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Title: Grimes John; Fagan, John; Johnson, John to , 1765
CollectionIrish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan. Letters and memoirs from colonial and revolutionary America (1675-1815) [K.A. Miller et al.]
SenderGrimes John; Fagan, John; Johnson, John
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationconvicts
Sender Religionunknown
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1645
Genrelast speech before execution
Transcript“The Last Speech, Confession, Birth, Parentage and Education, of John Grimes, John Fagan, and John Johnson, alias Johnson Cochran, who were executed at Gallows-Hill, in the City of Burlington, on Wednesday the 28th of August, 1765, for Burglary and Felony, committed in the County of Burlington.”

I JOHN GRIMES, aged Twenty-two Years, was born in the West of Ireland, in a small Village, of low, mean Parents, who had neither Ability nor Opportunity to give me any Education, so that from my Infancy I was brought up to Idleness and Thieving, which, instead of being corrected in me, was rather encouraged; at last I became so notorious, that I was obliged to leave that Part of the Country, and come to Dublin, and being bred to no Business, worked on board Ships at the Keys, but following my old Trade, I was dismissed from all Employment for Dishonesty and Thieving; I subsisted some Time in that City by joining a Gang of Street Robbers and Pick Pockets, but Justice overtaking them, and the Heads of the Gang being hanged, and others impeaching me, I was once more obliged to abscond, and from thence went over to Liverpool, but being known there, I travelled to Bristol, and from thence to London, following my Trade of Thieving all along; and there turning Foot Pad, and robbing a Gentleman at Temple-Bar, I was taken and committed to Newgate, and tried at the Old-Bailey; and as it was the first Crime I was known to be guilty of, I was cast for Transportation, and accordingly came over in the Dolphin, Capt. Cramer, to Patapsco, in Maryland, and was sold as a Servant to an Iron-Work, but I soon run away from them, and carried off with me as much Goods out of a Store I had broke open, as made me pass for a Pedlar, when I came into New-Castle; from New-Castle I went to New-York, where I associated with a Gang who for a long Time had infested that City; but being obliged to leave that Place, I returned to New-Castle, where I pretended to be an Irish Pedlar newly come over; but I could not help following what was almost natural to me, but once more took to Thieving and House-breaking, and after performing several Exploits in that Way, I at last stole a Horse, for which I was apprehended, tried, and burnt in the Hand; while I lay in this Gaol, I could not resist the Temptation of Stealing, the Evil was so ingrafted in my wicked Heart; the Affair was this, a Man being in that Gaol, under Sentence of Death, the Sheriff procured a Person to execute him, and paid the Money before hand; but to secure the Fellow from running away before he had done the Job, he put him in Gaol, where he had not lain long before I robb’d him of all his Money, which I spent idly: I lay a considerable Time in this Gaol, till a Gentleman from Maryland, upon my signing an Indenture to serve for some Time for the Fees, took me out, but instead of fulfilling my Engagement, I robbed the Gentleman of his Horse, and all he had about him, and again push’d for New-York. In the Gaol at New-Castle, I had Information from a Prisoner who was well acquainted in New-Jersey, of the House of Joseph Burr, for the robbing of which I now suffer. In the City of New-York I first became acquainted with my unhappy Fellow-Sufferers; from that City we travelled in Company towards WestJersey, and parted near Mount-Holly, when I went across Delaware, into Pennsylvania, and there stole the Watch of Edward Hill, and then returned into the Jersies, met my old Comrades, and with them planned and executed the aforesaid Robbery, we then stole Horses to carry us off, but getting drunk, we quarrelled in the Woods about dividing our Booty, when I was beat in so terrible a Manner that I was not able to make my Escape, and the other two going to sleep, during which Time the Country being alarmed, we were apprehended and brought to Burlington, and now are deservedly to suffer for this and our former Crimes. I die a Member of the Roman Catholic Communion, and in Peace and Charity with all Men, hoping GOD will pardon all my Sins and Offences, and forgive my Enemies.
I JOHN FAGAN, was born in the City of Dublin, in the Kingdom of Ireland, in the Year 1737, of poor but honest Parents, who brought me up in the Roman Catholick Religion, till I arrived at the Age of Fourteen, when I was put an Apprentice to a Joiner and House-Carpenter, with whom I lived between and Years, and falling into bad Company, I fell first from my Duty towards GOD, and then towards Man; for in a small Space of time, Drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking and the Conversation of lewd and disorderly Women, became the fatal Objects of my Thoughts as well as Practice.
This Course of Life not answering my Purpose, and fearing the fatal Consequences that might attend my Stay, I thought it safest to embark for America, which I did in the Year 1756, where I had not been long till I engaged in his Majesty’s Service, wherein I continued till the Troops were discharged, after which I engaged to Work at my Trade at the Highlands above New-York, where I wrought some Time, but my Inclinations still hankering after lewd Company, I frequented bad Houses, in one of which I became acquainted with my unhappy Fellow-Sufferers; and after some short Acquaintance, we left New-York together, and travelled into New-Jersey, where we committed many Crimes, particularly robbing the House of Joseph Burr, near the City of Burlington, and the same Night with my Accomplices, stole three Horses, in Order to make our Escapes to New-York, but getting Drunk by the Way, we fell out, and was presently after apprehended, and brought to Burlington Gaol, where we were confined, and several Times attempted an Escape, but was prevented. Good People, Take Warning by my Fate, I am, you see a young Man, who by my Sins have shortened my Days, and brought myself to this shameful (but deserved) Death. Take heed to yourselves how you lead your Life. Live not as I have done, lest you come to the sad and untimely End I am now come to. Break not the Sabbath Day, and keep not Company with wicked Men, and lewd Women, as I have done. Those are the great Evils which have brought this Sorrow upon me. Avoid all Manner of Sin, even the smallest, for from one little Sin, Men easily fall to the Commission of greater ones. I die in the Faith of the Roman Catholick Profession, and I pray heartily to God to keep you from all Evil: And I beseech you to pray for me, that God would have Mercy upon my poor Soul.
I JOHN JOHNSON, alias Johnson Cochran, was born in the City of Dublin, in the Kingdom of Ireland, of very good Parents, who brought me up to good Learning, in the Protestant Religion, and never did profess any other: I was put to School till I was 15 Years of Age; after which I was put an Apprentice to a Silver Smith, but having too good a Master and Mistress, I left them and got acquainted with many idle and wicked Men, and lewd Women, who led me into all Manner of Vice, particularly Shop-lifting: In breaking open the House of Joseph Jennings, in Waterford, I very narrowly escaped being taken as I was getting out at the Window, from whence I stole some Cash, Cloaths, and many other Articles; and then made off towards the North of Ireland.
After having collected a considerable Booty by Means of such Villanies, I embarked on board of the Ship King George, Capt. Mackie, bound for Philadelphia; here I continued some Time, and not finding any Encouragement at my Trade, I betook myself to my former Way of Living, viz: Whoring, Drinking, and such like Vices; and
getting acquainted with some lewd People, I fell to picking of Pockets, and stole many Pocket Books and Watches, to a considerable Value, but finding Philadelphia too hot to hold me, I removed to New-York, where I soon became acquainted with People of the same dishonest Profession as myself; and having good Encouragement, joined with a Company of them, and robbed several People in the Street, of Money and Effects, and shared them amongst my Accomplices, after some Time I became acquainted with my Fellow-Sufferers, who were of the same Profession, and we all three agreed to travel together into New-Jersey; and our Inclination still leading us to Mischief, we made several Attempts on different Persons on the Highway, and finding but little Encouragement, we moved farther into West-Jersey, where we followed the like Courses, but with little Success.
After which, from the Information of one of my Fellow-Sufferers, the House of Joseph Burr was thought worthy of our Attention, which Robbery we effected the of July, at Night; then returned to the City of Burlington, and stole three Horses, with a Design to make an Escape to New-York, but losing our Road, and getting Drunk and quarrelling, we were pursued and apprehended the 18th Day of the same Month, and committed to Burlington Gaol, and on the 20th Instant, took our Trials, and received Sentence of Death. To this I shall add, I heartily wish that the Number of Malefactors, may not encrease, but diminish; so I pray God to convert all those that abandon themselves to wicked and illegal Courses: I now die in the Faith of the Protestant Religion; and I pray God to have Mercy upon my Soul.