Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Lives of Remarkable Criminals: Jane Martin

The Life of JANE MARTIN, alias LLOYD

a Cheat and a Thief, etc.

This woman was the daughter of parents in very good reputation, about an hundred miles off in the country. While they lived they took care to breed her to understand everything as became a gentlewoman of a small fortune, and in her younger years she was tractable enough; but her parents dying while Jane was but a girl, she came into the hand of guardians who were not altogether so careful as they ought. Before she was of age she married a young gentleman who had a pretty little fortune, which he and she quickly confounded; insomuch that he became a prisoner in the King's Bench for debt. Being thus destitute, and in great want of money, she set her wits to work to consider ways and means of cheating people for her support, in which she became as dexterous as any who ever followed that infamous trade. Yet her husband (as she herself owned) was a man of strict honour, and so much offended at these villainies that he used her with great severity thereupon, but that had no effect, for she still continued the old trade, putting on the saint until people trusted her, and pulling off the mask as soon as she found there was no more to be got by keeping it on.

Amongst the rest of her adventures in this way she once took it in her head that it was possible for her to set up a great shop, entirely upon credit, for except some good clothes she had nothing else to go to market with. Accordingly she first took a shop not far from Somerset House, and having caused some bales of brick-bats to be made up, sent them thither in a cart with one of her confederates, which was safely deposited in that which was to pass for the warehouse. A carpenter was sent for, who was employed in making shelves, drawers, and other utensils for a haberdasher's shop. Then going to the wholesale people in that way, she found means to draw them in to six or seven hundred pounds worth of goods to the house which she had taken. All of this stuff the Saturday night following, she caused to be carried over into the Mint, a practice very common with the infamous shelterers there who preserve their pretended privileges.

Mrs. Martin having got some acquaintance in a tolerable family, and having a very fair tongue, she quickly wheedled them into a belief of her being able to do great matters by her interest with some person of distinction, whose name she made use of on this occasion, and thereby got several presents and small sums of money, and (if she herself were to be believed) among the rest a silver cup. Whether her failing in her promises really provoked the people to swearing a theft upon her, or whether (which is more probable) she took an opportunity of conveying it secretly away, certain it is that for this she was prosecuted, and the fact appearing clear enough to the jury, was thereupon convicted and ordered for transportation. This afflicted her at least as much as if she had been condemned to instant death, and therefore she applied herself continually to thinking which way it might be eluded, and she might escape. Soon after her going abroad, she effected what she so earnestly desired, and unhappily for her returned again into England.

The numerous frauds she had committed had exasperated many people against her, who as soon as it was rumoured that she was come back again, never left searching for her until they found her out, and got her committed to Newgate; and on the record of her conviction being produced the next sessions, and the prosecutor swearing positively that she was the same person, the jury, after a short consultation, brought her in guilty, and she received sentence of death, from which, as she had no friends, she could not hope to escape. When she found death was inevitable, she fell into excessive agonies and well-nigh into despair. The reflection on the many people she had injured gave her so great grief and anxiety of mind that she could scarce be persuaded to get down a sufficient quantity of food to preserve her life until the time of her execution. But the minister at Newgate having demonstrated to her the wickedness and the folly of such a course, she by degrees came to have a better sense of things; her mind grew calmer, and though her repentance was accompanied with sighs and tears, yet she did not burst out into those lamentable outcries by which she before disturbed both herself and those poor creatures who were under sentence with her. In this disposition of mind she continued until the day of her death, which was on the 12th of September, 1726, being between twenty-seven-and-eight years of age, in the company of the before-mentioned malefactors, Cartwright, Blacket, Holmes, Fitzpatrick, Robinson, and William Allison, a poor country lad of about twenty-five, apparently of an easy gentle temper who had been induced into the fact, partly through covetousness, and partly through want.

Source: Hayward, Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals