirmed the declaration of the officers, that the words imputed to Mellor were not used by him. Some of the persons said, that in speaking the forgiveness of Christ, he enumerated it sinners of several kinds, to which his forgiveness was extended, and concluded the sentence with saying, and “even to his murderers,” but that no such abhorrent word as “game;” abhorrent I mean in that sense, fell from Mellor’s lips. I am therefore of opinion, and I think my authority will not be thought weak, that as to one of the expressions “An Attentive Hearer” has fallen into a mistake, and as to the other he has indulged in a bold figure of speech.

But as he may still, from “prudent motives,” reiterate his assertion, I will place the matter in a way that may make the dispute not quite so uninteresting to the public, as it might otherwise appear; and for this purpose I have lodged ten guineas in the hands of my printer to be applied to the use of the General Infirmary at Leeds, if an “Attentive Hearer” can, out of the vast concourse of spectators that attended the execution, produce six persons of character who will assert, on their word of honour, that Mellor used the words which he has put into his mouth, and I  challenge this “Attentive Hearer”to offer the same sum to be applied to the same purpose,  on my producing twice that number of persons of veracity, from amongst the spectators, who will assert, that neither Mellor nor his fellow-sufferers, used either of those expressions. As to their guilt there cannot be a particle of doubt, the point at issue is the confession. I was, Sir, not “An Attentive Hearer,” but I have been


This appeared in the Leeds Mercury of 23rd January 1813.

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