Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Lives of Remarkable Criminals: John Cotterell


a Thief, etc.

The miseries of life are so many, so deep, so sudden, and so irretrievable, that when we consider them attentively, they ought to inspire us with the greatest submission towards that Providence which directs us and fills us with humble sentiments of our own capacities, which are so weak and incapable to protect us from any of those evils to which from the vicissitudes of life we are continually exposed.

John Cotterell, the subject of this part of our work, was a person descended of honest and industrious parents, who were exceedingly careful in bringing him up as far as they were able, in such a manner as might enable him to get his bread honestly and with some reputation. When he was grown big enough to be put out apprentice, they agreed with a friend of theirs, a master of a vessel, to take him with him two or three voyages for a trial. John behaved himself so well that he gained the esteem of his master and the love of all his fellow-sailors. When he had been five years at sea, his credit was so good, both as to his being an able sailor and an honest man, that his friends found it no great difficulty to get him a ship, and after that another. The last he commanded was of the burthen of 200 tons, but he sustained great losses himself, and greater still, in supporting his eldest son, who dealt in the same way, and with a vessel of his own carried on a trade between England and Holland. Through these misfortunes he fell into circumstances so narrow that he lay two years and a half in Newgate, for debt. Being discharged by the Act of Insolvency, and having not wherewith to sustain himself, he broke one night into a little chandler's shop, where he used now and then to get a halfpenny-worth of that destructive liquor gin; and there took a tub with two pounds of butter, and a pound of pepper in it. But before he got out of the shop he was apprehended, and at the next sessions was found guilty of the fact.

While under sentence of death he behaved with the greatest gravity, averred that it was the first thing of that kind he had ever done; indeed, his character appeared to be very good, for though his acquaintance in town had done little for him hitherto, yet when they saw that they should not be long troubled with him, they sent him good books, and provided everything that was necessary for him; so that with much resignation he finished his days, with the other malefactors, at Tyburn, in the fifty-second year of his age, on the 9th day of May, 1726.

Source: Hayward, Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals