Seventeenth Century







The last speech and confession of Peter Caesar, a Portugal, at the place of execution: together with his confession at Justice Hall in the Old Bailey, who in a most barbarous and bloody manner, shot his own dear lord and master a Portuguese through the head, as he ate his dinner in his chamber, with the manner how he put him into a chest, and afterwards cast his body into the River Thames: as also, the miraculous discovery of this bloody murder; and the sentence of death pronounced against him.

Likewise, the trial of the Frenchmen for ravishing a gentlewoman near Holburn, and afterwards most inhumanely to put a flaming torch up into her body: together with the sentence and execution.

As also, a true relation, concerning Mary Smith who cut off her Child’s Head; with her examination and confession before Justice Swallow and the wonderful discovery of that cruel murder by streams of blood running down the River Thames betwixt Deptford and Blackwall.

The trial, examination, and confession of Peter Caesar, who most barbarously murdered his lord and master, a Portuguese, as he sat at dinner eating a dish of fish etc.

At Justice Hall in the Old Bailey, the last sessions, Peter Caesar a Portuguese was called to the bar, to answer an indictment exhibited against him for killing of his own dear lord and master, a most barbarous and cruel act; but the miraculous effects, in discovery thereof, is worthy of remark, by the judicious reader: for no sooner had this bloody villain contrived the dissolution of his master’s life, but terror possessed his guilty conscience, and the Grand Sergeant Death appeared obvious for a high arrest; but Caesar thinking to make his escape, was prevented: notwithstanding his flying from Hart Street near Covent Garden, where his master lodged: who sending his servant from thence, after he had been abroad at his devotions, to provide him some fish for his dinner, and being dressed, and served up, this Judas-like wretch, when he his master was sat down at the table, and standing with a trencher and napkin to wait upon him, took that bloody resolution, having a pistol ready fixed and charged to discharge against his master, and so shot him through the head, as he was eating of his dinner: the report of which pistol was heard by the people of the house; but he using to fire it in jest, in his master’s absence, against some tailors that wrought opposite against him they took no further notice thereof.  And about an hour after, this bloody executioner came down into the kitchen, and seated himself to dinner with the people of the house, where he stayed the most part of the afternoon, and then went abroad, and came in again; and toward the evening he went forth again, and caused a porter to bring home a large chest to his lodging, and causing the same to be carried upstairs, the porter was discharged, and the bloody villain himself drew it into his master’s chamber: but about two hours after, he called the porter again to help him down with the Chest, which he did accordingly.  And the mistress of the house meeting him upon the stairs, said,

“Where are you going Peter? What have you got in this chest?”

He answered,

“Goods for my master, Landlady.  Me master is to have a boon collation in the Strand, with many gentlemen of quality lately come from beyond the seas.”

But bringing the chest down, it proved too heavy for him and the porter, so that another came to their assistance, and away they carried it to the waterside, designing for the falcon, this bloody Peter pretending that he was to meet a gentleman there, to receive money of him for the Goods of the Chest.  But these specious pretences soon took period in a deceitful errand, for crossing the water, he had no power to land there, but commanded the watermen to row him back again towards the Temple stairs. 

Coming near the shore, he cast the chest over-board, which the watermen admiring asked him his reason, to which he said:

“There was a trick put upon me: the chest is only filled with trash, trumpery, and garbage, which I will not bestow the pains to carry any further.”

 And landing, seemed to go away in a rage to his lodging, but the next morning some blood being discovered upon the stairs, and diligent inspection made there-into, he endeavored to make his escape, but was immediately apprehended, and committed to Newgate, where he continued till the last sessions right then taking place, and real justice streaming forth, even like unto streams descending from the mountains.  For upon bringing of him to the bar, he confessed the fact, acquitting all persons whatsoever from having any hand therein, but that it was his own contrivance, and that not suddenly, but deliberately, having many days before resolved to attempt it, but had no convenient opportunity, till that time his master was eating of a dish of fish, at which time he shot him through the head, being tempted for many days, and much perplexed in mind till he had effected it, for which he was not only sorry, but also confident, that nothing could expiate the guilt thereof, but to shed the blood of him, who had in such a most barbarous and inhumane manner shed the blood of his dear lord and master.  And all this, through want of grace, merely for the gaining of his master’s jewels and rings, together with the three hundred pounds of gold, which his master wore about him in a list to supply his occasions.  For which horrid fact, he was arraigned and condemned, and merited that just sentence, to be drawn upon a hurdle from Newgate to the place of execution, and there to be hanged till he was dead.

The two Frenchmen also, who committed that inhumane act against a citizen’s wife near Holborn, as first to ravish her, and then to run up a flaming torch into her body, were also arraigned and condemned.  But Mary smith, who cut off her child’s head, was reprieved from public justice, by the Grand Sergeant Death, who caught her from thence to another place, before the time of her trial.  But ‘tis observable, that never came a more penitent soul within the walls of Newgate, than this poor creature.  For when one of the officers told her she must prepare herself for her trial, for the time was near approaching she must give an account at the bar.  To which she replied that it was her desire to stand before that bar invisible to mortal eyes, where she did not doubt to find eternal mercy, and that she hoped the thread of life was spun to the very end, so that her penitent soul should not long be captive within that sinful body, the prison of so precious a jewel,

“For,” says she, “I question not, but these +++ will prove blessings, and I have assurance therein.”

This much sympathized with what she confessed before justice swallow, when she was first apprehended:  for then she ingenuously confessed, that it was her sad fate and fortune to be overcome by one young man, whom she had a great affection for, but he having obtained his will, and she conceiving with child, refused to marry her.  Whereupon she resolved to forsake friends and relations, and to transport herself to some foreign plantations.  In order whereunto she made application to a master of a ship, and obtained leave to be transported.  But before the time came to begin their voyage, she had a secret delivery a ship-board, and very obscure under deck, where contrary to all human reason, the infant became headless, for she quickly severed the head from the shoulders, throwing the body into the river, out at a port-hole, and the head behind the casks: which being quickly discovered, the bloody mother was soon apprehended, and carried before the justice as aforesaid:  from whence she was committed to Newgate, where she departed this life, making a very penitent end.

The like did the Frenchman and the Portuguese, the one executed in Holborn, and the other at Tyburn, Wednesday the 27th, who confessed his fact, and very much bewailed the horridness thereof, for that his dear master had been instrumental to save his life in Portugal, where he had killed a man, and should have been burned, had not Mercy transcended justice.