The Victim of Swindlers himself, he became a Pirate and Smuggler, and was executed at Tyburn, 16th of November, 1750, for Forgery
JOHN CARR was a native of the north of Ireland. His parents were respectable, and his education was genteel. At sixteen years of age he was sent to reside with a kinsman in Dublin. When he grew to years of maturity his kinsman put him into business as a wine and brandy merchant, and he seemed to be on the road to success; but his friend dying, he attached himself to bad company, neglected his business, lost his customers and was soon greatly reduced in his circumstances.
A man of fortune who was one of his abandoned associates invited Carr to pass part of the summer at his seat in the country, and setting out together they stopped at Kilkenny, where some passengers quitted a coach; among whom was a young lady, whose elegant person and appearance impressed Carr with an idea that she was of rank, and inspired him with the first sentiments of love that he ever felt.
Throwing himself from his horse, he handed her into the inn; and a proposal being made that the company should sup together it was agreed to on all hands; and while the supper was preparing, Carr applied himself to the coachman, to learn the history of the young lady; but all the information he could obtain was that he had taken her up at Dublin, and that she was going to the Spa at Mallow.
Carr, being anxious to become better acquainted with the lady, prevailed on the company to repose themselves the next day at Kilkenny, and take a view of the Duke of Ormond's seat, and the curiosities of the town. This proposal being acceded to, the evening was spent in the utmost harmony and good humour; and the fair stranger, even then, conceived an idea of making a conquest of Mr Carr, from whose appearance she judged that he was a man of distinction.
In the morning she dressed herself to great advantage, not forgetting the ornament of jewels, which she wore in abundance; so that when she entered the room, Carr was astonished at her appearance. She found the influence she had over him, and resolved to afford him an early opportunity of speaking his sentiments; and while the company was walking in the gallery of the Duke of Ormond's palace this opportunity offered.
The lady affected displeasure at this explicit declaration, but soon assuming a more affable deportment she told him she was an Englishwoman of rank; that his person was not disagreeable to her, and that if he was a man of fortune, and the consent of her relations could be obtained, she should not be averse to listening to his addresses. She further said that she was going to spend part of the summer at Mallow, where his company would be agreeable.
He followed her to that place, contrary to the advice of his friend, who had formed a very unfavourable opinion of the lady's character.
Here he dissipated so much cash in company with this woman that he was compelled to borrow of his friend, who remonstrated on the impropriety of the connection: but Carr still kept her company, and at the end of the season returned with her to Dublin.
Here the lovers agreed to sail for England, and Carr sold some small estates, and, borrowing all the money he possibly could, delivered the whole to his mistress.
Preparations were now made for the voyage, and Carr employed himself in procuring a passage to England; but in his absence the lady shipped all the effects on board a vessel bound for Amsterdam; and, having dressed herself in man's apparel, she embarked and sailed, leaving Carr to regret his ill-judged credulity.
On his return home, discovering how he had been robbed, he was at first half-distracted with his loss; but, on cooler reflection, he thought it would be in vain to pursue the thief; on which he sold the few trifles that remained of his property, which produced about a hundred pounds, and came to London, and soon spent the whole in debauchery and extravagance.
Thus reduced, he enlisted as a foot soldier, and served some years before he was discharged; after which he entered as a marine at Plymouth, whence he came to London, and opened a shop in Hog Lane, St Giles's. He now married a girl who he thought had money, but soon discovering her poverty he abandoned her, and removed to Short's Gardens, where he entered into partnership with a cork-cutter.
Having soon ingratiated himself into the esteem of the customers, he opened a shop on his own account, and soon got all the business from his late partner. This, however, proved of no service to him, for, getting into bad company, he frequented the gaming-tables and became the dupe of sharpers.
These villains, determined to possess themselves of all his money, offered to procure him a wife of fortune, though they knew he had a wife living, and actually contrived to introduce him to a young lady of property; and a marriage would probably have taken place but that one of them, struck with remorse of conscience, developed the affair to her father and frustrated the whole scheme; and soon afterwards Carr's companions quitted him, having reduced him to the last shilling.
Having been entrusted by a gentleman with a draft on the bank for sixty pounds, he received the money and spent it all in the lowest scenes of debauchery, and again entered as a marine.
There being something in his deportment superior to the vulgar, he was advanced to the rank of sergeant, in which he behaved so well that his officers treated him with singular regard.
The vessel in which he sailed taking a merchant ship richly laden, and soon afterwards several smaller vessels, the prize- money amounted to a considerable sum; which gave Carr an idea that very great advantages might be obtained by privateering. Thereupon he procured a discharge, and entering on board a privateer was made master-at-arms.
In a few days the privateer took two French ships, one of which they carried to Bristol and the other into the harbour of Poole. Having refitted their ship they sailed again, and in two days took a French privateer, and gave chase to three others which they found to be English vessels belonging to Falmouth, which had been made prize of by a French privateer. These they retook, and carried them into Falmouth, in their passage to which place they made prize of a valuable French ship, the amount of which contributed to enrich the crew.
On their next trip they saw a ship in full chase of them, on which they prepared for a vigorous defence, and indeed it was necessary, for the vessels fought above forty minutes -- yardarm and yardarm. Many hands were lost by the French, who at length attempted to sheer off, but were taken after a chase of some leagues.
The commander of the English privateer, being desperately wounded in the engagement, died in a few days; on which Carr courted his widow, and a marriage would have taken place, but she was seized with a violent fever which deprived her of life, but not before she had bequeathed him all she was possessed of.
Having disposed of her effects, he repaired to London, where he commenced as smuggler; but on his ill-gotten effects being seized on by the officers of the revenue he took to the more dangerous practice of forging seamen's wills, and gained money for some time. But, being apprehended, he was brought to trial at the Old Bailey, convicted and sentenced to die. He was hanged at Tyburn, on the 16th of November, 1750.